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Lord David inherits his Title and along with it the offer of a job as unofficial envoy to HMG. Can he afford to turn it dow? Will his stiff upper lip and naivety be enough to help him avoid the clutches of the women he meets so he can safely return to Lady J?
Wednesday November 27, 1991 The Perils of Prunella. The plane ride to Sanliurfa was rough, and so was the company. There were only eight seats on the plane which looked as though Von Richtofen might have been the last pilot. Each seat, bar mine, was occupied by rough unshaven men and even more unshaven women with an assortment of livestock on their knees. There were chickens and pigs and on my knee a goat. The pilot arrived. He looked bleary eyed and didn’t appear to have shaved for a week, but he got the plane up and we arrived safely. Outside the small airport building were three taxis. Seeing me emerge from the building all three drivers rushed over and tried simultaneously to grab my case. They were all jabbering in a dialect I didn't understand (I don’t speak anything other than English and some schoolboy French). One of them eventually tried, “You H'Engerlish Mister?” which got enough of a response from me for him to grab the case and shoo away the others. “Manchester United”, he said, knowing that even I must understand that. “Yes”, I said. “Where you go?” he asked. “To Pasha Mehmet”, I replied and I saw his face harden for a moment before he ushered me into his car. “You friend Mehmet?” he asked. “No”, I answered, “but I'm a guest who wants to see the archaeological diggings here”. “Ah”, he said as if that answered everything. “My name Selim, you need car you call. I show you around”. At which point he passed me a grubby card with his name and phone number and then started the engine. Our journey to Mehmet's took almost an hour during which time Selim was smiling again and pointing out places of interest to me. Eventually we could see what looked like an old crusader fort atop a large hill. Selim pointed it out as our destination. His method of pointing didn't fill me full of confidence as he raised both hands from the wheel, said “Mehmet there”, and spat out of the window. He refused to drive through the gate as we drew up so I paid him there using American dollars and ensuring a big tip. “You call if you need, ANYTIME”, he emphasised, and drove off. As he did so, the largest man I'd ever seen approached me. He must have been fully 6'6” tall and almost as wide. There were cascades of fat over the top of his pants and his little waistcoat barely reached his sides. He was also completely bald. He bowed to me, picked up my case as though it weighed an ounce and gestured me to follow without a word. We went through the gateway and across a large square where I could see guards in each corner carrying machine guns. In the centre was a fountain with a light display that looked out of place in such bleak surroundings. We entered a large building on the far side of the square and my guide pointed towards a room using one hand to indicate that I should enter. He went off with my case. I entered the room which was richly furnished with antiques from all parts of the world and with stands bearing what were obviously antiquities. “Greetings, Lord Bouldnor”, I heard, and glancing towards a chair at the fireplace saw an arm inviting me forward. There in the chair I found Mehmet. He was probably no more than five feet tall and though he had a full head of hair, he was almost as rotund as his servant. “Greetings, Lord Mehmet” I said, “you are most kind to extend this invitation. Please call me David”. “Welcome”, he replied, “here I am known as Pasha Mehmet”. I offered my hand which he shook limply. “Sit, sit”, he said. “Can I offer you a drink perhaps? Tea, coffee ,sherbet?” “A tea would be most welcome”, I replied. Mehmet clapped his hands and the giant entered the room. “Tea for two, Abdullah”, Mehmet told him. To me he said, “My slave Abdullah cannot speak to you. He has no tongue. The reason for his bulk is because he is a eunuch”. I was surprised at the statement but made no comment. The way he had told me also left me glad I hadn't let my humour out for a trot by singing “And two for tea”, when he spoke to Abdullah. When the tea arrived we drank it as Mehmet talked about all his possessions and from whence they had come. It was strange, as he seemed to know exactly where they had come from and their dollar worth but he spoke without warmth. They were just possessions to brag about, not warm, beautiful objects to him. He did not impress me. As the day grew on we went through to a smaller salon to eat. There was the usual low table and cushions on which to sit. The meal itself was wonderful and the courses were served by a succession of different men all quiet and taciturn. I had so far seen no women at all but decided not to pass comment. Shortly afterwards, Mehmet wished me goodnight and had Abdullah show me to my allocated room. I thanked Abdullah and he bowed and left. My bag was on the divan and I could see at once it had been searched. I wondered if Mehmet was suspicious of all his guests. I decided to write my diary and bring you up to date, and then rested on the divan. The next day, I hoped to see more of the fort and to discover if Mehmet was holding Prunella Battersby, as the colonel's daughter was called. Thursday, November 28, 1991 Alvin and the Chipmunks I got up early this morning. From my window I could see the square and all the guards. There was no one in the passage outside my room so I decided to explore a bit. I showered and dressed first and then stepped out and shut my door. As I did so I noticed a red light flickering opposite and realised that there was a camera trained on my room. Pretending I hadn't seen it I walked along the passage way in the opposite direction to the way I'd approached it last night. I soon came to two sets of stairs. One led down, presumably to the rooms I'd been in yesterday, the study and dining rooms, or maybe the kitchen was there. The other stairs went up. Faintly from up there I could hear singing of a sort. I confess the voices I could hear were more reminiscent of Alvin and the Chipmunks played at 78rpm but they were still recognisable as those of women. I was tempted to go up but as I heard movement from below I chose to go down instead. Mehmet must have been at the bottom, shouting at Abdullah. “Find him, you fool!” I heard. “Umh, umh, umh”, was the only reply. As I appeared Mehmet stopped short, which was I suppose appropriate for someone his size. “Good morning, Lord David”, he said, “It appears Abdullah has lost my favourite dog”, he improvised, but I knew he'd been referring to me. Turning to Abdullah he just said “Go”. “Would you like some help to look for the little fellow?” I ventured. I “Not necessary”, he told me, “I have plenty of slaves and servants to do that. Shall we take breakfast?” I agreed and we entered the dining room together. I fully expected to see fruits on the table and was pleasantly surprised to see dishes containing bacon, fried eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms. With those and some toast I breakfasted well. After breakfast Mehmet offered to take me to the local digs to view all the recent finds. I must admit that I was intrigued to see them and so I agreed. He led me outside to where a jeep had drawn up. Beside it was another large man who helped Mehmet into the front passenger seat. That was the long and short of it. Oh dear, I thought, I must stop thinking about his shortcomings. Arrgh. We spent most of the day at the excavations, some of which were situated in networks of caves in nearby hills. The finds were fascinating, and Mehmet told me that there were stories that this was the birth place of the biblical Abraham. People seemed friendly towards me but less so to Mehmet. Whenever his back was turned their expressions reflected that they held a very ‘low’ opinion of him. Oh dear, there I go again. As we returned to the jeep for the journey back to the fort I noticed a number of boxes in the back. I said nothing, but a while after we returned I notice that more antiquities were displayed on low pillars in the study. Dinner was again a wonderful meal and Mehmet was chatty and a good host. I did excuse myself early though, pleading tiredness, and headed for my room. I decided to get some rest as I intended to wake early and look around. Friday, November 29, 1991 Lost On My Way to the Kitchen My watch vibrated on my wrist telling me it was 2.30 am. I chose that time as I seemed to recall reading somewhere that that was the time during which people are in their deepest sleep. I dressed quickly and quietly and put a sock in my pocket ready to put over the camera, thanking all the James Bond books for their ideas. I was relying on luck that no one was watching as I left the room, or at least that they were distracted. At least I could see that there was no light under my door which led to the passageway. I quietly opened the door and keeping as low as possible left the room. Once out I flattened myself against the far wall and put the sock over the camera. Moving down the passage I headed for the stairs I'd found yesterday. Again I flattened myself against the camera wall and slowly climbed. I'd only climbed ten steps when I felt a turn in the stairs. I followed it round keeping my eyes open for another camera but seeing none. There was enough moonlight to see that instead of continuing up, the stairs started going down again. I thought it very strange as there was nothing here for the stairs to have come to. Down I went until I reached the bottom. I was on another corridor. There were only two doors. Carefully I opened the first and could hear faint snoring and could see in the dim light the outline of someone on a huge bed at the end of the room. The room looked opulent and I guessed it was Mehmet's. Shutting the door as quietly as I could, I moved to the second one. This I also opened carefully and could hear breathing. There was a huge gauze curtain in front of me, and pulling it aside I saw a number of beds divided only by more gauze curtains. Each bed was occupied. Quietly and on tiptoe I made my way across the room looking towards each bed as I went. All the beds bar one had occupants with dark hair. The last one was blonde. My best guess was that this was Prunella Battersby. To be sure, I gently shook her and as she woke shushed her in case she was alarmed. “Are you Prunella?” I whispered. “Yes”, came the reply. “Who are you?” “I'm David, and I've come to take you home”, I said. “How touching”, said a voice as the light came on. Turning round I saw Mehmet with Abdullah and one of his armed guards. “Got lost when I fancied a cup of tea”, I tried vainly. “Just asking this young lady the way to the kitchen”. Mehmet sneered, turned to Abdullah and said, “Take them both to the cellars”. Abdullah and the other guard came towards us, and Abdullah gestured that we should follow him and that the guard would bring up the rear. Passing Mehmet on the way out I said, “This is a very 'short' sighted move on your part, Mehmet. How will you cope when my friends report me missing too? I think their reaction will 'dwarf' any preparations you and your guards will make”. Mehmet almost snarled but I'm sure a smile played about the lips of Abdullah. We were taken to the cellars and placed in a big room. The door was locked and through the keyhole I could see an armed guard sitting outside. I asked Prunella how she was and she answered that she was scared but otherwise OK. All the women in the harem had been taken from the nearby villages and held by Mehmet, yet so far he'd touched none of them. I had a vague notion why this should have been. They were probably held to ensure that the villagers did as they were told. I realised at that point that the harem was a diversion for visitors but a pretence in truth. I could see that the cellars were actually caves in the hill below the house. I remembered hearing stories that in some crusader forts they had made escape routes in case the Saracens overran the forts. I suggested Prunella try and sleep while I had a look around. Luckily she'd donned a coat over her nightwear while we were still upstairs. I checked all the walls as carefully as I could. Along the back wall was a row of six huge barrels. They must have been used for wine at one time but whoever had placed them here had made one error. All but one barrel had a wine stain about the tap where wine had spilt. I checked the one without stains, hoping that a bandit fort may have existed here at one time. Sure enough, I found a mark around the front edge of the barrel which indicated to me it that it was removable. I tried and it was. I pulled hard at the front and it came away leaving a large opening to a clear space. I climbed in and kicked at the far end, which fell off with a dull thud. I woke Prunella and sent her through the barrel. I went last so that I could re-attach the front as we left in order to confuse any pursuers. As I emerged on to a sandy cave bottom at the other end, I replaced the end of the barrel. I took Prunella's hand and walked in the direction of a draught I could feel. Fortunately Mehmet had not ordered us to be searched. I carried my passport, my wallet with tickets and my mobile phone. He probably knew I'd get no signal from inside the cave and hadn't worried. Out here at the cave entrance it was fine. My first call was to Selim. Rousing him from sleep I asked him to come and get us. I suggested a meeting place just out of sight of the fort. “Fifteen minutes I be there”, he said. I also told him to rouse as many villagers as he could especially those with daughters in the fort. He agreed. Then I phoned Sir Bertram to say I had Prunella but without a passport. I asked if he could get airport clearance for her to travel. “No problems, old man”, he told me. “If you can get to Sanliurfa airport within two hours I’ll have a helicopter waiting for you”. “Marvellous”, I told him. “Don't worry, we'll be there”. With my help Prunella managed to get to the meeting place with Selim who had already arrived. There were quite a few villagers there too. Leaving Prunella safely with Selim, I beckoned them to follow and led them back to the cave and its secret. I could hear nothing from the room when I removed the back of the barrel, so I carefully pushed out the front end. Finding no one in the cellar room, I beckoned the men inside. I pointed to the door and mimed to indicate that there was one man with a gun on the other side. One of the villagers spoke some English and confirmed that he had understood my meaning. I knew that the door was locked so I tapped on it. I heard a grunt from the guard and said, “Water, please a glass of water”. I heard him move away, but not far, and then return. The key turned in the lock. First the gun came through and I grabbed the barrel and pulled. The guard came inside almost falling and was clubbed unconscious by a villager. We climbed the stairs to the house and I showed them the harem. I asked the English speaker and one other to follow me. We entered Mehmet's room quietly and as we approached the bed I saw on a nightstand a wig. My suspicions were confirmed, he was really bald and no doubt also a eunuch, which had been my reason for thinking that the girls had been untouched. Mehmet had not wanted his men to know. I wondered whether he had been a castrato as a child to preserve a singing voice and if this had been his revenge on society. Anyway, I pocketed the wig, and a spare I found on another stand close by. Quietly I indicated that we should leave, though I could see that the men wanted to deal with Mehmet in a different way. As we left, following the girls and replacing the barrel as it had been, I tried to explain that Mehmet would do no more wrong here. His men would leave when they saw him as he really was, and then the villagers could call in the police and could also help themselves to Mehmet's treasures. They appreciated the idea that with his men gone, no one would be hurt by gunfire and that as well as rescuing the girls they could profit from the night. They sent one man to keep watch to check when the guards left the fort. I joined Selim and Prunella at the taxi and asked Selim to get us to the airport at Sanliurfa. He did this in a remarkable time and we arrived with our eyes wide and full of fear. I gave him all my U.S. dollars which were probably enough to buy a new taxi and wished him well. “You good friend, David, you come back we make you Kurd”, he said and shook my hand. The helicopter was there as promised and I helped Prunella aboard. “Soon be home, old girl”, I promised. “But I can't go like this, David. You simply MUST take me shopping in Istanbul”. I asked the pilot whether Istanbul was our destination and he said that it was. It would be the following day before we could arrange a temporary passport for Prunella and get a commercial flight home. I told Prunella I would help her. At Istanbul we got off the helicopter and were taken by car to the British Consulate. There we met the diplomatic staff and I was introduced as Lord David which brought a look of surprise to Prunella's face. One of the consulate secretaries gave Prunella a dress that would fit and that she could wear while we shopped and she left to try it on. While she was gone the Consul General quizzed me on what had happened in Sanliurfa in case there were any repercussions for the Consulate. I promised him that there would be none and that the locals up there were probably as pro-British as you could get. He thanked me and handed me an envelope full of U.S. dollars for the shopping trip. Instructions from Whitehall, he said. Prunella returned and we thanked the consular staff and left to go shopping. I'd been told that two rooms had been booked for us at a hotel so we had a base of operations, as my suitcase full of clothing was also missing. With so much money, I suggested our first port of call should be breakfast. Prunella agreed and showed me a place she'd visited when she’d been here previously. Though I couldn't have a bacon and egg breakfast, I ate well and enjoyed some Turkish coffee. Then we started a round of shopping. As you will know I don't usually find shopping a daunting task, but today I felt that my legs were inches shorter. We visited milliners and she bought bras and underwear, asking me to approve every item. She even tried some on and came into the shop modelling it for me. My collar grew tight and I know that there were many disapproving looks from other customers, most of whom were Muslim. Next came dresses and skirts and blouses. I had to approve every one and have each modelled before me. I thought my face was on fire and just said “Mm, lovely”, to everything. Before shoes and handbags we had lunch. It was a lamb and rice dish that was very pleasant and there was Turkish delight with coffee afterwards. Shoes and handbags were not nearly so stressful, but I did wonder why we needed so much as she surely had clothing back in the U.K.. I chastised myself as this was probably a catharsis for her. I found a shop where I bought two suitcases for her and a replacement one for me. I was also able to buy two pairs of trousers, two shirts, another waistcoat and a cravat. We still had dollars remaining which surprised me. At the hotel we had the baggage taken to our rooms which were both nice doubles. We showered, changed and met downstairs at seven as we'd agreed. I'd managed an hour’s nap on the bed as well. At seven a very pretty and refreshed young lady met me in the bar and we had a drink before dinner. She seemed very relaxed and engaged me in a lot of conversation. She seemed very attentive to all I had to say in return. I heard all about her life and how she had travelled after being let down by her young man. “I'm sure you wouldn't do that to a woman”, she said. “Certainly not”, I replied. Over dinner the conversation flowed nicely too. She asked me how long I'd been married and whether I was happy. I assured her I was, I mean I am. “These days”, she said, “a strong marriage is good. Though I think a little bit of variety injected doesn't go amiss”. Having not thought about that I didn't respond. Eventually we finished and even she had to admit she was tired. We said our good-nights and went off to bed. As I entered my room the phone rang. It was a Commander Irkun to let me know that Mehmet had been arrested and a vast amount of antiquities recovered. He thanked me for all my help and told me that if I ever returned he would be glad to work with me, but that next time I should notify him that I was there. I accepted the mild slap on the wrist as my due. I've just finished writing this and am now going to get some sleep