David McFall R.A. (1919 - 1988)


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1968/2 Mrs Joan Muhtar

Portrait bust

Height 21½"


Exhibited Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 1968 Catalogue No. 1180

The Turk who lit my fire

First love: Muhtar, with whom Jenni spent a summer in Turkey.

In the summer of 1968, before I went to Hull University, I flew to see my parents in Turkey, where Dad, an electrical engineer, was working.

As I walked across the airport tarmac, I saw my mother flanked by a tall woman and a young man of such physical charm that my tired eyes almost popped out of my head. Dad was ill, so a family friend, Joan, and her son, Muhtar, had accompanied my mother to meet me. I was offered the option of travelling in Joan's car with my mother or with Muhtar in his battered, blue VW Beetle. No contest. It was the start of my first grown-up, passionately romantic affair. Joan was an English woman who had met her Turkish husband at Oxford and spent her married life in Turkey. Muhtar was 28 and a mix of English good manners and Turkish passion. I was 18 and head over heels at first sight. We would spend our days on the beach, swimming and sunbathing. I learned to shoot - Muhtar always carried a gun in the glove compartment of his car in case of bandits. God, it was thrilling. Eventually, he borrowed a friend's flat and - wait for the cliche - we made well-protected love to the strains of Jose Feliciano's Light My Fire. I've always been grateful I lost my virginity to a practised lover and not to one of the spotty oiks who'd preceded him, even if I was later told that Muhtar had a reputation for going with wives on the nearby American base. Jenni Murray 2008 • Memoirs Of A Not So Dutiful Daughter, by Jenni Murray, is published by Bantam Press.

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