- 3 Aug 2022 5:24 PM
She has written two books, Now You See It, Now You Don’t which details everyday life in communist Hungary pre-1989, and House of Cards which explores the complex effects that the subsequent change of regime had on ordinary people’s lives.
Her books have been included as part of the Open Society Archive dedicated to this period in the CEU.They will be serialised on Xpatloop from September.
She also has a website www.budapestretro.weebly.com which offers a vivid insight into life before 1989.
1. When did you arrive in Hungary and what brought you here?
I first visited in 1978, but I came to live here permanently in 1982. My husband (also English) had been asked to teach at the Liszt Academy and I worked with Hungarian friends at Lingua language school in Óbuda.
2. Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?
3. What surprised you most about Hungary?
Just about everything back then: the lack of phones (meaning people physically met friends all the time); the fantastically cheap culture (books, cinema, concerts); the tasty food, the realisation that there were only ten other British people living in the country – and the fact that the British Embassy thought we were spies!
4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
See the river – preferably by both by day and at night, maybe having dinner on a cruise.
5. What is your favourite Hungarian food?
In winter, there’s nothing like a good Jókai bableves; I also love gesztenyepüré – I’ve never tasted anything like it anywhere else!
6. What is never missing from your refrigerator?
Cheese – and more cheese.
7. What is your favourite Hungarian word?
Both ‘pittypang’ (dandelion) and ‘pipacs’ (poppy) – mainly because of how they sound.
8. What do you miss most from home?
The sea, the countryside and the centuries-old buildings.
9. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
I would have loved to be an orchestral cellist.
10. What's a job you would definitely never want?
Anything technical or practical – I struggle with putting together even the most basic item of IKEA merchandise!
11. Where did you spend your last vacation?
12. Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
Austria – and then England again (my children are there).
13. Apart from temptation what can't you resist?
Coffee and cats (we used to have four).
14. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
15. Red wine or white?
Red in winter; chilled white in summer.
16. Book or movie?
Book first – and film (of a book) second.
17. Morning person or night person?
18. Which social issue do you feel strongly about?
The anxiety over voicing one’s opinions for fear of being subsequently labelled and ‘cancelled’.
19. Buda or Pest side?
Definitely Pest – I’ve lived here for 40 years and wouldn’t want to change sides.
20. What would you say is your personal motto?
I really like the Hungarian saying: valamit valamiért. (It’s generally used to mean something like: you can’t have something for nothing.)