Hello. A well intentioned friend thought I should start one of these because, jealous of the amount of freebies that come my way, he thought it was time I kept a record of some of my cultural wonderings. You see, by trade I am a TV producer that specialises in the cultural high-end of things, y'know, classical music, opera, and jazz. So the odd freebie does come my way, all in the name of work. They come and they go though, it's not like I'm out every night hob knobbing with Bernard Haitink or some hot new pianist from South America. And I sometimes go to things I actually want to see, so it's not all freebie-on-sea. Anyway, whatever, this blog is an attempt at bringing you some insights and thoughts on the small slice of cultural life I occasionally encounter.
So let me begin in Budapest. I've just spent a weekend there. I have a soft spot for this city; in 1983 I visited it for the first time while inter railing and having been ripped off royaly in France, Switzerland and Austria, arriving in communist Hungary was the best thing me and my companion did - it was sooo cheap. I went again in 1986 to an international music summer school and had a wonderful time mixing with music students from all over the Eastern block. I remember being introduced to Matt Bianco by an East German who I later discovered was a STASI informer. Strange. Anyway, that was then. Now I'm in Budapest on a short weekend break with a mate. It so happens our visit coincides with the Budapest Jazz Festival. So, dutifully, friend and I walk the streets of this very grand, if slightly scruffy, city to check out the Budapest Jazz Club. So what did this venue, the very epicentre of the jazz fest have on offer? Well, nothing that night, even though it was a Saturday, save for a few studenty types jiving away. We didn't stay. However, happy to report much more activity on the Raday utca, a sort of Budapest Soho. Bars and restaurants were crammed to the brim while jazz ensembles of varying styles and abilities played away. Be warned though, the smoking ban hasn't hit this city yet and I can't say I've missed the smell of tobacco. Sniff.