Monday. Dark, cloudy rain. Odd that I woke out of a dream about Asquith Saturday a.m., though can't recall anything about it.
Sunday. Thick heat at Robin's in countryside. Does education actually help the economy? Increasingly, the evidence says no.
Saturday. 'All My Brothers Are Clean', claims Billy Jones.
The website starting to look right for the #crowdfunding launch (as they say in Tweeter Town) any day now.
Friday. 2 cold baths today. Hot sun pours into the Budapest flat, sometimes muffled by pesky clouds, but at just a certain moment in the late afternoon the light is bright & crisp enough for the crucial tabletop photo to catch before the weekend starts. And then to the train station for the last connection to Lakitelek. In the reopened bar at Kecskemet station I meet a man drinking a beer. He is thrilled to switch out of Hungarian and demonstrate his English with me. His small boy, zooming a remote-controlled car the size of large pack of coffee this and that way across the floor, alternately banging into my chair or his father's feet, keeps reminding papa they will be late if they don't leave now. All the way down on both trains through the countryside of yellow fields and shaggy green trees I read Esoteric Veronica's Ken Wilber book. Robin meets me as dusk falls and we share a pizza at Lakitelek.
Thursday. Esoteric Veronica back from travel. This man for health reasons decides to work, type, read, travel, and eat standing up for one month. His children mock him. Seems recent research shows the simple act of sitting down too long each day is unhealthy, even if you exercise vigorously.
Wednesday. From around the world, some stories. Our sweetly nostalgic man in Bucharest says
why he likes it there, and relates his trip to Ethiopia & Zanzibar
also here. He even shares a lovely set of pictures
about Jayne Mansfield's 1964 joke bid for the White House.
Meanwhile an earnest but important
article on Chinese growth and how it's all going Pete Tong. This is followed by a heartening & inspiring tale of a man who burned his 2 passports in front of friends yet seems to be successfully walking to Africa without any papers. ["Walking out of Africa with no papers will be the hard part" I hear some of you cynics muttering.]
Tuesday. Back at the laser cutters.
Monday. More preparation for the
Sunday. Only second time in
Duna Plaza shopping mall for many years.
Longest day. Visit shop full of beads opposite
Hungary's version of the V & A.
Friday. Visit laser-cutting business up near Ujpest, twice. It's with a group of other firms inside what seems to be the old vicarage next to a large church. The vicarage continues to use part of the building, proudly hanging giant Hungarian and Vatican flags at the front.
Thursday. Hot sun. More cold baths. It seems there are now regular academic conferences about TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Wednesday. Meet new student Gabor in the shopping plaza. Mysterious prediction from Esoteric Veronica. A central plot on the ground floor has been given over for a week now to a stand packed with hanging displays of rubber beach sandals: flip-flops. Each time I walk past I have to go through a strong plume of that plastic aroma (polyurethane? PVC?). It reminds me of beach and poolside inflateables like blow-up lilos and other floating things with "This is not a life-saving device" written on the side. Neighbouring office building still has black crosses of tape in the ground-floor glass panels and men with safety helmets scratching themselves. Another thing which would be nice for the purchasing managers and/or wholesalers serving large supermarket chains in Hungary to learn - apart from mastering stock-reorder levels - would be the following refinement. Suppose you're a large supermarket (let's say purely at random,
CBA inside Corvin Plaza) and let's imagine you stock in some product in three flavours (for example, a brand of cheese that is plain, or with added paprika, or with added chives), and one flavour (for example, the plain version) runs out a week before the other two run out, and this happens every single month for five years. This is a sign! The sign is not for you to wait each month until all three flavours have run out, forcing those tiresome customers to bloody buy your other flavours before reordering the same quantities. It means that you (either the shop or the brand buying the shelfspace - one of the two of you) can r-e-s-p-o-n-d and a-d-a-p-t. You can reorder or resupply more of the flavour that runs out sooner, and less of the other flavours. Tricky concepts of course, but I'm sure all those clever Hungarians with good secondary-school maths and business-management degrees can get the hang of this sooner or later.
Tuesday. Finished what might have been Robin's mother's copy of a 1959 novel called 'Man of Montmartre', looking handsomely booklike with its pale turquoise clothbound hard cover, sun-yellowed spine and gilt lettering. By Stephen and Ethel Longstreet, this is a novel based on the life of Maurice Utrillo. The boy, born to a Bohemian model-turned-painter called Suzanne who is accepted by the great painters of the 1880s (Degas, Renoir, the elderly Lautrec et al) as an equal, himself becomes a painter - but not before becoming dangerously addicted to alcohol in his early teens. His mother actually pushes Utrillo to become a painter as a way to deal with his rages, alcoholism, and delinquency. Indeed, Utrillo is probably a child the mother had by one of the older generation of artists like Degas or Renoir she was modelling for. Though written not quite with full characters, we do get the feeling of moving through different lives as Post-Impressionists give way to Fauvists and the poised Pablo, then Dada, the various trends and rising or falling careers pass like springs and autumns. Utrillo moves between asylums, Paris studios, and the chateau his mother's marriage and business partnership to one of his friends enables them to buy. That Utrillo is overly attached to his pretty, party-throwing mother all his life is delicately but clearly sketched in. The deprivations of the Great War are replaced by the hectic prosperity of the 1920s. The main mood is sad, but one great accomplishment is we never find ourselves being nudged about what is about to happen next. The feeling of living in France through those decades as they might have felt at the time moving forward is nicely given, not as we feel they might have been looking back. Some, but not too much, descriptive prose suggests how a painter looks at colours and the world. In one scene, Maurice looks out of one of his early windows when young in around 1900 and there is still a vineyard visible from a studio in Montmartre. An odd sense of "you had to be there at the time" hangs over this account of a wild half-century when anyone with paints, some ability, and a new idea could create themselves fame and the right to be listened to if they got themselves to the right lowlife streets in Paris to join the artistic underground. Like a long-delayed after-tremor of the 1790s, it was another period and place when anything seemed within reach. I was vaguely reminded of how some people of a certain age today talk about districts like Chelsea in London or Haight Ashbury in San Francisco for a few thrilling years in the 1960s and 70s when - for a much briefer time - the same limitless possibilities seemed there for anyone able to form a guitar and drum group. And how, as Cressida's brother once remarked, for everyone else it was a kind of taunting mirage.
Monday. More study help in rural Hungary, with one or two interruptions. Here's a collection of mid-20th-century gothic horror book covers, featuring the illustration trope of a woman running away from a large old haunted-looking house at night. Of course stories need a shifting balance of dramatic tension, so the dark scary goings-on have to be fairly intense to offset the allure of marrying into a big chateau with accompanying estate. Astute observers will note the heroine is never fleeing from a normal-sized home in a suburb or village.
Sunday. Day in countryside helping Zsuzsi revise.
Saturday. Take the train out south-east to see Robin and help Zsuzsi revise. For those of us pondering the many might-have-beens of life, here's a handy summary of
all that quantum weirdness business, albeit from someone arguing quite strongly for there being many worlds. All at once.
Friday. Assemble some IKEA furniture with Attila. We are reminded just how lazy & stupid the people who design flat-pack furniture really are. Talking of which, here is some more deluded futurism. An article listing some "futuristic", "new" forms of sci-fi government, as if problems of society and the human heart are technical challenges and having a better community is akin to inventing a new kind of engine.
Thursday. Films which a reviewer thinks must be good because they're confusing. Plus an American woman zoologist who cruelly broke the heart of her dolphin lover.
Wednesday. More sticky warmth and cold-bath therapy in Budapest. Last week Rheumatology Kata told me the temperature in Napoleonic units was 28 degrees! Once we did a conversion for me, we found this amounts to 82 degrees Farenheit. One of those nice number coincidences, like 1.6 millimetres happening to equal 1/16th of an inch. Last night, while evangelising for the cold-bath concept, told Attila that in this kind of warmth, five minutes underwater in a chilly cold bath makes the body feel for the next hour as if made of solid silver.
An interesting alternative-history story I'm hearing more and more of: the claim that Hitler was taken by submarine to Argentina where he lived out a peaceful old age as a guest in a big house of a rich German family somewhere fairly remote near the Andes. I think last year I came across a quite convincing
documentary film with testimony from several retired hotel workers in Argentina. An intriguing detail was the decision to use reputedly gullible young history don Hugh Trevor-Roper to certify the ashes in Berlin of Hitler and Braun, as a way intelligence officials could dodge putting their own name to the unconvincing death report should Adolf pop up again somewhere to retrospectively damage their careers. Now
declassified FBI documents
supposedly show the same thing: Germany's Fuhrer lived on, minus moustache, until 1962. As if this isn't proof enough that you can't keep a good logo down, here are some French photos of neo-Nazis in Mongolia, who seem to have a vigorous cult fusing Hitler and Genghis Khan.
Tuesday. After a fabulous late breakfast cooked up by Zsuzsi, Robin & I drive back at speed to Budapest in very thick heat, and I arrive on time to teach English to Esoteric Veronica, a friend of Operatic Zita. Veronica had rather alarming things to say about my birth chart last week.
Monday. Quiet & warm day just outside Tiszainoka. In the morning a mass of at least sixty small brown/orange butterflies horde around a particular wisteria (or laburnum?) bush, visibly excited about its blossoms and those of no other plant. In the afternoon a curious sense of breakthrough and release and momentum. Robin, now down to about three roll-ups a day, takes breaks outside the house for his quick ritual. In the evening I take his first night-time smoking break with him, minus a cigarette for me but plus a glass tumbler of cold black coffee instead. To get out we clamber over the wheezing Dougal-style komondor dog that insists on wedging its bigness into the whole of the front doorway to guard and snooze at the same time. I try to put thoughts about the links between marriage & art into words as we both admire the dark. An almost-full moon lurks self-consciously behind his horse-chestnut tree.
Sunday. Whitsun or Pentecost catches me off guard again. Much of day fiddle with my camera and online .gifmakers. As the light fades in the evening, Robin and Zsuzsi arrive with tales of a day at some polo event where three cash prizes were given out by a brokerage in a tombola, and they won two of them, to be deposited in brokerage accounts. We drive back into the countryside as night falls.
Saturday. Much of day fiddle with cut-out pieces of coloured newspaper while listening to intriguing documentary films about King Arthur and his era.
Friday. Heat a bit sapping. Three cold baths today. Thoughtful article
about digital cryptocurrencies.
Thursday. Busy day of teaching and bustling around town. More evidence that
writing by hand on boring old paper is a useful skill after all.
Wednesday. For the true Greenie: interesting article makes major claims on plant intelligence. Worth it for the references to other reading on the topic like Goethe, Darwin, Bose, Baluska, Trewavas, McClintock.
Tuesday. We like people a lot like us.
Monday. The tasteless chequered office building on the corner has been almost finished for at least 3 weeks. It might be as long as 6 weeks. Temporary fencing is down, the ground-floor panels of glass are marked by big crosses of black tape to stop people walking into them (inadvertently reminding us how dumb modernism really is), and workmen are still wandering around. We can actually use that pavement again, and I get to wonder why there's a five or six-millimetre-wide, twenty-yard-long slot cut perfectly through all the paving slabs parallel to the frontage but twelve to fifteen feet out from the glass wall.
Sunday. Some days chilly, some days hot. Not sure if they're "amazing" but some of these images of naked people by Dorothy Iannone are certainly striking, especially with the blocks of text and the comicbook-style/naive compositions.
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