Thursday, 28 March 2013


Old-style school inspectors start work this autumn

The Hungarian Government is to reinstate the Communist-era school-inspection system. Three thousand will be recruited and trained on a trial basis, to start in Autumn. They will visit classrooms and observe lessons.

Mária Hári told me that she had had terrible conflicts with the school-inspectors as her ideas of how groups should be taught and organised, Pető-style, conflicted with how the visiting inspectors insisted that it ought to be done. She included school inspectors in that comprehensive group outside whom she called 'the enemy' ('I hate them'). I know details of all this, but I suspect that such a long-running conflict would have been an important force in creating at least the shape of school-based children's conductive services.

Here we go again?  A force for further evolution in the old country? It will be interesting to see.


(2013) Government to revive communist-era school inspector system,, 27 March

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Кондуктивная педагогика
15-minute video in Russian
What lies beneath?
This enthusiastic fifteen-minute TV report features a demonstration visit to the oil-rich Komi Republic, in the far North of the Russian Federation, by a team of conductors from Moira. I could find no date on the webpage. The three-week visit, to the Lozym sanatorium, was made in November 2006, with the TV report presumably broadcast either at the time or soon afterwards.
Mention is made that in nearby Norway Conductive Education programmes receive state funding. The TV report implied Ministerial support for establishing CE in state institutions in Komi. I do not know what has happened there since.
Does anyone?
The Sanatorium at Lozym lists conductive pedagogy amongst other approaches. This is what it says –
Метод кондуктивной терапии.
В основе метода лежит системный подход к воспитанию функций, в котором основное внимание уделено медико-педагогической коррекции, направленной на выработку самостоятельной активности и независимости ребенка. Основная цель метода – обучить ребенка спонтанным движениям в решении поставленных перед ними задач и в дальнейшем применять полученные навыки в повседневной жизни. Программа занятий предусматривает беспрерывное участие ребенка в разных видах деятельности, которые учат детей думать и действовать в различных ситуациях.
The conductive therapy method
At the basis of the method lies a systemic approach to the education [vospitanie – 'upbringing'] of functions, in which fundamental attention is given to medical-pedagogic correction directed to producing self-sufficient activity and independence in children. The method's basic goal is to teach children spontaneous movements for solving the tasks that face them and to apply the skills that they have learned in their future everyday livess. The programme provides for children's uninterrupted participation in different kinds of activity that teach the children to think and to act in all manner of situations.

No matter that his account makes no mention of conductors, nor that conductive pedagogy is included as a form of LFK services (lechebnaia fizkul’tura, rather like remedial gymnastics). There are no Mickey Mouse 'principles' to the fore, and no attempt to neurologise. I have no idea of the realities of conductive practice in Kozyn, nor anywhere else in the vast CIS, but this concise explanation makes more sense than most of what one reads supposedly defining Conductive Education in the West, and in most of what little comes from Hungary too.

Food for thought there.

Russia, and by extension the whole of the CIS (the Commonwealth of Independent States, i.e. the former Soviet Union) has always been to me 'a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma'. This widely applied formulation of Winston Churchill's has been around all my life, being first broadcast on the BBC three days before I was born, and seems as true today as it was them. It seems true too of Conductive Education in that very large part of the world too.

I myself first stumbled upon Conductive Education at the end of the seventies because of its apparent congruity with Soviet defectology (a connection hotly denied by Mária Hári, and hardly conducive to the modern-day cult of Hungarikum). In early post-Soviet years two tranches of young Russians trained to be conductors at the Pető Institute in Budapest (where are they all now, what are they doing and where?). Of recent years, as the Internet clearly demonstrates, there is considerable interest in conductive pedagogy and conductive in former Soviet lands, and indeed the most frequently visited posting on Conductive World, by a long head, is an article on parent-and child work, in Russian. The Pető Institute has actively recruited clients from Russia and the Ukraine, and run special groups to accommodate them, but its plans to establish a base in Moscow appear nor to have materialised and only Moira, as far as I know, has actually taken the work to demonstrate it live in the former Soviet Union (I would appreciate being corrected in this by those who know better). I do not recall any participation from that part of the world in the seven CE World Congresses to date to reflect anything of this – maybe Congress number 8 to be held in Munich this October will break a duck in this respect.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


UK's proposed Mickey Mouse press law

Ben Webster and Laura Pitel, in this morning's Times

Small-scale bloggers will be exempt from new rules seeking to punish publishers with exemplary damages if they refuse to join an 'approved regulator', under an amendment tabled by the Government.

After widespread protests on the internet about the impact on bloggers, ministers conceded that their previous amendments to the Crime and Courts governing Bill, passed in the Commons a week ago, had been flawed...

The list of publications excluded from the provisions on exemplary damages would be extended by the new amendment top include 'a person who publishes a small-scale blog'.

One small mercy anyway from Fred Karno's shambolic governing elite. Of course, it has still to be decided, presumably in the end by the courts, what constitutes a 'small-scale blogger'.

What a mare's nest

What a shaming situation to energe within a supposedly 'mature denocracy'. Stephen Tall peers into the thickets ahead:


Tall, S. (2013) Government pauses on web regulation to ponder question, 'What is a small-scale blog?'Liberal Democrat Voice, 26 March

Webster, B., Pitel, L.. (2013) Small blogs exempt from press rules as ministers admit flaw, The Times, 26 March


Sunday, 24 March 2013


Learning by doing

I can just about manage to 'work' Blogger. I struggle with Facebook and would really like to 'do' it better than I can.. I 'did' Twitter for a time – but gave it up as a waste of time. I sometimes wonder whether the social-networking revolution is passing me by.

Along the way, various souls have invited me to join this or that social-networking system, and sometimes I have even tried to do so, but to little practical avail. One such was LinkedIn (is that really the way to write 'Linked In'?)


Over the last few weeks, I do not know why, I have been receiving a small flurry of invitations to join Linked in, from people whom I know either in person or by name. I have begun to feel mildly guilty about simply ignoring these, so this evening I tried to do the basic things that Linked in seems to require.

I cannot quite see the purpose of LinkedIn. It seems to be for people who are trying to make their way in the world, and are not abashed by proclaiming their achievements to date. Naively perhaps, I presume that this is a way to market one's wares, in the expectation that further business and advantage will thereby come one's way. From what I have seen so far of LinkedIn I wonder whether I should be more bold in beating my drum, thumping my chest or whatever it is expected of me in such a context.

I can vouch from my own long experience, and from observing others, that the better-mousetrap model of personal and observed advancement brings little positive in its wake, and plenty that is negative.

I am not trying to make my way in the world and I cannot see that proclaiming what I do will ring greatly to my advantage, but who know? So I have filled in LinkedIn's form as well as I can understand it and I shall see what happens. So far, I gather, people will be asked whether they would like me to join their networks.

So far, so good. 'Ping, ping... ping, ping', signals my phone, to tell me that I am getting takers.

What might be in it for me?

What advantages and adventures will this bring? Who knows? I am not given to breath-holding behaviour, and cannot see how else a wait for results will harm me. At the very least, I might learn something of how to 'work' LinkedIn.

Perhaps some of the high-fliers whom I 'network' will notice my earnest wish for money to employ a secretary – though probably only if I find the appropriate way to state this! Perhaps all sorts of advantages will beat their way to my door. After all, thing ventured, nothing gained...

And I might even be of use to others too.

You can find me on LinkedIn at the following URL:

Sign me up, Scottie...

Friday, 22 March 2013


A few obvious questions

The Hungarian word tiszta seems hard to put into English. It means 'clean', 'pure', 'undiluted', 'plain', 'unalloyed', etc. One does, however, hear in English the notion of 'pure Conductive Education'.

What is 'pure Conductive Education'?

Over the years many people have tended to avoid the hard consequences of making it matter explicit, what is meant by this. 

To do so might involve the difficult task of identifying the essence or essences of Conductive Education: in practice counting some people and what they do as being  in, and some out –  that is coming down for one side or another, ruffling feathers.

There surely are, however, distinctions to be made, boundaries that have to be be drawn, and some obvious, longstanding questions to be addressed:
  • What is a 'clean' or a 'pure' way of doing conductive pedagogy'?
  • Is his the same as what in Germany some people refer to as Petð-pur?
  • What is its opposite: 'dirty', 'unclean', impure', 'diluted' 'alloyed'...?
  • By what criteria might we recognise 'pure conductive pedagogy', or even 'Pure Pető'?
  • Can one ever find such criteria explicitly stated?
  • Historically and substantively, is tiszta konduktiv pedagógia a tenable construct?
  • Or is it just a smokescreen or a slogan?
  • What sort of problems does all this cause?
  • And what is wrong with alloys anyway?
Move&Walk's recent advertisements for conductors to work in Sweden, tisztán ('purely', 'cleanly' etc.), reinforce sthe need to define positions:

Thursday, 21 March 2013


It [the English language] becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier to have foolish thoughts.
On the cash desk in Waterstone's bookshop yesterday I noticed a pile of very slim books (note the apostrophe – mine).

Penguin has republished George Orwell's essay on politics and language: at 99p a snip at today's prices. Of course I knew of it and of its message, it feels like I always have but, as with many such things, I had never actually read it.

This essay was was first published in 1945. As a bonus, the present edition includes Orwell's review of Hitler's Mein Kampf, first published in March 1940.

Orwell's analysis of the perversion of language, and then how perverted language itself goes on to pervert yet more, well stands the test of time. So does his analytic framework. I can speak only for English in the United Kingdom which is, I suspect, well on the way to passing Orwell's worst imaginings. And oh woe, the fields of human welfare, including disability, rehabilitation and education are up there with the leaders.

Orwell's essay take but little time to read, and is rather disappointing. His argument is clunky, and others have made the same point before and since, with greater clarity and more careful qualification. But he was writing polemical journalism, in 1945. Its worth, however, is to be judged less by its originality and rigour but by the fact that it touched a button, and continues to do so. It is a button that cannot be touched too often.

Conductive Education?

Conductive Education in the English language has been tagging along trying to keep up with the worst Orwellian trends in the language, with the effect that that its messages are not so much communicated as perverted – and its very future therefore compromised too.

It would make for a salutory exercise to analyse some contemporary CE-speak using Orwell's acerbic approach (I daren't write 'methodology'!). Not me, though. I haven't time, and anyway, like many an academic exercise, this would serve merely to confirm something that everyone already knows. Sounds like a good research topic!

And conductivists do please note: Orwell's message was that language is corrupt, and corrupts – but you can do something about it. To move beyond things as they are, rather than let them dictate – now that is a response to this problem more in keeping with the conductive world view.


Orwell, G. (2013) Politics and the English Language, Penguin Books

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Overflow public open day next month

Zusäzlicher Infoabend für Eltern
1900, 23 April
Private Grundschule Inntal,Rosenheimer Str.118, 83080 Niederaudorf

The CE Inclusive School to open in September in Bavaria has already held two well-attended public open days, primarily for parents of prospective pupils:

Now it is having to lay on a third, to meet public interest:

This is a reverse-integration project, as far as I know the first anywhere involving Conductive Education. The small primary school, comprising initially two classes, will be run by a conductor and a pedagogue, on conductive lines. The bulk of the pupils will have no disability but any children admitted with motor disorders will find an educational setting highly attuned to their optimal development. Please correct me if I am wrong in any of this *.

In so far as I understand the Bavarian way of funding education, the school will run for two years on private funding. Then, if is satisfies inspection requirements, the state will assume financial responsibility. Again, correction welcome.

Why not elsewhere?

The reverse-inclusion model seems to offer self-evident human and educational advantages, for all parties involved. Why has it taken so long to try it out?

It costs money, of course, and as far as Europe is concerned, Bavaria is more likely to have this commodity to hand than are most places. It requires highly motivated parents to take the lead in getting such an operation of the ground, and highly informed and organised ones at that. Perhaps Bavaria is favoured in this respect too. It also depends upon a sophisticated and diverse education system – certainly the UK's sclerotic and defensive education services would more likely stamp on such initiative than embrace it. And perhaps vital here, this project has been consciously and visibly at the forefront of its national inclusion movement. Oh dear, in what other countries can CE claim this?

Notwithstanding local difficulties, this is world CE's most exciting new school-age initiative for some years, anywhere, and merits close watching for whatever lessons can be learned. Fortunately it is in hands of people with perhaps uncharacteristic willingness and ability to communicate.

What's the trick?

School-age CE has always been particularly hard to implement, right from the start of the internationalisation of Conductive Education in the late eighties. Even when services are running it is difficult to achieve and maintain state-funded pupils, except perhaps in some contexts for the most severely disabled children. So how come they seem to be pulling something off this apparently radical and progressive initiative in Bavaria?

Whatever the trick (more likely the combination of factors) vital to this project, it is to be hoped that people in Conductive Education elsewhere will give the initiative careful account. Perhaps of course they will not – if so indicative of perhaps another prevalent factor in CE's relevant success in some places, and failure in others.

* Knowability

I may be wrong, there may have been other reverse-integration schemes. I recall noticing a presentation in a parallel session at a recent internal conference at the Pető Institute. The presentation was called Fordított integráció a konduktív nevelési rendszerben kisiskolás gyermekek részére (Reverse integration in the conductive upbringing system for elementary school children). The presenter was PAI programme-leader Marianna Mühl Vajdáné.

I think that one can forgive those working in the field around the world for not spotting this:

Know Conductive Eduction? How can one?

Just perhaps a later version of this account may reappear at the forthcoming World CE Congress in October (in Bavaria). And just perhaps a written version will be published thereafter...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


(Mária Hári, 1990)

Exerpted from Mária Hári's address to the first World Congress –

The term 'Conductive Education itself covers the basic principles.
  • One point in the basic philosophy of Pető was that 'one has to complete what one has begun' (He was deeply aware ofthe ethical side in every respect.) This principle means that any function or action, even any thought, cannot be broken off, it must be carried out: one has to complete what one begins... This also applies to people with disabilities caused by structural alterations, who begin an action and seem not to be capable of finishing it. The way has to be found to do it. This also concerns those who are not able to find it themselves, and conduction helps there too.
  • The terms education and dysfunction will be explained by the second principle. The meaning behind the term reflects a conviction against the traditional force of habit. The habit is to think primarily in a reductionist way – that certain alterations of neurological origin are irreversible... The disability originating from these alterations is lasting, and thereby can be only compensation and substitution.. if communication to the nervous system is cut, control cannot be replaced, because we do nor know how the original system works... The terms education and dysfunction indicate that the problem is not a static and local one, that change is possible, and that disability appears through an organisational disorder. A better organisational process can be learned.

Hári, M. (199o) The history of Conductive Education and the educational principles of the system, First World Congress, November 29 – December 1, Congress Proceedings, pp.3-5

Monday, 18 March 2013


Continuing uncertainties

I am considering topics to submit as oral and/or poster presentations for the 8th World Congress. There are things that I wish to report that I regard as practically useful and theoretically interesting. I even dare hope that audiences will find them so too. I am sure that others are at the same stage of consideration.

To be frank, though,I am not finding this easy. I shall not give up, and hope too that others who share my problems will not give up either.

What's it all about?

The Congress announcement helpfully breaks down the overall heading of 'Rhythm nad Balance' as follows:

Research and evaluation
  • Current scientific evaluation. Study design
  • Measurement tools, life quality satisfaction
Early education, children and young people
  • Daily life. Inclusion
  • Puberty and sexuality
Adulthood, and transition from school age to adulthood
  • Working and lifestyle, sports and leisure time
  • Vocational education. Inclusion
Professional education and politics
  • Competencies and working fields
  • Transcultural adaptations

I do not really have anything to say about 'rhythm and balance'. Nor to be honest do I particularly wish to hear a programme devoted to their measurement and their manifestations at different stages of life. Maybe lots of other people do have lots to report on these topics and many others will want to hear about this.. Rhythm and balance are important matters in their own right but from my own standpoint anyway they do seem rather peripheral to the urgent, big issues within and around Conductive Education everywhere in the world. I suspect that I am not alone in so thinking.

I find it a problem in shoehorning the fourth of the above categories into 'rhythm and balance' category. The introduction to the Congress website tries to help by offering offers a somewhat figurative (and rosy) view of how the Congress title might be interpreted:

Rhythm and Balance are essential features of Conductive Education, which aims to promote all personality fields in a balanced way. Conductors use methods such as day rhythm, rhythmic intent, rhythm in word and song, in order to support disabled people. They find in a self-determined lifestyle balance and rhythm between support, school, spare time and job.

The professional training of conductors is a rhythmic balance between theory and practice. We want to combine quality with national adaptations, we want to establish academic and professional training with well-balanced funding and make Conductive Education available all over the world. In the frame of the 8th World Congress for Conductive Education, we now want to find rhythm and balance for and between vocational topics and politics, between the demand for quality education, culture and social events, between networking and national diversity, between development and tradition and a balanced offer for both professional audience and for the concerned people, their families and interested parties.

Taking a figurative the perhaps that I might submit could fall into the fourth of the above categories 'Professional education and politics' – but hold on, consideration in these term raises another level of problem. The notion that problems of, for example, education, competence, and transcultural adaptation are necessarily best model under a rubric of rhythm and balance is at best an ideological position. Cosy, comforting, but highly questionable. In this world there are more important substantive things to say and discuss, and a range of conceptual frameworks within which to do so..

So what to do? Perhaps follow the unspoken rule that many conferences appear implicitly to accept. Turn a blind eye to the title and the stated theme of the conference, and try to present something that it stimulating and informative, and withing one's range of enthusiasms. As time draws on, this is probably what I shall do – and again I hope that others will too. It will then be up to the conference committee to accept such submissions if they wish and to place them in the programme where they see fit.

How long?

How long does an oral presenter have? The Congress offers the following guidance –

Advice for the different presentation types
Oral presentations are short talks in sessions joining about 3 to 5 presentations with a common focus. Speaking time should be about 10 to 15 minutes (preferably using PowerPoint) plus about 15 minutes discussion. Every session will be chaired by one or two experts.
I can do without the slide show, thank you. I interpret the rest of this advice to mean that I shall have a thirty-minute slot, the first ten to fifteen minutes of which I can fill at my discretion with a formal presentation, followed by an equal time for its discussion.

Or is this a wildly optimistic reading of the instructions? It sounds very satisfactory, offering time to delve thoroughly into a chosen topic and for people to agree or disagree, argue or amplify. It is how conferences 'used to be'.

I think that I recall its looked like when I first planned for going to the CE Congress in Hong Kong, and I began to prepare what I might do accordingly. My submissions were accepted. Then, much nearer the actual day, I learned that speakers' allocated times were to be reduced, I remain wary at this pointy of offering something substantive that cannot be abridged.

May I am simply interpreting the instructions over-optimistically. Perhaps they mean that I should have ten or fifteen minutes to present my piece, with discussion of the whole content of that session's three, four of five presentations being discussed in a single fifteen-minute slot at the end. This could work rather well – if there is a real 'common focus', and incisive, informed chairing.

Either way, one would have to know in advance in order to prepare properly.


A reminder

Yesterday I passed through the centre of Birmingham, en route for Stratford-upon-Avon where Gill Maguire and I were to meet the ever-accommodating designer Nick Castle about 2013's programme for Conductive Education Press.

Most uncharacteristically for a Sunday, Birmingham city centre was awash with people, a sea of red, white and gold (well, red white and orange actually), sporting of the green, or dressed as leprechauns, wearing brightly coloured fun-fur pints of Guinness on in theirs heads.

It was St Patrick's day. Along Digbeth, in Birmingham's supposed 'Irish quarter', the pubs have been overflowing on to the pavements, with van-loads of police in their strange canary-yellow costumes, trying the keep the cheerful crowds off the highway.

Colourful, good-humoured, Oirish in the best sense. I thought of the warm and the revolutionary songs that would be sung in the bars and pubs, not least the songs of heartfelt welcome and of resistance to oppression.

And Conductive Education?

A jarring note here. I also thought of the sour welcome that CE has received from authority, in both Irelands – in the North from the state education service, in the South from bureaucratised therapy – and of the history of repression from established bodies towards those who have sought to bring Conductive Education to the island of Ireland.

I used to think of Ireland as a graveyard of Conductive Education dreams.

The fight of course continues. Nowadays things may perhaps be a little better across that water. Look at Intelligent Love's Workplace Map and see that Buddy Bear and Pető Cork are hanging on, joined recently by Hand in Hand, and that Lighthouse summer school remains a longstanding annual event.

But there could have been so much more.

Maybe there are more. Underground. Like the leprechauns. They may not wish to be on the Map.

Sunday, 17 March 2013


How best to put this...?

The next time I am asked about my relationship to Conductive Education I shall paraphrase Dame Edith Sitwell, and reply –

Old people have pets and mine is CE

I can think of better retirement hobbies (both for myself and for Dame Edith).

By the way, what she actually said was –

Old people have pets and mine is the USSR


Gill Maguire is compiling a 'Pető quotationnary' for publication soon by Conductive Education Press. For general guidance she has been looking at some other such works currently on the market,  a very good example of which is Richard Ingram's Quips and Quotes:

Ingrams, R. (2012) Quips and Quotes: a journalist's commonplace book, London, The Oldie Publications.

Excellent though this be, however, it does not reference sources, so I have no idea of when and in which circumstances Dame Edith said or wrote this.

I am assured that Gill's forthcoming collection will be very well referenced indeed!

Friday, 15 March 2013


Once such big news around the world

Not really a CE story at all

Briefly, a father wanted CE for his daughter. The local education authority declined to fund this. The father then offered one of his kidneys for auction on eBay (it is illegal to sell organs in the UK) in order to to purchase CE privately. In end money was raised by donation, £57,000 at 1994 prices, and the girl went off to Ingfield Manor a residential school run by the charity Scope.  End of story? Not quite.

The story broke in December 2003 and went swiftly viral, not just in the UK's media but also in media around the world, and on the Internet. This was the last major national news story featuring CE in the United Kingdom – though it was more a shock-horror organ-transplant story than a CE one. The media were no longer interested in questions of what is Conductive Education (and what is not), or even that CE had been 'controversial', the supposed research evidence did not emerge as an issue, nor did the movement to establish conductive practice across the country. All that has been 'done', and was therefore by definition no longer news, Attempt to draw the attention round to matters conductive were not successful

At that point in the process of Conductive Education's internationalisation, a degree of common awareness of CE's developments was offered on line through the pages of Conductive Chronicle. At the time newspapers and broadcast media were beginning to go on line, where much the record of what was said remains readily accessible if you know where to look. This was a fascinating and puzzling story at the time and the Chronicle's restrained running summary offers a window into a lost world in which this saga in the press did no favours to Conductive Education's already tarnished and contradictory public reputation

Conductive Chronicle shut down at the end of 2004. It therefore missed reporting what looks to have been the drama's final public denouement, in that final burial place for so many previous minor media personalities, a two-page human-interest exposé in the Daily Mail. Most people in Conductive Education will not have seen this and I am still asked 'What happened about that kidney?'

The kidney's tale

Briefly, a father wanted CE for his daughter. The local education authority declined to fund this. The father then offered one of his kidneys for sale (illegal in the UK) to purchase CE privately. In end money was raised by donation (£57,000 at 1994's prices) and went on a year's fees at Ingfield Manor School, a residential School run by Scope.

Here are Conductive Chronicle's consecutive reports of the confusing blur of media coverage over those few months. Some of the media reports and discussions linked to are now dead, most are still there.
Man to sell kidney to buy daughter CE: major Conductive Education news story breaking world-wide, Conductive Chronicle, 2 December, 2003
Kidney story back in media, Conductive Chronicle, 24 February 2004 
The Observer: tiny correction, Conductive Chronicle, 2 April 2004
The kidney: a chapter closes? Conductive Chronicle, 15 April, 2004
(A search tip: if an archived link does not come up immediately when you click on it, wait for a few seconds the try again)


Case apparently closed. The media lost interest. Conductive Chronicle ceased publication. Real life went on, with the Daily Mail there to rake it over.
Cable, A. (2006) The father who claimed he would sell a kidney to help his daughter, Daily Mail, 3 August 
The Mail files this story under 'Health'.

Thursday, 14 March 2013


More snake oil

A Mr Joseph Emilio Pineda (probably a robot) offers an instructive Comment on Conductive World's recent posting on hemispherectomy –
Brain supplements like nootropics improved brain functions and help patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other related brain malfunctions.
Mr Pineda helpfully left a URL to his blog where he explains further – 
Nootropic supplements are smart drugs, memory enhancers, neuro enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers.
Within ten minutes of reading Mr Pineda's advice, another one (robotic fraudster, that is) has phoned me offering to help renew some insurance. All that she asked was for me to provide a few personal details. A quick Google search tells me that this call was from a well-known nuisance number.

Mr Pineda's blogsite informs that he is a business man, from Iligan City in the Philppines, and a sci-fi fan. I have no reason to expect either to be true but he may still understand what I mean when I say that it is surely time to incorporate Isaac Asimov's First Law of Robotics into the criminal law.

Now for something completely different

Incidentally, and altogether irrelevantly, it occurs to me that the Three Laws (and the one that later preceded them) might also be usefully applied to bureaucratised systems for providing health, education and welfare services.

What a thought  not so much science fiction as misty-eyed fantasy.  

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


András Pető moves on

Today, 12 March, is the 75th anniversary of Hitler's union (Anschluss) of Austria with Germany:
On March 12, 1938, German troops marched into Austria. Hitler announced his Anschluss, and a plebiscite was finally held on April 10. Whether the plebiscite was rigged or the resulting vote simply a testament to Austrian terror at Hitler's determination, the Führer garnered a whopping 99.7 percent approval for the union of Germany and Austria.

Austria was now a nameless entity absorbed by Germany. It was not long before the Nazis soon began their typical ruthless policy of persecuting political dissidents and, of course, all Jewish citizens.

András Pető was a Jew. In 1911 he come to Vienna as a young adult. He qualified in medicine and became an Austrian citizen. At times he worked as a doctor in sanatoria in and around Vienna but perhaps writing was a more absorbing interest. He married, though by his subsequent account they were together for a very short time. He amassed a collection of esoteric books. Perhaps he spent some time in Berlin, perhaps he even visited New York. Pletyka. In truth we know very little indeed of his adult life up until the Anschluss, only what very little he chose to tell in Hungary in the years after the Second War.

After 12 March 1939 András Pető's life could never be the same. According to his childhood friend Andor Németh, András Pető had a bit of a fright from the Nazis, being forced to stand at a gate with a placard around his neck:


He soon left Vienna (leaving behind most of his books, and his wife) and turned up in Budapest. He was no penniless refugee but had loads of money in Swiss Francs, a legacy from Maria Kloepfer (who was she?). He lived in a hotel, profligately.

Later that year, however, he left Budapest. His two younger brothers were already both living in France, one of them in Paris (what I wonder, was their ultimate fate?). András András Pető, went to Paris, where he again set up in a hotel, and 'fulfilled the role of a libertine, with gusto'. He is said to have tried to make a living through publishing rather than medicine. How long he remained in Paris and why he left are unknown Perhaps Maria Kloepfer's money had run out. For whatever reason, he went back to Budapest.

Róbert Szörényi reports that this final move was 'between the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and the and the start of World War II'. The War stated on different dates for different peoples. For the British, for example, it began on September 1939. For the Hungarians it was 27 June 1941. Take your pick.

András Pető was on his way to a new life.