Sunday, 20 November 2011

Who Were They

Once, when we lived in Vienna, we had two sets of rather grand Austrians round for a meal - one lot the arty but still at heart snobbish son and daughter-in-law of my godmother, a woman who I overheard uttering this carefully-learned phrase to the new, Czech nanny of her grandchildren: "How do you do, I am Countess X, but you don't have to call me Countess"; the other lot, our landlord and his wife.

When the first set - the godmother's son and daughter-in-law - arrived, we gave them drinks and chatted. The wife asked who else was coming to dinner, and I told her the name of our landlord, saying that he and his wife would be there quite soon. 'Who was she?' was the woman's immediate inquiry, 'Who was she before she was married?'

I often think of this question as I look up at all the myriad faces on Budapest's buildings. 'Who were they? Who were they before they were transfigured into stone?'


  1. I love that reclining figure in the 16th photo.

  2. Jeff: I do too, and I've walked past that building so many times without ever having noticed her before