Friday. Travel back into Budapest to stay some nights with kind Anne, a dancer,
so I can do my second rather suspect covid test at 11am. Well-argued piece about the
origin of covid-19.
Thursday. Travel to Budapest and back to Szeleveny to sign my name on 68
separate sheets of paper. Too expensive to buy, but in the Chinese supermarket
discover some intriguing Oriental bags of Kit-Kat bars in curious spicy
flavours where they colour the chocolate pale green or bubblegum pink. Mostly
Japanese judging by text on the packaging.
So this Kit-Kat, not
the original Kit-Cat
Club that inspired the fictional Kit Kat club in 1930s Berlin,
nor the real 1990s Berlin
club inspired by the fictional one.
Wednesday. Meanwhile, Mr Fauci seems to have recently restarted
germ warfare research without presidential approval.
Tuesday. Lucid piece from Koestler in 1972 comparing
physics & (for want of a better word) magic.
Monday. Remainers were
"wrong about everything". Really?? Duh.
Sunday. Thoughtful, interesting
article: Why is Everything Liberal?
Saturday. Apparently in French
avocat means both 'lawyer' and 'avocado'.
Friday. Bake second pair of loaves using Diane's recipe. Not particularly close to
getting the hang of bread-making any time soon. Edina is nonetheless very positive
about the products of my dough-kneading efforts. We discuss Polanski's obvious obsession with
the occult and this short note from
Jacques Vallee of all people (real-life inspiration
character played by Francois Truffaut) raises the awkward thought that
Polanski's interest in the dark arts is authentic and suspiciously personal.
Thursday. Visit Kunszentmarton with Edina.
Wednesday. Article homes in on the results of early-2020's unscientific but curiously co-ordinated attacks on HCQ & ivermectin: safe, cheap drugs effective against covid-19. It's an important shift now to begin
pointing out who really killed the people denied those medicines: eg. Fauci, WHO, others - not Trump.
Tuesday. A review that changed my mind. This makes me want to watch what's still the
highest-grossing-ever French film.
Monday. On a whim, I type 'jigger wigger' into a search
engine and learn this
Sunday. Wake out of a dream in which Michael the Greek is still alive, and busily presiding
over a jumble sale (in an underground railway station of course) of assorted stuff, including
stacks of panels of coloured plastic he has acquired in some way. As customers bustle around, picking out
two-by-four-foot boards of translucent orange or opaque lilac fibreglass, or whatever it is, Michael & I discuss
the Bulgarian artist who repeatedly wrapped things until summer 2020.
Saturday. Finally, some good news. A BBC1
special 9pm broadcast starring the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg three
days ago attracted disappointing audiences of barely more than 1 million.
Friday. So exhausted after yesterday's non-adventure that I forget my postponed lesson with Balazs.
Denmark becomes first country in EU to
stop AstraZeneca vaccinations for safety reasons. For added excitement, the Danish
official announcing the country's decision collapsed during her press conference.
Thursday. Go to Kecskemet to visit cardiologist, discovering the sheer thickness of public-transport planners in
Hungary. First bus is on time, the driver is cheerful, won't let me pay, jesting that it's my responsibility to
hide under the seats if an inspector gets on. The second driver is quarter of an hour late, won't let me pay (with
a weary hand gesture that expresses both that I am his guest and that all life in general is hopeless). Once in
town, it takes discussion with four separate bus drivers, one of whom doesn't give me change, in order for me to
reach the military hospital, not exactly a small feature in the Kecskemet landscape. There appears to be no bus
from the railway station or coach station that goes directly to the military hospital. Once at the military
hospital it takes me an hour and a half to see Akos, who is very kind and encouraging when I can see him, but by
which time I'm in danger of missing the last coach back to Szeleveny. Then I find myself waiting at a Kecskemet bus
stop near the military hospital for 3/4 of an hour,
for a scheduled bus that simply fails to turn up, ensuring
I have indeed missed the last coach back to Szeleveny. Then back at the coach station someone at the timetable
information office tells me with evident pleasure I'll to wait two and a half hours to even start my trip to a town
near Edina. Then the next-door railway station tells me I can get to the same town near Edina (a distance of about
thirty miles) if I take a three-hour journey with two changes of train one involving an hour-long wait. Finally Edina
finds a coach to another nearby town, Lakitelek, leaving in a few minutes (I phone her and my mobile decides to keep
cutting out during the conversation), I get on it, and the driver refuses to let me pay. Patient Edina picks me up
from Lakitelek. All for an hour-long consultation with my cardiologist which had to be cut short to ten minutes.
Wednesday. Three articles in the Spectator: Douglas Murray on the closure of Britain's most moderate & sensible
Simon Wood looks at the (lack of) evidence that covid-19
lockdowns ever made sense.
Matt Ridley on the immensely stupid precedent of
post-war food rationing under the young
Harold Wilson, the 1940s "technocrat". This last article reveals what really enabled Germany's economy
to surge ahead of Britain's in that decade of postwar recovery - scrapping government regulations.
Tuesday. Under-skin microchip
to detect covid-19 invented.
EU planned "vaccine passports" 20 months before the covid-19 pandemic.
Monday. Wake out of a dream in which Peter Ustinov is a cartoon owl, and is declaring that
"I lived my life as I wished to!" surrounded
by a busy host of other cartoon creatures, all under the sea for some reason.
My scales are still at Simon's, and Cardiologist Akos wants me to weigh myself for a few days
and take some blood-pressure measurements. Since I found yesterday that the batteries have died in my
blood-pressure device, today entails two main tasks. Job 1 is to buy four small batteries at the
'Feribolt' (one of the two shops, the one where the owner is called Feri). For Job 2, Edina
sweetly drives me to a second-hand furniture emporium a couple of miles away where I obtain
some 1970s bathroom scales
in a handsome mid-blue for the sturdy sum of 600 forints.
Robin & Bela drop by Edina's later, risking
getting captured crossing enemy lines when they cut it fine driving back before curfew.
Sunday. This might be nifty. Or entertaining.
28 pages isn't much investment to ask, considering what it promises. Astral projection, CIA, travel
to other dimensions. What's not to like?
Saturday. Sleep 13 hours, to Edina's slight concern. Today do most of the work writing
an article called 'Why I Am Not An Atheist', referring to Russell's
Friday. Rescue my shirt from the tree below Victoria's balcony where it blew last week,
leaning out over a sheer drop, wielding a Heath Robinson tool composed of two brooms
I taped together. This takes 3/4 of an hour, but I win. Then try to find my cardiologist,
without success. Then in the centre of town, after meeting my
second ever Malna (Raspberry), this one a rather dishy production
assistant, I get a costume fitting and a trial make-up application for my forthcoming
role as a comic undertaker. After this, the trip back into the Great Plain
from the Big Pogacsa goes reasonably well. Changing
trains at Szolnok around 9pm, I pop into the white concrete ticket hall to buy
snacks from the snack counter. Another
wonderfully leggy girl, a brunette this time, is working there, though
incredibly slowly. She shows me the chocolate bars, I ask for the yoghourt-flavoured
one, and then she proceeds to slowly show me the bars again. Biscuit-flavoured? Thank
you no, the yoghourt-flavoured one. Strawberry-flavoured? No, yoghourt, please. Finally
we manage the transaction in time for my connecting train to Kunszentmarton, and she
pouts at me reproachfully from under her long black eyelashes. Isn't it enough she's
showing a gorgeous figure in her skintight pink velvet tracksuit? I expect her to be
an intellectual as well? Of course she might be such a party girl that she
hasn't slept in three days. Often the problem.
At Kunszentmarton, I have about twenty minutes to walk from the railway station to the
bus and coach terminus, more than enough time. I arrive there and one bus
is lit up. A helpful passenger says
that will be my service at 20 past 10, but rather than getting on where it is standing,
I should go and wait at another little platform in the middle of the square. Everything
promises to go to plan. The empty platform has an illuminated dot-matrix sign saying
10.20pm, identifying the service as the one I want. Around 10.11, a driver gets on to
the lit-up bus and peers curiously at me through his big windscreen. Then he drives
off, leaving the whole square and its ten or twelve bus stops dark and deserted. The
dot-matrix sign counts off the minutes. Another bus arrives and drives straight past.
Darkness and quiet return. Another bus drives through, and silence is restored. Then
at exactly 22.19 a bus arrives, pulls in where I'm standing alone, and the driver motions
me to get on by the middle door. I do this. His cab is defended by coloured strips of
tape, in case I go close to infect him with the deadly plague. Inside the taped-off
enclosure, a middle-aged woman is nattering on her phone, the only other passenger.
We pull out onto the road and I hesitantly say across three rows of seats
to the back of the driver's shoulders that I'd like to go to Szeleveny.
"We're going there," he replies wearily.
I ask him how much should I pay? What do I owe him?
"You don't owe me anything,"
he declares in a sad, exhausted voice, addressing
the night-time road ahead. Half an hour of silence later, he stops a few yards
from Edina's house, and we solemnly bid each other good night.
Thursday. I catch the 5.30am train towards Budapest. Adventures ensue, including a
covid-19 mouth swab conducted entirely without words. Assuming I cannot speak her
language because I'm a foreign actor, the white-lab-coated dragon with the swab makes a
noise like Aaaa-aah! to indicate I must open my mouth. Aaa-uu-ah? I reply, trying to open my
mouth like hers. Aaah-oo-ah, she explains, poking a cotton-bud stick into the inside
of my cheek. We make these noises at each other another couple of times, and I'm
out of the building. Then I cross the river to retrieve Victoria's harp from a music
school a bus ride away from the new metro line terminus. Oddly it starts to snow
in big fluffy flakes to add a little atmosphere to my journey there and onward
to Victoria's. After a short rest, she & I go out to two
to reconnect her phone and internet, the first place making us wait for an hour
and then refusing Victoria's cash. Not ideal behaviour from them since the ATM hole-in-the-wall
swallowed her bank card for no good reason several days ago. I persuade the second
Vodafone office to finally (this is her 5th attempt) let her settle the bill she's
been trying to pay for over a week.
Wednesday. Robin drops by with one of my boxes, and Edina makes us all lunch.
Edina is currently interested in
Old Turkic runes.
Tuesday. I explore Szeleveny, visiting both shops, one at each end of the
half-mile-long main street.
Monday. Travel by train to Szeleveny on the Great Plain. Kind Folklorist Edina
and her cheerful boy Bendeguz are waiting there by the railway track to pick me up.
She's had a book published:'`Napevo, Holdfalo'
(Sun-Eater, Moon-Gobbler - Mythical Creatures of the Volga Turks).
Sunday. Careful, detailed late-March article by Iain Davis about why we should disbelieve covid-19 death figures.
Saturday.'Why Is Everyone In Texas Not Dying?''
More common sense and rational science about the covid tantrum. Meet Oluwafunmilayo
and we sit on a sunny bench facing the leafy Margit Island across the Danube for a natter.
Friday. A nice Unherd piece about the
tediousness of modernists like Virginia Woolf.
Thursday. Finish a book of Victoria's:
'The Queen's Conjuror',
a biography of astrologer, cryptographer, and all-round 16th-century wizard John Dee, put together
very nicely by Benjamin Wolley. The recurring sadness of his life, and the repeated struggles to find
a stable income or profitable business come over clearly. I would have liked to read more about his
cryptography and code-breaking for Elizabeth. The slightly malign and shadowy court presences of Cecil
and Walsingham, the Tudor spooks, is also covered. Wolley handles reasonably well the difficult
business of what actually happened when Kelley & Dee summoned demons and angels together in Bohemia.
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
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