to links pages 
phone texts to Skype = mark-griffith
Saturday. Meet brother of Serb next-door neighbour, an interpreter at the war-crimes court at the Hague. We go down in the lift together. Glue the broken magnetic street-entrance thing back together again with my key ring, so I don't have to wait outside on the street for someone to let me in if I leave the magnet thing in my flat. Also one or two weeks ago re-attached my landlady's cold-water tap on bath using fragments of dry pasta to jam the thread tight with glue. So that didn't take me long.
Friday. A student firmly refers to a relative of his who walked out leaving his girlfriend to raise two of his children as a "bad man". Quite right too. Talking of people who neglect their offspring, there's Percy Shelley, and a decent article about his wife's famous piece of early sci-fi. A man-made orphan, perhaps.
Thursday. Czech government archives reveal Jeremy Corbyn was a low-level asset for Czechoslovak secret-police agents in the 1980s.
Ash Wednesday. Readers will be thrilled to learn that some time in January, perhaps even this month, the display cabinets in the dairy aisle at the nearby basement supermarket changed again. The cheeses, butters, creams, and yoghourts are now underlit with a brighter, colder, bluer light. This makes them look fresher and more appealing. Boston Dynamics robots can open doors now.
Shrove Tuesday. Fairly sane-looking technical predictions in gold.
Monday. What might be a good light-hearted Hollywood caper, unless the trailer (using my mother's favourite Sinatra tune) turns out to be all that's good in the film. Sadly can happen.
Sunday. Portraitist of Mr Obama also paints proud warrior negresses beheading people against Victorian pub wallpaper. Meanwhile, over in Glasgow, other exciting envelopes are being pushed!
Saturday. Finish a curious, intriguing book moments before seeing, in my first cinema outing in many moons, Ildiko Enyedi's 'On Body and Soul' with Film-maker Jessica & her Internations chums. Very good, though a bit puzzled by the Sexy Psychologist subplot. Still think Enyedi's older film 'Simon Magus' is even better. Borrowed from Robin, 'The Fourth Dimension' by C. Howard Hinton is a wonderfully earnest and odd book, packed with lovely line drawings. From 1906, it patiently and carefully explains, in well argued steps, how to thoroughly visualise a 4th spatial dimension. It does this using some small coloured cubes which can be made from cardboard following the book's instructions. A quite difficult read if you don't actually build the models, which I shall have to soon. One chapter digresses to relate this to Kant, and another section suggests some puzzles about electromagnetism are solved if we imagine them as 4-dimensional relations "hiding behind" 3-dimensional perceived reality.
Friday. 20-lb rat beings chew through California.
Thursday. Over lunch with Zizi, she shows me a review of Gwyneth Paltrow's strange cosmetics brand.
Wednesday. High-frequency programs force-retire hedgefunders.
Tuesday. Piece with paywall, about how the good old days of the NHS involved experimenting on people without telling them.
Monday. 2 good paired book reviews - Wright Brothers & Elon Musk.
Sunday. Chinese scientists building ginormous mega-laser thing.
Saturday. The mystery of my blue plastic ice-cube tray continues. One chamber seems to leak, sometimes, but I cannot find even a tiny hole. This chamber which is empty the next day seems to also roam around the tray on different days, to add some excitement.
Friday. Early evening get off the underground train and sit on the bench by the platform for a few minutes. A train comes and goes, and then another arrives. Two late-teenage girls, perhaps 20, of quite normal looks but slender & leggy get off and walk swiftly down the platform. Instead of swerving away from my leg jutting out as they pass me, the nearer girl, without breaking stride, lets her hanging left hand cup the toe of my shoe in her palm, stroking four fingers over it, as the two of them walk past. Both look resolutely ahead. A hundred paces further on they glance over their shoulders back at me to see if they had an effect. Suppose it's now officially pre-spring.
Here is that memo from current US politics. People thought it would show collusion between Trump & the Russians. In fact it seems to show collusion between the Democrats & the Russians.
Thursday. Tests of the appeal of high heels. Still not sure they have all the reasons. Some maps to understand Britain. How to read a poisonous book.
Wednesday. More evidence Chomsky's wrong. If it wasn't obvious anyway.
Tuesday. Might be worth noting this claim mobile-phone radiation is harmful? Still keeping phone-against-ear time to a strict minimum.
Monday. Take lunchtime train to Erd, and trek along its quasi-village streets. Warmed by lemon-coloured winter sun I carry my briefcase and a four-foot strip of see-through plastic board across town. I find the firm that imports the see-through boarding (after their helpful closure of their Budapest office) and the man cheerily explains he has no tape measure at work with him today, so he cannot measure the sample I brought in. He asks me to e-mail him the measurements once I am back in Budapest, after quoting a "possible price" for three four-foot boards which is about double what I paid in total for twenty such boards 6 or 7 years ago. I keep forgetting: the customer must always apologise.
Finished Michael's book 'Epicurus: An introduction' by J.M. Rist, and very enjoyable it was. Once you get over the constant switching between discussion of sources and debates over what exactly it was Epicurus argued (unavoidable with much ancient philosophy) an interesting picture emerges. He seems to have been very ambitious intellectually (perhaps an effect of deliberately avoiding politics) and comes over as a curious mix of what we might now call phenomenologist, utilitarian, quietist, empiricist, and hedonist. He asserts that pleasure and ethics are more important than physics, yet also has a theory of the physical world. He attacks the atomists but has an atomic theory of his own. The curious idea that images of distant objects are smaller than the original objects because passage through the air atoms has rubbed away the edges of the image - or somehow deflated them - sounds bizarre now, but might seem saner in the original Greek. The famous "swerving atoms" Epicurus uses to save free will suggestively prefigure Penrose's attempt to save free will in the 1990s with "quantum tubules". The biggest quandry of Epicurus, as Rist gently explains, was to reconcile his rather generous and noble conception of friendship (one of the great topics of life in the view of many philosophers then) with his explicitly hedonistic & self-centred view that we should all aim to be safe, keeping our self protected from harm.
Sunday. One of our contributors, 'Tyler Durden', explains how the FBI are now stating that a Russian man in the US, founder of the RT news channel, "beat himself to death in his hotel room."
Saturday. Lucid article about 3 eras when "snowball earth" almost froze solid.
Friday. Clear piece about the left's racist tradition.
Thursday. Lunch with Zizi. Suggest she try Eckhart Tolle.
Wednesday. Michael persuades me to stay up late and watch this superb silent film set to a fairly new musical score. His allegation Ken Russell copied lots of it into his much noisier, more cluttered 'Devils' is very convincing.
Tuesday. Georgia a world hotspot for phage therapy?
Monday. Global poverty still falling, global inequality drops.
Sunday. Narrator with serious-sounding Northern accent describes Conan Doyle's conflicted views on the supernatural, but leaves out 'The Lost World'.
Saturday. Irish woman marries pirate ghost.
Friday. Latin American metal bands mapped by population. Meanwhile, Brazilian man lives in sandcastle.
Thursday. Cunning scheme to rescue BitCoin from logjam.
Wednesday. Oxford exams extended to raise girls' scores in maths.
Tuesday. The weak claims against Woody Allen.
Monday. Belgium closes its 171-year-old telegram service / MIT researchers bring us glowing trees / Pessemistic claims about Brexit were wrong, economists admit / Labour Party member in Manchester cheerfully says she'd help hang an anti-Corbyn MP from a tree / Film shows GCHQ forcing Guardian staff to destroy hard drives.
Sunday. Poignant archeology news: grave of a young child in Siberia from 4,500 years ago discovered, complete with the child's toys.
Saturday. Australian bird that deliberately spreads forest fires.
Friday. Michael persuades me that some Jacques Brel fits current circumstances. I struggle to recall where I oh so distantly
from. Has to be mother again trying to give me, as usual at some weirdly early age like 7 or 8, her mixture of high culture & bohemianism.
Thursday. Quite heavy but interesting piece on spiritual darkness.
Wednesday. Encryption firm's random numbers from lava lamps.
Tuesday. Interesting map of European countries where insulting someone is an offence punished by state prosecution.
Monday. After the year's first meeting with Dr D., and a quick midday visit to Robin's just opposite the old secret-police headquarters, go out to IKEA with Film-maker Jessica, where she kindly invites me for lunch at the fabulous canteen they have upstairs that I knew nothing about, serving wonderfully cooked pork and even dead Bambi (not available in most US department-store cafeterias, she assures me). Unfortunately, the lamp she wanted I could have helped carry is out of stock.
Sunday. Seven new academic papers predict global cooling.
Saturday. British Labour campaign group against expelling antisemitic members expels antisemitic members.
Friday. Absent Friend visits and sings praises of the Isle of Wight.
Thursday. Hear of Meltdown & Spectre hardware hacks from Michael.
Wednesday. Neglected Italian intellectual someone wants us reading.
Tuesday. Rather disturbing study says we can spot if people grew up poor from their faces in seconds.
Monday. Jessica comes over to my scruffy flat to tell me about the spiritual elite of Szeged while I cook her some ghastly pasta dish. She's adorably tactful about whatever it was I put on her plate.
Recent weblog entries
Who can translate the next 300 words into
us and there will be revelry.
Languages dying out each week
- who cares?
We do - otherlanguages.org is gradually building a reference resource for over five thousand linguistic minorities and stateless languages worldwide.
Thousands of unique language communities are becoming extinct. Out of the world's five to six thousand languages, we hardly know what we're losing, what literatures, philosophies, ways of thinking, are disappearing right now.
We may soon regret the extinction of thousands of entire linguistic cultures even more than we regret the needless extinction of many animals and plants.
The planet is increasingly dominated by a handful of major-language monocultures like Mandarin
Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, Indonesian, Urdu, Spanish, Portuguese,
English, Swahili, Russian, Cantonese Chinese, Japanese, Bengali - all
beautiful and fascinating languages.
But so are the 5,000 others.
These are groups of people?
Linguistic minorities are communities of ordinary people whose native tongue is not their country's main official language. Swedish speakers in Finland, French speakers in Canada, Hungarian speakers in Slovakia - and hundreds more - are linguistic minorities.
And totally stateless languages are the native languages of some of the world's most intriguing, little-known, cultures. Like the Lapps inside the Arctic Circle, the Sards in Sardinia, Ainus in Japan. Cherokee in the US, Scots
Gaelic in Britain, Friesian in the Netherlands, Zulu in South Africa.
There are only a couple of hundred recognised sovereign states and territories, so 5,000 languages - more depending on how you count - are the native tongues of linguistically stateless people.
How could I help?
You don't need to learn an endangered
language - any more than go to live in the rainforest to help slow its destruction.
A good start is to just tell friends
about websites like this.
Broader public interest makes it easier
for linguists to raise funds and organise people to learn these languages while there's time.
That's right. There are people who love languages and are happy to learn them on behalf of the rest of us, but they need support, just like zoologists, botanists, or historians.
Fewer languages still sounds good to me
Depends what you think languages are for. They're not just a tool for business. We never said you should learn three or four thousand rare languages - or even one. And which ones we make children learn in school, or whether we should force children to learn languages at all, is another question.
Typical scene in a European city;
Chances are, folk here speak some sort of foreign
A century ago - before we understood
ecology, and when we cared less about wilderness, most educated
people would have laughed at the idea of worrying about plants or
animals going extinct. Now we understand how important species diversity
is for our own futures, we are more humble, and more worried.
In the same way, linguistic triumphalism by English-speakers who hated studying foreign grammar at school is dangerously ignorant as well as arrogant. Few of us know what we are losing, week by week.
How many people realise these languages have scientific value?
You can think of these languages across the planet as beautiful cathedrals or
precious archeological sites we are watching being destroyed. That
should be motive enough.
But these five thousand languages may
also hold clues to the structure of the human mind. Subtle
differences and similarities
between languages are helping
archeologists and anthropologists to
understand what happened in the hundreds
of centuries of human
history before written history. And
that is one of our best chances of understanding how human brains developed over the thousands of centuries leading up to that.
Wireless radio can be a great comfort to those unable
to leave the
textbooks in which they live *6
Study of the mind and study of language go hand in hand these days. The world's most marginal languages are actually precious jigsaw pieces from an overall picture of who we are and how our species thinks and evolves. Every tiny language adds another brightly-coloured clue to this academic detective story.
Yet researchers have hardly started sifting through this
tantalising evidence, and language extinction is washing it away right in
front of us.
And worst of all, most people have no idea that there is this
fantastic profusion of cultures across our world, let alone that
they are in danger of extinction. Even just more people learning that
there are still five thousand living languages in the world today (most
of us would answer five hundred or fifty) is already a huge help.
We English-speakers hardly notice English - it's like air for us.
But every other language is also an atmosphere for an entire cultural world,
and each of these worlds has people whose home it is. Each language encapsulates a unique way of talking and thinking about life. Just try some time in a foreign prison, being forced to cope in another language, and you'll realise how much your own language is your identity. That's true for everyone.
Minority languages are a
One of the most basic.
Dozens of millions of people worldwide suffer persecution from national governments for speaking their mother tongue - in their own motherland.
Many 'ethnic' feuds puzzling to
outsiders had as their basis an attempt to destroy a linguistic community.
Would the Northern Ireland dispute be quite so bitter if we
English had not so nearly stamped out the Irish Gaelic language, for
example? Almost nowhere in the world does a language community as
small as the few thousand Rheto-Romanic speakers - the fourth
official language of Switzerland - get the protection of a national
government. Next time you see some Swiss Francs, check both sides of the
But outside exceptional countries like
Switzerland or the Netherlands, speakers of non-official
languages have a much less protected experience.
Speakers of minority languages are often seen as a threat by both the governments and the other residents of the countries where they were born, grew up, and try to live ordinary lives.
They experience discrimination in the job and education markets of their homelands, often having no choice but to pursue education in the major language of the host state: a deliberate government policy usually aimed at gradually absorbing them into the majority culture of that country.
Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow, of course *7
Most governments are privately gleeful each time another small
separate culture within their borders is snuffed out by a dwindling
population or a deliberately centralising education system.
The United Nations is no help. It is an association of a couple of hundred sovereign states based on exclusive control of territory, almost all of them anxious to smother any distinct group or tradition that in any way might blur or smudge the hard-won borders around those pieces of territory.
The usual approach by sovereign states is to deny their linguistic minorities even exist.
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
*1 image from , with thanks
back up to top of page
*2 "Al-Araby" in written
*3 "What?" in American Sign
Language; image from , with thanks
*4 "Big" in written
(read more); image from , with
*5 image from , with
*6 image from , with
*7 image from
'B?ume', with thanks to
Bruno P. Kramer,
and Franckh-Kosmos Verlag
Sunday. Low-key, quiet celebration of the feast of Szilveszter - or is that Margit?
Saturday. Return to Budapest refreshed from another break with Robin on the Great Plain.
Friday. I think it is today or yesterday that I wake up, find Robin's house empty, and wander down to see the animals. Outdoors past the ducks, hens, & pigs find Zsuzsa, her friend Juci, and her friend Csaba trying to persuade Zsuzsa's horse, Solero, to behave himself in a large patch of mud. Three of us lean against some haystacks while in turn either Juci or Zsuzsa walk over to the horse and try for ten minutes or so to lead him in a circle. He seems willing to walk widdershins, but clockwise no. Finally, some kind of unspoken compromise is reached and the beast politely agrees to go round in circles both anticlockwise and clockwise.
Thursday. Finish Zoe's kind gift - a paperback omnibus of all four books narrated by cynical schoolboy Nigel 'Molesworth', collected from the 1950s Punch magazine column, by Ronald Searle and Geoffrey Willans. Distantly recalled this from some examples in the 1955 Pick of Punch volume my mother had, and I suddenly recognised call signs Molesworth fans had been using years ago to wave at each other. "As any fule kno" suddenly came back to me as something I had seen in at least 4 or 5 articles over the decades, obviously some private joke I was unaware of, likewise "Gaze in miror at yore strange unatural beauty". Zoe says the secret of the difference between St. Trinian's (the violent and sinister girls' school Searle illustrated) and St. Custard's (the bleak, grim boarding school that Willans' Molesworth inhabits and Searle also drew) is that "boys are stoics while girls are fiends". I've been mulling this remark over for a few weeks, and it definitely has something to it. The writing is truly inspired in places in the way it drifts in small-boy fashion between his complaints about the everyday world, his sudden flights of fantasy, and adult interruptions which seem to overwrite his thoughts (or is that Molesworth sneeringly repeating grown-up speech forms?) Hard not to see the central character's name in Sue Townsend's 1980s Adrian Mole diaries as a nod to Willans' hero, and the main protagonist in 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' has a similar juvenile world-weariness - though unlikely to be an imitation. This was much better than those two.
Wednesday. Read a book I find in Robin's house - a set of large drawings and odd text musings by Ralph Steadman on Freud, and on 'Sigmund Freud' and jokes in particular. Wrong of me probably to think of Ralph Steadman as the poor man's Ronald Searle. Yet although this picture book has some handsome sketches of 1900 Vienna and Freud with his beard in various mad states of scratchy-pen spikeyness (one senses Steadman's Marx would look almost exactly the same) I think I can safely say Steadman has never really been funny. His drawings, when they're enjoyable, are something more like interestingly vicious. While Searle often drew pictures of bullies and people being bullied, Steadman seems to just directly bully whoever or whatever he draws. He's drawn to Freud's thoughts on jokes, and quotes him at length in a few parts of the book. The overall result is refreshingly different, but still doesn't quite work.
Boxing Day, Tuesday. Robin, Jessica, and I watch the 1971 film 'Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory'. I'd never seen either version. Am startled by the closing scene bringing back memories from a small hotel in Blackpool where, aged 4 or 5, I drew a comic strip in which a rising lift bursts out of the top of a building.
Christmas Day. We watch Christopher Nolan's '2nd Batman movie' at the suggestion of Jessica, who points out with her film-maker's eye what she believes to be the single best shot of the film, one towards the end where Nolan turns the sound down to silence for 5 or 6 seconds. In terms of dialogue & character, the centre of interest in the film is definitely Heath Ledger's Joker.
Christmas Eve. Jessica urges us to watch Christopher Nolan's mind-probing sci-fi movie 'Inception'. This involves multiple levels of someone's mind (a dream within a dream within a dream). This clearly owes a debt to the dream theory of the fictitious guru 'Don Juan' in Carlos Castaneda's books. Leo de Caprio and his team in 'Inception' do very much what Jake was hoping to accomplish with the dream group he recruited us for 15 years ago.
Saturday. After driving into the desolate emptiness of the Great Plain on Saturday evening, by about 3am on Sunday morning Robin & I stand in the small building with the summer kitchen on his farm, both our arms filled with bedding. This is in the small low-ceilinged bedroom where Marika neni and later on Lacko & Joli used to sleep. With a spare couple of fingers he is also smoking his second roll-up of the evening. I'm saying it seems fine (his studio where I usually sleep has no electric light for some reason). After around four seconds we both realise at about the same moment that the summer-kitchen bedroom (in fact entire building) is filled with the overpowering aroma of three dozen five-foot-long freshly spiced macrosausages hanging over a horizontal broomstick near the window. Robin declares it unsuitable, predicting I will have nightmares about giant man-eating cold-cuts, so we walk across to the barn-sized studio with the bedding, plumping for the candle option. I prepare for bed up on the sofa in the gallery space with five huge butter-coloured candles flickering in an arc around my pillow-to-be, like a Satanic scene in a 70s or 80s film.
Friday. British diplomats predict a Trump victory in 2020. Jerusalem recognition problem all fault of Obama, says German newspaper. Article (in castellano) about a Spanish woman economist surveying lawyers, finding women lawyers get promoted less because they're less ambitious and work shorter hours.
Thursday. A Briton cements head to microwave oven.
Wednesday. Back at Hallowe'en, some stag-partying British men disguise themselves as traffic cones so as to randomly stop traffic.
Tuesday. Interesting piece corrects more than a century of romantic myths about hunter-gatherers. Anthropologists still searching for Montaigne's Noble Savage, plainly.
Monday. Two different anti-immigrant, Brussels-sceptic parties form Austria's new government. Bermuda becomes the first state in the world to allow same-sex marriage and then ban it again inside a single year (in fact 7 months). Last of all, the wonderfully-named Galen Strawson (son of PF, no less) dismisses the strangeness of consciousness with bright-eyed breeziness. While many scientists think that by explaining something they've explained away any puzzle about it, if our Galen is anything to go by, Oxford philosophers still think the opposite - that explaining something away is explaining it.
Sunday. Today's goodness-gracious articles: 1) British engineers send broadband over wet string to see if they can; 2) Smart women in Victorian/Edwardian London had special clubs for smoking hash; 3) There is now a suit you can wear that turns your body heat into cryptocurrency; 4) A man in western England for several hours refuses to leave the hole he has dug in his garden.
Saturday. About a fortnight ago saw two engineers overseeing the hanging of giant decorations in the main atrium of the nearby shopping centre as I walked through. This year, a nice antique touch is given by two symbolic gift symbols dangling in this space - a wooden rocking horse and a giant walking-stick-shaped rod of red-and-white-striped candy - both of which instantly say Christmas (or at least Xmas) and yet are unlikely to be given to a single child in Budapest in 2017. Under these dangling objects is a stretch of fake green turf and a sort of playzone for small infants policed by girls in their twenties dressed as Santa's helpers. Their costume is a shiny green satin frock coat with red piping, and red-and-white-striped stockings, presumably to match with the candy walking sticks. The zone is designated optimistically in big signs as "Chocolate Land". All this seemed closely designed but something went slightly wrong with casting. One might expect pixie-type girls notable for winsome curls and perhaps red-cheeked jolliness. They got the pert petite damsel bit right, but the first day's shift of happy fairies in the chocolate forest was crewed entirely by sex-witch brunettes with hangovers. Not clear if weary mothers hesitated to park their toddler with a bunch of sly-looking mascaraed minxes, but these things happen. Over subsequent days, the ratio of sweet-and-smiley teacher-type girls in the pixie patrol gradually increased, so perhaps management responds well to ongoing feedback.
Friday. The Church of England appears to have rather mishandled a child-abuse allegation against a dead bishop.
Thursday. Poignant image of heroic prewar futurism: the rooftop testing race track Fiat's Agnelli put at the top of a helical production line spiralling up inside the factory building in Turin.
Wednesday. At the gym, the slender girl with the blood-sugar catheter pointedly looks straight past me on every occasion as if I'm not there, while her friend the small lithe redhead behind the counter glares at me from under an angry brow. Suppose I should be flattered (*rolls eyes*).
Here's an interesting piece about the academic background to feminism.
Tuesday. Some 2018 financial predictions, cleverly disowned as "outrageous".
Monday. During long multi-topic chat over coffee & tea, cheerful Jessica shows me her copy of a how-to-control-men book, jauntily titled 'The Power of The Pussy'.
Sunday. Meet Zoe & Mark at a restaurant for seasonal good cheer & groaning board. Our discussion touches on France's secret 1950s request for political union with Britain. This was before the Treaty of Rome in 1957, whose cover story was preventing another war - although in fact intended to create a currency much stronger than sterling was at Suez in 1956, so as to facilitate new wars.
Saturday Science! Interesting botany piece about complex ancient trees. Sensible American neatly skewers metric measures. Someone argues that work on quantum artificial life is already underway, albeit without tackling The Fishtank Problem. And a brand-new optical illusion.
Friday. Two interesting articles about the attempted impeachment putsch in progress for a year now in the US against President Honey Monster. Glenn Greenwald points out the media's failings. Someone else praises Greenwald.
Thursday. Hallowe'en offer still open of demonic Kentish gin. Haunted apples cursed by a friendly local witch.
Wednesday. Wait for a student inside the 'Economics University', standing outside the new library, looking into a brightly-lit classroom through a slanting wall of glass. In the room a slim bearded man in a lilac button-up shirt is lecturing to 3 students. He's giving a slide show. For ten minutes as I wait, the slide on the screen has English headline 'Word Processors vs Document Preparation Systems (2)'. Just before my student arrives, the slide switches (back?) to 'Word Processors vs Document Preparation Systems (1)'. A wave of compassion for those 3 students washes over me.
Tuesday. Wake, very cheerful, out of a detailed dream in which I was happily wandering around in some large park in England in sunshine, encountering a large yellow-wood set of doors, cathedral size, not fixed properly to the doorway they're in. I move them bodily aside and lean them against the doorframe. Then a jovial English woman explains to me that wood from the "burling" tree was used a lot for doors and gates between 1590 and 1980, but was now considered not optimal in buildings. To my surprise, I later find after waking up that it's a real wood word, though not a type of tree.
Monday. Spirited rendition of 'I Don't Need No Doctor' by the Chocolate Watchband. Somehow better with that tinny-sounding cheap-studio echo.
Sunday. On the subway escalator I glide past a poster for a show, some kind of operetta or musical, now on at the Erkel Opera House, bearing the name Englebert Humperdinck. As it flashes past, I struggle to imagine the 1960s and 70s crooner alive now and singing on stage in the same borough I live in. This name I recall from listening to my new transistor radio in my bedroom aged 7 some decades ago. Somehow I decided at that date - probably based on his stage name and his singing which (even when I was in single figures) sounded tiresomely old-fashioned - that he must have been around 50 and therefore almost dead. I briefly grapple with the image of him still alive before grasping he might have been only 30ish then. Eastern Europe does appear to be where old pop stars go to die. Then another vague memory stirs of a 19th-century German composer whose name the singer took. He is of course the man referred to on the Christmas operetta poster. Then yet another recollection stirs in the back of my head where I, aged 7, mention Englebert the Leicester-born schlager singer - a sort of rival of Tom Jones - to my mother over breakfast. Whereupon she rolls her eyes at the ceiling, does a tinkly laugh, and tells me the real Englebert Humperdinck was a Victorian Wagnerian composer while of course 'Tom Jones' was an 18th-century novel. Still inside this freshly unearthed memory, I re-engage thoughtfully with my breakfast cereal, munching and mulling over these intriguing revelations of borrowed names spanning centuries. Back in the present, find that - though more likely to be doing Vegas than Budapest's second opera house - the already dated-sounding Englebert I heard on the radio as a child is remarkably still alive. He seems even to have been singing in public quite recently while approaching eighty. A man born just 15 years after that German composer died.
Saturday. Perhaps the most important article seen in months: simulated-society research has ethnocentrics dominating again and again.
Friday. Sad article about being a single woman.
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October 2002 /
September 2002 /
August 2002 /
July 2002 /