It’s my first full day in Budapest. I wake up, the sun is shining. Yes! Take that UK! Shove your erratic weather right up your rainy anus! My heavily pregnant Hungarian wife, who at this late stage of pregnancy is beginning to resemble a pregnant guppy, is in the kitchen making coffee. I step out on to our little, but delightful balcony, survey the scenic Buda hills, take a great big contented breath of Buda air, and then it hits me. Bloody hell, it’s hot! Very hot. I immediately make a calculated decision that it’s too hot for pants and this, obviously, makes me happy.
“Morning honey”, my miniature wife beams, waddles over wth her big fat belly full of baby, and hands me a piece of paper with an unusual number of ‘Zs’ on it. I look at the paper, puzzled. “This is your list of challenges for the morning”. Have I woken up in The Crystal Maze? As wondrous as that sounds, alas the answer is no. I’ve been given a number of ‘The Apprentice’ style challenges to complete, assuming of course, that it was an episode of ‘The Apprentice’ where they were challenged to go and buy nectarines. The thing about me, probably one of your favourite bits about me actually, is that I’m bloody brave.
“I accept your challenge! I will buy you fruit!”
And so off I trot, to the wild plains of Buda, a warrior in flip flops, armed only with a piece of paper covered in ‘Zs’ and a mobile phone with a dodgy reception. Shortly after stepping outside I notice something unusual about my hair. It has become apparent that my hair and the Hungarian climate are an unusual, dare I say it, heady mix. Back in dear old Blighty my hair is slightly wavy, but nothing too extravagant. However, after a little under five minutes in the mid thirty, Hungarian heat, my hair has decided enough is enough and is making a play to become exceedingly extravagant. My hair has turned in to Liberace. Suddenly I’m a white man with an afro, or so it feels. I need too check this bad boy out before meeting my friendly local greengrocer who I’m sure, even before meeting him, is called Laszlo.
Being the eagle eyed swine that we both know that I am, I spot a darkened car window just a few metres ahead and on the other side of the road. Bingo! I momentarily wonder if there are Bingo halls in Budapest and then flip flop over to the car, looking around to avoid appearing like a preening, vain peacock wearing a David Hasselhoff wig. With the coast seemingly clear I peer in to the dark, back seat window and begin inspecting the damage. Verging on a code red, curly hair disaster, but I can manage this. With a bit of spit and a fleshy five pronged comb I can tame this frantic beast. And so I set to work.
You know how when you’re in a lit room and the lights go out, and for a few moments everything is pitch black, but then gradually, your eyes adjust and you start to make out shapes? Well the same is actually true for darkened car windows. I’m leaning right in, staring so intently at my own reflection that I can count my own pores, when something moves. It’s in the car. I adjust my gaze slightly and then lean in further to inspect the movement. What I see chills me to the core. There’s somebody starring back at me. A pair of eyes. A startled pair of eyes. A startled pair of female eyes. A mother’s eyes. A breastfeeding mother’s eyes! I am staring intently at a breastfeeding mother, discreetly, feeding her tiny baby. Oh, the horror! And yet I’m still staring, like a rabbit caught in the headlights! Must…stop…staring! The expression on the woman seems to be changing. Anger is replacing fear! I do the only sensible thing that I can do. With all of the blood drained from my face like a piece of halal meat, I mutter the words “sorry” under my breath, turn and hurriedly canter away, flip flops clopping like a mule.
Back in the safety of the flat, moments later, I tell my wife the bad news. “All out of fruit sorry honey”. The streets of Buda are fraught with peril. The next twelve months could be dangerous.