October 31st; Saturday. Go to delicious extended lunch with Andras's big family (five siblings!) in a town just outside Budapest. The rest of the city celebrates the vulgar festival of Hallowe'en.
October 30th; Friday. How to build an artificial sun. Love that title.
October 29th; Thursday. Leftist journalist resigns after critique of Biden censored.
October 28th; Wednesday. Already almost two weeks since the latest act of Islamist imperialism in France, the beheading of a schoolteacher.
October 27th; Tuesday. Mutant creature thingies take over Belgian cemetery.
October 26th; Monday. Media bygones: 3 terribly old tunes from The Byrds:
I See You /
It's No Use /
I Know My Rider.
October 25th; Sunday. Thought-provoking Theodore Dalrymple (Anthony Daniels) article about free will & addiction.
October 24th; Saturday. Nice Samurai Jack clip where arch-villain sees a psychiatrist.
October 23rd; Friday. I was always mystified by the cult of Seinfeld - I watched a few moments of the series this century, baffled at how it was even considered slightly different from the smart-talking NY Jewish humour of 'Rhoda' that I enjoyed as a small boy in the 1970s. But these few moments about men watching other men work are amusing.
October 22nd; Thursday. A few days ago, I was in the 24-hour grocery near Andras's flat, and I tried to buy some disposable razors. The cheerful & alert gay guy on the till offers two types, one blue and one pink, telling me he's found the pink ones for women actually have better blades (quite believable). I say all right and decide to try the pink ones. 'YMCA' is playing on the shop's radio, and the large-shouldered security man starts humming along with the tune behind me. I glance back and he is good-naturedly catching my eye and also pointing out the unembarrassed camp shop assistant with his glances. Interestingly, we all seem to share the joke - everyone, including him, finds the situation funny.
October 21st; Wednesday. Old Minnie Riperton tune lurking on a Russian site.
October 20th; Tuesday. My brandy-coloured piss seems to be slowly returning to normal. Solar disc sun-spot-free for long stretches, here 28 days in late September.
October 19th; Monday. Electrocuting tongues might relieve tinnitus.
October 18th; Sunday. Allegations on covid-19 return to the bioweapon theme.
October 17th; Saturday. Time travel might work without grandfather paradoxes.
October 16th; Friday. I realise for several days that my urine has been reddish-brown, the colour of madeira. There's no pain though - can I hope this is the last of the perhaps blood-stained fluid being gradually rinsed off my heart by the furosemide?
October 15th; Thursday. Arrive in Budapest at the flat of Andras, on the cusp between being able to sleep lying down and not. His heated flat just the answer for the cold-sensitive cuts and open sores on my fingertips (this must be the blood-pressure-lowering medications weakening my circulation).
October 14th; Wednesday. Again up late watching films with Robin. The Korean film 'Snowpiercer', while visually impressive and stylish in several places, uses a disappointingly Marxist/Dickensian myth, boiling all society down to one long train cruelly segregated into classes that zooms across a frozen world, never stopping. Of course, the great liberating metaphor is revolution. Cartoonish.
October 13th; Tuesday. Still not really able to sleep lying down, still feeling the cold unless in front of the log fire all night cocooned in a duvet, stay up with Robin to watch 'Hotel Artemis' (2018), where an older Jodie Foster (a sort of likeable Nurse Ratchett character) runs a secret hospital for criminals injured in bank heists and the like. Definitely one of those films financed entirely because the premise sounded good over lunch.
October 12th; Monday. At some point during the afternoon as the radio in Robin's rural kitchen listens to classical music, I ask about the piece we're hearing as it rains outside? Robin, expertly spearing a cube of cheese on a knife point mutters something about "Northern European dickhead". Drawing on my dazzling knowledge of the classical canon, I question if by this he means Sibelius? Seems he does.
October 11th; Sunday. Priest arrested for sexual threesome on altar. Their portraits are perfect. Naturally: Louisiana. Whether good or bad, it's clear some people are living life differently from the rest of us.
October 10th; Saturday. Human babies are evolving to not have wisdom teeth.
October 9th; Friday. On the desk next to the bed I'm trying to sleep in some nights I keep seeing a slim blue hardback with sun fading of the back marking out a darker rectangle where a smaller book must have lain on it for a decade or two. I just yesterday opened it and, slightly to my surprise, saw it's a 1946 edition of Eliot's 1909-1936 collected poems. Imposingly slim. The final page ends
- Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always -
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.
Why "ridiculous"? Because the immediacy of this moment trumps all? Because the experience of now, symbolised by that light and the laughing children, matters so much more than time's other senses? Not so much magic realism as magic wearyism.
October 8th; Thursday. Handy map of pornstars per million people, from slightly unsettling 'Kafkadesk'. Interesting to see the two countries who lead.
October 7th; Wednesday. Hope returns. Last night slept around 12 hours, finally lying down. Bliss. Water moving off heart at last thanks to daily doses of furosemide, so thank God am losing the nauseous smothering sensation that if I lie down at night to sleep I am somehow going to drown. This evening, Robin & I watch 'The Silent Enemy', a rather good 1958 adventure film, black & white, set during WW2 in Gibraltar. It's based on the daring exploits of "Buster" Crabb and his elite team of underwater frogmen.
For anyone who's curious, here's a Beatles LP claimed to be from a parallel universe.
October 6th; Tuesday. Up late watching old films with Robin on his television service. We see a 1950 American movie called 'Tripoli', relating the 1805 defeat of a North African slaving state, famously commemorated in the US Marines regimental anthem. There's a rather impressive scene where their overland camel train struggles through a ferocious sandstorm. A supposedly erotic moment where a military man challenges the copper-redheaded leading lady (mistress to the Arabian prince) to dance, since she is entered in the list as one of the "dancing girls", and is smitten, is possibly the part of the film that's most substantially dated. The music isn't right, the dancing isn't right, her build isn't right.
Fascinating to note how the nominally serious plot is propelled forward by an endless stream of wisecracks. Two out of every three lines of dialogue (perhaps more) are smart-alec remarks that sound fresh off the music-hall/vaudeville stage.
October 5th; Monday. The soothing Germanic tones of 'Mr Puzzle' and his courteous tabletop reviews of various austere, stylish-looking puzzle objects, such as the
chunky metal cross, the slinky steel snowflake, and the
October 4th; Sunday. When you are forced to stay awake all night, desperate for sleep, for days in a row, random bits of once-entertaining film can be handy. So we have the original version of Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting, along with a studio audience visibly bored to the point of disgust. The adorable moment in Galaxy Quest when aliens disturb the hungover Tim Allen, asleep on his sitting-room floor. And a review discussion about the unfairly forgotten early-1970s 'Organization' drama, long praised by the Nigel of Light.
October 3rd; Saturday. A slow, heavy night-time vaguely like this (A wearying dirge that always reminded me of de Quincey. When he says opium let him sketch images in the darkness of his bedroom - vast teeming intricate visions of ancient Oriental civilisations). Afterwards I find Marion nearby at 12.30 lunchtime. We deal with another couple of obstacles, and finally I can take my first set of medications with mineral water. This is at a cafe table outside in the square named after Franz Liszt, the composer Paul specialises in. She lends me Paul's blood-pressure meter (my new doctor stresses the value of methodically collecting data) and shows me how to use it. After a night in which I only slept between 9am and 11am, rarely have sunlit boulevard buildings looked more beautiful against that blue sky.
October 2nd; Friday. After almost no sleep, get across the river again to the clinic to see Paul's cardiologist. He turns out to be a charming, intelligent man who has no patience with the face-mask hysteria over covid-19, doesn't wear a mask and is perfectly happy for me not to wear one either during our hour-long consultation. He reads through my blood test, takes electrical readings off my chest, and listens to my heartbeat with an ultrasonic microphone. At one point, as he runs the microphone up and down my side he murmurs quietly partly to himself, partly to me, almost tenderly, "Yes, it's an exhausted heart, very tired. But still - pumping quite well." Almost as if my heart was a person. In the afternoon I stumble around town, wearily realising I've mishandled the chore of actually buying the medications he's prescribed. The subsequent fifteen hours waiting to meet Marion at midday Saturday probably count as my longest night in a couple of decades.
October 1st; Thursday. Musicologist Paul kindly helps out with his cardiologist and I force myself over there in the early morning to give blood samples. Apparently, the End Times disaster movie of Greenland's ice-sheet is being written again.
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