Judit, glowing, on tram 6.
Norbi expertly edits the English trailers for
Quick drink at the end of the day with Mariann in the shopping mall.
Franc saves me again. A day off
Fixing flaws in
Sifted old files to slim down
task. Threw out some I have been carrying round for
over 12 years. A bit harrowing, but not too sad.
Pleasantly bump into
on street. Kind
helps me do some house-moving later.
Chat with friendly barman at
12-hour dubbing day. Melinda rearranges desks. Back-lit lightbox
in a little box.
was right. Perhaps knowing how to negotiate is the fundamental skill.
J backs out of
straplines with Jessica.
A Saturday in the office translating history documentaries. Later Jessica helps me pack and
encourages me to see
with her. Tighter than
'Bowling for Columbine',
but leaves me feeling rather fond of George Bush - probably not the intended effect. Very odd.
The opening moments go well, but something strange happened already at the early scene
where Moore invites us to watch Bush hanging around confused in the children's classroom
minutes after the aeroplanes slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. As
the minutes tick by and Moore's soft voice invites us to read Bush's mind
("Is he thinking
'Who screwed me?'?")
we look and see panic, worry, and indecision in Bush's eyes. He
definitely looks weak & unstatesmanlike. But somehow human and sincere. Far from being
a cunning, cold-blooded liar, thief & smoothie, Moore can only portray Bush as a gormless
bumbler. Looking into the anxious eyes of the man who is realising at that very
minute that he is responsible for somehow responding to this business of aeroplanes
suddenly crashing into buildings all over the country he is head of and hasn't got a clue
what to do, I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. Peculiarly, I had exactly the opposite
reaction to the woman Moore wanted us to feel sorry for - the bulky lady who had lost a
son serving with the US army in Iraq. As soon as she started wailing and sobbing on
camera, I felt physically sick. Moore's oozing voice in the background gently urges her to
redouble her tantrum, and though her loss is enormous compared to the man whose rich
family got him into the White House and in a little deeper than he expected, her reaction left
me wanting to retch. Neither she nor Bush could be called dignified, but at least he doesn't
actually blubber in public. Her reaction, his reaction, and Moore's mildly amusing stunt of
suggesting to congressmen they might send their children to the Iraq war brought into focus
what nobles are for: how they lose sons in wars without complaining in public, and why
working men from depressed towns like Flint, Michigan look up to officers who like them
expose themselves to injury & death in battle, although coming from families rich enough to avoid
ever receiving a scratch (families like the Bushes, prone exactly to ignobly getting rich while
keeping themselves out of harm's way). A grim prognosis for the US, a country which sees itself as having
reinvented history and transcended the outmoded concept of an aristocratic class. Again, not
the message Moore intended at all. Obscured his interesting material at the start
on links between the Bush family and the bin Laden family. He should have stuck with that.
seems to ease the
More than annoyingly, one of the
to Heather's flat goes in but does not come out. So I am locked
out of the place I am halfway through moving into. Exactly what I need right now.
Carolyn invites me over to Jessica's for tea and life chat. The two are so strenously sweet to me
I start to regret being harsh with J.
At 8am I am behind the smoked-glass windows of Vaci ut's
talking to a surprisingly friendly
ticket lady. By lunchtime work deadlines have forced me to abandon my trip to Russia.
All week my legs have hurt oddly, just above the knees.
At 3pm I leave the office to get to Sari's school for 4pm. A car lift takes me to
Moricz Zsigmond korter, from where I catch a red 7 bus to Ferenciek tere. Three stops on
the blue underground line get me to Nyugati station, where I catch a number 6 bus to
Kolosi ter. There I catch a 165 bus to the very silly location on top of a hill where
Sari's school has built its new building, thinking only of people with cars.
Running and weaving round plodding crowds back at Ferenciek to catch that blue-line
underground train I jammed my foot in the doors, forcing them to open
again, and lurched into the crowded carriage, bathed in sweat, with
a heavy blue jacket (gift from Robin) on one arm, clutching the blue Volkswagen Slovakia
file (gift from Ryan) in the other hand and two bottles of juice to quench thirst. One friendly
working-class man quietly congratulated me. The other passengers turned away,
a faint ripple of disgust moving down the carriage at the sight of someone hurrying to
work somewhere - someone who actually has something to do which matters. I wonder
if this is an ex-nomad thing? Are there cultures for which
work is shameful, dirty, a sign of weakness or inferiority? I remember once running
for an underground train in London, jamming my briefcase in the doors to stop them
closing, thus getting on, and being surprised by a small outbreak of friendly applause
from the five or six people in the train carriage.
On my fourth stage, the 6 bus, I slump gratefully into a window seat, close my eyes and
start dozing off in the sun. A young woman importantly taps me on the shoulder, suggesting
I should stand up for one of a group of scowling old people, pointedly clustered
round me like a bunch of death's heads. Told her my legs hurt, and a look flashed
across her face like a novice's expression the first time their king
pinned by a bishop.
Should I be flattered really?
Of all the people on the bus, I, even when sticky and
breathless, still look the most healthy & vigorous.
More lip-sync work, &
Lion staff kindly relay a vital message for me.
studio to "restripe dialogue" on Seress film for
Scott. This involves speaking in
time with silent film of my own moving lips. I find this surprisingly difficult.
Maybe the problem with Sundays is I'm not going to
Morning coffee with Robin & the radiant Judit, who studies
On the 'lomtalanitas'
evening I see
& Carolina's pretty flat full of Sasha's paintings.
helped me move most of my books to Heather's flat, to find my bicycle
already confiscated from inner courtyard by friendly neighbours, irritated by
a machine that makes someone else less fat than them. 50 black bags of rubble and plaster still
narrow the entrance corridor, of course. My mistake was to put the bicycle where it
didn't get in anyone's way. Getting in other people's way is so basic to Hungarian culture that
if I'd put the bicycle in the entrance corridor, forcing visitors to climb over rubble bags, no-one
would have dared grumble. However, my bicycle did slightly obstruct the courtyard's Special
Dirt Cupboard, so I might be wrong about that. Later Robin and I met Istvan, Kristof and
the recently baptised Russian painter.
I am warned again about
weblog explains Hungary.
I host a rather
demanding house guest.
So little of interest happened today, that I had to
check. And yes, this is a normal Sep 5th.
Does all 'multivitamin'
juice taste of
philosopher ticks us all off.
With Mariann to an opening at
gallery, featuring a Hungarian performance artist. A video showed
him in a rubber suit + umbrella, in a scrapyard somewhere in Belgium,
excitedly narrating to camera in English about how he was about to have
sex with a car. He said "fucky
fucky!" in a Japanese accent quite a lot.
Some detached car doors and car bonnets were arranged, along with
photographs of the rubber-clad artist in action, around the rest of the gallery.
Finally cleared some translation backlog.
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
contact at otherlanguages.org
up to top of page