Friday, September 26, 2008


After the laughter

A celebration of five years, 15 million yen, half a head of hair, countless air miles, two hospitalizations, one trip to the cop shop, seven bicycles, a dead dog, several earthquakes and typhoons, three calls to emergency services, sixteen square metres of living space (including the toilet), millions upon millions of drinks, one helping of sea urchin and more fun than a boy could ever ask for.

Having the sayonara party the night before my flight was probably not the best idea. What was a good idea was getting rid of a bunch of surplus possessions by offering them up as bingo prizes.

We took to the boardwalk outside Namba Hatch, Leon brought along some bingo cards and the pair of us MCed it, although some of the references may have been baffling for people not from Earlsdon:

ME: Next, Daniel Watts's house, number 73.

LEON: You know Daniel Watts? He went to Bluecoats, Fatty Watts...

ME: Yeah, he lived next door to Will Leigh.

LEON: Who?

ME: Big ginger lad, my age.

LEON: Don't know him.

Living in ignorance of real bingo terminology, we just had to make do with what we could make up. Apart from examples like the above, there was also sexual innuendo ("barely-legal 17") and plenty of ribbing each other ("Leon's mum, 80"; "Dan's IQ, 6.")

Justin won the star prize: my bicycle. Other prizes included a Mt Fuji mouse mat, a multi-purpose bottle opener, a large and disgusting-looking cake and a football signed by the Osaka Jets.

This latter was won by Yusuke, but when Bailey and Gamble decided to stage a re-enactment of Sunday's shootout I feared the worst.

ME: Are you going to kick that thing in the river?

BAILEY: It's got to be done, hasn't it?

For a nasty second, I thought Bailey's shot was going to clear the river and do some damage to the plush yuppy bar on the opposite bank. Fortunately, it fell a little short of the far side and we were able to watch it floating for the remainder of the evening.

Later in the evening, the VMM attempted to hospitalise me with a thrown vodka bottle, before accidentally smashing his head against the table in a noodle shop. I can't blame him for being drowsy: it was around 4 am and I was sincerely beginning to wonder if my plane wasn't destined for disaster.

At 7 am, the alarm on the Ferrari phone woke me up: I rewarded the phone by forgetting it in the taxi I took to the train station. I got a train to the airport and arrived in plenty of time for check in, but then hit a snag: The limit for checked baggage was 20kg and I was rocking about 33. To put it in financial terms, this would equate to an extra 51,000 yen on the price of my flight. I dropped out of the line and came back 10 minutes later: 2 kg within the limit and my best jeans and other treasured possessions sitting in a dustbin.

And then it was boarding time: I slouched towards the plane feeling terribly hungover and thinking that I'd hoped to have left Japan with somewhat more dignity.

The plane took off and I went to the toilet. I looked in the mirror and saw the Awaji sunburn, faded to almost a tan, and the 10 kg of surplus baggage under each eye. I thought of five years in one of the richest countries around and not a penny saved, I thought of the misty mountains of Nikko, and I thought of Bailey hoofing the football into the river the night before.

And I thought tanoshikatta.

And I went back to my seat feeling pretty good about life.


England hasn't changed.

ME: Did that sign say "Vegetarian crossing"?

HE: Probably.

And later:

ME: Damn, that girl's got a face like the chippy's closed.

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That bicycle wouldn't be the one I sold you, would it?
That bike got stolen out of the entrance of our building :(

The bike I bingoed off was one that I stole in retaliation.
The Giant was stolen?!? Sonofabitch. How long ago did that happen? And what did you steal in retaliation?
I stole several things in retaliation, but the thing I ended up keeping was a ginger mama-chari.

The giant went about three months ago, I think.
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