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Welcome to The Lotus Position, an intermittent collection of extempore navel gazings, ponderings, whinges, whines, pontifications and diatribes.

Everything is based on a Sample of One: these are my views, my experiences... caveat lector... read the Disclaimer

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter
Ponder, Scribble, Ponder (Photo Erdotahi Aron)

Guest Nutter/Kindred Soul: Bill Bailey


Saturday, 11 August 2007

Sziget 2007 - Day 3 - Pink Wet Madness

On the third day we moved less and spent more time around the main stage.

We caught the last half of Gogol Bordello (Ukrainian fronted US band) whose lead singer heaped imprecations on the crowd to party harder "I was born just across the street - you're not fooling me!", then came Laurent Garnier- godfather of French techno.

He got off to a fine, banging start, semi-reluctantly agreed he had to play the old gold, such as "Crispy Bacon" which was excellent, then gave a metaphorical Gallic shrug and went his own way again; which is to say that after three pretty dull tracks Laurent and I parted company.

Pink put on a good show, but nothing to write home about.

However... Madness headlined tonight, and all though the crowd wasn't quite up to Chemical Brothers density, it was noticeably bigger than when Pink was on stage. Suggs now seems to look like Colonel Jack O'Neill in his cool shades - but alas I have no photos to support this claim, and Suggs' potential sang-froid in the face of a Gua'uld attack is largely irrelevant here.

Appearances notwithstanding the show was the Madness I was hoping for - and the rest of the crowd loved it too spite the fact that less than 1% of the crowd could possibly remember them from their heyday. There were plenty of the famous hits - Baggy Trousers, Our House, Madness, It Must Be Love, One Step Beyond, etc. etc. etc. - and plenty of energy, both on an off stage.

At the time, it was quite dry. I've always called Sziget "Glastonbury without the mud", but that is not always true. Yesterday the weather delivered on the BBC's 5-day forecasted "light showers" (sort of), but seemed to overlook any commitment to thunderstorms today... until sometime after midnight.

Noemi particularly wanted to see Eszenyi Eniko at the Dance and Theatre Tent around midnight. She (not Noemi - or the tent) is a 40-something Hungarian singer, who, as soon as she picked up the mic struck me as merely a would-be Hungarian Marlene Dietrich, and since we were in the standing-room-only area I decided to skip the tedium of listening to songs I couldn't understand and went outside.

Well, there was lots of laughter from inside; the Marlene Dietrich thing was just that - a Marlene Dietrich thing to start the show, which was full of hilarious songs mostly about the various shortcomings (and in at least one case longcomings) of men... or so I am told. She certainly wowed the crowd - just her and her piano accompanist - for nearly two hours.

Two long hours.

Two long and increasingly wet hours

I started outside with a coffee and a cigarette. It started to rain. I stood under a tree. It started to rain harder; people walked faster. There was a flash of light. Ah. Lightning. Tree. Not a good place to be standing.

So I wandered back to the small entrance shelter of the Dance and Theatre Tent. The planking above had a narrow crack which meant that the 1.5m of space that was sheltered was divided into two zones by a curtain of water. I chose the wider, front section.

More people jammed in. I gazed at the blossoming storm and did my "let's have some lightning over.... there" finger-pointing trick; but nothing happened... at least not immediately.

A short while later, just in the appointed place a real doozy of a lightning bolt flashed through the sky. It didn't zig, it didn't zag, it just came down - did a small left, right, right, left U-section and carried on with a lovely bright white and yellow neon flash. And then there was a loud bang. Woo hoo! The lighnting show was on!

Under the tent's porch, some sat on the metal scaffolding, arses on the rails, feet on the ground. Unfortunately I don't know enough Hungarian to be able to say "Lightning is dangerous" let alone "Although the metal will provide a low resistance path to earth, some current is still going to flow through you if you keep your feet on the floor", so I just tried not to think about lightning striking anywhere close.

Sometime later, I shifted my feet and they got wet. The earth beneath them had become a puddle about 4cm deep while I had been standing there and all had been well until I created a wave that over-topped the waterproof part of my trainers. Yeucch!

To escape the rising waters many snuck into the back of the tent where they just metaphorically kicked their heels while waiting for the show/rain to end or, in the case of one small group of Hungarians and one larger group of Americans, they talked loudly.

In the case of the Americans they talked very loudly. Archetypally loudly. So loudly in fact they were almost shouting to each other - I'm sure they could be clearly heard on stage - despite the fact that they could have used normal voices, and that anyone with any consideration would have been whispering even though a normal voice would probably have been OK, but for some a normal voice is clearly a loud voice.

I was tempted to go over and say "I do apologise - I missed the beginning of the performance. Would it be a terrible imposition if I were to ask you to start your conversation again?" But I had the feeling the Speech Volume and Irony Appreciation were probably inversely proportional.

So, I am now going to be very rude about the Americans who aren't my dear and wonderful friends because this bunch were arrogantly obnoxious (the Hungarians were, by comparison, merely annoying). It's strange - some nations are collectively as nice as they are individually, such as the Japanese, Welsh and French (as long as they're not Parisians), whereas others, unfortunately including both the English and Americans are just ghastly. Oh, let's not forget the Israelis as some of the loudest mouths on the planet either.

However, to return to the pizza-obsessed, loud-mouthed, inconsiderate cretins in the tent and others of their ilk...

What do you call an American without an arsehole? Shit for brains.

Yeah, I like that - stiletto humour: stylish, pointy, subtle...

What do you call an American with an arsehole? Mr Vice President.

I thank you.

The performance came to an end eventually, but the rain didn't. Noemi got the green cagoule, I got the mat to drape over my head. We got wet as we trudged back to the entrance to Obudai island (that's "Sziget" - sziget just means "island"), and wetter as we stood waiting for the bus, which however at least dropped us with a few hundred meters of home and a nice dry bed.

And it was also good.