Boldog ’66. születésnapot’, Valinka

Today should have been Valinka’s 66th Birthday, so, naturally, ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ will be marking this important milestone in the year.

Births are about beginnings, so it would seem pertinent, on this auspicious occasion, to consider Valinka’s beginnings with Otakar Krásenský’s band at a lakeside Jazz and Swing club by Lake Zemplín at the incredibly young age of fourteen – probably, therefore, sometime in the Summer of 1966 – when she would be on stage in the earlier part of the evening, while nervously keeping an eye out for anybody who might have been something to do with the Gymnázium Pavla Horova – the school Valinka was attending at the time – in case she ended up in trouble, for, say, not devoting more time to her homework!

If Valinka were performing at such a location, it is highly likely that the venue would also have been experiencing its own beginnings, since take a look at the following videos of the construction of this artificial body of water from two years previously and on the year itself.

In this context, it could almost be said that Valinka was performing in a sort of ‘Wild East’, as this new frontier near the eastern extremity of Czechoslovakia took shape, which would have been decidedly fitting for the future of Pop Music in Czechoslovakia that she would go on to represent.

Considering Otakar Krásenský himself, it is of particular note that he is – the present tense, for, unlike the tragically prematurely departed Valinka, he is still very much with us and performing beyond his 80th Birthday – a native of Kolín, in the present-day Czech Republic and moved, as a young man, to Michalovce, in the east of present-day Slovakia, after marrying a woman from the Slovak portion of the former Czechoslovakia, making him the Czech who became a Slovak, while Valinka was the (Hungarian)-Slovak who effectively became a Czech.

This seems to be essence of Valinka – the other side, whether that be the aforementioned, developing such a close relationship in her early career with the Czech Jitka Zelenková – herself, apparently, having relatives in the Slovak part of the former Czechoslovakia – being (so I think) the non-Jew who married a Jew (again, so I think) in the shape of the doctor, Josef Langer, being the woman who could be quite masculine, in Marlene Dietrich-like trousers at some stages in her career, while unquestionably being astonishingly feminine and attractive at others, being the petite, blue-eyed blonde with the huge, deep, ‘Black’ voice, being a very grown-up teenager while later being a quite childlike woman, in a way, being, at heart, a big city girl in a small town, while later being the embodiment of Slovak rurality in the heart of Prague, being a comic character, who can make one laugh, while being able to bring heart-tugging intensity to some of her performances, being cool and contained at some times while being a fiery soul at others and finally – and this is where I come in! – being the woman from the far east of a country east of the former Iron Curtain who came over as the most ‘Western’ of the lot.

If one believes in such things – which I do to a very limited extent – some very remarkable alignment must have been going on on 29th January 1952 to create this little bundle of contradictions!

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