work, no play. Sex parties well overdue.
Another late night in with Heather & Lailah. This time it was rum & a
record until Heather started showing off her salsa steps to some (reasonably
enough) salsa music. Nice after a very long day of work.
More San Francisco map-checking. Should I reread
of the City now I know some streets in SF?
Easter Monday. I didn't follow Hungarian custom and spray eau de cologne on any
Tiszainoka village girls. Instead I stayed in &
Robin's computer while
everyone went swimming somewhere like Tiszakecske. Standing room only on the
Kecskemet train back to
Pest. Found the flat deserted, spotted a paperback of Heather's and read it
on the sofa.
Fiends' is a comic romance about vampires in San
Francisco by Christopher Moore. Good storytelling, one or two engrossing & credible characters
(I liked The Emperor, a Don Quixote tramp a lot like the one Robin Williams
that cloying film,
but much more fun, much less sentimental.), and some amusing dialogue.
Moore keeps tight control on the plot: I never quite double-guessed him.
he nails the glib fantasy to everyday detail and keeps
it unpretentious. Rather too smug, but still a good light read.
More visitors. Sack race &
last night. Today we meet the sweetly shy
would-be au pair Katika, who has one brown eye and one
Jeremy & Zita &
baby arrive later.
After ten days, the dolts in Heather's building still haven't taken down
the Hungarian flag flapping outside the window from last week's national
Two minutes' work, at a stretch.
Last night with Heather & Lailah & the pink drink [some
kind of combination of Belgian beer and
Toth] last Saturday was enjoyable,
though I found it hard to imagine what the quietly
fidgeting schoolchildren in the audience were making
of it. The theme of the feckless aristocratic family
must be pretty mysterious to anyone who has never met
an aristocrat, or even met anyone who has met one. And
the sting in the tail of a supposedly adored aged servant
who is then left behind and forgotten at the end is
rather lost on anyone who has never seen a servant, and
cannot imagine an affectionate relationship with one
even being faked. Good acting all round, though somehow
Mrs. Ranevsky never charmed me enough to make me
believe in her hysterical self-deception.
While at Pischelsdorf, Sylvie lent me
An easy, sometimes enjoyable, and often irritating read
by [apparently] a very popular author, Terry Pratchett.
A cross between 'Hitch-hiker's
Guide to the Galaxy' and
Livingstone Seagull', every page is larded
with an embarrassing mixture of sticky sentiment and
knowing, self-satisfied smirks. Chinese/Japanese-sounding
monks, Victorian-sounding clockmakers, pretentious jokes
about time and characters like the Horseman of the
Apocalypse being portrayed as funny old codgers, the
Fifth Horseman who gets a job as a milkman: the
overall effect is cringe-making. Book and author
extraordinarily pleased with themselves: casual to the
point of cockiness about using any magical or sci-fi
plot device to hand to solve the self-created problems
of this pointless yarn and its flat characters.
Don't let Pratchett steal your... oh, never mind.
Good day at
starting to see results.
Must get rich - but not like this.
Same 3. No time to describe
In the cramped changing room of the gym, a cheery Hungarian
man out of the sauna says it is
Law that he & I have neighbouring lockers out of all the available empty lockers.
(Hungarians like to invoke the
entropy-style "Murphy's Law" as a way to say there was no way
to get the job done properly, whereas the original laws of
engineer Captain Edward Murphy were a way to make sure
the job got done properly.)
I reply that it is more
likely the fault of the petty-minded girl at
reception who allocated my key. Cheerful man points out
that this might be Murphy's Law instead - that we get such a girl on
reception when we come in. Quick, eh? Reminds me of
the book that Sylvie
lent me in Austria, which I should describe at some point soon.
is it not written in the scriptures 'Ooh, you're so sharp, one of
these days you'll cut yourself'?" one quote goes.
checking, then I visit Kerry's
theatre at Arpad bridge
for an enjoyable afternoon performance of Cseresnyeskert
'Cherry Orchard', about which
more later), then more
map-checking. At 9pm I meet
Marek at a
with Fruzsina & drop my snapped bag off at home. I
promptly lose Marek, texting me from a French mobile which seems to run out of
credit and start refusing my messages. Wander down to
Trafo anyway, but they're not there.
Time to go home, as Andy Pandy used to phrase it.
Long day. Up at 6 to pack and drill 2c in their performance. Lisa Marie falls off a chair, but
can still sing at 10am with the others. We say farewell to all the kind Pischelsdorf teachers.
By 11.30am we are in the mini-bus being driven across Austria by Margit.
Then in 2 trains across Hungary. Then I walk from Deli station straight across the park
(bag-strap breaking tiresomely on the way) to the
office for 4 more hours of San
Francisco. Then over to Pest to meet
in a karaoke bar. We get
to the party for Ivana & Marko at 10.30pm, to meet Mariann, Phil, & Margo.
Last night's festivities with the Pischelsdorf teachers at the cold-cuts restaurant were tamer than
year's. I left early while
(fiddle) were in the middle of a
reggae interpretation of Johnny Cash's
of Fire'. This afternoon after school, Franc & I snack from the shop and chat.
My children take me to the
so we can buy ingredients to cook banana bread.
Csilla & I noted the curious decor at the
Stibor (a place that last year
Jim his whole week's wages to repair two door jambs). It had
never struck us before that a three-foot-long wooden spoon dressed in chef's clothing in
the hallway was odd, or that the table next to it with bits of old rope, sea shells and
a dead tortoise, was in any way unusual. The first landing hosts an
plant festooned with old playing cards threaded onto it with wire.
Today a rather dishy brunette sells me a watch battery in a proper clock-mending shop,
and two extremely friendly post-office assistants help me send a letter to
We are 2c and today Mark taught us to sing
baa, black sheep'.
After school, drove with Franc & Csilla to
Took a rather impressive Bond-movie-style
lift to the top of a hollowed-out hill, then we drank juice on a
cafe island in the river shaped like a concrete boat. The cafe toilets, entirely
walled inside with curved mirror, added to the
We arrive in
much later, because he drives to
Pischeldorf first by mistake.
Another long day at the map office, street referencing
Francisco. When I pop out around 8pm to try
to get some bacon & eggs, one of the porters actually has
the nerve to refuse to unlock the door when I return, ignoring my
knocking as I stand outside in mild rain. I text Tim to
come down to let me in and we pass the porter, lurking like a guilty child behind his
little glass window, sulking about people working in his building on a Saturday.
Last night with Veronica & her bubbly friend Petra at the karaoke party was fun, though
the usual cigarette-smoke headache (Thankyou to the nice lady in the Mammut health store
who gave me one of her own aspirins and a glass of water on Saturday) took its toll. A bit
alarming to see that young Hungarians still like songs from 'Hair', and (shudder...)
actually sing along to them. Happy atmosphere though.
Another late night at the
office, with its astonishing white lift. Didn't need the rudeness.
quotes a letter from someone telling him
this film is
"more real than reality".
On way to work for
& Maya, I pass a man in
Moszkva square doing glockenspiel music on
28 glass jars filled with different amounts of
water. Uptempo classical favourites, like
Tell overture. Jolly.
Stephen's bathroom-renovating men seem distressed when I ask them not to
switch the radiators on in my room or the room next
door. The sweeties look concerned for my
health. Sari in buoyant mood at school. Marion says
might have work.
Day, apparently. The Hungarian men at
office were well prepared of course, having assiduously come
into work early to put little bunches of flowers on
all the girls' desks.
& Sam's film meet an hour late.
give you, it seems. Mine involved cocoa powder,
vanilla butter, a ghost and a lonely old woman. Truly horrid.
After dark, called out to help
pick up two boxes
from a big yellow lorry on the edge of City Park. A
long passing convoy of
their tractor lights and tooted their horns at us in
greeting as we struggled to wedge the two large items
into the back of a taxi.
In bed (or at least bedding) by 9.30pm, just like
Bush, so the story goes.
Another unsettling day. Finished a lovely book I found second-hand this week.
Short, informative, well-illustrated with diagrams,
was written for British children in 1969, and suggests quite a lot has
changed since then. This book's producers are so professional and modest there is
not even an author or editor credited, though presumably Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Cochrane
and 'Teacher Consultants' Margot Chahin, David Drewett, Peter French, and Henry Pluckrose
had something to do with this fine 60-page book. Nor is there any indication of which
age group the Macdonald Junior Reference Library was aimed at, but the authors were not
afraid to tell them all about
with natural and synthetic fibres in
reasonable detail. Quite apart from the first diagrams I have ever seen which explained
several different looms clearly, I finally have been told what worsted is, that
twill and satin are types of weave, that 'raw silk' means silk made from the long,
not the short, fibres,
and so on. Only four pages in, a brief history gives way to glossary which is most of the
book. Wonderful words like
are introduced and straightforwardly defined. Plants like jute, hemp, flax
all get brief, clear descriptions. This all written in some of the best English I have read
It closes with an index, and a quick 3-page section with 6 short biographies of textile
pioneers. All six were 18th-century people, from John Kay inventing the flying shuttle
in 1733 to Joseph Jacquard creating the punched-card loom in 1801 (which inspired
data-tabulator). This section had a quieter tone. After the
crisply-explained, cheerfully-coloured diagrams, this three pages was simple text, and the short
biographies were sobering. One Frenchman, one American (Eli Whitney), a Nottinghamshire
clergyman, and three Lancastrians. Two Europeans made money from their inventions (though
even the most successful inventor, Arkwright, got his patent cancelled), the American did
not get money from his cotton gin, but got rich with a different business. The other
three were cheated out of their incomes and remained poor until death. Further, four of
the six faced organised, violent opposition from other weavers, some of them decades before
Ned Ludd and Captain Swing.
Steve's men appear in the morning and begin putting
glass bricks into Heather's 2-foot x 8-foot bathroom
window hole. They even talk about turning on the
heating system. Bracing briskness in the flat may end
soon. Bump into Linda, Gordon, Betti & Jim later.
Rather easier for a woman to say
out loud these days. Via
a bank, 30 minutes of my time to close
my account. They also charge me 23 US dollars.
Weather still chilly. The big Polgar sister
Some bits of the article suggest prickliness.
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
markgriffith at yahoo.com
up to top of page