Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Monday night, Tuesday morning

In the beginning there was noise: my hangover blaring in my ears as discordantly as a fire bell.

Oh crap, it is the fire bell.

I lay on my back staring muzzily at the ceiling. Once again, the transition from Monday night to Tuesday morning had passed me by, damn that demon drink, and now here I was being summoned brusquely from my slumber by the imperious clanging of the fire alarm. Just great.

I swung my legs wearily over the edge of the bed settee and sat up. Choices: live or die. It could be argued that I will do both in the fullness of time. Now I have a beard I ought to say sombre things like this more often. Where are my trousers? Sod it all.

If my emergence from the building demonstrated that I do actually have a home, my appearance would have given the lie to this: dirty shirt, work trousers juxtaposed nicely with grubby white trainers sans socks, homeless coat, scruffy beard; this year we're going for the itinerant look.

I noted without joy that it was still dark: 6 of the clock or thereabouts. The only other person outside was a blonde girl with an antipodean accent. Other tenants were evidently working the night shift or still on holiday.

So here we were, two bedraggled gaijin standing outside a building full of cacophonous din. I decided to take affirmative action: I borrowed the girl's phone and made my second ever emergency services call in Japan.

(For those interested in boring things, the number for the fire department and ambulances is different from that for police: 119 and 110, respectively.)

Ichi, ichi, kyu: time to dust off the Japanese which has fallen into disrepair of late (I seldom study and most of my nihongo is spent berating children.)

Hello, excuse me, my building's fire alarm is ringing. I do not see any fire, but the bell is ringing. Yes, I live at- what?! No, I'm not Chinese, I'm British.

After I finished doing my bit for Sino-Japanese relations, an old geezer in a security guard's uniform arrived on a shiny bicycle. His first move was to turn off the alarm (rather than investigating whether there was a fire or anyone else was still inside the building.)

Oh perfect, I said. We're burning to death and they send us Charlie Sheen on a bicycle. My companion laughed dutifully, but I don't think she really understood me. I told Charlie Sheen that I'd called 119, then I went up the street to buy a bottle of CC Lemon. By the time I got back, a fire engine and two policemen (also on shiny bicycles) had arrived. They spoke to the security geezer, then left. I watched this circus with my hangover pressing at my temples.

After a little more poking around, the security bloke also mounted his shiny steed and rode off without so much as a word to me or the other shivering gaijin.

In my dreams, I pulled a submachine gun out of my homeless coat and fired wildly down the street until a chance bullet brought my man down. I strode to where he had fallen and finished the job with a burst of fire from close range. Manners cost nothing. Except bad manners.

Outside of my dreams, I don't have a submachine gun. I grumbled a bit and went back to bed.

I thought about an angry complaint to City Estate, but that's exactly the sort of petty chest thumping I'm trying to avoid at the moment; Angry Dan is no longer: I left him face down in a beer somewhere on the HMS Dickscrub or whatever that boat was.

The Angry Doctor is out; he was never in.


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