The Spoils Of Victory

‘To the victor, the spoils’ (or words to that effect); 1832 by Senator William Learned Marcy (1786-1857) of New York. In the context of what he was talking about, war, I doubt he was a very pleasant individual – although a very typical Western ‘chicken-hawk’!

Anyway, back here in the present, it seems like an apt title to a post as I look back on two very different victories.

First; those of you who read these rambles or follow  my Facebookache feed will know about the battle to stop a very damaging geothermal project here in Okçular. Well, it took a bare three weeks but in the end it was stopped in its tracks by the resistance of the village; the unrivaled knowledge of the team that led the successful fight to save Yuvarlakçay and İztuzu Beach and the fact that the proprietor of the project was arrogant enough to think that he could drill within 25mts of our village cemetery and get away with it – he didn’t! He was served with a closure notice and told to get out, cap the well and clean up the mess.

A victory, then? Well, some and some! Here are few photos of the ‘spoils’:

Okcular sondaj1

the lubrication/slurry pit now filled with rubbish from three weeks of abuse

Okcular sondaj2

Okcular sondaj3

There is still equipment waiting to be removed and it will be ‘interesting’ to see what ‘cleaning the site’ means. That said, it remains a victory!

Second; I have been much distracted by the exploits of my grandson and his crew-mates from University of California, Berkeley rowing team known as the Cal Bears at Henley Royal Regatta this year. This young man has, with his team-mates,  worked his way into the Henley record books by setting a new course record for the class whilst winning the Visitors’ Challenge Cup. As stroke his roll was key. J and I are nearly as proud as his mum and dad – bathing in the glow of reflected glory, indeed!

So, do indulge me just a bit longer and browse the photos and enjoy the video:

Cal Bears henley2

the fabulous Cal Bears crew

Cal Bears at Henley1

the moment of victory

Visitor's challenge Cup

 the silver – Visitors’ Challenge Cup


the boy with the silver

. . to the victors

morg and anita

proud mum

. . and finally, the record breaking race.  So, two very different battles with two very different victory spoils – both pretty special! Thanks for your indulgence . .

Alan Fenn, from a reprieved Okçular Köyü


Heading For Henley – Pt Two ‘A Bit Of Indulgence’

. . or ‘There’s More To Life Than Lycra’ 

Henley was a very interesting experience. Rowing, it seems to me, is a bit like watching paint dry unless one has an interest in a particular race – otherwise it is not great spectator stuff. Being at Henley and ‘hobnobbing with the knobs’ (if you’ll excuse the vulgarity of this play on words) meant that there was plenty to be seen that tickled my sense of the ridiculous and fueled my political judgementalism.

. . hobnobbing at Henley 2013

The setting is timelessly English and exudes ‘money’, particularly ‘old money’. Maintaining the exclusivity and mystique that surrounds Henley is apparent in the contempt for television coverage and the dress code in the Steward’s Enclosure that is enforced by bowler-hatted beadles. Toffs know how to dress and behave and even if they don’t they are smiled upon indulgently. Plebs and peons, on the other hand, who scrape together the badge-price to get in need to be monitored constantly and are discouraged from ‘rubbing shoulders’ too vigorously – or so it feels.

Henley – chuffingly English

some are there for the rowing

That said, my general impression is that very few of the people are there for the rowing. The hoi polloi  are there to picnic, booze, party and generally shake off their work-a-day (if they are lucky) worries and are kept well segregated from the ‘real’ people. Safe in the semi-exclusivity of the Steward’s Enclosure ‘old money’ sniffily looks down on ‘new money’ and the antics of celebs, major and minor, being chased around by teams of photographers and dreaming of a few pics in ‘Hello’ magazine. Henley is where one goes to be ‘seen’ – I’m so glad my grandson ‘gets it’ as he informed me that the rowers were there as a sort of freak show for the toffs. That said, the meet is of immense importance to the athletes because it draws some of the greatest talent from around the world, after the Olympics this is the place to compete against ones peers.

Whilst in the UK number one grandson rows for the Molesey Boat Club – a decision made, I half suspect, based upon their very conservative club colours of black and white and his observations of the outlandish confections of most of the other club’s jackets, trousers and strips (can you imagine performing in pink Lycra? (and no crass comments)). When you realise that Molesey is rated the ‘second-best’ club in the UK and their immediate neighbour Leander RC is rated as the ‘best’ but whose colours contain a lot of what they described as ‘Hot Pink’ you can see where he’s coming from!

I (and I suspect Number 1 daughter) am very happy with Molesey club colours

Anyway, enough of all that – this is the bit where I get to do what I mutter darkly about when others do it – talking about my grandson! The Molesey eight got through to the semis and just lost out to Upper Thames in a stupendous, right-to-the-line race (see the video below). That they had previously beaten both of the teams which made the final added to their disappointment at not having had the best of rows. ‘There’s always next year’ does not go down well at this level of commitment!

Henley Highlights – for me was being with number one daughter and seeing ‘our boy’ performing at such a high level. Talking with him and realising just how bright his future can be inside and outside of rowing – the Olympics? Probably, but that’s a story for another year. Seeing the amazing acceleration as an eight powers off the start and the umpire’s launch frantically tries to catch up. The sound of an eight as it charges by sounding for all the world like a steam engine.

Molesey BC left station

Thames Cup – the silver they were racing for

Oh, yes! and getting his permission to indulge the fancy of a certain lady in Rome who keeps going on about seeing him in Lycra!

. . didn’t really think you’d get a close-up, did you?

Just for you TT

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü


Heading For Henley – Pt. One ‘Men In Lycra’

cal-logoI’m keeping a promise to number one grandson and heading for Henley in a few days time. He’s a rower, you see, and damned good at it too. So good, in fact, that University of California Berkeley offered him a scholarship if only he would please go and row for them. On a pre-semester visit he was taken on a tour of the facilities by the coach and then introduced to his own personal trainer! When I heard that it blew my head – the parallels with my own modest career were uncanny.  At his age I too had a ‘personal trainer’ by the name of Sergeant Danny ‘The Beast’ Haddon. Unlike my grandson’s trainer, Danny was well known for extracting many a pound of flesh and searing himself into the psyche of young Private soldiers! He was also a fine marksman with the Stirling sub-machine gun winning a number of trophies with 3 Para Shooting Team.

3para shooting


Danny is the hulking brute with ‘piggy’ eyes front row extreme right

Anyway, back to this Henley business. Those who know me will be well aware that in the sartorial elegance stakes my reputation has declined somewhat. These days ‘shapeless’ and ‘comfortable’ define my style (or ‘You are not going out looking like that!’ if you listen to J!). So it came as a bit of a wake-up call when Number 1 Daughter informed me that we would be visiting the Royal Enclosure at certain times and that I needed decent shoes, trousers, shirt, tie in club colours (try buying that in Ortaca), and a blazer.

Charles_TyrwhittI was not phased – when we came here 16 years ago I brought everything, and I do mean everything! True to my hoarding instincts I kept the lot – in my wardrobe there are two business suits, full evening dress, hand-made shirts from Charles Tyrwhitt, and many pairs of well cut trousers. None of them fit me any more but they are much too nice to give or throw away! There are also things like hand-made shoes, silk ties and silk cuff-links – I just knew that one day I’d regain my youthful girth or, as in this case, that somehow I’d find something that would get me past the men-in-dark-glasses guarding the entrance of the Nob’s Enclosure without my having to visit the Oxfam shop in Henley High Street.



Henley – where you can look like a total ‘Knob’ and not feel out of place (

 In the wardrobe there were winners and losers – the beautiful hand-made shoes proved to be well dried out and showing cracks in places, so loafers it is; fortunately the blazer is double-breasted and so doesn’t need to be buttoned up; the hand-made shirts are an excellent fit apart from the top button (a Windsor knot will solve that); the tie in Beşiktaş colours will do fine and the silk cuff-links remain a triumph of good taste! What else? Oh, yes! The trousers – there I had to admit defeat and visit the very nice and very reasonably priced tailor in a back street of Ortaca – the new strides look very ‘colonial’! Everything is in the ‘best possible taste’.

All of which brings me to Lycra. I have it on the very best of authority that in Henley itself, the regatta being the biggest rowing event outside of the Olympics, there will be the biggest gathering of men (and women) in Lycra to be seen this side of a Freddy Mercury Look-a-Like Contest all wandering the streets looking for food.



Men-In-Lycra very pleased to be meeting HRH (the lady in the background trying to keep a straight face is holding their pina coladas)

Bit like watching the ‘Battle Of The Bulge’ whilst spaced-out on LSD!

Alan Fenn, still in Okçular Köyü for the moment