Monday, February 26, 2007


Sayonara Issei special

Warning: contains strong language, which some prudish twats may object to
Tonight I bade farewell to team striker and personal favourite Issei, who is leaving for Shikoku, bumblefuck to Japan.

I have always attempted to get the most out of Issei's English, so I gave him one of my customary language drills on the ride home from football practice.

ME: OK, so we put "the fuck" in after the question word to indicate surprise or anger. OK?

HE: Er..

ME: Where are we?

HE: Where...

ME: The fuck...

HE: Where the fuck are we?

ME: Good! What are you wearing?

HE: What the fuck are you wearing?

ME: What did you say?

HE: What the fuck did you say?

ME: Great. Now the big one: how did that leopard get in here?

HE: Eh.. What?!

We disembarked at Hankyu Umeda.

HE: If you have a plan to come to Ehime, please call me.

ME: That's a big "if."

We parted half in sorrow, half in jest. Goodbye Issei- I wish you wouldn't use so many curse words.



Makino, 10am-12am Friday

Teacher: Ah - good evening everyone, and welcome to the second of our Italian language classes, in which we'll be helping you brush up your Italian. Last week we started at the beginning, and we learnt the Italian for a 'spoon'. Now, I wonder how many of you can remember what it was?

(Shout of 'Si, Si, Si,' from the class whom we see are all Italians.)

Teacher: Not all at once ... sit down Mario. Giuseppe!

Giuseppe: II cucchiaio.

Teacher: Well done Giuseppe, or, as the Italians would say: 'Molto bene, Giuseppe'.

Giuseppe: Grazie signor ... grazie di tutta la sua gentilezza.

Teacher: Well, now, this week we're going to learn some useful phrases to help us open a conversation with an Italian. Now first of all try telling him where you come from. For example, I would say: 'Sono Inglese di Gerrard's Cross', I am an Englishman from Gerrard's Cross. Shall we all try that together?

All: Sono Inglese di Gerrard's Cross.

Teacher: Not too bad, now let's try it with somebody else. Er... Mr... ?

Mariolini: Mariolini.

Teacher: Ah, Mr Mariolini, and where are you from?

Mariolini: Napoli, signor.

Teacher: Ah ... you're an Italian.

Mariolini: Si, si signor!

Teacher: Well in that case you would say: 'Sono Italiano di Napoli'.

Mariolini: Ah, capisco, mi!le grazie signor...

Francesco: Per favore, signor!

Teacher: Yes?

Francesco: Non conosgeve parliamente, signor devo me parlo sono Irallano di Napoil quando il habitare de Milano.

Teacher: I'm sorry ... I don't understand!

Giuseppe: (pointing to Francesco) My friend say 'Why must he say...'

(Hand goes up at back of room and a Lederhosen Teutonic figure stands up.)

Helmut: Bitte mein Herr. Was ist das Won für Mittelschmerz?

Teacher: Ah! Helmut - you want the German classes.

Helmu: Oh ja! Danke schön. (he starts to leave) Ah das deutsche Klassenzimmer... Ach! (he leaves)

Giuseppe: My friend he say, 'Why must I say I am Italian from Napoli when he lives in Milan?'

Teacher: Ah, I... well, tell your friend ... if he lives in Milan he must say 'Sono Italiano di Milano...'

Francesco: (agitatedly, leaping to his feet) Eeeeeee! Milano è tanto meglio di Napoli. Milano è la citta la più bella di tutti ... nel mondo...

Giuseppe: He say 'Milan is better than Napoil'.

Teacher: Oh, he shouldn't be saying that, we haven't done comparatives yet.

(text pinched from


Yeah, so that's how Wes and I fared at the new Japanese lesson we went to on Friday. It was fun to watch, if your taste favours the genre of farce.

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Crucial information

From my World Cup Haiku competition 2002, courtesy of Tiger Tim:

Oh scotland are shit
they, sweat and smell, they're unfit
They're not in Japan

Argentina poo
Argentina poo poo poo
Argentina poo

Irelands not for me
They are more like England B
Except Robbie Keane

It brought back a lot of memories going back to one of my oldest web pages (via 97 passwords and 6 zillion clicks, thanks for nothing, shitty yahoo cockmasters.)

Anyway, the point is this: I'm English for football, Irish for Rugby. Don't ask me why- perhaps it's a character flaw; part of my mid-nineties "plastic paddy" persona that never went away.

It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce the following rugby score:

Ireland 43 - 13 England

Take that you English bastards.


Friday, February 23, 2007



Many thanks to Kristen for taking the time and caring enough to send a communal Valentine card to Hirakata school. The first we knew about it was Ch. waving it around and saying "who is this from?"

Mock not the afflicted- I pointed out the part on the card where it says "from Kristen."

SHE: So, maybe it is from England.

I point out the part next to "from Kristen" where it says "in London."

SHE: ah, so.

ME: which university did you study at again?

She makes a series of monkey noises before producing the English word for a female goat. I interpret this as meaning that she needs to hear the question again as usual.

ME: Which university did you go to?

SHE: Kansai Gaidai aha ahahaha but I cannot speak English.

ME: Or read, apparently.


I hereby dedicate this post to Kristen for her kindness. By the way, you were wrong about the new instructors: they are not "lovely people." They are, in fact, a collection of brainsick knuckle-dragging cretins.

I also dedicate this post to all students of Kansai Gaidai (past, present and future) who can read.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


All my sins come back to haunt me

It was horrible, truly horrible: I walked into school on Monday to see the semi-detached leviathan Kids Leader from our area putting one of the staff room chairs through its paces. Casting my eyes around, I next saw Superdork, one of the least likeable people I've encountered in Japan. What the hell was going on? Did all of the good guys get shipped out of my school and replaced with lickspittles, brown nosers and backstabbers at the stroke of midnight Sunday?

My bowels began to swim through an icy ocean of terror. Cold sweat glistened and crawled on my brow. Turning round, I then saw the Nazi sympathiser from the next school up the track. I tried to shout get thee behind me Satan, but a spasm of revulsion wracked my chest and all I actually managed to say was "Wraarg", which wasn't at all what I had meant to say.

Superdork bade me good morning and announced that they were all there for some kind of training session related to Kids teaching. Although I managed not to say "thank fuck for that", the sound of my buttocks unclenching was embarrassingly audible.

Then in walked the passive-aggressive grinch (hereafter PAG). The PAG is a dour, unlovely woman, about two decades past her best, although it is fairly unlikely she would ever have constituted a catch, even in her prime. She is a recent arrival; had she come to Japan when she was my age, she probably would have been in time to catch some of the sweet, sweet bubble lucre. As it is, she is a ghastly, ghastly woman and usually tends to sit around glaring at other people with a face like a bulldog eating wasps.

I'll correct that: the PAG's face lacks any of the bulldog's celebrated tenacity. With her perennially furrowed brow, her cat's-arse puckered mouth and her bulging, mismatched eyes, she looks more like a chihuahua eating wasps. Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to meet her will know what I'm talking about.

I ran out of the staff room, grabbing Wes, just as he walked into the school. "Our teacher's room's full of twats," I shouted. "Let's hide by the coffee machine." When Adam arrived, he joined us. We stayed out of our school until about a minute before the bell. I rang our Top Brass and told him he was excommunicated for allowing this sort of thing to happen.

The training session itself went pretty much as expected: Superdork distinguished himself by asking mundane and obvious questions in a transparent attempt to curry favour. This was precisely as Wes had said beforehand. I livened the litany of brown nosing up a bit by sneering and muttering words like "jackass" every time he spoke in a voice which wasn't quite as inaudible as it should have been.

The PAG sat there with an expression on her face like she was waiting for her blood test results. I passed Wes a note about this and he giggled immoderately. The PAG kept looking in the wrong place on her faq; I loudly ridiculed the idea of going on a road trip with her as navigator.

The clock spat clicks. The Nazi sympathiser upset Adam with an ill-judged comment about cycling legend Lance Armstrong. Fresh ink in the book of grudges; just wait until the next two-bit sayonara party for fly-by-night gaijin.

It was Monday morning; my comrades and I were in Eikaiwa hell. Judge us not by our sins.

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Monday, February 12, 2007


Tardy sprog

Rolled out of my blissful slumber (nightmare about working at a larger school) by the hideously cheesy tune my phone has as a ringtone.

News from blighty: I am now an uncle. Kate is now a mother, Mum and Dad are now grandparents, Joe is also an uncle and still a tosser, and Grandad still doesn't approve of BBC sports coverage. Plus, he is now great grandad (I always thought he was great anyway.)

The new addition's name is Kianna and, according to my mother, she's absolutely lovely.

The name Kianna gives rise to multiple possibilities for Japanese name kanji. More to follow on this subject.

Shout out to Kate: I gather the birth wasn't a walk in the park. Hope the conception was more fun!



Thursday, February 08, 2007


Namaiki! (impudence)

TOKYO, Feb 6 (Reuters Life!) - A Japanese man told police he stole a patrol car that had been left idling outside a post office in Gunma, north of Tokyo, because he was too tired to walk home.

Police officers had left the vehicle in the car park with the engine running, while they investigated a report that a stolen card had been used at the post office, the Mainichi newspaper said on Tuesday.

"I came out shopping by train, but I got tired walking, so I thought I would drive the police car home," the man told police.

He was apprehended about 15 minutes later in the driveway of a private home, about 4 kms (2.5 miles) from the post office, the Mainichi said.

-from Reuters



Owari to hajimari

I finally ditched the beard. It was wild and woolly, and it made me look a lot like my father in days of yore. I flaunted it amongst the glitterati and guttersnipes of Osaka. Then I decided to shave it off. It was a good project.



STUDENTS: Ehhh... you cut your... nantoka... hige-tte nan to iu no beard.

ME: What beard?

THEY: Last week you had beard...

ME: You what?! I've been on holiday for the last two months; I got back yesterday.

Responses to this are varied. Generally, they don't buy it. One or two have, though. These are the ones I will be targeting with my new pyramid scheme.


In every ending there lies a beginning: the disposal of the beard gave me a chance to make a clean break with any transgressions committed in my hirsute days and start life anew. Unfortunately, I have already been guilty of enough stupid behaviour in my shaven state to need yet another fresh start. I'm either going to have to shave something else or get a tattoo.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Lows and highs

I prised my eyes open and had all of three seconds of grace before the guilt hit me. Nightmarish blurred visions of me going round Grand Cafe making mortal enemies with as many people as possible in some kind of a garish parody of a supermarket trolley dash. Debts of honour to be settled, starting karma score of minus several billion.

Damn, damn, damn that demon drink.

That was Monday morning.


24 hours later, I prised my eyes open again.

No guilt, no insistent drumming on the inside of my skull, no leering crowd of bad memories, queueing, jostling to stream into my head as consciousness threw the gates wide open. Life was good.

Life was also pretty cold. For the second time in as many days, I had slept on the floor, one major difference being that this floor was not mine, but Wes's. The host was crashed out, all unlovely, on his double-thick futon; Adam and I were sharing floorspace that was surely never meant for more than one.

When the other survivors of the Monday night shenanigans began to show signs of life, I volunteered to go to the supermarket for some morning essentials. Adam gave me 200 yen and asked for a litre of milk, low-fat; Wes gave me a cool thousand and asked me to get him some toast.

What kind of country allows you to buy ready-made toast in the supermarket? Not this country, as it turned out: the supermarket was still closed, so I had to resort to the Mini Stop by the station. Nothing resembled toast enough to justify the purchase, and buying bread would have been a waste of time as the chez Wes lacks the technology to toast bread. I wished I'd asked for a back-up option but it was too late by now; I'd even commited the cardinal error of leaving my phone in Wes's apartment. I just had to improvise.

If Wes was disappointed to receive Green Tea flavour Haagen Dazs instead of toast for breakfast, he concealed it reasonably well. Adam queried whether this was really a breakfast food, but I pointed out that Wes was perfectly entitled to save it for lunch if he wanted to.

The sun was shining in, I had three kinds of fruit juice, comrades to laugh with and Led Zeppelin on the stereo; I got to thinking that this was the best day of my life. So far.


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