‘Do you mind if I bring along a couple of musicians to your drinks thing this evening’, he asked? ‘They’re happy to play a few tunes.’ I think it was just about then that the night, the penultimate celebration in what has been a memorable birthday week, took on a life of its own.
Birthdays are great excuses to get people together. My life is quite sectioned and it’s good to occasionally get a mix of people in the same room and see how they hit it off. And I get to catch up with some I haven’t see in person in a while. Thankfully, my lot are quite self-sufficient and don’t need minding so even those who’d arrived knowing no one were soon in the thick of things. Some couldn’t make it; others showed up unexpectedly; more still were absent because I forgot to tell them. My bad.
We’d taken over one corner of Grund’s inner courtyard and when said musicians arrived, we moved a couple of the pool tables and set them up. As Gary (on guitar) and Fionnuala (on flute) played to a mixed crowd of all ages from eight countries, I gave silent thanks for those who had taken the time to celebrate with me.
Surprises were the order of the evening though, as not only was I meeting my cousin (another Mary Murphy) for the first time (not surprising that… I have 70 first cousins still living), one of my oldest friends in BP, the inimitable SzE, walked in with Bródy János in tow.
I first met the man back in 2007 and was thoroughly smitten. To my mind, he’s Hungary’s answer to Christy Moore – an amazing performer and a lovely lad. I watched him woo a crowd aged 2 to 90, reaching everyone at their level, and was mesmerised. While I didn’t understand the lyrics, I was more than taken with the music and the sincerity with which he played. I’ve met him a couple of times over the years and listen to his CDs regularly. And seven years later, I’m still smitten. Back in the 1970s, when Hungary was under Communism, Bródy’s lyrics were open to interpretation and often could be read as being critical of the regime. Censorship was alive and well back in the day, and one album of songs that he wrote for singer back in 1973, discs of Koncz Zsuzsa’s album Jelbeszéd, was withdrawn from sale and destroyed. Today, at as he moves well into his 60s, the rebel is still alive and well.
He said his voice wasn’t in good form so if he sang, he’d sing for me, not for the garden. Borrowing Gary’s guitar, I pulled up a chair, and sat, rapt, as he sang the first song I ever remember him singing – Egy hétig tart egy sezerelem (Love lasts a week). It charts the course of a relationship over a week and for some reason, even though I’ve never seen the lyrics translated, it resonates. I was well impressed that he showed up and even more impressed that he sang for me.
As one manic week draws to a close and another equally manic one beckons, I’m grateful for old friends and new; for those who live nearby and those spread around the world. I’m grateful for the birthday wishes, the birthday cards, and the birthday presents, too. To pass through people’s minds and linger long enough for them to wish me well is a lovely feeling. To have fate conspire to introduce new people to a life already full of good fortune is one of the best presents I could get. And to be sung to by the man himself …. priceless.