In southeastern Hungary, near the Croatian border, we stopped at Villánykövesd, one of the five villages that comprise the Villány wine region that stretches 25km to include the twelve settlements of Siklós. Hard as it is to imagine in a village with two streets, we got lost and ended up driving (very slowly) on tractor paths looking down on the village and where we should have been.
Three hundred and seventy verses with 1480 lines make for one hell of a long poem. But I read them all, cover to cover, the first time I picked up a copy of Petőfi Sándor’s book János Vitéz (John the Valiant). I did the same the second time, and the third time, and the fourth time. What’s more, remembering back to 2007, I think everyone on my Christmas list got a copy of John Ridland’s 1999 translation. Read more
I finally got in to see the Jewish Cemetery in Nagykanizsa. We’d tried a few times but it was closed. This time, the chap was driving away as we pulled up but he very kindly went back to get the key and let us in. I plan on seeing him again. Read more
A dead man here. Another one there. This one in his 60s. The other in his 80s. Beloved father, husband, son. An inevitability. Yet to see the markers of 211 dead RAF men, all of whom died within a few years of each other. Some on the same day, at the same time even, and none older than 36. That’s not inevitable. That’s war. Read more
All Saints’ Day is one of my favourite days on the Budapest calendar. To see policemen on traffic duty inside the grounds of the city’s major cemeteries makes me smile. To see generations of people making their way to the gravesites of those who have gone before them, armed with candles, flowers, and oftentimes food, warms the cockles of my sometimes cynical heart. To see families getting together to pray for deceased relatives and friends gives me faith that religion might still have a place in society, that it might still have a cohesive role to play. Read more
Hate takes effort and energy and, quite frankly, I’m too lazy to expend either on something that offers little reward. There’s some food I’d rather not eat; some people I’d rather not talk to; some places I’d rather not visit. But there are very few things in life that I actively hate. Even people who don’t keep their word; who make promises they have no intention of honoring, while low of my list of faves, earn my pity rather than my hate [and, imho, ‘sorry, I forgot’ doesn’t cut it as an excuse]. Read more
Traffic jams in Budapest are a common enough occurrence. A traffic jam in a cemetery though? That’s something I’d never seen before. Cars queuing to get out of a place people are literally dying to get into. Police on point duty waving their neon-colour batons in an attempt to maintain some sense of movement in a place usually known for its inertia. At 5 pm on Monday, 1st November, it was all happening at Újköztemető, the ‘new’ public cemetery out by the airport. Read more