Sunday, 11 May 2014


Yilmos’s Birthday

       Over the years we have seen many waiters come and go at Hera restaurant. All have been memorable in many ways, but one stands out, Yilmos.
        If someone had a stills camera, he was anxious to be in the shot, if someone produced a video camera, it was as if someone had turned on the lights and shouted action. He was a natural performer with impromptu dialogue that could have been scripted by the wackiest writers.
         When you are a waiter in a sleepy fishing village in a small Turkish tourist resort, as Yilmos was. Talking to people who vary in nationality by the hour certainly increases your knowledge of other languages, but how do you use it? Well that’s where Yilmos was unique. To try and describe him a little more, let me take you back to the late 90’s when our stay at the Hera coincided with his Birthday.........

          Word had got around that it was Yilmos’s Birthday, no doubt fuelled by Yilmos. I met him on the way to my early morning swim.
           ‘Good morning Yilmos, happy birthday.
           ‘Why good morning good buddy, and remember günaydin is good morning in Turkish if you should want to speak as me fluent in other lingo. Don’t forget, have a slice of my cake tonight you and your good lady wife’
           ‘Sure Yilmos thank you’
           ‘No problem, and please, thank you in Turkish is teşekkür ederim, but please is lutven, not German but sounds same.
 My body is already hitting the water as he finishes. Being spoken to by Yilmos in his staccato style is like having words fired at you from a machine gun, and not always in the right order.
             My wife and I were the first to arrive in the restaurant on the evening.  A couple of drinks and a cigar for Yilmos.
            ‘How old is the Birthday boy then? My wife asks.
            ‘Is still nineteen my lovely Diane’
            ‘I bet we could double that’ we retort. Just then a family of four from the rear apartments arrive. A boy and a girl run round Yilmos saying in broken English happy birthday.  From Norway I thought.
            ‘Where are they from?’ my wife asks Yilmos.
            ‘Why Sweden’ he replied.  I am wrong.  The couple introduce themselves’
            ‘I am Theo from Norway and this is my wife Anna from Sweden.’ Half right Yilmos.
              Then what looks like a retired couple from the same apartments enter, he has a head of white hair and very striking white moustache . They sit at the table next to us and he introduces himself.
             ‘Good evening my name is Eric.’ It is the perceived voice of every retired English Colonel heard on stage and screen.
             ‘This is my wife Elaine, but they call us Eric and Ernie, she’s the one with the fat hairy legs’ he chortled.  I look down at her legs like a fool before returning the introduction.  Eric then moves to the Norway Sweden amalgamation and introduces himself as before.  As he gets to the fat hairy legs bit I notice Theo looks down.  Yilmos who has been taking all this information in, turns to Eric and asks.
              ‘What would Mr and Mrs Ernie like to drink?’ and I swear he looked at her legs.
              An American party arrives, three girls and a married couple. Across the restaurant  Sweden and Norway have made Yilmos a crown of flowers. My wife thinks he looks like the queen of the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The family then sing to Yilmos Happy Birthday in their own Language. Yilmos is taken by surprise, but by swiftly looking at all of them in turn he manages to sing along using their words.
               The couple in the American party introduce themselves as Nancy and Matt. The rest of the evening, for some unknown reason Yilmos refers to them as Mercy and Max.

                  If you would like to see some snippets of the evening on film, please go to the following:

Yilmos was also always keen to send a message to anyone he knew who hadn’t turned up that particular summer. Two of these messages can also be savoured by going to the following:

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