Day 119 - Carry on Budapest

Carry on Budapest

Alas I didn't take a photo of the old man in pants, so this image of Mila trying to act cool will have to do.

Alas I didn't take a photo of the old man in pants, so this image of Mila trying to act cool will have to do.

There's an old man standing in our flat in his underpants.

It's our neighbour.  He rang the doorbell a few moments ago and when I opened it the scantily clad gent invited himself in.  He’s trying to say something to me in English, but struggling to find the words.  I think he’s asking if the noise from a neighbouring flat is bothering us, but to be honest, the only thing that’s bothering me at this precise moment in time is the old man standing in my flat in just his underpants and an open, extravagantly multi-coloured overcoat.  He looks like Joseph from Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, if Joseph had recently divorced, lost his job and then turned to the bottle for comfort.    

“Maybe, best if I speak to Zsuzsa?” he says.  “I struggle for the English”.

Zsuzsa, you may well remember, is the artist formerly known as 'wife'.

“Zsuzsa!” I bellow.  "Our neighbour is standing in our flat in just his pants.  Help me!" I want to add.  

Then I remember.  Zsuzsa is in her underwear in our spare bedroom and our spare bedroom is only a few yards away from our erotically dressed neighbour.  She’s trapped!  I block our neighbour’s path to prevent him getting an eyeful of wife while I try and work out a plan.  Moments later though and Zsuzsa confidently appears.  She’s wearing a large ski jacket (the only thing to hand).  She walks up to our neighbour and I leave them to it.  Just two people having a chat about a nearby, Austrian oboe player.  One wearing saggy white underpants and a coat made from the skin of butchered teletubbies, and the other a ski jacket in a sweltering hot flat.  

I then have an idea.  This morning we read that Mila is now at the age where she should begin to laugh.  On reading this we spent the day tickling her feet, doing silly dances, flaring our nostrils and making funny noises.  Alas we haven't even managed to raise so much as a snigger.  We're disappointed, but also relieved that this means that Mila probably isn't a Daily Star reader.  But maybe the unusual sight of an old man in pants will make Mila giggle!  I fetch our baby girl and show her the old man in pants.  Mila just stares at him and frowns.  

The following morning and Zsuzsa has left me alone with our sleeping cub.  I’m very proud of myself as I’ve been ultra productive while Mila sleeps.  I’ve been beavering away with a work project and I’ve also done some rigorous exercise. 

I’m about to jump in the shower when I hear something.  A baby cry.  Fudgenuts!  I eventually decide to solve this crying baby, stinky body conundrum by bringing Mila’s play mat into the bathroom so that I can keep an eye on her while I shower.  I plonk Mila down on the floor, switch on the shower, let my dressing gown drop and I’m about to step in to the steamy hot water when I hear a noise that I haven’t heard before.  It’s a laugh.  A baby laugh.  My baby’s laugh.

I turn to Mila to see what on earth could be so funny.  What could it be?  One of her cuddly toys?  A strange sound?  Has she just discovered her own feet?  None of the above.  It’s Daddy’s ‘bits’.  She has suddenly decided that Daddy’s ‘bits’ are hilarious.  Brilliant.

“Ok, Mila.  You can stop your giggling now.”

But Mila is having none of it.  Her little baby face is contorted with hilarity.  It’s apparently the funniest thing that she’s ever seen in all of her nine weeks on Earth.

I point my baby in the other direction, continue with my self conscious shower and reminisce about those halcyon days before Mila learnt to laugh.

 

Day 110 - Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

The Wife and I

The Wife and I

I’m sitting in a waiting room, waiting for a business meeting.  After a few minutes, the lady who I’m meeting appears at the door with a beaming smile.

“Hi.  I’m sorry, but I won’t be giving you any pussy today.  I’m a bit sick”. she says.

I’m now worried that I’ve misread the agenda.  I mean I’m all for being friendly, but that’s the kind of greeting that you rarely get, even in Essex.  I’m also not sure that my wife would approve.  She’s funny like that.

The meeting runs its course, and true to her word, I am given no pussy.  Not even a little bit!

An hour or so later and I’m on the phone to my wife, recounting the tale of the friendly greeting.

“She mean’t ‘puszi'!  It’s Hungarian for kiss!” she explains.

“So it’s not a Hungarian custom?” I ask.

“This isn’t Ancient Rome!”

"And you're absolutely positive it isn't to do with the fact that I'm having a really good hair day today?"

"She meant 'kiss'!"

I’m relieved as I have a few other business meetings scheduled for the next few days, one with a fairly elderly gentleman who smells of tinned spam.

“That’s a very funny misunderstanding” I say.  “It’s definitely going in my blog.”

“Don’t put it in your blog!” my wife says.  “If she reads it she will be mortified.”

Later that evening my wife has a look on her face that suggests that something is wrong.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“Nothing.” she replies.

Shit.  This mean’s something is definitely wrong.

I prod and poke her until she eventually caves.

“You know your blog?” she says.

“I’m aware of said blog” I reply.

“How come you only ever refer to me as ‘wife’?” my wife says.  “Everyone else has a name.  Mila has a name.  You have a name.  I’m just ‘wife’.”

“I don’t know.”  I say.  “I think I just called you wife in the first one and then continued to run with it.  Would you like me to name and shame you?”

“I want a name.” my wife says adamantly.

It’s later that evening and Mila is having one of those nights.  We can’t stop her crying for love nor money.  My wife’s well appears to be running dry and not even the trusty old dancing to AC/DC trick appears to be working.  

We try the dummy, but she keeps spitting it out.  As a side note, why don’t they make dummies with elastic face bands?  If they're good enough for party hats.  By the way, you can have that one for free.  I’ll keep an eye out for you next year on Dragon’s Den.

After several hours of nursing, comforting and "shushing", my wife eventually gets Mila off to sleep.  I sneak in to the bedroom where they’re both lying.  A lullaby is playing.  It's a lullaby that we've heard thousands of times over the last few months, and it’s starting to make me want to eat my own feet, just to take my mind of it. 

"Shall I change the music?" I ask with pleading eyes.

"As long as it's gentle and quiet.” my wife replies, barely audible.

I scroll through my iTunes.  I find The Carnival of the Animals, a magical piece of classical music that you'd recognise from countless films.  I turn the volume down to near silent and press play.

But my iPhone has other ideas.  It quite fancies listening to The Beastie Boys at full volume.  My iPhone is a despicable dick.

"LISTEN ALL OF Y'ALL IT'S SABOTAGE!"

Mila is awake.

Zsuzsa is livid.

There will be no puszi for me tonight.

Zsuzsa aka The Wife

Zsuzsa aka The Wife

Photos courtesy of @zsolt.barabas.

Day 82 - White Candy

White Candy

Me sleeping

Me sleeping

My wife has been thinking.

“Honey.” she says.  “I’ve been thinking.”

Told you.

“You know what having a baby reminds me of?”

I lie there motionless, eyes closed and mouth open, a bit of dribble slopping out of the side of my mouth.  A sexier image, you will surely not hear of today.

“Like travelling on the 6:30am Ryanair flight to London whilst looking after a crack addict, EVERYDAY!” she replies.  “You’re standing in a Ryanair queue before the sun comes up.  You’re so tired that it feels as though your skin is about to fall off your body, and all the while, someone with manic eyes is pawing at you, pleadingly”

I nod at my wise wife.  She’s hit the nail on the head.  I’ve been trying to put my finger on the feeling for a few weeks now, but I think this tiny, female, milk providing soothsayer has nailed it.

“All we need now is for some bastard to turn up at our front door selling scratch cards!” she adds.

I think what my wife’s analogy is alluding to is that we are constantly tired and our baby appears to be going through cold turkey every two to three hours.  She wakes up in a blind panic.  She’s frantic!  She’s desperate!  Only one thing will quench this furious desire.  That thing being a nipple spurting milk.  I haven’t tried my wife’s milk, but by the reaction of her one, sole customer, that’s some good shit she’s peddling!  

Craving a hit of 'White Candy'

Craving a hit of 'White Candy'

A thought hits me.  Maybe my wife should open a milk bar, like the one in A Clockwork Orange!  It would surely go down like a house on fire in Shoreditch.  They’d be arriving on their penny farthings and queuing around the block to sample, what I have no doubt, is seriously addictive stuff.  But then I start to worry that my wife’s lactation process won’t be able to keep up with her customer’s demand.  I‘m also worrying that there will be complaints to Watchdog that she is dealing a new, legal drug.  What would its street name be?  ‘White Candy’ maybe.  We might need to buy a camper van and head out in to the desert to replenish our ‘White Candy’ stocks.  It sounds like a lot of work.  I decide that I don’t want that stress for my wife.  It’s at this moment in time that I start to realise that I'm suffering from delirium, brought on by sleep deprivation.

To be fair to our little girl, she does actually sleep through the night like a fleshy little log.  The problem is, we don’t.  The reason being that Mila often makes a choking sound during the night that suggests that she can’t breath.  Concerned by this, we speak to the doctor and he assures us that it’s quite common.  Basically she can’t yet swallow properly so either milk, mucus or both often gets stuck in her throat.  

We are momentarily relieved until he adds, “You should keep an eye on her though as there is a chance that she can suffocate in her sleep.”

Great.  That’s sleeping off the menu for the foreseeable future then.

But anyway, today I am getting a temporary reprieve from our ‘White Candy' loving, wheezy little human cub.  I have been given a green card by my kindly wife and I intend to use it wisely.  I’ve now been in Budapest for more than two months, but I’m yet to visit one of the city's amazing thermal spas.  Today is the day where I rectify this.

Gellert Spa

Gellert Spa

A couple of hours later and I’m entering a sauna at Budapest’s ostentatious Gellert Spa. The sweltering heat hits me and I feel a tad feint, but I decide to battle on.  In the sauna is one other gentleman.  An elderly Hungarian man in tiny speedos that are struggling to contain his low hanging testicles.  I sit down and he smiles at me.

“Jó napot! (Good Day)” he beams, seemingly delighted to have some sweaty company.

“Jó napot.” I reply.

“Hogy van? (How are you?)” he enthusiastically asks.

“Jó köszönöm. (Good thanks)” I reply.

The elderly gent obviously detects an accent as his next word is "Deutsche?”

“Nem.  Angol (No, English)” I reply.

“I speak a little English”, he says.

I smile back before asking “How are you?”

This was my mistake, for this man does not realise that if a Brit says “How are you?” he doesn’t actually give a rat's ass how you are.  It’s just a turn of phrase.  It’s akin to saying “Hi”.  If anyone replies with anything other than the stock answer of “Good”, we assume that they are insane and proceed to panic.  Apparently however, if someone asks the same question to a Hungarian, it is an invitation for them to tell you their life story, as the man then launches in to a gargantuan monologue about the last few years of his life. 

He explains that he has just retired, but that he’s not enjoying it and that he wishes he was still working.  He’s struggling to cope with so much free time.  He then begins to tell me about his family.  His daughter is recently divorced and it’s causing the family much anguish.  He then elaborates on this subject, by divulging minutia about his daughter’s marriage and why, exactly, it broke down.  But I’m no longer listening.  I’m close to death.  It’s nearly one hundred degrees celsius in this hell hole of a room and my life is flashing before my eyes.  I’m discovering that living off minimal sleep for two weeks is not a good pairing for a room that’s so hot that it would melt Frodo’s ring.  I want to get out!  I need to get out!  But I’m British!  To simply get up and leave halfway through this man’s story might seem rude.  I’m trying to assess my options.  Do I get up and leave halfway through this man’s story, or simply give up and collapse, here on the smouldering floor.  If I get up and leave now, obviously I will need to leave the city for fear of bumping in to this man again.  I mean, he might give me a disapproving look!  Alternatively, if I collapse on to the floor, the spa will probably need to find a spatula to scoop me back up off it.

I eventually decide that social embarrassment is probably slightly more appealing than potential death, and I’m about to leg it, when the door opens and another elderly gent in x-rated speedos enters.  The two men’s eyes meet and they begin to converse.  I see my window of opportunity and leave the sauna.  I can feel my blood simmering and now know what it must feel like to be a live lobster in a pot of boiling water, whilst an older lobster with low hanging testicles tells you a sob story.

All of a sudden, an early morning Ryan Air flight with a crack addict doesn’t seem so bad.

Day 54 - Escape From Baby Alcatraz

Escape From Baby Alcatraz

Not enjoying the handball coverage

Not enjoying the handball coverage

I’m sitting at home watching Tunisia play Qatar at handball whilst a baby who can’t pooh screams in my ear.  There’s been a lot of obscure Olympic sports watched to the soundtrack of horribly shrill, poohless baby shrieking over the last few days.  Judo, fencing, table tennis, canoe slalom, trampolining, something called radial sailing.  I am well and truly living the fatherhood/Hungarian Olympic coverage dream.  Maybe this is what heaven is like.  I’m hoping things will change moving forward, but week one of parenthood has been like when the mafia ‘go to the mattresses’ during times of gang warfare.  We’ve hardly left the house all week for fear of detonating an explodable baby bomb.

As it stands, if Mila is conscious, the only way to stop her screaming is to stuff a nipple in her mouth.  Sadly, mine appear to be dormant, so it’s my good lady wife who has to be constantly on standby with an emergency nipple bung.  But then, when the time comes to remove the nipple from our human cub's mouth, it’s like removing a pin from a WWII hand grenade that you’ve found in your back garden.  You don’t know if the hand grenade is live or not, but if it is live, you can be sure that it will take your face clean off and leave everyone around splintered with shrapnel.

This nipple stuffing technique does seem to be foolproof, but it’s pretty tough for my wife.

“I’m like an industrial cow!”  she says.  “I’m just here for milking.  I don’t think she’s even seen my face!  All she’s interested in are my tits!”  

Maybe Mila takes after her father.

“Ahh.” I reply in my most soothing voice.  “You’re not an industrial cow honey.  More like a lovely organic cow that has been well looked after by a loving farmer.”

I think for a second, before continuing with my inspirational pep talk.

“I actually like to think of you more as her favourite restaurant.  And not just any restaurant!  You’re not a Wimpy for example.  If anything you’re like a lovely little, local, healthy restaurant.  You’re probably even gluten free!”  

A thought hits me.  I haven’t seen a Wimpy for about twenty years.  I’m now worried that they may have gone the same way as the dodo, the woolly mammoth or C&A.

“But I can’t keep up with the demand!” my wife moans, close to tears as she nurses her savaged nipples.

But it’s no use, I’m not listening.  My mind is focusing on the potential extinction of Wimpy restaurants.

At that moment we are interrupted by the midwife knocking on our front door.  It’s now been six days since Mila last poohed, so we just want to check that everything is in working order.  The midwife enters, prods her little belly, pushes her legs up by her head and then puts a thermometer up her rectum.  Once she’s finished fooling around we show her to our baby.

“I think she seems fine” the midwife tells us.  “It’s often the case that newborns don’t poop much for the first week or two of their lives if they’re being breast fed.  Keep doing bicycle exercises with her little legs, massage her belly and before you’ll know it, you will have more poop than you can handle.”  The midwife then leaves, leaving us once again, with our poohless child.

“Maybe she’ll never pooh” I say.  “Maybe she's like The X-Men!  Maybe the next evolution of the human race will be a pooh-free human!  Imagine how freaked out Andrex would be!  The shit would well and truly hit the fan in their HQ, perhaps for the last time!” 

Thanks to Angelcare I can Dad without missing a second of my beloved trampolining qualifiers

Thanks to Angelcare I can Dad without missing a second of my beloved trampolining qualifiers

On Mila’s eighth day on Earth we decide to put our pooh concerns behind us, and prepare to face our fears by leaving our safe haven.  She wakes up at midday.  My wife pacifies her with a nipple.  Half an hour later she slowly removes the nipple.  Huzzah!  This grenade is not live!  We carefully place our cute little sleeping daughter in to her buggy, pop our flip-flops on and leave the flat.  Twenty metres later, Mila wakes up.  She apparently doesn’t appreciate the fact that we didn’t get her sign off for our expedition.  She screams.  Our neighbours no doubt assume that I am butchering a piglet.  We return home.

We are prisoners to our nipple obsessed little warden.   We are in Baby Alcatraz.  But never mind.  At least we can now watch India play Lithuania at badminton.

Later that evening, whilst I am helping Mila do her bicycle exercises, something shifts and things start to move.  It happens whilst I am looking directly in to the eye of the storm.  I don't think I will ever be clean again.

Hoping that Mila won't look behind our Raquel Welch poster

Hoping that Mila won't look behind our Raquel Welch poster

Day 47 - Mila Time

Mila Time

Mila Juno Hutchins

Mila Juno Hutchins

Ladies and gentlemen meet Mila Juno Hutchins.  Mila Juno Hutchins meet the ladies and gentlemen.

So, she’s out, and as a result I have a new found respect for women.  THAT.  WAS.  BRUTAL!  My tiny wife somehow managed to push out a 57 cm long, 8 pound 10 ounce baby.  My little wife who can still comfortably shop at Baby GAP.   I have to doff my cap to my amazing better half and also to the miracle of modern medicine, as if the events of August 4th had taken place one hundred years ago I’ve no idea how we would have got her out.  But all is well and we are both in shellshock.  Oh my God.  What a day.  What a lovely day!

It started at 0500 with The Show.

My wife wakes me up.

“Honey, The Show has started!”

The Show!  The Fucking Show!  Sounds like so much fun doesn’t it?  Visions of jazz hands, music, dancing, can-can girls and maybe even a magic trick.  But then my wife shows me The Show first hand and I can confirm that The Show is not as entertaining as it sounds, and probably wasn’t written by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The Show was shortly followed by a series of contractions that made my wife make noises that sadly, I don’t think I will ever make her make.  It’s definitely happening.  I calm my wife by charging around the flat screaming “Don’t panic!”  I am Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army. We get in the car and off we go.  Over the past month I’ve discovered that the roads of Budapest are particularly confusing at the best of times, but when you are driving along with your wife screaming in pain every five minutes, and me screaming “Don’t panic!”, I can confirm they are still fairly baffling. 

We get to the hospital and I am surrounded by rooms of women screaming and groaning,  They are no doubt either giving birth, watching pornography or watching The Walking Dead.  I mentally decide that they are watching pornography.

We get in to a room and it begins.  Zsuzsa is in pain, crying and wailing.  Given that she usually cries if she misses a train this isn’t abnormal, but I sense this is more than a missed train.  Call it intuition.  I give her a piece of chocolate and start recording her with a video.  She doesn’t appreciate this.  I stop recording.

What followed was like the opening twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan, but for seven hours.  I’ve never witnessed such savagery, such brutality.  Oh the horror!  THE HORROR!    I felt as though I was starring in my own, foreign language version of SAW. 

At one point, I was holding one of my wife’s legs, a midwife was holding the other, one doctor was playing the slip fielder, while another big male doctor pressed down hard on my little wife’s belly, trying to force the baby out with some kind of crazy Hungarian toothpaste technique!  And all of this whilst not understanding a single fucking word of what anyone was saying!  Throw in an exam paper that I hadn't revised for and take away my trousers and that's my nightmare!  Right there!  I had visions beforehand of casually sitting by my lady wife’s head, holding her hand and whispering sweet nothings while the doctor did the dirty work, but I had no say in the matter.  I was at the business end.  I was in the trenches.  I probably now have trench foot.  

Outnumbered

Outnumbered

And now it’s over and I can confirm that I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.  Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.  I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhâuser Gate.  Now I’ve seen a baby's head do unmentionable things.  All of those moments will be lost in time, like tears…in…rain.

If you are not familiar with Blade Runner you may now be thinking that I’ve been over doing it on the nitrous oxide.  Outrageously though, they don’t have nitrous oxide in Hungarian hospitals!  It was the whole reason that I got my wife pregnant in the first place!  Livid.

But she’s out.  Both mother and daughter are doing well.  Mother will hobble and sit on a rubber ring for a few weeks I’d imagine, but all is good.  We are ecstatic.  Our little family has just grown by 50% and she’s gorgeous.  I’m sure there will be tough times ahead, but for now, we are an overjoyed, mentally drained, tired, family.

I leave the hospital for the night while my wife and little Mila both try and work out how to breast feed.  I’m now out numbered by ladies, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My girls

My girls

Day 35 - Waiting for a Girl Like You

Waiting for a Girl Like You

Hands on Dad (not a painting of Freddie Mercury).

Hands on Dad (not a painting of Freddie Mercury).

Speaking as a man who is yet to witness a baby tearing his wife’s perineum apart with just its head, I think it’s the waiting that’s the hardest part.  We’ve been on tenterhooks for two weeks ever since the doctor remarked that the baby could come at any minute, but so far ‘nada’.  We can't go too far from base camp, I can't drink booze despite being surrounded by delicious Hungarian grape juice wherever I turn.   So we just sit and wait and when we’re not sitting we’re walking.  In fact, we’ve probably covered every yard of Budapest in the last week.  Which when you consider that my wife has to carry her belly in her arms, is quite a feat.  Across streets, over bridges, to fröccs and langós festivals, over hills, to a Picasso exhibition, through markets and even to a concert (Budapest Bar) she has carried that gigantic belly in her tiny arms.  She may look like an Easter Egg with legs, but I have to admire her pluck.   

In dire need of a wheelbarrow

In dire need of a wheelbarrow

But anyway, I’ve now been in Budapest for about a month and I’m with a friend at a small beer garden (Spiler) near Buda Castle.  The friend has a two year old child and he may not yet realise this, but he is my Obi-Wan Kenobi of fatherhood.  With Junior’s arrival looming large I am looking for reassurance, guidance and a few handy tips of how best to keep a human cub alive.  I’m also trying to assess just how tough the first few weeks of parenthood might be.

“You know the first couple of weeks with the baby?” I say.

He throws back the hood of his robe, leans upon his staff, looks me in the eye and then wisely replies, “Yes”.  This is good.  So far, all positive. 

“Will I be able to get any sleep?”, I ask.

At this he laughs so hard that food comes out of his nose.  I am surprised by this response.  Mainly because he wasn’t even eating at the time.

“I didn’t get any sleep for the first three months!” he snorts.  “You’re going to be so tired that you won’t be able to feel your bloody face!”.  He chortles.  “Take my advice young padawan.  Get as much sleep as you can now as you won’t be able to sleep once the baby arrives!  You’ll look and feel like SHIT!”. 

Naturally, I am thrilled by these words. 

"But still, I guess I should count my blessings that I don't have a nine to five job at the moment.  Right now every day is Saturday!", I remark, striving for an upbeat finish.

"As soon as the baby comes everyday will be a Monday!", he sneers.  

I consider whether I need a new Obi-Wan, whilst wondering if my friend has ever considered a career as a motivational speaker.  

A snap of Liberty Bridge from one of our many walks

A snap of Liberty Bridge from one of our many walks

Lazy bastards lounging on Liberty Bridge

Lazy bastards lounging on Liberty Bridge

Nevertheless I have tried to take this sagacious advice on board and have been attempting to hibernate as much as possible.  For two weeks I’ve been half man, half dormouse, but as we reach the finishing straight it’s not as easy as one would think to pop off to the land of nodsville.  The reason being is that I have discovered that once darkness falls I now achieve an unnaturally high state of alertness.  I am a cowboy sleeping with one eye open.  A praying mantis poised to strike.  A man shitting it that his wife is going to go into labour.  I think this newfound ability stems from someone once telling me that babies are most likely to come at night.  The ‘apparent’ reason being that our instincts tell us that as it’s quiet, there’s a lesser chance of predators being around.  I think this sounds like 'utter bollocks' as surely more predators come out at night, but nevertheless my subconscious mind believes them.  

Pablo Picasso The Finger Puppet.  The toy that all kids crave for.

Pablo Picasso The Finger Puppet.  The toy that all kids crave for.

It’s two in the morning.  My wife gets out of bed to empty her battered bladder.  Like a ninja I sense her stirring.  My eyes shoot open and I sit up in bed, like a meerkat on speed.

“Are you alright honey?  What’s up?”  I ask, but before she can reply I am already wearing trousers and searching for the car keys. 

“Need a wee.” she wearily replies.  My trousers are off and I am back in bed.  But I cannot sleep as I am fully alert, heart pounding.  About thirty minutes later I eventually begin to drift off.  Then up she clambers.  I’m awake again.  I’m wearing trousers.  She is weeing.  Back to bed.  Repeat every thirty minutes until dawn.  

Come on Junior!  Please don’t take after your mother and be late.  We’re waiting for you!

Nearly being a father is tougher than I’d imagined.

Budapest Bar

Budapest Bar

Day 1 - Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Blending in with the natives

Blending in with the natives

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.

The wife

The wife

“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.