Spent the kind-of-semi-official-4-day-weekend* in Budapest, enjoying a weekend with Mrs H (and without children), and generally having a good time - drank hot wine in Vörösmarty tér at the Christmas market, had an afternoon in the opulent but faded Gellert baths, ate well, and saw various friends. All most agreeable.
(*It wasn't really a 4-day weekend, but as December 1st is a holiday here for Romania's national day, and as the government - not that there is a government at the moment- is forcing public sector workers to take 10 days unpaid holiday, most places used that lonely Monday as one of their 10 days, and gave it as a holiday too)
On the way back, we were in Ferihegy airport and there was a sign advertising the "authentic" Irish pub there in the terminal. Now, at what stage does the word authentic lose all of its meaning? And have we already reached that stage? This is an "authentic" Irish pub in an airport. In an airport in Hungary. Almost certainly with not a single Irish member of staff. That looked nothing like what I imagine a genuine Irish pub to look like (see below). Which didn't even sell Guinness. I mean honestly, there was nothing that could be called even vaguely authentic. It sold beer. I guess that's about it. I think I'm going to start carrying round a marker pen and use it to cross out/highlight any uses of the word authentic I see.
(Ken Wilson tells me that he once saw outside a shop in the US the following "Authentic Antiques - Direct from the Factory")
Here is a picture of absolutely appalling quality which I took of this authentic Irish boozer
After marvelling at this masterpiece of deception, I boarded the plane and became profoundly depressed reading the newspaper which contained news that Switzerland had adopted an openly racist measure following a referendum, that with the support of a few US fundamentalist christians, Uganda is about to introduce the death penalty for homosexuals, and the analysis of the upcoming climate change debate in Copenhagen which made it clear that it was almost certain that nothing will get solved there and that we will carrying on racing headlong towards the precipice. What kind of a fucked up world is this? Makes Romanian politics seems positively bright by comparison.