Sundown Cruise on the Danube - Updated
Updated: Jun 5
KesterRester - Time Up for Perspectives Budapest
Photo: A Danube pleasure boat at the end of a U-turn - which was somehow symbolic of the country at the time of this pic, in mid-Summer, 1989. I could, I suppose, ask where I was standing to take this, but that wouldn't pose a challenge for most readers, would it?
Dear All, I made the first step in founding the blog a year ago tomorrow - even if it took the better part of a month to sort out how to actually post. (These things are perfectly understandable when you understand them, if you see what I mean. My thanks to Tamas, Ekaterina and Vivien for holding my hand through that process!)
My analytics page tells me there have been 10,869 site visits since then, which, as the site has only been 'live' effectively from July 3, equates to roughly 1,000 sessions per month. (I can't seem to find out how many post visits, which is usually about 10-15% more, have been made.)
I don't know if that is good or bad, but I notice of late it's been dwindling - it stands at only 705 over the past 30 days, and with lockdowns ending, I get the feeling people are less inclined to read. So, with the annual subscription now due, it feels like the time to call it a day.
There are, of course, some stories that remain untold or only part written: I'll certainly have to find another way to complete "Tales of a Teenage Spy". My apologies to Gabor, for in fact he - his story - was a major reason why I started this site in the first place.
Many thanks to my loyal site members, one or two of whom, despite not knowing so much about Hungary (as far as I know) seem keen to read and appreciate just about every post. (Very kind of you Albyn and Lawrence.)
Apologies too to anyone who feels I've misrepresented them: I've tried to keep a high editorial standard, and only publish accurate information, or at worst, fair comment.
I have to go out now. I will aim to get back and sort out the final winner of the final KesterTester in an update this evening.
But just in case I don't make it and this site gets taken down, a special mention to Mr David McCall, who must be the most unlucky KT contestant in here. David has many times sent in the correct answer, but his number has just never come out of the EU accredited Black Woolly Hat.
I don't know what the odds were against that, but I do hope your life's luck treats you better, David! I guess, in your case, there it should be less concern to see a black cat than a black hat :)
Update: the Results of KesterTester 40
Apologies, a bit late with this update. I got back late last night, but, to my surprise, I find the website is still working. But, I'd better be quick, never know when it might be taken down. Well, this KT40 sparked a flurry of entries, because, of course, the man in the middle was the PM of the UK and remains something of a statesman in the UK, speaking out in the past few years on the need to keep his country within the European fold as being in the best interests of both the UK and Europe. Sharon Lee Cowan, in her “humble guess” wrote: “John Major in Budapest 1992? no idea what the incident was.”
Rght man and right year, Sharon Lee! Tom Chilton, however, was somewhat flummoxed: “I am baffled by KT . When you say "compatriots" do you mean the guys with the funny hats are British? They look Balkan to me.” Indeed, they are more likely to be from Bolton than Banja Luka, Tom, I promise you. Anyway, Happy Birthday! David McCall, who holds the Guiness Book of Records entry for most number of correct KesterTester entries but never the winner, chipped in with: “Since you seem desperate for responses to KT40, I'll say I'm positive it's PM John Major, confident that it was in Jozsef nador ter (when Malev and Budapest Bank both called it home), but I have no idea why those fellows ventured out in public dressed up like that! Good try, David – if a bit out on the location, or at least its name. But you have been away for quite some time. Both Mihaly Hardy and Sandor Nemeth more or less nailed the location, Mihaly writing: “I think the guy must be John Major, the place is Vörösmarty tér, however the musicians remain a puzzle.” Sandor, however, admitted that his head was still swimming after news of his victory in KT39. “Yes, I am back from the Bakony, and I’ve just read the stunning news. Now I know the reason why the crowds gathered together on the side of Alkotás utca last night, waving flags and banners and shouting “champion, champion” as I was driving past. Indeed, I am happy.” It is therefore understandable that he was not able to fully concentrate on KT40. John Cantwell, in his inimitable thoroughness, proffered: “Clearly it is John, now Sir John Major. I recognize the building behind him as the location of the BSE (at that time). The exact address would be Deák Ferenc utca 5, adjacent to Vörösmarty tér.
Photo: John Cantwell is more or less spot on regarding the location. This is the scene inside the old Budapest Stock Exchange a few minutes before the KT40 picture was taken outside. At the time, it was still open outcry trading - online trading was yet to begin.
However, google as he may (and surely did) John could not find any “precise information” on John Major’s visits to Budapest. “It could even have been during his brief time as foreign minister in 1989,” he thought.
“But my guess would be it was on the occasion of the signing of the Budapest Memorandum, 5 December 1994. He was in the city as one of the signatories, along with Yeltsin, Clinton, et al (photo below).”
Thanks for that date, John, I'd forgotten, and thought it was 1995. I remember you kept falling over Presidents, Prime Ministers and Big Shots in every corridor of the Novotel at the time! However, as I sort of expected, one regular reader remembered the event all too well.
Photo: It was kept secret, but I reckon John Majorhe had arranged to take a punt on 100 Fotex shares immediely on entering the exchange - and is now watching the price go up - hence the smiles are real! :) Also in the line up are UK ambassador John Birch (immediately to Major's left) and a certain Lajos B who became infamous as Finance Minister of Hungary almost precisely three years later.
Indeed, I remember the banter between PM Major and the Morris troupe leader went something like this: (Note, Major had only just been re-elected, surprisingly, in April, and there had also been local elections in the UK. ) Morris Dance Leader: “Well, I didn't expect to find you here!” JM: “Well, I certainly didn't expect to find you! Where are you from?” Morris Dance Leader: “Preston. We're the Royal Preston Morris Dancers. And by the way, I'm a Labour councillor, you know!” JM: “Really? I didn't think there were any of you left!” (I'm chuckling to myself with the memory as I type these words right now!) But in terms of the KesterTester, and despite Mr Dorey's inside information facility, the most correct answer, and not for the first time, originated from Hubert “Poirot” Warsmann, who wrote: “John Major, Budapest, 28 May 1992, Deak Ferenc u 1-5 (the BSE building). Now who are the weirdos? Visiting Morris dancers as one seems to have a stick or sword? Too bad one can’t see their knees.” Hubert has won several KesterTesters, and there are now thousands of fans camping outside his home preventing him from entering except by posing as a Tesco Home Delivery van driver.
Nonetheless, he is the recipient once again of this most coveted prize, and for the last time. Bravo, Hubert!
As a follow up to all this, years later, probably 1997 or 1998, I was on a cross-channel ferry going to the UK one night. I didn't want to go to sleep as I thought I'd wake up worse than I felt at the time, and to keep myself busy, I decided to go through my camera bags and throw out the various bits of paper and notes that had accumulated in the pockets over the years. It was then that I found the address of the Morris Dancer troupe leader, written on a scrap of paper that I must have got from him at the time.
So when I got to the UK, I posted a photo to the address, which was duly acknowledged with gratitude from the man, who still clearly cherished the memory.
Congratulations to all contestants: I hope you've enjoyed the fun.