by Jez Bond

Sarah Rutherford, our writer in residence, has been developing a play inspired by some of the stories of Finsbury Park residents. Under the project title ‘N4 Stories’, she has been working with a group of (predominantly) local actors, interviewing people from the N4 area over the past four months. The actors have then brought these real characters and stories to life inside the rehearsal room where they have been hot-seated by Sarah and put into groups in order to improvise scenes.

For the past three days Sarah has blogged from Turkey, where she is on a research trip. If you’re new to this blog, do look back over the past few days and follow it from the start. This is her last day:

On my final day in Istanbul, the nonsense continues to tease and delight.  Last night I’d walked with Esin under twinkling Christmas lights along a street that makes Leicester Square look like a back lane in Ambridge, running the gauntlet of seedy come-ons from the types who give the Turkish male a bad name, while marvelling at groups of young women who blithely mix and match demure headscarves and snazzy street fashion.  Hang on.  Christmas lights?  ‘Probably they thought, “Well, it’s June now, might as well leave them up till next Christmas,”‘ said Esin.  And here’s me surprised that Christmas is that much of an occasion here – whether in December or in June.

This morning the surreal festive theme persisted as I ate breakfast in the rising heat to the strains of ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ over the hotel sound system.  It felt like someone was messing with my head.

And of course the city yielded up more unlooked-for curiosities, from dolphins leaping in the Golden Horn as we drove to the Blue Mosque, to arctic fox puppies and jars of leeches for sale in the seething Spice Market.

So it’s goodbye to Turkey.  Tomorrow I jet back to London with a jumble of assorted Turkish Delight in my suitcase to share with the actors, and a jumble of Turkish miscellanea in my churning brain.  This is a country that bewilders and seduces in equal measure, and in some way – probably in the way I least expect – this play has to be some kind of love story.

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