Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Amstelligidnad, that well known printer's error, is in Budapest where, as far as is known, there are no wombats whatsoever. Back on Saturday.

Pip pip.

Monday, March 28, 2005


God help us. It would appear from this that New Labour's policy twunts have decided to make being middle class compulsory. Notwithstanding the facts that it might prove a tad tricky to house the entire population on Henman Hill during Wimbledon fortnight and that having to retool whatever remains of our industrial base to meet the demand for Pringle knitwear may also be problematic, it occurs to me that the terminally bored will need just as much, if not more, motivating to actually bother to vote.

Besides which, they would probably have the polls demonstrating unwavering support for their designs for a better Britain but who would actually build it?

I guess that now they've completed their own make-over into Low Tory tosspots they obviously feel that the rest of the population should follow.

Oh well. I suppose I should be grateful. Whenever life threatens to get too interesting over here, I could always pop back for an away-day-grey-day rest cure. Major's Britain, eh? Who would have thought it?

Thursday, March 24, 2005



My friend awoke from his chemically induced slumbers, bounced his alarm clock off my cranium and called for coffee. I picked my way gingerly through the scattered empties and attained the kitchen area where I proceeded to carefully weigh the ingredients of his morning brew. By a scientific assessment of both number and type of said hollow vessels, I was able to judge the precise amount of time available to me; too soon and I would risk interrupting his all too valuable snooze time and too late would incur his impatient wrath.

Cursing the facts that I had been born far too early to avail myself of the knowledge of the exact composition of Jeeves' wonderful restorative; and far too late to have simply been able to blow his brains out with the elephant gun and bury him under the gazebo, I trod a careful path into his chambers carrying both his morning pick-me-up and the post on a faux silver platter.

"Waddafugtimedyacawthisyafuggintosspot?" I registered a hitherto unnoticed uncorked bottle of Bruichladdich under his bed and realised I had miscalculated. His aim with said bottle was unnerring even at such an early hour and it was some time before I was able to attempt an answer. He was sitting up in bed pinging paper darts in my direction and I realised he had opened his mail.

"Ah. Do get up off the floor, my man. Restore thyself to something approaching usefulness and pray arrange transportation to the capital for the following Wednesday. It would appear that my previous monographs had been so well received that they are desirous of an encore, a repeat performance, a reprise. You may book the accommodation, enquire as to the availability of the delightful Louise for four nights from the 29th and strap me to the bed in an attempt to keep me from masturbating myself into a stupor until such time as I arrive. You may also pack the camera this time and we will show the readers of your little romances just what it is that leads me back to the twin cities from time to time."

I rubbed at my contusions and reached for the phone.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Mmmm. Nice recipe, Jess. Howsomever, what you have described would seem to me to be only a few evolutionary steps away from the proto-tomato sandwich. Quite suitable for the Southern States where, I understand, twelve toes are considered more stable than the usual ten, but here in 'Yurp', a version exists which, while retaining many essential design features of the original, has evolved to suit more sophisticated palates.

The skillet would have a light coating of olive oil and the bread be fried therein. A clove of garlic would then be rubbed over the crispy surface and the tomatoes placed on top. Finely chopped fresh basil and a hint of a particle of a drop of a splash of balsamic vinegar (or, at a pinch, Henderson's) would then be introduced as would a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. And there you would have it. Breath-taking in its utter perfection.

Among the more refined circles, a debate still rages as to whether or not the open or closed version represents the pinnacle of evolutionary achievement but I fear this is pure sophistry or, viewed in a different light, mere babble from the sick-bed.

By 'eck. It's good to have you back girl.

Monday, March 21, 2005


Everything is back to front and upside-down over here.

I guarantee that you will walk into a room and turn the lights off. You will scald yourself on the hot tap and you will have to employ a locksmith to remove the jammed yale key from your front door. You will attempt to twist and pull out screw-in light bulbs and have to adapt to the fact that here, a first name is actually a surname. You will also come to realise that Free Home Delivery Pizza Service involves an 80Ft surcharge for the box and that Non-Stop shops have opening hours, usually 0600 to 2200. You may well be puzzled by the facts that Saturday is half-day closing and that addresses and dates are mirror images of our own. Here, the sales assistant is always right and you are expected to tip in gratitude at having received any kind of service at all in restaurants and bars.

It is however, possible that you will become used to all this. You will then return home, walk into a room and turn the lights off...

Saturday, March 19, 2005


A concurrence. Serendipity. Call it what you will. Nevertheless, two events occurred recently which, had they happened in isolation, would probably not have resulted in such a seismic shift in my world view as they did in combination. A forehead slapping moment indeed. An internal dialogue along the lines of, “You pretzel. You think you’re so fucking smart, don’t you?” As a matter of fact, I did, but it came as quite a shock to discover that I was just as guilty of accepting received wisdom as fact as the next man.

One. I was over at The Liberal Elite the other day, having been pointed in their direction by the esteemed Ms Jones when I came across the opinion expressed that, and I quote, “There are no such things as faeries, pixies, elves and monsters, rather everything around us can be explained rationally and clearly by scientific, reasoned thought. For things which cannot (yet) be comprehensively explained by science, there is usually a religious theory and a scientific theory (big bang is a case in point). Take a step back and see which is the most likely theory that applies. It's never the religious one. But (and this is the important part, kids) the world around us is no less beautiful for that.”

Two. I have a friend. A good friend. An ex-partner in the horizontal dance. Her religious convictions cause me no end of grief but nevertheless, we fell to arguing about the origins of life the other day. Now, as our relationship is such that we take opposing sides in any argument as a matter of course, she took the side of the creationists and I, that of the evolutionists.

About 20 minutes in, it became all too clear to both of us that our positions shared one blatantly obvious common factor. They were both based on faith. Neither of us had any evidence whatsoever upon which to base our arguments. And an argument without evidence is a sorry one indeed, more akin to a creed or dogma than scientific reasoning. And yet, I was so sure that I was right. I mean, evolution, yeah? S’obvious, innit?

I remembered the passage from the Elite and went back and re-read it. Two words stuck in my mind. “Scientific theory”. And I had my first revelation. Theory. I said it again. Theory, not fact. The theory of evolution. Ping! Hot on the heels of this one came the second. Scientific. I said it again. Scientific. Based on experimentation and/or observable facts. I subjected these to, whilst not exactly deep, at least sub-surface thought and realised that, as I had none of the science at my disposal, it was obvious that I should have to delete ‘barely legal’ from the Google search box and do some serious investigation.

Now, as far as I can understand it, and do correct me if I’m wrong, the evolutionists’ theory has life beginning in some kind of primordial soup, then being subject to a process of evolution driven by natural selection. A survival of the fittest. With me so far?

Although I could refer you to whatever it was I used to be served in the old Béke Étterem on Fő utca, I could find no actual evidence for the existence of any soup, consommé, bisque or potage whatsoever. Its existence, in a nice reversal of scientific method, was inferred from the theory. Those accepting evolution must believe in life developing increasing complexity and therefore, that the further back one goes, the simpler it must become until we reach the soup. Now, I will accept that theory sometimes precedes fact. If it didn’t, then why do we even have the word? But to accept theory as fact, until proven, is to build your castle on dodgy ground.
To stay with the soup. What did it consist of? Evidence again, please. And just how did whatever it consisted of transmute itself into a living organism? Was it solar radiation? A bolt of lightning hit and suddenly No. 5 amino is alive? And, seeing as we are talking science here, can it be reproduced in a laboratory? And before you start quoting Eckhard Wimmer at me, all he did was produce a functioning polio virus in a lab from nucleotides which he purchased and then assembled according to an already known sequence. I say all he did. Actually it was a pretty astounding accomplishment but a biological jigsaw puzzle nevertheless. And is a virus actually alive? Definitions, please. And even if you accept this experiment as proof of the possibility, and I don’t, you still have to account for the chance element.
Okay, so now you’ve got your actual single cell organism floating around in a chemical soup. Here is where evolution and natural selection is supposed to kick in. Hmmm. These cells replicate by division, do they not? Producing clones of themselves? Okay, I have more research to do at this cellular level, I admit. All I will say at this point is that it requires a quite spectacular leap of faith to get from a single cell to an organism that replaces every single one of its billions over a seven year cycle, wouldn’t you say?

So, we’ll leave the amoebas to slowly gravitate towards what will eventually become Hillsborough and take a look at evolution itself. Again, as I understand it, there are two not necessarily mutually exclusive processes theoretically at work here. One is that the offspring of animals carrying those genetic traits advantageous to survival have a better chance of actually surviving and passing on these traits to their own progeny. Those not carrying these survival markers will die off and the survival traits will eventually become general in the population. The survival of the fittest.

The other is the so called spot mutation, a genetic great leap forward if you like, leapfrogging the countless generations (theoretically) necessary for natural selection to take place. That there is again no actual evidence for this does not seem to have reached either David Attenborough or The Discovery Channel as yet, but I digress.

Let’s look at the survival of the fittest then. One of the preconditions of this theory is time. Lots of time. Aeons of it to be (not so very) precise. A gradual adaptation for survival in the prevailing circumstances. A tweak here, an adjustment there. Now for any theory to be generally acceptable, it must surely be universally applicable. Then please could somebody explain to me just how any creature that undergoes metamorphosis can have developed this as a survival strategy through natural selection over a huge period of time? Did some caterpillar wake up one morning and decide it would a good idea to teach his kids how to secrete a silk like substance, make themselves a chrysallis out of it and, while ensconced therein, change their entire physical appearance and also learn how to fly? Well I guess it must have happened that way for if not, how could you explain the fact that, at each stage of this evolutionary process, the animal had to actually survive in order to pass on this spiffy new strategy to its sprogs?

There are just so many contradictions. Some animals are dun and drab. This is to afford them camouflage and to avoid being some bugger else’s lunch. Some animals are as gaudily decorated as a tart’s boudoir. This is to attract a mate. Come again? Evolution is supposedly driven by environmental factors and to avoid predation. If you look at the large predators today, they mostly weed out the sick, lame and infant. As for the others, it is difficult to imagine just how a fly could evolve to avoid being froggy din dins or did its evolution stop after developing an insatiable appetite for rumpy pumpy and an ability to lay inordinate quantities of eggs? It would seem to be a process with no logical conclusion. As prey evolves, then (according to the theory) predators have to evolve at the same pace or starve. Or at least change their diet. So why? Why go to all that trouble if the end result is going to be pretty much the same?

And take us poor homo almost sapiens. The fittest, eh? Drop me naked into any jungle or even savannah without gun and ammunition and let’s see just how geared up I am for survival. I am not particularly strong, I lack speed, my senses are dull in comparison, my eyesight sucks, my sense of smell and that of hearing are almost negligible. Anything four legged and equipped with tooth and claw could do for me in a matter of minutes. Ah! But I have my intelligence, I hear you cry. Okay then, let’s try and lever this into the theory then, shall we? Right, are you on terms of reasonably intimate acquaintance with any man, perchance? Given the choice of strength and intelligence or physical beauty as main characteristics of a partner in a carnal encounter, which one do you think he’d go for as first preference? Madaleine Albright or Angelina Jolie? (Apologies to both but I was after a type) Given most men’s preference for a good rut over intellectual coffee table discussions when the urge strikes and given that intelligence is indeed valuable as a survival factor, then answers on a postcard please to the usual address.

And if intelligence is in reality a survival trait, then it should, according to the theory, surely have become a general characteristic of the population as a whole. I rest my case.

I look again at that quote from the Elite and at that part of it which advises me to step back and see which is the most likely theory that applies. Well, I just don’t know. I look at my hands, for example, and think, “By Christ, that’s good design. Brilliant engineering.” Then I take a look at my cock and it’s, “Well, if he really wanted to put my brains in that, he could at least have made it a bit bigger.”
I guess the whole epiphany bit of all this was the realisation that I did not, in fact, know and that I have some way to go in learning to think for myself. I am not as smart as I thought I was and that’s always a good lesson to remember.
Goodnight, fellow mutations.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


“Certainly, sir. But which one did you have in mind?”

A fair question, surely. I mean, there seem to be just so many on offer. So difficult to choose.

It doesn’t help either that a few religions appear to promote two varieties, one here on Earth and another in the hereafter. It can be really most confusing.

Take Catholicism for example. Why the church hierarchy should have failed to progress any further through the gospels than, “Suffer all the little children…” is a mystery to me but doubtless they had their reasons. And now old J P has decided that the best example he can set his flock is to show them how to achieve grace through suffering, all he needs to do now is get rid of that burdensome piece of Roman real estate, move into a favella, sire eleventeen kids and live off black-eyed beans for the rest of his natural.

Now that it has come to light that catholic priests in Africa are the ones propagating the idea that condoms are responsible for HIV and AIDS, I must confess it is difficult to see just how much further they can run with this suffering idea.

Even Mother Theresa must have been sailing pretty close to the wind when, whilst admittedly doing bugger all to actually relieve the physical symptoms of the suffering, she provided a reasonably comfortable environment in which to breath one’s last.

And what of those Catholics who, for some unholy reason, lead a life almost devoid of suffering? I mean, Marie-Claire marrying a Proddy and going to live in Dublin hardly counts, does it? Well, the church has rather thoughtfully provided a safety net of guilt with which to trawl for those unfortunate enough to be free of pain and anguish. We are all guilty of something apparently. Yea, even from our very origins. I would imagine Catholics feel the same way on seeing a priest as the rest of us do at the sight of a policeman. “Oh, god. What have I done now?”

I guess it’s only logical then that their idea of Hell should be the most terrible. Fire, brimstone and precious little treacle. Very Heironymus Bosch. Flames, tridents and white-hot metal thrust into anal orifi.

Anglicanism in comparison, due to its almost apologetic nature, is probably something best treated (to paraphrase Saki) with patronising affection, as if it were something that had grown up in one’s kitchen garden.

A proper C of E idea of Hell on Earth would be best represented by a Midlands’ city, Coventry for example. A place where one is sent for wearing the wrong sort of hat to the Harvest Festival. A theology of embarrassment.

The hereafter version would, most likely, involve the discovery that God wasn’t English after all and an eternity spent enquiring loudly and slowly of foreign types as to the departure times of non-existent trains in a run-down station waiting room, all the while complaining amongst themselves about the absolute impossibility of getting a decent cup of tea anywhere.

And the Jewish idea of Earthly purgatory? That one’s easy. Thirty years old, still single and living with your mother. Hell would probably involve an overwhelming sense of shame and an eternity spent closeted in one’s cell waiting for a particularly horrendous perm to drop out.

The Islamic? Well, that might be the discovery of a misprint in the Koran. It wasn’t 17 virgins you were promised. It was actually 17 Belgians.

And my own? Simple. A place where there is no possibility of ever holding kitchen conversations, of course.

Okay, I admit it. I ran out of steam after the Catholics. Guilty as charged, m’lud. I am suitably ashamed.

Just next time, when you wish me on the road to eternal damnation, could you please be a little more specific?

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Thanks to Lamps, the start to this weekend has seen my soaring ego take a bit of a nose dive. Only 119? Piff and ptui! Perchance I'll try it again when I'm sober.

Friday, March 11, 2005


Say it ain't so.


It has recently come to light that Froggy's nursery school playmates have been made fully cognisant of the facts that a) her mummy drinks pálinka, b) that according to her daddy, mummy's titties go, 'flip, flop, wibble, wobble' and that c) English people say, 'bollocks' a lot when they are angry.

Worry not. I'll let her out at mealtimes.

Monday, March 07, 2005


Average of 0.149 seconds. I'm getting old.

Friday, March 04, 2005


We had another 6 inches of snow overnight. This being Hungary and it not being the 'wrong kind' of snow, life is expected to go on as normal.

So, I hi-hoed out to the drive, shovel in hand and cleared a path for the car out into the road. All well and good, you might think as, I must confess, did I. Wrong.

Just looked out of the window. It would appear that the snow plough has just been. The road is therefore, reasonably free of accumulated flakes. My drive however, has a three foot wall of snow at its conclusion. Bollocks.