So this is how series three of The Buda Nest begins. With me scouring the streets of London in search of a homeless man. And not any particular homeless man (I’m not that fussy), but any homeless man. Hell, it could even be a homeless woman! That’s how relaxed I am about homeless people selection. It could even be a non-binary, gender fluid homeless person. After all this is 2019 and I’m an inclusive, open minded bastard (or bitch).
But why am I searching for a homeless person? Well today is the day that we move from London to Budapest. I’ve spent the morning frantically preparing our flat for our departure (and our new tenants arrival), and we’ve discovered that we have a spare duvet, a bag of cash and a bag of food that could do with a good home (or bit of street).
I’m now strolling at pace around a park in South London, grubby looking (but clean) duvet under my arm, and awkwardly I’m doing that thing with a complete stranger. The thing where you walk alongside them, accidentally matching them stride for stride in complete silence. The woman is a young(ish) woman, pushing a baby in a buggy. I’m tempted to slow down and break our synchronised walking, but I’m in such a frantic hurry that I decide against it. I consider whether or not I could subtly increase my pace to inch away from her, but I’m already pushing the limits of my walking speed and any increase, no matter how subtle, would likely require me to do that speed walker wiggly thing, and that’s not a look I’m planning to rock in 2019. But this silence. This awkward, uncomfortable silence. It’s excruciating. There’s only one thing for it.
“Ha! We’re doing that thing aren’t we?” I say.
The young woman glances at me via the edges of her peripheral vision.
“That thing where we awkwardly walk alongside each other, matching each other’s pace, stride for stride.” I continue.
The young woman, again views me from the edges of her peripheral vision, inches her sleeping baby away from me, and meets my words with a stodgy silence. It’s a silence that just sits there, softly gnawing away at my soul. It’s horrid. I need to fill this void, but with what?
The woman, rather than enjoy our lovely stroll though a park, soundtracked by my melodic “ha-ing”, decides that now is the moment to, without uttering a single word, break in to a light jog. I watch her as she disappears towards the horizon.
“What a strange woman”, I think to myself.
It’s only much later that I will realise that she probably thought she was being harassed by a laughing homeless man in a park carrying a duvet.
Having failed to find a homeless person in the park, I arrive at the local train station, a place where there is always, without fail, a homeless man sitting in a particular spot.
There is no homeless man sitting in his particular spot.
I stand there, in his void, clutching a duvet, attempting to calculate my next move. People wander past me, all looking at the ground, all thinking that I’m about to beg them for twenty pence for a cup of tea. ‘Another Day in Paradise’ by Phil Collins begins to play in my head. I drop the duvet in the place where I think the homeless man will return and speedily walk off, whistling nonchalantly.
It’s now several hours later. I eventually did find a homeless man and gave him a bag of cash and another bag of food. Having met Zsuzsa and collected our cub from nursery, we’re now at the airport. I’m a bit stressed as I’ve just noticed that the sign says “BOARDING”, yet my ladies are nowhere to be seen having absconded moments earlier towards the toilet. My phone beeps. It’s BBC News.
‘Heathrow stops departures after drone spotted.’
I hurriedly make my way to the lady’s toilets to retrieve my women and deliver the worrying news, but as I do so I pass another flight information board.
‘BUDAPEST - GATE CLOSING’.
I spot my ladies in the distance.
“FLIGHTS CLOSING!” I bellow. “ALL FLIGHTS GROUNDED! DRONE!”
Zsuzsa looks at me, confused by this sudden influx of contradictory information.
“HONEY! WE’RE GOING TO MISS THE FLIGHT! ER…OR THE FLIGHT ISN’T GOING TO GO!
Still Zsuzsa stares at me confused.
“RUN!” I bellow.
Seconds later and I’m charging through the airport, covered in luggage like jet-setting pack mule, while a heavily pregnant miniature wife carrying a toddler hurtles along besides me
To cut a long story short, the flight was grounded by the drone, but we did catch it and eventually arrived in a very snowy Budapest, where I discovered, to my horror and disgust, that I’d appeared in the Daily Mail (vomits in mouth).
So we’re back in Budapest, there’s snow everywhere, we’re both knackered, Brexit is (potentially just around the corner), our second child is due to arrive in about five weeks time.
What could possibly go wrong?