(This is an authentic passenger statement.) The feeling these are someone else's dreams, not mine, is stronger every week now.
February 24th; Wednesday. Another type of human.
February 23rd; Tuesday. In a big patch of warm sunshine just out of the chilly silhouette of a 19th-century building, I spot a mobile telephone lying on the Andrassy street pavement at Oktogon. When it starts ringing, I find I cannot answer it, so take it home, and begin texting the numbers that keep calling in. Eventually, meet the owner just outside a nearby supermarket for the handover. Building-site labourers and other manual workers come in two body types in Hungary: bulls and goats. The phone owner, broad-chested, cheerful, stocky, wearing one of those crisp chartreuse dayglo jackets, was a bull. With him was a friend/colleague in a tracksuit, so painfully thin and shrivelled (one of the goats) he looked as if he'd been packed in a barrel of salt for a week to extract all moisture. Also cheerful, but in a vaguely sad way, his head balanced endways on his neck like a large raisin. Everyone parted happily.
It seems Ivor Cummins has been banned from Linkedin.
February 22nd; Monday. More from Mises-dot-org about The Great Reset.
February 21st; Sunday. Salisbury Review reviews postmodern wokeism book.
February 20th; Saturday. Our Man in Bucharest reviews why governments didn't panic about Hong Kong flu.
February 19th; Friday. Speak to the dreamers!
February 18th; Thursday. For several days in a row, have been catching the golden hour of the early afternoon when a slice of winter sunlight pours down Kiraly street, but today was out earlier. The sun was warmer and this week there's an unmistakable feeling of hope and energy returning to the Big Pogacsa. Yesterday, I ducked into the nearest supermarket and saw two laughing long-legged brunettes tottering on heels and towering over the security dude flirting with them. Delighted by the male attention, they were giggling with an upsurge of sheer girlyness, both their coiffs tressed up to add to the tallness & slimness. Possibly dancers, but probably trade-show girls or receptionists. Spring here always arrives suddenly, like an ambush, and it seems to have just turned up.
February 17th; Wednesday. Last night finished Zoe's copy of her father's 1994 book ('Not Ordinary Men') about the 1944 battle to hold the pass at Kohima in northern Burma. This is what stopped the Japanese army from entering India, and Colvin describes it as the Indian/British Thermopylae. As Colvin stresses, in two weeks of vicious and unrelenting fighting in April that year, in the grimmest of monsoon conditions on steep hillsides in thick, muddy jungle, a few hundred Indian & British men, alone and without support, halted the advance of thirteen thousand hitherto-undefeated Japanese soldiers. More maps scattered through the text would have helped me, since Colvin clearly had the layout of the fighting vivid in his head, almost hour by hour, individual officers and privates described in quick, crisp prose. Almost every death & sacrifice is remembered where possible. The reader comes away with a sense of the near-inconceivable tenacity & willingness to die it takes to block an attacking army of hugely superior size. An army which until Kohima was having one of the most remarkable winning streaks in the history of all warfare.
February 16th; Tuesday. Useful overview of how China's CCP corrupted the US.
February 15th; Monday. Genetically-engineered CCP Chinese super-beings? Exciting!
February 14th; Sunday. Saint Valentine's Day - from an Instagram account for France's online libraries comes this gorgeous Valentine book from the 1475 Savoy court. Raises the curious question of just what it was France did to the Duchy of Savoy in the mid-19th century, but that's another topic.
February 13th; Saturday. Nifty tips to distinguish Arabic/Persian/Kurdish by sight.
February 12th; Friday. 2 views of Michael X, the man who wasn't Malcolm. Adam Curtis versus V.S. Naipaul.
February 11th; Thursday. 'Hudson Mohawke' sounds more like a US attack helicopter than a Glaswegian DJ/music-producer - perhaps why this radio-show/mix gets a rating of Outstanding, Red Leader.
February 10th; Wednesday. Half an hour early for an appointment, and not allowed to sit down anywhere for a coffee because covid-19 etc etc, finally head for a sad-looking used-book outlet with orange walls I know is ten minutes away. Some odd sense tells me that there are some books waiting there for me. It's underground in a grim 1960s tunnel beneath Nyugati railway station and I've walked past it hundreds of times over the years. Within five minutes, I find the books. An illustrated biography of the cinematic career of Michael Powell, who made his best films with Hungarian emigre screenwriter Emeric Pressburger; then a slim Christmas-stocking-sized booklet, almost a pamphlet, with an untitled purple spine barely 1/16" wide; and a 2004 novel called 'Codex', part of the Historical Relic / Mysterious Old Book genre (Name of the Rose, Harry Potter, Dan Brown) that a one-time schoolfriend predicted when we were in the sixth form would be the big new thing after the year 2000. This is a scene which plays out in the opening pages of many novels & films: the curious urge to go in and look at the old books, the drab-yet-enigmatic premises, the magnetic pull drawing me towards a certain shelf, the bookshop owner's conspiratorial nod of approval as I take custody of the volumes, as if he knows that exactly the right person has come to collect these three titles.
Just good salesmanship, of course.
February 9th; Tuesday. There seem to be people still playing the kind of records I listened to at college: they still sound the same.
February 8th; Monday. Some handsomely bookist accounts on Instagram:
konyvcsempesz (book smuggler) /
rita_konyvespolca (Rita's bookshelf) / gallicabnf.
February 7th; Sunday. Stumbled across references to two novels by this woman: Madeleine Henry. They certainly sound like the kind of thing you have to write to be crowned Smart Young Novelist.
February 6th; Saturday. About ten days ago Esoteric Veronica told me she was practising her English by following a period costume series set in Regency England (the 1810s) called 'Bridgerton' which absurdly has several major characters played by black-skinned & brown-skinned actors. She referred to it offhandedly to me as "the satirical drama". As an intelligent East European, she naturally assumed that wokeism is some sophisticated new trend in British humour.
February 5th; Friday. The dark, locked-up, pleasantly scruffy second-hand book shop a hundred yards down the street looks alluring, but of course I can't go in. The respiratory disease which kills typical flu victims at an average age of 80 if they're already dying of something else means this and millions of other small firms must be driven out of business.
February 4th; Thursday. In the dark, empty countryside, I persuade Bela & Robin to watch a couple of delightfully eccentric Russian documentaries, including this fine specimen - those mirror-assisted telepathy experiments again. The almost-English subtitling is a special feature.
February 3rd; Wednesday. Suddenly whisked off to Robin's country retreat for a couple of nights. Hungary's Great Plain and its small villages are as flat, bleak, and eerie as ever.
February 2nd; Tuesday. Book-themed excitement picks up pace over at Instagram.
February 1st; Monday. Reports from the home country sound stranger and stranger. I wonder if finally the world is ready for a film adaptation of that curious British sci-fi novel 'Mandrake' I read in Ghana? From the mid-60s but set in the near-future of 1973. Mandrake's time might finally have come.
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
markgriffith at yahoo.com