Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I'm built for etiquette, not destruction

Time for a short break from drinking, I think: Plan K has been carried out, we went to Korea, it was great and so were we; now it's over.

Reasons to visit Korea: it's very affordable, but still a modern-ish country; Seoul is a wonderful city; it has Burger King, which Japan doesn't at the moment; the boat ride is a good laugh.

Reasons not to visit Korea: the underground system is balls; Dan gets very drunk and shouts angrily at friend and foe alike.

Regarding the latter, I actually surprised myself a bit: I flipped my lid at The Human Torch twice on successive nights for reasons which, in sobriety, quite frankly, escape me. Fortunately, the bottom line of Plan K is "what goes on tour stays on tour" (props to Sam Cledwyn for that little gem): angry Dan didn't make it through customs; once more I am regular Superman, not that moody scoundrel from Superman III.


As The Human Torch is sensitive about having his identity paraded on the net, I chose this pseudonym for him, mostly because I was sure it wouldn't please him. And it didn't.

In return, I was dubbed C3P0 (human cyborg relations) and given the unfamiliar (and obviously unsuitable) role of group diplomat. This was partly because I was the only one of our trio who'd taken the time to memorise hangeul script before the trip, but mostly because C3P0 is about the least masculine robot in any film ever. Unfortunately, I didn't bother to memorise any actual Korean phrases so my diplomacy wasn't really up to much.

Well, that's one reason: the other is that I tend to act like a tool.

I handled one situation quite nicely: the old bird in the motel in Seoul forgot which day we'd arrived and started asking us for extra money. After a bit of shambolic English and sign language, I carried out the business in Japanese which, unsurprisingly, she was very good at. I didn't ask her how she'd learned; probably not a happy story.

Less diplomatic was my interaction with other gwilos: a Californian, having already wound me up with some stupid comment from across the bar, made the mistake of coming over and trying to introduce himself, to which I replied, "who the fuck are you, get the fuck out of my face" to the complete mortification of Muzz, who was sitting next to me. The Human Torch was putting out a fire in the toilet.

The Californian scampered away. Several minutes later, he sent over a round of drinks to apologise. I was pleasantly surprised and resolved to be unpleasant to strangers more often in future.


Further communication breakdown on the return boat: the dopey tossers sitting at the Currency Exchange Counter (you can see where it is, as there's a big sign overhead saying "Currency Exchange Couter") didn't want to exchange Korean won for Japanese yen. When I went to ask, Doris Day #1 said they were closed. I gave her a very old-fashioned look, asked her what time they'd closed and where the sign with their opening hours was. She looked nervous and went to fetch Doris Day #2. Doris Day #2 asked me where I'd bought my won. I told her I'd done so at the port. She asked if I had a receipt; I did not. She explained that it was illegal for them to change won to yen if there was no receipt. I asked her why I hadn't been told this at the time I'd purchased the won and said that if that was the case there should be a big sign on the currency exchange desk saying: keep your receipt. She looked panicky and radioed Charlie Sheen for help.

Charlie Sheen listened to my explanation, delivered in the same calm tone that people use when their patience is absolutely at breaking point, and studied my features intently. Without threatening or cursing I explained that I wasn't getting good service and I wasn't impressed. I didn't mention the imminent possibility of airborne furniture, but he was smart enough to figure that out for himself fortunately.

He turned and had a quick word with Doris Day #2. He then turned back to me and said that he could understand my problem and that they would exchange the money for me, even though it was illegal. I smiled winsomely and thanked him as I handed over the won, several thousand of which I had drawn myself on napkins.

Doris Day #2 counted out the yen and handed it over. Then they both begged me to keep the transaction a secret. I thanked them again and promised that I would.

And I have, of course, remained true to my word.


evidence, son!

Edit They even gave me a receipt for the "illegal" exchange. Novices.

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