Refreshing lunch out in remote suburb of Pest with film-maker Mr V and his wife Agnes. Their little ones Kata (18 months) & Samu (3 months) provide light
Drinks & dinner with Tim: we discuss the 1980s
Greenham Common Women,
Sacha Baron-Cohen, Suez 1956,
Boris Johnson, and being the client not the designer. Tim makes the
startlingly sensible suggestion that most British left-wingers loathed and still loathe Margaret Thatcher because she reminded them of their mothers.
In the small hours, finish the book
kindly posted me
Minnesota as more background for Tarot
2007 Tarot Reader' is a collection of articles
about different Tarot packs, spreads, reading techniques, and so on. Articles
cumulatively helpful. Closes with an article about a pack involving lots of cats,
including one card said to depict a cat in a pink jumpsuit.
Give first speech at
feeling quite nervous and mistiming
everything. Everyone very friendly, though, and the vibrant
Natalie tells me
about her fencing. Before bed, drink & quick chat about Albania with
Another pleasantly hot day. Run out of time for
but manage gym in plenty of time.
Except the lazy Hungarians have changed the opening hours from what's printed
on the 3-month card they gave me 4 weeks ago, and decided to close
4 hours early at weekends until late August. They can't even be bothered
to put this change of plan on
their website, at least not anywhere obvious like
the front page. Too much effort for Hungarians: would mean them
thinking about other people for a moment.
End evening with pasta & red wine at Esther's, where I make a renewed assault on
to her Apple. Unsuccessful of course, but we have a jolly
Leisurely lunch with Marion. Later, Gail & John join us for drinks. At lunchtime,
on my way into town through hot midday sun to meet Marion, a tall, good-looking
lad moves to get off the
He grips the hand rail, and I see his right-hand
knuckles up close. They're disfigured from some kind of serious burn: taut
scar-tissue finger skin stretched over random pads of flesh, like melted
plastic. He & I dismount, passing a cross-looking, pretty brunette getting on
the bus, wearing a tight black tee-shirt with a slogan in English across her
breasts in large white capitals: Don't Waste my Time.
Anonymous friend & I try to download
emulators and Linux things.
Warm again. Relaxing lunch with Mariann. Stimulating drinks with Tim.
evidence Chomsky's hardwired / innate grammar idea is wrong.
Weather cools. The New Statesman tips
Thompson for US Presidency Republican candidate. Interesting list of
alleged mistakes in a reader's response at the bottom of the page.
Meet Marion for long lunch at new venue. Excellent, relaxing chat on many
topics. Later to gym, where, on the roof terrace, an inspiring whiff
of thundery ozone and a cooling breeze suggests a change of weather
on the way. Afterwards in a metro carriage see a large
middle-aged woman wearing a tee-shirt with
the word STORAGE
written in English across her breasts. Over the last month or two my mid-brown
watchstrap has turned almost black. I assume my sweat (salt?) is tanning the leather
somehow - really tanning it, not in the sunshine sense. Still hot outdoors
and indoors, but the evening starts to cool. Finally, at
bubbly Eszter tells me over herbal tea how she's enjoying Cambridge.
On fast bus into town meet an
creative from LA. Once in town, assist
anonymous friend with some documents. Delicious lunch & leisurely
afternoon of chat about office politics ensues.
conversation with kind
sticky weather continues.
& I stay in all day. A helpful
repeat of the
Georgina drives me to Tiszaug to catch train back to Budapest. In the air-conditioned dining car
from Kecskemet, there are new placemats with a stripy, colour-TV-testcard look: like late
Bridget Riley or Rem Koolhaas's
design for an EU flag.
A relief from the vile previous
placemats with photographs of flowers. The serving lady is friendlier too. Now all they have to is
make the food better and halve the prices and
might have a business on their hands. The train is delayed for two extra hours a few miles
outside Budapest, and the heat outside begins to slowly overwhelm the air-conditioning.
Finally I get back to my flat, shower, pick up some books for Ilan, and return to town
to meet him at 'Bitch'. He is tired from the heat. Later we watch the Channel 4
attacking the claim that human activity is driving global warming.
& family are back. Hot sun continues. I do some drawing, scanning, Photoshop
stuff. Young Kasper shows me this
video on YouTube about computers.
After dark, Zeno cooks us all some chicken in the summer kitchen he has
created in the outbuildings.
Zeno whips up a lovely breakfast of scrambled egg, fresh tomato & onion. Outside
it is extremely warm. I wash two shirts and put them out to dry: likely to be minutes
rather than hours. The Hungarians use an imported word
'kanikula' to describe
these dry summer heatwaves - I can recall one of
of mirth that I did
not know this word a couple of years ago. Zeno shows me round the building developments around
Robin's house. There is now an outside guest room with dark furniture and cool, white walls and
a wonderfully rich aroma of linseed oil. Unfortunately it is also teeming with wasps. Each time
I open the door there are five or six crawling on the inside surface of the door, and another
few wriggling under the netting on the window. Zeno pins up a carpet inside the door as a
kind of curtain to stop
them, and as I take my bedding from the library there and
move the carpet/curtain aside apparently undeterred wasps swarm round
my head and one stings me in the neck. I return bedding to library. Zeno also shows me
the newly-built well which I find rather alarming. It is wide enough that no child or
small person could do a chimney climb out if they fell in. It's about 20 feet down to
the water. I ask Zeno how deep the water itself is and he answers with a disturbingly
enigmatic smile that it is "hard to be sure".
Late afternoon, go to the ox-bow lake to swim with Edina,
Geza (back from work in England & France), Kadicsa & Bence. We discuss the differences between
Zeno's anti-modernism and Geza's anti-modernism, and our chat continues over a lovely dinner
with wine at their house. Edina & I talk about the Arabic book.
Early to gym, and then afternoon train in the heat to
Robin's in the countryside.
Robin & family are abroad until tomorrow, so Zeno offers to meet me at Tiszaug.
However, a slow-witted
inspector assures me, when I ask him three separate times on his pleasantly cool,
air-conditioned train, that I do not have to change trains at 5.30pm at
Lakitelek for Tiszaug. This
keeps me on the train passing through Obo:g and Ujbo:g (in his heat-or-drink-frazzled mind
"Tiszabo:g", though there is no station with that name) all the way to Szolnok.
He tells me my only option is to come back from Szolnok to Lakitelek, reaching
Lakitelek again at 8.30pm. (Indeed he claims the return train passes through Tiszaug
itself though in fact he helped me miss my last connection to Tiszaug proper.)
At Szolnok I go to a shop, buy a yoghourt and report
back to the platform after a half-hour wait for the train the fat inspector
promised. He meets me on the platform. Now he has passed from embarrassment into
righteous rage, he asks me where did my journey start? I say Budapest, via Kecskemet,
where he first met me. He says this is impossible because the number handwritten
on my ticket shows I have originally come from Szolnok. "So how did you get to be
back here then?", he asks, dismissing my explanation that I am not "back" there
at all. We both get onto the train.
This same ticket inspector is working on the train back from Szolnok, and has
the nerve to ask me where my ticket is for this "extra" journey that he directly
caused by not listening to me properly three times. We argue. He threatens to have
me arrested. I ask for his name several times, while giving him my name. After
much big-chested resolute anger on his part, looming next to me as we pull into
Lakitekek three hours after I was there before, he slinks away to another door
trying to maintain a pompous strut as he does this. This inspector failed to
understand me earlier in the afternoon when I clearly and slowly asked him for the
waste-paper bin on the first train, continuing to look blank as I showed him my
rubbish, asking me what I want to do with it. He only understood when I said
"to throw this away", so he is probably either badly hung over or lacking sleep.
Zeno did not have to wait three hours, luckily, but went home and sent kindly Pisti
& Erzsebet & their little boy Mark to pick me up the 2nd time. Pisti is a mason - one
of the real type who cut stone. Three of us (Mark is shy) have a refreshing chat in
the car to Robin's. At Robin's after dark, Zeno & I drink white wine with
mineral water, dining on spaghetti with pesto & garlic. During this, soft-spoken
Zeno explains to me the deep importance of the Romans adopting the cult of
England's dark influence on the post-17th-century world,
plus the crucial role of freemasons,
Jews, & sexual magic in the French & Russian Revolutions.
Very confusing. Is this how the ticket inspector felt?
Hot day. Diligent Ujpalota watchmender, a blonde woman with a concentrated face,
cheaply and quickly
repairs my watch & my travelling clock. Two Hungarian watchmenders told me last
year that the clock would need a complete new movement, and both quoted prices
forty times what she charged me to mend it in 5 minutes. Into town to help Ilan
retrieve his laptop back from repairs abroad, wrongly seized by
the customs office. Despite being in the wrong they try to bill him.
Then we get almost the last tickets into the packed open-air
& I spend a delightful afternoon with the langorous Kate
& her charming friend Molly. Sadly, the two soignee Virginians are unable to
join us for dinner.
Go to the cinema with Mihaela & a couple of her friends, one of whom finds my
concern with privacy odd for someone keeping a weblog. He cites my diary entry
where I wake out of a dream about a
vegetarian sex cult as a little concerning.
of Glory', a 1957 film directed by Stanley Kubrick about a
scandal surrounding a court martial in the French army during World War One.
Lots of symmetrical long shots of the chateau the officers are using, and shots
following officers in close-up as they walk along the trenches greeting the men
give the film (black & white) a dark mood of power & heirarchy. Kirk Douglas
as the heroic colonel overacts a little at the end of the story,
and a casting tendency to give good characters American accents and bad characters
French or British accents is noticeable, but still a strong film.
continues. Today's topics include 1. How to set up a niche business (look
for the anecdote) ; 2. How to keep a marriage happy ; 3. Wickedness of the British Empire in
4. Current questions in geopolitics (with special emphasis on
Iran) ; 5. Freestyle speed flirtation at the all-night supermarket.
Iced coffee with
She now attends
Iced coffee with Muhammad. Mr Castell invites me onto
On bus up a Buda hill to the gym meet a cheerful group of Swedish dance students.
After work-out take 59 tram to its terminus to get
hypnotised by Erzsebet. She takes me through the garden of flowers, past the
sparkling stream, across the meadow of flowers, into the mirror in which
I meet my former self, the usual. Rather relaxing, though odd in another language.
Some good advice about how
to proceed at
1 a.m. at a Pest bus stop meet Clara,
Tara & Sandra from the Irish Republic, ready to party.
Lots of rain. In the market of stalls near the bus stop, translucent
tarpaulins are stretched over the aisles, and are rapidly filling with
rainwater. One girl at a stall is stretching over her vegetables with a
wooden spatula to poke at the underside of one bulging valley of rainwater.
It is ballooning a section of tarpaulin menacingly over her cucumbers. I help
her empty it safely, and she seems irritated. She seems even more irritated
when I buy 3/4 lb of sour cherries from her for breakfast. Catch the fast
bus into town to get my eye test. Very helpful optician lady with lots of
The life-coaching continues. Ilan ("I'm just
trying to teach you how to
become a mensch." Pause. "You know what a
is?") explains his views
on marriage. From the news we note that Europeans are told that Al Qaeda
has issued a threat against Iran, while Americans are told different. After
the gym, back in Ujpalota, Kati's Hungarian hypnotist responds by text.
Quiet Sunday with
Ilan and Szilvia.
Szilvia's friend Kati comes to dinner and recommends a hypnotist.
and my friend
Scott puts the
Sunday Cafe film trailer on
Wake up at Ilan's. He shows me how to make humous and explains how
Operation Magic Carpet
airlifted Jews to Israel from Yemen. Then
& I pop over to the Bitch club again.
Chat with Szilvia, who joins us there, as well as Roza & Adi before meeting club-owner
Bill/Desire in person.
Wake up after a night of rich, strange dreams in Tim's spare room to find myself being watched
by a two-foot-high fluffy penguin, hanging on a noose on one end of a frame of coat hangers.
Bounce green transparent ball in garden with Florence. Drive back into town with Tim. Later
He takes me to the club
Bitch, where Esther has been working. I meet
Bruce & Adam,
and we are waited on by the shapely Kata. In the club, I read some of a book about the
Meanwhile, sitting under a revolving mirrored ball and listening to
a club-music soundtrack, we watch Bruce's copy of a subtitled 1970s blaxploitation film starring someone called
Foxy Brown, a film
in which a white man gets his penis cut off and put in a jar of formaldehyde. Back at Ilan's
& Szilvia's, we drink herbal tea and discuss girls who don't realise they're lesbians.
Stunned by summer heat, take afternoon siesta nap for three hours until 5pm. Meet Tim in evening and
go back with him to Paty. Drinking ginger wine in his kitchen I meet his newest addition, 3-year-old
Florence. We talk about
Uneventful, but hot day. Couple of days ago read
Kath's copy of
by G.W. Sebald. Some essays disappointingly dry, but some others
have a lovely self-effacing writing style. His fascination with Corsica
(several essays in the book about the island) curious. Thinks aloud well
about memory. The start I read of his book 'The Emigrants' at James' house
Ginger ale with
whose mother died in December at the same age as mine.
She mentions her father remembering being thrown onto stacks of duvets by his
father, and the bit
quotes from Nabokov comes
back. As a child before 1917 remembering his Russian nobleman father being
flung into the air three times by cheerful peasants after successful
negotiations were completed: the boy
inside the house watching
as his smartly uniformed father flies three times up past the window.
At Ilan's, Szilvia rustles up a lovely Indian meal - they are looking at
moving to southern India.
shows me an item on his laptop from a British
TV talent show
where a mobile-phone salesman reveals
can sing an opera aria properly, and
the audience breaks into spontaneous cheering as he sings his heart out. Surprised
to find tears rolling down my cheeks, either from the man's triumph over sceptics
or from the rousing, emotional score itself - or just my general frailness since
mother's death. Perhaps time to investigate classical music.
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
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