Published: March 13th 2009
July 30th 2008
I haven't got around to writing much since my trip to Hungary last summer. I would be lying if I said I haven't had the time - it's more a case of me having lost my mojo
, now I'm not able to scribble my ideas down in lunch-hour long bursts and without Mr. Volkov's coffee machine to boost my imagination.
Perhaps one day an article about Budapest will materialise; I still have my notes, and some of them even make sense.
The Hungarian word for 'flowers', virag
- written on florists' windows across Budapest - sounds like the Russian word for 'enemy', vrag
- hence the working title "Flowers From My Enemy".
Below is the beginning of a story
I wrote about my journey from Hungary to Ukraine: "An hour or so before dusk on a chilly late summer evening I stepped onto the train at Budapest Nyugati station. As we pulled away from the platform I stayed in the corridor for a while rather than going into my kupe compartment; twenty four hours is a long time to be confined to a musty six foot square cabin with nothing for company but a bunk
bed, brown bedding and, more often than not, boredom.
I pressed my nose against the window and took one last look at the Hungarian countryside as it rolled past. Eastern Hungary is gorgeously European: arable fields reach all the way to the horizon; men on old bicycles unhurriedly make their way to and from neat villages, which have sumptuous names like Puspokladany and Nyíregyháza.
I reflected on the previous three days in Budapest. Against a background of grand architecture, summer rain and a mass of other tourists I had met a girl from Azerbaijan, who asked me to help to translate the screenplay that she had written. She introduced me to her neighbour, a Hungarian girl with a powerful imagination, whose dreams take the form of impromptu nineteenth century novels set in Italian castles. I had also said an indefinite goodbye to Jared, an American missionary and a close friend, whose sofa in Kyiv I had lived on for two weeks the previous winter. After months spent hunched over translations the week had been unusually sociable." Next diary
: King's Cross and the Queen's Neighbour.
There are more photos below