Thursday, 21 April 2011

Same chair, same internet place, Thursday

Each day it grows warmer by a degree or two so we may be up to 25c today. I slept very badly on Tuesday night so after posting I went home - about half a mile up the road - and fell asleep. We walked out for lunch, then, on the way to the Liszt exhibition (in the grand Ethnographic Museum opposite Parliament) we decided to stop off to call on the poet, Peter K, whose flat lies along the way just by the Danube Embankment. Peter is a diminutive figure of strong opinions on which account we hadn't seen him for some ten years, probably much longer. These are silly things, but maybe we were getting on each other's nerves just sufficiently. But that was a long time ago and C prompted so we rang the bell. I was very pleased we did, though it was a sad time for Peter as his mother had just died a few days ago. She had been a writer of children's books and lived in the next block. We had met her a few times in the eighties and even spent some time with them, and Peter's father, at their place on the Danube Bend at Nagymaros.

Peter was naturally very upset. He had been close to his mother. His girl friend Vali was out. But we sat down in the chairs we had sat in fifteen or more years ago. Nothing had changed. Clear lines, clean and crisp, with Peter's own small paintings and drawings on the wall, the Danube behind us. We talked families, showed snapshots. He was interested in the children's lives. He has no brothers or sisters so is alone now, in terms of family.

We talked art and writing - our various states of affairs - and some politics, though only a little since he didn't want to upset himself more than he already was. He gives us his big Selected and the English language volume translated by Michael Blumenthal. Then we had to go as he had his mother's flat to deal with.

On to the Liszt exhibition which, frankly, is not much of a show, mostly informative posters and a few paintings with one or two musical instruments. The building is magnificent though and people are clearly preparing for a big EU Presidential banquet and conference. Nevertheless the catalogue is useful from the BBC programme point of view so I buy one and am reading it on and off.

Home again by superfast trolleybus. Public transport is outstanding in Budapest from almost anywhere to anywhere.

After a rest and some reading we go out on our free evening for supper, returning to the place L and K took us to, Petri's old haunt, M. We are given a tabler in a nook, and seeing how the tablecloths are made of rapidly changeable brown paper we start drawing on it. I do a drawing and C does a drawing, then we do a joint one. I write two short improvised verses for the drawings. The waitresses don't mind. At least they say they don't mind. The meal is a little heavier than we had intended, but then that is how things often turn out in Hungary.

Today, lunch with Judit K, whose book I am currently translating, the evening with L and K again.

Tomorrow we go home. I'll probably spend another half an hour here in the morning, if time permits, otherwise from my own desk.

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