Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and the country’s principal political, cultural, commercial and industrial centre and is one of a number of European destinations that have been on my to-visit list for some time not least because the country is in the top fifteen visitor destinations in the world, which by my logic means that there must be something there worth seeing.
I knew this but what I didn’t know was that the valuable list of Hungarian contributions to the world and human advancement include most importantly the ballpoint pen that was invented by László Bíró who died 24th November 1985, the Rubik Cube, invented by Ernő Rubik, the theory of the hydrogen bomb and the BASIC computer programming language.
A Hungarian chemist János Irinyi also developed the noiseless match, which is essentially one that doesn’t detonate with a bang when ignited. This may not sound especially important but before this invention striking a match could be disconcertingly violent, a bit like firing a musket, and due to a dangerous composition of chemicals the thing was liable to go off with a loud explosion and a shower of sparks with the potentially unfortunate side effect of setting light to people’s clothes or in the days when men had more facial hair even their beards, which, although possibly amusing to observers, I can only imagine would have been rather inconvenient!
One of the finest ever footballers in the world was the Hungarian Ferenc Puskás who in the 1950s scored eighty-four goals in eighty-five international appearances for Hungary (even better – 357 goals in 354 first class matches in his career), which is a very impressive strike rate indeed especially when you consider that England’s top goal scorer, Bobby Charlton, only scored forty-nine goals in one hundred and six games and even Pelé, who is generally reckoned to be the greatest footballer ever, couldn’t match this level of performance with seventy-seven goals in ninety-two games for Brazil.
In the middle of this goal fest Hungary lost a game against Czechoslovakia and Puskas was suspended for life by the National Football Association, for “laziness on the pitch”. This was about as dim as suspending Jo DiMaggio for not making a home run or Jonny Wilkinson for missing a penalty. He was pardoned just a couple of months later.
A bit of a shame that he didn’t get one more goal for a 100% record and at 98.8% I suppose that is very similar to Don Bradman, the Australian cricketer who retired with an international batting average of 99.94%. Now that, it seems to me, is just about as close to perfection as it is possible to get.