Friday, April 28, 2006

How I broke my glasses

Kat wants to know how I broke my glasses, so here is the absolutely 100%-true version of how it happened:

Bobbing for lobsters is a popular hobby in Hungary and since the arrival of democracy in 1990 exuberant Hungarians have used it to celebrate a successful election. This year a huge lobster-bobbing pot - containing around 1000 lobsters - was set up in Heroes' Square after the Socialists came to power and bobbers had to launch themselves into the pot from the top of a bungee crane. The person who pulled out the most lobsters after 10 attempts won a threesome with top celebrity couple Viktória Swinger (Hungary's top porn actress) and reality TV-show star and love rat Győzike.

The contest was tense and I was one lobster off victory, with eight out of nine. However, there was only one left: a vicious specimen called "Big Red". I poised at the edge of the precipice and fixed my sights on the lobster. The crowd fell silent and flashbulbs popped as I leapt from the crane. As soon as I left the platform I knew my aim was perfect. Unfortunately, Big Red saw me coming. As soon as my head entered the water, he lashed out with his massive claws, snicking off my specs with one and Bobbiting me with the other.

As I was fished out of the bloody pool to be rushed to hospital to have my love truncheon sewn back on, I saw Viktor Orbán - Hungary's long time lobster-bobbing champion and leader of the right-of-centre Fidesz party - dance up and down in triumph. He scooped a very commendable nine lobsters. To be honest, I didn't feel too bad, as he had to win something this week, and at least we avoided having to go through the whole charade of Orbán claiming bobbing-fraud and demanding a recount.

Luckily, I only got a local anaesthetic as they re-attached the little chap, and I got to watch the threesome being beamed out live on M1. Viktor put in a lot of energy, but I couldn't help but feel he was a bit of spare prick as the other two seemed more interested in the camera than him.

Big Red still has my glasses and has got a job as a political commentator as now looks far more intelligent; I received a larger nob by mistake; Viktor's popularity soared and he is now certain to win the next elections in 4 years; Győzike realised that going out with a porn star wasn't necessarily a good idea if it meant having to cross swords with middle-aged politicians and went back to his family; and Swinger...well, she just keeps on swinging. Plus, I've ordered a rather funky-looking new pair of specs.

So, I guess it all worked out OK in the end.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

They're lying to us!

Specs in under an hour. My fucking arse.

I must have gone into at least five opticians that advertised new glasses in under an hour, but not one of them could deliver. Apparently I have a strange prescription, which means it will take take them TEN DAYS to make the lenses. It's not as if I have Marty Feldman eyes or an extra one growing out of the middle of my forehead.

I suspect the "glasses in under one hour" promise only applies to the non-prescription sunglasses section, and even then - given the average level of service in Hungary - they would probably struggle to meet this deadline.

"I'd like to buy that pair of sunglasses, please."

"Certainly. Please wait around for 30 mins while I smoke a fag, talk to my boyfriend on the phone, idly pick my nose, randomly move some empty boxes around for while and then inspect my plucked eyebrows in the mirror. Maybe then I'll serve you, but only if I can be bothered. Even then I'll probably sigh as if you've just asked me to make the glasses myself, thus endangering my precariously long - not to mention vicious - nails."

"That would be fine, thank you. I'll just stand in the corner and bang my head to a bloody pulp on the wall."

The upshot of this is that I am having to walk around the city, blindly groping in front of me. Actually, that last bit isn't really necessary. I'm just trying to cop a feel.

Top tip for skint drug-addled teenagers

Kids! Do you want to feel like you've been on a five-day crack and heavy-duty liquor binge but find yourself lacking the necessary funds? Simply break your glasses just before you're due to go out and then wear someone else's contact lenses. I did it last night, and it worked a treat.

So, apologies to anyone I didn't say hello to in the Bardroom. I was having enough trouble finding my seat, never mind spotting familiar faces.

It actually worked out OK, though, as it added a much-needed new dimension to seeing Benjamin Zeppaniah. Although he was still funny, his material - including all of the build up anecdotes to his poems - was almost identical to the last time I saw him two years ago in Banja Luka. The fact that I saw him with two heads - one out of focus and the other in - made all the difference. I think the blurry head was marginally more amusing.

Bizarrely, I met someone who quite clearly had been taking crack: a very nice Scottish man, who seemed incapable of putting two coherent thoughts together. Within two minutes of meeting we were talking about the possiblity of trading in egg futures and putting wheels on the nut-dispensing machine so that we could stand on it, roll across the room at high speed, and dispense salted and unsalted nuts to everyone. Top marks for randomness, although I think he does perhaps have to cut down on the herbal cigarettes.

Kalman also deserves respect for possibly the best introduction for a poet that I've ever heard. It was a just a shame that Zeppaniah had decided to go on earlier.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Slogan required

I just had my professional website redesigned, and I'm not entirely happy with the slogan that Tony came up with (sorry, Tony).

He had "One finger on the pulse of Europe" but this raises the question of what I'm doing with the other nine.

So, suggestions welcome.

Brainstorming so far has produced:

Ten fingers and some toes on the pulse of Europe
All of my appendages on the pulse of Europe
To Central Europe...and Beyond!
News, Reviews and stuff for all youse (for Glaswegians only)
From Istanbul to ma hoose, I write stuff
Give me some work or I'll starve
Crap articles from the areshole of Europe (Graham's suggestion)
Who gives a fuck about Hungary anyway?
"Hungary? No, I've already eaten." - plus a 100 other things people think they're the 1st to say (Graham again)
Monitoring the pulse of Europe (sounds too much like I think I'm George Clooney)
Have fingers, will type
It's coming out of both ends (Graham again)
Quality Journalism from Central Europe (this is a fairly serious suggestion - don't laugh)
Objective Journalism from Central Europe
I am a cock monkey - spank me!

I think that's enough.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Zombie cow cover art

These pictures are all entries from various drunken scribblers, all hoping to provide the cover art for my zombie cow novel (which will no doubt become a blockbusting move starring Tom Cruise, Benny Hill, Angelina Jolie and that cow from the Magic Roundabout).

I omitted my own effort, for the simple reason that I draw like a serial-killer after a heavy lobotomy session.

Nats, Victoria and Esther are responsible for the doodles.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

More strange néni action

My tree-measuring next-door néni is having her house painted, but instead of moving her furniture from room to room she has transferred it all out onto the balcony, which is now stuffed with 1950's floral armchairs and other brick-a-brack. It's like living next door to a jumble sale.

Moreover, another neighbour - who we'll call Washing Néni - has called summer open season and started hanging up her laundry outside my window (this spot provides the most sun). Yes, that means big old néni knickers will be fluttering gently in the summer breeze beside my house. If I leave my window open, dry gusset flakes will probably get blown in. Ah well, at least I won't have to put sprinkles on my cappuccino.

Mind you, this all raises the issue of what Circuit Néni will do for her daily exercise. She isn't limber enough to climb over the pile of furniture and dodge the big knickers. Although, this does raise an interesting idea: The Néni Olympics. First néni to circumnavigate the obstacles with her zimmer frame and complete one balcony circuit (preferrably in under one hour) wins the gold! Imagine the excitement.

With any luck there might even be a few casualties. These women are competive, and I could easily see one of them putting spikes on the side of her zimmer frame a la Ben Hur and attempting to push her competitors off the balcony. You can't beat a bit of néni blood sport.

How much could I charge for tickets for ringside seats at my window?

Teapot tadger

I am officially a fuckwit after accidentally glueing a teapot lid to the floor of the flat as I tried to put it back together.

I thought about leaving it there and claiming it as an intentional "installation piece" that would somehow signify the permanence of tea to humanity (I don't have a tea obsession, honestly). This would also have served the dual purpose of showing Nats the consequences of getting me to do anything remotely DIY-related around the house.

However, I needed a lid for my teapot.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Onion rules the known universe

The Onion is possibly the best publication in existence, and this article, sent to me by Nats, shows exactly why:

Girls Gone Wild Released Back Into Civilization

To all you tongue rollers

This message is directed at all the tongue-rollers in the bar last night, and in fact to every self-satisfied tongue-roller out there: STOP BEING SO SMUG!

What is it that makes people so insufferably happy about being able to roll their tongues? Let's face it: it's an absolutely useless skill. OK, I could see the point if you became quadraplegic and had to hold a pen with your curly little appendage, or if you had to cling onto a twig to prevent yourself from falling off a cliff, but it just isn't a skill to get too proud about.

I am a flat-tongue and I can do everything you can: lick stamps, talk (which is considered by many to be a bad thing) and make faces at small children.

So why did the nurse at school feel it necessary to come into class and make everybody see if they could do it? Couldn't she have perhaps done it in a private room? She didn't have to suffer the indignity of being taunted for her inability to curl. She didn't have to sit quietly in the corner at playtime while all the other kids ran merrily around with their curly little tongues in the air. She didn't have her tongue stapled to the desk when teacher wasn't looking.

If you are reading this Nurse Twaddle, I hope you feel very, very ashamed of yourself.

I only hope the day will come when flat and curlies can live in harmony together without this elitist hierachy. Until then, I'm keeping my mouth shut.

If only I worked at a tabloid

Today I have the perfect opportunity to get in a great headline.. Four party leaders debated on TV last night, so I thought we could go with "Party leaders mass debate"

Unfortunately my nasty editor won't let me do it.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tree envy

My little néni next-door neighbour was admiring our new plants the other day (we planted new ones after leaving two dead trees to rot outside for several months), when she told me that she had measured our trees.

Apparently ours are 80cm and her single specimen is only 40. I know our neighbours have a bit of a plant war going on, but I was a bit surprised by this. I've heard of penis envy, but never tree envy.

I'm now worried that she is going to sabotage our efforts, either by hoiking up her otthonka and spraying the plants with paprika-laced old-lady pee, or by swapping them when we aren't looking. I'm wondering if we should set up some kind of guard system: man-traps or some such device to catch her. She has thick ankles, so it shouldn't cause any permanent damage.

There are quite a few old women with nothing to do in our building. When Pollock was visiting last year, he came out the shower in his boxer shorts to find the ancient old woman that does balcony circuits on her zimmer frame cupping her hands and peering in the window.

Lucky for her she's very short-sighted, or the sight of Pollock's beer-belly overhanging his skiddies might have caused her frail wee heart to burst (with sexual excitement, obviously).

I'm hoping that when I get to that age I have something a bit more interesting to do with my time - perhaps smelling of piss on public transport or holding up post office queues by refusing point-blank to understand the new stamp system.

Sometimes I think Logan's Run was onto something, but then I've already passed the cut-off point and would have been bumped off five years ago.

F%!*$n elections

Aaargggh! I want nothing more than to get on with my book, but instead I'm stuck writing about bloody politics all day long because of this election. Bring back communism.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Camp as a row of tents

I'm sure most people who live in Hungary have noticed the election campaign recently; it's been kind of hard to miss.

Millions of words have been written about the dirty tactics, etc, but nobody seems to have mentioned the fact that several of the Socialist's younger candidates appear to be wearing far too much make-up in their posters.

I've noticed at least three different candidates who look as if they're auditioning for a part in a panto. Yesterday I saw a poster of a man who was definitely wearing bright red lipstick. On top of that, you can see the foundation, blusher, eyeliner and plucked eyebrows.

My favourite has to be one young gent who appears to have modelled his poster on old portraits of the England's most-famous camp writer - Oscar Wilde. He is blatantly caked in make-up and is sporting an arch, come-and-get-it-boys expression. I haven't seen his campaign promises, but they probably involve compulsory cravates, more men-only days at the baths and cross-dressing days for government employees. Definitely as camp as row of tents.

Still, at least he's making an effort, which is more than can be said for some of the others. One of the older Socialist candidates initially appeared with a shock of uncombed white hair and a big smile full of the yellowest teeth I have ever seen in my life. This quickly got pulled down and replaced with a closed mouth smile. And then there is Mr Soos, my local Democratic Forum candidate. They had to make the poster extra wide to fit in his enormous ears and giant NHS-style specs. He looks like his blind mother cuts his hair.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Alpha Cow comes excusively to Blogspot

OK, you asked for it, so you're going to get it. Actually, you didn't ask for it, but you're going to get it anyway.

I've just realised that I am very bored with the fiction I have been trying to write, and I have been grasped with enthusiasm for Forget the Cud, We Want Blood.

As a result, I have begun work on the first chapter of a work I truly believe will come to rival such masterpieces as War and Peace, The Old Man and the Sea, and Crime and Punishment.

This magnificent novella will be exclusively serialised on this website, and will be the first work to deal with not only the human condition, but the bovine condition.

Marvel as the cows strike back and develop a taste for human flesh!

Tremble as civilisation as we know it bends to the will of bloodthirsty cattle!

Dare to hope as a small band of unwashed, sandal-wearing hippy throwbacks grapple with their consciences and attempt to secure the future of mankind by throwing off their love of tofu, quorn and other tasteless meat substitutes!

All of this will be yours for free, starting as soon as I finish the first chapter.

Azerbaijan to monitor Hungarian elections

In a great piece of news for Hungarian democracy, Azerbaijan is to monitor the upcoming elections.

Now, are they coming to check that the elections will be fair (since ODIHR said it was too busy to come), or are they coming to learn how to hold elections?

Either way its a bit of a worry.

How to solve Danube flooding problem with teabags

I was walking along the Danube this morning, watching as tons of sweaty men and woman hauled sandbags to bolster up the flood defences. The Danube is at a record high, and already many roads are under water, which at least has the benefit of reducing congestion on those roads.

It struck me that this seemed to be a terribly labour intensive way of fighting the floods, and it doesn't address the fundamental problem: the level of water.

Fortunately, there is another way. Instead of sand bags, use tea bags.

Now, the immediate advantage of the tea bags is that they are lighter, thus reducing back sprains, etc, but the real beauty comes in the method of reducing the water level.

If the Danube is stocked with lots of tea bags, it will immediately become not a murky, polluted river, but a giant source of tastiness, and let's face it: the 'Blue' Danube is already brown, so a few tea bags won't make a big difference.

All the government has to do is equip every citizen with a teapot and let them fill up from the river. The water level will drop very quickly, and sales of biscuits will shoot up, boosting the local economy.

I will kick off this process by symbolically dropping a box of PG Tips off the Chain Bridge at 5pm this evening. I urge you to join me and save our historic city.


I own up. I have an ulterior motive for this blog.

I read last week that many bloggers have had their blogs turned into books, so I am going to use this site to shamelessly plug my screenplays.

So, for all you Hollywood producers out there, here is my first outline of a potential rip-roaring blockbuster.

Forget the cud, we want blood

There have been many zombie movies made down the years, with most revolving around the few remaining humans fighting off the hordes. Never, though, has anyone made a film revolving around an already sinister and zombie-like animal: the cow.

Picture this: The film starts in an abbatoir, with a huge line of cows waiting to be stunned. One cow is particularly feisty, snarling (can cows snarl? - they can in this film) at the apron-wearing, bloody-knife wielding workers. The cow makes a lunge for a worker, grabs his arm in its mouth and masticates on it for a while. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but the bizarre disease infecting the cow (probably from some kind of meteor shower or some such trumped-up idea) has turned its saliva to ACID! OH NO! The unfortunate man finds his arm dissolving into a bloody stump.

The other workers rush to his aid and hack the cow to death. Blood sprays everywhere, and the other cows standing in line become infected. Soon there is mayhem, with lowing zombie-cows shambling everywhere. Even the bone saw isn't enough to stave off the hordes, and they finish off the employees.

The cows break out onto the street, setting off a chain-reaction that sees the whole of humanity pitted against the once-docile animals that it has so happily-slaughtered. The army gets involved, but the cows brains are so small that it is hard to take them down with the normal zombie-head shot.

Soon only a few hardy survivors remain: vegans who have been living in a commune eating only tofu, grain and parsnips. Can these survivors overcome their love for the doe-eyed zombies and cut a bloody swathe through the herds wandering the empty London streets, or will the cow's suppressed bloodlust prove too much for them?

Find out in the stunning new film from the brain of one of Budapest's VII district's finest Scottish-born, ginger-haired, bespectacled writers.

Should any producers or directors wish to purchase this script, I will accept payment in jelly babies or mars bars.

I should also give some credit for this film to Wayne and Esther, but frankly I'm far too selfish and plan to claim all of the profit and credit for myself.

Tourist attraction or terrorist deterrent?

I was hanging around outside Luton Airport on Monday on the way back from visiting Perry, Marguerita (Prakatan!) and Mathew, smoking a ciggie, when I was treated to a fine display of airport security.

Two coppers touting large machine pistols were standing outside, presumably guarding the entrance, when a tourist came up and asked if he could have his picture taken with them.

For the next five minutes the police were fully engaged in posing with their guns as the tourist's pal attempted to work out how to operate the camera.

I tried my best to look suspicious - reaching ominously into my inside jacket pocket for a potentially hidden gun (all right, it was a lighter) - to see if they would break off from their jolly little chat, but to no avail.

Osama Bin Laden could have wheeled in a nuclear bomb on a shopping trolley for all the attention they were paying to the airport entrance.

Now, I'm not a fan of a huge armed police presence, but if they're going to be there they should perhaps at least do their jobs.

I believe we should replace all our cops with machine gun posts, set to fire at any kind of movement. Clearly this might cut down on airport traffic somwehat, but at least they wouldn't be inclined toward grinning inanely at tourists' cameras.

The first of (not so) many entries

I'm initiating this blog due to popular demand (well, if you can count my wife as popular demand).

Content will be variable, ranging from nonsense to...err...nonsense.

Brace yourselves.