Friday, 21 August 2009

Budapest 1

The last night in Paris was beautiful, considerably better than the boiling day on which neither walking around or walking to anywhere seemed possible. So I read and read, then we went out for early supper at the couscous place recommended by Jemma, sitting out on the pavement. I was extremely flattered to have the waiter compliment me on my flawless control of at least ten French words. Accent without a trace of French is the ideal to aim at and I am getting there. Inspector Clouseau on a taciturn day.

After the meal we walk along the Seine, first along the upper embankment than back along the lower. There is a huge party of picnics going on down there, not the tourists but the French. The picnics are so crowded they run into each other. Some boys play guitars. Every party has wine. It's mostly the young, and mostly in t-shirts and midriffs, but by one of the bridges a group of six or so are smartly dressed, have put out two tables, covered them in white tablecloth and are doing the full Jack Vettriano, No butlers, but the sleek inheriting the earth.

It is all amiable and hedonistic, A polite carnival. We amble along then climb steps to watch rollerbladers and rollerskaters engaged in a night long performance of plastic-cup slaloms, dodging round the red row and the yellow row, dancing or dashing, on points, on heels. We find a bench and watch for an hour or so, dropping a coin into the hat. When I look out of the Esmeralda window at midnight they are still at it.

No sleep, or maybe half an hour at the end. The drag to Orly is a drag but manageable and not too far. Orly quiet. The announcements race through in French. Hard to understand.

Budapest suburbs look quiet and neglected, but flags line some avenues. The airport bus - on which we are the only passengers - goes the long way round. And there are L and G waiting at the door. We are installed in our flat. Later we inspect each other's childrens wedding photos. The fireworks begin and keep rattling on. Eventually bed. The night cool. I finish Mark Sarvas's book on the plane so now I have read all I have brought for pleasure. Notes to follow.


Gwil W said...

You just missed a party near the Hungarian border town of Sopron. Angela Merkel was one of the guests. It was, as you know, to remember the 1989 'picnic' in which the Hungarian guards allowed the border to be open for 3 hours several hundred East Germans to escape into Austria. It was as we now know a litmus test for the Berlin Wall scenario due to follow a few weeks later.

Mark Granier said...

Your stay in Paris sounds fabulous. When I visited the city for the first time (two years ago, with my wife), we took the boat-cruise and I was entranced by the night-life along the banks of the Seine: families or couples having dinner, dancing etc.: marvelous, and so different to Ireland, the aliveness, freshness and inside-outness of it all. Some photographs here:


and journal entry here:

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Szirtes,

I just stumbled upon your blog and I am absolutely enthralled. I am also blogging, but from Italy, and I see that I have a lot to learn from your lovely writing and links. I intend to follow your work.

A fellow, but novice poet;

George S said...

I went to all the wrong picnics Gwilym. But of course I was in Budapest when the original one took place. A momentous moment among a lot of momentous moments, but this, though one of the least spectacular, the most momentous of them. East Germany haemorrhages into oblivion.

And yes, quite lovely Mark. Thanks for the photos. Am in good friend's flat so might wait to look at them, but - well, might sneak a look anyway.

George S said...

Anonymous - How kind. Thank you.