Monday, November 28, 2005


Tear jerker

Morning in the Yoshida building. In the kitchen / communal area of room 602, we can see Alison Goetz sleeping on the floor, her friend Chantal sleeping on the sofa, coughing periodically from a nasty chest cold. The sunlight filtering through the orange curtains bathes the room in a warm glow.

CUT TO: the harsh, artificial light of the bathroom. Dan is standing in front of the sink, cleaning out his coffee grinder. Having used said coffee grinder to grind up a bag of dried chillies the previous night, he is now removing the residue of chilli powder, prior to making himself a morning beverage. He wipes the grinder out with toilet paper and peers critically at it. Then he blows into it and recoils instantly as he gets chilli powder in both eyes.

CUT BACK TO: the two sleeping girls in the kichen area. The gentle snoring and occasional coughs are now supplemented by muffled thumping and yelps from the bathroom.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Done to death

The wages of sin is death, and the wages of knocking back a litre of yoghurt before bed was a nightmare involving a Dawn of the Dead-style zombie plague scenario.

In an attempt to avoid having my face eaten off by the horde of the undead, I climbed out of the back window at number 57 and made a getaway in my Dad's old blue Cortina. There was even the cliche horror movie bit where the engine won't start and the forces of darkness are shuffling agonisingly closer; I should have remembered what the Cortina was like in cold weather.

Fortunately, the car did start and I was able to avoid the would-be gourmands of the undead, although I guess this meant I was leaving my Dad to face them without any kind of escape vehicle.

So much for filial duty.

Friday, November 18, 2005


Always kick down, episode II: GBH on the streets

In today's episode, Dan is walking through Shinsaibashi. He is singled out as a potential benefactor by the Gaijin-bothering hobo (hereafter GBH.)

GBH: Excuse me, I'm hungry!

Dan: Bugger off.

(keeps right on walking)

GBH: Ooh.

To be honest, this wasn't as cathartic as the karaoke guy. I was just pretty irate with this bloke because he only tries it on with foreigners.

Even the hobos be discriminating, forsooth.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Always kick downwards

Dan on the way to Brazilian restaurant in Shinsaibashi. Random Karaoke Bloke (hereafter RKB) plying his trade the street:

RKB: Excuse me, let's go karaoke!

Dan: Let's not.

(walks straight past)

RKB: Thank you. See you.


Bad jazz

I'm not a big fan of jazz music: I like proper songs with proper chords, not C major with a crappy ambiguous 7th. Commit yourself to a chord, jazz boy. Three damn notes. Grow some testicles. (I particularly don't like the jargon- it's very difficult to come up with a authentic-sounding immitation for purposes of satire.)

Not only is my new flatmate, Jamie, a jazz musician: the two friends he has staying at the apartment tonight are also jazz musicians. Jazz musicians on tour, to be precise.

I have visions of these musical pariahs staying up until the wee small hours, playing non-commital chord progressions on the guitar and name-dropping (mercifully) obscure saxophonists.

Example of how detached from reality these people are: with the aeroplane duty-free trolley at their mercy and an embarassment of riches to choose from, the whisky they plumped for was Johnny Walker Red Label.

Seriously, what the fuck.


52,000 reasons to cut down on alcohol

The bubble is back, according to this article in the Guardian.

I was pretty impressed to read about the 52,000 yen beer. I could buy at least a hundred beers for that price. Closer to 200 if I went to the cheap joint round the corner. A fool and his money are soon parted, though. Especially if the fool also happens to be a twat.

If the Japanese economy really is on the up-and-up, it's time to chuck my job in and open my own conversation school for bored housewives and high school drop-outs.

Send me your CV and I'll wipe myself clean on it. This is my gravy train; the rest of you tossers can fend for yourselves.


Saturday, November 12, 2005


The man in the high castle

Wednesday's language exchange was nothing but trouble. I'd had a day's purgatory in Kyobashi and had to ship my butt out to Hirakata on the express. I proceeded to horrify a couple of Japanese with my arrant coffee-fuelled butchery of their language (case in point: I claimed that NOVA gave us dinosaurs. The Japanese words for "salary" and "dinosaur" are quite similar, unfortunately.)

Then to round it all off, I managed to miss the last train for Yodoyabashi- all the remaining trains were inbred locals, terminating in Neyagawashi. For a few horrible moments, the world swam before my eyes as I contemplated either a five-hour walk home or an extortionate cab fare.

Suddenly, I remembered that I actually know someone who lives pretty close to Hirakata (I will omit the samaritan's name here in deference to the fact that he probably won't want people thinking he's a soft touch.) To my great relief, he agreed to let me crash for the night. I picked up a few beers and snacks, and we watched DVDs till about 4am.

Going into work the next day, I felt pretty good. Admittedly I had a headache and I was wearing the clothes I'd slept in, but after months of getting run over, being late for work and generally suffering from bad karma despite doing my best not to hurt people, I felt like my luck was finally turning.

Then the stalker rocked up at my school and I had to run and cower in one of the classrooms.

Friday, November 11, 2005



Thursday night, Murphy's pseudo-Irish bar, Shinsaibashi. Dan drinking, Andrew serving.

Dan: Hey, Andrew!

What's up?

Dan: Did you ever go to that Japanese abacus class in the end?

Andrew: Nope.

Dan: Faggot.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Battling our demons

Mike is playing video games as per usual. This week's game of choice is Shadow of the Colossus, in which you ponce around a beautifully-rendered pixel landscape, attempting to inhume huge surreal-looking beasts in order to reanimate your dead love. If only life were always so simple.

Jamie is smoking on the balcony. He's been trying to quit for weeks.

I shake my head as I pour myself a third cup of black coffee.

Addiction is a terrible thing.

Monday, November 07, 2005


I wouldn't do that if I were you

Imagine trying to cross the Yodogawa river on a 25cm wide metal girder. In a thunderstorm. In high winds. In the middle of the night.

Pretty nerve-wracking stuff, eh?

Imagine waking up from your second night in a row of bizarre and occasionally violent dreams (like the above) to discover that your earwax has gone all runny, to say nothing of your stools.

I think the black coffee diet is making me psychotic. Potentially more disturbing: I think I'm enjoying it.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Bolt from the Bash

I don't like Kyobashi. I don't like Kyobashi the place; I particularly don't like Kyobashi the school.

Guess where I was today. Begins with a K.

When my phone rang at 10.10am I knew it could only be bad news. I was working someone else's shift at Kyobashi and had phoned up last night to double-check the start time. I'd been told 1.20pm- it seems I had been misinformed. My schedule had opened at 10am and I was missing in action.

So, having already earned myself one late penalty this week, I was in the unenviable position of having to work a day at Kyobashi, with ANOTHER late penalty hanging over me and the company of all the god-forsaken Kyobashi vermin. The staff, who when not downright dishonest, are incompetent to the nth degree; the teachers (combined charisma total: minus several billion); and, worst of all, the management types, including my own gaijin boss.

To my great surprise, the gaijin boss was quite sympathetic when he heard about the misinformation I'd received (bear in mind the reason I was phoning: I'd lost the appropriate paperwork.) He got a little less sympathetic when I told him I'd rocked up to work late on Thursday as well, but when he said "I'm going to try to get to the bottom of this," I knew it was going to be bad news for the Japanese staff. I couldn't identify the one I'd talked to, so I guess all of them are going to be screamed at by their horrible boss until one of them breaks down and confesses.

There's a witch-hunt on the go at Kyobashi and I'm the cause. All the staff there will hate me now for sullying their collective good name.

By the way, guess which school I'm working at every Wednesday for at least the next month.

Begins with a K.


This year's crackpot diet

One of the peculiar joys of temping in accounts (read: one of the less obvious reasons why I left England) was the office rotters continually enthusing about the Atkins diet. Every day, some minger would be on about the 3lbs she'd lost (time frame unspecified,) either oblivious to or prepared to accept the fact that her one-dimensional litany of meat meals was giving her a skin tone that I would usually associate with corpses.

However, today my student astounded me with the diet plan she'd seen on a second-rate commercial network.

Simply as follows:

One cup of black coffee after breakfast

One cup of black coffee after lunch

One cup of black coffee at 3.50pm (why couldn't it wait until 4 o'clock? I don't know.)

One cup of black coffee after dinner

I asked her how much weight she'd lost. Apparently none, but she only started this week.

I must admit, I'm tempted to give it a go. I don't desperately need to lose weight, but it's the kind of loony self-experimentation that keeps me entertained. Like cheese before bed. Gibber gibber.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Halloween and other festivities

Friday: Horror movie and cheese, similar to last year. This time it was only one film (Saw) and a small bit of cheese. I dreamed that I was trapped in a submarine afterwards, but it wasn't really all that scary.

Props to Lewis for the picture

Saturday: The infamous Osaka loop line party. The loop line is, as the name suggests, a circular railway that skirts around central Osaka, making it convenient for commuters to get home. Or (once a year) for several hundred gaijin to get steaming drunk.

This latter gave rise to the mystery of the vomited-upon watch.

In other news, the Japanese have popped up a Christmas tree outside my school which kind of boils my piss- I mean, a Christmas tree in October?

I was going to berate the culprits for reducing Christmas to an orgy of commercialism, then I remembered Christmas at home and realised that I'm not really in a position to preach.

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