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Village Voices: Issue 57

What was Uncle Norman up to in Ankara, and who was Cicero? Azize Ethem puzzles over a hoard of family photographs, and is no less confused as the Ottomans return to an almost unrecognisable Istanbul.

Sorting out an enormous box of family photographs turned out to be a tedious, never-ending chore. Some pictures hadn’t seen the light of day for decades, and a large pile was accumulating of people or scenes I have no memory of. Coming across a picture of my uncle, I was happy to remember the stories of Turkey he told me when I was a child.

During the Second World War he was military attaché at the British Embassy in Ankara – just at the time the famous spy codenamed Cicero was at work. The Turkish capital was a hotbed of intrigue, with spies around just about every corner. İsmet İnönü, the President, was doing his very best to keep Turkey out of the war, so mingling with the foreigners crowding the coffee houses were a large number of Turkish secret service operatives. Deciding to learn all I could about the Cicero Affair, I embarked on what I thought would be an interesting hour on the internet.

The hour turned into a couple of frustrating days as I accumulated a plethora of conflicting information. Several books have been written about Cicero, including an autobiography, and then there was the film Five Fingers, starring James Mason and premiered in 1952, on which my uncle acted as an adviser. But who knows whether the truth about this mysterious Albanian Turk will ever be known?

To read the full article, purchase Issue 57

Other Highlights from Cornucopia 57
  • Waterworld: Three Days That Saved the World

    Like many others, when I first visited the Kızılırmak Delta wetland conservation area, I felt as if I had personally just discovered it. It was the summer of 2012… Caterina Scaramelli on the Black Sea’s most precious delta

  • The Sleeping Beauty

    Time has stood still at the Kavafyan Konak, the oldest surviving mansion on the Bosphorus. Abandoned for 20 years in the village of Bebek, it is a rare example of the refinement and restraint of 18th-century Ottoman design. From a fresco of a formal garden – recalling the fashionable obsession with horticulture – to a trompel’oeil parasol rosette, original decorative details survive, decayed and faded but intact. Text and photographs by Burak Çetintaş

  • Riders of the Lost Paths: Seven Days in the Saddle

    The photographer Mark Cator shares his vivid diary and images of a ride across ancient Phrygia

  • Lenin’s éminence grise

    Prodigiously talented and duplicitous, Parvus Efendi was a larger-than-life writer, arms dealer, fixer and bon vivant. Norman Stone sizes up the grand capitalist who oiled the wheels of the Russian Revolution and ingratiated himself with the Young Turks

  • Happiness is pear-shaped

    Beloved of birds and bees, prized by Ottoman sultans and Bourbon kings, pears are a particular joy eaten ripe from the tree. But cooking coaxes the flavour out of even those mass-market varieties grown for a long shelf life and ripened in cold storage

  • The painter who vanished

    Born into a family of much-travelled artists, Joseph Schranz made his name in Ottoman Istanbul on the eve of the Crimean War with finely detailed, atmospheric panoramas of the Bosphorus. Admired by the Palace and by a new breed of intrepid tourist, he even trained a generation of Turkish artists to observe nature. Yet Schranz’s life in Turkey is an almost total mystery and his known works are tantalisingly rare

  • The Summer of Love

    With her discoveries at Cnidus she was the first female archaeologist to become a household name. But Aphrodite was the undoing of Iris Love. By Rupert Scott. New York portrait by Jürgen Frank

  • Waterworld: Tales From the Birdman

    The transformation of the Black Sea’s vast Kizilirmak Delta from lost cause to paradise regained is a miraculous reversal of fortunes. The ornithologist Emin Yoğurtcuoğlu recalls his early visits and introduces the dazzling birds of the delta, while the anthropologist Caterina Scaramelli pays homage to a way of life that can only benefit both man and nature. Photographs by Emin Yoğurtcuoğlu

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