A sketching and writing stop beside one of the gates to the Topkapi palace. Jim perched on a wall, Lizzie a few yards away under a tree. Enter Ahmed, tall, dark, with a neat beard, twinkly eyes, denim jeans and a pale blue shirt, immaculate. The ultimate Turkish cool? Perhaps not.

Ahmed is the front man, the fetcher of customers for the owner of a carpet emporium, Galata Nomadic Carpets, in the little streets behind the Sultan’s harem. He tried his charms with a mixture of humanism and philosophy, judging us the types to need some intellectual enticements before we would open our wallets. Such a show he put on for us, inviting is to come with him to the shop and experience true Turkish hospitality, it was just a few metres (more like 500) from the palace gate. We went along for the spiel as he reeled off as many philosophers as you can name in 10 minutes, why he is a Buddhist now having been raised a Muslim, once divorced with a daughter, and now with a Canadian girlfriend in the family way. The gift of the gab in spades! Oh, we heard it all from Ahmed who delivered us to his master and swiftly disappeared behind a curtain at the back of the shop leaving us seated on Mr Big’s plush settee surrounded by some fabulous carpets and kilims.

Jim had been deeply unimpressed by Ahmed and so took no time at all to tell Mr Big that we really weren’t interested in carpets at all and would far rather get back to our studio and watch the football. And with this we were on our way, chuckling and none the poorer, pursued by the shameless Ahmed who declared I had dropped something – his heart – as he went off in search of another susceptible looking dame!

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