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Lisa Stansfield: Turkey ……. with all the trimmings

September 19th, 2013

It’s 6.30am and I’ve had 8½ minutes sleep. Or at least, that’s how it feels.

Having gone on stage last night at the GQ Awards after show party at around 1.30am, it was 3.30am when I put out the glorious soviet people’s bedside lamp. And now, I’m wandering aimlessly around my hotel room, close to tears and wondering what it is I am supposed to be doing.

Thankfully I’ve been at this game for long enough to know that there are certain key things that must be done the night before.

Pack. Very important. It’s always much quicker to pack the night before rather than trying to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything in the morning, when you can’t even remember your own name, where you are or why you are there.

Drink water. Lots of it. Irrespective of how much you have drunk, it is always a good idea to drink as close to a small swimming pool as you can manage. It really is the only effective protection against a hangover and the downside – getting up to go to the toilet 20 times in the night – is always, repeat always, a price worth paying. You know it makes sense.

We are scheduled to leave for the airport at 7.15am and breakfast in the hotel starts at 7.00am so, those of us who like to start the day with a square meal have 15 minutes to either smash something down or, in my case, assemble a take away.

No problem. Eight inches of baguette, a fistful of bacon and a threatening of scrambled egg along with a healthy dollop of tomato ketchup (1 of my 5 a day) and I have the perfect travelling companion.

The rationale behind leaving at such a preposterous hour was to avoid the terrible morning traffic which the local agent told us we would undoubtedly encounter on the way to the airport.

Well, it was like a scene from War of the Worlds on the way there. We hardly passed another car and we arrived at the airport a week early to find the night watchman rubbing his eyes and looking at his watch.

So, in place of killing the local agent, we killed a few minutes checking in and what seemed like a day and a half filling out exit paperwork to make sure that the glorious people’s republic wasn’t glorious to the tune of ten more people. And then we were through to the bun fight that is security.

I swear the process gets more like It’s A Knockout every time we do it. Take this off, put that in the tray, remove any item not knitted from macrobiotic lark’s hair. You’re almost naked by the time you walk through the scanner. It’s probably easier to turn up at the airport in your dressing gown and then just get dressed once you’re through security.

Finally we were through and we caught the flight by the skin of our teeth, with only two hours to spare. I couldn’t even fill any of the time by having a coffee as it would keep me awake and I was desperate for some shut eye.

By now, you may be getting the impression that I don’t cope well with lack of sleep. A point I will concede.

I’m not asleep. I’m just thinking

Davide takes advantage of the chance to stretch out……….

Once on the plane – an Aeroflot plane – I almost instantly made a startling discovery. British Airways, it would seem, are NOT the world’s grumpiest airline!

It didn’t matter though because as soon as I hit my seat I passed out and for 4½ hours my answer to anyone’s question was zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

The conversation was flowing on the flight down to Istanbul

We arrived in Istanbul at around 3.30pm local time and were all made to feel much better by the VIP treatment waiting for us.

As we stepped off the plane we were greeted by two delightful young Turkish ladies who loaded us all on to what looked like a cross between a golf cart and a hummer and we were whisked off straight through passport control and customs and within a few minutes we were standing around waiting for the remnants of our luggage.

Our VIP stretch mobility scooter

As we stepped out of the airport terminal we were hit full in the face by a billion degrees of Turkish sun and the sights, sounds and smells of the entire Ottoman Empire trying to get out of the car park at the same time.

We piled into the waiting Mercedes, ordered the driver to set the air con to Arctic and headed for central Istanbul.

As time was now cracking on it was decided that we should all go straight to the venue to get set up for the soundcheck. Well, all except Mick and I, who were assigned the crucial task of testing the hotel beds to make sure they were comfy enough.

Hey. Someone has to do it.

An hour or so later, and with our critical mission accomplished, they were ready for the brass at the soundcheck so off we went.

Waiting downstairs in the lobby was our old friend Lorraine who had flown in at the last minute to fill in for Andrea (whose mum is now doing well, by the way). It’s quite a job she had in front of her. The last time she worked with us was way back in January and she now had to remember everything – without a rehearsal. Words, lines, notes – the lot. And the dance steps 😉

As everyone was feeling like death, the soundcheck was over in about 10 minutes and then some of the guys stayed at the venue to have something to eat while others of us went back to the hotel for another quick nap and a bath.

8.15 in the hotel lobby and we were on our way to the show.

The rather aptly named Bešiktaš Kültür Merkezi is a delightful little theatre in the heart of the Bešiktaš area of Istanbul, which is a bit like Soho but with lots more kebab shops.

The delightful little Bešiktaš Kültür Merkezi Theatre

The show itself was actually great fun. Despite the fact that we were all dead on our feet, the adrenaline saw us through (or was it the Vodka and Red Bull?) and we had a stormer of a show, with the crowd, though fairly small, bang up for it. Lorraine did an amazing job considering she had no rehearsal whatsoever and she sounded fantastic.

Once the gig was finished I met up with an old friend who now lives in Istanbul and he and his lovely wife took me out to see the sights and experience the vibe of Istanbul. We sat in a couple of waterfront bars drinking and catching up until around 2.30am and the place was still buzzing when I finally admitted defeat and they dropped me off at the hotel.

We said our goodbyes and I headed off to my bed.

As I got in the lift, a thought suddenly struck me.

I wonder if any of the guys are still in the bar?………….

Boy, that was a tough gig!

I KNEW I should have gone straight to bed…..

Dave will do ANYTHING to keep his job


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