Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Terminal verbosity

I was reflecting on the phenomenon of last words. A particularly fine example was presented to me in the anime Basilisk when Hyoma comes up with "I have erred," a fraction of a second before his face is pulped by an icy whirlwind of ninja death.

My choices were straightforward: MacDonalds or the B1 food court. I was stood halfway between the two, jacketless in the light rain, with an expression of extreme perplexity on my face. I opted for the evil empire as I could see from where I was that there was no queue at the counter.

Arriving back upstairs with my bag of luke-warm heart disease, I glanced at the schedule and froze in my tracks.

It would have been a perfect time for I have erred, but the best I could bust out with was "Holy Moses Kiptanui, steeplechasing legend of the Masai Mara."

The other teachers looked at me quizzically, accustomed though they are to such outbursts.

What my schedule informed me was that I was not, as I had erroneously believed, on my break; but rather had 80 seconds in which to prepare a class for four students.

By the time I took my seat in front of the four students of English conversation, I had already finished my double cheese burger and the L size fries. For the next 40 minutes I had to stifle burps and hold on for the coffee.


Best last words ever: "Holy cocksucking Christ! I fell out the motherfucking window!"

One my favourite Viz strips: Bob Hope is frustrated in his attempts to leave some humorous last words for posterity when he quips too close to an open window. The final panel portrays a scowling angel of Bob Hope sitting on a cloud, reading a newspaper with the headline Bob Hope's last words not funny, just rude.

Imagine having the presence of mind to get so much profanity out between a second-floor window and the ground. It'd take some doing.


Echoes of the life I left behind

Got home after talking to you to find Joe standing in back kitchen doorway looking totally appalled. I had forgotten to change cat litter. Cats obviously thought- shit on new floor? No too nice and new. In litter tray? Too dirty. Carpet? Too naughty. So one of them had done the most enormous turd on the scrubbing brush. Bristle side up too. I think it’s quite considerate really. All I had to do was get Joe to throw it away.

Classy stuff from the feline duo. One of my happiest memories of Spencer Ave is hearing a wail of despair from my Dad and him coming out of the bedroom bellowing. "That (dratted) animal's (gone to the toilet) on my floor AGAIN. Next time I'm going to nail it's (blessed) hide to the wall."

Stimpy sat on the landing blinking in surprise at all the noise the big monkey was making. She didn't exactly look like a one-cat reign of terror.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


The haru-basho

Made it to Sumo for the second day on the trot yesterday, despite having to get there at 7:30 am to queue for tickets.

I was a bit worried that we might be bamboozled by old people, who tend to be the biggest Sumo enthusiasts and usually get out of bed early anyway on account of their "trouble."

My fears proved groundless and I was able to watch the entire day's Sumo, lose 500 yen to Andrew on East-West betting and upset the Japanese Sumo enthusiasts around me by continually cheering for Mongolian Rikishi.

Pretty similar to Friday, except for the early queueing.

This year's Spring tournament is a real nail-biter and today will decide the winner. But I'll be working.

Friday, March 24, 2006


Self indulgence

I was in a caustic mood and was about to leave the bar anyway. A bunch of noisy gaijin had just come in and were telling each other bad jokes in loud voices.

I picked up my bag and, on my way out, accosted the ringleader, an American guy I've met before.

"Here's one for you," I said: "how do you keep a child molester in suspense?"

He asked how.

I kept right on walking.


Sekai ichi

For the first time ever, the title world champion has some meaning to it.

Japan topped a field of 16 invited nations to capture the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic by beating Cuba 10-6 in the final in front of 42,696 at San Diego's PETCO Park.

Japan on top of the world
The Yomiuri, 22 March, 2006

O-K... baseball may be a bit of a closed book to me, but I'd still be prepared to dispute that first part.

Just like Rugby, there are a very limited number of nations that can play the sport at a high enough level to compete in the World Championship.

Inevitably, vast areas of the World are unrepresented in these "World Championships" while other areas are over-represented.

(I was going to do this by continents, but I thought my divisions were better.)

Rugby "World Cup""World" Baseball Classic
Americans or as near as dammit2: USA, Canada2: USA, Canada
Countries in the iron grip of U.S. foreign policy2: Puerto Rico, Panama
Token African representation2: Namibia, South Africa1: and it's South Africa
Malnourished Eastern Europeans2: Georgia, RomaniaCome off it!
Assorted untrustworthy bounders6: Argentina, France, Fiji, Western Samoa, Uruguay, Tonga1: Mexico
Bag-snatchers on mopeds1: Italy1: Italy
Home nationsThe lot: England, Wales, Ireland, ScotlandBugger all
Always bitching about Kim Jong Il, but too fanny to do anything about itJapanJapan, South Korea
Antipodean tosspotsNew Zealand, AustraliaJust Australia, mercifully
Undistinguished, other than being in the coalition of the willingNetherlands, Dominican Republic
Shady pinkosNone at all- this is a sport born in Public Schools, after all3 :Cuba, China, Chinese Taipei (probably)
Not quite reds, but definitely worth keeping an eye onnone1: Venezuela
Shady Muslimsnopenope


Wednesday, March 22, 2006


You reckon?

Some teams have tried to take the storytelling a little too far. The French team at the Atlanta Olympics, for example, were planning to tell the story of the Holocaust to the music from Schindler's List. They wisely decided that the subject matter was in danger of being trivialised by a five-minute routine and changed their plans.
Hands up if you like synchronised swimming
The Observer, Sunday March 19, 2006

Yes, of all the art forms that are unequal to portraying the holocaust, I think synchronised fucking swimming is a particularly shining example.

The article I've linked to is defending the wretched charade; feel free not to read it.



The runaway train called alcohol abuse

Sunday night was a good one: thanks to my football-free schedule I managed to get in two sayonara parties, plus further drinks with Jamie, my erstwhile jazz flatmate.

Party one: told one girl that her flatmate had said she'd been going round town with a mattress strapped to her back, hoping to sow a little discord in the apartment. Naturally, she'd said no such thing.

Second sayonara was for a lad from my football team who got married recently and is moving to Shiga. Apparently, the wedding process was performed with some haste after the couple discovered there was a bundle of joy on the way.

I saw it somewhat differently and told a bunch of people there was no way the bride was pregnant "she's playing him like a flute."

All this accomplished and still not last train; I headed for Balamooshka's where I beat Jamie at pool, single-handedly as it were.

Then I had to be up in the morning, righteously hungover, to chat with the doctor about my hand. I told him that playing pool was a bit painful. He sniggered and told me I should be able to lose the cast in two weeks time.

Friday, March 17, 2006



It's St Patrick's Day and I'd promised myself I'd avoid Murphy's pseudo-Irish bar like the plague or possibly potato famine, but there's a bunch of tube feeders playing Star Wars Edition Trivial Pursuit in the next room and I'm beginning to feel the walls closing in on me.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Bouncing off the walls

I no longer control the hand; the hand controls me. I oscillate wildly between depression and mirth. I drink too much coffee and scream loudly every time I hear the lesson bell, alarming my colleagues and adversely affecting their sales.

I cannot teach the majority of my kids classes for a couple of weeks, which upsets me because they are more entertaining than their adult counterparts.

Miharu looks at the hand, looks at me, looks at the hand, then back at me again

SHE: Naita?
(Did you cry?)

ME: Un.

My bike is no longer outside Taisho station, presumably removed by bureaucrats in uniforms. My right armpit has become a stranger to me.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Gratuitous photo

courtesy of Mike

Monday, March 13, 2006


Groinish beans

I've heard the term a man of simple pleasures but I've never been sure whether I could describe myself as such. I suppose when a man has to tie his tie one-handed and needs must enlist the help of his groin when opening a tin of beans, convoluted pleasures are probably out of the question.

A lie I intermittently give to my students is that my injury was caused by Wes when we argued over the meaning of a word and he, looking up the word and finding himself to be foolish and false, hit me on the hand with the Oxford English dictionary, causing the rending of my bone. To cast the good-natured and popular Wes as some sort of psychotic hand-whamming ogre is churlish even by my standards but it is as well to spread the infamy around a little.

A lady in the last lesson asks me to define maniac: I tell her that a maniac is a crazy person who always asks strange questions and abuses the privilege of an electronic dictionary. She double-checks this in her electronic dictionary and, somehow not finding my truth too aberrant from the truth enjoyed by the rest of creation, gives me a bear.

The bear troubles me: it is a little over 2 cm tall and made of yellow plastic. It does not have a face which makes it the stuff of an abused child's nightmare.

Besides, the legend on the bears chest identifies it as the mascot of JEF United. I do not particularly like JEF United.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Beware the swordsman of Sakuragawa

imaged by Dan
Went down the Vodafone shop this morning and changed my digits. You can now contact me on the above.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Rising ire

Bzzz... the doors slide shut on the train and I am suddenly conscious of someone making to sit down next to me. I do the obligatory shuffling-up thing that everyone always does, even though I am perfectly well contained within the one seat, but still the person does not sit down.

Glancing up for the first time I realise it is the stalker and I cannot decide if my internal noise is more along the lines of a scream or a sigh, because she sent me a bunch of mail at the weekend and I answered none of it. This is clearly her revenge or an extra kick in the spiritual groin from a non-existent God who is almightily angry at me for my continual denial of his existence. Either way I remove my earphones and tell her, yes, she can sit down there if she really wants to (but I would rather she jumped out the window, this latter to myself obviously.)

Her eyes widen as she looks at my cast and she asks the inevitable question and I can see the fragments of a smashed picture frame scurrying back together on the stark wooden floor of delusion that is her mind and forming themselves into the idea that maybe, just maybe, I didn't answer any of her messages because I'd met with a grisly accident.

I tell her about the football and instantly curse myself for not claiming that I injured myself deleting e-mails with the wrong hand.

I ask where she is going, she says Takatsuki, which surely would have been quicker on the Hankyu line, so I smell a rat, even if its face and behaviour are more akin to that of a stunned chipmunk, but we ride on in silence, she unable to find any pretext for initiating talk and I too weary even to bother pushing her out of her chair and shouting that it isn't my baby in badly-accented Japanese.

My manners desert me and I put my earphones back in. Instant tapping on my arm. I take the earphones out and she asks me what I'm listening. Another footnote in the book of grudges.

The train draws near Hirakata and she makes a show of suddenly remembering something. She opens the back and tells me, oh, this is gift...

I tell her to stick it in her ear and the look on her face tells me I just kicked over her sandcastle.


She's back at Hirakata the next day with her Sempai and I need to grow some wings or change my name.

Monday, March 06, 2006


"Sensei, chotto..."

Inkeeping with the Hospico OHNOs proud history of haphazard medical provision, when I went back this morning the Orthopaedics Johnny told me that I'd probably sustained a fracture before attempting to put a cast on my other hand.

The Nurses giggled, I perspired.

So, for the first time in my life, I am officially a cripple. Here are some of things I can't do:

- juggle

- ride a bike

- play the guitar

- play video games

- do my legendary horse impersonation

I just hope my new insurance company's up to the task.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Three-day weekend, Dan-style

Friday: managed a rather spectacular (if unintentional) dismounting of my bicycle whilst cycling home drunk across an icy boardwalk.

Saturday: five Stalkermails, ranging from a proposed lunch meeting to give me a Valentine's gift to wondering if I've "received any bad accidents" because I'm not answering her mails for some reason.


My team's getting absolutely trounced at football, but my legs, a little stiff from the previous day's double bill of futsal, are starting to loosen up a bit. I get the ball and a guy's coming across to challenge me.

Decision time: do I try some fruity trick, or do I bank on the fact that I'm faster than him and just leg it?

I went for the latter.

Here's how it turned out:


"Contusion" said the doctor. I asked him what a contusion was. He asked me where I was from. I told him England, but that nobody had ever told me that I had a contusion before, so I didn't understand. He looked at me pityingly, which I thought a little off.

This whole exchange, apart from the "C" word, was conducted in Japanese, which goes to show who's the linguist and who's just a poxy doctor (probably a pox doctor, too.)

I guessed that it meant something really basic, like swelling, although I must confess I felt strangely disappointed that my hand, despite the searing pain, wasn't broken.

But, like the Murphy's, if not the staff at Murphy's, I'm not bitter...

still hardcore

I've got three more beers to drink and I'll be up bright and early to renew my aquaintance with the good people in the orthopaedics clinic. O hisashiburi!


Come on die young

Of all I knew, her held too few.
And would you stop me, if I try to stop you.

Old songs stay 'til the end.
Sad songs remind me of friends.
And the way it is, I could leave it all
And I ask myself, would you care at all.

When I drive alone at night, I see the streetlights as fairgrounds
And I tried a hundred times to see the road signs as Day-Glo.

Old songs, stay till the end.
Sad songs, remind me of friends.
And the way it is, I could leave it all
And I ask myself, would you care at all

-CODY by Mogwai

Normal procedure is to stay on my back, count until 10, then get up... slowly. Knowing Japan as I do, however, I had visions of some dozy fool on a bike failing to notice the prostrate gaijin in their path and riding over my head.

That wouldn't have improved matters.

Staggering to my feet, I noticed for the first time that the days rain had frozen on the wooden boardwalk, the icy sheen reflecting the lights from across the river. Even in my drunken state I should have realised that.

Glowering, I punched the misshapen basket on my bike until it bore a little more resemblance to its original form, then mounted up and rode home as sedately as I could.

It was only when I arrived back at the Yoshida building that it dawned on me that the contents of my basket were still lying on the boardwalk: namely, my keys and bike lock. I swore violently and got back on my steed.

Damn that demon drink: a sore hip, another trashed elbow and further evidence of my own stupidity to boot.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


The wings of the winds of God

You raised your hand for the assignment
Tuck those ribbons under your helmet
Be a good soldier...


Today's suicide bombers may invoke the name of their god before they self-destruct, but what of the kamikaze?

Mr Hamazono is certain that, had he been able to see his mission through to its conclusion, his final words would have had little to do with Japan's wartime state Shintoism or its spiritual figurehead.

"Mother ... that's the only word. You have only seconds left," he said. "The idea that we laughed in the face of death is a myth."

The Guardian, Tuesday February 28, 2006


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