Day 379 - Knickers!

AKA - Daddy the Pooh

"Kaki?"

"Kaki?"

We’re driving to Mila’s weekly swimming lesson and as usual, we’re late.  As a result I’m weaving through the Budapest traffic like Herbie the Love Bug.

“Slow down honey!” pleads Zsuzsa.

I glance at the sat nav.  Our estimated arrival time is 10:31.  That’s one minute late!  This simply will not do.  Not on my watch!

“I’m fine honey.  I’m driving perfectly safely.” I reply.

It’s true.  I am driving perfectly safely, but unbeknownst to Zsuzsa, I’m also racing the sat nav.  This is a classic case of man vs machine.  This is Rocky vs Ivan Drago.  This is Sarah Conner taking down The Terminator.  This is Garry Kasparov battling it out with Deep Blue in a brutal game of action chess.

“Honey!”

“Okay, okay, okay.”

I apply the brakes, but just enough that I’m only going one or two miles an hour over the speed limit.  I think I can still whittle a precious minute off our journey, defeat this soulless electronic son of a bitch and laugh in its LCD face.

Mila decides to chime in.

“Kaki!”

Oh yes.  Mila has started to call me Daddy.  The only issue is that it often sounds more like “Kaki” which is Hungarian for ‘pooh’.  Basically she calls me ‘Pooh’.  I’m hoping it doesn’t stick.

"Where's Kaki!"

"Where's Kaki!"

We pull up at the sports centre.  It’s 10:32.  I’m disappointed, but equally determined.  You may have won the battle sat nav, but mark my words, you will not win the war!  I will have my sweet revenge when you least expect it.  I will serve it cold and embarrass you in front of your electronic peers.  You just wait.

“Bring Mila in.  I’ll go and pay!” barks Zsuzsa as she darts out of the car and across the car park like a speedy Hungarian corgi in full flight.

I move to the back seat, pick Mila up and carry her inside the leisure centre.

“Kaki!”  

I meet Zsuzsa at the entrance to the pool.  She is already in her swimming costume and I hand her our baby daughter.  But I can tell instantly something is wrong.

“Honey, I forgot my knickers!” she says.

“Oh.  Okay.” I say and shrug.  I mean what can I do?

“They’re in the glove box.  Can you go and fetch them for me and hide them somewhere in the ladies changing room while we’re swimming?”

Wait…what?

Before I can respond, Zsuzsa runs off to the pool with Mila.  I stand there for a moment and process what she’s just asked.  I play the scene out in my head.  

I imagine myself approaching the ladies changing room clutching a pair of ladies knickers.  I put my ear to the door and listen for any sounds.  All seems quiet so I slowly open the door.  I look around.  Empty.  Still clutching the knickers I sneak in to the changing room in the style of a cartoon character.  I’m about to place the knickers in to a shadowy corner when I hear footsteps.  I spin around and our eyes meet.  It’s a naked old lady.  Her face is a picture of fear and rage.  She shouts at me in Hungarian.  I mumble in a vein attempt to explain myself, but the Hungarian for “I’m not a pervert.  I’m just hiding my wife’s knickers in a dark corner.” escapes me.  The door barges open and a burly security guard stands there.  He glowers at me.  I hold my hands up, but it just looks as though I'm waving ladies knickers in the air.  It looks as though I'm bragging!  He pounces, twisting my arm behind my back.  Before I know what’s happening I’m shepherded into a dingy room and the door is locked.  I’m held captive until the police arrive.  I’m charged with being a sex pest and sentenced to imprisonment in a remote part of Hungary near the Ukrainian border.  I’m left to rot, floundering in my own kaki.

I decide that there are worse things in life than wet bikini bottoms. 

"KAKIi!"

"KAKIi!"

Day 370 - The Wild Child

AKA - The Return of Kris Akabusi

It’s a lovely sunny evening in Budapest and I’ve just arrived at a delightful restaurant.  Zsuzsa, Mila and a couple of friends are already here, tucking in to unidentifiable meat and fröccs (wine spritzer).

“Hello!” I say cheerfully. 

Zsuzsa looks at me with the same expression as a dog once did in Battersea Dog's Home.

“Please take her honey.  She’s worn me out.  I’ve got nothing left.  I’m done.” she says, a broken woman.

She holds Mila out towards me.  Mila squeals with delight, her eyes vibrant and wild.  I nod and collect my little baby girl in my arms.  She screams with joy and starts jigging up and down.

“She’s been like it all day.” says Zsuzsa.  “She’s got so much energy!  I don’t understand it!”

Mila grins at me and bounces up and down some more.  I have to admit, she is acting uncannily like Kris Akabusi today.  If she could talk she would undoubtedly be bellowing “Awooga!” at this moment.

I order a wienerschitzel and the four of us chat while I attempt to restrain our little wild child.

A waiter approaches with my wienerschnitzel.  He has his back to us while he carefully places the dish in front of me.

Then it happened.

Out of the corner of my eye I notice a chubby little baby arm reach out and pinch the waiter's arse.  Mila retracts her arm quickly and suddenly morphs in to a quiet, chilled out, perfectly behaved baby.  The waiter spins around and glares at me.  I know that glare!  I’ve seen it before!  It’s an incriminating glare!

It’s 1980 and I’m on a sunny-ish beach in West Wales.  The beach is in a place called Porthmadog and I'm with my father and my brother (I can't remember where my mother was at this moment).  I’m about four and my brother is one and a bit.  The three of us are sitting in a row and if memory serves me correctly my father is wearing hideous, brown swimming trunks (that’s not relevant to the story, but still, he should be ashamed).  A young woman wanders past in a bikini.  My brother, Ross, chooses this moment to let out the loudest wolf whistle that any baby, anywhere in the world has ever produced.  I have vivid memories of the young woman glaring at my father.  It was an incriminating glare.  She then burst in to a furious tirade, shouting whilst jabbing an angry finger in his direction.  

“It was the baby.” I remember him saying while pointing to this tiny little baby boy.

She was having none of it.

Mamma pea and baby pea.

Mamma pea and baby pea.

It’s now 2017 and we’re back in the Hungarian restaurant.  I’m being glared at.

“It was the baby.” I say.

The waiter just gives me a withering look and wanders off shaking his head.  I’m aghast.  I turn to Zsuzsa.

“Mila just pinched that waiter's arse and I think he thinks it was me!” I say.

“That’s nice honey.” replies Zsuzsa.

“What!?  No it’s not nice!  Please tell the waiter when he comes over.  Please tell him it was Mila.  Please tell him that I didn't pinch his arse!”

Zsuzsa looks at me and I can instantly see that her mind is somewhere else.  About five seconds of silence follows, before Zsuzsa speaks.

“I think Mila might be a bit like an Arab.” she says.

“What?”

“Well she seems to love drinking hot tea in hot weather.”

“What?”

I look at my tired wife and accept defeat.  She has been temporarily broken by our little wild baby.  She appears to be malfunctioning.  I decide to drop it and accept that the waiter will always think of me as some kind of British, Donald Trump-esque deviant.  But that’s fine.  We just can never, ever come here ever again.

 

Day 364 - Gareth vs The Post Office

AKA - The Imaginary Land of Wales

Mila, 6 days old, showing her appreciation for Ryan Giggs.

Mila, 6 days old, showing her appreciation for Ryan Giggs.

“Hello sir.  I'm afraid you need to put the country on the envelope.” says the lady behind the counter of the central Budapest post office that I’m currently standing in.

“But I have.  Wales.” I say.

She stares at me blankly.

“No.  We need the country.”

“Wales.  It's a country.  It's written there on the envelope.” I say, pointing.

She is perplexed.  She turns to a man sitting at the counter next to her and launches in to rapid burst of advanced Hungarian.  The man stands up and addresses me.

“Sir.  We need the country on the envelope.”

I’m starting to wonder if I’m dead.

“It's on there.” I say.

“Where?  I don't see it.” he replies.

“Right here.  Wales.”

The man sighs.

“But we need the country.”

“Wales is a country!”

“I don't think so sir.”

“It is!  I grew up there!”

“No.  I don't think it's a country.  I think it's a region.”

“What!?  It's a country!  It's in the UK!”

“Oh!  It's in the UK?”

“Yes!”

“Then please put England on the envelope.”

“No!  It's not in England!  It's the country of Wales!”

The man and the woman look at each other and then speak to each other softly and inaudibly.  The woman behind the counter holds up the envelope and studies it.  A man around thirty years of age, standing in the queue behind me, has been listening to our conversation with interest.  He steps forward.  

“Excuse me.” he says.  “But I don’t think Wales is a country.”

I turn and stare at him, agog.  This is the most agog that I have been in a long time.

“What?” I say.

“The Olympics.  There’s no Wales team in The Olympics.  It’s Great Britain.  The country is Great Britain.”

He smiles.  It’s the self satisfied smile of a buffoon.  The man and woman behind the counter nod in agreement at the buffoon.  I need to put an end to this madness.

“There’s a Wales football team.  There’s a Wales rugby team!  Tom Jones, Ryan Giggs, Gareth Bale, Catherine Zeta Jones, Christian Bale, Anthony Hopkins,  Super Ted, Pingu…Ruth Madoc!  All Welsh!  Believe me, Wales is a country.  I should know.  I'm half Welsh and grew up there!  It’s a country and it’s written on the envelope!  Right there!”

Boom!  How do you like those apples?

Silence follows.  They are no doubt in awe of my impassioned and impressive monologue.  Eventually, the woman plucks up the courage to speak.

“Who’s Ruth Madoc?” she says.

“It doesn’t matter!” I defiantly declare.

“I think Christian Bale is actually American.” says the random man in the queue.

I glare at him.  It is a powerful glare.  A fearsome glare.  He visibly withers and his testicles no doubt shrink.  He slinks back in to the shadows and back under the rock from whence he came, vanquished.  I turn to the man and lady behind the counter.  I’m exuding an almighty, dominant aura.  They feel it instantly, the man nods to the woman and promptly returns to his duties.  I make eye contact with the woman.  The poor lamb has received one hell of a public beating today, but on the flip side she has learnt a valuable life lesson.  She picks up my envelope.  She reaches for a pen.  

She crosses out Wales and writes GB.

“Következő! (Next!)”

Day 355 - Shopping for Fleas

AKA - The Mute

I’m sitting in my office, drenched in baby piss.  I’m trying my best to style it out, trying to convince myself that this isn’t baby piss.  It’s not!  It’s a new aftershave from Dolce & Gabbana.  The hottest fragrance in town.  The kind of thing that Matthew McConaughey would promote whilst some young, Brazilian super model drapes her limbs all over him.  A vibrant new eau de toilette. 

Nah.  

Who am I trying to kid.  It’s baby piss.

Why am I sitting in my office covered in baby piss?  Well, obviously my baby pissed on me, but let’s go back in time a bit so that I can storify the shit out of my urine drenched tale.  So come on you!  Jump in my Delorean and fasten your seatbelt!  We’re going back in time.  Back to a time when shirts were dry as a bone.  The magical time of just over one hour ago.

JUST OVER ONE HOUR AGO…

My shirt is lovely and dry and I’m with my beloved wife and our fleshy little heir to the Hutchins/Ferencz fortune.  We’re on the hunt for furniture to furnish a new flat that we’ve just bought.  Our brand spanking new purchase is a lovely little place in Budapest that we are planning on AirBnB-ing the absolute living daylights out of.  We’ve been looking for a place to buy for about a year or so now and I’m delighted that we’ve finally found one.  Mainly because it means that I no longer need to walk around buildings tapping walls and looking thoughtful (a trick that I’ve picked up from watching Location, Location, Location) in an attempt to appear as though I vaguely know what I’m doing.

Anyway, we’ve just arrived at Esceri flea market, a remarkable gem full of antique furniture, communist memorabilia, Eastern European treasures, beautiful finds and also copious amounts of worthless tat.  Bargains are here to be had, as are absolute, unashamed fleecings.  As such I’m about to be forbidden from speaking.

“Why is it called a flea market?” I say as we stroll towards the market epicentre.“ I mean, they don’t sell fleas do they?”

“I don’t know honey.” replies Zsuzsa.

“Maybe they used to sell fleas at one time?”

“I don’t think so honey.  Anyway, stop speaking now.”

“What?  Why?”

“Because as soon as the sellers hear your British voice they'll quadruple the price of everything!”

And so we begin wandering through the forests of chairs, tables, lamps, typewriters, pictures, grammar phones, cameras and pots.  Just a Hungarian lady and her mute companion with a baby strapped to his front.  Zsuzsa is rummaging through old stuff while I’m Googling why ‘flea markets’ are called ‘flea markets’ (originated from a market in Paris that specialised in shabby second-hand goods that looked as though they might contain fleas if you must know).

Just a mute guy inspecting an old camera

Just a mute guy inspecting an old camera

I’m snapped from my mobile screen by someone speaking to me.  I look up.

“Jó napot! (Good day!)” says a moustache that I think has a little bit of man behind it.

I look at Zsuzsa nervously, not knowing how to respond.  Obviously under normal circumstances I would launch in to an impressive monologue of perfect Hungarian, but today I’ve been forbidden.  Today I must play mute or risk the success of our treasure finding mission.

“Jó napot!” replies Zsuzsa for both of us, whilst motioning for me to make myself scarce.  I oblige and move on with pace.

This routine continues for the next thirty minutes.  On one occasion I drop my guard and mutter a phrase of English which is immediately pounced upon by a gypsy lady seller.  Thankfully though, Zsuzsa is on hand to fix the situation by telling the gypsy lady seller that I’m a very, very poor man from a mining community in Wales.  They seem to buy it, and feeling sorry for Zsuzsa’s poor choice of husband, even grant her good luck!

“If a gypsy wishes you good luck, it’s a very, very lucky thing indeed!” beams Zsuzsa.

Forty odd minutes later, and laden with an old suitcase and a couple of paintings, we’re back in the car, pointed in the direction of my office.  Something is troubling me.

"I can't believe she pissed on me!" I say.

"Honey.  It's baby piss!  It doesn't smell!  Being pissed on by a baby is the best possible scenario!" says Zsuzsa, trying to placate me.

"Bullshit!  Not being pissed on is the best scenario.  Followed by Mila pissing on you, then comes Mila pissing on me, and then finally a stranger pissing on me."

We drive on in silence.  Something then occurs to me.

“You know Airbnb?” I say.

“Yes.” replies Zsuzsa.

“Why is it bnb?  I mean, Airbnbs don’t provide breakfast.”

Zsuzsa thinks for a moment.

“I don’t know.” she says, before adding “To be honest I’ve also never known what the ‘Air’ bit is about either.”

Goddamnit!  She’s got a point!

“Maybe they should just be called ‘B’?” I suggest.

“But maybe B.com had already been taken.” says Zsuzsa, like the wise old owl that she is.

Inspecting The Buda Nest's new brand extension

Inspecting The Buda Nest's new brand extension

I park the car.

“I can't believe I'm covered in baby piss!!  It’s all over my shirt!” I moan.

“Don’t worry honey.” says Zsuzsa.  “It’ll dry in no time.”

“But I’ve got a video call with the CMO of one of Europe’s biggest companies in a matter of minutes!  I'M COVERED IN BABY PISS!"

And now we’re back at the beginning of this yarn.  I’m about to begin a video call with a big cheese.  I’m worried as I don’t think the piss drenched look is overtly professional.  After all, this is not Scotland.  The video call starts buzzing.  It’s him!  La Grande Fromage!  Think Gareth!  Think!  What are you going to do!?  What would Batman do!?

“Hi!  Gareth here!  Do you mind if we just do an audio call today?  Few technical problems at this end.  I can’t seem to get this camera to work.”

Good old Batman.

Zsuzsa and The Landlady during the quarter finals of The World Stare-Out Championships

Zsuzsa and The Landlady during the quarter finals of The World Stare-Out Championships

Day 347 - Easy Riders, Raging Baby

AKA - Lake Cesspit

FRIDAY

We’ve just arrived at a lake on the Hungarian/Austria border that quite magnificently translates as Lake Cesspit.  The in-laws are with us and the plan is to hire three bikes between the five of us (the five includes baby Mila), and then spend the next three days making our way around the lake.  We hire the bikes and off we go, looking uncannily like an alternate reality Goonies.  Zsuzsa has elected to drive today so it’s just me, the in-laws and a baby.

The scenery is spectacular and as I mend my merry way through the Austrian countryside I can’t help but feel like I’m in the film Easy Rider.  I’m playing Peter Fonda and naturally, Mila is Dennis Hopper.  You don’t need me to tell you that the mother in law is obviously Jack Nicholson.

SATURDAY

We’re staying in a lovely little rustic motel/vineyard just over the Hungarian border.  It’s three in the morning and Mila is wailing like a banshee.   Alas, it’s my turn to deal with her and Zsuzsa’s turn to pretend to be asleep.  With Mila screaming as though she were on fire, I decide to change her nappy.  I put her down on the spare bed, turn on my phone torch, remove her nappy and then fumble around in a vain attempt to put a fresh nappy on her pink little butt.  Mila is refusing to play ball and is howling and rolling around on the bed like a South American footballer following a rogue gust of wind.  I’m exasperated.  I’m tired.  I’m also naked by the way.  Suddenly the door to the hotel room opens and in walks the mother in-law to help calm my distressed baby.  Did I mention I was naked?  I’m also surprised as I thought our door was locked.  The mother in-law sees me and continues with her relentless advance.  What the devil is she doing!?  I then notice that she doesn’t have her glasses on and is yet to realise that the only thing I’m wearing is a look of utter despair.  I do the only thing that I can do and dive for cover behind the bed.  Luckily, Zsuzsa intervenes and shepherds her mother out of the room like a trusty, old sheep dog. 

It’s now the following morning.  It’s my turn to drive and we’ve agreed to regroup in an hour or so in the next village.  Mila’s fast asleep in the back of the car as we approach the Austrian border.  I notice border police stopping cars and get a familiar feeling.  It’s the same feeling that I get every time I walk through the “Nothing to Declare” section at airports.  Namely, the feeling that I am coming across like a heroin smuggler.  Every time I try and appear as un-heroin smuggler-like as possible, but in my head I’m exuding heroin-smuggler-ness.  Now, as I approach the border police, I’m trying desperately to not look like a child snatcher!  I pull to a stop and the border policeman’s mirror tinted face glares in.  I smile at him, probably in the exact style of a child snatcher.  He waves me through and I breath a sigh of relief.

Twenty minutes later and I’ve reached a village called Rust, parked in a street called Seekanal and I'm awaiting the cyclist’s arrival.  At least I hope that’s the street name rather than some kind of designated activity area.  After a full day of cycling yesterday, I’m a little sore, and that’s pretty much the last thing I’m seeking right now if truth be told.

Absolute gangsters

Absolute gangsters

SUNDAY

The final leg of our cycling adventure.  We spent last night in a spa-hotel and we’re now sitting in a lovely little pop-up cafe/bar in the middle of a vineyard.  The temperature is in the mid-thirties so we’ve found a little shade to cool ourselves while we quench our thirst with white wine spritzer.  

“Mila had five poohs today!” Zsuzsa proudly announces.  “Two before breakfast!  Just like her Daddy!”

Naturally both Mila and I are furious with her mother’s loose tongue.  I’m internally debating how to deal with her, when Mila takes the bull by the horns.  She reaches out, grabs her mother’s drink and pours it away.  Unfortunately for me the majority goes over my crotch.  My hands and my clothes are drenched.  I sigh and then turn to face the sun in an attempt to dry off.  Out of the corner of my eye I notice the father in-law watching me.  I turn to him and he smiles.

“Foreskin.” he says.

“Uh.”  I reply.

“White wine.  Good for skin.”

“Oh.  Is it?” I say.

I have to admit, I'm a little relived.

A few hours later and our cycling adventure is over.  We’re all tired and sore, and as we head back to Budapest I’m remembering when I used to (try) to play the guitar.  After a while the skin on the tips of my fingers became hard and tough to deal with the constant strumming.  As I nurse my sore bottom I can’t help but wonder if cyclists experience a similar phenomena.  I mean, do all professional cyclists have very tough butt skin?  Don't pretend that it’s something that you’ve never pondered.   

That's all folks!

That's all folks!

Day 340 - Trainspotting

AKA The Land of the Slave Children

We’re spending the afternoon having a delightful family trip on a railway train run by slave children.

“Honey.  What the hell are you writing?” says Zsuzsa who has just appeared over my shoulder and is reading what I’m writing.

“I’m just writing about our trip on the train run by slave children.” I say.

“We’ve been over this!  They aren't slave children honey!”

“Are they children?”

“Yes.”

“Do they get paid?”

“No.”

“Then surely they’re slave children?”

“They’re volunteers!  They can leave if they want!”  Zsuzsa protests, before adding “You’re still writing this down aren’t you!?  Why are you writing this down?  Stop it!  This isn’t court!”

So anyway, we’re spending the afternoon travelling on a railway run by child volunteers (aka slave children).  I first became aware of the peculiar child-railway phenomenon when watching a programme about Budapest on Channel 4, and then soon after discovering that it was basically next door to our flat.  It sounded freaky, so naturally I harangued Zsuzsa in to agreeing to visit it.  Eventually the haranguing worked.

As an aside, 'harangued'!  Great word isn’t it?  I make a mental note to do more haranguing so that I can use it more often.

We arrive at a railway station in the Buda Hills.  Mila has just fallen asleep and Zsuzsa asks me to go and buy the train tickets.  I enter the railway station and stand at the counter.  I then notice a tiny boy, maybe twelve years old, peering over the counter.

“Halo (Hello)” he says.

“Halo. Kettö jegyet köszönöm (Hello.  Two tickets please?)” I reply, like a bloody native.

He stares at me.

“Bocsánat (sorry)?” he says.

Simpleton, obviously.

“Uh…kettö jegyet köszönöm?” I repeat.

He just stares at me blankly.  Another child approaches.  Another boy.  Maybe fourteen years old.

“Halo.” he says

“Halo.” I say.  “Kettö jegyet köszönöm.”

He frowns.

“Angol (English)?” he says.

“Igen (yes)” I reply.

“What would you like?” he then asks, switching to perfect English.

“Uh…two tickets please?”

He nods knowingly, turns to the twelve year old and says “Kettö jegyet.”

Hold on!  What are these infantile clowns up to?  That’s clearly, exactly what I’ve been saying all along!

A few minutes later and we’re on the train.

“I just don’t get it.” I say.  “Kettö jegyet köszönöm!  What’s wrong with that?  Why didn’t they understand me?”

“I understand you.” says Zsuzsa reassuringly.  “But then again I think I understand you in the same way that a mother understands their mumbling toddler” she adds, a little less reassuringly.  “If you’d emphasised the ’t’ I’m sure they would have understood you.  Ketttttttttttö”  

She sounds as though she has a stammer.

A tiny little girl in a hat is approaching us to check our tickets.  I look at her and can’t help but chuckle.

“I don’t even know why we bothered buying tickets.” I say.  “I reckon I could take these children if they tried to kick us off for not having a ticket.  Probably all of them, or at least ten at once.”

Zsuzsa rolls her eyes, pretending not to be impressed that I could defeat a bunch of small children at wrestling.

“Also, I’ve been thinking." I say.  "I’ve decided that the owners of this railway might actually be geniuses!  Think about it!  Employ a bunch of kids, you don’t have to pay them as they’re too young to legally be paid, AND, they get twice as many customers because of the kids!  I mean, people are curious!  I wouldn’t have been bothered about coming here if it was just a bog standard train run by a group of grumpy, middle aged men.”

“I don’t think that’s the point.” says Zsuzsa.  “I think they're scouts (aka slaves) and it's an honour for them.”

At least I think that’s what she says, but the truth is, I’m not listening.  My mind is alight.

“I’m amazed there aren't more businesses following this model!  Imagine it!  A hotel run by children!  Or shops run by children!  Or prisons!”

But now Zsuzsa is the one who doesn’t seem to be listening, but it’s not a problem. Let her enjoy the child slave railway with our little baby today.  She deserves it.  They both do.  Anyway, she’ll listen soon enough.  She’ll listen when I'm rolling in money from my billion pound prison empire run by little children, you mark my words.

 

Day 335 - The Inconvenient Tooth

AKA - The Dentist's Chair

I’m sitting in a dentist chair in the heart of Budapest.  A dentist with a thick Hungarian accent, who looks uncannily like the insane, evil surgeon from The Human Centipede is just about to drop a bombshell on me.

“Dead.  It is dead.” he says nonchalantly.

“Are you sure?” I respond.

“Yes.  Your tooth is dead.  Pretty sure, I am.”

I didn't even realise it was ill.

I'm taken aback by his matter of fact tone.  He sounds like a heartless, Eastern European Yoda!  Where the devil is his bedside manner?  Does he not realise how close my tooth and I were?  He was one of my favourites!  Undoubtedly in my top thirty two!    We’ve spent nearly thirty five years together since he first tore his way through my infantile, gummy mouth.  We’ve shared so many good times, so many meals out together.  So many gastronomic adventures!  He was there when I first kissed my wife!  Right in the thick of it, the pervy little bastard!  Am I just meant to let him go?  Just like that? 

Hang on a minute.  He said “pretty sure”.  Maybe he’s wrong.  Maybe he has been wrongly pronounced dead, just like Tom Hanks in the film Castaway?

“Only pretty sure?” I ask.

At this, the dentist picks up the liquid nitrogen drenched piece of cotton wool that he was only moments earlier applying to my sadly deceased tooth with tweezers, and presses it against one of my other teeth.

“Aaaaaarrrrggghh!” I respond.  The pain is excruciating!    

“If still living it was, the same pain you would have felt.”

Fuck you Yoda!

“So what now?” I ask nervously.

“Now holes I will drill in to the tooth, treat the root with tiny needles and then next week we will meet for a new tooth.”

He wanders off and returns a few seconds later holding a drill.  He holds the drill ominously, leans over me and peers at me over the top of his glasses.  He smiles.

“Now, I will drill you.  If pain you will feel, raise your hand.”

Fear is rising.  What if this is all a horrible mistake?  What if my tooth isn’t completely dead?  What if it's just in a coma?  What if it wakes up just as this animal is about to drill in to its living nerve?

The dentist thinks for a moment.

“Although to be fair, you won’t actually need to raise your arm if you feel pain.  Scream you will!  Agony it will be!”

Wonderful stuff.

I hear the whirr of the drill and I am afraid.

The drill connects with my tooth and the process begins. 

“There is a film.  An old film.   A film with Dustin Hoffman.” The dentist says over the excruciating sound of the drill boring in to my poor tooth.  “The name,  I don’t remember.  But there is tooth drilling with no pain killer.  Excellent way to get information!”

Er…

The drilling stops. 

“Using a series of tiny needles I will now treat your tooth.” he proudly claims.

I decide that I need to climb in to my ‘mind-bungalow’, which is very similar to Sherlock Holmes' ‘mind-palace’, but more homely and without so many levels.  I clamber in and begin to write a short script in my head.  It’s a about a police officer named Tim who’s on a raid with his partner, Steve Guttenberg (‘star’ of Police Academy, Cocoon and Three Men and a Baby).  In this script Steve Guttenberg is playing himself.  They're chatting in a police car about the breakdown of Tim’s marriage.  Then they're entering a drug den in an attempt to apprehend drug lords.  A shoot out ensues and the baddies are shot.  Suddenly other police officers arrive and arrest Tim and Steve.  We discover that Steve Guttenberg is imaginary, the shot people aren’t drug lords and that Tim is simply a civilian having a mental episode following his divorce.  Tim gets sent to prison, but he doesn’t mind, because as luck would have it, he’s put in the same room as his dear friend and hero, Steve Guttenberg.

The dentist puts his tiny needles away.  He’s finished.  I’m thinking about my script idea and wondering if he’s sneakily slipped me any psychedelic drugs.

“Next week, same time?” he asks.

I nod sadly and head home to organise a memorial for my beloved tooth (RIP).  I will give him the sea (aka wine) burial he always dreamt of.

Day 325 - Caractacus Hutchins

AKA - The Latter Day Jesus

I’m trying in vain to put a nappy on my baby’s naked little arse, when I’m hit by a moment of inspiration.  I am suddenly Archimedes sitting in a bath.  I am Sir Isaac Newton rubbing his sore head after being hit with an apple.  I am Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense when his wife’s wedding ring falls to the ground.

A NAPPY CHANGING MACHINE!

Why does this not already exist?  Think about it.  How easier would your life be if you had a simple machine that you could dip a baby in whenever they needed a fresh nappy?  Something like a vacuum packing machine that specializes in baby butts.  Dip them in, placing their legs in stirrups and voila!  Obviously you'd need a baby to feel its full benefit, but still.

People may scoff.  People may laugh.  People may mock.  People no doubt scoffed at Archimedes when he revealed his meat and two veg to the other people sitting in a public bath and shouted “Eureka!”.  But look at him now!  Okay, he’s probably a bit on the boney side, but you remember him don’t you?  People will remember me in the same way.  I will be lauded and held up as a bloody hero to millions of shit covered parents while they are dipping their baby in their very own Hutchins machine (obviously it should be named after its creator to cement my legacy).  Maybe I could even create a premium one with three different compartments.  One to clean, one to cream and one to apply the nappy.  Similar to the process of making scotch eggs (where you dip your meaty egg in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs)!

Later that day I meet up with Zsuzsa in the throbbing heart of Pest.  She has Mila strapped to her and she's sleepy.  So sleepy in fact, that later this evening she will give Mila a bath and forget to remove her socks.

“What do you think honey?” I ask.

“About what?” she replies.

“Getting my nappy changing machine patented?”

“Okay.”

But there’s no conviction in her voice.  No passion.  I can see right through her and she’s not enthused by my nappy changing idea!  I'm perplexed.  Does she not recognize real genius when it’s smack-bang in front of her!?  Does she not see me in my true guise?  The modern day incarnation of Caractacus Potts?   Does she not remember that this is the same man who once put a shelf up in our old flat, and only ruined half of the wall in the process?  Where’s the confidence?

I’m disappointed.  I thought she’d be all over this shit, chomping at the bit to get her hands on such a machine.  After all, trying to dress Mila now is akin to putting a bow-tie on an eel.  She’s a slippery little pickle who refuses to stay still and cooperate.  I never realized how easy the whole nappy changing process was until our little cub decided it about time to get mobile and start moving around all over the place. 

I sigh, but then I look at my beautiful, sleep deprived wife and I soften.  I can’t be too harsh on her.  She hasn’t slept since August!  Anyway, I remember that she had a similar, initial response to my design to combine a baby’s bottle with a hamster style feeder, to go on the side of the cot.  Four thousand night-time trips to the cot to offer her nipple to a screaming baby later however, and her tune has significantly changed.

“Will you hurry up and make that bloody hamster-technology inspired baby feeder!” she now says, whilst nursing her savaged nipples.

No, she’ll come around.  She will be my partner in crime and my biggest supporter.  In fact, maybe I’ll name it in her honour to show my gratitude to her for being my muse and for all those sleepless nights.  As a selfless act I may even forget my initial plan to call it The Hutchins Machine.  I’ll be like Jesus, who I hear also refused to give his name to a nappy changing machine.

In years to come, baby’s arses all over the word will be covered by…The Zsuzsa.  The poor lamb’s earned it.

Coming to  shop near you, this Christmas

Coming to  shop near you, this Christmas

Day 318 - The Nightmare!

AKA - Bubble

I’m confused.

We’re at a local restaurant grabbing breakfast.  Mila has just woken up, and for some unknown reason, appears to hate me.   I noticed her buggy moving, went to see if she was okay, smiled at her sleepy little face and received a fearful glare in return.

“Are you okay little lady?” I asked.

She simply glared back.

I unbuttoned her clips and lifted her out of the buggy.  Mila screamed.  Everyone in the restaurant stared.  I handed Mila to Zsuzsa, she became calm and smiley.  Zsuzsa handed her back to me, the scream returned.  And now we’re back to the start of this tale with me being confused.

“What’s wrong Mila?  It’s me!  Daddy!”

“Aaaaaaaarrrrrrggghhhh!”

Tears are now pouring down her face.  She seems terrified!  I glance around at the other diners.  Beady eyes everywhere, staring at me over their ham and eggs.  They probably think I’m stealing her!

“I’m her Dad!” I want to defiantly state. “Go back to your ham and eggs, peasants!  There is no baby snatching going on here!”

But I don’t.  Instead I meekly hand Mila back to Zsuzsa.  She looks at her mummy and smiles.

What the hell!  What is this treachery!?

“She was making funny noises in her sleep.  Maybe she had a nightmare.” suggests Zsuzsa.  “Maybe you did something bad to her in her dreams?”

“Like what?” I ask.

Zsuzsa thinks for a moment.

“Maybe you murdered me.” she says, before turning to Mila, smiling and saying “Did Daddy kill Anya (Hungarian for Mum)?  Was Daddy a bad, murderous man?”

I’m aghast.  I rarely do anything to suggest that I could be a cold blooded murderer.

“But why?  Why would she think I’d kill you?” I ask.

Zsuzsa again thinks for a moment.  This is the second time now in a matter of minutes.  A possible record.

“Maybe it’s because you’ve been trying to teach her Al Pacino impressions?  Maybe she doesn’t want to do an impression of Al Pacino?”

This is true.  Over the last few days I’ve been trying to teach Mila to do an Al Pacino impression.  I’ve begun with something simple, “Hoo hah!” from Scent of a Woman.  Once she’s mastered this I plan to move on to something a little more complex.  Something like “She’s got a GRRREEEEAAAAATTTT ASS!” from Heat.  Obviously, like everyone else, it’s always been a dream of mine to have a little baby girl who can do a mean Al Pacino impression.

Anyway, what the devil is Zsuzsa on about?  Why on earth wouldn't Mila want to master an Al Pacino impression!?  I make a mental note to later advise Zsuzsa not to think twice in such a short space of time again.

"Look on the bright side.  At least she likes one of us." says Zsuzsa.

Operation charm offensive in full swing

Operation charm offensive in full swing

The next few hours are spent with Daddy on a full-on charm offensive assault.  I take Mila to the swings, I repeatedly kiss her chubby little cheeks, I change her piss filled nappy and I feed her baby slop.  Eventually, Mila begins to thaw and appears to stop seeing me as an evil super-villain who punches kittens and murders mummies.

It’s the afternoon.  To cement my newfound ‘good-guy’ status I’m reading her a book.  It’s an English translation of a popular Hungarian book about a couple of friends.  One is a snail and the other a ladybird.  I find it hard to believe that a snail and a ladybird could ever be great mates given their vastly differing lifestyles, but I decide to bite my tongue and read this preposterous tosh to her anyway, as Mila seems to like it.

“There was Flutter the butterfly, Stanley the stag beetle, Leapy the grasshopper and Bubble the baby beetle.” I say.

“Bubble.” says Mila.

Zsuzsa and I stare at each other in astonishment.

“Did you hear that?” I ask.

Zsuzsa nods, excitedly.

“Bubble.” I say.

“Bubble.” says Mila!

“Bubble.” says Zsuzsa.

“Bubble.” says Mila.

Hooray!  Our little baby girl has said her first word on her nine-month birthday!  She hasn’t got a bloody clue what it means, but that doesn’t matter.  She said “Bubble!”

“Speaking at nine months! That’s early isn’t it?” I ask.

“I think so.” beams Zsuzsa.

“Maybe she’s a genius!  Maybe she’s the next Einstein?” I suggest.

We both gaze upon our little girl.  Mila grabs a toilet roll and attempts to eat it.  Zsuzsa tries to wrestle it off her while I begin to scour the net to see if Al Pacino has ever said the word “bubble” on film.

 

Day 311 - The Yuppie

AKA - Cello!  Is it Me You're Looking For?

Warming up for cello practice

Warming up for cello practice

We are running dangerously low on Nespresso capsules.  As I’m sure you can imagine, as a result, the mood at home is extraordinarily sombre.

“What are we going to do?” asks Zsuzsa, fighting back the tears.

I’m trying not to panic although this is obviously a very stressful time.  A brainwave hits me.

“Why don’t I buy some more tomorrow?  I can pop to the Nespresso shop on Andrássy Avenue after work?”

At this suggestion, I can visibly see hope returning to Zsuzsa’s face.  She doesn’t say it, but I know what she’s thinking.

“Bloody hero!  Bring me those capsules and I will ravish your body!”

It’s now tomorrow.  I've encountered a slight obstacle to my plans as I’d forgotten that I’d planned to meet a friend named Rupert at Brody Studios, the private members club that I’m a member of.  There’s a story telling evening on and we’d agreed to meet straight after work, leaving little time for coffee shopping.  But then I remember Zsuzsa’s haunted, Nespresso deprived face, and despite the tight schedule, I decide that I’ve enough time to squeeze in a trip to the Nespresso store before heading to Brody Studios.

I’m outside the Nespresso store when my phone buzzes.  It’s a message from Rupert.

“Where the devil are you?” it reads.

“Just picking up some Nespresso capsules.” I reply.

A few seconds later and I get a response.

“Bloody yuppie!”

I stare at my phone screen.  Yuppie!?  What’s so yuppie about Nespresso capsules?  They’re just tiny pods of coffee granule heaven!  That’s all!  Nothing more!  Yuppie!?  How dare he!  I haven’t been this outraged since the time that Pret a Manger ran out of pomegranate and hibiscus infused water!  I take a deep breath and enter the coffee store.

A few minutes later and it’s my turn at the counter.  A man named Tamás with a gold badge on his jacket that reads “Boutique Coffee Specialist” takes my caffeine filled order.  As he does so I’m staring at his badge, wondering why ‘boutique’?  Is the shop supposed to be ‘boutique’?  I look around, but the place is anything, but small.  Or maybe it’s Tamás that’s ‘boutique’?  Are they poking fun at this poor lamb's diminutive stature?  The cruel bastards!  

I’m now at Brody Studios, clutching my Nespresso bag.  Rupert glares at it.

“Bloody yuppie!” he sneers.

I decide to ignore, for the time and being, the fact that I’m being called a ‘yuppie’ by a man named Rupert, although I do make a note of it in my filofax.  A waiter comes over and takes our order.  In the background the story telling has begun.  A Ukrainian war photographer has just taken to the stage and is telling a story about having to take a shit on the frontline during enemy fire.

“Did you know Jennifer Lawrence has become a regular here?” says Rupert.

“At Brody Studios?” I respond.

“Yeah.  In town shooting some film called Red Sparrow apparently.”

“Cool!”

The Ukrainian man has finished telling his story.  An American girl has now taken to the stage and is telling a story about stuffing a dead dog in to a suitcase.  To be fair though, I’m not really paying too much attention as I’m too busy scanning the room for Jennifer Lawrence.  She may not know it, but she's being hunted.  It's like The Hunger Games all over again.

My phone buzzes.  It’s a message from my boutique wife.

“Did you get the Nespresso capsules?” she asks.

“Yes baby.” I respond.

“Who’s that?” asks Rupert.

“Zsuzsa, asking if I picked up the Nespresso capsules.”

Rupert shakes his head.

“What?”

“Bunch of yuppies!” he says.

There he goes again!!  

“I’m not a yuppie!” I protest,  before adding “I grew up in deepest, darkest Wales!  I went to a comprehensive, and...”  But then I’m stopped in my tracks as my phone buzzes.  It’s my boutique wife again.

“Don’t be too late honey.  Remember that Mila has her first cello lesson tomorrow morning.”

Then it hits me.  A moment of clarity.  I’m a man sitting in a private members club, frequented by Jennifer Lawrence, quaffing continental lager and wine with a friend named Rupert. I also shop at a boutique coffee shop and my nearly nine month old baby is taking cello lessons.

“And what?” asks Rupert.

“Oh, nothing.” I say, as we watch a German man tell a story about how how he responded to a midlife crisis by opening a trampoline park.

Day 306 - The Cleaner

AKA - The Curse of the Carrier

Nothing can stop these intrepid man and baby explorers.  Not even builders.

Nothing can stop these intrepid man and baby explorers.  Not even builders.

“Honey, please make sure that the flat is tidy for the cleaner.” says Zsuzsa, as she leaves the flat to visit the dentist.

“But isn’t that what we pay her for?” I reply.

But it’s no use.  The front door has already been closed and Zsuzsa has already deserted me with a messy-ish flat and a (nearly) nine-month old baby.  I scan the scenery to decide where I should begin.  Should it be with the toys scattered all over the living room floor, my ‘floordrobe’ of clothes, or the aftershock of the baby food explosion that surrounds the baby feeding chair?  

“BA!” says Mila.

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

The truth is, that despite the ridiculous additional work that comes with cleaning for a cleaning lady, I do enjoy the fact that we employ a cleaning lady to visit once a fortnight.  Even if the flat is so spotless that all she need do is sit on the sofa and watch Hungarian soaps for two hours, it would still be worth it as it makes me feel as though I’m in Downton Abbey and have my own ‘staff’.  I actually used to get the same, warm, fuzzy feeling back in London when a friend would stay once a fortnight and repay our kindness of a bed for the night, by cooking us a meal.  He was probably unaware of this, but in my mind at least, he was our cook and our spare room was his quarters.

Anyway, eventually, after about an hour of furious cleaning, the cleaning lady arrives and begins dusting our spotless shelves.  Mila looks at me.  I know that look.  She feels in the way and assumes that I am feeling the same. You know what?  The perceptive, fleshy little cub is right!  I gaze out of the window at the Buda Hills.  It’s a sunny day and I decide that we’ll make ourselves scarce with a little stroll around a nearby island (Margit Sziget).  I attach our baby carrier to my person, pop Mila in, fasten it shut and we set off on an adventure.

Ten minutes later and we’re on a tram heading to Margit Sziget.  I can’t help but notice that lots of ladies, and even a few men are flashing smiles in our direction.  Most people might assume that the smiles are all due to the cute little lady strapped to my chest, but I know better.  It’s because I’m wearing my new jumper.  It’s obviously a hit.

We’re now on Margit Sziget, strolling around the island.  I’m initially disappointed as the luscious green island now appears to be a building site.  I scan the horizon.  Diggers, builders, trucks, holes, rubble and security tape blot the landscape, as far as the eye can see.  I momentarily consider turning back, but then snap out of it.  After all, would Columbus have turned back if he’d arrived in America only to be greeted with JCB diggers?  No way Jose!   

Stop staring at my new jumper.

Stop staring at my new jumper.

We’re about five minutes in to our stroll through the construction site when I decide that now would be an idyllic moment to take Mila out of her carrier, sit on a bench, feed her apple juice and find a spot to stare at that isn’t full of builder’s bum cracks.  I reach behind to unfasten the carrier…but…this isn’t good.  I can’t reach the clip!  I try again, but it’s no use.  I can’t reach it.  My stupid, inflexible shoulders are thwarting me!    

“What is this bullsh…erbert?” I say.

Mila has no answer.

I’m standing in a building site with a baby strapped to me, and I can’t shake her off.  This must be what it’s like to have a leech!  I attempt to call Zsuzsa, but there’s no answer.  Panic is rising.  My mind is racing.  What if Zsuzsa goes missing?  Granted it’d be a huge blow if my beloved wife disappeared.  I’d be devastated!  Not least because I’d have no one to un-attach this baby from my chest.  What if Mila and I are stuck together for years!?  I mean, I love Mila and all of that crap, but I wouldn’t be able to go and see 18 rated films in the cinema until 2035!  What if I need to wait until she grows enough that her feet touch the ground and we’re able to work on the problem as a team?  But how will she go to school to learn the necessary skills to help free us?  Would I need to go too?  The last thing I want is to go through the education process in Hungary with my baby.  No, there’s only one thing for it.  I’ll have to home school her.  Alternatively, do I ask one of these hairy builders to help free my baby?  I doubt that they speak English.  How could I mime it?  They might think I’m asking for them to scratch my back!  I don’t want my back scratched by a hairy builder, Hungarian or otherwise!

My phone rings.  It’s Zsuzsa.  Phew.

“What’s up?”

Twenty minutes later, Zsuzsa arrives.  My heroine!  Like some kind of modern day Joan of Arc, she unclips the fastener, myself and Mila are free, and our happy family of three stroll through the dystopian wasteland, as though this nightmare had never happened.

Free at last thanks to Zsuzsa of Arc

Free at last thanks to Zsuzsa of Arc

Day 299 - Indiana Jones and The Easter Egg Hunt

AKA - Challenge Zsuzsa

Indiana Zsuzsa (courtesy of  @zsolt.barabas )

Indiana Zsuzsa (courtesy of @zsolt.barabas)

I’m in a small village, in the middle of the Hungarian wilderness, partaking in an Easter egg hunt.  Mila is asleep.  Zsuzsa is charging around the village like a Hungarian Anneka Rice.  She is determined to not only defeat her opponents (small Hungarian children), but to leave them shattered, broken and forever destroyed.

“Come on honey!  Speed up!  We only have an hour!” she bellows.

I speed up.  What choice do I have faced with such a force of nature.

“Wait here!” commands Zsuzsa, before sprinting across a road towards a kindergarten.

I can do nothing, but stand and wait.  Mila is snoring.  A few minutes later and I see a blur of strawberry blonde hair heading my way.   It’s Zsuzsa.  She’s holding an egg.

“Come on!  We have to get to the castle!” she barks.

And so off we go.  Zsuzsa is jogging.  I’m in hot pursuit with a sleeping baby in a push chair.  This is what Easter is all about!  This is what Jesus would have wanted!  We’re at the castle and before I know what’s happening Zsuzsa has another egg.

“Come on honey!  We have to get the third egg!” screams Zsuzsa, and off we go.

We are bounding through the village with frightening speed, but suddenly Zsuzsa slows.  An obstacle!  It’s an old lady selling quince jelly, the oldest trick in the book, and my beloved wife has fallen for it!

“Honey!  What are you doing?” I ask.

“This lady’s selling quince jelly!” says Zsuzsa.  “We should buy some.”

“But the egg hunt!  What about the egg hunt?!” I implore.

I’m desperately trying to snap my wife out of her quince jelly trance.  She can’t see this for what it is.  The old lady, she’s the Hungarian village equivalent of a siren and Zsuzsa is a young sailor!  

“Honey!” I say again.  “We don’t have much time!”

But it’s no use.  Zsuzsa is distracted.  I then catch a glimpse of the old quince jelly selling lady’s feet and suddenly I’m distracted too.  She’s wearing socks with sandals!  Several minutes pass, before I snap out of it.

“Honey!”

I have Zsuzsa’s attention again.  She has no memory of how it happened, but she’s now clutching some quince jelly!  Through the village we go.  

Quince jelly siren in dubious footwear

Quince jelly siren in dubious footwear

Suddenly I’m aware of a presence.  A couple with a small child in a buggy have appeared, as if from nowhere, on our right shoulder.  COMPETITORS!  They’re trying to hide it, but I see their game.  They’re travelling at an unnatural speed and there’s only one reason for people to move that quickly through a Hungarian village!  They are fellow egg hunters!  Our nemesis!

I’m now torn.   On one hand my competitive genes want to speed up and very gradually overtake these jokers in a nonchalant manner, but I’m British and also don’t want to appear to give a shit!  I look at the couple and assess them.  I can’t deny that I’m full of admiration for their impressive turn of pace, but the woman, she’s a big girl!  She can’t keep this up for ever.  I decide that she will fade soon and that our superior stamina will come in to play.

Two eggs later and I’m proved right as we cruise past our sweaty, puffing competitors, but Zsuzsa seems frustrated.  Part of this egg hunt is finding the eggs, but another part is deciphering cryptic, Hungarian word clues.  So far, all of them seem to be very floral in their nature.

“These bloody clues!” an exasperated Zsuzsa gasps.  “They’re all hardcore botanical bullshit!”

“Show me.” I say.

Zsuzsa shows me.  I look at the pictures of Hungarian flowers and the various cryptic word clues.  I realise that even if they were in English I would be of no use.

“Uh.” I say.

Zsuzsa sighs.

“You could really work on your Hungarian botanical vocabulary!” she says.

I make a mental note to do so.

It’s about thirty minutes later.  We’ve just found the final egg!  I check the watch.  We have eight minutes to get back to base camp (a small Hungarian school hall).  This is going to be tight!

“I’ll go ahead! says Zsuzsa.  “You follow!”

And with that she sprints off in to the horizon, clutching six, small plastic eggs.  What a woman!

Despite the odds being stacked against her, her impressive turn of pace meant that my beloved wife made it in the nick of time, and out of seventy five teams, miraculously, we won!  As we drive back through the Hungarian countryside, Zsuzsa clutches the spoils of victory (a tiny bag of small chocolate eggs).  She’s beaming.

“You know honey, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more like Indiana Jones than I did today.” she says.

I smile back at my brave explorer, my adventurer, my destroyer of small Hungarian children's dreams and I can't help but feel proud.

So, Steven Spielberg, if you’re reading this and interested in snapping up the film rights for Indiana Jones 5, please feel free to give me a call.

Happy Easter.

Day 293 - Naughty

AKA - Destroy Mode

Activate 'DESTROY MODE'

Activate 'DESTROY MODE'

Mila’s suddenly become very naughty.  I don’t know how or when this happened, but there’s suddenly a mischievous glint in her eye and a seeming desire to destroy.  It seems to have coincided with her new found ability to crawl, pull herself up and climb.

I’ve spent the last few days frantically baby proofing our home in a desperate attempt to prevent our eight-month old baby from cutting her face open on one of our home’s several sharp corners.  It’s only now that I have a mobile baby (and by this I mean a baby who can move around on her own, not a novelty mobile phone) that I realise what a death trap our home is.  There’s danger at every corner.  It’s only now that I see our home for what it really is.  The ancient, booby trapped temple from the start of Raiders of the Lost Ark. 

I’ve just finished Mila proofing our razor sharp coffee table by covering it’s edges in soft, spongy foam.  I sit back and admire my handwork.  Mila also seems to be full of admiration.  She crawls towards the table and runs her baby hands across the protective softness, her eyes wide in appreciative wonder. 

Mila turns to me and smiles. 

I stand there proudly.  That’s right baby girl.  I did that for you.  I made it soft for you.  All because I love you and don’t want to have to rush you to the hospital with blood gushing from a gaping wound.

Mila returns her gaze to the coffee table.  Suddenly that mischievous glint appears.  She clenches her gums, yanks on the cushioned pad with all her might and tears it from the coffee table.

“You little shit!” I say in exasperation.

“Honey!” says Zsuzsa, appearing apparently from thin air.  “Don’t speak to her like that.  She’ll pick up on your anger and it’ll affect her.”

“But she’s like one of those bloody baboons that tear your windscreen wipers off at safari parks!” I mutter, frustrated.

“She’s just a baby.  She doesn’t know what she’s doing.”

I look at Mila.  She’s now sitting next to the table, looking like an innocent angel chewing on protective foam.  She smiles at me.  She knows what she's doing.  She’s rubbing my nose in it.

“And please try not to speak to her with a negative tone.  Her mind is very impressionable at the moment.  If you’re angry with her she won’t grow up to be the professional tennis playing, ballet dancing, kung-fu fighting, award winning scientist and successful writer that you want her to be.” adds Zsuzsa.

It’s true.  This is what Mila is going to be.  A professional tennis playing, ballet dancing, kung-fu fighting, award winning scientist and successful writer.  She has no say in the matter.

“I don’t think me calling her 'a little shit' is going to do anything.  It’s not going to make her become a pole dancing bank robber or anything.” I reply.

“You never know.” says Zsuzsa.  “Best to play it safe.”

Flying monkey

Flying monkey

It's now several days later.  We're on a plane flying back from Spain.  So far Mila has been a very good little lady.  She’s given me a few ‘hand-off’s’ to the face when I attempted to kiss her cheek, but that’s about it, and maybe that’s more related to the sausage that I’ve been eating than anything else.

Zsuzsa is by the window, I’m in the middle seat and a Slovakian woman who has more than her fair share of nose is sitting to my left.  Mila is on my lap, taking a breather in between breast feeds (our way of sedating Mila on flights).

“What a cute baby.” says the Slovakian lady.

“Thanks” I reply.

Mila fixes the Slovakian lady with an adorable smile.  The Slovakian lady's heart melts, she smiles back and leans in, inches from Mila’s face.  Suddenly something changes in Mila’s face.  It’s subtle and the un-initiated wouldn’t have recognised it, but I do.  I’ve seen that look before.  The glint.  The mischievous glint.

“Back off Slovakian lady!” I want to say, but I’m not quick enough.

With the speed of a spider monkey, Mila reaches out and grabs the Slovakian lady’s bulbous nose.  The Slovakian lady suppresses a squeal as Mila applies surprising force to her grab.  I try to pull Mila away, but she clings on with freakish strength and the Slovakian lady’s face comes with her.  The Slovakian lady and myself (with my one free hand) attempt to prise Mila’s fingers from the increasingly scarlet nose.  Eventually we are successful and the Slovakian lady sits back and tries to compose herself.

“I’m so sorry.” I say.  “She’s going through a bit of a naughty phase.”

“Don’t worry about it.” says the Slovak, trying her best to act nonchalant, but with the colour of her nose betraying her.

I keep our naughty little lady away from strangers noses for the remainder of the flight.  She’s got a long way to go to becoming  a professional tennis playing, ballet dancing, kung-fu fighting, award winning scientist and successful writer, but we’ll get there.

The Glint

The Glint

Day 288 - The Armada

The 70th

Birthday dance

Birthday dance

I’m in a little village in Andalusia for my Dad’s 70th birthday.  I’m sitting at a table outside a bar with various members of my family (Zsuzsa, Mila, my Dad, my brother and my nephew).  There are also two other people sitting at our table.  A woman from Blackburn and her Irish husband who’ve invited themselves to sit with us.  The Irish guy has just said something that has caught my attention.  I decide to question it.

“You have ten metres of metal in your head?” I ask.

“Yes.” he proudly responds.

“Ten metres?” I again ask, just to be sure that I’ve heard this correctly.

“Yes!  Ten metres!” he replies.

I look around at everyone else, just to check that I’m not the only one surprised at this fact.  Everyone else seems to have taken it as gospel.  Still I’m unsure.  Ten metres seems a lot.  Especially given the size of his head.  I look at its again.  It looks five metres wide at best.  I’m about to continue my line of Paxman-esque inquisition when Zsuzsa stops me in my tracks by announcing her departure.  I mean from the evening.  Despite what you may think, she’s not an airplane

“Why are you heading back?  It’s not even nine.” I say.

“It’s getting a bit cold.” Zsuzsa replies.  She then get’s up, and like a Boeing 747, promptly leaves with my baby.

I glance at my brother Ross.  He’s whispering with my Dad.  They both smile, nod and turn to face me.

“What?” I ask.

“Ross recognised it as well.” my father says.

“Recognised what?” I respond.

“The syndrome.”

I stare at them blankly before my father adds, “First child syndrome.”

I instantly see what’s going on here.  These clowns are calling us neurotic!

“Hang on.  We’re not neurotic parents!”

Ross smiles at me smugly.

“You’ll learn.” he says.

I bristle.

“But we’re not!”  Sometimes Mila doesn’t even wear socks!” I say indignantly.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Ross says. “Most parents are like it.  Even we were like it once! Then you have a second child and realise that you were worrying unnecessarily.”

Ross then sits back, take a sip of beer.

“Just chill out.” he says.  "Don't worry about them.  They'll be okay."

He then attempts to locate his child via his phone using the tracking device that he’s attached to him.  He eventually finds him standing behind him.

The woman from Blackburn starts telling me a story about how she got “rat-arsed” the night that Blackburn won the Premier League in the mid-nineties.  It’s time to leave.  I finish my drink and out of the corner of my eye witness my Dad hurl his six and a bit year old grandson in to a pub chair, skewering him on the chair leg.  Theo runs to Ross in tears.  Ross looks at my Dad.

“Sorry.  I did’t mean to do that!  We were play fighting!  He slipped!”

Ross consoles his crying child and we make our way back.  

Two minutes later and my Dad has found an orange on the floor.  Theo is riding on Ross’s shoulders.  My Dad, feeling bad, decides to engage Theo in a bit if harmless ball/orange game fun.  He hurls the orange at Theo.  It hits him on the nose.  Theo screams.

“Dad!” says Ross.

“Sorry!  I didn’t mean to do that!  It was going to miss, but he moved his nose with pace towards the orange!”

“Please stop beating up my son.” pleads Ross.

“I’ll try.” says Dad.

We walk home.  Once there I check Mila’s socks haven’t come off in bed, and fall asleep dreaming of ten metre wide metal heads

Day 279 - Men Who Stare at Wolves

AKA Dr Cheeky!

Speed bath

Speed bath

“Cheeky!?”

“Yes.”

“Dr Cheeky!?”

“Yes.”

“DR CHEEKY LASZLO!?”

“YES!”

We are driving through the countryside.  Zsuzsa has just informed me that the surgeon who will be operating on my toe in a few days time is called Dr Cheeky.  Naturally, I’m ecstatic.  I thought my life had peaked when I met Dr Body, but then along came Dr Cheeky!

I roar with laughter.  Zsuzsa stares at me in bemusement.

“What!?” asks Zsuzsa.

“That name!”  I say.  “It’s amazing!  What is it with Hungarian doctors?  Dr Cheeky!  Dr Body!  Dr Pop!  Why do they all sound like sugary, carbonated drinks!?”

“It’s spelt C-S-I-K-Y.” says Zsuzsa.

I ignore her.  She’s obviously desperate to drag me down from my all-time life high of finding Dr Cheeky.  If I block her voice out for just a minute I can continue to spell Dr Cheeky any way that I goddamn please.

We continue our drive through the countryside in silence.  We are heading back to our baby girl after visiting the spa and we are both incredibly tired as Mila has been ill for the last few days with bronchitis.  In fact, only last night, I was awoken by Mila projectile vomiting on me at 02:42 in the morning.  I lay there shell-shocked and covered in regurgitated peach while Mila sat next to me, grinning like a Cheshire cat and clapping like a circus seal (her latest trick).  It was like a scene from some kind of budget “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!”.  But despite this horrific moment being so raw in my memory, and despite the incredible fatigue that we are both currently feeling, I have a big fat smile on my face.  All thanks to Dr Cheeky.

Smiling like a vomity trooper 

Smiling like a vomity trooper 

We turn a corner.  That’s odd.  There’s a car parked on a bend in a very precarious position.  I slow the car down to navigate past.

“Oh my God!” shouts Zsuzsa.

“What!?  What!?  What!?”

“Wolves!” she squeals.

“Wolves?”

“Yes honey!  Wolves!  In the woods!  Wolves in the woods!  Those people had stopped to take photographs of them!”

“You’re joking?”

“Nooo!  There were wolves!  In the woods!”

We continue to drive on, away from the wolves as my tired mind processes what she's just told me.

“You’re absolutely sure that there were wolves?”

“Yes!”

Then I remember something.  Last year I read an online article that said that packs of wolves had been known to creep in to Hungary from Slovakia, with various sightings in the Bükk mountains over the last few years.  We are in the Bükk mountains!  I put two and two together.  WOLVES!  I begin slowing down.

“What are you doing?” asks Zsuzsa.

“Looking for somewhere to turn around.” I say.

“Honey!  We’ve got to get back to Mila!  I told my parents we’d be back soon.”

“We will.  This’ll only take a minute.”

“Honey!”

“Look.  I’ve never seen wolves in the wild before.  We’ve got to turn around!”

“But we need to bath Mila!”

“Two minutes isn’t going to make a difference.  I’ll bath her really fast.  Wolves honey!  Bastard wolves!”

I find a space to turn around and begin the journey back to the wolf hot-spot.  I'm digging my heals in here.  Last night we drove past a field that was on fire and Zsuzsa wouldn't let me stop to take a selfie.

“Are you absolutely sure they were wolves?”

“YES!”

We crawl along slowly, eyes peeled for any sign of wild dog gang.

“Have you got the camera ready?” I ask.

Zsuzsa nods.  This is amazing.  I’m tingling with excitement.  I feel like David Attenborough!  We are now very close to the spot where my eagle eyed wife first spotted the canine beasts.  We are crawling along in stealth mode, camera phones at the ready…

Goats. 

Day 272 - The Fever

AKA - "Got any gum?"

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I’m being shaken.

“Wake up!  Honey!  Wake up!”

Zsuzsa is standing above me.  I’m confused.  It’s dark and I glance at the clock.  It’s 01:36.  Why has my wife woken me up at this ungodly hour?  There are only two possible explanations that I can think of.  Either something is wrong or she’s horny.

Who am I kidding?  Something’s wrong.

“What’s up?” I ask.

“Mila’s really hot.  Can you come and have a look?”

Zsuzsa and Mila are currently sleeping in the nursery.  Up until a few days ago Mila had slept in our room alongside us.  We’re trying to now transition her in to her own room and Zsuzsa’s sleeping in the spare bed in the nursery to help everything go smoothly.  This is amazing news for me!  After just one night alone I have de-aged about four years!  I’m like Benjamin Button!  At this rate I'm going to hit puberty in reverse in just over a weeks time.  I'm not thrilled about the idea of my balls retracting back up in to my body, but anyway.  Back to the story.

We’re now in the nursery.  I’m still half asleep.

“Touch her honey.  She’s so, so, so hot!” says a concerned Zsuzsa.

I put my hand on Mila’s head and I instantly know why Zsuzsa felt the need to wake me from my precious beauty sleep.  Mila is hot.  Very hot.  If I balanced a hard boiled egg on her forehead, within seconds it would be too hard for soldiers.

“Have you checked her temperature?” I ask.

“I tried, but I’m not sure if the thermometer is working.  It says she’s only 35!  That can’t be right!  She’s hotter than the sun!”

This does indeed sound suspect.  I see the thermometer resting on the bedside table, decide to stress test it and pop it in to my mouth.

Zsuzsa is stroking the back of our groggy, semi-conscious little baby girl.

“Do you think I should call the doctor?” asks Zsuzsa.

“Yes.” I say out of the corner of my mouth.

Zsuzsa looks up at me.  A look of surprise appears on her face.

“What are you doing!?” she says.

“Seeing if the thermometer’s working.”  I reply, still feeling sleepy.

“Honey!  That’s an anal thermometer!”

My eyes widen as the words sink in and I’m suddenly more awake than I’ve ever previously been.  I spit the thermometer out.

“Nooooooooo!” I whisper-scream.

“What the fuck honey!?” says Zsuzsa, whilst positioning Mila on to all fours.

Mila stirs and looks up at me with her flushed, chubby cheeks glowing in the darkness.  She looks confused as our eyes meet.  She is no doubt wondering why my eyes are full of both regret and horror.

Mila feeling pants.

Mila feeling pants.

“I’m just going to give her this suppository.” says Zsuzsa.

Mila and I are still staring into each others eyes as the suppository is inserted.  Now it’s Mila’s turn for her eyes to widen.  She turns around to look at her Mummy, a 'WTF' look on her little baby face.

(As an aside, what is it with Hungarians and their obsession of administering things anally?  What's wrong with the good old mouth?)

Zsuzsa puts Mila's nappy back on and hands her to me.

“I’m going to call the doctor.” she says.

Zsuzsa gets up to leave the room.  I follow her with Mila in my arms.

“Where are you going?” asks Zsuzsa.

“To clean my teeth.” I say.

“Honey!  Don’t take her out of the room.  She’ll be wide awake!”

“But…”

“Please honey!”

I sit down in the dark with Mila.  Mila is struggling to stay awake.  I think she is also trying to stay as far away as possible from my breath.  In the other room I hear Zsuzsa on the phone, whispering in Hungarian.

A few minutes later and she returns.  She looks furious.

“What did the doc say?” I ask.

“She told me that all good mothers should keep three forms of medicine with them at all times to control their babies temperature!”

Usually I’d be angry at this, but it’s funny how putting a thermometer in your mouth that had only moments before been up a babies anus can give you a new perspective on things.

“Did she say if we should be worried?” I ask.

“No.  Says it’s normal and probably because she’s teething.  Told me not to worry.”

I touch Mila’s forehead.  The suppository seems to be doing the trick as she now feels much cooler.

Comforted by this news I bid my ladies goodnight, point myself in the direction of the mouthwash, and leave the room.  In the morning I will order one of those thermometers that you point at foreheads.

Feeling much better, the next morning.  Like a baby Wolverine.

Feeling much better, the next morning.  Like a baby Wolverine.

Day 266 - Goulash

AKA Big Pigeons, Tiny Ants

Looking as though we are about to drop the hottest grime album of the year.

Looking as though we are about to drop the hottest grime album of the year.

“I think the pigeons are bigger in Budapest!”, exclaims my mother.

She’s come to Budapest to visit, and we (myself, my mother, her husband Tony and Mila) are sitting outside a restaurant near the riverbank.  My mother’s currently staring at a gang of medium sized pigeons which, as you've probably guessed, she thinks look big.  Earlier today she told me that the ants look smaller. 

The waiter approaches.

"What can I get you?" he asks in perfect English.

I’m confident that mother dearest is going to order a cup of tea as her bloodstream must now be running dangerously low on cup of tea levels (ie 20% blood, 80% tea).  She’s even brought some emergency teabags with her to Budapest, just in case.

"Can I have the vegetable soup?" asks my mother.

I’m gobsmacked.

"Goulash for me." says Tony.

"Egy nagy tál guyásleves és egy nagy pohár hazi vörös haj.” I say.

The waiter pauses for a moment to process my sentence.  He looks a tad confused, but then seems to twig and wanders off.

"You speak very good Hungarian!" My mother says.  "I'm very impressed!"

I smile proudly and decide not to mention the fact that I think I've just ordered a large glass of house red hair.

A few minutes later and our orders arrive.  This is Mila's cue.  Prior to this moment she's been quietly sitting, chewing on her toy giraffe and observing.  Now however, she appears to be being burnt alive by invisible acid.  She's either hungry or she's just realised that the wooly hat that my mother has knitted, is actually for her.  I look around and sheepishly smile at the other diners.  I take Mila out of her buggy and sit her on my knee, but it's no good.  She's still wailing like her uncle was when he found out that they were cancelling Birds of a Feather..

"What the hell is this on my head?  Is this some kind of sick joke?"

"What the hell is this on my head?  Is this some kind of sick joke?"

"Maybe she'd like some vegetable soup?" suggests my mother.

"Hmmm." I say.  "I'm not sure Zsuzsa will approve."

"AAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!" screams Mila.

"Give me the soup." I say and begin shoveling spoonfuls of the stuff down Mila's throat.  The soup runs out yet Mila is still restless.  A few additional spoonfuls of goulash however, seem to do the trick.

"Don't tell mummy." I whisper to Mila.

She looks at me as though I’m an idiot.  “I can’t even speak you twat!” her face says.  “How the bloody hell am I going to tell Mummy!?”

I begin attempting to eat my goulash with Mila on my knee, although her grasping, little, soup loving baby hands are making things tricky.

"Do you want me to hold her while you eat?" asks Tony.

I throw Mila at him, pick up my soup bowl like a mug and begin gulping.  Once the soup has been downed I then neck my glass of red wine (which thankfully doesn't appear to be that hairy).

In the meantime, Mila has found a bread bowl to play with and appears to be momentarily calm.  I start to relax.

“Zsuzsa’s going to the ballet tomorrow.” I say.

“What’s she going to see?” asks Tony.

“Carmen something.”

“Carmen Miranda?” asks Tony, and then roars with laughter.  I laugh also, although I have no idea what we’re laughing at.

“Maybe.” I mutter under my breath, barely audible.

We leave the restaurant and begin our journey home.

We are walking past a backdrop of the Danube and Buda Castle.  My mother gets her camera phone out.

“Could you just go and stand over there?” she asks.  “I just want it to look like we’re having lots of fun.”

My aunt is also on holiday at the moment.  My mother is determined to show her that we are having more fun than she is.  She takes the photo and we walk on.

“I think the buildings are taller here.” says my mother.

“I think it’s because you don’t usually look up.” says Tony.

“I do usually look up!”

“Hmmm.” says Tony.

We walk on towards my flat.  Mila has fallen asleep.  I’m secretly Googling Carmen Miranda.

“I quite fancy a cup of tea” says my mother.

There you go.

Grandma and Mila getting to know each other

Grandma and Mila getting to know each other

Day 251 - Ljubljana

AKA Bitty

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“What about bitty?” I ask.

We’re in a restaurant in Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia).  I’ve read that it’s good to teach your baby words that they can associate with certain actions.

“No!  No way!  No bloody way!” replies Zsuzsa.

I use my heightened sense of perception that I’ve developed since becoming a Dad, read between the lines, and take it as a ‘maybe’ from Zsuzsa that she’s okay with bitty being our chosen command word for breast feeding,

“Or din-dins?” I suggest, ever the helpful man.

“She’s not a dog!”

The waiter appears.

“Are you ready to order?”

“Yes.” I say.  “I’d like the veal chops please and my wife would like the salmon.”

By the way, she’d already told me this.  I’m not a control freak like that fella from Fifty Shades of Grey (who I know is called Christian Grey, but think if I call him ‘fella’ it makes me sound like fractionally less of a loser).

“Very good.” says the waiter, and turns to leave.

“Actually, one more thing.” I say, stopping him in his tracks.  I point at Zsuzsa.  “Could I have my meal ten minutes before hers?”

The waiter looks at me like I’m some kind of insane, power crazed husband who only allows his wife to eat once he’s finished.  He thinks I’m Donald Trump.

“It’s so we can juggle the baby.” I add, reading his muddled brain.

Seemingly satisfied, the waiter scurries off.

This staggered meal arrival plan is all part of our grand masterplan to allow us to carry on, more or less as normal, despite now being tasked with keeping a tiny, fleshy human alive.  We are determined to still travel, and we are determined to still frequent restaurants. In order to do so, our restaurant visiting process now goes a little something like this…

  1. A scouting mission where one of us enters the restaurant beforehand to case the joint.  In this scouting mission we assess the venue based on noise levels, ambience, buggy friendliness, toilet accessibility, likelihood of Mila approving of the decor, nappy changing facilities and places to hide if our baby goes ape-shit.
  2. Book a table at an unsociable hour, when pretty much nobody else is likely to be in the restaurant for dinner (ie 1730).
  3. Tip toe in, smiling at everyone apologetically for things that may happen in the future.
  4. Sit down and take turns at inhaling our food while the other wanders around the restaurant with Mila.
  5. Pull the rip cord and leg it when Mila starts to scream like a fox having sex.
  6. Travel home with indigestion.

Now back to Slovenia.  

Five minutes go by and my veal appears.  I begin inhaling juvenile cow.  Twenty seconds later and my young cow is gone.  I fill the time before Zsuzsa’s salmon arrives by necking wine like Oliver Reed.  The salmon arrives, Zsuzsa hands me Mila and then sticks her face in her fish (not a euphemism).  Mila is getting restless so I give her my phone to chew.

“How about boob-time?” I say.

“Nope.” says Zsuzsa.

Hmmm.

“Map” says Mila.

“Here is the map.” says Siri.

Mila's first Siri command.  

Mila's first Siri command.  

I look at our nearly 7 month old baby girl in amazement.

“Mila just activated Siri on my iPhone and then said map!” I say.

“Well done!” says Zsuzsa.

“Maybe she’s a genius!” I say.

Mila blows a raspberry and then begins to scream.  

“Can we get the bill?” I holler.

Within two minutes we’ve abandoned ship and hit the mean streets of Ljubljana, young cow and fish fuelled indigestion raging in our bellies.

“I don’t understand people who say they can’t carry on as normal when they have a baby.” I say.  “We still travel!  We still go to restaurants!  Our life has hardly changed in that respect.”

“I know.” says Zsuzsa as we hurry back to our cramped hotel room, to ensure that we can all be in bed by seven o’clock on a Saturday night.

Mila, delighted to be stood in front of a medieval Slovenian castle, carved in to cliff face.

Mila, delighted to be stood in front of a medieval Slovenian castle, carved in to cliff face.

Day 243 - Dr Body

AKA Head, shoulders, knees and toes...and anus

I’m at a doctor’s surgery due to a renegade toenail, and the lady behind reception has just asked me for my mother’s name.  I'm a bit flummoxed.

“My mother’s name?” I ask.

“Yes please.” she replies.

“But I'm forty!”

“It’s for security purposes.” she says matter of factly.

“Security?”

“Yes.”

I’m still confused.  I didn’t realise that my mother was such a big deal in Budapest.  Although saying that maybe I should have twigged a few months back when my brother came over to visit.  We went to the Sziget Music Festival and the people on the door wouldn’t let him in until he’d dropped my mother’s name.  I thought it was a bit strange at the time, but now it all makes sense.  My mother is obviously a big name in Budapest.  Her name opens doors.  All this time, I never knew.

I take a seat and wait.  A few minutes pass.

“Girit.”

“Girit!”

“Girit Hootkinsh!”

I turn around to see who this Girit fella is.  Poor guy!  He sounds like something that men in fluorescent jackets put on roads after heavy snow.  A few seconds go by and nobody stands up.  Slowly it begins to dawn on me that the receptionist is talking to me.  I am the mysterious Girit.  I am snowy road's worst nightmare.

“Uh, yes?” I say.

“Dr Body will see you now.” replies the receptionist.

Dr Body!  This is now my second favourite doctor’s name after Dr Pop, the doctor who my wife often saw while she was pregnant.  I’m now intrigued as to what will greet me behind Dr Body’s door.  Will it be a spandex clad aerobics instructor from 1980’s British breakfast television?  Will it be a new villain from the Spider-Man universe?  Will it be Elle McPherson, having recently graduated from Hungarian medical school?  

I open the door and feast my eyes upon Dr Body.  Somewhat disappointedly there’s no spandex, no super-villain and no antipodean super-model.  He’s just an unassuming grey-haired Hungarian chap.  He fixes me with a kindly gaze.

“Halo.” he says.

“Halo.” I reply.

“Angol?” (English) he asks.

“Yes!” I reply excitedly, relieved that I’m not going to have to put my Hungarian medical language knowledge to the test.

He beckons me to take a seat.  I comply.

“What is problem?” he asks.

“My toe.” I say.  “I think I have an in-growing toenail.”

He motions for me to remove my shoe and sock and I do.  I mean, why wouldn’t I?  This is Dr Body!  THE Dr Body!  When Dr Body asks you to do something, you bloody well go and do it!

He studies my toe for a while, strokes his chin and then delivers his expert verdict.

"I think I am going to have to remove some of your knee.” he says.

This is unexpected news.

“My knee?” I say, a little confused and also a tad concerned.

“Yes.  Your knee.  Just a little.”

This has come as quite a shock.  I didn’t even realise anything was wrong with my knee.  I’m also beginning to question this man’s medical credentials.  Maybe he's like one of those reflexologist people who think they can fix a sore throat by rubbing your little toe a bit.  I decide to interrogate him.

“Are you a toe specialist?” I ask, in full David Frost mode.

“Toe specialist?” he replies.  “No, no, no.  Not toe specialist.”

Hmmm.  Zsuzsa told me I was seeing a toe specialist.

“No.  My specialism is the anus!”

Wait.  What?

“I go in the anus.  My speciality is this.  Anus specialist!” he says, a worrying twang of delight in his delivery.

Hmmm.

He beckons me to lie down.  I do it because he is Dr Body, although I'm now a lot less enthusiastic in following his orders than I was a few moments ago.  After all, I don’t know what part of me is in the firing line.  My toe? My knee? Maybe my beloved anus?  I’m on edge, my eyes frantic as Dr Body pulls out a sharp instrument.  I want my mother here with me.  As a known face around Budapest she would ensure that no harm came to any of my parts.  Dr Body spots my worry and he tries to relax me.

“Okay.” he says.  “I will just remove a little knee.  No problem.  Very little pain.”

Nope.  Still worried, although also relieved that my anus doesn’t appear to be on the menu.

I’m like a frightened rabbit as Dr Body, as quick as a flash, grabs my foot, sprays freezing spray on my toe and cuts a piece of my toenail off.  He shows me the bit of severed toenail.

“See.  Just a little bit of knee.”

I put my sock and shoe back on, covering up five of my ten tiny knees in the process, leave the surgery and hobble home to ask my beloved wife why she felt the need to send me to see an anus specialist.