Farewell to a friend

On Wednesday afternoon my friend, British photographer Jeanna Nash, arrived in Goreme, fully intending to come and cat-sit for me a few days later. Sadly, fate intervened to prevent that from happening. That same evening she somehow missed her footing on the stairs in another house and sadly didn’t live to tell the story.

Tragic accidents such as this one come like bolts out of the blue, shocking us all out of our complacency. Nothing can ever ease the pain of those closest to the deceased but recently the tradition of mourning in deepest gloomy black has started to be replaced with the idea of celebrating life instead. So as I looked sadly at the miniature metal cat and kittens that she had brought with her from England as a present for me I thought back to the enthusiastic traveler and Goreme-lover who had become my friend over the last few years.

I first met Jeanna when she came here one winter to write a piece for the British magazine A Place in the Sun about the oddball bunch of expats who had chosen to relocate not to oh-so-familiar Tuscany or Provence but to rural Anatolia instead. As I showed her round my house she described to me her adventurous life working first on the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise liner and then for the BBC. Soon we were concocting a plan for her to come back and house-sit for me in the spring.

One thing led to another and soon Jeanna was renting an apartment just across the road from me. One of the happiest memories I have of that time was the day that she invited all the local “yabancıs” (foreigners) round for a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. She went to so much trouble for us on that particular day. There were the unexpected bone-china teacups and saucers, the teapot and natty tea cozy. There were the copious quotations from “Alice in Wonderland” pinned up around the room. And there, presiding over it all with aplomb, was our hostess, nattily clad in a pair of floppy bunny ears.

Lording it over us, too, was Jeanna’s companion Darius, who has already featured in this column. As a photographer Jeanna had many passions, some fairly predictable (Cappadocia’s hot-air balloons were a particular favorite), some much less so. One of her more offbeat enthusiasms was for shop-window mannequins, which she had photographed by the hundred for a book project. So when she saw a couple of mannequins about to be discarded in a Goreme souvenir shop she speedily snapped up the male and talked me into buying the female too.

“I’m calling mine Darius,” she said, and I, ever the nerd, thought immediately of Darius, the great king of Persia. Accordingly I clicked onto Wikipedia and discovered that his wife had been called Atossa. Not a particularly pretty name, I thought, but no matter — Atossa my girl should be. When I told Jeanna this she looked at me as if I’d gone insane. Turned out that the Darius she had had in mind had been a finalist in one series of the British television program, “Pop Idol”!

Now, sadly, it looks as if Darius must prepare himself to travel to the UK along with all the other mementos of Jeanna’s stay in Cappadocia.

It just remains to say farewell, my friend. You will be sorely missed.

Pat Yale lives in a restored cave-house in Goreme in Cappadocia.