Friday, December 30, 2005


A winter wonderland? Maybe. If you're dressed for it.

On the other hand, shorts and a T-shirt might just prove sufficient should you ever be required by law to shovel the stuff off your pavement frontage.

Or even, out of necessity, dig out your car prior to a shopping expedition.

I'm not at all sure that this is doing it any kind of good whatsoever.

Monday, December 26, 2005


Today is St Stephen's day and, being fortunate enough to have a next door neighbour who answers to the call, "István!", we popped round this evening to wish him all the best on his nameday.

I had bought him a bottle of the finest 2000 Tokaj Fürmint and for this, and our sincerest congratulations, we were rewarded with roast stuffed chicken, fried chicken thighs in breadcrumbs, Wiener Schnitzel, roast spare ribs and rabbit stew with garlic and chillis followed by a rich and varied assortment of cakes and confectionery, all washed down with copious quantities of brandy and home made Tramini wine.

All that was missing was the roast canary on a spit. Trust the Blades to fuck up my Christmas.

Anyway, as we were leaving, he pressed upon me a plastic coke bottle containing 2 litres of aforementioned Tramini and also a goody bag of cakes.

Every day is somebody's nameday here in Hungary.

I think I might just have stumbled upon a whole new lifestyle.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Just done the rounds of neighbourly present delivery and have sampled the hospitality at each and every one. 11:30 in the morning here and I'm presently pleasantly plastered.

Now I've got to go and cut the tree down, trim it to size and somehow get it indoors and upright.

I have a feeling it isn't going to be easy.

Uncy asks, "Why don't you just take the house outside?"


I guess it's my neanderthal genetic inheritance telling me that real men chop down trees, wear high hee...oops.

Anyway, job done. Only minor injuries, flesh wounds, a pine sap rash up to my biceps and an entire string of now defunct fairy lights draped haphazardly over the dog's kennel which interrupted their freefall after they had been precipitately defenestrated in frustration.

I only hope that the firestarter, upon returning from watching Narnia at the cinema this afternoon, demonstrates the requisite inordinate levels of appreciation otherwise she'll be sleeping under aforementioned lights tonight.

Thank God for beer and home distilled pálinka.

Your very good health, one and all.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


"Even the paddle-shift gear change works well, allowing for the full PlayStation driving experience. The F430 also has an F1-style manettino switch on the steering wheel that allows you to adjust the suspension, traction control and gear shift depending on your mood. This means that if it's icy the car will take care of everything; then there is a normal driving setting where you can pretend that you are a good driver, safe in the knowledge that the car is holding your hand; a sport mode where, like a boxing referee, the traction control will only kick in if someone is going to get hurt; and a race mode where everything is switched off and it's just a matter of time before you kill yourself." Michael Booth - The Independent

Yeah, but what a way to go, eh?

Thursday, December 08, 2005


As the sabbatical enters its fourth month and Kan the Man Enterprises Inc. is still operating at roughly 20% of maximum output, I have been forced into a reconsideration.

Even when the chimneys were belching out under full steam, Idris was also gainfully employed and yet, beyond cooking the (very) occasional meal and making sure that the socks (mostly) went into the laundry basket, I did very little in the way of domestic maintenance and I now wonder why this was so.

Did I expect her to somehow make up the massive difference in our salaries by putting in all those extra hours?

Was it because I was the child of a housewife who stayed at home while my father ventured forth in search of provisions?

Or was it because I have dangly genitalia and am therefore, genetically indisposed to perform household chores?

Maybe all of the above are responsible, at least at a sub-conscious level, but there is an inescapable and undeniable suspicion that the major factor in my dereliction might just have been sheer bloody laziness. After all, if someone else was prepared to do all the work, who was I to interfere with the natural order?

The present situation however, is such that even I cannot justify my continuing to do bugger all now that I am at home on 4 out of 5 working days although the demands of the internet and televisual media outlets are more exacting (and time consuming) than you might think.

I have found it strange and yet logical that one of the first symptoms of unemployment is serious and serial sloth. One stays abed until the forenoon and neglects both blog and facial hair alike. One's consumption of comfort food cranks up the cholesterol levels and tobacco intake assumes alarming proportions. One walks briskly past the beers temptingly arrayed on supermarket shelves and yet has a weekly blowout courtesy of the stockpiled Islays.

So, will a new squeaky clean, freshly shaved and pinafored Kan arise phoenix-like from this slough of stagnation?

Not for a couple of days at least. Froggy has the sniffles and will be off nursery school starting tomor...oops, today. She's promised to teach me some magic tricks later.

An au pair out of a hat might be a good start.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


You have Santa Claus. We have Mikulás. For you, he's yet to come. For us, he's been and gone.

The custom here is that, as in most of mainland Europe, Santa arrives on December the 5th and is usually accompanied by Krampusz, a devil like figure whose role seems to be to reinforce the underlying message that Santa's gifts are conditional upon good behaviour.

There is also gift giving on the evening of the 24th when, in sure and certain proof of the resurrection, it is the 'baby' Jesus who dispenses the largesse. Not wishing to inculcate such twaddle into the impressionable software of my spawn, I tell her that the English Santa has been delayed and will probably arrive in the dark watches of Christmas Eve. I fear I am fighting a battle I cannot win.

I am prepared to participate in the collusion required to perpetuate the myths of Santa, the Tooth Fairy et al because I believe that deep down, where it really matters, most kids are aware of the games we adults play and are generous enough of spirit to humour us in our folly. Or if not, then we assume that the trauma of discovery is fair preparation for an adult life of similar disillusionments and revelations.

But the legend of the baby Jesus? Notwithstanding the fact that he was supposedly resurrected at the age of...what was it...32, how is it that all good Catholics have sufficient faith in the discriminatory powers of their offspring that they can expect them to accept that one mythical figure is just that and that the resurrection of another is a reality?

It's all very strange.