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2006
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May 31st; 14 hours sleep. Over to see hospitable Sam and, alongside VJ & David, test read the latest draft of the Bathory screenplay. On a related topic, Sam's husky-voiced flatmate, Kozi, tells us she is a witch. She also has a day job as a TV chef. I stay rather too late, ranting into the small hours about films & architecture.
May 30th; This time I fly by EasyJet, and arrive at Luton airport three hours early to be safe. At Budapest airport busstop meet some Romanian rock musicians called Bitter Moon returning from a festival in Lille. In central Budapest, it's raining. In the Deak square underpass on my way home I pass two decorators painting the ceiling a cleaner shade of white. Another two men alongside them, with a clipboard & light meter, are, at 10.45 at night, checking the whiteness of the paint job.

May 29th; Quiet day in Catford. During a leisurely juice-drinking & newspaper-reading session at the cafe, The Sun agony column reveals that there is a Sex Addicts Anonymous. Nigel reminds me of the very first sentence he came across on the Internet back in the early 90s: "I shave cats and push marshmallows up their bottoms." We go shopping for a spirit level so he can put up some shelves, then later dine at the Chinese noodle house.
May 28th; Lovely day out in several London parks with Nigel & Juno. Juno jumps a fence to tackle some swans, but thinks better of actual combat once they show her their size and vigour. Leave for airport in good time, but substantial motorway delays get me to Luton airport [with no luggage to check in] 35 minutes before take-off, not 40. And rules are rules, sir. So WazAir turn me away and I have to get another coach back down motorway to Nigel's. Don't use this wicked airline, citizens.

May 27th; Lunch on Portobello Road with James, Ponteen, Samuel & Sally. Drinks later with Nigel & Danny. Rather metaphysical curry in the evening with Mr Hubbard.
May 26th; Phone Kew Gardens. Read about albedo. Nigel & I hear schoolfriend Patrick's father has died.

May 25th; My wizard in Regent's Park suggests that, in addition to plutonium and scorpion, I try some essence of falcon. Later meet Piera for an art happening at an exhibition in Clerkenwell. She is only a couple of days back from photographing members of the Polisario in Western Sahara. The performance artists, who are a bit like the Blueman Group, except that they aren't blue, do a soothing slow dance piece with some backwards talking and lots of birdsong. They explain "We visited the Garden of Wrong. For seven nights we hid and observed the creatures." Piera introduces me to some artists like the jovial Kaz. I also meet the elegant Annabelle, sculptor, and organiser of the event. Back at Catford, fish & chips while NIgel & I down quite a lot of pink and red wine.
May 24th; WiFi on GNER train slow & pricey. Find Nigel & Juno in upbeat mood when I reach Catford. Nigel points out that my momentary feeling of nausea at the crowds of Londoners surging through Charing Cross station was not a kind of vertigo, but more a sort of horizontigo.

May 23rd; On train to Leeds meet the charming Saniah & Sabrine. Though she is quite shy, Sabrine is wearing red shoes, a red zip-up jumpsuit, a red headband, and generous amounts of silver jewellery. The more conventionally dressed Saniah insists I should refer to her stylish friend in this weblog as "the teenage witch". Saniah kindly promises to recommend me Punjabi & Urdu textbooks. By evening I finish Steven Rose's 'The Making of Memory', a pleasantly meticulous account of just how painstaking laboratory work in brain science is. Intriguingly, Rose has read several philosophers & sociologists of science. He seems to have a vaguely Marxist view of the world beyond his special field, which is chemical traces of learning in chicks' brain tissue.
May 22nd; Village dry cleaners have got the rust-&-orange-coloured pollen stains out of my jacket. Mother is starting to find the giant lilies interesting, pointing out the red dots are raised like pimples, and fade, while rising, to waxy white spikes deep in each blossom's throat.

May 21st; Finish book called 'True Fiction' I picked up second-hand the other day. A collection of humorous essays that it seems were published in a Financial-Times column under that title. It's attractive - an old Pelican facsimile cover [blue & cream] meeting an old Penguin facsimile cover [orange & cream] at what looks like a vertical tear. Presumably Pelican = True, and Penguin = Fiction. The first essay was funny in parts. The rest embarrassingly bad - like the worst school-magazine prose. Lame flights of fancy, each wrapped up with a leaden attempt at a punchline. Dreadful.
May 20th; Buy Sayidaty in Bradford, but no small ads.

May 19th; Ed's megablooms still power-scent the upper 2/3 of the house. I read a book from Hebden Library which might be for sixth-formers, am not sure. Called 'The Climate Crisis', it is very short, composed of articles each filling an A4-format page, drawn from different sources like The Guardian, Friends of the Earth and so on. Strong on check-lists of what will change, short on properly-marshalled facts. Some typos, such as writing millimetre instead of centimetre, which are hard to forgive in a 38-page study pamphlet for students. The urgent tone of certain doom jars a bit with the wildly divergent guesses for what the future holds. Not much use.
May 18th; Ed invites me for lunch in Bradford. Afterwards, he convinces me to take back with me the large & mightily-perfumed flowers he'd relegated to his stairwell to stop them smothering him in his flat. I struggle onto the train back to Mytholmroyd with the blossoms. No reactions except for a faint shudder of distaste from a Japanese girl, soberly and demurely dressed aside from her knee-high leather boots. When I bring them into the house, mother is at first alarmed by the triffids, but we find a vase for them next to the bath. They are some kind of lily, each bloom surrounded by six huge waxy petals with crinkled white edges fading in to a deep pink blush and mass of red spots down the centre. The scent is so strong it threatens unconsciousness if you stay too close. Long stamens wobble their powder-caked tips eerily at you. The same night I finish mother's copy of 'The Aquarian Conspiracy' by Marilyn Ferguson. Mother said it was disappointing and she's right. A well-intentioned book, it somehow caused a big sensation in 1979 when it came out. The thesis is that new research in brain science and a growing number of Americans studying Eastern meditation techniques are together helping to form a completely new kind of social reform movement - decentralised, open-minded, co-operative, holistic. So far so good. Ferguson dates this back to American movements like the early-19th-century Transcendentalists, and cites so many other precursors like H.G.Wells and Aldous Huxley, all saying a big new kind of change is just around the corner, that one begins to feel the movement has rather taken its time. Reading a 1980 book in 2006 adds to this sense of irritation at the messianic, millennarian feel to the whole text. Unless we decide that the Internet itself is what the Aquarian Conspiracy was building up to, it's hard to see what else it was "just about" to do in the early 80s. She says the book emerged from a questionnaire she sent out to lots of people who were on her mailing list for a brain-science newsletter she ran in the 1970s. It is long, and is mainly written in a breathless, shrill style, as in: This is happening, and this is happening, and these people there are doing that, and these other people over there are doing this, and these other people found that if they.... Also, as soon as Americans get together to share ideas in Ferguson's world, they have to do lots of sobbing and crying together. The whole thing is exhausting to plough through. Might have made a good 3,000-word article.

May 17th; Pancake with John in Manchester. Two days ago finished 'Grammars of Creation' by George Steiner, from Hebden Library. He's a bit overfond of words like 'reticulate' and 'polysemic', and is alarmingly well-read in French, German and Latin. Some of the argument is confusing and pompous, but some of it is very stimulating. He mentions some Germans like Mauthner who were anticipating Wittgenstein on language already in 1900, and he is interesting on Dada and subsequent artists, like maker of self-destructive pieces Tinguely. A Tinguely sculpture gives the book its off-putting cover. The main theme is the impinging of science and mathematics on the province of art and literature. Convincing in places. Some very exciting references.
May 16th; Greenfly like my blue-green shirt. All over it on train platform today.

May 15th; Our identities are safe with governments?
May 14th; Do draft of Robin's New York catalogue.

May 13th; Carrot cake oddly unsuccessful. Manage to both burn top and leave insides uncooked. Took hours too. Mother mutters something kind about Yorkshire gas being low pressure.
May 12th; Shop for cinnamon.

May 11th; Find Hebden Bridge Library at new address.
May 10th; Buy book about AutoCAD.

May 9th; Find seamstress in Bradford.
May 8th; Buy summer suit with Nigel. Starting out for train to North, I get a telling off from railway staff at Catford Bridge for questioning why they keep closing their blinds just when I need to buy a ticket. Naughty customer. Late evening in Mytholmroyd, I finish Nina's present of a couple of years ago, which I had lost and then refound at Robin's. 'Cheese' by Willem Elsschot is a sparely-written and touching comic novelette about a Belgian clerk who tries to become a cheese importer. Set in the 1930s, translated by Paul Vincent. Sad, modest, sweetly funny.

May 7th; Get polite learn-Arabic sales letter from Brunoy.
May 6th; Fruit juice with Adrienn near Aldwych. Manage to locate some Arabic music radio.

May 5th; Nigel and I go shopping for books & magazines.
May 4th; Leisurely breakfast with Liia. On evening flight to Luton the plane flies into night, back into evening and then again into night, with an orange stripe of sky just above the horizon, a yellow-green stripe above that, and lots of blue shading into black above that. Night bus across London to meet Nigel & Juno at midnight.

May 3rd; Stopping briefly on the way to see the butcher about some tripe, Robin drives me to Lakitelek station. Changing trains in Kecskemet, I rest in a sunlit park and find a dead tree festooned with giant mushrooms. They jut out from the trunk as though partly buried there by a powerful discus-thrower. Two the size of dinner plates, four or five the size of dessert bowls. Back in Budapest, dinner and drink with Isabel.
May 2nd; Wake up in morning still alert from the tea. Bela is watching 'Goldfinger' in the next room. I find I enjoy hearing it as a sort of radio play. At lunch Georgina & I pop down to the village bar for a wine with soda. The barmaid with the pony tail is not there. We sit with our drinks inside. All the walls are lined with interlocking strips of rubber in alternating stripes of brown & beige, buckled into curves, either because the material has expanded or the building has shrunk. A large colour television is playing a 1980s American romantic drama, dubbed into Hungarian. All the actors have 80s big hair, though somehow bigger than I remember. Two barmaids sit at another table watching the TV impassively. After a few minutes I realise that the screen is distorted at the top, which is why the big hairdos are even bigger than they were in the 1980s. Occasionally a character moves up and gets both higher hair & longer forehead like a Tefal person.
Later in afternoon, I retire briefly. Fall asleep pleasantly lulled by Dopplerish sound effect of Bela running or tricycling round & round four cloistered sides of the house while being some kind of motor vehicle.

May 1st; Quiet May Day until evening. Forgetting the strict anti-caffeine instructions of my wizard, I have a black tea with Robin & Georgina. Immediately cat-allergic asthma returns, and I manically discuss art late with Robin, taking it upon myself, giddy on caffeine, to tell him how he could be more like Damien Hirst. We bounce around between Alan Charlton, Balazs Kicsiny, and blood banks.

Mark Griffith, site administrator / markgriffith at yahoo.com

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