Friday, April 30, 2004


To return to one of the things that set me to wondering when I was blogged off or had the blog on as you may wish, I seem to remember Roger musing on the nature of art and, using his father as example, at what point craft would become art.

Well, liguistician that I am, my first thoughts set me to playing about with semantics and, as is my wont on these occasions, to casting my thoughts back to the bard. Only two quotations leapt readily to mind but both proved quite aposite to the question in hand.

The first is from Hamlet..."I swear I use no art at all," and the second from Macbeth..."There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face." I dismissed "Wherefore art thou..." as an irrelevance.

So what therefore, is art? Well, Shakespeare obviously thought it included the meaning of skill, craft and artisanship and maybe in the first quote a touch of artifice, craft or even magic. The art of being crafty, maybe?

But, bugger the bard, what do I think? Well, I thought about it for a while and I kept coming back to something I said in a previous blog about the nature of writing or even blogging. That it is essentially a masturbatory exercise, at its best whenever you've got a load on and simply have to get it out but also a pleasant enough way of whiling away an odd moment here and there.

What I guess I mean is that art is produced solely for the pleasure of the artist using all the tools at their disposal, including that which lies within themselves to generate something with care, passion and love. If all these criteria are met then the next should follow but it is here that the magic occurs...when you are so at home in your milieu that technical ability is no longer an issue, when you are hardly conscious of what it is you are doing, when inspiration strikes and the muse assumes control and you are essentially a conduit for something other, something outside of yourself, then and only then will you produce something original, something unique to its creator and worthy of the name of art. Also, it should be noted that according to the above, true art needs no audience, no reader and sure as hell, no fucking criticism either.

Sure, you can criticise someone for attempting to produce that which lies beyond their abilities and their skill or art to attempt but even then, is it art you are criticising or the self delusion or hubris involved in it. Anyway, I defy anyone to show me something meeting all the criteria I have outlined above which I would not instinctively recognise as art.

From my own a translator, writer, teacher, musician and liguistician, I realise that as a musician, I will never produce art. I hit things and make the requisite noises in the required time and at the right volume but I lack the technique required to be able not to think about my technique and unless you can forget about the technique, you will never make art.

As a teacher, however, I have given maybe two lessons in my entire career which for technical excellence, timing, improvisation and channelling that indefinable something, I would rank alongside the best of Fawlty Towers.

As a translator, I have knocked out contracts, technical specifications and company prospectuses none of which remotely approached art but other things that I have translated...personal letters, essays, poems, liner notes for albums, film scores and the like are a different matter. Although the original Hungarian words were not my own, I still had to find a way of conveying the original emotion in the English language and, when the muse strikes, the feeling is as if I have produced something just right, something that no other translator would have come up with, something which came from both inside of and outside of me. Art.

And as for the writing. Well, most of that is sheer mechanics but sometimes, just occasionally and even on this blog, I will look back on a sentence I have written and wonder just where the hell that came from. Sometimes it just flows and all I can do is ride the wave to its end and type for dear life in an attempt to keep up. But is it art? Well, if you think I'm going to answer that one...I'd hate to bring out the critic in your better nature.

Thursday, April 29, 2004


Regarding Jess's earworm today and her comment thereon. I can no longer accuse Americans of having an under-developed sense of irony.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


Nooooooo, I mean apart from being rudely awakened by the postman this morning to sign for receipt of 100 examination scripts which must, repeat absolutely must, be marked within the week.

And no, I don't mean having to teach a group of students twice a week the task of which, were I to draw an analogy with Formula 1 racing, would be akin to being on a perpetual warm up lap.

And no, I don't even mean that flashing bell in my tool bar which is still here after several weeks...avoiding my Norton anti-virus and by-passing my Ad-aware programme, still promising, upon moving my mouse over its golden form, something 'especially for you' and, upon right clicking upon it, offering me the opportunity either to 'open message' or 'leave it'.

And nor do I mean Froglet's decision to have her daddy take her to nursery school tomorrow, despite my having planned for a serious lie abed in the morning.

All these are but mere irritations, but a grain of sand in the shoe of the life of Kan. All succeptible to solution or amelioration by application of moderate quantities of Stella and Islay malt. All leading to a slight curve in the road rather than the dangerous bender which might well ensue were I to dwell too much on the following conversation I had in a fast food emporium here in Nagykanizsa today.

I was wearing my usual inane grin on my face this lunchtime...I wear it in a deliberate attempt to compensate for the usual glum expressions of the local populace who always appear to be but one small step away from attempting to ensure the continuation of Hungary's proud record of having the highest suicide rate per capita in I sashayed, shimmied and otherwise locomoted myself into one of several establishments dedicated to the relief of sudden and acute hunger pangs which appear suddenly and without warning in the midst of a sojourn into the town center to bring the payments on my insurance up to date, collect the backlog of Independents at the newsagent's and to purchase six paprika peppers, lecso for the making of, one ripe, red capsicum, daughter for the pleasing of and 10 eggs the purpose of which is unknown to me at the time of writing.

Anyway, I found myself in a moderate queue, although to describe it as such is to imbue it with a sense of organisation in which it was most decidedly lacking, but I subdued my sense of Englishness at this point, continued humming 'Shiny, Happy People' at moderate volume and awaited my turn...or should I say opportunity for thrusting myself roughly in front of those who had indeed arrived after my own good self?

Upshot was that I arrived at a position where I was eye to eye and face to face with a spotty dweeb type character seemingly desirous of attending to my every whim snack-wise. I wished him a cheery good afternoon, for the clock had indeed passed midday, and phrased my request for comestibles thuswise.

"A chicken sandwich, please, my good man. On one of those excellent rye bread buns you do so well. Pray include as much salad material as will reasonably fit thereon, hold the radish and on no account feel free to smother it with any application of those strange and globulous things you see fit to keep in those squeezable containers on your otherwise fine and wonderful counter. Oh, and to take out, if it would not cause you too much trouble to accordingly package."

Spotty dweeb wipes nose on sleeve and enquires, in the finest Magyar of course, "Do you want fries with that?" I was only momentarily nonplussed at this point so I was forced into the additional inquiry of, "Excuse me?"

"Do you want fries with that?"

"Now I realise that it might be apparent to you that I am not of Magyar descent and may therefore, have missed a vital conjugation off my request..."

"Oh, no, sir."

"Then is there something in my general demeanour and deportment that suggests to you that I might not be totally entire in the cranial area and am therefore incapable of requesting from you exactly that which I am desirous of receiving?"

"Not at all, sir."

"Then why did you see fit to enquire of me whether I wish to receive something for which I did not ask?"

"We're told to ask all our customers that, sir."

"Then is it the opinion of the management of this establishment that those of the local populace who wander into your domain are so forgetful that they have to be reminded of what it may be that they came in for?"

"I don't think so, sir, it's just..."

"Well, unless you wish to ask me if there is anything else I do not want or you might, perchance, fancy continuing this invigorating conversation and, if you do, might I suggest we repair to the nearest bar where you may also buy me a drink and we can discuss this at length, you may, without further ado, fulfill my original order, provide me with the sustenance I crave and I will trouble you no more. You do remember my order, don't you?"

" couldn't refresh my memory, could you, sir?"

"Chicken sandwich, rye bread, maximum salad, hold the radish, no condiments."

"You want fries wi....oh, sorry, sir."

I mean, it's enough to drive one to drink.

Now, Laphroaig or Ardbeg? And do I want Stella with that?


Anybody with the Gaelic out there? If there is, could you help me out with a phonemic transcription or even a rough guide to the pronunciation of the following?

Seo dhibh a cháirde duan Óglaigh,
Cathréimeach briomhar ceolmhar,
Ár dtinte cnámh go buacach táid,
'S an spéir go min réaltogach
Is fonnmhar faobhrach sinn chun gleo
'S go tiúnmhar glé roimh thíocht do'n ló
Fé chiunas chaonh na hoiche ar seol:
Seo libh canaídh Amhrán na bhFiann.

I thank you. Our Gert's gotta sing it and she's a wee bit stumped at the moment.

Saturday, April 24, 2004


Hello, good evening and welcome. Christ...where did that come from? Oh, yeah! I saw the drawling one hamming it up with the rest of the cast in a late night showing of The VIPs on TCM the other night...screenplay by Terence Rattigan no less...complete turkey of course, but interesting if only for the opportunity of a peek into what MGM thought would interest the cinema going public of the time. Burton and Taylor...the Posh and Becks of their era? Anyway, it should provide you with an insight into the state of the Kan mind that I should sit through such drivel in preference to burrowing under the quilt. It's an ex-pat thing. We get so starved of hearing even half decent English that we buy up the entire English language stock of the local book shops, ending up with a complete set of Agatha (I'm not a fascist and I really like Jews) Christie and watch any old gubbins on TV as long as it's in English.

Anyway, old fruits and sundry will, no doubt, be thrust into empathic ecstasy as I inform you that I am under no contractual obligations until 9 am on Sunday when I am due to translate an 8 page contract into the language of Milton, Byron and Shelley with the able assistance of one who has recently converted to Islam as part of the on-going process of ensnaring her Tunisian boyfriend. Honestly, the lengths some people will go to. I would need at least Natalia Imbruglia sandwiched between Jennifer Lopez and Nastassia Kinsky with half melted walnut whips beginning to flow down the curves of her breasts and a generous helping of Vanilla ice-cream starting the journey south from her navel before I would even consider abandoning my pantheistic world view. Mind you, thinking about it...given the conditions above...t'would probably all be over in about three tenths of a second anyway. And no, I don't mean taking deep breaths and apologising...rather sending for the local priest, hold the holy water, padre but make free with the communion wine, old chap. Oh, and put the confession on hold, would you? I have to explore the depths of my depravity with these three nubiles first. Oh, and by the way, help yourself to a choirboy...there's a bevy of them in the stalls over there.

So, yes folks! (and you're quite right...well spotted...that was a Neddy Seagoon impression) Tonight's the night Kan goes completely pear-shaped...three sheets to the wind and devil take the hindmost. Any complaints concerning the deterioration in the quality of the writing from here on in, or up to now come to think of it, can most usefully be addressed to Stella Breweries Inc and the Laphroaig distillery...a conspiracy between the two of which I have been the victim of on occasions too numerous to mention. I rather fancy I shall lay off the Booker's bourbon tonight as I plan to include it in a taste off with my remaining stocks of Islay malts in a future blog. I am fresh out of Bruichladdich by the way, should anyone fancy sending a tartan cross parcel my way. Just a thought.

So, whither the frond the spool the noo? Your perspicacity in phrasing such a question is a source of wonder to me. Pray allow me a few moments to consider.

Despite my rather heavy workload recently, I have made a point of strafing my usual haunts with what remained of my attention and have been moved, yea verily, by that which I encountered therein. Please excuse me...the call of the fridge.

Now, where were we? Oh, yes, cheesy bloglets...what? Freudian slip, dear hearts...of the Clement variety obviously...diagnosis...need right back.

Oh, still here? Such a patient readership. I am truly blessed.

Well, Roger has provided several titbits as usual, not the least of which is his continued diatribe against our automotive society. As the owner of a yellowish Trabant, an off-white VW Passat estate and a Yamaha XV750 Virago, I feel it incumbent upon me to offer some sort of response. As "Eat my fumes, eco-warrior!" might well be construed as being just a trifle uncaring, I have been racking my brains to come up with a more reasoned argument. I considered the compensation theory but a quick downward glance reassured me that, despite the fact that the Trades Descriptions Act would probably prohibit me from assuming the nom-de plume of Ivor Biggun were I to follow the example of numerous Hungarian fillies and enter the porn trade, I was sufficiently well endowed not to need loadsa bling, a souped up Ford Cortina, a pit bull cross and/or trophy girlfriend so I had to look for other justification.

And none did I find. Not a jot. A whisp of a reasoned argument escaped the net that I cast far and wide. And yet...some small niggle in the farther recesses of my lobes would let me not alone. Good god! Six Stellas and I assume the speech patterns of John Major...quick! Someone apply the coup-de-grace now...relieve me from further suffering. No, scratch that...solution...a right back.

So, what was this itch that I couldn't quite scratch? A partial cop-out, I freely admit, but I was struck by the thought that, taken to its logical conclusion, a totally ecological lifestyle would involve a regression that I am not sure even the most environmentally sound amongst us would be prepared to endure. Given that the most environmentally friendly product of our industrial age is probably the brown paper bag, it seems to me that anything of a higher technological provenance is, by definition, environmentally disastrous and, if we are to assume the greenest of hues, must be avoided no matter what the cost.

Let's just take a minute to look around us. The glass in our windows, the bricks in our walls, the paper in our books, the wood in our furniture, every electrical component of every electrical appliance we use, even the clay in my Tunisian drums...all products of some process which harms our environment. The packaging of the food we eat, the waste products of the fuel we burn, of the manufacture of the clothes we wear, everything we use simply to survive from one day to the next...all shitting in our own pot. Fouling our own nests. If there's no such thing as a green car, Roger, then I very much doubt there's any such thing as a green life, either.

But, I hear you all expostulate, we can minimise the impact we have on the environment and you are quite right, we can. But at the same time, you are also quite wrong. We are extremely limited in the choices we have. I use a use electricity from the national grid...gas from the North Sea...milk from cardboard containers...Laphroaig from green bottles...beans from a can. I guess the point is, where do we draw the line and to what extent can we, as individuals, make a difference?

Given a choice, I think we would be surprised at how many people would choose the green option. It's the choices that are lacking. The new Toyota with the electric motor is a step in the right direction but I fear that any green initiatives will have to be taken at company or government level and that any measures we may take as individuals will be but a tiny drop in an immense ocean.

As regards the car, Rog, it is obvious that you a) do not have children, b) live within schlepping distance of a supermarket, c) have never bought anything bigger than a small bedside table and d) are blissfully unaware of the beneficial properties of diesel fumes.

Brockette was pondering upon the meaning of love. Such a brave girl, wouldn't you say? Trying in a very human, stilted fashion to define her relationship with the animator in a way in which we could understand. Such a futile endeavour but bravely and honestly attempted nevertheless. Can any of us honestly explain any of our relationships? Even those with our own family members? Nah, scratch that...those are the most difficult of all.

But love...blimey...such a slippery subject...indefinable, ineffable, in my bed and in my life. Put the kettle on, luv.

I have been "in love", to the best of my present knowledge, four times in my life. A gut wrenching, stomach mangling, brain curdling, fly button straining, emotional roller coaster of a ride that left me in no kind of control whatsoever over my vital signs and life processes. Somehow, the pheremones took over and I was left wibbling along as best I could in the face of their onslaught. I would not have missed it for the world. Those who have not ever had the occasion to enquire, nay, beseech..."What's he got that I haven't?" have missed out on a most formative part of their education and are probably possessant of a most over-inflated opinion as to their own self worth.

But the most mind boggling thing is that none of the females inspiring the above suspension of the normal laws of physics and reaction with no action and 24 hour erections were what one may have described as suitable mate material. Being desirous of shagging somebody's brains out might be a good recipe for an entertaining, if depraved, Saturday night out, but will not form the basis of a worthwhile long-lasting relationship. Those of you who have found both in the same person may stop reading at this point, leave your name and address in the comments and await shotgun blast at earliest convenience.

Although there is nothing to quite compare with the trouser squirming, stomach curdling thrill of a carnal assignation, a lifetime partner needs to inspire something decidedly more. I love white chocolate but an over indulgence of same would, and often does, lead to a communication with god on the great white telephone, a porcelain pizza, a technicolour yawn. It may be devilishly exciting to don the six inch heels from time to time but there is a decidedly more comfortable feeling to be had from donning a pair of threadbare but comfortable slippers in front of a hearth with which one is almost obscenely familiar.

Friendship, familiarity, shared history, tolerance and understanding are far more tangible and long lasting qualities than those engendered by the equally worthwhile but transient feeling of "Have her washed and brought to my tent." I have proved to be weak and unfaithful on more than one occasion but when push came to shove...I'll stay where I am thank you very much. I love my partner and despite my weakness for gaudy and tempting roadside attractions...we do fit. Hand in glove. There is a lot to be said for cosy and comfortable. Maybe one day I'll prove myself worthy of it.

Till then, may you always wake up in your own bed.

More to follow but I'm deucedly inebriated right now and must call a recuperative time out. Ta ta.

Thursday, April 22, 2004


If all Dweebs are Dorks and some Dorks are Geeks, are all Dweebs Geeks? Well, I'm bugadifino but this guy is a definite Dweeb.

Well, welcome back every one and all. Where have you been? Profitably engaged, I fervently hope. Unlike Jess, who has been missing in inaction, I have been working my little cotton socks off recently and have, therefore, been blogged off for quite some time.

Two weeks ago, we took the frog to the doctor's as she had been unable to shake off an infection in the ear, nose and throat department and her production of slimy, yellow, globulous mucus had gone into overdrive. I remained unfazed as it was (and still is) my firm opinion that it is the basic nature of frogs to have runny noses, scabby knees and foul mouths but the trainee dragonette was equally firm in her wish to visit said physician for a less flippant diagnosis.

Anyway, MD referred froglet to specialist at hospital but not before said froglet had invited said physician to "Bog off farty pants" which led to deep regret on my part for my non-attendance. I have a conviction that I just may have soiled my underwear had I been there to witness it.

From what I can gather from conversation with dragonette, physician suffered a bit of a knee jerk the effect of which was to induce panic attack in mother and several contretemps in the House of Kan. Two operations necessary, one to remove tonsils and one to insert tubes in both ears to drain away offending infected matter. Froglet on no account to attend nursery school for indefinite period and must remain under house arrest until further notice.

At this point I glanced at froglet who was doing her elbows pumping botty wobble dance and came to the conclusion that she was giving me her opinion as to how said physician had arrived at her rather radical conclusion. My consequent lack of concern was therefore, a source of some little friction between self and fire-breather. Just two things you have to take on board, my sweet little destroyer of worlds..."Voodoo" and "Chile".

There are two black guys in Nagykanizsa, both doctors and both acquaintances of your correspondent. If you have an aversion to being stared at and pointed out on the street, I suggest you avoid their company should you ever venture east of Austria. Anyway, a quick phone call later and Caleb agreed to proffer second opinion regarding froglet's predicament. Upshot was, one nasal spray, two weeks off nursery school, constant nose-blowing and operations may not be as essential to future happiness as was previously thought.

Despite being rather zippety doo dah about the outcome, I recalled my father's first words after his first stroke. "Bugger, bugger, damn, shit, blast!" (and I suddenly knew where froglet got it from!). Thing was, you see, that I had 200 examination scripts at home which were in urgent need of marking and the scaly one could not have any more time off work so I would have to frog-sit until such time as we could pack her off to nursery school again.

One week later and froglet can recite the entire script of Shrek, Kan is bleary eyed but considerably healthier in company bank account and opens e-mail to find request for marking 100 oral examinations in one week. Well, what could I say? I have expenses. I have a single Islay malt habit to sustain. Send the cassettes, dear heart. Send them forthwith and anon.

It is now 11:43 of a Thursday evening and I only have 14 left to mark tomorrow. Froglet is now word perfect in Chihiro and Kan is outside four bottles of Stella which still retails here at about 33p a half litre bottle. Just thought I'd drop that in in an attempt to inculcate insane jealousy in your otherwise dear and gentle hearts. As I have been on at least Ł15 an hour for the past two weeks, I leave it to you to calculate the state of the Kan cellar at this present moment. I would err on the side of healthy, if I were you.

Took froglet to hospital today, Caleb informs us that she is in rude health and can return to nursery school on operations in the least bit necessary...Kan refrains from even mouthing "I told you so" under his breath to flesh searing one and all is tickerty boo once more in Kan mansions.

Although pressures (no, that is not a Gollum impression) have resulted in a distinct lack of active blogging recently, I have been able to keep up with posts on my favourite blogs and I find I have so much to say in response that I must save it all for another day. Watch this space.

Oh, and for those of you kind enough to leave comments or send concerned e-mails, the Crash, bang, bollocks was entirely due to the Blades' abysmal performance against Sunlan and did not overly affect my driving to fetch family back to the bosom of our country seat. Kan has had nearly two weeks of enforced sobriety and, despite my rather careful intake this evening, the wheels are guaranteed to fall off sometime in the near future and hopefully such hindered, hampered and otherwise handicapped locomotion will lead to an entertaining blog or few. Stay tuned.

What's up, Doc?

Friday, April 09, 2004


A very rough approximation of the sound of Kan falling off the wagon and into alcohol fuelled depression. Hopefully I'll have surfaced by Sunday afternoon and will be in a fit state to drive over and pick up the family. Until then, slainthe!



Partner and froglet slow-trained it off to her mother's yesterday...consequently it is, at this moment, precisely not very long since I hauled my sorry ass out of bed and refamiliarised myself with the fact that the coffee making machine is not 5' 2" in stockinged feet and does not answer to the name of Zsuzsi.

As for work...'tis one of the joys of ownership of a reasonably solvent company that to some extent, deadlines permitting, one can choose between throwing oneself whole-heartedly into some form of remunerative endeavour...say, marking the 11 advanced level examination scripts lurking ominously on my desk...or simply fail to make any decision whatsoever and slob around in front of the puta all day.

At present, I would say the balance of possibilities is tending towards the latter option. Who knows? I may even decide to get dressed soon. Now there's tmi if ever there was.

Should you find yourself in the position of entertaining serious doubts of a little rain ever falling into this seemingly idyllic existence, all you workers may allow yourselves a spot of Schadenfreude when you consider the fact that when it all kicks off tonight, your correspondent will, in fact, be standing in front of 5 or 6 advanced students and attempting to teach them the finer points of the English language.

Mind you, the way we've been playing recently, this may prove to be quite a blessing in disguise.

Now, where did I put that Pizzeria's phone number?

Thursday, April 08, 2004


Well, ah were reight gobsmacked, ah'll tell thee.

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, April 07, 2004


All a bit footy related recently...I know and do apologise. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible but I really thought that after last night, short of George Bush being caught in flagrante with one of the heifers on his ranch, anything from there on in would be a bit of an anti-climax.

Just goes to show, I guess. The rather brilliant performance tonight by Deportivo to come back from being 4-1 down from the first leg to dump one of my all time, top 10 detested teams out of the Champions' League was indeed a joy to behold.

The only downer on an otherwise perfect two days of footy was the fact that the backward sommersault, double-pike twisters that are F. C. Porto have made it through to the semi-finals. Drat and double drat.

Oh well, three out of four ain't bad.

Hey ho!


Had a bit of a juicy weekend to be honest. I always consider myself honour bound as a dutiful houseguest to eat ridiculously hearty breakfasts and leave as big a dent as is possible in their stocks of liquid comestibles and I fulfilled my obligations quite spectacularly this weekend. One might say that I surpassed myself. So much so in fact, that it wasn't until late on Sunday night that I found out the rather dismal result from the Forest game.

Quite coincidentally, mine host for the weekend, a fellow connoisseur of all things over 40° proof, was talking about planting a shrubbery in the grounds of his new country retreat. I am awaiting delivery of ex-army issue flame-thrower as we speak. I shall torch the swine.

Funny how the result of twenty-two grown men kicking a pig's bladder around can dampen one's spirits so, wouldn't you say? Nevertheless it did and I must admit to having a bit of a strop on since Sunday and it was with no great sense of anticipation that I sat down to watch back to back broadcasts from Highbury and Monaco this evening.

How do I feel now? Well, I've stopped St. Vitus dancing around the living room, if that's what you mean. Suffice it to say that the cork was popped on a bottle of eight year old 63.4% Booker's bourbon (tasting notes to follow anon) and toasts were drunk to the pedocentric pen-pusher of Maryland with a nod in the general direction of Messrs. Ranieri and Deschamps. Thanks, all three of you. You've cheered me up no end!

Friday, April 02, 2004


Now, just how do you do this thing, again? A pen you call it, eh? What...real handwriting? And a signature? Blimey! I'll do me best.