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2014 Grateful 21

‘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.

brdy2We’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the day, and one album of songs that he wrote for singer back in 1973, discs of Koncz Zsuzsa’s album Jelbeszéd,   was withdrawn from sale and destroyed.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.

 

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Yes in my back yard

The developers must die a little inside each time they see this community garden on Nagytemplom utca. Smack in the middle of the Corvin Sétány development, rumour has it that the boys who own Grund have refused to sell and are sitting pretty on their expansive beer garden, hostel, and hostelry. Right outside is an ample carpark fronted by some wasteland which has rather enterprisingly been turned into a community garden in recent weeks.

Vegetables, flowers, and compost heaps are thriving in the dirt, overshadowed on three sides by expensive-looking new flat complexes. How long, I wonder, before this little oasis in the desert of development has the life squeezed out of it? Each time I walk by, David and Goliath come to mind and I chalk one up to tenaciousness and determination.

Already the walls of the playground of Molnár Ferenc’s Paul Street Boys are being cordoned off lest a falling brick hit the head of a passerby. Neighbours complaining of late-night noise have resulted more roofs and walls being built on the Grund compound. It’s lost some of its charm as a result but hey – that’s the price of doing business in what is fast-becoming a very residential neighbourhood.

For my buck, they have a good grill, a big outdoor screen, and lots of seating, should the urge to watch some more football come upon me this June. Failing that, I can always sit and watch someone’s tomatoes grow.