So, Friday in Budapest. The day I had come all this way for, though not yet the hour. It was another beautiful morning, so I went into town on the metro, and back out again, on a bus this time. I allowed plenty of leeway for mistakes, thus navigated flawlessly and ended up arriving an hour early. Had a nice chat with an American teacher, and a very small, horrendously strong coffee, though. Because being ferociously overcaffienated is the perfect mental state to go behave quietly underground.
Because I was at Palvolgyi cave! 40-million-year old fossil shells and sea urchins embedded in the walls! 20-million-year old crystal formations! Million-year-old carbon dioxide bubble holes the size of beach balls! ‘Baby’ stalactites, ‘only’ a hundred to a few thousand years old! Cute hibernating bats! Lovely tour guide (“This place was used as an air raid shelter in WWII but nothing happened and nobody died so don’t worry, there are no ghosts”).
That was worth the trip. I even walked all the way back (downhill) to the edge of town, where I got back on the train and went to see the Roman Ruins at Acquinum. Sadly, the museum was shut for refurbishments (until the day after I leave), but the ruins themselves were just sitting out along the side of the dual carriageway, so I got quite the gander at them for free.
A nap and a fair bit of quiet fretting later, and it was time to get ready to go see Gloryhammer. Again, the curly mum-cut from hell makes for massive personal paranoia! (Why don’t you just buy a wig? said one of my best friends. It was good advice. I did. I dared not put it on and have it slide off. I went with the mum-cut and kept my hood up.
Fun fact, my actual mum has also invested in wigs, recently, because she’s complaining her hair is too straight.)
I wasn’t just paranoid about the hair. I was paranoid about getting lost/ getting barred/ finding the e-ticket was for some reason invalid and getting shouted at in Hungarian and being unable to find any suitable phrases for reply in the phrasebook. I was paranoid about everybody staring at me. I was paranoid about everybody laughing at me when I got home, even though I firmly intended to spin whatever went wrong as a hilarious yarn, given enough time, because laughing with me is different, damn it, and if I make people laugh with me I can kid on they might not laugh at me afterwards.
While in the queue, this security guard shouted at me in Hungarian, only like right up close in my face, and with hindsight I realise he was probably only saying, Move your arse, doll, a car is trying to get through, but I was prepped for mortification and promptly went beetroot. And stayed beetroot. Thank god I never brought the wig, it and my face would have matched. Well, and it will be dark inside, right?
Nope, lights didn’t go down for another half hour. I hit the local cheapo beer, discovered it tasted like the local cheapo beer back home, discovered the Weissbier was pleasantly cheap as well (a move I was to regret, the next day) and necked that instead while thinking thoughts about ice-cubes, and penguins, and the Arctic and anything to try and make the blush of mortification go the feck away already. Which it didn’t. It never does, not while you’re still mortified, and you can’t not be mortified with it, and so round and round you go. Hopefully everyone just thought I was drunk.
Still, I was in.
Listening to Windrose, an Italian band, singing in Hungary, in the only language I speak, as well as addressing the crowd in it, was quite the revelation. What was even more fascinating was, although the singer was using the kinda standard rock lyric growl (hopefully somebody out there knows what I mean; the voice is made to fit the music. Like that time I went to the thrash extravaganza with the G Monster back in the day, at the ABC, and one band had this lovely wee teeny Aussie lead singer who alternated between a formidable, hellhound-esque bass that sounded like it was rising up from the Pit itself for the songs, and thanking us all in a very squeaky Aussie accent in between them).
This was not thrash-singing, just rock-singing, however, these notes I can only describe as Pavaroti-like just sort of sailed out of his throat every so often. I wondered if he had been classically trained. I wondered if maybe being Italian just made that happen to you, no matter who you were or what you were singing at the time. I wondered what effect that would have on the careers of Italian rappers. I wondered what the Scottish equivalent would be, like if you were making a serious speech and whenever you got even slightly passionate about it you were drowned out by mysterious bagpipes, ruining your presentation on interest rates. I wondered if maybe the Weissbier might be a bit strong and a bit of a mistake.
Up next, Nekrogoblikon. I tried, I just didn’t feel it. I am sure they are very good at what they do. Thrash metal really isn’t my thing (cue flummoxation from anyone reading this who is all, There are supposed to be differences in all this noise?) Also, I blame the Weissbier.
And then… the moment of truth.
Well hey, and was I not close enough to actually make out the people on the stage, this time?
Since my memories of that part of the night are an incoherent mess of pure delight, I will just say that according to my notes, that blew the Glasgow gig out of the water.
On my way home – my carefully planned, short as humanly possible, way home – disaster struck, because of course it did. You have to pay karma somehow, I suppose. Or, look where you’re going.
There were people crossing this large and empty road, so I decided it was safe to cross it too; while checking wildly that nothing was coming in either direction, because I was half deaf from the gig. All I saw was a lassie in immense stilettos running across the road in the other direction, extremely awkwardly. I assumed this was due to the stilettos. I did not realise it was due to the fact that this tram line (unlike every other tram line I had crossed in Budapest, and there have been a few), had these little flanges of tile sticking up on either side of the rails. The predictable happened, and I suddenly found myself smacked in the face by the tarmac. Wow, so much less awkward than the way she crossed the road, not.
I laughed loudly, because some other people had seen me go over, lurched to my feet and sprinted away in case something finished the job by driving over me. I staggered the remaining hundred feet or so to the hotel, ordered a drink at the bar as nonchalantly as I could, and took it up to my room. I discovered in the lift mirror that I was covered in blood and had scuff marks all down me like I’d been pawed by an allosaurus. Yeah, classy. No wonder the barman was trying not to piss himself laughing.
On the other hand, if I’d had the wig on, I’d probably have had to abandon it in the street, so there is that.
Still worth it, however.