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2009
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May 31st; John & I see a film: 'State of Play' at the shopping centre. The characters are 2-dimensional, {a foul-mouthed posh British newspaper editrix seems to be the latest American movie cliche} but the plotting is reasonably convincing. There are some surprises and tension in a couple of places.

May 30th; Visual g o r g e o u s n e s s at ffffound.com still. Latest seeds camomile & chrysanthemum.
May 29th; Out clubbing with John's friends, including Gareth, Anthony, Craig, & Ken.

May 28th; Pick John up from airport, briefly meet his friends. Spending more time on f f f f o u n d.
May 27th; Long, cloudy day. The puppies follow me around like ducklings, curious what interesting games we might play. Robin gives me an excellent low, flat fired brick for heating things up on. The Great Plain cools off and plump, rippling rain clouds carpet the sky from horizon to horizon. Robin drives Zeno & me into Budapest after dark, cool breeze blowing through the open windows into the still hot car, Zeno smoking his pipe quietly in the back seat, scattered rain drops plopping into the windscreen. Recall one friend telling me in the last few weeks that "women are like weeds - they'll grow wherever you let them - through any crack in the pavement if you don't prune them or pull them up." Hmm.
Photographer Poppy de Villeneuve says that "you can work out who you are in NYC.".

May 26th; Wake late. Zeno tells me about the forest of saplings and I set off to see the seamstress in the next village. Selecting from one of Robin's range of bicycles I choose one with no gears, no brakes, but good tyres, while the puppies, still delightfully puppy-like a month on, patter out from the shade under a pile of logs to watch me test the bike. Making small squeaking sounds, they crowd round my feet, bottoms wiggling with curiosity. Under quite a hot sun, I cycle to Tiszakurt, find the seamstress, pay for my green cords, and give her some new work. As I get back into Tiszainoka a bit over an hour later I find the first shop [there are three] has a delivery truck outside. The woman who owns the shop is just finishing with the delivery driver. As it is hot in the sun while I am tired & sweaty, I politely ask if I can go into her shop for some shade [I should have just walked in]. She shakes her head and says no, quite matter-of-factly. I stand in the heat another minute, then when she's ready she lets me in. I look round, decide not to buy anything, go back out into the sun and walk on with the brakeless bike. Just how bright do you need to be to realise how not to treat a customer? Is it really so mysterious for her? The village bar with brown-and-cream rubber strips covering the walls is also empty, but the woman there takes a different view. She says hello, tells the person on the phone to wait, and cheerfully gets me two cold drinks. Back at Robin's, he & Zeno are off somewhere buying bricks. I do some editing, then doze through a hot afternoon, feeling both a bit feeble yet also oddly empowered.
May 25th; Finally myself, as it were. Move the herb garden to a shadier part of the main room in preparation for a couple of days at Robin's. Buy more gigabytes for laptop, catch train. On the tram to the train at half past 5 in the afternoon, the streets still oven warm, and I look at my phone. 2 messages on my phone reveal that I completely forgot a work appointment at noon today. Oh Lord. Once out on the Great Plain, I give the 1st pair of silver ear studs to Georgina, then Robin, Zeno, & I retire to the kitchen for a candlelit dinner. Eerily quiet out here. Once darkness falls, you can hear mobile-phone buttons or cash-dispenser keyboards beeping at fifty yards.

May 24th; Adjusting to heat, seemingly. I usually adore it - perhaps because it came late this year, and suddenly. Sleeping a lot. Vivid dreams.
May 23rd; Still feel a bit peculiar from yesterday. Mild heat stroke? In the cool of the small hours I do some new graphics for a game of 'Concentration' I find the Javascript code for online, turning it into a vocabulary game.

May 22nd; Wake up at 2am, and start on craft stuff. Round dawn have a near miss heating up an ear-ring with the blow torch. A loud bang. I cannot see where the metal star {which was hot enough to be glowing yellow} jumped when the dried-clay block under it exploded. I imagine it 1. down my shirt about to brand my skin any second now, or 2. sizzling quietly somewhere in my room fallen to the bottom of a box waiting hours to start a plastics fire while I'm out of the flat. Luckily, I find it doing neither. I shall be using a brick to heat things up on in future, silly me. Very hot day. Hungarians are using that word 'kanikula' that Austrians use. Someone told me once it comes from the Latin phrase for bakingly hot summer's days that gets anglicised as "dog days". Does it? Says here yes - from an era, the ancient world, when Sirius the Dog Star rose at sunrise in July & August, so an astronomically outdated expression for high summer. In the morning pick up bigger terracotta pots from gardening shop for pumpkin & cornflower seedlings, and fetch rose-cross photo print from the digital printers. Lunch with Martin. Just before we choose our table, I bump into Imola {Martin likes her restaurant} looking a bit subdued, then we tell the waitress what a shandy is, chat about adverts a bit, and finally Martin starts on electronics.
May 21st; Afternoon drink with Mystery Friend 2, back from exotic travels. He is slightly bemused by my proud talk of herb garden & bookcase-building experiments.

May 20th; The strudels {why am I surprised?} will not accept the A4 piece of paper they gave me in December as proof I bought a new Apple hard drive off them {though, since I reported the original hard drive going wrong first in July while still under guarantee they should really have given, not sold, me a new one}. It says in big red letters in the centre of the page 'PAID', and lists the price, model number, my name, and the date. No, says Balazs the maintenance strudel, that is only the "work sheet". I must give them the cash-register receipt, the small 2-square-inch piece of paper that came out of their till when I paid. Otherwise, no valid guarantee on the 2nd hard drive that they sold me, even though they should have given it to me. Really, you have to admire the stubbornness of these people in the the face of their own stupidity. I spend an hour registering online with websites like Apple Quality Complaints, Ripoff Report, Consumer Affairs, & Apple Insider. Round off by expanding my Twitter lists to include a few self-styled Apple gurus who might appreciate tips about how some iStyle Hungary staff make extra cash on the side.
May 19th; Tea at home with the Roffers. One astutely remarks "You're one of those guys who never left college, aren't you?" Fair point. I am, really.

May 18th; 2 Roffers reach town, on their romantic train ride to The East.
May 17th; After an afternoon doze yesterday I'm up all night getting a great deal done. Trying to sleep between 6am and 7am unsuccessful so I get up and finish off this stage of the silver work instead. Working with silver clay has some of that drug-movie dynamic as you crawl around on the floor trying to save every little fragment of the expensive pale-brown putty-like substance. It dries fast too, as a couple of websites warned me. Keeping it with something wet in the fridge 3 days since unsealing didn't stop it getting very crumbly by today. Moral: use all the next batch within an hour of unwrapping. Out in already hot sunshine at 10am to get cash from the cash machine and for a few seconds I'm walking behind a slim Gypsy man in his 20s, about 5'4" or 5'5" in height. Tempting to use a police term like 'young male'. He is built like a flyweight boxer, walking quietly, quickly, and with a very slight swagger - in a brown sweatshirt top covered in alchemical symbols printed in gold. Not just a few in a repeating design of six or ten symbols, but in half a block's walk I see at least 20 or 30 different symbols: moon, phosphorus, Jupiter, arsenic, sun, tin, woman, iron, Scorpio, potassium. Each about 2 inches high, they're spaced out in regular polka-dot formation across the fabric. The sweatshirt hood, though down to reveal slicked black hair in a crew cut, adds to the wizard mood. Still feel alert at 11.30am, when I meet Eva at a cafe on the leafy street that meets the City Park. Sleep in afternoon - now to finish reading the 71-page .pdf tutorial on gluing techniques the Nigel of Darkness sent me.

May 16th; Starting to feel tenderly protective of my little herb garden - nine tiny terracotta pots and saucers arranged in a row just inside the French window door onto the balcony. I now realise that the outside of each pot feels different if the soil is dry or wet. If there is enough water the terracotta is cool and slightly tacky to the touch. The pumpkin seeds have grown almost comically fast. One bud on a tall stalk still has its half-open seedcase wedged on top of the top leaf, carried five inches vertically out of the soil it was buried in 3 or 4 days ago. It's as if a complete bishop had burst downwards out of his own mitre, body and legs growing out of the bottom of an enlarging head. I plant some more seeds, and now there are 15 pots of soil & seeds, 5 of which are showing green shoots.
Tunes from Justice, rather rockist for a French Christian synth duo, even when sounding like MGMT. Forgive them their pompous graphic, they know not what they do: 1 2 3 4 5. For those who must have moving pictures, 2nd & 3rd clip to Phantom Pt 2 - a worship-raw-power video and a something-nasty-in-the-cafeteria video. Tad Triumph-of-the-Will in places, but some good bass lines. Doubtless under the influence of this stuff, up all night finishing rosy-cross clip-art project.
May 15th; Pathetically proud of the two favicons I made a couple of days ago, I find they sometimes don't show. Perhaps filtered out by the Vodafone wireless dongle? Finally, I buy some transparent 20mm board from the plastic-roofing firm out past Sashalom. Give up on trying to finesse direction of air channels for different pieces in my cutting diagram and wait quite a long time as they slice it up for me.

May 14th; More work in silver, more work on book.
May 13th; Three pointless trips to three different self-important specialist wholesalers all in one day. I'm getting to know how public transport works out in the 20th district though, so that's all right. At one point, I'm on a tram and I make the mistake of checking the name of the terminus with another passenger, a parcel-shaped man in a dark-grey suit bearing an uncanny resemblance to a giant basset hound. He turns out to be a lonely Transylvanian architect who has lived more than half his life in Hungary, is very much into striking up conversations on trams, is sure he knows where I and he must get off, and won't shut up. I keep trying to check the names of tramstops on the placard next to his seat while he tells me there is no problem and Amsterdam Ajax is a great team. I suggest several times that we have gone past the terminus on a big loop while he insists we have not reached it yet. What a surprise: he is wrong and I am right. I walk back down the tram track rather crossly not even saying goodbye to the basset hound, who is earnestly asking directions to the tramstop for the reverse direction {of course on a different street}, and I spend the next 20 minutes walking back to where I originally wanted to get off. A few large drops of summery rain fall on me, but no shower arrives. On this walk, I pass a building so curious, I have to cross the road to look at it. On the southernmost corner of Jokai Mor street and Ilona street, the facade of a one-storey building on Jokai Mor has some strange grey pillars in bas relief that look strangely Aztec, like squared-off human figures holding up the roof. The flat stone or plaster pillars are only two inches proud of the render at most, and as I go close and see how much of it has crumbled away, I realise it is all polystyrene, painted a quite convincing dull grey, glued to the flat surface of the cottage, and very persuasive because battered & aged. Most odd. About an hour and a half later, in the leafier area of the 16th district, I see a boy of about fifteen in a black tee-shirt and black shorts on the rather suburban Erkel street practising on a matt black Segway. He silently rolls the stand-up scooter thing around, doing three-point turns, and slow figures of eight under the trees in the middle of his empty road.

May 12th; Lunch with Martin. Evening lesson with Olga. Take my Apple Mac in to see the strudels, now that the second hard drive is dying and the keyboard gives me electric shocks. Ever since I shouted at him in the autumn, the maintenance strudel has looked at me like a loyal dog I once kicked who still loves me and is still prepared to forgive me.
May 11th; Hot sticky bus journey out to meet the transparent plastic people, who decide to go home half an hour early, ten minutes before I find their address. Drink in evening with Agnes. Use blowtorch on first run of earrings. Partial success.

May 10th; Swim & sunbathe at pool on island with Magdolna.
May 9th; 3rd established author joins book.

May 8th; 2nd established author joins book.
May 7th; 1st established author joins book.

May 6th; Martin lends me a blowtorch. At lunch we discuss sailing, Sartre, & 'She Came to Stay'.
May 5th; In morning finish Jeremy 2's copy of the 1916 novel 'Greenmantle' by what some critics point out was not such a jingoistic John Buchan as we remember. This strikes me too. Buchan repeatedly refers to enemies with respect, occasionally even admiration. In one oddly convincing moment the hero is disguised as a German official and, having forgotten his own real identity to an extent, becomes indignant at the attempt of a Turk to involve him in a crooked deal. This is though England's enemy Germany would be the one losing the funds. He actually gets himself into trouble by refusing to connive in the mishandling of German munitions. Behind Buchan's dated slang, the caricatures are actually quite fair-minded. He often says things like "I must say I took a fancy to the Turkish fighting man : I remembered the testimonial our fellows gave him as a clean fighter, and I felt very bitter that Germany should have lugged him into this dirty business." Yet, far from depicting the Teutons in their turn as thoroughly evil, his arch-enemy, Stumm, is 'impressive', and Hannay, the hero, praises Stumm's unabashedly patriotic belief in the greatness of Germany. Perhaps the most curious aspect of the book is the awkwardness Hannay admits to feeling with women {as against the way he comments on his male friends' lean physiques, soft eyes, and open faces in a way that for modern readers verges on the homoerotic}. A villainous woman is referred to with awe as demonically powerful, attractive, and brilliant. When he finally meets this terrifying femme fatale, he's taken by surprise and must accept a lift in her limousine to her house. "Women had never come much my way, and I knew about as much of their ways as I knew about the Chinese language. All my life I had lived with men only, and rather a rough crowd at that. .... I had never been in a motor car with a lady before, and I felt like a fish on a dry sandbank. The soft cushions and the subtle scents filled me with acute uneasiness. .... This slim woman, poised exquisitely like some statue between the pillared lights, with her fair cloud of hair, and her pale bright eyes, had the glamour of a wild dream. I hated her instinctively, hated her intensely, but I longed to arouse her interest." Fascinating as a sample of its time, and for surprisingly acute insights into Islam, Germany, and, through the American character, the United States. More than that, we're now in another world crisis where one or two semi-mythical prophet characters - like the mysterious 'Greenmantle' - have been reviving militant Islam. Buchan's broad-brushstroke generalisations about national character and culture now look more perceptive and less comical than they did for most of the 90 years between then and now.
Sunny afternoon. Trek out to the 20th district see these people, who prove to be complete dolts. I phone ahead, then get there at 3pm {closing hour 4pm} to find the front door of their house locked. I buzz, and am reluctantly allowed into a dusty front room with tired-looking 1970s sofas, frilly 1950s net curtains halfway down the windows {it's a corner house facing onto two pavements - why not curtain the whole of each window?}, scraps of samples scattered over furniture and floor, and a general air of tragic failure. A girl with quite an attractive body lets me in, glaring. Her face wears an expression of Neanderthal suspicion. She is being bothered in her cave yet again by an interfering customer. I ask about transparent sheeting, she shows me one. I ask about sheeting that is transparent & blue and she shows me the blue opaque sheeting, almost immediately seething with rage that yet another person has to ask her a hard question. Why can't I just give her my money and bugger off? Why must her life always be so d-i-f-f-i-c-u-l-t? I say I am hoping to find sheeting that is both transparent & blue, and she angrily points to the opaque blue and the colourless transparent in rapid succession, her mouth actually hanging open at this point, her bovine face twisted with pain at my sheer unreasonableness. I ask if the transparent sheet comes any thicker? She mutters that this is number 6, and they have number 8. Unable to bear me any longer she lopes out of the sun-drenched room, still filled with the spirit of some old person now dead. A small, youngish, pear-shaped man appears bearing a swatch of plastic films, proffering the number 8. He repeats they have nothing that is see-through and blue, and does not suggest they could try to get any for me. I ask what glues stick this stuff together, and the two of them laugh bitterly at my stupidity, explaining that only a plastic welding machine can bond sheets of this material together. I ask about the price of the tools for doing that, and he gloats triumphantly as he tells me the equipment costs hundreds of thousands of euros. Idiot customer may leave now.

May 4th; Meet Mary for cappuccino, chat about editing, literacy, & children. Finish 'Alchemy & Alchemists' by Sean Martin, a snappy little history of the subject and some of the colourful characters drawn to it. Includes a mention of Ibn al Haytam, the first writer to describe the camera obscura, and speculates that he and - much later - da Vinci made early photographs fixed with egg whites. Martin repeats the interesting suggestion that the Turin Shroud is an egg-fixed photographic image made by da Vinci. Nice account of Nicholas Flamel and his wife, adding that they were "reported to have been seen" at the Paris Opera in 1761, supposedly aged around 400 at that point, having completed the Great Work at "around noon on Friday 17th January, 1382". How do you recognise someone like that? «I've just seen a couple who look the spitting image of a 350-year-old engraving I once glanced at in a book of made-up stuff» ? Yep, must be them.
May 3rd; Swim & sunbathe at pool on island with Magdolna.

May 2nd; Where am I going to borrow a blow torch from? The cutely named Hess is More with 'Yes Boss'. Germanic? Involves model trains.
May 1st; Two bits of music with videos 40 years apart, both in monochrome or almost, both by geezers on the up, and both using the slightly macabre trick of wall-mounting girls' heads like hunting trophies: The Animals; The Audio Bullies.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / markgriffith at yahoo.com

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