2020 Grateful 12: Katharine Hepburn

I’m not loving much about life lately, but the prods the universe send me never cease to amaze me. Read more

2020 Grateful 13: Bajai Halászlé

For years, I’ve been living with the illusion that the standard for fish soup (halászlé – which translates literally as fisherman juice)  was what is made in Szeged, the third-largest city in Hungary with a population of about 160 000. The first time I visited the city, that’s was what I was told. And sure why wouldn’t I believe them? It was on every menu in every restaurant I ate in or passed by. Situated on the banks of the River Tisza and close to Lake Fehér, (white lake) Hungary’s largest saltwater lake, fish are plentiful. Read more

Painted with someone else in mind

I sent a picture of my latest art purchase to a friend. Their reply said it all. Art, they said, is very subjective. And it is. Read more

2020 Grateful 14: Revolutionary spirit

Back in 1956, October 23 marked the first day of a 12-day revolution in Hungary. What began as a spontaneous uprising with thousands taking to the streets demanding freedom from Soviet oppression and a more democratic rule ended badly for so many. Some 12 days later, on November 4, very early in the morning, Soviet tanks rolled into the city to put an end to this insubordination, much to the surprise and shock of those in the West who had lent little more than words of sympathy in support of the beleaguered Hungarians. It’s estimated that more than 2500 Hungarians died and that about 200 000 fled the country. Read more

2020 Grateful 15: As ghoulish as it gets

There one old lady in our village who’s never seen outside without a headscarf. There are a few of them, but the one I’m thinking about wears the traditional hand-pleated skirt over stockings and rides a bike. She’s too bosomy to fit a witch profile but her on her bike is as close it comes to witches on broomsticks in this part of the world. Read more

A fantasy realised

I made myself laugh out loud the other day. There was no one around to hear me as COVID life is pretty solitary. It’s a given that social distancing is playing silly buggers with our mental health. It’s also a given that life as we knew it ain’t coming back any time soon. But what made me laugh is the thought that hundreds of thousands of people are sitting at home wishing they could be in the office! I bet they never thought they’d see the day. Read more

Shooting in Scotland with Keith Calder

The leaves are turning. The sun is losing its warmth. And the mozzies have gone to bed. I love this time of year. I’m a huge fan of autumnal colours and few things can better a cold, crisp, sunny day. Invigorating. For many, this will be a time when they turn to their books. Long evenings in front of a fire paging through their latest adventure. I read year round. Voraciously. Read more

2020 Grateful 16: Let down by my Rs

I don’t particularly look Irish. I don’t look not Hungarian either. There’s nothing discernable from how I dress or walk or laugh that sets me apart from most Hungarians I know. Except, of course, for when I speak. This is particularly pertinent at flea markets. In Hungary, flea markets are great unlevellers. Even for külföldiek (foreigners) who are well versed in how the markets work, there’s a two-tier system in operation. Read more

Answers on a postcard, please

I was in a big city. I thought it was Dublin but the building-lined road looked very, very wide. London’s Pall Mall came to mind. But the hotels were massive, Vegas-like structures. Wherever I was, it was a big English-speaking city. I was standing by the side of the road watching tens of flatbed trucks go by. Each truck had about 50 glowing brown bodies, naked from the waist up, glistening with sweat. They looked Indian.

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Which is the fairytale?

In this trigger-happy social-media-driven world we live in, I’ve been holding my whist. I love that Irish expression for keeping your mouth shut and your opinions to yourself. But this morning, I was incandescent with rage. Pure, unadulterated rage. I was seething.

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