Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Now ya talkin'

It's difficult to imagine that he exists, other than as some over-elaborate parody of an English student: all the worst aspects of the aspiring linguist compiled into one glorious hole; hard to imagine, that is, unless you've met him.

He simpers, he smirks, he says "actually" far more often than anyone who doesn't want to become a gaijin crime statistic. He interrupts conversations in progress with such inania as:

"Actually, this reminds me of- aha- a conversation I had with (INSERT NAME OF SCHOOL'S LEAST INTERESTING TEACHER HERE) recently..."
(Gives tedious summary of said communicative debacle. Everyone else in the room follows my lead and stares at him like he's a dollop of rancid knob curd, which, actually, he is.)

He italicises words obnoxiously- don't ask me how:

"As I was saying before, I've been studying- ah- English conversation for two-and-a-half years. At the moment, aha aha, I'm trying to- mm- brush up my listening skills."

He doesn't only grease up the seating at my school, either: he tours around the area sharing out the pain of communication under duress. The Man In The High Castle spake thusly of him (via mail):

as you know, NY is a ----. actually, we gaijin make it an effort to hate as a rule.

Pretty good going: four NY-isms employed, although the total output by far outweighed the sum of its parts. I responded with:

as we were saying before (ahahaha), NY is a sweaty arsepicker.

Which only manages one of his benighted linguistic tics, but offsets this by including his horrendous chortle.

Actually, I make it a rule never to correct his, ah, English conversation. I take, mm, considerable solace from the fact that, ah, as it happens, he will get stabbed if he ever, aha, tries to talk to anyone who isn't getting, mm, paid for their ordeal.


Yeah, I took some measures to preserve the bonesmuggler's anonymity, but you can find his name if you look hard enough. NY gives a bit of a clue- it's also one place he definitely shouldn't plan on visiting any time soon.

A translation of his name kanji would have been "straight arrow." Obviously, that wasn't happening.

Friday, June 23, 2006


The rivers mouth and the gate of misfortune

Ultimately, Japan weren't good enough to compete with Brazil. This did not much surprise us; Brazil have, after all, won the World Cup on no less than five occasions, whereas Japan are all 5' 10".

Be that as it may, Japan led the World Champions for a brief period and, had they not conceded in the 45th minute of the game, I would have had at least 15 minutes more enjoyment out of the evening.

One of Japan's stars of the first half was the goalkeeper, Kawaguchi. I generally associate Kawaguchi with photogenic diving, ineffectual slapping at the ball and unnecessary goals conceded against the likes of North Korea. However, it seemed that adversity was bringing the best out of the camera-conscious custodian. On top of his remarkable penalty save against Croatia in the previous game, he was keeping Brazil's star-studded forward line at bay- not single-handedly, but using both hands and getting the ball to safety, as opposed to letting it rebound off his weedy arms to the edge of the six-yard box as is usually the case.

Chants of Kawaguchi, Kawaguchi rang around the bar; Andy, however, remained unconvinced.

"For God's sake, he's horrible- did you see him against Australia? It was like watching a dyslexic child trying to read the Arabic alphabet."

I was forced to agree. Worse was to come when the law of averages re-asserted itself sickeningly for Brazil's second goal. I'll paste in the words from the Guardian minute-by-minute; it still hurts me to think about it.

"As against Australia, Kawaguchi's performance drops from the sublime to the ridiculous. Juninho hits a fairly powerful shot from 25 yards just to the right of the keeper, which he flaps his hands at as if he was trying to put out a fire with a cloth. Sadly he got nowhere near it, and now looks more dejected than me when I had to put my curry in the fridge."


I see no ships

The correct answer was: "I see a fast airplane." Indeed, an aeroplane needs must be fast; for when it is not, it ceases to fly, plummets from the firmament and lands with all the grace of a suicide.

Such considerations are a bit beyond the scope of a 4-year-old student, but I had at least hoped she would be able to parrot the language back to me, thereby escaping censure and persuading her Mother (within earshot) that money spent on English lessons was not a complete waste.

I held up the flashcard.

"What do you see?"

"Stalker! APPLE!!!"

I blinked twice (I counted: once, twice.) We'd practiced this so much that a woodpecker would have found it repetitive and yet I felt curiously unable to reprimand her. Plus, her mother was listening at the door.

"Very good intonation, Yui." I said.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Ichiban in Japan

From the fast-and-furious World Cup Fantasy League.

Click on the image for an enlarged version. It probably won't last.


I fought the law (and the law bottled it)

Riding down Midosuji, GOD DAMN- the police are pulling me over for the second time in three days. Suddenly, I'm not in the mood to play cooperative gaijin anymore.

"AGAIN? You stopped me because I'm a foreigner," I tell them. The expression of the kohai couldn't have been angrier if I'd exposed myself to his daughter's kindergarten class.

"We did no such thing," he tells me. He tries to maintain this even when I ask him why I'm currently getting pulled over every other day. "Before we pulled you over, there was no way for us to tell whether you were foreign or Japanese."

"I'm a different height and a different colour and you couldn't spot that I'm not Japanese?" I query.

"We stopped you because you don't have lights," he responds testily.

"I don't need lights, this is a lit street."

"There are dark places further down the road," chimes in the sempai.

"No there aren't, this is Midosuji," I say.

A Japanese person goes past on a bike.

"Oi, that guy was making a- no, sorry- using a cellular phone; isn't that dangerous?"

"When we have finished this conversation, we will be vigilant," announces kohai, as if he has rehearsed this line.

"Yes, you'll be vigilant for foreigners on bikes."


Even though I had no lights, I'd been drinking and I'd accused the police of racism, I was able to ride the bike home. I got the feeling that they found me a bit much to handle.

"They let you ride off because they knew what you were saying was true," Andrew said when I dropped by his room for a whisky and a rant.


Incidentally, kohai's last disingenuous words could also be translated as: if we finish this conversation.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


The day Dan met his match

I don't know why I'd turned to a life of crime, but apparently I had. My target was TV magician and all-round pest, Paul Daniels.

It seemed that Paul Daniels was incredibly wealthy, as he'd had the vision to invest his riches from smug TV antics in Macadamia nuts (part of my dream was a voice-over which sounded like Galadriel from Lord Of The Rings, explaining that growth in Macadamia nuts was consistently healthy and was unaffected by fluctuations in the dollar, wars or similar tomfoolery.)

So, I broke into Paul Daniels's big house (which, if I'd had to guess, I would have said was somewhere in Berkshire), captured the irritating bastard and set myself to the task of extracting his bank account number from him.

Picture the scene: Paul Daniels's living room, dark despite the midday sun because the curtains are drawn. Dan is twisting his captive's arm behind his back. Paul Daniels, who, it turns out, is also an adept escapologist, puts up with this amateurish nonsense for about five minutes, then calmly untwists his arm, leaving Dan looking like a bit of a prat.

"I'm going to get this information out of you," I inform Paul Daniels.

"Sure, but it'll probably take you about two days," he replies nonchalantly.

Leaving the politically-retrograde magician soundly tied up in his chair, I flick on the light switch to get a better view of what I'm doing. Turning back, Paul Daniels's seat is empty: even the ropes have gone.

This is getting beyond a joke.

"I know you're still in here, Paul Daniels," I announce to the empty room, keeping myself in front of the door; "Come out, or it will go very badly for you."

There is the sound of a car engine starting outside.

Twitching aside the curtain, I am treated to the sight of Paul Daniels pulling out of his driveway unhurriedly. Furthermore, he is driving a Range Rover, which is a very popular status symbol for well-off twats.

I can't help but feel a little foolish; he'd even taken the time to put on his seatbelt.


Beware the bears without faces

the stark countenances of doom

The bears without faces, cold and inscrutable as polished stone.

All I do know is that they mean me harm.

It's just a matter of time now.

Just a matter of time...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Taking sides

Watching the Mexico vs Iran game with Andrew, who disapproves of Iranian newspapers and their holocaust cartoons, Dan who disapproves of other people.

Iranian player gets the ball.

ANDREW: Get on your camel and go back to the desert!

Mexican tackles him.

DAN: Get on your llama and go back up a mountain!


Those 90 minutes just flew past.


The dead dog in the ointment

Dan in room 3, Adam in room 5. Earshot and eye contact, always dangerous. I didn't hear Adam's ice-breaker, but I figured it was "what's new?" or similar. His student pipes up with: "my lovely dog died."

My student is oblivious to this and has no idea why I crease up with laughter before she has even mustered a "hello." Looking up, tears in my eyes, I see Adam through the glass, struggling manfully to keep a straight face and doing his best to disguise sniggers as a cough.


This makes things worse, the effort of stifling my peals of mirth makes my ribs ache; the sight of me beating my fist against the desk over his bereaved student's shoulder does little for Adam's equanimity of demeanour. It wouldn't have been half so bad if she hadn't used the word "lovely."

Friday, June 09, 2006


It was late, I was drunk

Recently, I found myself in the enviable position of discussing discrimination in the workplace with some of my students.

Always having been one to run before I could walk, I brought up the term "positive discrimination." One of the students mentioned the women-only carriages on subway trains; I told her the these were not an example of positive discrimination, just an example of a really bad idea.

The concept that I laboured in vain to communicate was that the existence of "women only" carriages sends the message to any female opting not to board such a carriage that she has only herself to blame should she find herself the target of perversity.

Tonight, catching the subway at an hour when mild-mannered salarymen have had ample opportunity to drink themselves into such foolhardy oblivion that they are ready to enter the women-only carriage like a fox entering a chicken coop, I noted an additional drawback: all the seats were taken by menopausal mingers, against whom I would not deign to rub my loins, had I naught but five minutes until my dick fell off.

I can only interpret said biddies' hubris at scurrying into the safety carriages as some advanced form of egotism.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


The managerial career of Daniel McKeown, part II

glory duly delivered

from my semi-final report

The most horrible moment of my managerial
career came when their forward did what looked to me a
big roly-poly dive on the edge of the box (admittedly,
I wasn't in a great position to call it.) I held my
breath as they ran up to take the kick, but the
outstretched boot of Tricky inside the six-yard box
blocked the driven shot. Tricky's Henman-esque
celebration was bang on the money.

"Don't give any more free kicks to that diving
mincer," I yelled in my relief, prompting derision and
death threats from our Superfriendly counterparts
under the adjacent canopy.

And who can blame them?

The clock ticked on towards a PK shootout. I chewed
my fingernails on the bench; it was evidently time for
another managerial masterstroke:

DAN: Issei, you're coming off.

ISSEI: Rightio.

DAN: OK Tricky, I'll take left wing, you go up front.

TRICKY: I don't want to. I like left wing.

DAN: OK, keep your hair on- I'LL go up front.

TRICKY: Dan, why don't you put Taka up front and go on
the right?

DAN: OK, I'll do THAT. Taka, up front.


CAM: Who's meant to be up front with me?!

DAN and TRICKY: Taka!


As masterstrokes go, it was off to a bad start- doubly
so when I shinned a volley inside the box.

Final whistle- PENALTIES. Gamble relieved Yuusuke of
his gloves ("relieved" being the operative word.)

1ST PEN: their guy slotted home nicely, Cam bashed his
into the top right-hand corner. 1-1

2ND PEN: Gamble celebrated as their guy missed, then
scowled as his firmly-struck shot was parried. 1-1

3RD PEN: Gamble celebrated some more as their guy took
a Johnny Wilkinson-style penalty and everyone
celebrated when Tricky took a classic low spot kick to
the left-hand side, deceiving the keeper. 1-2 in our

4TH PEN: Gamble got hands on their guy's penalty, but
it was too well-taken to keep out. Yuki #2 gave us
all a good laugh with his one-step run-up abortion of
a kick. 2-3.

5TH PEN: Again, Gamble came within an ace of keeping
their guy out, but that would have deprived me of the
glory and another goal celebration to chafe my shins
with. 3-4.

"OK everyone," I announced proudly, "from now on, you
call me THE ICE MAN." Everyone groaned and there was
a general muttering of the word "wanker."

Friday, June 02, 2006


On top of the World

Sad to report, my Tuesday visits to the Top World kids school are a thing of the past. Apparently, the company likes to cycle teachers every so often so the students are exposed to different kinds of English. In the case of my lot, they're mostly exposed to bad Japanese and dangerous games, but they've still picked up a bit of the Dan accent ("Oi loike roice," chorus my kinders); probably time to mix things up a bit.

The lucky beneficiary of my labour is none other than my arch-nemesis Wes. I told the parents not to worry- if Wes were to meet with some accident and end up in hospital I would be back at Top World in a flash. They giggled nervously.

One mother gave me pink roses. I had a fine time asking people on the train what the fuck they were staring at.


Back at Hirakata it transpires that there is a new kids class opening and the two contenders to teach are- you guessed it- Wes and myself. I am not particularly enthusiastic, but this is no reason not to slur the opposition a bit.

"Don't give it to Wes- he got complaints before for trying to nampa (pull) the kids' Mums: Hey, Touki's Mum- what are you doing after class today? Would you like to come to a party on my face?"

There is much mirth in the teacher's room. Our staff looks sceptical and says she will ask Wes about this. I suspect my bold gambit has failed.


Man's latest best friend?

Truly one of God's miracles: I got home from a night tolerating the vituperative antics of the Man In The High Castle to find this magnificent specimen waiting outside my door, much as a trusty labrador awaits the return of its master.

Who's a cutie?

Far and away the biggest cockroach I've seen since The Cuba Incident, but still quite nimble on his feet, inquisitive antenna and a beautiful, deep red sheen on his carapace, resembling varnished oak.

This does not deter me from bashing him to smithereens and pouring citrus fresh washing up liquid onto the twitching pieces of his corpse.


Let's talk about disposal
now we have to make that body unidentifiable
burning, dumping at sea and straightforward burial are all flawed
first of all, we remove his hands and his feet, which we incinerate;
and his teeth,
which we just remove.

a spade we need a spade
we need a spade if we're gonna dig a pit
a spade we need a spade
we need a spade if we're gonna dig a pit

to love and to happiness for ever...

now come on: all or nothing!
drugged-up, wandering, suicidal
search-for-themself fuck ups don't have families David

take his legs!
take his legs!

I can't do it...
I can't do it...

Hugo is going off- HE SMELLS!


a spade we need a spade
we need a spade if we're gonna dig a pit
a spade we need a spade
we need a spade if we're gonna dig a pit...

A spade, we need a spade by Simon Boswell
Shallow Grave soundtrack

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