14 November 2010


Heroes' Square, Budapest

Surreal supper in solitary splendour in the hotel with Harry Potter on TV and Mike Gambon's Dumbledore speaking Hungarian, which seemed right as I last worked with Mike here in Budapest. The screen was a thumbnail size at arm's length, if you follow me, but dominated the empty dining room. It was an appropriate warm-up for tomorrow, when I confess Jeremy Irons's Borgia Pope: good and evil doing battle on the small screen.

I was a filmmaker myself today, using my iPhone camera. I actually caught a Hungarian architect, who talked in halting English to me, singing 'It's a long way to Tipperary' – he learnt it at school. We saw an exhibition together. I may be going slightly mad in my solitude here, but I have seen some good art and photography and conned my lines.

I offer two pictures of the kind of Hero you see here. The nymph has nothing to do but try in vain to reach up and plant the laurel on the hero's brow. It strikes me this is rather the way Lear thinks of his daughters in Act I, scene i: 'Which of you shall we say doth love us most?' 

The Museum of Fine Arts currently has a large exhibition on Klimt and the origins of the Vienna Secession. According to the lushly illustrated catalogue, Klimt was influenced by the British Arts and Crafts movement, and I was pleased, indeed felt at home, to see William Nicholson, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Whistler and Burne-Jones in the amazingly comprehensive line-up. The museum is cavernous and the upstairs rooms, where I glimpsed the permanent collection, are reached by a marble staircase that makes London's V&A seem positively cosy. And Hungary has a population of just 10 million!

Next time I hope to show you my Hungarian film!

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