IF truth is stranger than fiction, then Billy Hayes’s remarkable story is stranger than walking through a deserted Edinburgh during August.
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LE MONDE HOTEL, GEORGE STREET
So for those unfamiliar, a little history. Over-confident in smuggling hashish out of Turkey, a young, carefree Hayes finally gets arrested, sentenced to four years in a harsh, unforgiving foreign jail. Thanks to Richard Nixon’s influential war-on-drugs, however, the Turkish courts condemn him to a further thirty years.
The plan? Escape: an escape which will result in transferring to a mental institution, rowing a dinghy 17 miles across a stormy sea, and avoiding the Turkish army before reaching Greece.
Based on Hayes’s bestselling novel (also adapted into an Oscar-winning Hollywood movie), it’s only in the last year that the fit-looking 67-year-old has had the courage to recount a life less ordinary. At first, Hayes seems like any other storyteller. When his prison sentence is increased, only then do you truly realise he’s talking about himself. In fact, it’s so life-affirming, the audience edge their heads closer in anticipation, hanging on every word, some literally sitting on the edge of their seat.
After listening to Hayes, you’ll instantly rediscover your appreciation for everything we take for granted.