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When George learns that his biological father is critically ill he resolves to return to Budapest in an attempt to find him. Arrangements are made to cover his absence from the business he owns in Tooting , London.
This is the story of how he became The Reluctant Refugee.
Young George’s life was a happy one. His future was safe and settled. Comfortably wrapped in the dogma of the communist regime, the way forward clearly marked. He had no idea that within the space of a few days his world would be shattered.
In Oct.1956 during the Hungarian Revolution George’s mother Gita, a wilful eccentric woman, persuades her husband Dr.Julius Mihaly, an outspoken critic of the Hungarian regime, to flee Communism and make a new life in the ‘West’.
She sets off ahead with her three children.
After a harrowing night, crossing minefields and barbed wire on the Hungarian/Austrian border they are held in a refugee camp. Awaiting the arrival of Julius, they learn that the once porous border is now sealed by the reinvading Soviet army.
In an attempt to liquidate his assets, Julius had fatally delayed his escape and was now trapped.
Gita is unable to gain passage to her country of choice (USA) and eventually settles for a flight bound for Britain. She prays that Julius will find some means to join his family.
Her expectations are dashed when she learns that Julius has been found hanging in the woods. The authorities claim suicide but Gita is convinced he was murdered by the regime.
Without support, she is Incapable of providing for her children. The Roman Catholic Church steps in and they are sent to an orphanage.
Gita reconnects in London with the enigmatic Victor Grandpierre whom she met on the train journey to the staging point (border town) prior to the ‘freedom walk’ and becomes embroiled in a toxic relationship. Events and circumstances turn Victor into an abusive drunk yet Gita remains financially and emotionally dependent on him.
Years pass and as an adult George learns that his real father (Julius was his stepfather) whom he has never met is gravely ill and he resolves to drive to Budapest to find him.
Combining the quest with a family holiday, the meandering road trip east leads him to recall the terrifying events he witnessed during the conflict and their escape through the border to Austria and freedom.
He finally tracks his aged father down. He now has a wife of many years who does not at first welcome this sudden reunion, fearing the shock to her ailing husband.
Over several days of emotionally charged talks she relents.
Using the pretext of being a repair ‘man’ George is allowed to enter the room where his father sits in a wheelchair.
Eventually, Ingrid allows the son to reveal himself to his father.
The timely connection brings some closure and understanding to a painful part of his early life.
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