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2007
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October 31st; Feel a bit snuffly. A Rofette advises stuffing grated ginger & sliced lemon & chopped garlic into a jar of honey. I do this. Terri invites me along to a press conference and introduces me to a charming Hungarian escapologist she has photographed in the past.
October 30th; Meet Edina for ginger ale. Discuss project.

October 29th; Wake five or six times through the night out of one detailed dream: I am making and living through a black-and-white film called 'The Library of Demons'. Quite odd. Get some breakfast from the petrol station and then go across town to photocopy Edina's book.
October 28th; Meet Edina for tea at Oktogon. Clocks moved this morning, yet it's exactly as dark at 5pm as it was yesterday.

October 27th; Wake up at 4.30pm, rather lazily. Another moment of clarity. Do some editing work and read Franc's copy of 'The Hard Life' by Flann O'Brien, a wonderfully light, short comic novel set in Dublin in around 1900. The voices and their dialect are clearly but unobtrusively suggested - the narrator refers to his brother as "the brother" throughout, it is "the County Limerick", and so on. Strange adventures emerge naturally from the provincial worldliness of the characters.
October 26th; Wake up at Franc's. A breakfast coffee on his square. We drive into town, and I find Robin at the Budapest Gallery opening, where lots of other people like Neil, Constantine, Terri, Jaap are also mingling. Robin explains how he finished off his two works for the joint exhibition. I go home, do three hours completing Sep's proofreading, then return to town to find Robin, Istvan, Tamas, & Zeno drinking with the lovely Nora.

October 25th; Dinner at Franc's. His cat Lenke & I make peace. We watch some Rab Nesbitt on television (a show I have never seen) and then chat into the small hours.
October 24th; Tea in Heikki's office. Find the honest & affordable Ujpalota watchmender in the afternoon. In the Hungarian-expert way, he mends my watch strap and inserts a new battery in my travelling clock in complete silence.

October 23rd; More rain. Whole day proofreading. Last thing at night finish 'Elizabeth's Spymaster'. Chilling biography of Francis Walsingham, security & surveillance chief under and after Cecil in the 1570s and 1580s, and his role in uncovering plots against Liz 1st from Continental powers & English Catholic intriguers. Full of informers, torture, and unpleasant double agents. One David Jones stands out. He is saved from starvation by a kind Catholic woman and he then shops her to the authorities.
October 22nd; Rains in Budapest the whole day. Do some proofreading, and visit Ujpalota suburb, only to find that all the normal shops are shut. Forgot about the Russian-invasion holiday again.

October 21st; Say farewell to Piera & Giacomo. Get to Luton by big green bus. On flight to Budapest and last thing at night read 'Straw Dogs' by John Gray. Franc, back from Shanghai, meets me at the airport. We go back to his flat nearby for a buoyant evening of food & chat. Gray, a philosopher, had the sly idea of naming a book after a Lao Tzu quote which reminds us all instead of the violent & nihilistic 1970s Sam Peckinpah film. This film used the same quote to name its distorted version of the more interesting (and film-worthy) novel 'The Siege of Trencher's Farm'. Gray's style is epigrammatic to the point of pure assertion - I don't recall detecting many actual arguments. Clearly some British philosophy departments still turn out the breezily confident type. Reminds me of Rob's wonderful anecdote about his Oxford friend Mungo's putdown of Mill. Gray persuasively points out that secular humanism is a continuation of the Christian redemption project, and therefore philosophically weak. While it is good fun to read an academic who entertainingly dismisses Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Russell, Wittgenstein in a couple of pages each, some quite glib ideas of his own slip in as part of the sleight of hand. His ideas of relating ourselves to other animals and reading more theology are very worthwhile, but his blithe certainty that artificial intelligence & Gaian catastrophe will fulfil the Spenglerian decline of humanism is silly. His economics is shaky too, which matters, since much of his broad-brush-stroke vision is really about economics. Several quite well-known people declare the book the most important one they have read in a year, suggesting they don't get to read much. Despite some punchy anecdotes, less than the sum of its parts.
October 20th; Giacomo introduces me to music by Eraldo Bernocchi.

October 19th; On the back of bubbly Piera's moped again. We visit a jeweller's with a rather warlock-style black onyx cross in the window and drop in on the gallery where her November 7th show will be. Giacomo returns from Genoa, and he & Piera & I meet Marc-Henry & Christina again. Then we all have a Thai curry with Diane, a swish, spice-loving Francaise. I write a list of abusive terms for her to use about her boss, so she can supplement her recent mastery of the term 'wanker'.
October 18th; By day I meet Mr Amery for a refreshing coffee near his office by Liverpool Street station. By night accompany Piera in expansive mood to a stylish party at her clothes-designer friend Deborah's. Lots of dramatic, dark-haired signoritas prowl among soft, white furniture somewhere near Notting Hill. Marc-Henry's Christina keeps me company. Finish 'The Vitamin Murders' by James Fergusson. A curious tale of how the author gets intrigued by the murder of British nutritionist Jack Drummond, his wife & daughter, while on holiday in 1950s France, and starts to investigate a mass of conspiracy theories that still (at least in France) surround the triple killing. Drummond, a champion of healthy eating who designed Britain's wartime food-ration diet and was the man who took the e off 'vitamine', is lovingly portrayed. The curious idea of putting his story into parallel with Fergusson's growing paranoia about food additives and agricultural chemicals in his own life and that of his own wife & newly-born daughter is less successful. A slightly half-hearted gonzo book emerges in which he gets close to solving the Drummond murders and learns that one persistent chemical in his own body at several times over safe levels dates from a few days one childhood summer helping with the harvest. Interesting in parts, as Drummond's links with wartime espionage and biological-weapon experiments at Porton Down start to slowly swim into view. Touchingly, local French people still put fresh flowers on the three graves.

October 17th; Cancel flight back to Budapest. Lovely dinner at the twins downstairs. Piera shows me photographs of my blue shirt she took earlier, suggesting it somehow represents for me the spirit of my dead brother. Then she explains some family-tree therapist she visited, and suggests that some of my ancestors were involved, on one or other side, in the persecutions of Protestants under Mary Tudor. As she mentions this era, cold shivers run down my back, suggesting part of me is worried and interested by this curious idea.
October 16th; Train to Saffron Walden for cheering session with wizard. On train out finish 'Viktor Schauberger: A Life of Learning from Nature' by Jane Cobbald, which contains six or seven of his haunting sketchbook drawings of spiral shapes in water & air. Very odd character. Schauberger emerges in the Zero Point book as an eccentric inventor who was ordered at gunpoint in wartime Germany to start work on an anti-gravity engine. The institute run by his family would prefer to safeguard his name as an early green visionary. An Austrian forester, he spent hours, indeed days, in the 1920s and 30s alone in forests observing animals, trees, river flow, and whirlpools. From this emerged some startlingly original ideas on the physics of vortices, only hinted at by Cobbald. These form the unlikely link between a forester with some patents in unusual water pumps, and the wartime anti-gravity researchers who thought spinning discs at high speeds could create columns of reduced gravity. On train back, finish Jake's copy of 'Untouchable' by Mulk Raj Anand. A crisply-told tale of a day in the life of an untouchable in pre-war India. Son of a street-sweeper, this latrine-cleaner is as low as Hindu India's caste system can go. The book traces how his life changes over a day after he unintentionally pollutes another Hindu by bumping into him in a crowded street. Afterwards, jolly Piera drives me and the twins Rebecca & Lucy to see a South African group of musicians at the Festival Hall. We meet Sep and other people.

October 15th; While travelling around London, see a newspaper article about a horrible situation on a caving expedition deep underground. Lunch with theologian at Westminster Abbey. Dawns on me I have never been there before.
October 14th; Back to London with Buzz & Dan by car. An interesting moment when we switch the sat-navigation in his car to a sexy woman's voice which, refreshingly, is in French yet uses miles, then find we cannot get her to switch back to English. Later on, join Piera on her moped as we scoot over to a party at Oliver's. She tells me to lean into the curve, and I start to enjoy whizzing in and out of West End traffic in a nifty Mediterranean manner. XL crash helmet only just fits my oversized skull. Oliver's party filled with interesting people, including a svelte botanist who tells me about horrible situations on caving expeditions deep underground.

October 13th; Up with Dan for the drive to Winchelsea. After some tidying in the house, we walk on the pebble beach with Buzz, who has us each being a particular locomotive from the Thomas Tank Engine stories on the way to the sea. I find two pebbles with holes worn in them, and Dan, a Phd geologist, tells me that the scientific name for these is "pebble with hole in". Lovely dinner and lots of newspaper supplements before sleep.
October 12th; Finish 'William Wilberforce' by William Hague on the platform of Moorgate tube station in the afternoon. A moving story of how the slavery abolitionists worked towards changing the law over several decades, struggling against apathy and self-interest inside and outside Parliament, mobilising one of the first effective public-opinion campaigns on a moral issue. Wilberforce's combination of dogged determination to use his wealthy background to do good, and his undoubted charm and gentle generosity, repeatedly forgiving with his friends and enemies alike, is inspiring. Attacks on him for not doing more for British workers (though in fact Wilberforce did support other progressive causes) and for being a hypocrite sound churlish. Cobbett particularly looks unattractive in his opposition to him: hard not to see simple envy of someone who more people liked and who did more good in his life. Later meet the bookclub at a restaurant in Pimlico, where we discuss Wilberforce, at least a bit. I leave just before they decide next book will be by Gordon Brown. To Dan's for an early-ish night.

October 11th; Wake up in the Nigel of Light's sitting room. Last night, I disturbed him as he was solving some software emergency over the phone in a town called Johnson City. Today, float 2 hours in floatation tank. Meet an online friend for pizza in Soho, and she tells me a wonderful story about Westminster Abbey writing to High Court judges asking for contributions to upkeep of the floor they walk on once a year. Later, meet Piera and friends Jon, Freddy ["Shall we follow the hot chick, then?"], & Ogale at a pub on Gloucester Road.
October 10th; Go to East Dulwich to get hypnotised.

October 9th; Wake up at Dan & Catey's. Very rainy day in London. Make contact with hypnotist. Float in floatation tank in Clapham. In the evening over dinner, Catey tells me that the American actor Kevin Spacey lives in a local tower block with sunglasses and a puppy, so he can be creative director of the Old Vic.
October 8th; Leave Sam at Datchet, where the ticket office mysteriously closes for the day at 1.05pm - why? They could just give a nearby newspaper & sweets shop a licence to sell tickets and there would thereby be a ticket office open all day. So simple. Take train into London munching a warm Cornish pasty, perhaps my first for a decade. Perfectly inoffensive, yet hugely overrated food item. Really would not be a disaster if I never ate another Cornish pasty as long as I live. By evening, meet Dan & Catey & Buzz. Buzz vividly recalls me sticking my tongue out at him in the summer. Dan tells me Gordon Brown's honeymoon is already over.

October 7th; Drive with Sam around Eton & Windsor & Slough Trading Estate. In the last he shows me two of the garage-type buildings Gerry & Sylvia Anderson started their puppet-based TV production company at the end of the 1950s. In another warehouse close by, we chance on an art show of soothing muted hues, mounted by some people called Gallery 435. Two of their artists with a surer sense of colour are Mark Bennion & Kathleen Waterloo. By evening, we watch a video of the excellent Startrek stage play Sam wrote a script for.
October 6th; Pack, go to airport for flight to London. As usual, it takes thirty minutes to get on the aeroplane at Budapest instead of ten. We queue up inside the terminal, and are told our tickets are graded into four categories, and we'll be called forward in order. Two buses park outside. We take about ten minutes filing through and getting onto the buses, with some of the people from different groups being mixed up between buses. The buses close their doors, wait quite a few minutes, drive the 150 yards to the plane [around 30 secs walk with a heavy bag] and to make the exercise look a little less pointless, they describe a loop around the aeroplane to double the journey length. Then we wait inside the locked buses for some more minutes. Then they open the doors, and people push and shove to get onto the plane. Since there is a big crush on the stairways, we all wait on the steps another ten minutes. Of course everyone would have been separated naturally and in precisely the order the airline wanted if we had all just walked out of the doors and across the tarmac twenty minutes earlier.
By evening, meet Scriptwriter Sam at the cafe inside the Charing X Road Borders bookshop, and we enjoy a wonderful Italian pizza round the corner.

October 5th; Rain, misty autumnal damp. Revisit fat yellow church with peeling paint 5 minutes from new flat. Salad lunch with Anonymous Friend, milkshake later with John.
October 4th; Staring at this is seriously bad for you. Get paid by film company. Meet Julia in the evening over a pizza to give back Ujpalota keys.

October 3rd; Decaff coffee at an open-air cafe with the bubbly Kerstin. Quiet dinner with Marion.
October 2nd; Drop in at yacht magazine. Later, drink Vietnamese tea at Kalman's office to hear of new voice work. He says it will be a film about weasels.

October 1st; Wake up in spacious new flat near the Square of the 32nds (a regiment, not a homage to the inch). Beautiful, sunny autumn day. Bus out to Ujpalota to clean old room. Meet John later for curry & chat.

Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact@otherlanguages.org

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