Sara forgets my money again. Scott tells me about
and plays me the song.
A dynamic, coffee-fuelled day. Contact with
Passengers at the far end of the carriage bitterly nag when, down to my tee-shirt
sweltering on the heated
I desperately open a window at my end by one third.
Self-righteous with rage, one marches up to shut the window completely, so as
to restore it from stuffy-kitchen temperature back to cheek-burning laundry
temperature. I drink in cool draught when the doors open at stations.
discuss pop-up books and the
book about time and space from 1880 to 1918.
Clearly written for the interdisciplinary-studies market, because, to
my disappointment, it wasn't really about anything. At one vague level it is about how
inventions like telegraphs, telephones, railways, bicycles, cars and aeroplanes made
people feel different about time and space. In other words, less of both or more of both,
depending on how you look at it. A bold idea to write this, but I need more than the
felt vindicated by First-World-War camouflage paint and aerial
views of zigzaggy trenches, to pull all these interesting things together.
make a brief appearance as the twin fathers of 'space-time', but one has the
is skating on rather thin ice when writing about either special
or general relativity. How can we blame students for getting glib, when encouraged by
books like this to think they have understood
and the build-up to the
Great War all at once?
After last night's final local train from Kecskemet to Lakitelek
[myself and a white-haired man so drunk he had forgotten his station
and would clearly sooner or later wet himself and not notice],
Robin picked me up in Jeremy's green car with the strange thumping
noise. Back in the studio they were building a trailer
for the boat they made last month,
again out of skilfully salvaged old wooden and metal bits. Today they
finished and drove off to drag boat out of river Tisza.
I add a link to an
Arabic-language online bookshop
keeps shops shut today as well. It's not as if most
Hungarians do any real work when they're actually working, so holidays
here always puzzle me. Like trying to tell the difference
and out-of-gear when reversing a lorry.
Agnes shows me what
Get to speak to my mother on the phone in
She's well. I reseal the water
inlet into the communist washing machine back in Budapest.
disassembles a complete fireplace brick by brick in his studio and pipes in
an old stove, which, like the piping, he found on the street. He's
particularly pleased with some local clay substance he seals the piping in with.
I finish someone's copy of David Lodge's
Nice light read, back
on his pet plot of university academics comparing Britain and the USA. A
disenchanted theologian has to visit Hawaii for family reasons and the fun unfolds.
Was intriguing to compare with the one Mr Myers lent me before university entrance,
because the unctious Irish-in-England landlord of that 70s
novel reappears here as a major character (the narrator's father). The man who in
Changing Places has a daughter who furtively borrows Maurice Zapp's porn magazines,
and who Zapp knows will be masturbating over the adverts for hi-fi and
colour television sets in the magazines when he confiscates them, not the naked
girls, is recognisable
as the greedy, cantankarous old relative in Paradise News. Which makes it tempting
to see this as an autobiographical story by Lodge of a mildly-deprived Catholic
Irish upbringing in 50s England made good in redbrick academia.
again with an interestingly rapt Caspar & Bela.
Robin & I
uproot a dead
and chop it into firewood.
I design a gameshow for
Another slow, soothing train journey out into the
Complicated day. I talk Agnes through a paper she has to summarise about
then try to get Hussam enthusiastic about
(so why else do clocks go
and finish off by hosting Writers' Group with Esther for Kalman,
Elysia and Jeff. I totally mishandle cooking
flapjacks. No-one in any Budapest
shops has a clue what
golden syrup is.
is in touch again.
Back in Budapest, after Caspar and Bela yesterday waved me off, gradually getting
quite interested in the train as we all waited for it to leave.
Gordon and Kirstin throw a dinner and ply me with lots of gin,
I fiddle with the computer while Robin watches
BBC history on the telly. He passes
out on the sofa somewhere between
Henry the Lawgiver, and sleeps
right through to
I doze off after a
on the computer.
We drive out into the country and have an excellent coffee & pudding
at a sort of butterscotch/gingerbread motel outside
Robin, Balint & I pop in on Lilla and her bubbly friends just by
for strawberry tea.
A show at the Ludwig about wishes coming true. Back at Gogol street,
me a fine chicken curry with refreshing
gets cross when Marion demands he program a new noise into his phone to
represent her ringing him.
cooks lovely duck, olives and goat's cheese, plays me the soaring 50s
jazz duet he rightly thinks would make a wonderful theme tune for the
Airport animation series, and suggests forming a commune.
Journey back in, and an
pizza with Gabriella, Paula, and now also Cheryl,
The Family. Robin drives fast to
catch up with the last
so the girls can get back to their house on Csepel Island.
We visit an extremely gloomy scrap-metal merchant in
Kunszentmarton. Later, Robin and I set up a
for the kitchen and I gouge a chalk groove
with a chisel, sawing off the wrong width of course.
Get to the end of the peculiar 1917 novel
while trying to melt some plastic spectacle
frames with a candle in Robin's garage around dusk. As I
reach the concluding page a bizarre sunset ends outside
in which a massive tilted slab of blue-grey cloud slowly
positions itself over the whole sky like an ocean liner
the size of London. Some excellent thunder and lightning
Crowley, self-styled magician, prewar English
eccentric and 'Great Beast', is not a very good
novelist judging from 'Moonchild'.
But it manages to be an interesting read due to the
sheer oddness of Crowley and the flowery manifestos he
puts on every page. This Edwardian
[the self-satisfied writing in
'Picture of Dorian Gray' leaps to mind]
follows the precious aestheticism of the
1890s. Like the tiresome
Crowley's novel is encrusted with paradoxes
which are supposed to have us gasping with admiration.
A cosmic battle between good and evil takes place. We can
spot the magicians of the White Lodge are the goodies
because they spell magick with a k, and strut around a
world of invisible servants, joke Americans, and pointlessly
precise Parisian apartment addresses familiar
Sherlock Holmes and early
Agatha Christie readers.
The strutting around involves connoisseurship in foreign
cigarettes and punchlines like
'"My dear man," said
Lord Anthony, "prawns are much better at the end of a
dinner - as you'd know if you had been to Armenia lately."'
Ha! Answer that one!
The magickal guardians of the cosmos sound like a
Lord Peter Wimsey and
Given the woodenness of the characters
[the black magicians are particularly tedious], it is a
miracle, or perhaps a successful spell, that anyone can
finish the book at all, but I did. Its schoolboyish
earnestness, alternately 'humorous' or
lyrical, has the same
pre-World-War-I innocence as the
Pompous digressions on science
and spirit are hard to bear when Crowley
drops clangers like saying spiders have six legs, not eight.
Yet the clever clever people with their wearily superior
cynicism and cod antinomies [Women have no minds, only
their sex, so they and only they should vote! is one
thigh-slapping cracker] are quaint too. And certain scenes are
explanation of the
then-fashionable fourth dimension, the necromancy with
the tortured cats, the peculiar occult honeymoon in Italy
attempting to draw the spirit of the moon into an unborn
foetus, the clearly sincere if overlong lectures on
white magic and twisted, self-damaging black magic.
The conclusion in the early months of the First World War,
and the idea that magic[k] and espionage are in
businesslike harmony is quite interesting. The
book somehow gets itself from the fin-de-siecle smart
naughtiness of the
all the way to the
fresh-faced-yet-nasty optimism of the 1920s.
Like the Great Experiment itself, reading
Crowley trying to write is not something to undertake
lightly, but there are moments of relief.
programme about part of brainís frontal lobe responsible
for spiritual experiences.
Travel out of town. Robin and I find that Cserkeszolo restaurant
where gorgeous waitress with
coconut-cream tan works is closed for winter. We eat elsewhere.
Having yesterday thrown essay at
today all is calm.
mentions occult black-cloud presence in flat. Apparently it hovers near the
ceiling during the night.
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
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