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Saturday, August 14, 2004

After the fireworks on Saturday night we went on to a bar called Vis a Vis, in Ichikawa, to watch the Asian Cup final between Japan and China. The name of the joint is a little misleading, as it is actually a reggae/football themed bar. Bit confusing, I have to admit. The place is the size of a dairy lea slice, and every inch of wall space is covered either with Bob Marley posters or football shirts. The owner is an Arsenal fan, and his wife (inexplicably) supports West Ham. Paul (a fervent gunner) pointed out with glee that they use a Tottenham scarf to wipe down the bar.
The lead up to the final had been tense. Japan are regarded as Asia's top team by quite a way, but for this tournament they were missing several key figures. The captain, Nakata, who holds the same place on the pedestal of Japanese hero-worship as Beckham does in..... well, in Japan, was the most significant loss. Fulham's tenacious midfielder, Inamoto, was also a key absence, after he broke his ankle in a friendly with England in June. Japan had endured a tough battle to get to the final. In the quarter final they had gone through one of the most enthralling penalty shoot-outs I have ever witnessed, against the mighty Jordan (oi, stop sniggering). Honest, it was a stonker. Japan missed the first two penalties, while Jordan hammered their first one home. Then there was some sort of hiatus, as the Japanese complained about the state of the goal mouth, and got the duration of the penalties switched to the other end of the field. This break seemed to do something to strengthen the resolve of the Japanese, and dampen the enthusiasm of the battling Jordanians (if you don't wipe that smirk off your face, I shall be forced to come over there). The goalkeeper Kawaguchi, second choice to another key casualty, stepped up with the meanest, most piercing death stare I've seen since my Dad caught me trying to give the hamster a frontal lobotomy. The poor bastard taking the penalty was put totally off balance and fired it over the bar. From then on it was a battle of the highest drama. Kawaguchi was a fucking god amongst men. The Japanese penalty kickers took their strength from him and levelled the scores. At the eighth shoot-out Japan struck it home, and it was all down to the man in the gloves. He stepped up, gave the poor sod with the ball in his hand a proper mean motherfucker of a stare, and then assumed the position. Jordan's player, clearly retaining the knowledge that he was gonna lose limbs if he couldn't pull this off, gave it all he'd got. But that saucy bitch, Kawaguchi, blasted it away to take Japan through to the semis. I tell thee, there wasn't a dry eye in the curry house.
The semis were another clenched buttocks affair, as Japan sorted out Bahrain (now stop that, I'm warning you). It took an injury time nail gnawer, to see Japan go through 4-3. Sorted.
Now Japan were facing China, in Beijing. If this looks tough on paper, it must be brown trousers time in the real world. To say that China don't really like Japan would be akin to saying that Hitler wasn't exactly a patron saint to the Jewish population. The Chinese fans booed through every single second that Japan held the ball. They did everything they could, bar actually taking potshots at the players, to put Japan off. It made a Blues/Villa derby look like a meeting of the W.I.
I have to come clean about this: despite the fact that I was genuinely interested in the outcome of the match, I paid very little attention to what was happening on the screen above the bar. As with the majority of my experiences of live football, the crowd was just far too much fucking fun.
When we arrived the match had already kicked off and a collection of concerned spectators were sat at the bar, glued to the TV. We consulted the over-priced menu but, finding it increasingly difficult to focus, just ordered a bucket of everything behind the bar and five straws. The fans were getting into the game; cheering at every surge forward, groaning at every loss of possession, and presumably casting aspersions about the leisure activities of the match official. The only thing they were missing were some songs.
Can't have a football match without songs, can you.
We decided to start off with summat simple:

BAM-BAM...... BAM-BAM-BAM.......BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM ....... NIHON
BAM-BAM.....BAM-BAM-BAM...... BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM ........ NIHON

That's gone down well. Let's try a couple more.

SHE FELL OVER, SHE FELL OVER.

Nah, they're not going for that one. Let's try a little crowd participation number.

WHAT D'YOU FINK O' CHINA?
SHIT!!!
WHAT D'YOU FINK O' SHIT?
CHINA!!!!
FANK YOU
'AT'S AWIGHT.

Wicked. They even got the cockney pronunciation bit right.
Let's try something that the ladies can sing along to.

ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL
ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL
NIHON WON THE ASIAN CUP
AND CHINA WON FUCK ALL

Hmmmm, maybe they're not into their hymns. Here's something a bit more mainstream.

(Think Winter Wonderland)
BEIJING!!! ARE YOU LISTENING???
TO THE SONG WE ARE SINGING??
WE'RE WALKING ALONG,
SINGING A SONG
SHITTING ON TIANANMEN AS WE GO ALONG

Ah, what an education these people are getting. Maybe we should all shave our heads.

You'll be glad to know that to a chorus of "You're not singing anymore", the Chinese did in fact "go home in a Beijing ambulance", as they were thrashed 3-1 by the Japanese. If we'd all been there I reckon it could have been in double figures.
Yes, I know it's all very stereotypical and cringe inducing, but just imagine this: In four years time Japan and China meet once more in the Asian cup. A random group of English teachers, new to Japan, wander into Vis a Vis to catch the tail end of the match. A group of concerned looking Japanese fans sit staring at the television. Suddenly one of the fans stands up and
bellows:

WHAT YOU FINK OF CHINA

To which the entire bar, completely deadpan, replies:

SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!

The initial fan ponders this, then asks:

WHAT YOU FINK OF SHIT?

The crowd have clearly anticipated this:

CHINA!!!!!!!!!

This seems to satisfy the man.

FANK YOU

The crowd also, are sated.

THAT'S AWIGHT

The English teachers cancel their beers, and order up some shots, quick as you can.

What is they say about being able to take the boy out of England?


It's firework time in Tokyo. I have to say that, in the past, this prospect would have been less than tantalising in my eyes. My past experience of fireworks runs to a collection of drizzly evenings, standing about in fields and forcing myself to emit the occasional "ooh" or an unconvincing "aaah". It's generally all right for about five minutes, when the bangs still pack a bit of whoomph and the visual spectacle lights up the eyes. Sooner or later, usually sooner, I am transported to paint-drying spectator mode. It becomes just like Formula One, I'm only in it for the crashes. I continue to watch the carnival in the sky only on the slight possibility of there being some sort of amusing injury. Of course, I don't want anyone to get seriously hurt. I'm not a damn communist, you know. No, a minor incident would suit me fine. A premature rocket singing a bit of hand, or maybe a small smoldering of cloth. If someone's head were to, ever so briefly, catch a bit on fire, well that'd be me for the night. That'd probably last me all month actually. Unfortunately though, I have yet to witness anything more yarn-worthy than a Rottweieler swallowing a recently discarded rocket, and then having a bit of an eppy. To be honest, I was too busy trying to scramble up the nearest tree to really enjoy the frantic display of violence this incident spurned.
Sorry, but British fireworks are about as exciting as Wolverhampton. We just don't have it. Remember the millennium celebrations in London, when they were gonna send a river of flame down the Thames? Pure crap. More like a puddle of flickers. I once went to a bonfire night display at Worcester City's footy ground. They'd chosen to liven the whole thing up by giving the show a bit of a story arc to go with the bangs. This took the form of some Vincent Price -a -like reading out the plotline of Star Wars, while we got the occasional burst of Geoff Love and his orchestra doing the soundtrack highlights. The fireworks just simpered along like normal, while the crowd got increasingly restless and eventually started murdering all the dark children for a laugh. I tell you, we just don't have it.
Now the Japanese have it. All of them. Except Ken. He doesn't have it. He left it with his sister-in-law, but her Brontosaurus ate it. It's a lesson to us all.
Japanese fireworks absolutely shit on our little pifflers. Every year, from the end of July to mid-August, each district lights up the skies with it's own pant pissing light display. The pyrotechnics last for about 90 minutes, and I can honestly say there was hardly a moment where my mind wandered off onto trampolining midgets or breast bongos. I didn't even care that no-one scalped themselves.
The general consensus among our group of onlookers was that the difference in the performances stems from the aesthetic base of Japanese culture. The Japanese like things to look good. Admittedly, they also like everything to smell slightly of guff, but you can't knock the visual side. British culture is based more logical frameworks, substances, ideas. Japanese culture is based on emotion captured in beautiful images. There's also a strong badger theme, but that's probably irrelevant.
The fireworks were amazing. It wasn't just a bang, a flash and then nothing, much like my Thursday nights. Fireworks exploded simultaneously, flooding colour, form and style into perfect symbiance. All the colours of the acid trip were present, and in a dazzling variety of guises. They formed stars, planets, heart shapes, even the faces of Disney characters. At the end I half expected them to spell out the words "That's all folks". It was an awe demanding, pupil popping, tub thumper of a spectacle. A complete fucking waste of tax payer's money, maybe, but a good laugh.
For any Brits who are reading this, don't feel too bad about it. The Japanese may have great firework displays but they have no fucking idea how to use a sparkler. They just stand there watching it burn. "Write yer name with it!!!", I scream, "Or at least trying and hurt someone".
Some people!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I turned 24 yesterday. Why do we say turned anyway? Silly way of putting it. Turning is a conscious effort, and no-one beyond the age of 21 has any intention of growing older. We should say stumbled instead. I stumbled, reluctantly into 24 yesterday. Yes, much better.
24 actually seems like a nice age. It looks good on paper and there`s a TV show named after it. It`s much better than 25, which is just fucking frightening. 26 and 27 look fairly respectable though, but don`t get me started on 28. What a hideous fucking age to be. It`s worse than 33, which is the most common age for suicide in East Timor. Maybe.
When I was a teenager I was an ambitious little bitch. I still I am, but I`ve managed to hide it fairly well under an outer shell of sloth-like living and an impressively irrelevent existence. At my most ambitious age I decided that I would devote the early part of my life to fucking around in a dizzying array of fashions. I would soak up an eclectic parade of bizarre and wonderful experiences and then at a certain point I would puke up all these adventures into a a splatter of best-selling novels, thought provoking plays, life affirming films and a tasteful but cheeky series of playing cards.
That age was 24.
I`m not sure why I chose that particular age, but I think it was because that was how old Lister was when he was put into stasis on Red Dwarf. Well, it seemed like a good enough reason at the time. Just fuck off, right.
Hmm, so now I`ve reached my own deadline. I`m am adult in my own mind. I have to make something of my life. Have to achieve something. Have to stop wasting time. have to fulfill my dreams. Have to achieve my destiny. Really, really, really have to stop wanking.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

I`ve never really bothered much with regret. It`s one of the things I regret most in my life. I tend to be generally oblivious of my past fuck ups and wasted oppurtunities. I live much in the same way that I drive; badly, and with lot`s of dead cats and traffic cones in my wake. Still, I do feel a slight twinge of remorse that I haven`t learnt more Japanese during my time here.
I think it`s the swearing that did it. Any language learner worth their pepper starts with the dirty words, and then learns all the boring shit you have to add in to make a sentence. Sadly Japanese has a severe dirth of dirt. There are naughty words, but very few are really taboo in conversation. An example is the word manko, which refers to a lady`s welcome mat. As far as I can tell, in my extensive research, the same word is used in medical textbooks as in the school playground. There`s just one word for it. ONE! Compare that to English. Even without the c-word (surely the most expressive swear word in the English language) I can think of at least 11 synonyms off the top of my bonce. Even the real gutter language just doesn`t have the punch that a true shocker requires. The rudest word in Japanese, as far as I can tell, is kuso. This fills in for quite a number of swear words, but I just can`t get any satisfaction from saying it. It`s too soft, too soothing. A good swear word should make you need a shower.
The word used in most Japanese subtitles is baca. This is another all purpose insult and curse word. Basically every other symbol in the subtitles for 8 mile was this word.
Another curious word is chin-chin. This is the slightly naughty word for a man`s third leg. When Koko told me this in England, I thought it was gonna be extremely amusing to raise a toast in Japan by shouting out "Chin-chin everyone!!!". Unfortunately when I actually did this, everyone just followed suit without a giggle in sight. Seems like the word doubles as a toast and a synonym for schlong. Bizarre.
That same night, I stumbled over a true thumper of a mis-translation when I asked the waitress for a napkin. Apparently it means sanitary towel in Japanese. To make it worse, I`d asked her for the napkin because I`d spilt ketchup down my leg. Luckily Koko was there to clear up the mis-understanding by explaining to the waitress that I was a cross-dressing freak, and that she should phone the Police immediately. She`s always doing that.
A language without swearing is just pure silly. If Japan wants to be a true world player, then it`s gonna have to get some curses going on.
I wonder what happens to a tourettes sufferer in Japan. Must be very frustrating.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Guess who`s back, mofos.
No, go on guess.
Really.

Who?
Don`t be so fucking stupid. Rod Hull`s been dead for years. If you`re not going to take this seriously, then you shan`t be allowed to play.

It`s me. I`m back. Are you happy?
Fuck you.

I suppose you were worrying how I am. I`m fine, apart from having conjunctivitus, and an ear infection, and a cold. Plus I was shot and killed last Tuesday as part of an elaborate and, quite frankly, ill-conceived practical joke.
I got better.

It`s the fucking air conditioning see. It doth fuck up your innards, as Samuel Johnson once wrote. We simply don`t have it in England. Well, not on the humungufurous scale that it exists in Japan. Air conditioning gets everywhere over here, so that in summer there are only two temperatures; it`s either fry an egg on your head hot, or it`s fucking arctic. Either of the two in isolation would be uncomfortable but bearable. Put the two together and it`s about as comfortable as being violated by a stout. Allegedly. My body simply can`t deal from stepping out of a street that feels like a sauna, into a convenience store where the staff are sneezing ice cubes and chasing away polar bears.
Sorry, I don`t want to moan about the weather. I want to moan about third world poverty but it doesn`t provide enough opportunity for knob gags. Where would we be without knob gags, eh? Sweden, that`s where.
I tend to talk a lot about the weather recently, as the majority of my students don`t have much else to talk about. Admittedly I know some of them well enough for them to bitch to me about their husbands, and one student comes with the sole purpose of learning chat up lines to use on western slags in Roppongi. However, it`s a stereotypical yet irrefutable fact that most Japanese people don`t have much to say. Partly this is to do with the fact that most of them work 27 hours a day and only get a three minute holiday in August. It`s also due to the fact that a Tokyo cold renders the sufferer incapable of doing anything interesting for it`s duration. My students always have cold, and their responses to it always seem to amount to do absolutely nothing until it goes away. Until I came to Japan I always considered a cold to be a minor affliction. Now I place it in it`s rightful position, slightly worse than leprosy, but a jot below chin cancer.

I`m going to steal a bicycle now.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

It`s taken a fuck of a while, but I`m finally gonna do justice to the title of this piffle by stretching a few vowels about sumo.
At some disgustingly early hour last Sunday, I dragged my shuffling, puffy eyed bone sack down to Ryogoku, the home of three out of the six major Sumo festivals which are held each year in Japan. Outside the vast Kokugikan arena, huddles of Japanese star spotters, and bewildered tourists crowded the entrance awaiting the arrival of the big name Makushita wrestlers. The Makushita are the premier league of fighters, although only the frenzy of lens clicking and polite applause points them out from their Vauxhall conference counterparts. An uncouth philistine might say they all just looked like fat blokes swaggering around in their dressing gowns. I wouldn`t say that though, cos I`m a broad minded globe trotter. Besides, they might sit on me.
Although Sumo is a deeply unfashionable sport it still makes enough of an impact with the older generation, and travellers in search of an "insight" into Japan, to make stars out of a few of the wrestlers. Even I could spot a handful of the Beckhams and Owens.

"When`s that little Mongolian chappy coming on. He`s the top bloke isn`t he. Apparently he has to come on and do some sort of dance, with a pinny round his waist and a rope round his neck. I can feel an insight coming on."

"Look, there`s the Russian bloke. Dun he look funny next to all them other great monsters. Look at him, great streak of piss. Can`t see him getting very far. He hasn`t got the bosoms for it. Mark my words, he`ll be flattened in five seconds. How can he put his poor Mum through all this worry. Oh, he`s won.......... Well, it`s like I say, it`s a game of skill. Like Boggle. Can`t just go on size alone. More nuts anyone?"

"See this un, he`s the one who does all the dancing, then slaps the shit out of himself before he fights. Well, it`s a psyche out thing, isn`t it. The other bloke sees him doing his dancing and it puts him off balance, mentally. Imagine if you saw some great fat fucker doing the macarena before he charged at you. It`d put the willies up you, I tell you."

"Just have a look at the hair on this feller. There`s a good two and a bit David Hasselhofs on there. Maybe even a Tom Selleck and half a Robin Williams thrown in. He probably uses it to snare his opponents. I`d imagine he envelopes them in his chest rug, then uses the counter balancing force of his leg fluff to upend them. Masterly."

"Christ on a scooter, is that his wife?! How the fuck did he manage that? He could probably use her as a toothpick. She could fit under a single one of his folds. Hey, how do you reckon they....... well...... you know.................... go on a caravanning holidays together? What an insight."

My seat was in the cheapest part of the hall, at the back of the second level. Fortunately, the more expensive, lower level was completely open, and nobody seemed to mind us wandering, despite our distinctly second-class appearance. Me and Stuart (lanky Scotch bloke, about 8 foot tall, loves himself, can`t understand a word he says) were on the lookout for an unoccupied tatami booth (available for the best part of 200 quid) to infiltrate until the real owners turfed us out. Unfortunately we hadn`t reckoned on the Sumo Gestapo, a sour faced hag who charged towards at ground shaking speed as soon as our second class behinds connected with first class seatage. We relented, in fear for our lives.
The sumo ring is an elevated circle made of ..... erm..... pigeons and playdoh, called a dohyo. The dohyo is a deeply sacred place, and is blessed by a Shinto priest before the bout. It is a sacred rule that no woman is allowed to stand on the dohyo. If this happens it has to be carted away and replaced with an untainted replica. This has caused a slight glitch in that the mayor of the city is required to present the winner with a prize at the end of the tournament. One of the host cities, Osaka, has recently elected a female mayor. There is talk of building some sort of bridge structure across the ring, or maybe suspending her a few inches from the ground via genetically enhanced bee warriors, possibly even holding her aloft with a tractor beam from a Klingon bird of prey. Maybe.
It is also considered bad form to take a picture of the dohyo from up close. Bad form and fucking expensive, as we discovered when we tried to take a snap from, what we considered to be, a fairly respectful distance. No sooner had we whipped out our Kodaks than the Godzilla-like earth tremors began again, and the Gestapo was on us, demanding immediate lens lowering, or cross her palm with silver. We retreated once more, throwing lumps of raw meat in the opposite direction in an effort to distract her. Eventually she saw some American women hovering disastrously close to the dohyo and with a swish of her tail we were saved.

Up in the cheap seats I found to my dismay that I was stuck next to Colin. Colin is by far the most boring man I`ve ever met. I`ve seen people in conversation with him deliberately rupture their spleens in an effort to amuse themselves. His only questions on any topic concern either the price or the length of time taken to get there. He refers to everyone as Ben, and pestered me incessantly on whether "this is the Mongolian guy". I was forced to pretend to be a Slovakian fisherwoman who spoke no English, and possibly had something terminal, in a bid to ward off his attempts at conversation. I really hate having to do that.
As you have probably gathered by now, I know fuck all about sumo. However, with the help of the statistics in my programme and my natural sporting instincts I was able to fumble my way around to an understanding of the game.

ME: Right, I reckon the bloke in the purple pants is gonna win.
PETE: You`re a mad man. He`s only won five matches, to his nine losses.
STUART: Tha dissnae mek a fok av a duffarance mayn. See tha sayze a tha fokker hes up agains. Pure peesh a pish mayn.
ME: The fuck did he say? Anyway, that doesn`t make a fuck of a difference. There`s more important things to consider.
COLIN: Is this the Mongolian guy?
PETE: Such as?
STUART: Shat yer noise mayn, thars fokking yownks ta go fowr tha fokker gis op.
ME: For a start, my bloke`s got a clearly superior line of slapping himself. The other sap just gave himself a few fanny blows. My lad was making some pretty impressive echoes with his beating.
COLIN: Did you have to travel far today, Ben?
PETE: That`s not much to go on.
STUART: Nah, ats no bag deal mayn. Goh a coupla tannies like and goh pratty pished op own the owd train. Fok owl idea wha taym eh was. Steewa`s tha nem by tha weh.
ME: Well, there`s more of course. Just look at the flannels. The other bloke`s rubbing himself down with a pink flannel. How the fuck are you supposed to take a sumo seriously when he`s using a pink flannel.
COLIN: I took the train, myself. 47 minutes, including the time it took to buy the ticket, but I`m hoping to cut down to 40 on the way back by taking the rapid to Funabashi. Plus I already bought my ticket, which should save time in the inevitable crush at the ticket machines on the way back. Did you buy those shoes in Japan, Ben?
PETE: Your bloke`s got a purple flannel. That`s not much better.
STUART: Whas op wi ya, ya specky gadge? I awready tol ye ma nem`s Steewa. I cannae remember wha a goh these fram, beh ah prolly nacked em fro ma bra.
ME: Ah, but you see he`s co-ordinbated. Purple pants, purple flannel. That`s the sign of a true champion.
COLIN: So, when`s the Mongolian guy coming on.

Unfortunately my flannel rule ended up costing me a fair wedge. We decided to bet only with planets from Star Wars, so I only ended up owing a couple of moons of Endo, a Tatooine and Lando Calrissian`s Cloud City.
The sumo matches can appear quite unimpressive at first glance. However, it doesn`t take long to see it as a surprisingly graceful art. The rules of Sumo are simple. The loser is the wrestler whose foot leaves the circle of the dohyo. The Yokozuna (top sumo), Asashoryu is quite small for a sumo, but manages to twist, turn and off-balance his opponents with great skill. His main rival in this tournament, Hokutoriki, was felled in his first match, when his wiley opponent simply stepped out of the way of his charge, and let him go sprawling out of the ring. Other wrestlers found themselves locked in a grapple, and then edged out of the dohyo with painful slowness. Another favourite method seemed to be to wedgie a fighter out of the circle. This was an approach which seemed to bring more tears to the eyes of the male spectators than to the suffering sumo.
In the end, it was how it was supposed to be. The superstar "little Mongolian guy", Asashoryu, slamdunked Hokutoriki to take his third major championship in a row.
Was it coincidence that his black pants were in perfect synch with the all important flannel?
Yeah, probably.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

I`m bored fartless with talking about my holiday in Okinawa. It`s my own fault of course, but I`m not comfortable with that so I`m going to blame it all on a bloke called Francis. Francis, the greasy, slap headed, see-saw sniffer made me spend all of my lessons this week doling out my holiday snaps to cooing students. This was part smugness on my part that I`d visited a part of Japan that a lot of my students hadn`t, but mostly sheer aversion to work.
The trouble with this `Groundhog Day` style slide show is that it implants a plotline of the holiday in the mind which is then hard to shake. In order to make this narrative riveting enough to sustain your audience`s consciousness through till the last snap, it is of course necessary to make a lot of shit up. Nothing of Munchausen standards you understand, but a few anecdotes embellished, a coupla facts invented and one or two other people`s crazy antics conveniently re-assigned to the narrator. Eventually truth and twaddle are irrevocably welded in a haze of reminiscence.
So, for the final time, here is my slide show to Okinawa. Just divide everything by three and you`re pretty close to how it actually was. I`m afraid my technical proficiency doesn`t extend to posting the photos on the web. But, just so you know, they`re fucking beautiful.
Hang on. Slap me sideways with a roasted todger, I`ve gone and forgotten to give you a potted history of Okinawa. What sort of Bill Bryson would I be to neglect to set the historical scene before relaying my epic.
Let`s not fuck about though. Here`s Okinawa in one sentence.
Bunch of islands, south of Japan, started off as Ryukyu kingdom, reluctantly made an annex of Japan in 16hum-hum-hum, scene of the worst land battles of WWII when Japan sacrificed it to the invading Americans, 260,000 Okinawans killed in the resulting battle, Americans take over, still 70,000 troops to this day, returned to Japanese rule in 1972, simmering hostility to American troops, especially after the rape of a 12 year old girl by three G.Is in 1995, now most famous as Mr Miyagi`s home town. Aaaaaand breathe.

So, this is Naha, the capital of Okinawa...... Nah, I was taking the photo. That`s Michelle, she`s gone back to England now.... Dunno really. Think she missed Salt and Vinegar crisps too much. That`s Yuki, she works at Shane as well..... Receptionist. Married to a hairdresser. Normally a bit of a mentalist, but she was quite quiet on holiday. That`s Yumiko. She`s awful. Blinks all the time, and keeps telling me not to drink too much. Maybe I`m gonna kill her and put her in a wheel barrow. Haven`t decided yet. That`s Koko, my girlfriend.... Yeah, isn`t she......... Oi, don`t be filthy. That`s Fousty. Doesn`t he look like Shrek?........ Yes, I suppose it was rather witty. Thank you.
This next one`s a Mausoleum......... What`s that? You want to know what a Mausoleum is. Well, it`s a... you know, it`s a thing for, erm...... well, it`s sort of a........... you see, it`s got these walls..... What`s that?....... Tomb, yes. It`s a tomb, see. Fucking ignoramus.
This is a funky tree outside the mausoleum. Japanese trees are wicked. Michelle reckons trees are more interesting than people. I told her she should go to Bradford. That shut her up. Japanese trees have mad roots splicing all over the place, and whopping great creepers flailing out all over the shop. Just like them beardy tree fellas in Lord of the Rings.
This is Shuri-jo, the castle..... What did I think?....... Well, it`s just like every other Japanese castle. It`s very colourful and it`s about ten years old. It must be a cultural thing. In England, if something falls down we just leave it there and write lots of books about it. In Japan, you build it again with wheelchair access and a Burger King.
This is the campsite. It was about an hour away from Naha. Groovy little place, but I didn`t think much to the toilets. We were the only gaijin staying there, but there were plenty of squaddies coming down for a drink every night..... Aw, I fucking loved. There was a hammock!......... Well, it impressed me. It was just so laid back. Everyone was really friendly and they had better beer than Tokyo........... Yeah, Orion beer`s the bollocks.......... Yes, I tried Owamori a coupla times. It`s nice with water and ice, but otherwise it`s vomit-ville. The best way to get drunk on that stuff is to take a big bastard sniff from a barrel full of it. I did that in an off-licence in Naha. Nearly blew the back of my head off. But in a good way.
This is sunrise. From the hammock.......... No, really, twas just a snap.......... You`re too kind......... No, let`s look at it a bit longer. HE hasn`t said anything nice yet.
That`s a picture of a rock.
That`s Brandon......... Yes, he is American. How did you know?......... Ah, the shirt.... No, he was an absolute diamond. Totally revised my opinion of the military. Well, for a bit anyway. He`s from Tennessee, and he bloody sounds it too. He actually says vee-hickul. Kept telling us to hop in his vee-hikul and he`d take us to some sight seeing spot. Great bloke. One day he took us all around this little island close by. Showed us a completely isolated beach which you can only get to by hacking your way through a mini-jungle. Showed us wicked places to take get good views of the island. Like in this shot..... Yeah, I thought you just got water like that in postcards.
He also took us to this bridge.......... Yeah, he`s the one leaping into the water......... Dunno, must have been about 40 feet down.
This is him trying to swim to the bank......... Fuckin A, it`s a bit choppy......... We thought we were gonna have to attend a military funeral.......... He was fine. Strong swimmer. Said it cleared up his hangover as well.......... No, I didn`t.......... Well, I didn`t have my trunks on........... Just fuck off, right.
This is Simon and Seiko. They came out a coupla days after us............ Yeah, she is isn`t she........... Oi, that`s an obscene thing to say. And physically impossible, surely.
This was taken on the ferry to Tokashiki island. It was Koko`s birthday....... Eh?..... A diamond ring........ No, I`m fucking well not........ well, not yet anyway........ I mean no........... well, maybe........ well, no......... let`s talk about something else.
This is Aharen beach, on Tokashiki. Just look at that water, eh. Honest to fuck, you keep expecting Ursula Andres to slink out of the water.......... No, I didn`t get round to scuba diving........ Course I wasn`t fucking scared. They, erm, just didn`t have enough flippers.
This is me snorkeling........ No, those are snorkeling flippers. Couldn`t use them for diving. Not shark proof you see.......... You`re starting to annoy me.
These are my underwater pictures. Here`s a fish. This is some coral. Here`s another fish........... There........ Just there, in the corner of the frame........ You can see the fins. What more do you want.............. Here`s a nice fish........... All right, a nice fish`s tail.......... Look, you stick David fucking Bailey`s head underwater and whack a great flapping pair of goggles on his face and see what HE comes out with.
This is from the viewing tower overlooking the beach..... No, no, no. You have to put the three together you see. It`s panoramic innit...... Oh for fuck`s sake, look at the ROCKS, woman! You`ve got to match them up! There you go. Blows your flip-flops off that, don`t it.
These are all of Koko`s surprise party............. This is us setting up the surprise barbecue......... This is me pretending to take her to a noodle restaurant........This is everyone surprising her with a song.......... This is her telling me that Kento, the barman had already told her about the surprise party......... This is me talking to Kento, the barman......... No, I think he`s fine now........... Yeah, they stitched it back on........ This is the surprise cake.......... This is Koko talking to me, again.............. This is... well, the picture says it all........... No, I think the window slowed his fall down quite a lot....... Yes, you wouldn`t think it could bend that far backwards would you........ Quite a night.

So, that`s the photos. That was the holiday.

Turn to p.34 please. Or do you want to play Hangman?

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I`m gonna write about me holidays soon. Soon as I`ve finished boiling these cats. Promise.
I was thinking this morning. I try to do most of my thinking in the morning, so it`s out of the way and I can get on with me asbestos impressions. This particular morning I was thinking that I`ve been in Japan for an entire football season. Quite scared me that did. I`ve spent a full term pregnancy in Tokyo. Tommy Chong (of `Cheech and..` fame) spent the same period of time in the nick for selling pot pipes. Dean Saunders was once out of the Villa squad for the same time when he suddenly forgot how to be Welsh. Very nasty. Puss everywhere. Peter Jackson`s crew could have re-built the set for Edoras, the fortress of the Rohan people in the time of been teaching people to say "I go shopping" instead of "I go to shopping". Which is the greater achievement? Eh? Dickens completed "Barnaby Rudge", "The Old Curiosity Shop" and "Big, Buff Men in Hats" (a lesser known work) in the same period I`ve been compiling this web-bollocks. Who has changed more lives? Eh? I think we know.
And I still can`t do fucking origami!

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