Saturday, May 29, 2004


There is a black hole in my head.

Friday, May 28, 2004


Yes, you know who you are...keeping a man from his Stella on a Friday night. Oh, and about the homework...

 Posted by Hello

It sucked!

Thursday, May 27, 2004


Wow! What an eventful day it's been so far. Up at 7 this morning to take the Frog to nursery school, an event in itself as it is usually after eight before I even begin to think of stirring.

I'd only had time for about one and a half coffees and a similar number of cigarettes when the doorbell rang. It was the Magyar equivalent of DHL with a consignment of examination scripts. Somehow managing to suppress my joy and excitement, I made it back into the house to continue bringing my caffeine levels up to that which would enable me to feel approximately, but not quite, human and to manipulate the Frog into a state which could, again, only approximately be described as dressed.

Idris informs me we're running late so I gulp down the last of the coffee, flick the ciggie in the general direction of the sink, pluck the Frog from in front of the TV and bundle her into the car. There we wait the requisite 10 minutes while Idris does whatever it is females do during the time between declaring themselves ready and actually being so. We pass the time, as is our wont, exchanging was early...the best she could up with was "shitty pants" after I'd hit her with "ginger frog-eyed sprite."

So, off to the nursery school, the ATM to withdraw the deposit on the car and off to the showroom to sign the contracts. On the way there, Idris informs me that her night had been spent in a froth of worry about money, credit and cars and that she was entertaining what may be described as second thoughts. Bollocks, bollocks and yet again, bollocks.

If I may just explain at this point that although vast quantities of the folding leap out of my wallet at regular intervals like scalded salmon for trivial little purchases like a house or vehicular transportation, that which it buys is not mine own. Not a sausage. Squat. Nada. For reasons of simplicity, everything is in her name and should she refuse to sign on the dotted, no new car for Si.

Fortunately, these clouds of worry vapourise within about three tenths of a second of her seeing the model in the showroom and from then on I have my hands full keeping her hands off my credit card to pay for it there and then.

Anyway, she signs...I was worried the sparks flying off the pen would ignite the contract...the deposit is paid and the car is ordered. Because it is a limited edition, there are none in stock. In fact, it will not have been built until two weeks from today. A further two weeks for delivery and first, very first ever, new car. Why am I so inordinately excited about this, I wonder? No, that way lies the path of far too much self knowledge than is good for me.

So, drop Idris off in town and return home to the examination scripts the allure of which is such that I reach for my camera and take those shots you see below. A bit of blogging later and the attraction factor of said scripts is still hovering in the minus zone when the doorbell rings again.

It's that awfully nice man from the cable company and he's come to replace my modem. Yer wot? Apparently, the whole network is being upgraded and my old cable modem connection of 10.0Mbps will spontaneously combust if not changed before the upgrade. Oh, right. Do your stuff, then.

So it is that I am now looking down on a rather nifty little Motorola cable modem and, as I move my mouse over the icon in my toolbar, I am informed that I am now the proud owner of a 100.0Mbps internet connection. Blimey! Thing is, I won't notice any increase in speed until everybody has had their old modem replaced which won't be until some time in August. In my present state of hyper-activity, examination scripts excepted of course, I'm not sure I can wait that long.


The first in an occasional series dedicated to the Hungarian conception of what constitutes a tasteful exterior colour scheme for one's house.

No 1. The view from my window as I type.

 Posted by Hello

They did the roof first, replacing the old asbestos tiles with metal sheeting cunningly crafted to resemble real roof-tiles. Not. Horrendous as it undoubtedly is, I reckon I could have lived with it had they not then decided to paint the plaster cladding that awful shade of...well, what exactly? Not content with that, they proceeded to paint the skirting around the bottom of the house to match the roof. Such an elegant idea. Oh well, there goes the neighbourhood.

In reply to Balders over at The UK Today, if it were economy I were after, I would get this bugger back on the road.

 Posted by Hello

And whenever the boy racer urge gets too strong, this usually does the trick!

Ho hum Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


All I've got to do now is figure out how to pay for it. Anybody wanna buy a Passat? Posted by Hello


...what a man hasn't got the faintest idea how to, one's confidence is likely to take somewhat of a nosedive.

Is there anything more guaranteed to make a man feel totally inadequate than walking into a car showroom? Yup, I'm trading it in ferra younger model.

Apart from buying a house, a car is probably the major financial commitment in most people's lives. At least with a house you can actually inspect the damn thing, walk round, get a feel of the place and even the most inexpert can usually tell if the thing is structurally sound and what needs doing to it.

A car on the other hand...well. A paint job can hide a multitude of sins and as to what to look for under the bonnet...might as well show me a text of Sanskrit and ask me to summarise the main points in Cyrillic. So that rather rules out a private buy...even if I do know a mechanic who would check it over for me, I don't want to load all the responsibility onto his shoulders should it turn out that I have bought a turkey.

So, that rather points me in the direction of the showroom. However, despite my scepticism regarding the honesty of politicians (certain hard-working local councillors and Robin Cook excepted, of course) there is one breed whom I trust even less. The second hand car salesman. This tended to push me towards considering buying new.

Now, it so happens that an acquaintance of mine who used to work at the oil company to which my company was contracted as English Language Consultants is now the boss of the Skoda franchise in town. I paid his showroom a visit yesterday and had a rather unexpected experience. I talked to one of the salespersons there and the sum total of his efforts was to hand me a price list. There was I expecting the hard sell and suddenly I was faced with the prospect of a difficult buy.

Silently, and for the nth time since I have been here, I told myself, "This is Hungary, Simon" and headed out. I decided to cut out the middle man, and try and avail myself of a little slice of 'protekcio' by calling up the boss.

Thus it is that I have an appointment at the showroom at 2.30 this afternoon when he will personally conduct me on a guided tour of all the goodies he has to offer automobile wise.

At present, I'm rather leaning towards a Skoda Octavia Turbo Diesel Estate...same engine as the Passat and built on a Golf chassis, I believe.

Anyway, my biggest decision now concerns what to wear. I think I shall plump for the biggest pair of 'fuck off' boots in my wardrobe. I've got a whole lot of tyres to kick.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Spring is here and it's at this time that a man's fancy turns to thoughts of... Posted by Hello

...the first meadow mowing of the's a before. Posted by Hello

Here's a during, on the way to the fridge ferra cold Stella. Posted by Hello

And here's an after...I ache in places... Posted by Hello

Thank you, Lamps. This has just put a couple of quid on my laundry bill.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004


I really didn't want to go here either for this way madness lies but several things conspired today to make it inevitable.

I spent the day at home working and popping in and out of Byker's place to join in the jolly-up in the comments section concerning the nature of politicians and the invasion of Iraq. I even received a sound (and well deserved, although a tad over the top) talking to from a Mr Bob Piper.

One of the arguments put forward (not by Bob, I hasten to fact he was of the entirely opposite opinion) was that, as we are not as well informed as our politicians and, as we elected them to represent us, we should trust them to get on with running the country on our behalf. Oh, dearie, dearie me.

Well, given that all if not most of the information available to the government before it launched its little adventure has already found its way into the public domain and has proved to be at best, shoddy and, at worst, deceitful, one could easily make a case for that trust having been betrayed.

The argument continued along the lines that as everything is written from someone's own perspective, one can never ever arrive at an absolute, concrete, black and white truth.

Well, I can go along with that up to a point. But, if one takes as many sources and opinions as is feasible and reads them with a critical mind, one can arrive at a place that, although still being grey, will be, nevertheless, considerably more well lighted.

Another contributory factor was that I picked up a week's supply of the 'Independent' yesterday and had just got around to perusing last Monday's edition when I saw this.

Maaaaaaaaam! It's the bogeyman! Posted by Hello

Well, the face alone was not enough to fire my ire, although if one were looking for a personification of 'Angry of Tunbridge Wells' one would need look no further, but what I found below certainly was.

"It may be, though this is still unproven, that some British soldiers have been guilty of excesses in Iraq. If so, these will have occurred in or around the urgency and chaos of the front line, where good order is hard to maintain. I do not believe that any British unit would be guilty of the systematic and prolonged abuse of captives. Under our system, that could not happen.

Under the American system, it did."

Quite takes the breath away, does it not? Excesses, he says. Makes it sound like an eleventeen pints, I could do with a curry, oops there goes me dinner Friday lads' night out.

"...these will have occurred...". My, such certainty. Such absolute conviction. Such blind faith obviously needs nothing in the form of corroborating evidence.

"...the front line...". And here was me thinking Bush had declared the hostilities over.

Anyway, what he really seems to be saying is that as long as it occurs within an arbitrary distance of an arbitrary front line, doesn't last longer than an arbitrary period of time and is not organised (arbitrarily or otherwise), then it's quite okay to humiliate, degrade and abuse...well, just about anybody not in uniform, really. Oh, and let's be quite clear about this, shall we? British abuse can in no way be compared with the much more horrific American variety.

What absolute tosh.

He goes on to say,

"The Americans are not in Iraq to maltreat prisoners and steal oil. They are trying to enable Iraqis to govern themselves, and to stick to a timetable to hand over power. In 10 years' time, if the US has its way, Iraqis will be freer and richer than ever before. A well run, prosperous Iraq could also be an example to the rest of the Arab world. That is why the Abu Ghraib jail is such a disaster. A prisoner is dragged on all fours, like a dog. In so doing, his captors appear to put America on all fours with Saddam Hussein. US soldiers went into battle to close down the torture chambers. Now, the unspeakable behaviour of a handful of Americans has enabled the West's enemies to claim that the US's regime in Iraq is no better than the one it replaced.

This is nonsense, and malicious nonsense at that. But it cannot be properly refuted as long as Donald Rumsfeld is in office."

Sounds like he's after Donald's job.

It's a clever piece of writing, really. It includes enough references to a happy ever after Iraq and huffs and puffs quite indignantly about the abuse enough to persuade the casual reader of his concern but it's the sub-text and off-hand references to opinion as fact which worry me.

The Americans are not in Iraq to steal oil. With this, he hopes to take oil right out of the equation altogether. So we can forget about ensuring America's oil supply for a few more years then, can we? As long as they pay for it, it's okay? We can forget about Bush's contacts with the oil industry and the awarding of contracts for the reconstruction and repair of Iraq's oil infrastructure. We shouldn't concern ourselves too much with the distribution of drilling concessions, then?

Govern themselves...hand over power? I rather doubt it. Were an election held tomorrow, America would be faced with the Government from hell. There is no way that a government elected at the present time would allow all the above, neither would it contemplate US military bases on its soil. In an attempt to distance itself from the awful Saudi regime, one of their first acts after the major fighting was over was to disband its bases there and move them into Iraq.

A well run Iraq. I wonder what that means. I have a suspicion that there is no way that a government freely elected by the Iraqi people would be at all sympathetic to US designs on the region and that any hand over of power will be extremely limited. The US will still wish to keep its hands on the reins.

Not in Iraq to maltreat prisoners...went into battle to close down the torture chambers. Piff, paff and ptui! Okay, let's disregard the fact that Bruce seems to think that soldiers have a choice about going into battle and do so for motives other than the fact that they were ordered to. I'm also prepared to disregard the fact that, if I were of a mind to motivate my troops, I would surely tell them about the enemy's torture of his own people...that'd really get them going.

No. All this happened as a direct result of the atrocity that was 9/11. The outcry was such that something had to be done and be seen to be done. To use it as a cover for US geo-political interests was a stroke of genius on the part of Rumsfeld et al. What better opportunity for rallying the country behind the President could there have been?

Despite the facts that all the terrorists of 9/11 were Saudis and that even Osama hated Saddam's guts, the US public were led/allowed to believe that Iraq was somehow involved in it all. The spectre of WMDs falling into the hands of terrorists was raised and the troops were mobilised.

Even now, I seem to recall reading somewhere (I apologise for the vagueness of my source) that more than 50% of the American public believe that Iraq was implicated in the terrible events of that day. Now, I'm sure the US military comprises a less than true cross section of US society but this would tend to support the belief that a far greater percentage of the poor bloody infantry actually believe this to be true than in the population at large. It is no great step from realising that to the realisation that the average infantryman did not go into battle with the light of altruism shining brightly in his eyes but rather with the desire for revenge.

Payback time...time to kick some ass. In an atmosphere like this, is it really any wonder that the enemy were perceived as 'having it coming'? War is not a civilised pursuit. It is brutal and inhuman and those that find themselves in one are going to be brutalised and to some extent de-humanised. You have to kill people as a soldier. It is your job, you are trained to do it. One way of justifying such an inhuman act is to view your enemies and those you must kill as less than human...from there it is but a small step to atrocity.

The West's enemies to claim, every dissenting voice is an enemy of the West? That's your implication, Mr Anderson. (Oh, I so enjoyed saying that!)

As long as Donald Rumsfeld is in office. Perfect! Give the dissenting voices a scapegoat, a sacrifice and then we can get on with business as usual.

It certainly is nonsense, Bruce, although I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and not accuse you of being malicious.

Saturday, May 15, 2004


I knew I shouldn't have gone. I should have listened to the quiet voice of experience warning me of the dangers inherent in my planned course of action. But, oh no...Kan wanted ice-cream and white chocolate above all else so trousers were shucked into, shoes pulled on and laced, wallet and car-keys grabbed and the door headed for.

The phone rings.

It's the frog and dragon calling from her mother's just to check that the house hasn't burnt down in their absence and that I haven't eaten that Kinder egg that was waiting in the fridge for the frog's return. As if...say I, and make mental note to buy replacement at Tesco.

Open the gates to the drive...oh, shit...forgot to chain the dog. Brown blur of hairy alsatian hares past for a serious bout of tree sniffing. I listen to the voice of experience this time and decide to leave her to her trees and get her on the way back.

First decision...through town or the ring road? The ring road wins hands down as it's usually traffic free at this hour. Half way there and I get flagged down by the local dibble. Spot check. I get the usual three wishes...MOT certificate, driving license, green card (a confirmation that exhaust emissions are within legal limits) and settle back in my seat for the usual interrogation.

"This car isn't yours, is it?"

Oh, well spotted, that man. "No."

"Whose is it, then?"

Can't you read, you retard? "The dragon's"

"And who is she, then?"

I decide to be deliberately obtuse...well, he started it. "I'm afraid I don't understand the question."

"What's your relationship with her?"

The impertinence of the man.

"I know her."

"And what are you doing in her car?"

"Well, I was going somewhere."

"Where are you going?"

"Look, I don't mean to be rude or anything, but I fail to see why my destination should be any interest of yours."

He decides to change tack. "This isn't a Hungarian driving license, is it?"

"I would have thought that was obvious."

"Passport." Well, if he can't even be bothered to turn it into a question...


"Can I see your passport please, sir?"


"Why not?"

"For the very good reason that I don't happen to have it on me." Actually, it's in the glove compartment but I'm beyond reason at this point.

"You should have your passport with you at all times, sir."

"Oh, really? Is that why the Hungarian Ministry of Tourism publishes leaflets advising tourists to leave their passports in the hotel safe?"

"You do know that foreigners aren't allowed to drive Hungarian cars, don't you?"

"No, but if that's the case, I think you'd better tell AVIS and HERTZ before it's too late." I had actually checked this one out ages ago with a lawyer friend of mine and he told me it was bobbins.

"What are you doing here in Hungary?"

"Well, actually I'm the advance guard of the stream of English economic migrants you can expect now you're in the EU."


"Look, if it's all the same to you and all my papers are in order, I'd rather like to be on my way. If you'd like to arrest me, we can continue this conversation at the station. I would however, like to know what you are arresting me for and I would like it in writing, if you don't mind."

"On your way, then."

"Good night." Honestly!

So, arrive at Tesco. It's getting on for seven o'clock on a Saturday evening and the damn thing is full to overflowing. Ooops, forgot the circus was in town and camped on Tesco land. Bugger, bugger, damn, shit, blast. Join the queue of circling cars and eventually find a space to park from where I can just make out the outline of the store in the distance. Silently wishing I'd brought my hiking boots, I strike out for the store.

Now, the Nagykanizsa branch of Tesco does indeed share some of the characteristics of the Boston, Lincs branch that some of you may be familiar with. Any sensible shopper will start at the final aisle, otherwise all those lovely soft, squishy fruits you bought in the first will be squashed by the six packs you bought in the last; the lighting is depressingly intense and Oasis are groaning through "Wonderwall". The Hungarian version however, has added some refinements of its own designed to make the shopping experience even more of a torture than it already was.

Every aisle is exactly two trolley widths + 1 centimetre wide. The shelves are also much taller than their English equivalents and this leads to a rather uncomfortable feeling of claustrophobia. Every item in the middle aisles is routinely moved to another part of the store so that the male shopping technique...I know what I want and where it is therefore I do not have to wander around the place like a lost soul and look at every item on every thwarted on a regular basis. There is also a large tank full of live pike-perch and the occasional thud as one of these is delivered of a blow to the head forms a rather disconcerting soundtrack to one's perusal of the goods on offer.

Anyway, I make my purchases and head for the tills. The distance between the tills and the aisles is exactly one and a half trolley lengths. Think Piccadilly Circus at rush hour.

So, there I am. Stuck in an aisle behind five other trolleys and glancing up at a huge sign promising that if there are more than two other customers in front of you at the tills, they will open another one to speed your passage. Two trolleys in front of me are an elderly couple who are suddenly joined by a companion bearing, you guessed it, another fucking trolley. Finally emerge from aisle to see other queues moving at three times the rate of my own. Wonder what the fuck is going on and a few minutes later, owner of trolley being served arrives back clutching 4 six-packs of Hungarian beer.

Now, much as some people seem to attract the nutter on the bus, it is my fate to be drawn towards the cashiers from hell and I was praying that this would not be the case on this occasion when I first heard her horrible nasal whine as she chatted non-stop to her colleague behind her. I unloaded my goods onto the belt and remembered fondly an occasion in an English Tesco when the girl on the till had made comments on my purchases and I had ended up inviting her to the barbecue she had deduced we were having. And she came, God bless her.

This specimen, on the other hand, I shall call her Dorry the Crone (an easy reference but 10 points nevertheless) proceeded to swipe my goods the regulation 3 times over the laser reader without so much as a "Good evening". She also stacked them so that I would have to reach for them rather than expend any energy pushing them down the incline to where I was waiting.

She informed me of the fiscal damage with nary a please and turned to communicate with her colleague. When she eventually deigned to bestow her attention upon me, it was with some measure of surprise and no small sniff that she realised that my hand was not still outstretched with the requisite amount of specie. I handed it over nevertheless and she wordlessly (to me anyway, her colleague was still the focus of her whine) placed my change on the little plastic platform provided for the purpose.

I pocketed my change, finished bagging my goodies and waited. And waited. When it became obvious to me that, as far as she was concerned, I was out of her life forever, I asked her for my receipt.

"I gave it to you."

"I beg to differ."

"I always give it. I always put it with the change."

"You didn't."

"Then I must have put it amongst what you bought."

"You didn't."

"Then look under those." Said she, pointing to the bags she had placed down for the next customer.

"Oh, sorry. I didn't realise it was the custom for people to have to root amongst other people's shopping for their own receipts."

I did indeed find one there but it was not mine own and I slapped it down in front of her.

"What are you giving me that for?"

"Because it's not mine."

Another sniff.

"Then have a look through those." said she, pointing at all the receipts left by customers less fastidious than your correspondent.

"Excuse me? Are you seriously suggesting that I should wade through a pile of waste paper to try and find something that you should have provided me with as a matter of course? Listen, let me make it easy for you. Either you find and give me my receipt or you can get on the phone to your manager and they can come and look for it."

At this point she began to seriously search for it and the saddest part of the whole incident occured. The customer behind me, admittedly being held up by all this, offered to give me his receipt if it was that important to me. As if it were my fault for not accepting the tawdry service that the one with the power over me was prepared to dish out.

She found it...on the floor under her stool, where she had thrown it after screwing it up into a ball.

"Oh, sorry for misunderstanding 'I gave it to you' as an invitation to scrabble around under your stool and retrieve the fucking thing."

No apology, no "good night", nothing. As I left, she was chuntering away to the next customer about the crazy people she has to deal with during the day and how we make her life an absolute misery. Sad thing was, he was agreeing with her. He knows where the power lies, that's for sure.

Right, back to car then. Am loading bags onto the passenger seat when I am approached by a girl who gives me a card. I read it and discover she is collecting money on behalf of deaf people. I feign ignorance, hand her her card back and as she turns away, I call her back. She comes. I give her some money for chutzpah and we exchange grins. Mine genuinely amused and hers a little chagrined.

I decide to travel back home through town this time and am on a side street when I notice a rather fat lass on a bicycle emerge from a drive in front of me and approach the, surely not...she can't be thinking of...she's not looking for any traffic...surely she's going to brake...Somehow I simultaneously sound the horn and swerve to avoid her and luckily there's nothing coming in the opposite direction. Shit on a stick! I glance in the mirror and find, to my disappointment, that she's still athwart the bike but I hope that there is no small portion of excretory matter presently sliding uncomfortably twixt her thighs and the saddle and drive on.

I arrive home and am heartened by the sight of my dog sitting patiently in front of the gates awaiting my arrival. I let her in, chain her up and perform the necessary steps to leave my car parked on the drive of our house.

Then I realise. A kúrva életbe! Christ on a trike! I've forgotten the bloody Kinder egg.

After all this, I've quite lost my appetite for ice-cream and white chocolate and have discovered that my urges this evening may best be satisfied by the goddess, Stella. Cheers all.

Friday, May 14, 2004


Yours truly on borrowed congas, Tiborcz Iván on tenor sax and some guy from Budapest on whistle type thing in the little acorn that was Jazzland, Cserfő '96. Posted by Hello

So what if the stage did look as if it was cobbled together from old refuse bags, they were even that hard up that they asked Kan the man to sit in on what if Ivan's kids were the only ones ferrying alcoholic comestibles to the audience and, more importantly, to the what if the only international component was yours fucking what. I had a blinding time and have done most years since.

I first met Iván in the winter of 1991. He had escaped Hungary for Greece some years previously and had eventually been admitted to the US, ending up in a suburb of Chicago shacked up with some coloured chick (I remember him telling me that he had exclaimed, "Hey, your pussy's pink!" on his first close encounter with said organ.) and earning a crust playing tenor sax in jazz bars in the windy city. He had returned to Hungary and was teaching English in a local school. I never have adequately distilled the reason for his return to the land of the Magyars but I would suspect that he left the States with the imprint of some immigration officer's boot on his backside but, who am I to speculate?

After a few initial communication problems...that is to say, he couldn't understand a fucking word I said, American accents not being as diverse as their English counterparts, Cajun excepted, of course...we became great friends. I would whup his sorry ass at pool and he would try and get me laid. He had a theory, based on his experiences in the States, that playing Mr Wobbly hides his helmet was an activity that could be enjoyed irrespective of language ability. Wrong! Mind you, he did take credit for my obtaining my first Hungarian girlfriend despite the fact that she had approached him with the request of "Have him washed and brought to my tent." And so my love affair with females of the Magyar persuasion began. One of their little idiosyncracies is the fact that, for them, oral sex does not rank up there with the deed itself and, in fact, is viewed as an alternative form of contraception. Oh, my! In fact, along with her proficiency in 'French', said girl could also speak English (well...yes, no and maybe was the sum of her productive skills at the time) and was a major factor in my not learning any Hungarian for about two years. She, however, passed all her English exams, is fluent in the language of the bedroom and is still, my very good friend.

Anyway, he gigged, sundry girls gagged (that should lively up the comments section) and I jogged along for about 4 years before he bought a vineyard in Cserfő and settled into his country estate.

He was gigging around town with various other musicians and had a weekend gig at a jazz cafe in town playing piano. Booooooring! So, in 1996, he organised the first Jazzland festival. The stage was the terrace of his vineyard retreat and the musicians those of his acqaintance, including myself, whom he could persuade to turn up and jam for three days. A very small acorn, indeed. I remember it raining like buggery on the second night and I woke up in a sleeping bag on a very sodden and warped set of floorboards and had to spend the next day lifting them up and moving them outside to be sun-dried. Who left that bloody door open?

Anyway, the thing grew in size and stature from year to year to the extent that there is now a purpose built stage, an indoor jazz club, several bars, two retail food outlets and stars of the calibre of Rhoda Scott grace the event with their presence. I have missed it for the last 4 years as I usually bugger off back to Blighty at about that time, but I'm buggered if I'm not gonna be there this year. Particularly as the pedocentric pen pusher from Maryland is gonna try her best to get over for it. I owe Jess several hugs and I can imagine no better venue for these than the best jazz festival west of the Carpathians. Anyone wishing to sample the delights and needs picking up from Budapest airport and/or a garden to pitch a tent in for the duration of the festival (15-17 July inclusive) should send mail soonest. Failing that, a message in the comments, or a massage in the coppice, will suffice.

Come one, come all, we'll have a ball!


This one's for you, O ye of little faith.

If I may just draw your attention to the graveyard on the top shelf. From left to right.

Isle of Jura
Isle of Jura
Johnny Walker black label

Hennessy...our Gert's all three.

Glen Turner
Jack Daniel's...a gift and good for guests.
Cask strength Laphroaig
Teacher' favourite blended.
Tesco Islay pure malt...okay, I was skint.

'Twas not I who was talking out of his fundamental orifice, old chap. And that's a bottle of home distilled, 60% alcohol by volume pear brandy you owe me, old fruit. Fail to come up with the spoils and I shall send the frog round. Be warned, the emissions from her orifice are infinitely more deadly than your own. Posted by Hello


Definitely half-empty. It's been one of those days. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


Just a reminder that the annual Cserfő Jazzland jazz festival is from July 15 - 17 inclusive this year. Anyone seeking any kind of assistance in making it over to Hungary for the only festival of jazz I know that is held in a vineyard should get in touch pretty sharpish. Posted by Hello


We went to a secondary/high school graduation ceremony over the weekend where, as a matter of tradition, endless speeches are made, poems are read and the entire school attends to form a parade of honour for those graduating. At the school in question, this ceremony is usually held out of doors but, as it was verily pissing down with rain on the day, it was decided that it would be held in the school gymnasium.

Large as it is, about the size of a handball court and with adequate room for spectators at a match, the fact that every graduate had invited their entire extended family and friends (hence my presence) led to our hanging around in the foyer to avoid the crush and eventually pissing off home before tootling off to the party afterwards.

Now, the thing is that this ceremony requires a certain protocol on the part of the female graduates. They must all dress, scratch that...identically, in a uniform supposedly based on the old Soviet Pioneers only the red has been exchanged for blue. The boys have no such constraints...although decorum insists upon a suit but the upshot is that the white blouse with blue stripy shoulder type appendages leads to the girls all looking like sailors for the day.

Needless to say, when the frog heard of this, she just had to have a sailor suit of her own. And didn't she just love it!

I seem to remember a personality test on this blog which accused me of being that's where she gets it from! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


And here's an after. The only one you're getting! It would appear from the photographic evidence that there might just have been more than the six Stellas with whiskey chasers that I previously referred to. So, I lied...sue me. Posted by Hello


Well, it's been a long time coming but I did promise you photos of before, during and after my New Year's whoop-de-doo. Here's a during. Posted by Hello

Monday, May 10, 2004


I've just finished trading insults in the bath with the frog. It would appear that I am made up of equal parts donkey droppings and kangaroo shit. Just thought I'd share that with you.

Thursday, May 06, 2004


Well, what can I say? World effeminate diving champions F.C. Porto and ersatz footy club base 347 plus the odd the Champions' League final. Well, ah'll go tut fut uv our stairs. Owt but actually watch the thing.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


Don't know who, why, what or where but here's something for Lisa and the Animator. Rather a long download, but well worth the wait.

Monday, May 03, 2004


Roger the Shrubber, environmental scientist extraordinaire, designer of People's Republic of South Yorkshire T-shirts (copyright, Flying Trilobite Enterprises Inc.) and ex-roving researcher asks me in the comments to my previous blog what it feels like to be part of the 'new' Europe.

Well, I'm not sure yet. I'll have to see how it affects Stella prices before I can come to a definitive conclusion but it should mean that the penultimate border crossing between here and Blighty (England's itself will never disappear or so it seems) should have vanished by the time I make my next trip home.

Before venturing further, I should perhaps make it clear that I am on my fifth Stella and that coherency will be somewhat lacking in whatever thoughts I have from here on in but here goes.

Bollocks the lot of it. Quite an apt expression if I draw your mind to the rugby song referring to them as 'swinging to and fro', as the analogy to a pendulum is quite apt considering Hungary's political situation post 1989.

No matter what Reagan said, it was Hungary's decision to open its borders in 1989 which led to the much more publicised fall of the Berlin Wall and the 'collapse of communism', much vaunted by the West and especially Berliners.

Should you think I might have a slight bias to and blind spot regarding Hungary, I feel I should make a few comments concerning the situation here before the 'regime change'.

Progress was dependent upon party membership, which generally was selling out rather than genuine belief...despite some honourable people such as my late 'father-in-law' whose communist beliefs never wavered and who, paradoxically enough, suffered for it. Those who obtained membership fraudulently, as it were, tended to do rather better out of manipulating the system than those who fervently believed in it. But, just in case you get the idea that all was pretence and subterfuge, I feel I should let you know just how the mother of a friend of mine described the communist years.

She told me once, in reply to my query as to what it was like, that it was, "impossible to listen." I didn't get it at first. But the more I thought about it, the more tragic it became. Can you picture ever chatting with your neighbour over the Leylandi hedge and being afraid not to make any reply? To have the simple act of listening construed as registering and logging for future informing? Can you ever hope to imagine what effect that had on even the most innocent dialogues? You won't even come close. Small talk only. Nothing of any import...ever. Never. Even between friends there would have been a suspicion, nothing could ever have been concrete, have absolutely no fucking idea.

Anyway, the Magyar Democratic Forum won the first democratic election and a few years of selling Hungary by the pound ensued. They were quite Thatcherite in principle but decidedly corrupt in practice and, as with Russia, the backhanders won the day.

I can only state with any degree of certainty that which transpired in Nagykanizsa as it is there that I live and breed. After two or three years the foreign companies moved in and instead of investing in existing industries, simply bought up Hungarian companies with a view to closing them down and buying into the market. Thus it was that the Nagykanizsa brewery was bought by an Austrian company and my favourite Hungarian beers disappeared from circulation within a few months. Beer was brewed here under licence at first but now the brewery acts as a warehouse for foreign multinational beers. The food processing plants met the same fate. Bought up, closed down, turned into a halfway house for distribution of Austrian processed food.

At about the same time as the redefining of Nagykanizsa's manufacturing industry as warehouse, the original buyers were themselves bought out by the multi-nationals. The largest employer in town with the largest factory in Europe, Tungsram, was bought out by GE and it is to its credit that the factory is still actually producing something. But what exactly, did they buy? Hungarian expertise, cheap and highly qualified electrical and mechanical engineers...a cheap and highly educated workforce who are presently having the pips squeezed out of them to improve productivity with little or no increase in remuneration. And a way into the eastern market. It is no surprise to me that the same company is now out-sourcing most of its base production to China and leaving Nagykanizsa as a mere assembly plant.

Anyway, as with all post communist states, the next general election saw a socialist government returned to power amidst hope that the corruption of the first government would be a thing of the past. And it was, to a degree. Here the seventh Stella begins its great journey south. The situation was by all accounts SNAFU or even FUBAR but the socialists put into operation an economic recovery programme, which, whilst decidedly being cruel to be kind, got the economy back on a level footing. Unfortunately this had the effect of being cruel to be kind and the measures taken, whilst necessary, led to increasing unemployment and hardship for the Hungarian equivalent of Mondeo man.

There existed in Hungary an intellectual elite, of young untarnished politicos whose very innocence led them to win the third election apart from a very natural reaction to the cruel to be kind regime of the socialists.

These pillocks proceeded to do fuck all, just skim a little less off the top than the previous regime and sit back as the country reaped the benefits of the previous government's programmes.

Come the next election and these guys were beginning to suspect that the populace had them sussed to a nicety and, lacking any other credible platform, began to play the nationalist card. There was a huge FIDESZ rally in Budapest and I happened to catch it on TV. I switched on and was faced with several thousands of people all waving the Hungarian flag.

I asked my partner what National Holiday I was unaware of and she informed me of the true nature of the situation. All party activists had been invited, nay instructed to attend and told not to bring party flags and emblems but only those referring to the Hungarian nation. Oh, dearie me! Maybe you can see now what tactics Blunkett et al are hoping to employ in the lead up to 'Britain's' next general election. Manipulative bastard. And to think, I had such high hopes for him.

Luckily, they lost...people here remember fascism with just as much abhorrence as they do communism but at least then there was bread on the table and everybody had a job, albeit on the never-never of international loan agreements...which was the real reason for the collapse of communism...all those western loans they hadn't a hope of paying off just got out of hand and it is the renegotiation of these that lies at the heart of any accession to Europe treaties. And cocking a snook to those damned Ruskies, of course.

So, what does it mean for Hungary? Catastrophe I fear. Hungary is an agrarian country the entire population of which would fit into the area of Greater London. Let's set that against the Common Agricultural Policy and see where we stand, shall we?

I don't know. Maybe Hungary will be the next Ireland, building prosperity on EU grants and a belief that, to be successful, you don't actually have to produce or manufacture anything, that you can just simply act as a conduit for money transfers and that the entire population will find its place within such a system, either working for the many banks to have opened up in town or for the Tesco and Spar hypermarkets which have followed in their wake. Thus we will be able to both save and spend money we haven't got to keep the local economy going.

Unfortunately, I have a suspicion that it will all turn out to be, as I said earlier, bollocks the lot of it!

Anyway, bugger this! I'm off ferran eighth.

Sunday, May 02, 2004


At this time of year, most males' thoughts turn to passing on their decaying Y-chromosome to future generations. Me, I just tidy up my blog.

Now, where did I put those carpet slippers?