Works in progress. Comments, please!

Firstly, I tried a different approach with the webcomic, basing the drawing on an actual photograph rather than just two random portraits. I’m not sure what to think about it, and I have no definite words for it, though the following exchange is top of the charts:

Bruno: Everything seems to have gone white around us. And sort of sketchy. There’s no detail in the distance anymore.

Naomi: Don’t worry, Bruno, you’re just depressed.

Bruno: Do you think that is barking up the wrong tree? I’m increasingly suspicious, but it’s hard to let go of it.

Naomi: I like this one. Really. Bruno, I think this, too, can be a viable avenue to explore.

(just imagine the bubbles, willya)

Also, I’ve finally been commissioned to produce an advertising jingle for a laxative. Quite apart from fulfilling my life-long ambition of going to live in a Woody Allen movie, this is proving to be quite a engaging experience. My first attempt at a mock-up was rejected for several reasons: the advert was going to have a more feminine feel, so the metal intro was out, and anyway, apparently Hungarian medical advertisers want all ads to be kind of sedate, hush-hush, smily, possibly smily with slight melancholy for antidepressants, but with a soft light-source and several stereo hope-o-matics running full blast, preferably with only the slightest hint of the actual illness their product is intended to cure.

The lyrics, which I was given to put to music, go: “I take it in the evening – and in the morning it works (being a pun in Hungarian which also means “six in the morning” – hence the alarm-clock). And then, after the break, “Another great day is just beginning”.

stadalax makett 1

Bear in mind that this is a mock-up, the barest indication of an actual recording I would have made had the customer liked it. So I got briefed some more: they wanted no indication of pressure, the fraction of a second of a bog with the lid down is all they want to put in to remind the viewer that constipation is not actually fun. They wanted something delicate, like Sting doing Not The Shape Of My Heart live , only not sad, but more sort of slightly happy. Benign. Leisurely. In fact the mood that most pharmaceutical companies exude these days in the medication ads that I get to see on the very rare occasions I get to see some telly is best described as ever-so-slightly stoned. Spaced out, or, probably better still, except I have no experience of the matter, some form of legal anti-depressant or similar.


Service Announcement

For the lucky few, hidden in dark, forgotten corners of the universe, who don’t know already: holist is henceforth also to be known, feared and ridiculed, as Bruno Fuchs.


To celebrate the occasion, I am introducing a new modus operandi:

Convivial Ruthlessness

The Conference of Birds

Some fifty thousand northern geese of various species are frequenting the lake that’s down the bottom of our street.

At sunrise, they rise together and fly to nearby fishponds to feed. At sunset, they return. The noise they make is astonishing. There is, in particular, a rather short, ripping, metal-sheet-tearing kind of sound when the main body of the flock take off from the water all at the same time – totally unlike anything I have heard before. A gigantic sticking-plaster being ripped off a gigantic wound.



Travelling with Moving

On the 6th of November, in honour of Guy Fawkes and crazies everywhere united I decided to cycle from my house in Tata, Hungary to Felsőörs, also Hungary.

A tiny little worm in this map. Here it is in greater detail:

109 km. This isn’t exactly the route I planned (see kink in middle) – it’s the one I ended up taking.

I had planned to leave at six. Last minute complications meant I was up about 4 to take care of some business. That done, It was only 5. I started packing and drew a tarot card.

Underneath the grey jumper, barely visible on the left, is the red rucksack with all the essential, sane things in it. Plus, as you can see, watch, pendant, cycle light, pants, headphones.

Here’s the lickle fella! The Hungo name, translated back, rings more like “Senior Priest” or “Head Honcho Pastor”. All sorts of good tidings for my journey I am sure.

So? My own bike had a puncture, and the service guys said they couldn’t do it in time, so I tried to fix the puncture myself but botched it. Twice. So? I had to borrow my wife’s bike. Only seven gears, larger tyres than mine, marginally less comfy… street legal with the cat’s eyes, can’t say that about my bike… I was ready to roll just before six.

“Great shiny object imminent” was the sentiment by the lakeside.

So ‘mkay, I tweakd the colers onnere, lickulbit…

amma goan do’at a lot


It’s not so much a franchise strip as a franchise dot. A TESCO and a petrol station. It’s hanging off a roundabout into the wilderness at the edge of town. Call me perverted, I love these places. Idle people are not frowned upon here at night. Slow shopping. I had to drop in to stock up on fluids and to get a new rear lamp which I had dropped almost as soon as I left home.

OCSET, ha? The OCSET. It was them.

I bought the bike a pink horn to bribe it into being good. (I think I overdid it. It was intense but not this intense.)

As I was sleepily grinding out of town, some of the several tens of thousands of wild geese currently hanging out on our lake began to leave for their breakfestivities on smaller nearby lakes with more fish and algae. They flew well high…

…but not beyond the reach of this new camera that’s giving me all this joy. Have I bragged about it? It looks just like a Telefunken U-47!

I reached the first town along the way, Környe. I needed more caffeine, so I asked a local and got directed to Ali’s Sandwich Bar. I heartily recommend it.

It has a largish arcade section down the back with a couple of real mechanical flippers and, yes, a boxing machine. A hundred forints bought two hits, I had to try it.

The second time I did quite well, getting 705 against an all time high of 977.

I attempted to photograph my phone running a speedometer and trip stats app and failed. You can sort of see that I had covered only 13.5 km in 2 hours and 4 minutes. Very much slower than expected – though I had taken a few breaks. Also, GPS was turning out to be a real energy hog. A 20-minute charge only got me an hour of GPS. I gave up using it to navigate and reverted to the list of towns and villages I had printed.

Large industrial chimneys with their ongoing, large, foamy white ejaculations are so sexy. Perhaps these places, like this gas-burning power station here, are the cathedrals of our time. If a cathedral is some place where a small, dedicated staff of people work hard to provide an essential service in order to maintain social permanence, and whose efficiency is very much dependent on their believers’ faith that those services are needed in order for common decency to survive, then this power station is a cathedral…

… which would make this a relic of an age long gone…

…and this, a rural place of worship consecrated to a different deity.


I travelled through the bones of the earth. I travelled through villages where the Trabant, bastard child of German efficiency and Russian brutishness, is still not only used, but held in esteem. Rumor has it that in the last factory where it was built, in Kazakhstan, the body parts, previously vulcanised paper, were made of vulcanised camel-hair.

And then I got to “Mór”. The bar by the side of the central market looked inviting. The barlady turned out to be the heart and soul of the neighbourhood and a truly prodigious swearer. But Mór was too miserable a place to take pictures. And it was raining. Some busdrivers told me not to follow the route I had staked out using maps, but to keep going straight, up hill, because I would then get to a village, in about 4 km, where I could get a bus to Veszprém – by this time I saw that the early slacking had made getting there by 1, which was the original plan, impossible. So I left town standing on the pedals, climbing. I soon came to rather rudimentary hobbit dwellings.

As I was admiring the architecture, the owner of two of these man-made caves came along and, noting my interest, gave me a lecture about them I shall never forget. Apparently, they are used to store apples, potatos and barrels of pálinka (fruit brandy).

I reached Bakonycsernye as predicted and bought some food at the shop. I bought (from left to right): a piece of sausage, a green pepper, a pack of rice crackers. And waited for the bus, which also did turn up as advertised, and refused to take my bicycle on-board with great resolve. And left.

As I was waiting at the bus stop, I had the feeling I was being watched. Then I noticed this guy.

There being nothing else for it, I got back on the bike and toiled on. Noon had come and gone. I was going to miss the lunch I had arranged. On the other hand, as I was climbing into this mountain called Bakony, things were getting to be very lovely. This bush clearly had a nymph living in it.

Every single year, these colours come back, and every single year they are bloody brilliant.

Significantly simpler than fashion.

In various curvy compositions, the colours of rampant decay in deciduous forests are somehow thrilling and tremendously sad at the same time. It’s the same thing as noticing blood in one’s feces. Memento mori.

And then I got to this place called Szápár. Time has been standing still there for some… time. On one side of the road was an uninhabited building.

On the other side, there was an inhabited one:

There’s some serious pootrie-styling going on there. So I moved on out of town, and after a 3 km stretch of going up a 10% slope (I had to walk it, seven gears were not enough), I reached a sort of plateau. I saw this pretty much every way I looked:

And then there was a 20 km downhill section, followed by a great deal more cycling, during which it was getting darker, I was getting pretty tired and stopped taking pictures. This went on and on until, in pitch darkness, I arrived at my destination around half past five. My destination was the Snétberger Centre, this:

It was my first time there, but a couple of hours of hanging out, watching life happening, was enough to convince me that it was a brilliant place and I applied for a job. I really hope I can talk them into needing a philosophy teacher. They have 3-week camps three times a year for the 40-50 most talented young, underprivileged musicians, practically all of them Roma, whom they sponsor. My friend, Michael, teaches English there, sort of, but seems to have become the indispensable Mr. Woolf of the establishment. Which seems to be constantly on the verge of caving in and just collapsing under its own complexity, but those brave people, the music-helpers, the music-teachers and the animators, hang on in there and make every day happen. Just before dinner in the large hall that doubles as concert hall with stage, piano and drumkit always there, and dining room with long tables, an announcement was made. A woman came up and told the boys (almost all of them are boys, unfortunately) she wanted to tell them a story. The story was about her best friend, who used to have a boyfriend, a truly wild affair, who was white (as in not Roma), and played music “in the night” as she put it, and always complained about God not making him a Roma, so he could be an even better musician. But this man died in a taxi when it crashed, at the age of 25, ten years ago. The speaker’s friend was told by his family to hang on to and take good care of his guitar. And so when the friend found out that her friend was going to teach at this place, which she also knew about, he told her to be on the lookout for a talented and deserving young man who the guitar could be gifted to. After a few months at the centre she picked a boy – but when she told him she wanted to give him the guitar, the boy refused. He said that altough his own guitar was a bit crap and needed a great deal of attention to remain playable, at least he had a guitar, while this other young player, who was also very talented, and, actually, the second on the speaker’s list as a candidate for the guitar, didn’t own one at all. So, there before my eyes, the guitar was handed over to this second guy, who was actually a boy of 14 at the most, and when he strutted up to pick that instrument up, he looked like it was Christmas. And the multitude applauded. There was tremendous feel-good value in the air. 🙂

Here’s a picture of Michael and his colleague, Dora.

So after a few hours of hanging out and checking out the centre with my homie Mike he put me in the camp microbus along with the bike and drove me down to the station. My legs were beginning to hurt bigtime. I had 2.5 hours on the train, two connections to go.

For a brief while there, I was not happy. Then I settled into the rhythm of suffering gently. I knew it was going to happen, and it did.

I was getting increasingly sleepy. And increasingly worried I would fall asleep, fail to get off and miss a connection.

I tried photography in the darkness. Not very good. Perhaps you need a special camera. Or a more stationary train. This is actually a bench under a streetlight.

Random flash photography out the window at night from a moving train. How low do you get? I was deep awake far into dreamland.

This effect is actually achieved by taking an almost totally dark night-time photo and then increasing saturation to the available maximum several times over, fiddling occasionally with Gamma correction and that… I was so balancing between sleep and not-sleep, it looked like this. Or this looks like it.

I made it to first connection, Székesfehérvár, without coma. The station building had a stained glass window that was visible from the platform where I was waiting for the train to take me on to Kelenföld.

It was cold, I was shivering, my thighs were aching as if someone was beating them with a big bone mallet, I couldn’t get it into focus. I think it might be some sort of social realist marvel. Here it is (it’s from the inside, mine’s from the outside!):

And the rest all blurs together into muscular microlesion pain, extreme sleepiness and an overwhelming desire to get it over with. To be home. To be with my baby.

My photography was deranging into abstract surrealism. I had to wait 20 minutes at the second place I changed trains. It was atrociously cold, I slowly trotted around and around the platform to keep warm. And somewhat later, on the last leg:

I saw it standing on a platform as it whizzed by. Who can that be?

The 5-minute cycle from station to home, at 00.20 in the morgensen, sub-zero temperatures and no socks on under my sandals because I could not be bothered to fish them out of the rucksack, was 5 minutes too many.


Yes, I would do it again next week except I won’t have time for it.


The next morning,  something with my legs was not right. But I am better now.


Hail Eris!











Minor Miracle

On Sunday morning, our little girl Liza, my wife Vera and I set off for Pest, a
70-click drive on the motorway, in our 18-year-old VW Caravelle microbus, Oomingmaq, to pick up some furniture. A Hungarian motorway, mind: except for a few steeper parts,
mostly two lanes plus an emergency lane. Shortly after we set off at about 11, Fine
Drizzle showed up with its friend Mild Fog.

As we came out of a curve and over a hump, I saw an emergency triangle, and some 15
meters beyond it a white Merc with its headlights pointed towards me in the slower
lane. A few meters behind it, a trailer with a cyan Audi on it lay on its side, across
both lanes and some of the emergency lane. Beyond it, a little lorry and a grey car
were stopped. 4 or 5 people seemed busy and frantic around the trailer. All of this was
surprisingly close.

I hit the breaks, started pumping in my poor imitation of ABS and screamed “brace
yourselves” at the top of my voice. On the second pump Oomingmaq lost traction and
started sliding off the road to the right at a small angle while rotating slowly to the
left. I considered recovering traction and hitting the trailer, but with the people
around it I decided against this. Kept the break pedal depressed.

In about 5 or 6 seconds we lost most of our momentum and slid off the road. Oomingmaq’s
rear right side hit the barrier first. It bounced off, she reversed her horizontal
rotation and now rotated somewhat faster to the right. She also toppled over onto her
right side slowly. We slid another 5 meters or so with the bus lying on its side, then
came to a standstill. Little girl was screaming loud, I could hear she was scared but
not hurt. Wife and I were shouting “we’re okay, we survived this” a good several times.
I was hanging in the driver’s seat in the seatbelt.

There was a rapidly increasing smell of petrol. The inlet was facing the ground. I
undid my seatbelt and performed a controlled fall onto the right front window. I stood
and opened the left front window (amazingly, no windows broke). There was a man,
shouting, outside, in broken English. He was Austrian, he must have been driving in front of the trailer and reversed up when he saw what happened,  in a grey car. I told him we were okay and ordered him to get someone to move that triangle much further back immediately. As the roof was facing back, I couldn’t see that way. At that point, I was deeply worried about being hit by another car.

I picked up the screaming child and handed her out to him, then helped my wife out. Then
I climbed out myself. We were in the emergency lane, and by this time, the little lorry
had dragged the trailer off the inside lane. Very mild traffic was passing us on the
left. Inside the bus was a mess. It reminded me of Owl’s place from the House at Pooh

The old Romanian guy who had fallen asleep at the wheel and thereby caused this almost
fainted when he saw our little girl. He knew a few words of Hungarian and kept saying
he hadn’t meant this to happen. I patted him on the back and told him we were alright
and he should relax. I was thinking about how lucky we were and also how lucky he was
that we were not hurt. Fleeting murderous thoughts occasioned by adrenalin passed
through my head. A young woman who seemed to be his daughter was dry-heaving by the
side of the road, also largely from the sight of us, it seemed.

I joined Vera and Liza and sat down on the grass verge well away from the carriageway. The adrenalin was running out, the shock was coming on. We had shivers and started crying. Liza, our girl, was not crying by this time, but kept informing us in her cute little voice that we should go home now. We had to tell her this would have to wait. Although the lorry-driver claimed to have called the police, I decided to call them as well. They told me they knew about it and were on the way.

I was wondering about the illegal gas tank in the bus. I knew that petrol doesn’t
actually ignite as easily as it does in the movies, but didn’t know about gas. There
was no smell of LPG though, so I supposed the tank was not breached. The police arrived
and put up some traffic cones, the scene was stabilised. I went and told them about the

I was doing heavy breathing and wishing hard for water and anything with carbs in it to
deal with the shock while feeling the child and then my wife all over for damage, my
rusty first-aid all flooding back. Baby seemed unhurt, not even a bump. Wife was
complaining about a bruise on her back. I found it high up on her ribcage on the right,
sighed with relief, there was no sign of impact lower down. No cracked ribs, either. They
had not been strapped in, she hates her chair and was demanding tit shortly before this
happened. When I started breaking and screaming ‘brace’ she wrapped herself around
Liza, who was entirely unhurt. We called Vera’s ex and asked him to pick us up. He said
he was on his way.

The police asked for my papers and told me it would be a good idea to shut that
gas-tank off. By that time, some guys also arrived with a 3.5 ton transporter. They
told me it would also be a good idea to pull the handbreak while I was in there. I
climbed into the bus, shut off the gas and pulled the handbreak. Climbed out.

The cop told me my car’s papers said nothing about LPG. I said I knew. He said he’d
overlook that, seeing as I had enough on my plate already. Bless him. The rescue guys
were asking where I wanted the bus taken. I told them and asked how much it would be.
He said that dependended on kilometers, but I asked again, for a rough estimate. He
started doing calculations on the edge of a newspaper and told me about 32 thousand (80
quid or so). I told them where to take it and asked my mechanic friend to receive them
at his garage. I also had to organise some cash for my friend, who had none. This
involved help from yet another friend.

The bus was righted using a cable winch and a pulley attached to the barrier. The cops
gave my papers back. Vera’s ex arrived with water and bananas (sound thinking). We left
for Pest, as there was stuff we had to do there.

About an hour later, my mechanic friend called and told me the rescue guys were
demanding 58 thousand (almost twice their initial estimate). He had a row with them,
they wouldn’t budge, lied their faces off about where they came from and the various
extra things they forgot to include. They also attempted to question my judgment on account of my just having been in an accident and kept returning to their baseline: why are
you making a fuss, the insurance will pay for this, anyway. Hyenas. I tele-arranged more cash. It also transpired that when they righted the bus, they actually fucked up and dropped the top rear corner onto the barrier, breaking all the lights there as well. They will hear from me yet, I am planning my revenge.

The rest of the day went well. The next morning I noticed that the safety belt had
actually given my neck a whiplash injury and my entire shoulder girdle was in a somewhat bad shape. This seems to be passing. We found another bruise on Vera’s shoulder: I still
think this was one of those rare instances when not being strapped in they came of better than if they had been. But we need to think about stricter child-seat enforcement policies, anyway.

Here’s the bus as it lies on its side:

And here it is after it was righted:
Oomingmaq will run again, the insurance money is likely to be enough for a decent fix.
Another lucky brush with death. Thanks, Eris.