Nervous Records

The Hungarian Saga (2001)

Feeling safe now that several years had passed since the collapse of the communist Eastern Bloc, Kaptain Zorch decided to visit Hungary and check out one of Nervous Records' recent signings - Mystery Gang.
     So it was that the Kaptain arrived at Heathrow airport with a slight tinge of excitement. This was his first trip to Eastern Europe in this lifetime, and he'd heard all about Budapest being the 'Paris of Eastern Europe'. His minicab had actually got him to the airport early, so he wandered into a bookstore to buy something to read on the plane. His eye was caught by a book on parallel universes. He tucked the book away in his hand luggage and sneaked into Sock Shop for some clean socks and underwear.
     Some time later, he was sailing through the air. He'd had to get up early for this flight, and he started to feel rather drowsy. He started to drift into the 'time between times', so well-known by his ancestors, his head swimming with the strange concepts in the book that he was reading..... Looking out of the window, he saw another plane just like the one that he was in drifting towards him. He could see people in this other plane now - it was so close. There was someone who looked just like him. Gosh! The planes sort of merged into one another and then divided and drifted apart again! The Kaptain had drifted into a parallel universe! He shook his head as he realised what had happened. He looked around. Everything looked exactly the same. Maybe this parallel universe was identical. He'd left his other self in the previous universe. Maybe he could get back. He couldn't tell. He decided to make the best of things and carry on as if nothing had happened.......
     The plane landed at Budapest and The Kaptain was met by three very cool-looking dudes who introduced themselves as Zoltan, Tomas and Peter - Mystery Gang! They all jumped into the band's Transit van and headed off for a TV show, where the band played and shook the place up. Then it was off to a radio interview, a meal and some earnest discussion about Rockabilly in general. Later than night, Zoltan took the Kaptain to his home for the next few days - an ancient spooky-looking gothic edifice in the suburbs of Budapest. The Kaptain settled down for the night under the gaze of ancient family photographs of Zoltan’s ancestors. The next day he was woken up at 5.30 am for an interview on Breakfast TV. This interview followed an interview with a Hungarian porn starlet. The Kaptain wondered about a country that featured full frontal nudity on breakfast TV, but put it down the fact that he was in a parallel universe. She was a slick-lookin' chick, though.... Maybe life in this universe had its attractions..... They left the studio, and went on to another radio show, followed by a trip to God, a small town where the band played in an open-air restaurant, driving the local populace wild with crazy Rockabilly, manic guitar solos, crashing drums and wild slapping bass. This band was HOT!!!! So was the Kaptain. The air temperature was getting uncomfortable, and his sleep that night was broken by a war between the local cats and dogs. Zoltan's ancestors gazed down imperiously upon the snoring Kaptain. Next day would be Saturday, and in Budapest on a Saturday in a parallel universe, who knows what might happen....?
     Saturday dawned and the band and the Kaptain eventually arrived at the Fortuna studios for the filming of the Hungarian Lottery show, where the band were due to play. There was also a strange interview with three ageing Hungarian DJs who were all trying to out-cliché each other in strange 'media' verbal frenzy. One of the old DJs looked exactly like Bryan Chalker of Radio Caroline, and even spoke like him. Meanwhile, on the other side of the stage, the band played and a huge swivelling stage swung out over them with two large glass globes full of lottery balls, all controlled by what appeared to be a pair of miserable unreconstructed 'kommenistas'. All of this was fronted by an ex-porn actress called 'Miss Fortuna' (sic). As the band launched into a wild version of 'Rockhouse', the Bryan Chalker lookalike grabbed Miss Fortuna and tried to jive with her. It was pathetic. The Kaptain leapt out of his seat and jumped on the stage, elbowed the Chalker clone out of the way and grabbed Miss Fortuna. He'd show 'em how to Rock'n'roll! The studio audience (comprising of ex-commissars and their families) roared its approval as Miss Fortuna span around wildly, guided by the skilful hands of the Kaptain. As the music got wilder and the dancing more frenetic, her skin-tight dress ripped from her knees up to her waist to reveal that she was wearing no underwear! The Chalker clone gasped in amazement at this revelation and clutched at his heart. He lurched across the stage and crashed into the mechanism that controlled the lottery machine, sending the globes, balls and unreconstructed communists bouncing all over the stage. The band grabbed their instruments and ran as the security police arrived to boos and hisses from the studio audience, who were quite enjoying the on-stage débâcle. The Kaptain stopped. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Zoltan beckoning to him from behind a darkened curtain. He dashed behind the curtain and joined the band as they ran to their van. Peter drove the van right through the security gate and they escaped in the traffic of the city, eventually arriving at the Blues Alley Club,In action! where the Kaptain set up his CDs and proceeded to give the assembled populace his idea of a Rock'n'roll record hop. The band played wildly, with Peter's eyes boggling, Tomas looking like a Rockabilly version of the character from 'Mad' magazine, and Zoltan's previously immaculate coiffure swaying wildly in the sweat-laden atmosphere. The Kaptain yakked down the mike in various languages to the puzzlement of the punters and drank far too many brandy and Cokes. Things were getting wild. A massive Hungarian Rockabilly who looked like the singer from the Blue Cats was rolling on the ground, the floor was swimming in beer, women were tearing their clothes off, glasses were crashing from the shelves behind the bar and smoke was pouring the through the speakers as the Kaptain leapt onto the stage imagining that he was a cross between Elvis Presley and John Fogerty. Suddenly, a gang of Hungarian policemen looking like the Ton-Ton Macoute rushed in. The Kaptain swiftly ducked down behind the DJ console, and as he did, he knocked his bag over. The book on parallel universes fell out and opened at the page he had last been reading on the plane. He felt a thud on the back of his head from a policemen's truncheon and 'Streamline train' faded away into echo as everything went black.....
     The Kaptain picked himself up. King Memphis was playing gently through the speakers - one of his favourite smoochy songs - 'Lone star'. The glasses were all on the shelves, there were no policemen, and people were behaving themselves.Rocket-o True, the massive Hungarian Rockabilly and his pal who looked like Dave Taylor were still on the floor, but.... The Kaptain realised that he'd been transported back to his 'own' universe. What a relief! The other one was a bit mental.... He downed a brandy and Coke and chatted to the Rockabilly fans in the crowd who had lots of questions, and then it was back to Château Zoltan. Sunday came, and the Kaptain said 'goodbye' to his Hungarian pals and got on the plane. He was feeling pretty tired as he opened the book again. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he glimpsed the 'other’ plane that he'd seen before and in the window he could see his clone, handcuffed to a policeman. As the planes began to drift together the Kaptain pinched himself and slammed the book shut. He shook his head and rubbed his eyes. He looked out of the window again. The 'other' plane had vanished! The Kaptain took the book and shoved it as far down into the rubbish pocket on the seat as he could. He took out his Discman and polished his little 'Rocket-o' badge as music wafted into his brain...."I ride in my car, memories of Lone Star..."