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2010
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July 31st; British newspaper article about poo.

July 30th; Keen reader Josh inspired by my sunburnt-slots-in-envelopes post to send me pinhole photos of months & months of the sun crossing the sky. Two Economist articles on rich & poor. Seems rich folk really are meaner than poor folk and giving your possessions away to the destitute makes your life difficult.
July 29th; "Real bear rescues stuffed bear from humans."

July 28th; Small hours of the morning, listen to Melvyn Bragg's radio show, this time about Abelard & Heloise. Hadn't realised that Abelard was such a major logician, or that Heloise knew Greek & Hebrew much better than him. This morning I woke out of a dream where I am chatting in a library with a charming grey-haired woman who is a historian of 14th and 15th century Paris. Yesterday I woke out of a dream where I was at a congress of cartoonists somewhere. A few days ago, I woke out of a wonderfully detailed dream about clans, gangs, heraldry, and families through history. Curious.
July 27th; Much cooler, damper weather. Not like last week when I sat in on a meeting about this digital artist's website, got home, then collapsed. Today, in the sauna, chat with two women about suntans. One woman compliments the other on her beautiful tan {the younger blonde's smooth skin is a soft creamy coffee colour} and they agree on the obvious point that solarium tans differ visibly from natural tans, but the blonde then suggests an interesting extra distinction: freshwater and saltwater tans. She says her tone comes from tanning at Lake Balaton. I ask her if it might also be the quality of the light reflected off fresh versus salt water, not just the salt or lack of salt on the skin, but she has no theory of why the tans differ. She just sees they do.

July 26th; A friend in a reading group contributes to this legal weblog.
July 25th; Anonymous Slav meets me on way to airport to hand over keys. Fascinating article about "caring professions" and {says the author} the end of friendship & love, at least in American culture.

July 24th; Much cooler this morning - which is odd, since my three thermometers say it is still 82 Farenheit. I only needed the electric fan for 15 minutes last night, but I have it in reserve for when serious heat returns. In case Gentle Reader is wondering why it took me this long to buy one, I should say I never found heat difficult to take before. I also got extremely ill in the summer of 2001 from a panning fan in an office repeatedly chilling the sweat on my neck, so have been rather wary of mechanical cooling devices since.
A nice summary of mass extinctions found by Zdravko, though I wish they had kept the first two billion years to scale, squashing all complex life into the rightmost fifth of the graphic, where it belongs. I love the 'Oxygen Apocalypse'.
July 23rd; The heat continues. Last night I was unable to make it to three appointments, and just lay on the sofa under a single sheet, wheezing like a walrus. The calcium pills seem to be slowly taking the heat rash off my arms, but the curtains have been shut for three days now. All air seems to have the texture of warm meat. In the afternoon, I pass out for about an hour before going to see Regina about page design. The curtains are perhaps eight inches short of the floor, so even with them closed, a horizontal band of daylight of such harsh brightness comes into my room that it's as if my entire balcony is being arc-welded. Locals outside have the kind of witless street quarrel they do sometimes round here, grunting voices bouncing off the buildings and coming through my wide-open balcony door draped in closed curtain. One of them is banging a car bonnet for emphasis, and as I slide into sleep {more like being anaesthetised than dozing off} their noises sound increasingly animal-like. Even with the curtains shut, behind my eyelids I can tell when a small cloud slides across the sun, and as the brightness across the floor gets powerfully bright again, I can see with eyes shut a shimmering sheet of beaten gold. I start imagining that a cosmic gourmet has me paralysed but still juicy in my dark little flat while he heats up a pan outdoors to fry me in liquid sunshine; "sealing in the goodness", he might say. I wake exactly on time after one hour of this feverish, delirious sleep and get to Regina's air-conditioned office somehow. We do some work on the book, and she advises me to buy a fan. Later I wander stupidly round Tesco and purchase an electric twirly thing and somehow get it home and assemble it. It's actually quite well-designed, and I don't need to refer to the instructions in Polish, Hungarian, Czech, or Slovak, to put it together and switch it on in about ten minutes.
Mustn't grumble - weather promises to cool a little, the plump pharmacist lady was right to prescribe me calcium pills, and djuice/Pannon apologised some days back by giving me five complimentary gigabytes. I got called over a week ago by the curvy blonde Evi, who tries to switch into Hungarian with me {despite my policy of speaking only English when I am the Righteous Customer}, and is wonderfully giggly & girly. As so often, this stereotype of the cuddly dizzy blonde appears to understand the price packages and the software better than anyone else at the djuice showroom {she used to work at the Mammut mall when Mariannpsy went with me to open an account}. The other staff keep having to call her up for help if she's not there, and I can't be sure, but I get the strong impression that she's the manageress. See her there two days ago to be placated with my customer gift. She is wearing something so far off one shoulder it actually restricts her moving her arms around. Sometimes she sticks her tongue out with concentration as she {correctly} punches keys and shows the others what to do on the computer system.
Seemingly the only version of 'Disk Warrior' by the Raiders I can find not remixed by the Nasty Boyz is this one accompanying a heatstruck-looking beach-themed fashion show in Brazil. One tanned mannequin jumps out - she's unable to keep the cat-got-the-cream grin off her face. It's no surprise when at the end where all the girls are applauding the swimwear designer, she reaches out a long supple arm, yanks the designer over and gives him a rather confident, dominant kiss on his neck. I can't be entirely sure, but I seem to see a quick cascade of reactions flicker across his face as she does this, going through initial shock, an instinct to pull away he represses an instant later, eyebrows twitching in a isn't-this-a-bit-public-sweetie? way, and a decision to stay cool and whisper a quick warning in her ear as if nothing has happened. In case any doubt is left which mannequin is riding the designer, she then blows kisses at the audience afterwards as if she's the hostess of the whole event. Perhaps I'm seeing things which aren't there.

July 22nd; Adorable little metallic hedgehog photo via Nicolas: it's a cheese grater!
July 21st; Finally, an aerobics class led by the notorious Trixi. She's not at all how I expected. Far from being the sadistic elf made of steel cable I imagined, she is a broad-shouldered, cheerful, tanned lass carrying a few extra pounds round the middle. The session was certainly very rigorous, but Trixi's essentially just a big, strong girl who can go for miles. No wonder the taut little dainty ones hate her and fear her. A film actor called Mel Gibson has been taped saying rude things on the telephone, and the United States is strangely shocked. Those of us who thought that aggressive vulgarity was actually required before an American was allowed to become famous might be puzzled, but here is a gently-modified trailer for one of Mr Gibson's old films, overlaid with some of his special thoughts. Serves him right for making an anti-British propaganda film like 'Braveheart', as if there weren't enough lies about our history already.

July 20th; Strange rash up my arms. The heat? No itching, but looks a bit alarming.
July 19th; Virginia at DeepGlamour says that George Hurrell is the photographer who took pictures of film actresses like this, and Julius Shulman is the photographer who took pictures of modern architecture like this.

July 18th; Song found by Jessica: a nice reworking.
July 17th; Alarming little debt map. Yes, Britain is red.

July 16th; Finish off the shortened-length-version Karinthy work. Getting a sense of the aerobics instructors and their styles. Zsuzsa is young & perky, with a steely edge to her routines. Kinga is pretty, supple, fleet of foot, and enjoys us not quite being able to keep up with her. Anita seems older, calmer, and steadier, though still rigorous. Only the dreaded Trixi, tomorrow, remains untried. The girls at the desk told me clearly that Trixi is the most severe & demanding, at least in the step aerobics sessions. I have been warned.
July 15th; I proofread a translation of turn-of-the-century novelist Frigyes Karinthy; so says this page he originated the "six degrees of separation" concept. Not sure I believe that, but some clever readable prose about i) being operated on for a brain tumour, and ii) being a schoolboy again.

July 14th; Rather wearying heat continues. Above 85 Farenheit indoors, day & night.
July 13th; 1st morning lesson with Qazaq teacher goes well. She explains that 'father', 'to bring', 'mother' and 'to take' are ake, akelu, ana, alu and she giggles when I flippantly speculate that this suggests the root of 'father' is 'bringer', and the root of 'mother' is 'taker'. The sounds of the letters are pleasingly soft on the ear. In the afternoon, I position a magnifying glass in a cup of water so that it focuses a spot of sun on a letter from my bank, at the same time as putting a thermometer out there. Am a little alarmed I might melt the thermometer case, made of plastic. In the sun, the red fluid goes straight up to 118 Farenheit in about fifteen seconds, and perhaps only fails to go further because of the pressure of gas inside the last bit of glass tube, so I bring it back in. Meanwhile, between 4pm and 5pm, the magnifying glass burns a grey slot in the bank-letter envelope exactly an inch and a half long and two sheets of paper deep with some pinholes in the third layer. In the early evening, I go to another aerobics class. Our instructor, Zsuzsa, is particularly adept at getting us to do small repetitive movements with one arm or leg until the whole body part is locked into muscle cramp. In the sauna afterwards a slim blonde chats in a soft, quiet voice with a solidly built man with dark hair. I have this absurdly vivid conviction that he is married, but not to her. As I step out of the shower, she is murmuring to him and coaxingly stroking the back of his neck down just between his shoulder blades with one hand. None of my business in any case. In the heat at night, I have unpleasant dreams where I visualise lots of burnt lines in paper, laid out like teeth of a comb, tracking the movement of the sun on different days of the summer as the earth revolves minute by minute and orbits the sun day by day. The core of these slightly delirious dreams is wondering if the burnt strips can be visualised as part of a helix {joining up with the paths they can be imagined to trace out at night} and if so, how big the loops of the spring would be.

July 12th; It's so warm here in Budapest that I buy three cheapo thermometers at a bargain shop. All three of them claim it is between 82 and 84 degrees Farenheit day and night, so I pop one in the fridge and it goes down to freezing, suggesting they are working after all. I go to the Toastmasters meeting and pay homage in my 7-minute talk to schoolteacher Reverend Berry's knowledge of the Indian subcontinent. In particular the way he told me when I stopped him in a queue for lunch in the late 70s and asked him about Indira Gandhi's arrest for corruption that "India cannot do without her - she'll be back in power within three years" and how when our class challenged him to say in the first week of January 1980 how Afghanistan would go, he confidently stated "the Afghans will defeat the Soviet Union and it will take them ten years to do it, the same length of time it took them to defeat us."
July 11th; In a way which is a bit hard to explain, the rust stripe around my pine tabletop while I was away seems to have blurred in the same heat that killed my herbs. When I got back some days ago, I could see on the table how the sweat from my forearm {mainly the right forearm} over weeks in April & May had bleached a sort of halo into the rust stripe at each end. Though.... I don't know how I didn't notice that before, unless the sweat took time to seep through the sun-baked table and react with the rust, so the sweat-bleaching in that case took effect while I was in England. In other places, rust brown seems to have bled out into the wax-soaked pale areas like ink seeping across a very slow kind of blotting paper. I bought & sliced a lemon yesterday and repaired the sharpness of the rust stripe edge in places.
The obvious painter to go with composer J o h n Tavener {The mid-name r must have been put down to avoid confusion with 'John Taverner', presumably} surely has to be C e c i l Collins? Both rather lonely-sounding, deliberately-naive English Christian mystics, both very elegaic. Lots of angels.

July 10th; I probably ought to print out Primavera on foamboard.
July 9th; I'm relaxing late around 1am, enjoying some talks on pecha-kucha when TV Eszter phones me up, as far as I can make out to reproach me for not being disappointed enough about her cancelling our teahouse meeting at 1 this afternoon.

July 8th; Seems that Snoop Dogg tried to rent Liechtenstein. Ah, what a lad.
July 7th; djuice/Pannon up to its old thieving tricks again.

July 6th; In the morning, Szilvi comes to pick up some boat bits for Martin, so she can take them to him in Sardinia in a few days. In the mid-afternoon, Dorina appears in cool turquoise & crisp white to take me to a restful studenty bar run by barefoot Russians one tramstop away from my flat.
July 5th; Very hot and sunny here in Pest. All my herbs on the balcony fried up while I was away, even in their translucent water bath. At an Indian restaurant I finish '50 Mots Clefs d'Esoterisme' by Michel Mirabail, a book Mateus approved of me buying in Paris two summers ago. Although the book is nominally fifty short essays in alphabetical order, it quietly builds up to a subdued climax with the final three sections {modishly given in lower case in this 1970s edition}, tarot; telesme {the crucial term in Hermetic alchemy}; tradition. Some rather wonderful black-and-white line diagrams, and the usual French academic air of coolness & calm.

July 4th; After the gym I pass, on the other side of the street, a small family group. The man is carrying a seven-foot model tree, its bark painted in red & black stripes for realism, along with blue foliage. Yesterday had an oddly gentle, weightless mood turning into sweet, sharp dreams.
July 3rd; Before leaving for the airport, make it a few streets away for a couple of pints of wonderfully cold stout with Ursula & Phil. This is in a pub which has been open 175 years but is now going to become part of a luxury housing block. Fly to Budapest, meeting delightful, sweet-natured people on the plane and on the late-night bus into town afterwards.

July 2nd; Meet Peter the Pianist, an old acquaintance of Marion & Paul, at Guildhall. He kindly gives me half an hour of his time, and we briefly chat about music, changing fashions, and languages - out beside a sunlit oblong pond full of reeds facing what is apparently the City of London School for Girls. Later in the day go with Mystery Friend 2 & Exotic Girl 1 to see a Romanian film at a cinema on Curzon street as part of a Romanian film festival. This film, 'Police, Adjective', hard to do justice to in print, is about the painstaking investigation by a detective in a small town of a couple of teenage boys who smoke hashish. The deadpan humour slowly builds up until the painfully funny scene near the end. As a man interviewing the director, Corneliu Porumboiu, on stage afterwards observes, he deliberately breaks several golden rules of cinema, such as "show, don't tell". Like a sarcastic Tarkovsky, revelling in the sweet dullness of Eastern Bloc life.
July 1st; Quiet day getting stuff done, including shopping for ingredients with Exotic Girl 1. She makes the birthday cake for Mystery Friend 2, while I put the Hungarian lettering on it. While we check out of the Sainsbury's, Exotic Girl {like Nigel of Darkness yesterday} insists we use the automated till where we swipe our own bar codes. At one point, the woman's voice coming out of the machine suddenly assures us that "Help is on the way" with just the right intonation. I look around, and a man at the next check-out grins at me. I assume he remembers the 70s film 'THX1138' {the film's two catch phrases are "What's wrong?" and "Help is on the way!"} but no-one else in the hypermegasupermarket obviously does. Another programmer's joke? In evening drinks, a lawyer friend claims she has an obsessive-compulsive secretary who is incredibly meticulous, but has a morbid fear of anything granular {apparently it took her 20 minutes to psych herself up to cross a sandy track in Hyde Park, and found a sugar-coated doughnut on her desk a vision of pure horror}, and more intriguing still, has an equally intense phobia about anything to do with the Tudors. A bit hard to believe, really. Must investigate.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / markgriffith at yahoo.com

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