", suggesting with one word the staff are all asleep. Not having heard him, the shop woman appears bristling. She glares at us blackly as he cheerfully asks for this and that pastry. She can feel he is genially mocking her, sharing some private joke with me. She's all the more livid for not quite being sure what the joke is.
On the topic of jokes, a child at a school in England asks social media "Why is there a 30-year-old man in our maths class?"
Tuesday. Old 2017 article seriously suggests secret ballot should be abolished to stop people voting for Trump.
Monday. Perhaps one of the small, yet also big, changes over the last few months has been a switch on my part to grapefruit-flavoured toothpaste. No pricier than the normal kind. Not sure what the homeopathic bit does.
Sunday. Utilitarian-by-default asks should autonomous cars kill babies or grandmothers. Fascinating to see quite bright people totally missing the point.
Saturday. A couple of weeks ago, before Michael's return from South Africa, curious noises sometimes echoed round the empty flat at night. Many times I woke up convinced someone else was in the other room, only slowly realising that creaking floorboards and sounds of footsteps were from other flats up through the ceiling or nearby on this floor. For several days a Russian couple with an enormous blonde-haired toddler boy they clearly adored were in the next-door apartment. I still have trouble guessing children's ages but this could have been a vastly-enlarged child of 14 or 15 months or a very placid, infant-like 2-year-old. I met him one day with his happy parents and tried to greet the good-looking child. Huge Baby regarded me in silence with regal calm, almost princely indifference. Sometimes that week through the wall I'd hear him saying isolated syllables at different times of day or night, not urgent or angry or whining. Rather than that, he would pronounce firm, clear opinions on new things he encountered each day in the world around him, declaiming: "Boof!", "Zhu?", "Gnn!", "Fimp?", "Zubzub". It was like Adam naming the animals.
Echoey tune, rather self-consciously meant to be haunting with bittersweet photo - partly succeeds: The Trip.
Friday. Cloudy overcast day with some shafts of autumn sunshine. Woman police officer in New York angrily stuffs her panties into a male colleague's mouth because he was criticising her.
Thursday. Back on the crypto hill where, after climbing upwards a thick fog appears two bus stops from the end, as if a cloud is sitting precisely on top of the leafy Normafa mount. I step out into it, the closest thing to Scotch mist I've seen outside Scotland: a mass of tiny hovering raindrops wandering around looking for things to wet.
A reasonable article about Cultural Marxism, followed by an article heavily under the influence of Cultural Marxism. The interesting thing about the second piece is that it's by Mark Zuckerberg's sister. She seems to feel anyone she dislikes invoking ancient Greece or Rome is underhand and wicked.
Wednesday. Two films about Yukio Mishima, the popular Japanese novelist who in 1970 tried to mount a military coup against his country's government, and then cut his stomach open when soldiers in the barracks refused to join his putsch. The more recent first interviews two Americans with thoughtful things to say about Mishima's novels and his politics, and the second is a BBC Arena programme from the 1980s.
Tuesday. Hungary commemorates the mass demonstrations in 1956 that intimidated Soviet military divisions into leaving the country for a fortnight. Robin throws a small party to mark the day. Some policemen try to make me pay to enter his street, but an older officer realises I'm not lying and escorts me to the door of Robin's building. The small party themed around cheese and sausages takes advantage of him having a balcony about fifty yards from where Viktor Orban speaks to the crowd just outside the old secret-police torture chambers. After the historic moment has passed and we can concentrate on eating and drinking, I read some Tarot spreads for Makeda & Erika.
Monday. Startlingly, the Saudis now seem to agree that pro-Muslim-Brotherhood journalist Mr Kashoggi disappeared in their Istanbul Consulate under less-than-wholesome circumstances. Our contributors zerohedge have news of a strange car crash related to the incident.
Sunday. Some natter about how we now have assassination markets.
Saturday. A few days before Michael got back the other week, I felt a strange warmth in the flat and went round turning off the radiators. A curious chugging sound began in his windowless bathroom, as if the building was slowly steaming north and a ship's engine were hidden somewhere throbbing behind the tiled walls. Turns out I switched on an extractor fan for several days. Here's a slightly snarky piece called Survival of the Richest. Not so much left-wing in tone, as simply assuming that everyone reading it is left-wing as a matter of course.
Friday. Intriguing fringe-science moment from online contact Dave. Today bringing you Exotic Vacuum Object Generation.
Thursday. Lurid tale of a screaming journalist being dismembered alive with a bone saw inside a Saudi consulate in Turkey.
Wednesday. Clever new thin lens.
Tuesday. Back at the start-up firm in the Buda Hills. Lots of tasty pastry in the kitchen there. Meanwhile, outside the East Bloc, here are some women who got themselves a feminist look. Exercise for the reader, identify the one woman where the After pic looks better than the Before.
Monday. Curious, plausible claim that power harms people's brains.
Sunday. Intriguing New York Times archive piece on the rising star of then office-block developer Donald Trump, reprinted exactly as it first appeared in the 1980s. Startled by the sheer mass of typos - at least 40 spelling mistakes. "All the news that's fit to misprint" might be a better motto judging by this article.
Saturday. Not so much sex with the cow as the miniature horse detail that struck me.
Friday. Interesting piece about the revolving public/private door that EU commissioners go through. Not that working for Brussels is really "public sector". Something more sui generis - working for the meta-state? Fairly early in morning pick up exhausted Michael from airport, after his overnight flight from Johannesburg via Istanbul. I'm in a parked bus asking the driver about tickets back to town when I notice Michael is outside being helped up by a stranger, his suitcase having toppled off the kerb. A very weary thin smile creeps across the lemon-like face of the bus driver as he gazes down on the small mishap in front of his vehicle.
Thursday. Discussion of BBC climate-crisis bias.
Wednesday. Finally someone says the totally obvious about driverless cars - they'll be weaponised.
Tuesday. Finished the Erle Stanley Gardner book I bought secondhand in the ugly sunken 1960s disc of concrete shops next to the Southern Railway Station last week. Doubly interesting because it is a mid-1960s British Penguin paperback in good condition with a price in shillings and pence (not cover shown!), and (although I'm sure I read at least one Erle Stanley Gardner sleuthing thriller while chugging through my mother's detective-novel collection) it was a mystery featuring his lawyer hero Perry Mason. I don't believe I ever read a Perry Mason story before. That name's overlaid in my memory by snatches of some 1960s TV series about that character, as a sort of silver-haired solid-chested smoothie moving in the world of commercial jet airlines and chunky desk phones with buttons. I can remember as a boy being startled to find, after watching Roger Moore on black-and-white television as 'The Saint' flirting with sexily sinister girls in mini-skirts, and then borrowing some of the stories from the public library, that Charteris was writing them in the 1930s, then a vanished age of antique strangeness for me. The actual written stories often visited tweedy, wood-panelled gentlemen's clubs, and felt halfway back to Sherlock Holmes. Likewise I now find Perry Mason is a prewar literary character. This book originally written around 1938, features people travelling back from Hawai'i on a cruise ship, a journey with at least one night at sea. Most of the English seems almost normal, with the exceptions of one or two passages of slang. That's when it's suddenly clear that nothing goes out of fashion faster than fashion. For example, on page 18: "Oh, she's a kick. She's an observing kid, and chuck full of life. She's modern, impatient of all sham and pretence, and isn't too affected to show enthusiasm. She's as full of bounce as a rubber ball." 'Observing' instead of 'observant' particularly jumps out. Meanwhile, nowadays using the word 'affected' itself sounds like an affectation. From boyhood I have the dim memory, perhaps not him, of reading that Gardner was once put by his publisher in a department-store window prewar with a chair and desk pounding away on a manual typewriter to produce his latest detective novel under the curious eyes of passing shoppers on the street. The puzzle is nicely worked out, but I had the sense in a few places that he'd learned how to write books very quickly. Not quite on autopilot, but something close.
Monday. Why do Scots and Welsh nationalists yearn to be absEUrbed?
Sunday. Inspiring story: a black teenager from a poor home locates the richest bit of London, and goes up and down streets ringing doorbells, politely asking people there how they got wealthy and what he should do to be like them.
Saturday. In the apartment of film-maker Jessica (she is 2 days back from Atlanta) I fail to get her radiator switched on for the winter, but by chance am there exactly when the senate hearings of Judge Kavanaugh finish. Jessica and I listen to the live vote, punctuated by screaming from protestors in the gallery, and then she kindly downloads 'CQ' so we can watch it together on her big screen while munching very tasty Mexican burritos from the late-night stall on the corner. We both agree the film is not so good (she recalled the negative reviews from the time - around 2001 - but didn't tell me so I wouldn't be put off), and the whole shaggy-dog plot of finding an ending for the film-within-the-film mars the film it's within as well. I explain that the bit from the trailer that made me want to see it was a Frenchman in a turtleneck thrusting his face into the camera and saying "What's the story? What's the structEURE? Do you zink you are clevEUR!?" I expected better music. Felt CQ was (at least started out as) an attempt to mix 'Modesty Blaise', 'The Thomas Crown Affair', and 'Blow-Up'. A combo well worth doing if it had even half succeeded.
Friday. Seems many people still haven't seen the famous Russian menstrual-hygiene ad.
Thursday. I get a super-basic beginner's poker tutorial (I don't even know the card combinations) from kind Eike in the Corvin shopping-mall food court. Perhaps "food attic" is more accurate, since it's the top floor.
Wednesday. With sandpaper & lemon juice, have almost got the stain out of Michael's wooden parquet floor caused by a rubbish bag sitting there and leaking during the 18 nights I was locked out of his flat. The mild fever, coughing, slight snuffle I've had about 2 weeks, soon after getting back into the flat and replacing the broken lock now got me, Gentle Reader might be relieved to learn, to shift off the floor onto the bed, and interrupt the cold-bath regimen.
Tuesday. In almost every large town now, you cannot stand at a kerb waiting to cross the road without standing on an array of little lumps, either from bobbly cement tiles or metal studs poking up through the pavement. While these bobbles are obviously helpful for blind people to know where the edge of the road is, it is a bit odd that now as a matter of course the other 99.5% of the population have to have studs hurting our feet through the soles of our shoes to help the non-seers.
Here's a page for supposedly a new political party in Britain. Seems they are getting no media coverage.
Monday. Still only a few weeks ago in late August, was still so hot that I was sometimes going in the middle of the night for an extra cold bath in Michael's bathroom. The bath is half-concealed in a sort of slot at the back, where if no lights are switched on, it's possible to have a bath lit only by the ghostly blue glow of the idling water boiler's pilot flame or signal lamp. Yet during the day, the unlit bathroom looks completely black.
Interesting story of Chinese industrial espionage
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
markgriffith at yahoo.com