Monday, 17 November 2008

Painting and decorating, Hungarian style

This morning, at eight o'clock, the painter and decorator came to finish the work he started yesterday. Now I come to think about it, I don't know his name, and he doesn't know mine. What I have established is that he supports AC Milan, and that he conforms to the universal code of tradesmen by taking two sugars in his coffee. For all I know, he called me 'luv' as well, but the conversation took place in German. I think he was hoping to tap into the universal language of football but even this usually reliable mode of interlinguistic parley floundered on the rocks when I was reduced to writing on my hands to articulate Darlington's lowly status. Anyway, he seems like a nice man, which I suppose is the least one can ask for from people one leaves in the house to go and write about in cafés.

Seriously, though, Hungarian is as difficult as its reputation claims. Most people know a little English, such is Budapest's investment in the Anglophone tourist-and-stag industry, and those who don't tend to have some German instead. We get by, and we're acquiring more Magyar words and phrases by the day, but it isn't the sort of language that an English speaker can improvise a conversation in, as one can with Italian or Spanish.

Right, I think the painter will almost be done by now. I'd best go and let him out (unsure if this is mauvais foi or not, but I'm handwriting my blog entries before typing them up.)

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