Statues, I have come to believe, are one of my favourite things. For most of my life I hadn’t really thought about them all that much but for most of my life I hadn’t really ventured far from home and witnessed the rich diversity that existed within the worldwide world of three dimensional art.
I have found that in most towns and cities outside of England there are absolutely stacks of statues. In Budapest I could safely say that they have gone to so much trouble to statue the place up that there must be almost as many bronze people as there are flesh people.
In England statues tend to be mostly of Queen Victoria sitting on her throne looking all fat and lardy or someone like Ernie Wise looking nothing like someone like Ernie Wise. Even the sculpture of Scottish football legend, Billy Bremner that stands outside Leeds United’s majestic Elland Road Stadium looks nothing like Scottish football legend Billy Bremner. They’ve painted it to make it look more realistic but in actual fact poor Billy now looks more like Togolese football legend, Emmanuel Adebayor.
I could have spent a whole day just admiring Budapest’s statues as they varied so much to include scenes of war, mythology, hunting, working on the land, sporting achievements and the manufacturing industry. They included animals and angels and famous people and fictitious people and people I’ve never heard of and they often had a fountain or two squirting water at them or around them.
There was a statue called the Little Princess of a nymph-like girl dressed in rags and a pointy hat and she was sitting on real railings by a tram line. There was one of Imre Nagry who led the country for a couple of years in the 1950s, dressed in a floppy trilby hat, raincoat and spectacles and standing on a footbridge over a pool of water. The footbridge was sculpted from bronze but the water was real, as were the McDonald’s cartons that were floating in it.
Even former U.S.A. president, Ronald Reagan, was represented in the city’s statue community. He was located near to the American Embassy and even nearer to the Russian War Memorial. A nice Russian lady who had been taking photographs of her national monument took one of me holding Big Ron’s hand. I did the same for the Russian lady. Ronald himself wasn’t much good at taking pictures, him being a statue, so the round robin of hand holding photographs was sadly never completed.
Me and Big Ron.
But the most surprising of the statues that I found was one of Hungarian football legend, Ferenc Puskás. It wasn’t the great man’s bust that surprised me but the location of it. It was about four hundred metres away from the hotel I was staying at on the Budapest ring road and very close to a huge modern shopping centre. My later research revealed that before the shops had been built, the village of Kispest (which translates as Little Pest) where Ferenc had been born stood there.
I also discovered that when the Soviet tanks and troops re-entered Budapest to subdue the civil uprising in October and November 1956, they approached the city centre from the south east, up the Üllői út (Anvil Avenue), with some of the first street clashes taking place in Kispest. Fascinating stuff and now they’ve got a branch of Tesco there too, which just goes to show there was no outright winner in the Cold War.