Monday, 25 February 2008

Redruth 2

In Redruth again, killing time before my singing lesson. A man in a van drew up alongside me in the carpark and handed me his parking ticket, still with an hour to run. Got two pairs of shoes for £20 (one pair originally £60) in yet another shop that is closing down. Truro is bleeding Redruth dry, but still those hearts of gold, as my friend DM Thomas calls Redruthers, keep on pumping.

It could not be more different to Budapest, where I was killing time last week before returning to Cornwall for what seems like interminable hospital treatment (someone here has been on it for six years, according to my oncologist...). And yet, and yet....In Lehel Ter market in Budapest District XIII (unlucky for some), people were selling the same kind of perfectly edible but, shall we say, aesthetically challenged veg as in the fruit shop in Redruth. Some of the Budapest carrots and turnips had been cut open lengthways - to show that they were good inside, my daughter said. Lehel Ter market is to the main market (Vasarcsarnok) on Szabasag (Freedom) Bridge) as Redruth is to Truro: a poor relation with a heart of gold - though Lehel Ter is extremely well patronised by locals with string bags. It's a sort of poor man's Pompidou Centre, modernist, with colourful struts, etc, but instead of peddling art or tourist tat, it sells useful things and Hungarian condiments - paprika and pickles and sour cream. The restored market arcade in Redruth is empty, maybe because the locals there find wool and dolls' houses less useful than knobbly carrots. They certainly saw off the sixty pound shoe shop. I suppose Pool Market (a sprawl of a covered market near the last working mine in Cornwall) is Redruth's Lehel Ter - its District Thirteen. Budapest is getting more expensive, now that Hungary is in the EU and seeking to join the Euro. Redruth wouldn't get in, of course, especially now that shoe shop has gone. Redruth is fast becoming what Budapest always refused to be: Eastern European. Shto dyelat? the Russians would say? What is to be done?

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