Jonathan Knott

Former British ambassador to Hungary, Budapest

Part of UK in Hungary

15th August 2014 Budapest, Hungary

Adventures on Sziget – Day 2

Guest blog by Theresa Bubbear, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Budapest.

On Thursday the team and I headed back to Sziget for day 2 of our Embassy engagement. Budapest thoughtfully provided some British festival weather for us – it poured almost all day, and the mud came up as the rain came down. But spirits remained high in the Embassy team and among the festival goers, who produced a colourful array of waterproof solutions.

Our morning started with an unintended walk as we headed to the Budapest police “tent” (actually a shipping container), only to find that the press conference was taking place at the Crime Prevention tent. Fortunately the Police Commissioner made the same mistake so we arrived together.

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As in previous years, there was a good deal of media interest in our visiting “bobbies”, with lots of requests for interviews and for the TV cameras to follow them “on the beat”, with visitors taking selfies (and, of course, uploading them to Facebook or Twitter #SpottheBobby).

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One confused British visitor congratulated one of the policemen on an excellent fancy dress costume and lots of others came up for a chat. As always, I was impressed by the patience and good humour of our bobbies, Natalie and Steve, and the input from their Budapest Police hosts. Our policemen will be sharing best practice when they get home by suggesting that the Glastonbury Festival should introduce the Festival Pass system used at Sziget to reduce the amount of cash at the site – and, hopefully, to reduce thefts of cash.

We walked with the bobbies for a while, enjoying a brief moment of sunshine, before heading to the giant Rubik Cube to mark the cube’s 40th birthday.

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Timed demonstrations showed that it’s possible to solve the cube (and various evil looking variants with funny angles) in just a few seconds, but my efforts just managed to scramble my cube a little more than it was already scrambled. Clearly I need to brush up my credentials on what is possibly Hungary’s most famous export.

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After a Transylvanian lunch from the very tempting international food section of the festival we went to see our friends at the Ability Park, where, in torrential rain, they offered games and quizzes and hands-on experience of various disabilities. I wasn’t too disappointed to find that the wheelchair obstacle course and wheelchair basketball were closed because of the weather, and I politely avoided the blind obstacle course (as I’m still haunted by memories of being completely stuck in a corner for some time a couple of years ago). But I won a game of blow football and spelled my name with darts on a giant hand marked to show how different parts of the hand can be used as letters for deaf people.


That could have gone better, but I’m happy to change my name to PIM, which was the only thing my darts would spell. I had a go at using textures to describe colours for blind people, and then looked at a day in the life of an autistic gangster – a funny and thought-provoking way of showing the importance of routine and the significance of even minor changes. The Ability Park had a record 4,000 visitors on Wednesday.  If you are heading to Sziget do go and see them – and see what your real name turns out to be.

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As I left the island in the afternoon thousands  of people were arriving for the evening line-up – Bastille, Lily Allen, and Macklemore. Sziget was full to capacity and I’m sure that my daughters weren’t the only people hosing off the mud when they got home afterwards. Today (Friday) the sun is shining and the weekend starts. I’m handing over to my colleague Ben, who is visiting Sziget this afternoon.  He’ll blog about his experiences too. I’ll be heading back tomorrow – in my wellies –  to see Madness live and dance to the sound-track of my university days. I hope to be back – and blogging – next year.

Many thanks to my fantastic team – Levi, Kriszta and Geory, for their support. To the police officers and NGOs for the work they do and the warm welcome they offer every visitor. And to the amazing festival organisers, who make the impossible seem easy every year. You guys are BudaBest!

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the British government.

About Jonathan Knott

Jonathan Knott was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Hungary in March 2011 and arrived in Budapest in February 2012 to take up his post. He left this post on April…

Jonathan Knott was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to
Hungary in March 2011 and arrived in Budapest in February 2012 to take
up his post. He left this post on April 2015.
He has previously held a variety of diplomatic posts at home and
abroad, several with a particular focus on commercial and corporate
finance issues. Jonathan has served in a number of positions in the
British Diplomatic Service since joining in 1988:
Before his appointment was Deputy Head of Mission and Director for Trade and Investment in South Korea from 2008 to 2011.Between 2005 and 2008 he held the post of Deputy Finance Director in the FCO.From 2000 to 2005 he served as First Secretary (Trade, Corporate Affairs and Finance Negotiator) in UKDel OECD Paris.From 1996 to 2000 he was First Secretary (Head of Political/Economic/Aid Section) in Mexico.From 1995 to 1996 he worked in the FCO as Deputy European Correspondent at the EU Directorate.Between 1991 and 1995 he served as Third later Second Secretary (Political / Press and Public Affairs) in Havana.From 1990 to 1991 he was Desk Officer in the FCO’s First Gulf War Emergency Unit.Between 1988 and 1990 he worked as Desk Officer in the FCO in the Anti Drugs Cooperation Department.
Jonathan holds an MA in law from Oxford University, and he is a
member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. He speaks
English, French, Spanish and Hungarian. He is married to Angela Susan
Knott and has one daughter and two sons.

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