GPS Banana Skin Detectors – Don’t leave home without one

Imagine yourself on a fine winter’s day, mist rising from the valley below, a pale sun struggling to make its warmth felt upon your face. That morning, You had donned your hiking boots, put your wooliest wooly hat on your head and fumbled around in the wardrobe to find your favourite walking stick. It was time for a hearty stroll in the countryside.

Several hours and 2 Kendal Mint Cakes later, you are just climbing over a stile into a field which rather oddly, considering the fact that it’s mid-winter, had a herd of cows in. They look friendly enough; there’s no sign of testorone-driven bulls that might want to impale you upon one of their horns that they don’t realise they no longer possess due to the fact that the farmer sawed them off when they were wee baby bullocks.

Ah, this is the life! You take a deep breath. Feel that fresh air filling your lungs. Hear those wee tweety birds in the sky above! See the grazing african elephants and wonder what they are doing up here in the Lake District.

BUT! (“tokoro ga!”) you have not spotted the banana skin which lies on the path directly ahead! Nor have you seen the seemingly harmless dried up cow-pat that is well beyong the fly-fest heydays of old.


You take that one final step, a fate that equates to the sheer monstrosity of the Blue Screen of Death, and whoooooosh………! Your right heal has landed on the banana skin, which, due to its fairtrade origins is extra slippery, sending your legs flying forwards and up into the air that like some Chinese gymnast you seemingly effortlessly perform a complete somersault AND 180 degree twist in mid-air. It is only now, when you are held for a moment in weightless suspension between the up and the down that your eyes open from the blink that they had been performing when your foot first made contact with the banana skin – and they see, directly below them, the cow pat. Your stomach turns to lead, and your mouth opens – a deep slowed-down version of you saying “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!” is heard for a split second, before your nose breaks the stale crust of the cow-pat, to reveal a Jolly Green Giant type frozen-as-soon-as-it’s-picked freshness of a loose burger below.

Now substitute the putting on of the waterproof hiking boots and wooly hat, and the finding of the walking stick, for my preperation for these exams. I prepared to be the viction of a rainshower by studying for my essay-type subjects, and studying kanji. However, I did not ensure that I had my GPS linked Banana Skin Detection Monitor with me – i.e. I had completely neglected to look over what we had studied in A Sensei’s class, and I had no time in the end to get any essay-writing practice in before the exam. Poor preperation Joseph.

Thus, the turning over of the exam paper saw my foot fall squarely upon the banana. Seconds later I was in the S***. Below the crust of niceness that is Japanese lies a murkey quagmire of suffocating manure.

I never really recovered.

I swear, I will NEVER let myself get in that ridiculous situation again, whereby I don’t understand a blooming thing. It was a real shocker, as i am used to being confident in that (Japanese langauge exam) situation, so to find myself sitting there for 10 minutes not writing a single thing (just thinking, “I can’t do this”) was, well, is, a real wake-up call.

I won’t fail, I know that, but I but won’t be anywhere near the Firsts I’ve come to expect of myself. I’d say a 2:2 (between 50% and 60%) for that module, and fingers crossed, a 2.1 (60%-70%) overall.

Well, no looking back, and no regrets. What’s done is done. I’ve already made a start on next semester’s modules – read a 1/4 of a core text on the train today, oh, and have decided to reimplement a study regime dreamt up last year (and successfully executed for a few weeks until I got lazy), that being getting up at 8am, in the library for 9am and staying there until it shuts, with the odd hour off for a lecture. I HAVE to get back on track.

Still, at least I can put my exam-kit away for another few months.

2 down 1 to go

Walked into the same examination hall today. That same examination hall was the same temperature as it was yesterday, that is, about -50 degrees. Ok, ok, so that’s a slight exaggeration, but only by a factor of 52 degrees. Yes, that’s right, we were asked to sit a 3-hour exam in a hall that was colder than your average fridge interior.

Mind you, didn’t affect me. Had extra clothes on, AND a hot water bottle!

The exam itself though, oh dear, I mucked it up. I mean, I wrote tons, we’re talking 17 pages again, but it was such b*llox. It was a case of ‘write down everything I know about the subject and I might just pass’. Just couldn’t get going.

Gotta prepare for my final exam on Thursday afternoon now. Not at all confident about that one. Oh well, at least I have a cute girlfriend to make me feel better afterwards ;-p

You know what though, I am well chuffed about one thing, and that’s my lack of seizures over the past few weeks. Last term I was fitting like a wild mongoose being chased by a snapping turtle on valium. Got so bad I had to up my medication (Epilim Chrono/Sodium Valproate) to 1400mg. Still, after a week of non-stop drinking just before Christmas I felt much better, and lowered my intake of purple pills to 1000mg daily. Haven’t had a problem since, despite the stress of exams. I think my letting go of some mad idea that I might get a First for my degree has helped. No-one cares after you graduate anyhow. It did matter last year, but for various reasons which I cannot divulge here, it doesn’t this. (…year, if you insist that I finish the sentence)

I’m enjoying being back in my room. I like my futon. I’m also enjoying relative isolation (brief exposure to good friends in ice factories and lunch with my damn sexy lady being the exceptions). Also, I’ve finally managed to rid my local airwaves of nearly all the cack that had invaded my “My Music” folder. Thing is, like many people these days, I have about 70GB of music tucked away under my bed in an electronic metal box with a blue flashing light on (otherwise known as external hard drive). That’s 10,306 songs to be precise. There used to be a lot more, but crikey was there a lot of what can only be described as really smelly bird poo in .mp3 format. I inherited it from a friend about two years ago (there was, incidentally, a lot of decent stuff included in the transfer too), and have been trying to sort through it ever since. It’s only in the last couple of months though, since I switched to i-Tunes with its easier interface (than Media Player) that I’ve got around to disinfecting my spinning magnetic disk. I’m talking stuff which is apparently described as ‘R&B’, which I can only guess stands for ‘Rubbish and B*llox’. Tends to involve a lot of rapping too (that is, talking so fast that the meaningless of the lyrics are cunningly conceiled).
All those ‘artists’ that go “Wiggy, Yo Yo” and wear baggy tracksuits, have huge great medallians round their necks which I’m sure they stole from BA out of the ‘A’ Team one day when he was sedated in order to be put on a helicopter, and they do kind of peace signs towards the camera which for some reason always seems to be positioned on the road in front of them and their fellow ‘gangstaz’. Perhaps they can’t afford a tripod. They certainly couldn’t afford singing lessons or lyric-writing classes so it would’t surprise me if a tripod was beyond reach of their budget, most of which was probably spent paying half-naked women with breasts the size of rhino testicles (we’re talking a rhino that is feeling really horny, and hasn’t got laid for a long time to appear in their videos. Half-naked women are all well and good, they have their place, namely in my bedroom, I mean they would have if I didn’t already have my own half-naked woman. Oh, and also if they didn’t have such huge breasts. I really don’t go in for big breasts, having been battered by a pair in the last century. “Small but firm, think long term” a wise sage once said (aka Stewart in Tokyo). Personally I’ll go for just right thank you very much.

Ok, ok, I’ll get back to the Kanji.

Preston Town

Reviewing my notes on the creation of a popular image for the Emperor Meiji in 1880s Japan, I see that nudity and urinating in public were banned at that time to help in the creation of the image of a ‘Modern Nation’.

This reminded me of the first time I went to Otaru, a port on the Western coast of Hokkaido, Japan’s most northerly (main) island. Walking through the peaceful streets at 5am having just disembarked following a long ferry crossing from somewhere else that wasn’t Otaru, I forget where, my attention was caught by a man weeing in the street ahead of me.

I wasn’t particularly fussed by this. I mean, it was 5am, and there was no-one else around. Perfectly understandable behaviour. But that in turn did remind me of a public urinal incident that had caught me off-guard some years previously.

I was in the Lancashire town of Preston (it must have been an accident, I can’t think of any other reason why i should have been in such a place). I decided to buy a newspaper, and so spotting a newspaper vendor on the other side of the street, crossed the road. He was your average seller – man in his 50’s behind a little stand that was piled high with figures on the previous day’s local muggings. Anyway, as I appraoached his little stand, I noticed a steaming trickle emerging from beneath it, running across the pavement onto the road.

Hmm, nice.

I decided to go to WHSmiths at that point.

“Preston Town, Preston Town, I don’t know why you get me down” go the lyrics to one of my brother’s compositions.

Anyway, back to the Meiji Emperor…

(now you see, if I could link every fact uncovered by my Issues in Modern Japanese History module to a story like that, I’d have no problem recalling stuff in tomorrow’s exam.) (mind you, I didn’t run out of things to say this morning. managed 17 sides of A4 in three hours.)(all waffle mind you.)(and tip-ex.)(ok, ok, I’ll get back to my revision now.)(oh, I forgot, I was going to make a cup of tea about an hour ago…)


What the hell is wrong with me? It’s the start of exam week – and I’m feeling really happy!

Could it be the fact that life is wonderful?

Or is it just the sex?

No, can’t be that, it’s been 2 days.