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2007
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December 31st; Neither Georgina nor I can prise open the jaws of the suckling piglet to be roasted today so as to get an apple in its mouth. Rigor mortis? Anyway, I mix some more mince-pie pastry and make a better batch of brandy butter. In the early evening during a session of charades we discover 10-year-old Kasper has been wearing five pairs of thick socks all day. Robin reminds me of how a couple of years ago he several times found Kasper up and wandering around before dawn. Kasper was generally alone in the kitchen at 5am frying himself a full English breakfast, slightly odd for an 8-year-old. Later we turn out all the lights and play several rounds of Murder in the Dark and Sardines. Dinner afterwards by candlelight. We welcome in the new year with the two girls & some fizzy wine, as distant fireworks pop on the horizon over the village, and snow silently falls around the house.

December 30th; I try the skates on that were too small for Robin, and they are unpleasantly tight. I teeter, wobbling for a few moments on the ice of the pond, horrified at the sensation of balancing for my first time ever on two large butter knives. One toe seems ready to crunch if I put weight on that foot. I put normal shoes back on, and get used to slithering around on the ice as we all play a kind of ice hockey with a small orange ball. Chloe the fox terrier (since Vicki's death) joins in, until the light starts to fail at dusk and the snow is brighter than the sky. Must practise new skating thing in larger skates somewhere with a rail before attempting al fresco. Read a copy from the library here of La Rochefoucauld's 'Maxims', first published 1665, translated into English by Leonard Tancock. Beautifully laid out, and probably well translated, judging by Tancock's careful introduction. Pity Rochefoucauld's text is such rubbish. There can't be many precocious 12-year-olds that couldn't have written this stuff. A set of aphorisms about life reflecting both the bitterness of La Rochefoucauld at the end of a life of court intrigue, and the shallow attitudes that must have caused the failures that made him bitter. I recall suggesting in a chat at school - probably based on observing mother - that cynics are disappointed naifs. This slim book of 600-odd supposedly pithy observations about life confirms that naivete with embarrassing vividness. The general idea behind La Rochefoucauld's witty sayings is that all virtue is sham, and that everything people do is based on self-interest. That's it. With more penetration, his musings about self-love and its powers to deceive might have anticipated Schopenhauer's discovery (or invention) of the subconscious by a century and a half. With more detachment, he might have approached a Buddhist understanding of the illusion of the self's narrative. With better observation, he might have picked out people's mixtures of good and bad more accurately. Sadly, he lacks all three. The only long maxim, 563 in this edition, is 3 pages in length, but almost every other aphorism is one or two lines at most. He commits the aphorist's basic blunder, that of assuming that what is sometimes true is always true, and whatever is partly present is wholly present, to the exclusion of all else. If it has elegant brevity and glib paradox he thinks this means it's correct. A handful deserve to be remembered. The memorably bleak though typically sweeping 562: For a woman hell is old age. The sager, gentler 423: Not many know how to be old. The slightly mysterious 192: When the vices give us up we flatter ourselves that we are giving up them. As Tancock explains in the introduction, this period saw French salons trying to create a neutral, colourless, elegantly simple French that contained no allusions to a particular period, no references to a specific lifestyle. However, the sheer number of aphorisms about flirtation & reputation - mistresses, charming other people, advancing socially through a life of politics and influence - even without a single historical clue paints a clear image. This image is of a crowd of bitchy, idle gossips with nothing better to do than scheme against each other and feign or manipulate every imaginable emotion in the pursuit of ambition or 'wit'. None of these match the sharpest ten Oscar Wilde lines (Wilde must have looked at this book and thought "I can easily do better", and of course he could). Any play by Shakespeare has more to say about human character than these 641 remarks. If this is considered even a minor gem of French literature, that's quite an indictment of their taste in writing. Rochefoucauld could have done so much with those years of leisure. Astronomy, meteorology. Botany or fossils - back when lots of wonderful stuff was lying around to be discovered by any sincere amateur with imagination. Some mathematics. Plant-breeding, early chemistry, learning Greek, travelling. Perhaps this inward-looking vanity is why France so often falls short of promise.
I plod through the snow late at night to use the outside loo, built from mud bricks, and find it very comfortable except for the darkness, so have to do everything by the flame of my cigarette lighter. Robin & I end the evening chatting late indoors round the log fire. He tries apricot, I choose raspberry schnapps.
December 29th; Under Georgina's watchful eye, I mix more pastry for another batch of mince pies. We finish off the brandy butter. Next time I shall use sugar that isn't demerara, but something drier so it can soak up the brandy without getting sloshy. Benazir Bhutto was killed two days ago in Pakistan on the 27th. In an odd television interview from early last month, she casually mentions Omar Sheikh as the person who "murdered Osama bin Laden".

December 28th; Robin rather ill, taking lots of tea & vitamins. I wake up very late. We must break this staying up late chatting cycle. I go out to see the pond Robin has made for his children to skate on: the ice is a kind of clay-yellow grey, and fields all round are so quiet the hosepipe's phases of gurgle, swish and silence are all that can be heard. Bringing firewood back from the stables through the snow in the wheelbarrow gives me a brief Wenceslas-y feeling. The cat Babette somehow leaves the house. It gets itself stuck up a small shaft in the cellar and refuses to leave because both dogs go into full-on hunt mode. I get on a chair and reach up into the shaft, talking to the cat I have never touched due to my allergy. Since the shaft is too narrow and long for both my arms, its only way out is to let me get one paw and gently drag it down the slope. I stretch up into the sloping shaft, fully expecting to be scratched to ribbons, but the cat (perhaps grasping how keen the dogs are to worry it to death) peacefully lets me lift it out and carry it to safety. I'd forgotten what it was like to hold a cat: ie, soft & furry.
December 27th; A quiet, dark day popping fresh logs into the fireplace while Robin & family shop for new skates in Kecskemet. I use this time to finish 'The Origin of Wealth' by Eric Beinhocker, a slightly frustrating read. This book has some tremendous material in it, but needs to be cut to around 1/3 of its 450-page repetitive, wordy length. As you read it, the book morphs from an interesting economics book to yet another tedious business-studies tome. The author, a McKinsey research Fellow, has the classic management-writer problem: like so many American authors, his writing combines silly jargon with Germanic stodge. "I elaborate on the concept later in the book, but briefly, a balanced scorecard is a set of performance metrics that is designed to provide visibility into value creation in a specific business." is a fairly typical sentence. There are a few slightly worrying mistakes like his casual remark that privatisation of British railways has "resulted in massively delayed train journeys ever since". (No, it hasn't.) What is excellent is his overview of the work of the many economists who have been chipping away at the traditional neo-classical equilibrium theory since the 1950s, and the way computers have been enabling more sophisticated modelling to replace it. This is essentially the sort of economics that reading Waddington's 'Tools for Thought' in 1982 made me think was just around the corner. My economics tutors were fairly unimpressed by Leon Walras - a bit of a shock to realise that many American readers still need to be released in 2007 from the Frenchman's self-evidently sterile ideas. Some good material on evolutionary theory and how it is changing how economics and business is understood. Nonetheless, I recall one of Ormerod's books describing most of this much more clearly and readably 13 years ago. Doyne Farmer's work on computer simulation of financial traders was pretty much what I went into LIFFE planning to learn how to do a decade before that. He covers much fascinating research, yet manages to kill it stone dead with his didactic, doughy prose. He is the kind of writer who says what he is going to say, then says it, then says what he has just said in endless summaries, dense recapitulations, and the inevitable bullet-point lists. Almost every subsection is squeezed between a ponderous introduction and a plodding conclusion. When he lists three points on page 403 and then finishes that subsection with "We will discuss each in turn", the reader knows we most certainly will, and his heart sinks.

December 26th; Boxing Day out on the Hungarian Great Plain. Cannot join in with skating due to lack of right-sized skates. Robin's family watches a recent film version of the Mutiny on the Bounty story on television. Ryan phones from Michigan and we chat about life. Later, Robin & I watch part of some Vietnam War film on television (perhaps 'Platoon') and the screaming, panicking GIs burning villages and shooting Vietnamese civilians remind me eerily of the hysterical, brawling mutineers in the earlier Bounty film, once Captain Bligh is off the ship. I start pondering whether the United States is a case of an entire culture that has mutinied, and is still dangerously adrift without any established officer class.
December 25th; Unto us a child is born. Robin & I stay up until 4am, watching an English documentary about Marie Antoinette that tries to improve us by disconcertingly breaking into snatches of untranslated French.

December 24th; Clouds obscure tonight's full moon. It's also Christmas Eve. Wake up very late at Robin's. Relaxed day mixing brandy butter, peeling chestnuts. Lunch of pheasant soup, a Transylvanian venison dish, wonderful mince pies. Finish 'The Pilgrimage' by Paulo Coelho. Another of his deceptively clear, simple narratives about a spiritual journey - this one walking the Road to Santiago in Spain as a pilgrim. This claims to be an autobiographical story of his own journey to recover his "sword", having failed his final test to qualify as an adept in an occult society in Brazil called "The Tradition". There are what for many readers must be controversial accounts of magical events mixed into the 1980s journey, and into his reminiscences of his Brazilian training. Rather disingenuously, Coelho portrays himself as insufficiently humble and intuitive. The book has a handy how-to exercise at the end of every chapter so that readers at home can also learn how to master space, time, and pretty much anything else. Presumably this is how Coelho gets accused of being a pseud & a charlatan. Under a lovely Christmas tree, we open presents in the Hungarian fashion tonight, not tomorrow. Robin gives Georgina a handy little book reprinted from 1913 called 'Don'ts for Wives' by Blanche Ebbutt. The children chip away at a tombstone-sized bar of chocolate so alarmingly scaled up it makes them look a bit like big mice.
December 23rd; Pack for early evening train out to the frosty Great Plain. Robin meets me at Lakitelek in chilly, foggy dark - snow on the ground. Lupi, his large white dog, & I reconcile.

December 22nd; Third day of 20 lengths at the pool on the island, this time after dark. Huge columns of fog rising off the warm water into the cold air create that primaeval-swamp feel. Quite funny how many times the baths have redone the electronic gates to enter the changing rooms over several years without once thinking about traffic in & out at the same time. Retrieving my wallet in exchange for the padlock has to wait for a queue of people coming in because we're all using the same window, and it's hard to lean across the revolving gate to the window on the way out because the out direction of the revolving gate is on the side further from the window. The bright thing to do [as around four seconds' thought reveals] would be to have the valuables & ticket-checking office between two gates, so wallets can be handed in one window on the In side and out of the other window on the Out side. Instead of this, there are two members of staff in the little office dealing with two opposing streams of people, but through the same window on one side. With an office between two gates, neither stream of people would need to wait or cross each other. So obvious. Buy tomorrow's train ticket quickly and easily. On the way out of the station into the chilly darkness, I pass two small girls with their parents. Both are in pink quilted coats, and the slightly larger girl is proudly pulling a pink suitcase with travel handle and two trolley wheels that flash small blue & red lights as they move.
December 21st; Waste time struggling with the muppets who mis-installed my new washing machine. I turn up at the cellar stuffed with 2nd-hand fridges and other white goods this morning bearing the installation manual and the main travel bolt [a two-foot steel rod useful for spanking shop staff when they get lippy]. A man I had a quarrel with over the telephone last night literally shrinks into a corner when he sees me glaring at him, hides behind the customer being dealt with, and then slinks into the back office for the next half hour. The barrel-shaped woman with the discoloured teeth who owns the business comes out to tackle me. As usual in Hungary, the woman is braver. She takes a look at me and starts apologising. I show her the manual. I explain that Captain Z & his chum Captain ZS [I'm not making this up] unscrewed travel bolts B and C from my machine's chassis when plumbing it in on Wednesday, but left Bolt A in and told me the washer was ready to use. The concrete ballast block might have cracked in that first deafening spin cycle. She quickly promises a new machine if this has happened, and summons more muppets to come and remove Bolt A. In the half hour I wait in the cramped cellar showroom for the technicians, three separate middle-aged Hungarian customers of goblin-like hideousness come in. Short, tubby, & eye-wateringly ugly, all three mumble to themselves like street people while they potter round poking podgy fingers at the household machines. No technicians arrive. The owner woman, looking slightly desperate in a fat sort of way, earnestly swears they will be at my flat within an hour. Tram home. After exactly one hour, two men come. The woman's effete youthworker-style son is with the slinking man. They sidle across my threshold with that please-don't-hit-me look Hungarians have when they know they've been naughty. They remove the other bolt, fiddle with the washer's adjustable feet, and test it on spin. Once all is good, we shake hands and they carefully back out of my flat.
I celebrate with some book-shopping and a second day of 20 lengths at the outdoor pool on the island in the Danube. Must get serious about fitness again. Though the wind off the river is fairly bracing, definitely easier than yesterday to swim my standard distance.
Some tense dykey energy from P J Harvey.

December 20th; Slick song.
December 19th; Delivery men arrive bang on time with washing machine. Of course, they are jolly comedians: one introduces himself as 'Captain Z'. They instal the machine and leave. I do first wash. Everything is fine until the spin cycle has the machine jumping around and making a huge banging noise. Time for some vibration-damping research. Is a nut loose on the concrete ballast block? Did the wallies unclip the suspension?
Tea & cake & Tarot reading with Esther. She has some books for me from kind Elysia. On way over to Rakoczi square to see Miklos, bump into Isabel at the trolleybus stop. She is buying pizza for Politics Judit, who is resting at home with a hurt tendon. Drop in on Miklos to wish him well over Christmas: we drink a glass of dry red. In his hallway, a sleek black cat miauws at me. Miklos says the pet was in Simon's flat when he found him dead.

December 18th; See gorgeous woman in her late 30s, perhaps even 40s, in post office: unusual in Hungary. She is with her little girl, already looking dangerously pretty while still only 12 or so. Both mother & daughter have dark, simmering eyes with long lashes, and the mother has a wonderful, quizzical smile playing around her beautiful mouth as she contentedly watches her child's fascination with the people in the other queues and the two of them whisper exchanges conspiratorially. Mother dressed in simple, stylish clothes too. I go to the swimming baths, misled by Erik's page showing the opening times wrong by two hours: they close at 4 not at 6. So my journey to the island is wasted, though not unpleasant if you like trams, which I do. On Andrassy ut, something strikes me. They have been wrapping strings of small white fairy lights in tight spirals round the trunks and a few main branches of the trees down this grand street for several years now at Christmas. It looks very pretty & tasteful, as if each tree is in a kind of stocking of living silver. What I hadn't noticed before is how twisted the trees themselves look. They lean at odd angles, and some look positively deformed. Of course, by choosing an inward-leaning branch, the cloak of fairy lights can emphasise the bower effect of the avenue, but many trees have main trunks sloping in or sideways, quite randomly, by angles as big as 20 or 30 degrees from the vertical. There isn't a single straight-trunked tree in ten blocks. Are they diseased? Or is it the result of some misapplied pruning tradition, like the mindless pollarding in French villages that makes their trees so ugly when not in leaf? Talking of ferrets, coming to a restaurant kitchen near you soon: 3 lb rats.
December 17th; Quiet day. Research washing machines.

December 16th; In small hours, read 'The Strange Death of David Kelly' by Norman Baker, MP. Clear & compelling. Baker argues that Kelly's death was either suicide or murder, that many aspects of the death were suspicious, and suicide highly unlikely. Therefore Britain's leading germ-weapons expert died four years ago in 2003 by murder, a murder actively covered up by the official inquiry into his death. Baker meticulously goes through all the obvious lines of inquiry, checking and sourcing every fact he can - yet without boring the reader. Tension methodically builds as we approach the deeply unsettling conclusion. No longer surprised the first edition sold out in two days. In the afternoon, meet Mihaela to go round the Hundertwasser exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts. On my way to meet Mihaela, on the thinly-snowed grass outside the museum, I pass a fat man cheerfully kicking snow at his pet ferret on a leash. The ferret seems to be enjoying the game. Inside the museum, Hundertwasser emerges as a colour-blind anti-Loos, touchingly, but manically, trying to put back all the curves and colours and decoration that the modernists took out of our lives, trying to undo what fin-de-siecle Viennese ornament-haters like Adolf Loos did. Some results look childlike and haunting, like work by a fairly loyal Paul Klee disciple - some just look deranged. His one-man mission to re-enchant urban life & architecture rather isolated Hundertwasser, though he was lucky to be working in the 1960s, when clashing colour was in again. As such, many of his artworks look like record sleeves from the LSD-obsessed rainbow era of 1965 to about 1975, only worse. Most of his pictures are, truth be told, hideously ugly, but it's hard not to admire his singleminded spirit. Amusingly, Hundertwasser went about putting playfulness, human mess and communal feelings back into art with the same Germanic thoroughness as the pure-white-box gang had taken them out. A lovely essay about postage stamps showed how his charm & sympathetic wit overcame his artistic shortcomings. This picture [rather small image] shows what happens when he got it right. As I get back home, I chance on Drew lugging a television set, as he and Izabella help Iren move house from next door. They pop into my flat [which once was Izabella's] for a seasonal moment of grappa & chocolate.
December 15th; Ding dong merrily on high: inexplicably I am getting into the Christmas spirit. Snow & sleet make a bit more of an effort today. A rather raw wind adds to the seasonal tone. The thinnest film of fresh snow on the roofs of parked cars is quickly marked by heart shapes as Hungarian children use their fingers to draw declarations of love for each other. Even the tumbling snowflakes on the lawyers' website are finally working properly.

December 14th; It snows for about five minutes. Drinks in town with Tim, Jim, Mr Saracco, & The Pixie. Mr Saracco's word for the evening is 'wank'.
December 13th; Mariann shows me a reliable shop for 2nd-hand washing machines, cookers & fridges. She is puzzled when I say we call them 'white goods'. Mulled wine with Marion. Dinner with Franc.

December 12th; Curry & grappa with Rob. Rob recounts how he met George Soros some months ago in a restaurant gents when they were both urinating. Gives good description of waves of charisma & power emanating from the man before he consciously recognised who he was talking to.
December 11th; Wake out of a detailed, vivid dream about a secret society in northern Italy continuing ancient ritual worship of a bull deity. This website is surely a hoax: submissivewife.org? Tea at Heikki's office. Chat by Skype with Bob in Philadelphia. Another chunk of Eckhart Tolle.

December 10th; I sleep an extraordinary 13 hours, and am half an hour late to re-record one sentence for the film dubbing. They are very kind about my lateness.
December 9th; Warmer foggy coolness on the Great Plain. Robin sees me off at Lakitelek railway station as darkness falls. We drink hot chocolate while waiting for my train. Changing trains at Kecskemet, I look at the magazine stand. At first, I think a strange paper Christmas gift has been slipped down the cellophane wrapper of a copy of FHM, disguised as a hand-cut Xmas-tree outline scribbled on in green felt-tip pen. Then I see that similar cut-out, green-felt-tipped Xmas trees are also slipped down the front covers of Playboy and CKM. It dawns on me that the paper trees are to preserve the modesty of Kecskemet from the curvaceous, scantily-clad girls on the covers. After the train journey to Budapest I go to visit Georgina's tenants near Blaha Lujza square. Here's Eckhart Tolle on life again.

December 8th; Visit the ritual tree decoration at the Community House in Tiszainoka. The lady mayor, dressed semi-smartly in black tracksuit trousers, a black duffle coat, and a black velvet cap, pops up stepladders with decorations handed up from children, while two workmen scale a more imposing metal extending ladder jutting from a small trailer at 45 degrees to place decorations higher up. A tall Santa with a golden crook hinting at Saint Nicholas' bishop origins stands around accompanied by his teenage devil-woman helper in her red plush horns. Misty, grey afternoon, with a blanket of cloud hanging only a few dozen feet about the village rooftops. By night, doze in front of a crackling log fire, play Kasper at chess, and read Robin's book 'Early Mesopotamia & Iran' by M.E.L. Mallowan. A slightly odd read, this book is rich with drawings and photographs of relics from cities like Uruk, Ur, Nippur, & Babylon: cities where it seems writing emerged around 3500 BC. The pictogram for 'copper' was two differently sized ingots. The one for 'slave-girl' was two triangles: pointing down meant woman, pointing up meant the mountains where girls were obtained. The book has some English words I had never seen, like faience or mouflon. Some impressive line drawings of early cities and temple complexes. Loveliest are the gorgeous images of animals in bas-relief with firm, sweeping curves and fantastical, exaggerated antlers. There were relief bricks and cylindrical stone seals for pressing or rolling designs into soft clay. Some crowded but ordered designs represent whole visions of society and the cosmos. The 10-foot-high damaged limestone stele from Ur Nammu with its princes, moon gods, and an ordinary-looking ladder linking two levels of heaven, is haunting. However, the book assumes a familiarity with archeological digs, hastily skims across evidence from different sites, and could have benefitted from more maps and timelines. I was disappointed that a tantalising reference to the "strange humour of the Sumerians" never gets followed up. The numbering of illustrations is a little hard to follow.
December 7th; Still on Great Plain at Robin's. Finish Terri's copy of 'Chasing Mammon' by Douglas Kennedy. This is a wonderful idea for a book - he travels round the world visiting different bourses, something I did a bit of myself, even around the same time as him, 1990 to 91, when I visited commodity exchanges in New York, Toronto, Paris, and Budapest to watch the floor-trading. Perhaps I should try researching a book like this? He frankly admits he doesn't really understand finance or economics, so concentrates on the human stories of traders he interviews. Some of these are very promising: Casablanca, Sydney, and Budapest have some convincing portraits of individuals who work on the markets, or did until they burned out. However, despite a few odd Britishisms he picked up living a decade in London, Kennedy belongs firmly to the American school of over-written smugness. "Did he ponder that less restrictive world while he counted the cracks in the paintwork above his bed and waited for the next Exocet of bile to hit the abdominal wall?" "Maybe my current state of stupefaction had something to do with the eight hours I'd spent on an aeroplane from Sydney the previous day - a stint of high-altitude incarceration which had left the inside of my skull feeling like a piece of Emmental cheese." No page of his writing gets away without at least one teetering stack of cliches. Added to this, he meets a lot of quite boring, predictable people, and then patronises them - second-guessing their spiritual lives, marriages, and relationships with their parents with the shallow confidence of the pompous hack. We rarely get to see anyone properly because Kennedy's own jack-in-the-box ego keeps getting in the way. In the Budapest chapter he repeatedly spells someone as 'Jansco' (the name is Jancso), and the Budapest square every time as 'Ocktagon', when it is spelled Oktogon - so this doesn't inspire much confidence in the rest of his research. It becomes clear he ran thin on material, couldn't do much editing, and included almost every interview, however brief. This might have been because most of his subjects seem to have found him even more boring than he found them. He innocently describes how desperate some of his interview subjects are to get away from him after half an hour of his company: he never works it out, of course. The most intriguing people in the book are those who don't fit his hackneyed image of the greedy bond trader heading for hell. The people who puzzle him a bit. A half-Chinese woman in London who grows rich selling astrological forecasts of financial markets. The Moroccan broker who prizes family values above life abroad. The elderly Hungarian broker who was the bourse's youngest trader when the communists closed it at the end of the 1940s and stoically waited four decades to return to the floor, as the oldest trader, when Budapest's market reopened at the end of the 1980s. Or the Socialist Party official who correctly predicts, to Kennedy's sneers of amusement in 1990, that the Socialists would be back in power in Hungary within a couple of years. The bland London broker who dresses in grey and deliberately avoids being top earner so as not to be noticed at redundancy time. These people sounded interesting - and made me wish they could have been interviewed by someone who knew a bit about financial markets, or could at least write.

December 6th; Wake in night, imagining more scenes from the non-existent, black-and-white 'Library of Demons' film. Sleep late, drink tea with Robin and look at Sotheby's catalogue of 20th-century Italian art. Southern Hungary looks cloudy and flat outdoors as an early dusk arrives. Then struggle with audio hardware, finally make it on time to the fourth & final Vitero Thursday training session using Robin's phone plugged into the USB port, eating a hot potato with butter & pepper that kind Robin gets out of the oven just before 4.30pm. Irmi, our bouncy German hostess & moderator, online from France, then takes the six of us through the last set of slides. We see and hear this in our eerie, airport-hotel-style virtual conference room. This is a central tabletop taking up most of the computer screen, with our passport photos or webcam images hovering over planview seats around the table edge, set against a kind of image of pine flooring. Knowing that software might come in handy.
December 5th; Finish British report for Heikki in morning. Drive out of town after lunch with Robin. We head into the countryside with the setting sun behind us making the car's shadow long down the road... I nod off for half an hour because of odd sleep last night. We reach his home as the sun just touches the horizon of the Great Plain, glowing red-orange like a spoonful of liquid metal.

December 4th; Robin & I have dinner with Terri & Alvaro. We see Terri's striking photographs before eating. Some intense hyper-chocolate (Lindt, with 99 per cent cocoa content) hits me like a black coffee at the end, and I start talking too much.
December 3rd; Cloudy day. Lots of rain. Go to Buda studio at midday to voice over a documentary film about otters (not weasels after all - disappointing) for Kalman & Zoltan. To evening exhibition opening with Robin & Istvan. We meet Csilla, Eszter, and Willi, a cheerful man from Stuttgart who makes sculptures from a kind of rusty metal he tells us is called Cor-Ten.

December 2nd; Watch more Eckhart Tolle explaining life. Then find out a little about belly-dancing from the internet: bored folk on sofa behind her cheer up in second clip.
December 1st; Herbal tea with John M. Finish Hungary report for Heikki. Curious list of British house prices. Online friend recommends lolcat Bible. Nigel of Light refers me to Unter Gunther, a group of Swiss/French urban activists who illegally break into protected monuments and secretly restore them. Meanwhile this man claims that beats-per-minute characterise pop songs as follows: "54-58-Melodrama / 59-62-Sincerity / 63-69-Ceremony / 70-76-Grace / 77-78-Bittersweetness / 79-84-Loneliness / 85-89-Renewal / 90-97-Enthusiasm / 98-105-Natural / 106-113-Lust / 114-118-Foreboding / 119-128-Victory". This history-of-law book looks good.

Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact@otherlanguages.org

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