Villanyi & Sardi, and shows me a
she is helping to launch. Her other main project is helping an interesting-sounding
& I saw
Rathbone on television act a telephone-era,
1940s Sherlock Holmes in a black-and-white film called
Woman in Green'.
She drugs and hypnotises him in a special effect where her face fuses with a
revolving gramophone record.
Breakfast to a
record on a record-player
found left on a Budapest street. Meanwhile, devotees of the great goddess
not been idle.
Last week came across the
of the Flying Spaghetti Monster via
and letters, an interesting piece about
models confusing toddlers.
Robin, Edina, Geza, Letty & I manage to escape from the children
for an hour to have some coffee and cakes in Kunszentmarton.
still seems to alarm people, even now that he is
chained to a sort of guidewire alongside the path, fated to trundle
shaggily up and down his fifty-foot stretch like a dog-shaped tram.
recent paintings keep getting larger and bolder. Last night,
in the Lakitelek pool hall, Robin played one extraordinary
fluke shot. Two balls converged and jammed
exactly in the mouth of a corner
pocket, neither in nor out. Took twenty minutes of the
game before they were dislodged. 'Tis true, I swear.
Wake up at
cat Lenke & I seem to have reached a mutual
understanding. Over breakfast of toast & marmalade + tea, Franc a bit sceptical
that monasteries ever helped found science.
On the afternoon train to
on the Great Plain, I am
sitting with my papers spread out over a large table in the
dining car when a rather attractive but oddly tense blonde
girl storms in and sits down at my table muttering to the
guard about train tickets being confusingly printed. She
gets out a book, makes a show of reading it irritably, and
is a little mollified when I give her some attention and
start talking to her. Perhaps her first question to me is,
curiously, "Is this first class, then?", as people on
neighbouring tables do dining-car things like eat meals and
drink drinks. She then tells me, apropos of nothing, that
she is an English teacher and thinks it ridiculous that her
32-year-old friend in
Szeged is going to a
Cure concert at
his age. She seems distracted because 5 minutes after I tell
her I am English she peers at my sheets of paper
and asks where I learnt English. The
girl/woman [26?] gulps one espresso coffee, and mostly
avoids my eyes while talking to me. She seems glad we are
talking, but also seems proudly annoyed in case I think
she is glad we are talking. A middle-aged woman comes and
sits down next to me and the blonde seizes her chance to
More HR training. End day with fine dinner at
grouping sketches with his
Photoshop. He tells
me about ice-climbing once with someone mental called Tim, and his years studying
Grab time in the day to pop over for a coffee with Yugoslav DJ brothers
& Zlatko at the
At perhaps 3am, I wake up in the dark in Julia & George's spare room and go in
search of drinking water. Seeing a small red dot on the television set glowing
in the blackness, I press it to switch it off. The TV comes on instead, playing
a song by a group of comely maids robustly calling themselves the
The song asks
Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me? I watch the video
to the end, then switch off the TV and get my glass of water in the dark.
"I know she loves you (I know she loves you)
So I understand (I understand)
If You Were My Own Man" The Other Woman states her case.
Longish day overall. All day at the office learning time-management and
problem-solving from a
training company. Quite jolly.
Slightly hungover today from all the spirits Heather & Mark poured down me
last night before I set off to new room clutching the rather large
gave me. After work straight over to
move my last things from Heather's (she flies to the US on Friday
morning) to Julia's. Only five round trips by
trolleybus 76, interspliced
with yet more alcohol, and I am done. Last trip to take
the old Apple iMac
Istvan's before bed.
At 5.30am I bother poor Georgina out of bed to drive me to the
railway signalman's building. Must stop doing this. Thunder breaks out just after she leaves and
as I board train it buckets down. The entire summer has been most British, with
successive days of rain and chilly winds tricking you into finally wearing heavy waterproofs just in time to sweat like a pig on one bakingly hot afternoon. A lot like the
Lunch with Liia. She notices that the vaguely
mobiles high above the atrium of the
East-West Business Center
are not mobiles at all,
but are coloured cut-outs stuck to a huge, very clean, sheet of glass roofing the
entire courtyard at perhaps the fifth floor.
Kasper's 8th birthday. Cloudy weather. Edina comes over with Kadicsa,
Peter the film-maker brings
girlfriend Anna, and Kopany brings his adorable 7-year-old twin girls. We open a
bottle of Spanish wine. Oddly enough, under its foil, is a cork from the
Hungarian winery as the
naked-girl foresty reds.
Hot & sunny. The
In one of the tents, winemaker
Laszlo Talos treats
us to several of his tasty reds. Then he finds a four-leaf clover in the grass, and gives
it to me.
I wake up refreshed in the spare room at Julia & George's near the
lovely ice-cream place in the 13th district. Finally,
after her call yesterday, a permanent base. Now to actually move my last things from
By night, Robin meets me off the train with his three younger children.
We all play pool in Lakitelek, then we go back.
& I talk until late.
While choosing only my 2nd ever
a girl comes up behind me and
puts her hands over my eyes, challenging me to guess who she is. I say Kati, but
day before yesterday, seems unoffended, and tells me of her course
teaching office gymnastics for slumping clerical workers hunched in front of
computers all day. While eating my 2nd ever Subway sandwich, a man in braces
rolls by slowly on one of those
things that were going to be "bigger than the Internet". First one I've seen.
Still nowhere permanent to live. This could become vexing, citizens.
returns from rock-climbing in the
tomorrow, so this is my last night on the
estate in his large yet cosy flat full of photographic equipment.
At dusk I stumble around in a forest for almost an hour looking for
who live on the hill in Buda. Finally I find
friend Zsoka with, of all people,
ex-beau Kacsi tending a bonfire in their fabulously lush garden.
We sit and talk while puppies run around, Kacsi burns an old sheepskin in sections,
soft rain falls gently enough to never quite put out the smoky fire. We drink
home-made schnapps as darkness falls.
Georgina drives me to the train at 6, so
can sleep in. She & I finalise birthday-cake plans for next weekend.
with Gyorgyi of
film journal. She is writing a dissertation on
films and has a book about
with her. I ask if she has mentioned
Do line drawing of Georgina's ironing board.
& Geza pop over for tea, bringing
me 2 bottles of
red wine I helped Edina write the English puff for (the nutty aroma of
smoke-filled autumn forests etc). Each bottle has a charcoal sketch of a
long-limbed naked girl down the side of the label.
Do line drawing of Georgina's washing machine. The 3 younger children (Zsuzsa, Caspar,
& Bela, in descending order of age) appear to have created, without any adult
involvement, their own
They spend hours in the garden, ringing up the
till at an imaginary buffet, trading imaginary meals priced in real
sycamore leaves from the other end of the
property - so a mildly scarce resource in terms of the game.
On stopping train at dusk to
I count pine forests by the track for a Nazi death-camp
needs locations for. A local woman I quiz about the woods
along the route asks if I'm from Budapest.
She gets enthusiastic when I reveal I am English. She tells me her admiration for
Strangely good, though tiring, day.
string thingies finally.
I buy and read
Coelho, a Brazilian. Though a little slim for the price, a
sharp piece of storytelling. The deliberately simple, fable-like tone makes it easy
to read, and its didactic side is very lightly done. A boy goes on a journey to find
if his dreams will come true. The exotic locations, combined with the lack of any
details to pin down a period too exactly, all add to the mythical feel. I try
not to be put off just because
endorses the book.
The story's surface simplicity is meant to be deceptive. Though the author (in an
extraordinary foreword) claims to have buried symbols in the text, the book
strikes me as being about as obvious as it claims to be. Perhaps I miss the point.
I'd better watch for the omens. Vaguely reminds me of
but probably only because
I know they're both Brazilians. Light, luminous, hopeful.
After dark I meet
playing backgammon at
an open-air bar
that is so fashionable it takes me half an hour of stumbling around
in the woods to find it. Charming Bulgarians and Macedonians are there, but
I rudely rush off with Jana realising how little time I have to catch the last
metro south to
flat on the
Best part, though, is finding Orsi from the already-distant-seeming
days keeping bar.
Back on the walk from Hatar ut metro station through the leafy streets of Franc's
estate, it gets so quiet that I can pick out three different types of cricket noise. One
high, comes in surges of 1 to 2 seconds, another is about three beats a second and sounds
thinner, and the third is a low throbbing buzz a bit like the sound some power lines make,
only it's definitely an
Apparently a London prostitute's weblog. A bit intermittent, but keeps
a nice, breezy tone.
Overcast day. Another crack of dawn start with
driving me to catch the
Breakfast on the Napfeny (Daylight) Express from Kecskemet is quite civilised.
Straight into office in Pest.
As I get on the 4pm bus to
to teach Sari, the driver gives
off powerful waves of that smell of old mattresses some people have in Hungary. As
I walk to the back I am puzzled that the driver's stench fills
the whole bus until I realise that several other people, carefully spaced down
the length of the vehicle, also smell like the driver, so keeping the field strength fairly
constant. Returning to town late in a gorgeous dusk of crisp autumn chill scented
with woodsmoke, I manage to meet kind Csilla, on her
mission of mercy from
Walking after dark from Hatar ut metro
Hungarian Arts-and-Crafts housing estate,
thick with large, mature
trees and mellowed brick, I feel gratitude & hope welling up inside. I wander
further in, steering by the occasional tree-smothered streetlight.
I get to the innermost of the concentric
squares of roads that resemble leafier streets in south Manchester. There,
an absurdly large neo-Romanesque church, with more than a whiff of
Lutyens in its
massive white walls, looms over a small park.
Another day or mixed sun & rain at
The curious affair of the dog in the long grass.
Finished another book Robin's long-lost Berlin friend Mike left him.
Selim Hakim is a peculiar book, part religious history,
part town architecture (have a look at that price on the website, by the way).
Hakim focusses on cities of the Maghreb, particularly on an old
district of Tunis. Much of the book details a set of principles in Islamic law
that deeply influence the vernacular architecture of Muslim cities across North Africa and
the Near East. Details to the extent of creating tree diagrams for various views on each
topic (for example the issue of supporting walls). Different schools of Muslim jurists
writing in the 700s and 800s are given their voice on questions such as making sure all
rooms built to bridge a narrow street are nonetheless high enough to admit a camel with
load and rider with some extra headroom, or how much rainwater overflow a homeowner
can retain for his own use or pass on to a lower terrace owned by a neighbour.
The book has a curious plotlessness: it is really a set of lists. I have had this
experience before with prose written in English by an Arabic academic, and it is hard
to explain what the problem is. There seems to be no conclusion. Neither a how-to guide,
nor a claim or thesis (though it looks a lot like an academic thesis). A section
lists Arabic words in Arabic script with translations in English of important building
and city words - with quite a few careless typos. I would hazard a guess that
the mistakes are still there even in newer, 150-quid, versions of the book. There are
two sections in the back with quotes from the prophet Mohammed (one section for quotes
from the Koran, one section for quotes from the
hadith), some of which have relevance
to neighbours and buildings. A particularly repulsive one stipulates that someone who
looks uninvited in through a neighbour's window and gets his eye "punctured" as a
result cannot claim for compensation or legal redress. The whole thing has
this dizzying textual flatness, as if the writing could go on the
same in any direction, like geometrically patterned tiles, without reaching any end or
conclusion. A sort of timeless, directionless telephone directory of various lists of
related knowledge. What redeems this magnificently dull book
are the beautiful hand-drawn maps & scale plans of houses and
streets in Tunis. They are lovely and there are a lot of
them. It's clear that Hakim loves vernacular Arabic architecture, his affectionate
pride shines through attractively - but for God's sake don't pay for this book new.
Slept a lot again. A few days ago at
finished a copy of Terence McKenna's
of the Gods' someone left me. This book claims that the origin of the
myth of the
of the tree of knowledge is hallucinogenic plants or
mushrooms that early humans ate, stimulating humanity's rapid rise in
believes psychedelic drugs were a natural part of
all human social life and religion until about six or seven thousand years ago.
That the practice kept going for an extra millennium or two in the
civilisation on Crete while it died out in the mainland
Near East. That perhaps use of fresh hallucinogenic mushrooms gave way
to the use of dried mushrooms preserved in honey, giving way to worshipping
while intoxicated on naturally fermented honey - simple
imperceptible shift from mushroom to alcohol occurring over
centuries. He claims that the
mystery cults and early
were drug-based religion's last decadent afterglow lasting into recorded
Western history: the mystery cults finally ended in the fourth
century after Christ. The book describes modern anthropology in the last
hundred years encountering isolated tribal nations, in the Amazonian
forest and elsewhere, who still use psychedelic herbs for shamanic magic
and worship. McKenna frets that we persistently misuse and
misunderstand the plant knowledge of these last few hunter-gatherer
'Food of the Gods' is a bit excitable in places. Sentences like
"Asia is a place where the shattered shells of castoff religious
ontologies litter the dusty landscapes like the carapaces of
sand-scoured scarabs." sound worryingly like it's the psilocybin
talking, rather than Terence. He has a fondness for dropping in
'epigenetic'] to flatter readers.
The overall argument is that the fall from a dimly remembered,
nostalgically longed-for golden age in the distant past was
something real. He says it
was a decline from sophisticated, natural herbal drugs like
psilocybin mushrooms, coca or ibogaine, to crude and harmful refined
drugs like alcoholic spirits, coffee, heroin, sugar, crack cocaine: a
kind of gradual profaning of the sacred high. Further, that the
experience of the divine while using a psychoactive herb is not
an illusion, but a genuine dissolving of the self, an
actual experience of fusing with nature. He argues for a
return to the moderate, socialised use of psychedelics
to dissolve individualism back into group thinking, reverse what
he calls dominator patriarchy, and return to respect for the mystical
feminine he claims was once universal across early human religions.
Overall it is lucid and entertaining, with some big jumps, but a
lot of quite convincing joining-up of historical dots. The book
could have been shorter. Removing some of the more florid
writing might also have made a less disturbing advertisement for
magic-mushroom-enlarged intelligence. Some odd sentences slip
through. At one point towards the end, explaining the beauties
experienced while dosed on a herbal intoxicant called DMT, he starts a
new paragraph: "The Aeon, as Heraclitus
presciently observed, is a
child at play with colored balls. Many diminutive beings are present
there - the tykes, the self-transforming machine elves of
hyperspace." Rereading the
whole page before and after this point
several times still left me with no idea what this means.
Perhaps evil refined drugs are
not the only ones that need to be sampled with care.
Last night in pouring rain made it back to Heather's to pick up raincoat
and umbrella. She and her visitor Mark were cooking happily and
insisted on pouring warming spirits down me before I managed to get to
Franc's for late
tea & toast, and a chat about the wonders of German women and the
mysteries of the
Up with Franc this morning as he leaves to climb in the
raining. A quick fruit juice with
the animator at 1pm, and then met
Georgina, Letty & Caspar at Pottyos utca metro station for the drive out
to the puszta.
Out again last night with
& Janosch & Mariann. We visit
warehouse'], latest ubertrendy venue at defunct fire-engine-supplies
warehouse. Downstairs about twenty people in a barren hall hear rather
jazz from a live band, with birth-of-cool glockenspiel
player. Axel tells me the saxophonist is the Hungarian dubbing voice of
Simpson. The film organisers' tired but startlingly pretty muse,
simmers quietly with graceful intensity. Midnightish,
we drive back to Mariann & Phil's in touring festival
bus, playing goodly measures of
as rain continues to drench
streets of central Pest.
Kind Szilvia sees me off to the office with cherry cake & coffee while
rests. I meet multilingual Anna in their kitchen.
Last night briefly drank with Mariann, Phil & a host of cheery German
organisers, including Janosch and Axel.
This morning, I wake up on a top bunk between a fluffy gorilla
and a poster of
after a deeply refreshing sleep. This might be
urging, he & I visited the
Baths' evening session
last night, enjoying lots of different temperatures of mineral water.
Evening with hospitable
Another warm day. I sleep a lot. Thank goodness I'm not at the
Formula One thing.
Wake up with little insect lumps all over me. Mid-afternoon I
carry my boxes up into Robin's surprisingly hot attic with help from Bela.
Now that I officially live nowhere, perhaps not a bad time to restart
life. It's very hot here. Around midnight
& Georgina drive to a mid-point somewhere like
to pick up Zsuzsa from another family, a bit like a secret package.
Wake up in time to dump rubbish, sort final boxes, wash and wax floor,
and shower myself before
Robin drives up on an
alarmingly hot sunny morning. Heather sees us off with coffees, and
we set off for countryside, his old Benz packed with my remaining
boxes, in need of further winnowing down. Each boxload I threw away
increased my sense of freedom. Unusually warm journey on motorway,
while Robin drives and relates slightly hard-to-follow stories
about Farnad the Persian Persian-carpet dealer from London and I
tie wet bedspread across right-side car windows as sunshield.
house around 5pm - complex plan to go to lake to swim with
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
markgriffith at yahoo.com
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