Ruin bars and anarchy.

Hello, how is everyone? Kate and I are recovering from our terrific trip to Buda and Pest, even though I planned travel to be at a reasonable time and looking forward to relaxing spa sessions, as ever, and I’m sure like with many of you, such trips always leave you tired.

I’m writing this in a new position lying on Kate’s side of the bed as the waterbed’s sprung a leak on my side, one of the very few downsides of a waterbed. And after sleeping in this room for over 6 years it’s only today that I realise Kate has a much better view out of the window, she can see for miles over hills and trees and stuff and all I’ve ever seen are the backs of bleedin’ houses!

Right now I’m a little perturbed with the constant tingling, almost numbness, of my fingers and toes. It’s a late developing side effect of the chemo and I’ll discuss it tomorrow at the next hospital check-up. Whilst there is only occasional and low level throat pain swallowing is a daily hazard: if the food is too dry or I take too big a mouthful it can get stuck or occasionally I gag. Consequently my diet is changing. Mouth dryness is constant and I think forever, and that’s a mighty long time, it disturbs my sleep. And the most debilitating for me is fatigue, I walk slower, need more rests so this allowed us to have lots of stops in Buda and Pest for coffee, beer or cake in the many delightful cafes, bars and patisseries.

Now before we went I didn’t know that Buda and Pest were two places either side of the Danube and were only joined to form Budapest in 1873. We stayed in a fairly swanky hotel in the Jewish part of Pest, another downside of having a waterbed is that whenever you sleep elsewhere the beds are never as comfortable but our hotel bed was OK.

I haven’t worn a watch since my teenage years and have often stated “anarchists don’t wear watches”. I’ve just researched where I got that from and in the 1960’s anarchists such as the American John Jerzan stopped wearing watches: “Only with the imposition of time can we begin to impose routine. The 14th century saw the first public clocks, and also the division of hours into minutes and minutes into seconds. The increments of time were now as fully interchangeable as the standardized parts and work processes necessary for capitalism. At every step of the way this subservience to time has been met with resistance. For example, in early fighting in France’s July Revolution of 1830, all across Paris people began to spontaneously shoot at public clocks. In the 1960s, many people, including me, quit wearing watches.” from

So not being a total anarchist I always look around for public clocks and soon clocked that very few public clocks in Budapest show the ‘correct’ time, maybe there’s a streak of anarchy in the place. There is more evidence of this: Hungary was the more bolshie of the Warsaw Pact states and the Russians poured in in 1956 to quell the uprising and the Hungarian form of communism was called ‘Goulash Communism’ from the early 1960’s until 1989 which mixed metaphors of the mixed ingredients of goulash and the mixed ideology of Hungarian communism. Also the ‘ruin bars’: these are bars set up in ruined and abandoned buildings, especially around the Jewish quarter where we were. We went to one called Szimpla Kert and we loved it, there was good music playing, loads of different bars, lots of people of all ages, lots of graffiti, weird and wonderful art and a brilliant atmosphere. 

Now Budapest, especially the Buda side, is famous for it’s thermal spas. We went to two, both lovely old Turkish baths and the thermal waters turn your silver jewellery a very dark, copper brown colour. I’d read about night time sessions at some baths that have ravy light shows so we went to the Rudas baths for the 10 0’clock start night session, lots of younger folk, many couples, in contrast to the afternoon session where there were more older folk, and we waited for the music and lights. Must start at 11 we thought, no, maybe 11.30, no, so Kate asked an attendant who told her they finished 3 years ago!

Had a tour on the first European amphibious bus, it was weird driving around the streets then into the river. Kate won a fridge magnet in the quiz.

One of the upsides post chemo and radiotherapy as I’ve previously mentioned is that beer tastes better and I enjoyed trying new beers, and in common with many countries the Hungarians are enjoying a renaissance of beer craft. Likewise their winemaking which had slumped in earlier years but is now very much on the up, we had some great wines. I bought 2 bottles to bring back with us forgetting that fucking security does not allow containers of any liquid over 100 ml except for medical purposes, I tried but was forced to deposit the two bottles in a bin with a very heavy heart and an angry brain. Some lucky Hungarian security folk drank some very good wine last night.

On the tube (second oldest in the world after London) going back to the airport a middle aged man got up to let me sit down, first time this has ever happened. I’m getting old.

So many more tales, but like watching others holiday photos I’ve already bored you enough. We had a great time and thoroughly recommend Budapest for a visit, especially if you like second hand shops, never seen so many.

Apropos my recent mission statement rant a letter today with someone’s favourite school example using unfortunate mixed metaphors: “If we give children the roots, they will grow wings and fly”. And teachers didn’t clock this? Time more of us became anarchists.

And now time for me to fix a leak.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

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