Archive for April, 2006

Shrinkage

That tumble-drier should be relabelled.

It has three settings to choose from. These are:

1) Fragiles

2) Colours and Whites

3) Permenant Press

They shouldbe labelled

1) Occasionally blow cold air in and not dry your clothes at all

2) Occasionally blow a bit of warmish air in, and dry one sock, leaving the rest of the load soaking wet

3) Blow a constant stream of nuclear-powered boiling hot air in, evapourate all water within 45 seconds and then spend the remaining 59 minutes 15 seconds cooking your clothes using the built in grill, so that when you take them out your boxer-shorts actually snap in half, and your T-shirts are just the right size for a 2-month-old foetus.

Washing Day

..again. Must be the third time this year I’ve had to wash my socks. It’s costing me a fortune.

Yesterday morning I went to the reception of this student block to pick up a parcel that had arrived the previous day. On seeing me, the staff began to whisper amongest themselves… “that’s him isn’t it?”

What had I done? Had they discovered my deep dark secret connected with the purple stains on the hallway carpet? Or had I been spotted on CCTV letting my herd of pet giraffes into this secure unit late at night?

Thankfully, no. I had won a DVD player, as a reward for reporting more faults than anyone else on site!

Broken cooker, broken Kettle, numerous breakdowns of the boiler, light bulbs that needed replacing, a flooded kitchen caused by a knackered washer, broken extractor fan in my bathroom, broken extractor fan in the kitchen… I’m just waiting for my bookshelf to fall off the wall and the floor to dissapear beneath me – based on experience I’d say that neither are that unlikely, despite the fact that I live on the ground floor and there’s no basement.

So that was a nice surprise. Of course, once I am presented with my prize (which I’ll pass on to mum and dad as I have no use for a DVD player), it will probably work fine for a few days, then the lazer will accidentally go into overdrive and cut the unit in half…

buzzing

What a day. It’s been great. Another day to feel so happy to be alive and well.

Boy though am I bushwacked. I guess it all began at about 8am when my alarm clock (the theme tune to that classic 1980s Thames TV program Rainbow) woke me up in order that I could phone the Japanese Embassy in Korea – Yes, I can exchange my tourist visa for a student visa there in September, provided I first get a re-entry permit from immigration in Tokyo first. I wait with baited breath to hear whether or not I can go to Japan in July. If not, no probs, gives me more time to read and study in preparation for my long-awaited return to Japan as more than just a tourist.

Got the results of my Kanji test (73% or 76% I forget which, and I’ve misplaced the sheet on which I wrote the result!). Jolly good jolly good. A bit of socialising, mock exam, and then suddenly the week was over. Crikey, only 15 days of classes left.

The thinking continues. We have so many ideas for ventures in Japan… tonight when doing background research for a business that we’d really like to start, we struck gold, totally by accident. I don’t want to say any more, but I do want it to be recorded here, as Friday 28th April being the day that we discovered this vast untapped market. OK, OK, so there are some Japan-based companies in this field, but they really are lame. We think we can do much better! I MUST fulfil my promise to my family to be the one that becomes rich (without sacrificing happiness and principles).

Oooooh I can hardly wait to graduate! It makes it all worthwhile. *Cough* is so enthusiastic too… it feels like life is just beginning, I’m so happy. Oh, and I love my department at uni.

And it’s a bank holiday weekend!

no anchor

woahhh I’m all over the place. Combination of events have thrown me way out into the stratosphere. Good job I had my laptop in my rucksack at the time, and a very long Lan cable attached, cos there’s not much out here for entertainment except dodging a few dud satellites.

So what’s up?

1) Essays. Reading lots about topics such as Minamata Disease or the Japanese media (or in my case, both), is a right kick in the goolies. I think we should have a whole module in our final year devoted to telling us the good things about Japan, if there are any, so that we don’t all graduate asking ourselves “…Why???!!”.

2) This morning’s Kanji Test. I am pleased to say that it went really well, that is, comparatively speaking. When one bears in mind the fact that the thing I’m comparing it to is last semester’s test in which I managed to get 2%, it is hardly a surprise that it went ‘comparitively well’. I’d say 60 something % at least. Anyway, that was pretty stressful, but at least it’s over. Hurray!!

3) Only 13 days of classes remaining. Scary. Then it’ll be summer. This time-flying business is somewhat disconcerting.

4) Our business plans. *Cough* and I have been thinking a lot about the business that we want to set up once back in Japan. The whole new perspective that this puts on the next 18 months is taking some adjusting to.

5) I had the misfortune to receive an email from CrissCross (Japan) telling me that Metropolis magazine, the most popular English-language listings mag in Japan, has started a weekly podcast [please note deliberate lack of links]. This in itself isn’t so bad. It’s subscribing and then listening to the thing that has such a traumatizing effect. I think they must have put an ad in the print version a few months ago reading, “WANTED. Complete Twat to present show that will make you want to leave your iPod to soak overnight in a bucket of Ultra-Strength Dettol”. I only managed 9 minutes of the half-hour show. I can’t face giving episode 2 a go.

6) My monumental decision to learn how to use Dreamweaver properly. Having used it for about 5 years now to build various websites I guess it’s time I learnt what a CSS style sheet is, and stopped stealing code from other people’s websites. Anyway, I bought a book off Amazon Today. Oh, and two COMPLETE strangers in town told me how much they liked my hat. One of them then went on to talk about the location of the clitoris and how best to stimulate it. This would have been somewhat disconcerting had we not been in a bookstore at the time, and had she not been with her boyfriend (who had a sheepish, guilty look on his face as he tried to pay full attention to what she was telling him, poor lamb). The other person who commented on my hat did not say anything about female genitalia however as he was holding a bucket collecting money for the local children’s hospital, and it would probably have been a little inappropriate.

7) A bolt from the blue. I can’t say too much about it at this point, but basically today I found myself applying for something happening in Japan this summer. It’s half-expenses paid – I have to cover air-fare, transport and food.

What this means is that, should I be one of the lucky 40 to be accepted, I will be leaving for Japan almost 2 months ealier than I had planned, we’re talking mid-July, i.e. just 6 weeks after exams are over.

Transport is not a problem. I phoned my LEA, who received my application for funding for next year last week (yes, that’s right, next year last week), and they said if I was to buy my ticket now I’d simply need to send in the receipt and they’d send me the cash (minus the excess). A few weeks of gardening work would give me enough to live on for the duration of the three-week program (were I to be accepted), then I’d probably spend the remaining 2 months WWOOFing to pass the time without spending money. I guess it would have to be Hokkaido – the heat during those few weeks in the south last summer nearly killed me.

Oh, there will then be the small matter of having to leave Japan and re-enter on a student visa (I can’t get that until september, so I’ll be going out on a tourist visa in July). I’ve been instructed by the embassy in London to phone immigration in Tokyo in the morning, then the embassy in Seoul to check that I’ll be able to exchange my visa there.

So yes, this is all somewhat unexpected – watch this space.

If I DO go back to Seoul I’d better avoid the British embassy, as the last time I was there I ended up causing a real uproar by accusing the resident “Korean Friendship Association” of having a pigeon as its mascot rather than a dove. I still haven’t really got over the embarrasment of being found out as the sender of what I thought was an annonymous email .

There’s a lesson for us all there – you know who you are (and so do I!)

Anyway, *cough* is starting to growl. We only have one LAN cable, and two laptops. Best hand it over before she insists on spanking me.

Come to think of it though, I could just have a look at what offers Amazon has on today, or perhaps check my email account again. Maybe see who’s visited TGW today…

Back to School

And only too soon the holidays were over.

I sort of got done what I set out to achieve. 2 out of 3 essays-type things written. The last one isn’t due for a couple of weeks, so there’s still plenty of time to panic.

And in 7 weeks, it will all be over. I’m almost in the mood for printing out a countdown calender (minus Richard Whitely), but I shall resist. I’m really looking forward to reading all the books I’ve had on my shelf for the past two years but up until now have only had time to dip into for essay purposes. Then there’s the books for next semester at Rikkyo Uni – I managed to obtain a rather lame reading list for my core modules, and will attempt to get hold of second-hand copies so I don’t end up spending all my time (and money) over there on sorting all that out.

That’s one thing that concerns me – getting all my stuff to Japan. It’s mounting up. This week it will increase by another 2 kilos when my 2nd external hard drive arrives. My existing 160GB external drive is nearly full of ‘stuff’, whilst the 60GB drive in my laptop is packed full of photos, and 34,000 emails. Well, 34,473 to be precise.

Crikey, I wonder how many months of my life they have robbed me of?! Still, when you are as desperate for a girlfriend as I was you’d do anything…

I remember when I bought my first PC. I asked the man in the shop if I’d be able to add more hard-drives in the event that the one it came with got full up.

“Full up? Good heavens no! It’s a 10GB drive you know – you’ll never have that much data!”

I guess he wasn’t accounting for the 17,059 photos I’d take in the 7 years following that conversation (TGW visitors only get to see the ones that are (a) any good (b) not pornographic, oh, except for the ones featuring horse cocks of course.)

In other (non-boring) news, *cough* and I have been getting dead excited about the future. Not that we’re not excited about the present, coz we are, but anyway. The other night we went round to our friend’s house, the very same friend that is about to receive a Centenary Achievement Award for services to students, and had a jolly good time.

I must say, I really do find him a true inspiration. He’s the kind of person who really believes in dreams, and his own ability to turn them into reality. His success is down to a few things in my mind:

(i) The ability to dream. Now most of us can do this, but only following copious amounts of cheese-eating and 8 hours kip. This fella dreams in his waking hours too, but not in a wishy-washy way, more in an energised “we could do this, and this, and this…!” type way.
(ii) He ACTS upon his dreams, no matter how far-flung they seem. This is where most ppl fall down in my mind (myself included).
(iii) Infectious enthusiasm, enthusiasm, enthusiasm, and the ability to motivate others. Teamwork is the key behind many of his projects, and he has the necessary leadership qualities.
(iv) Lots of hard work. I swear he never sleeps. The number of projects that he’s involved in at any one time, plus the fact that he is in his final year of an architecture degree, well, it just makes one wonder where he gets the extra hours from. Perhaps he’s an alien…
(v) A girlfriend who is extremely supportive, and as hardworking as he is.

Anyway, the four of us had a really great night the other night, talking about everything from buying bits of the moon to planting sakura trees all over the university grounds. We talked of the future plans for one of his enterprises, and the success of Japan Soc – at midnight tonight, in addition to getting my student loan (hurray!) I stand down as Secretary of Japan Soc, a post I’ve had for 18 months. On that subject, I’m looking forward to The Golden Gnomes Union Awards, I understand Japan Soc has been shortlisted for several awards following its entry (by my own fair hand) into 10 different categories.

Anyway anyway, upon leaving our friend’s house, *cough* and I felt thoroughly energised re. our plans for the future, which we started working on a few months back. They ultimately end up with us not having to work for money, and having lots of free time to shag.

Basically, it all starts in September when we both return to Japan. I’m determined not to waste a cost-free year there hanging out in bars all the time (just 6 days a week)… oh no, no sireeeeeeee. Not only will there be the minor matter of uni, there will also be study needed for the Level one Japanese Language Proficiency Test which I’m planning to take in Dec 2007, the Speech contest in Feb 2008, the Podcast, and more importantly, a lot of groundwork for our enterprise which we want to get going as soon as possible after I graduate. No doubt this will mean having to hold down a regular job whilst getting the business going for the first six months / year maybe. *Cough* will also be working as of late this year to raise sufficient capital to get it all going.

Thing is, it’s all very well thinking “I will set up my own business one day” – but that day will never come unless one acts upon it – and there’s no time like the present.

It will all be made a lot easier due to a change in Japanese law that’s coming into effect on May 1st 2006 which makes it much cheaper to start a business.

Another good thing is that I will leave uni without any debts that require immidiate repayment. The law states that I only need repay my student loan (which will amount to about 20,000 pounds) once I’m earning a certain amount – and when living abroad it’s up to you to inform the loan company when you have reached that threshold. Naturally, it’s in your interests to repay the loan as soon as possible, as the interest, even at the low rate that it is, is horrendous. I’m so glad they only send a statement once a year – it’s scary! I won’t have any overdraft to repay either – the benefits of a Baked Beans and spaghetti diet.

We are also fortunate in that we have numorous contacts in Japan who can advise us on setup stuff, and provide us with introductions to prospective (rich) clients – one of whom is my brother-in-law-to-be, who owns a very successful Tokyo based business which he set up only a couple of years ago.

*Cough* and I also believe we’ll make a great business partnership 🙂

So yeah, this is all really great stuff, because it puts a whole new perspective on uni, it makes me feel like all the effort really is going towards something tangible. Up until now I have felt rather dissilusioned with one aspect of this course, that being what support is given to you once you graduate. The number of Japanese Studies graduates I see around Sheffield is in a way, rather depressing. It seems that people struggle so hard, and then go on to… teaching English? What a waste of talent. Of course I may be wrong, but this is the impression that I get, and come to think of it is a problem that was acknowledged by my department during a staff/student committee meeting. It’s not actually the department’s fault – the university has a dedicated careers service that is responsible for this very thing. However, due to factors like language and distance, they don’t tend to be very hot on the Asian scene.

So yeah, my whole impression of next year is shifting away from being university-centered, and more like a ‘normal year in Japan’, where I get on and do what I really want to do, whilst also attending uni.

Of course, things may turn out completely differently, uni may be just as hard as it is here, but for the time being, this is damn exciting, and we can’t wait.

ooh, 12 minutes past midnight. Best check my bank account…!

[edit] Woopeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! I’m RICH!!!!

Will Christophers receives Centenary Achievement Award

Every year, the President of the University Union presents 5 students with “Centenary Awards”.

My very good friend Will Christophers (who is responsible for introducing *cough* and I to one another) has been an absolute star these past two years, doing more than anyone else I know for the benefit of other students.

Thus, I nominated him for a Centenary Award, and I’m delighted to say, the panel of judges agreed with my opinion (as stated below) that he should be one of the very few students to be presented with the award.

Congratulations Will, you are truly deserving!

“It can be said, without a doubt, that Will Christophers has contributed more to the improvement of the student body than any other individual within the Student’s Union.

In his role as president of Japan Society, Will has worked tirelessly for the benefit of both Japanese students at Sheffield and non-Japanese students interested in Japan. His irrepressible energy, imagination and sheer hard work have resulted in the creation of an incredibly strong supportive network amongst students, which has been nurtured through the organisation of events such as Japan Day, a hugely successful festival, the initial idea for which was entirely his own.

In addition to this, he has sought to offer employment to International Students through his Will Yaki business which last year won the White Rose Business Competition – students who might otherwise find it difficult to obtain employment whilst in Sheffield. Furthermore, he has created the “ChoCho Collection’, a series of postcards featuring his own artwork, and that of local students and other artists who struggle to find an outlet for their work. The profits from this are donated to charity.

Will has been a true inspiration to many students throughout his three years here at Sheffield, and I can think of no one other person who is more deserving of the Union Centenary Award than him.”

Keitai code

On the cutting edge this Daily Mumble is you know.

Look, I can now even provide you with the 2D barcode that is widely used throughout Japan, and will no doubt reach our western shores in about 10 years.

Do me a favour if you’re in Japan – scan this code with your mobile phone and let me know if it brings you back to this page.

Cheers

You are being watched

Recently I mentioned the fact that on my way home from Uni I am tracked by almost 3 billion CCTV cameras positioned at strategic locations along my route.

Well, yesterday I just flipped. I could no longer take the intrusion into my privacy. It’s bad enough having fingers that insist on telling the world everything via the www, let alone constantly being watched from on high.

Thus, I removed my faithful Tilley Hat (that is yet to be eaten by an elephant 3 times) from my head, and cast it, with deftest precision, into the vast blue sky, where it hurtled in the direction of the latest predeter-camera…


…and missed, flying straight over the top of the camera, landing on the roof of the University of Sheffield’s Octagon Centre that lay right behind it. Curses!

Oh well, I guess wearing it wouldn’t have made today’s trip to the dentist any more pleasant.

My head is full of letters

Well, if you will go and sit inside a postbox for 3 hours with your mouth open joseph…


Ok, so not quite. It’s this Year Abroad Project proposal. My head is full of English letters making up words in the English alphabet, 2600 of them so far, and somehow I’ve managed to spend a whole day talking about crime figures. And accidentally printing out 2 copies of various PDF docs.

Oh, but we did go for a walk in the park behind the library. Was lovely! Saw duckies, birdies singing, daffodils, sakura (cherry blossom), and a couple almost-shagging on a bench …and a man with a camera with a very long lens the other side of the park pointing at said couple.

saw the above postbox too, which looked so red, against the green green university grass.

raaaaaaaa

no hug

I just learnt that there’s no noun for ‘hug’ in Japanese. Ah! Another thing to add to the cynic’s list.

Spent three hours photocopying in the library today. 400 pages of text. A lot of money, a lot of trees. 4 week’s worth of classes. All covered. I figured, if I did it all now, that would mean (a) less time spent faffing around during term time when the pressure’s really on, (b) all the books would be in (all but two out of about 20 were) (c)less having to face my project today. Tomorrow is printing-out-PDFs day, have to take out another loan for that. I just can’t do the reading-off-the-screen thing. Takes ages to wash the highlighter off afterwards.

I managed to download a driver for *cough’s* webcam today. She sits at an angle of 90 degrees to me at the end of my desk, sitting on my bed – I sit on my chair. The camera is clipped onto the top of her laptop’s screen, and is plugged into my USB port. This way, I can keep a window open on my desktop showing a live feed of her cuteyness, so i don’t ever have to take my eyes off the screen. Just have to buy a 2nd webcam so she can do the same, then we can communicate entirely digitally. You see – technology really does bring people closer.

:-p

Year Abroad Project

So, Minamata’s dealt with. I move on.

Next year, in order to ensure that we don’t spend all our time in a cozy izakaya (pub) drinking sake, we have to complete a ‘Year Abroad Project’, which is basically a research excercise, designed to get us out and about with a questionnaire investigating Japanese attitudes towards this that and the other.

I was going to do something challenging, in an area that really interests me, such as civil rights movements or attitudes towards GM products (no, I’m not talking about SUVs here), but then, when I started thinking in depth about what questions I’d ask, who I’d approach etc, it all started seeming a bit complex (apologies to the tutor who spent some time imparting words of wisdom regarding the above, and apologies also for being drunk when you did so… it was the end of term though).

Thus, I have opted to go for something which I already know a fair bit about, something which probably won’t be all that challenging (and thus not as interesting as the above), something which, put bluntly, won’t require as much effort. Having had a hint of what is in store for me at Rikkyo I want to rid myself of as many other responsibilities as possible, in order that I have a wee bit of time to actually enjoy being back in Japan!

Thus, I have decided to focus upon the International Couple Scene. That’s if my tutor will let me – there’s a slight conflict of interest here in that *cough’s* dissertation is focusing upon Intercultural Marriages. Still, I’ve informed my tutor (so as not to be accused of plagarism at a later date!)… I await a response. If he says no I shall have to have words.

Anyway, I’ve learnt quite a lot about foreigners in Japan. Such as, when *cough* and I get married (did I really say that?) she will be one of only about 370 Japanese ladies lucky enough to marry a British bloke that year (as opposed to over 7000 Chinese). Did you know that interethnic marriages account for 5% of the total in Japan, vs. only 2% here in the UK? Well I never! There was me thinking we were the most intermultiethnicallycultural-inclined and all that over here.

I ‘met’ one of her sisters yesterday via video-messenger thing. Crazy. And I thought my family was mad…

I switched my mobile phone on for the first time in about 5 days last night. Not a single text or missed call. aaaahhh bliss. Noticeble drop in the number of emails I’ve received too – why can’t it always be Easter? No queue at the supermarket. AGGHH! Did I say supermarket? I’m afraid so. Sainsbury’s is located just at the end of the street that my kitchen looks out onto, vs. my favourite ever local organic shop which is 20 minutes away up a big hill. I’m afraid this semester, with this workload, there’s been no competition.

So, it’s pretty much all over in 5 weeks, other than a couple of exams. There’ll be no more ‘proper’ classes for Joseph until Sep 2007. Ok, ok, so it does sound like I’ll be a bit busy at Rikkyo, but at the end of the day, it’s only a pass-or-fail year, so I don’t have to go working myself into the ground as I have done these past 18 months in order to get firsts all the time. I do want to do well though in terms of language aquisition, just a case of not being so damn lazy as I tend to be with *cough*. She speaks japanese, I speak English.

Anyhow, I’m bloody knacked, my eyes are utterly unfocused and my futon is awaiting.

oyasumi xxx

Minamata

It’s been a long process this writing an essay about Minamata Disease business. It started about two weeks ago when I opened Ishimure Michiko’s classic ‘Kugai Joudo: Waga Minamata-byou (translated by Livia Monnet as ‘Paradise in a Sea of Sorrow: Our Minamata Disease).

Having made my way through that heart-wrenching novel I turned to Timothy S. George’s Minamata: Pollution and the Struggle for Democracy in Postwar Japan which must simply be the best book in the English language written on the subject. Had me in tears at the end. Boy would I like to go back in time and stamp on the testicles of those b*stards in charge of the Chisso factory. Not for any perverse sexual reason you understand, rather, because of the pain and suffering they caused.

“The impact upon those who were unfortunate enough to contract the disease before the cause was discovered was devastating. Cruelly, it was traditional fishing families, that is, those on the margins of the newly-industrialised society, those who could least afford medical bills, and who could least afford to lose valuable workers to a debilitative disease, who suffered the most. One such family was that of 28-year-old Yamanaka, a fisherwoman who, until the onset of Minamata Disease in mid-July 1956, had enjoyed perfect health. The first sign of her illness was a numbness in her fingers – this was followed two days later by a deterioration in her hearing. Shortly after this she began to find difficulty in walking, and in early August was admitted to the local isolation hospital. Within two weeks she had fallen into a state of severe delirium, in which she would howl like a dog, suffer convulsions, and then rigidity. Her condition rapidly deteriorated, until by 4am on the 3rd of September, just 52 days after the onset of the illness, she was dead. Her brain had been eaten away by the lethal mercury discharged by Chisso.” (abridged from Kumamoto Medical Society report, 1957)

From the Chisso website:

“We can look back to a proud history as a technical innovator, be it the world-first industrial production of ammonium sulfate and the successive development of the nitric acid and acetic acid synthesis and of the polyvinyl chloride manufacturing processes”.

A proud history? A proud history of knowingly condemning hundreds of thousands of people to having their brains eaten away by the methyl mercury that was contained within the 3,600 tons of waste you pumped into Minamata Bay every day…

The difficulty now is one of condensing over 600 pages of literature into a 2000 word essay. I’ve written about 2/3 of it so far, will finish it off tomorrow.

*Cough* and I have had a nice week. Essentially cooped up in my room in this Easter-holiday-deserted block of flats, shagging, with a trip or two out every day to do a bit of shopping, or to pick up a load more videos. A new rental store has just opened up round the corner – and about time too. Until this month the nearest one was about 25 minutes away. This new one is one of those unmanned vending-machine type places, like I used to use in Bristol. This means it’s damn cheap, 99p for 6 hours. Oh, and we got 10 free rentals when we joined. Good to catch up on some ‘popular culture’. Sadly no decent foreign films etc, but nevermind, I loved Meet the Fockers, got confused by Ocean’s 12 (needs watching again) and thought that Steamboy was a pile of pants. So dark and dismal, with few big panoramic shots (lazy animators in my view, couldn’t be arsed with all that detail), an over-simplistic plot, oh, and I was ready to strangle that little american brat. Still, have a load more disks lined up. It’s good to just switch off sometimes. Hmm, watched a chick-flick too – In her Shoes, which actually brought tears to my eyes! It’s that damn woman inside me again.

We’re Very happy at the moment. It’s all just great. I swear she gets sexier every day.

In other news. Er, my lightbulb blew last night. Erm, have submitted LEA application for funding for next year, including the money for the flights there and back, and for insurance. Housing seems to be sorted. It’s going to come around so fast… Summer holidays planned. Basically lots of work and study, a week in Cornwall with me bro and co, maybe a week or two up here using the library. I realised tonight I’ll be paying rent here for another 4 weeks after I leave at the end of term, the swines. Oh, and the next rent payment of over 1000 pounds is due next week, 5 days BEFORE I get my next Student Loan installment – what’s the deal there? Somehow I don’t think the 5 quid in my account will cover it…

Avocado is clinging on for dear life, it should just about make it to the end of term.

Well, *cough* is now chewing my ear, so I guess that’s a sign that I should be going… If she notices that I have a website I’ll be in big trouble, all the terrible tales on TGW… would spell disaster for us if she found out…

Happy Easter!

joseph xxx

Will Yaki in the Japan Times

How ironic – one of my photos makes it into an international daily newspaper, and gets attributed to someone else!!! I shall have to have words…

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20060412f2.html

That aside, congrats to Will and the team for getting the publicity. He’s gonna go a looooooong way.

http://www.willyaki.co.uk

Back in the shoebox

Speaking of haircuts, first thing I did today upon returning to the rabbit hutch was bring about the following radical transformation:

Yes, managed to ditch the stupid face as well. (just be quiet, you)

Arrr jimlad ’tis good to be back up here, not that it wasn’t lovely down there, but up here I was greeted at the station by a dazzling *cough* who looked far too cute to be the kind of girlfrind I could blackmail into becoming attached to me, but it turned out she was my girlfriend and apparently there was only free will involved when we got together, 6 months ago yesterday, so that made me happy. It’s all going soooooooooooo well tee hee snog snog.

Having deprived my fleas of their luxury apartment on top of my head, it was pizza making time here in the Courtyard Cupboard – a courtyard which due to the fact that it’s easter is earily quiet. Actually, it’s great, we have the whole flat to ourselves, which meant that we could use Andrew’s Pizza-Cutter without asking! Ooooh the pleasure of the sharp wheel. Reminded me of a James Bond film, or was that a rotary saw the baddy used to cut people’s head’s off? Pizza cutter, rotary saw, it’s all the same. Although I suppose the latter may make a bit of a mess of the chipboard work surface. *Cough* actually found a use for the pizza cutter that I hadn’t thought of – playing golf, in typical Japanese-salary-man-at-station-with-umbrella style. Anyway, please admire our pizzas.


No matter how hard she looked, *cough* just couldn’t make the pizza’s cook any faster with her laser-eyes

Meanwhile, back in my dad’s greenhouse, there were some dead flies, and I just couldn’t resist taking a photo of them with my thermal-imaging camera.

I must say I’m feeling a lot happier than these flies were (probably) feeling just before they died of solvent abuse. In fact, I’m feeling so happy that I may be sick… last night, having watched The Italian Job (1969 original, bloomin marvellous), I couldn’t bring myself to switch the TV off, what with only getting a chance to watch it once or twice a year. Anyway, it just so happened that there was a film starting on BBC1, called “Simply Irresistible”.

The review in the Radio Times, which gave it one star, said,

“This is possibly the most innapropriate title for a film ever, as this horrendous movie is utterly resistible…”

Essentially, the whole story revolved around a woman whose New York restaurant was going down the pan, until one day, some strange man insisted that she buy a crab from him. However, this was no ordainary crab, oh no, this was a magic crab, and soon, not only was her failing restaurant back on track, but also she’d landed herself a high-flying boyfriend.

“Hmm, yes, a magic crab, sounds like a great focal point for a best-selling movie…let’s go with it”

It was, in my opinion, a pile of poop. …And yet, I absolutely loved it. I was utterly taken in by this fledgling romance, a story of love between two individuals from utterly different walks of life. One Japanese, one British
One a damn sexy neighbourhood restaurant owner, the other a multi-millionaire who used to be in Ally McBeal.

Anyway anyway, the point of all this is to say that I feel pretty much like the main character, apart from my arse isn’t quite as cute as hers and I’m not an American woman in my 30’s, and there ain’t a crab in sight, just a damn sexy *cough* who’s floating as high as me.

jaa ne

Lego-men haircuts

I was just looking at this map, which shows the geographical location of all Lego men who have had a haircut in the last 10 hours, and I was astonished by the amount of ice on planet Earth.

I mean, just alook at that vaste swathe of unflavoured slush-puppy in the south (Arctic or Antarctic? I can never remember. Which one do the penguins live on?), it’s HUGE!

No wonder the sea is so bloomin’ freezing.

Location of lego men who have had haircuts in last 10 hoursIn other news, last night I saw Big Ben crash to the ground, remarkably no-one was killed. It had been undergoing repair in a very big workshop, and had just been hoisted back into position between the towers of Notre Dame, Paris (of course). It had been stuck down with superglue, but unfortunately, before the glue had a chance to bond properly a gust of wind caught the clock tower, pushing it over its balacing point and sending it crashing to the ground, where it narrorly missed a line of tourists queuing to gain entry to the cathedral.

I have skillfully re-created the scene below so you too may feel the true gravity of the situation.



Tree Trunk at Twilight

all that matter, sap-filled sinew, so ‘there’, and then all that space, so big and empty.

 

Sexuality: Norah Vincent, a Self Made Man, and me

I can’t get to sleep tonight. Worrying a bit about my *cough* who is currently in Italy, alone, and whose mobile hasn’t acknowledged receiving my texts today.

Anyway, in a bid to send myself to sleep, I thought I’d check out what new downloads my iPod aquired tonight. Watched one video podcast starring some lecherous gaijin trying to pick up japanese girls in a park. kimochii warui… then moved on to the daily extract from BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

Well, that kind of woke me up.

Norah Vincent – Self made man. 10 minute interview (4mb) Download it here. There’s another one here. Read a Guardian article on it here.

I find her extraordinary experiment absolutely fascinating, as I’ve always had this kind of internal battle going on regarding my own sexuality. By that I don’t mean that I feel that actually, I’m gay, or that I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body. Rather, I have a real problem with conforming to stereotypically masculine modes of behaviour. This might explain my (infrequent) outings dressed like this. It could also go a long way towards explaining why I have so few close male friends, and no doubt my complete disinterest in football could also be attributed to this feeling of femininity. I find myself easily bored in men’s company, unless they are prepared to join me in taking conversations that one stage further to the realm of stuff that matters. I can’t even stand like a man. *Cough* has on occasions promted my legs to straighten when i’ve been posing girly style whilst in conversation.

And of course, I NEVER stand up to wee, except when in public. (By that I mean except when in public toilets. As a rule I don’t usually wee in public, i.e. against lamposts, in phone boxes or by the reservation counters in libraries) (the phone box rule is something i feel very strongly about, since a fateful night in 1996 when I went to a party that was raided by the police, and I ended up at 3am, desperately tired, in the rain, in the middle of nowhere (Peterstow) – the only place I could find shelter was a telephone box. Unfortunately I was too stoned to realise that someone had recently wee’d in it – that was, until my trousers started to feel uncomfortably damp)…

er, where was I?

Ah, yes, my sexuality.

These feelings do have their limits though. They don’t stray into the field of intimate relationships. There, I know firmly where I stand (if but a little cross-legged) – I feel absolutely no conflict there. I would dare to suggest that I am perhaps a little more caring than the stereotypical man, but this is more due to having learnt from being a bastard in the past, rather than posessing any special gift. If I think back to my late teens / early twenties and the relationship i was in then, I really do feel that my attitude and behaviour was stuck in the Victorian era. We’re talking Pride and Prejudice (was that Victorian?), except she was ginger and I was working in a supermarket called Lidl, and didn’t own a country manner, and sadly didn’t have a Mark Darcy style smouldering stare). This was not due so much to being a nasty person, but rather, due to the inability to deal with the conflicts that compromise brought with it – having never been in that situation before I found the whole couple thing really oppressive, and so for much of the time I was fighting for my rights rather than adopting a new frame of mind in which the health of the new entity – our relationship – was alloted the slightest sense of importance.

Mind you, having said that, I suppose this stereotypical man of which I speak and look down up may be becoming increasingly hard to come by – perhaps? I mean, if I think of the men I know, I find it difficult to picture them being bastards to their partners. One man whom I know extremely well (he happens to be my father), has often expressed his admiration for young people today who are so much more in touch with their feelings, and so much more aware of the feelings of others, than he and his cohorts were back in the 1950s and early 60s. (I’m grateful to have my dad as an example of how not to do things – I’m able to learn from his mistakes – I must tell him how grateful I am when I see him on Monday!)

There was one thing that Norah Vincent mentioned that i found particularly interesting – that about the glass wall that springs up when a man first meets a woman. In her study, as Ned, she was able to compare this with her experience of meeting a woman for the first time as a woman. I too find this barrier, brought on by the fact that the parties do not share the same sex, really hard to deal with. The fear of being preyed upon by the woman that I am talking to, or indeed, merely my fear that they are afraid of being preyed upon by me serves to act as a real barrier to effectve, meaningful communication. Mind you, I feel this far less now I am in a relationship – *cough*’s existence offers the other party, and therefore me, reassurance, thus helping to dismantle any barriers that may exist.

Speaking of which, she’s just texted. And I am tired. I think I should be able to sleep now, but if I can’t, I think I’ll give Glenn Hook a go.

oyasumi xxx

Another good day at the office

Arr jimlad shiver me timbers and call me a pickled gherkin.

Yes, well, indeed. Today has been most satisfying, as I finished transforming this

into this

Ok, so it may just look like a patch of earth to you, but no, the truth is it is far more than that. For this is my deep bed, lying where but three days ago a whole manner of pollution sat doggedly hugging the ground. In this 10 inch wonder lies hundreds of kilos of 100% organic leaf mould, chicken poo, compost, soil and a yoghurt pot (until I picked it out). To the left of the bed is a row of gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes that have been craving a new home since I dug them up two years ago when first clearing the Welsh Garden Project of its reputation of being Bramble Heaven.

All very satisfying, I can tell you. And once again, a gloriously sunny spring day, with happy birdies singing (you can tell by the way they smile) and herds of elephant charging across the Welsh plains on their way to a watering whole. Well, not quite, but you get the picture.

xxx

Liverpool leads the way in addressing problems faced by minority groups

As we all know, in the UK we have a lot of minority groups who are shunned by both society and state.

One such group are those people who like to hop on one foot, just for the sheer pleasure of it. Sadly, they suffer a lot of hostility from mainstream society, a fact that has its roots in the 1960s when the Shoe Manufacturers Guild started a vocal campaign against this practice as they said that it harmed their businesses. Hoppers would only have to buy shoes once a year, as opposed to the average 6 months, as when one shoe wore out they’d simply switch to the other foot (this also helped to prevent the withering away of either leg muscle through under-use.

Thankfully, the 21st century has brought new rights to the minority group of Hoppers, with all city councils now oblidged to provide designated hopping areas, as seen here in Liverpool.

Big Cats and Wild Rhino on the streets of Liverpool

Crikey I can’t believe I forgot to warn you when I was talking about our trip to Liverpool last weekend!

If you go there, do be careful. Probably best to take a 4×4 jeep and a rifle, just in case, as there’s Big Cats and Wild Rhino on the streets!


Podcast Fever

When packing my bags for Wales, I rather cleverly forgot to include my external hard-drive, which happens to house all my music. Now, this could have been a major problem, were it not for …podcasts. What a bloody brilliant idea they are, and what with backup like http://music.podshow.com/ available I have no doubt we’re going to see an explosion in this form of media.

Mind you, it’s not all good. There is some real cack out there. Take for example one podcast I listened to this morning: an american trumpet player with a 5-minute winge about how miserable he is touring Japan by himself. What doesn’t help is that his podcasts are done without any editing – he just phones his podcast server on his mobile and leaves a message which is then automatically added to the feed – all very clever, but the crackly signal and the background noise of Fukuoka station was more than a little distracting. Then there’s Japanese 101 or whatever it’s called, which allegedly is going to help me learn Japanese. 12 minutes of some complete twat, I mean, think of the most stereotypically cheesy American DJ with less brain matter than someone who is in the advanced stages of turning into a single-celled earthworm, 12 minutes of this prat patronising his japanese co-presenter who then has to pretend to be amused by his dreadful jokes (if you’s like a personal demo you’ll find the mp3 here). Then there was “So Lost in Tokyo”. I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am to not be this person. The feed is here.

One Podcast I have grown to like is Podgy’s Tokyo Talk. It’s mostly just (pretty mellow) music, with a bit of news thrown in here and there, but I like his voice – he doesn’t use Lazy English (i.e. he’s British). Nice background listening. Another favourite was the series done by Ricky Gervais, starring the bald-headed Karl Pilkington – this podcast, promoted by the Guardian, really did podcasting a huge favour by making headlines worldwide through becoming the most doewnloaded podcast ever. Unfortunately it costs ya to download the new series though, and as a penniless student (actually, I have 4.77 in the bank) I can’t afford such luxuries.

My favourites by far though are those made available by BBC Radio 4. Start the Week, Broadcasting House, From Our Own Correspondent and Digital Planet are now available – sadly not Home Truths, or – dare I say it – The Archers! Oh, that’ll be the day, listening to Eddie Grundy on my iPod, being found out by Clarie Love after she discovers him constructing a brewery in the cow shed. …Hhm, the Afternoon Play would be nice too, the most excellent dramas ever broadcast.

Anyway, whilst listening to hours of podcasts today, I came one step closer to completing my deep bed. Having finished clearing the trees and what-not yesterday, today I located all the boards necessary to keep the soil in, measured and cut them to size, made a load of steaks to keep them in place, and finally, having got the rotavator going, gave the whole are a good going over. Hopefully tomorrow I can get it finished, and then move on to other tasks, such as bramble-bashing (hurray!).

I also did quite a bit of thinking about my April Fools joke, in which I claimed that *Cough* was pregnant – a joke that unsettled several mumblers. It did make me laugh though when one of my coursemates admitted that he and another friend (who apparently goes by the name of *sneeze* – a relation of *cough* perhaps?) had been thoroughly taken in by it, and spent quite a while debating whether they should offer congratulations or commiserations! They did finally twig, and were indeed made to feel like good and proper April Fools, as is the whole point of the custom. It’s no good telling people that spaghetti grows on trees anymore. Nonetheless, I do feel sorry to have caused a few people that I know personally more than a little angst and embarrasment. Still, at least *cough’s* parents didn’t see it! Which reminds me, half of her family have spent more than 7 years in the UK, thus their English is more or less perfect. I’m going to have to keep very quiet about TGW when there! The condoms, the endless sexual innuendo, they’d be shocked. But re. censorship, I must not give in to its evil curse! I am not living in China or Singapore god damn it!

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Oh I do like that pushing-an-elephant-up-the-stairs song by REM. Tis rather groovy. takes me back to when OH JOSEPH WILL YOU JUST SHUT UP ABOUT YOUR BLOODY HISTORY! NO MATTER WHAT THE SUBJECT YOU ALWAYS SEEM TO HAVE SOME STORY TUCKED AWAY THAT WE’VE ALL HEARD A MILLION TIMES BEFORE, WHETHER IT’S RUSSIAN PROSTITUTES IN ISTANBUL OR THE TIME YOU SAW A TRAIN WITH 40 JAPANESE TOURISTS ON BOARD BLOWN FROM ITS TRACKS BY A GALE!!

Well I didn’t say you had to listen did I?

Gosh, I’m in a militant mood tonight.

It does worry me a bit though, constantly delving back into the past. I think it’s bad for my health, a bit narcissistic, you know?

Caw blimey though, really looking forward to being back in Japan. But I’m not sure why, it’s in such a mess. Reading the daily news headlines that emerge from the place is enough to make anyone want to avoid it. Mind you, I was thinking, if I was to subscribe to a couple of newsfeeds published by two British papers, say, the Guardian and the Sun, would I get the same depressing picture of a country falling apart at the seams that I get from the Japanese papers I subscribe to? I must do that in the summer (too busy at the mo for such a study).

Every week when we finish our Contemporary Japanese Culture seminar we’re asked if there’s any more questions. Without exception, the question that has always been brought to my lips by the prior debate has been “Why do I want to go back there?”, to which our tutor replies (without fail), “I don’t know”.

Well, this doesn’t worry me too much at the mo. I’m just glad I no longer have the idealistic picture that I had before I started this course and before I went back woth my eyes open a little woder last year. At least I’m prepared for dissapointment.

Anyway, I need to go and wee, and do some study I suppose (arrggh!)

TTFN as a wise sage once told me. I had to ask them 3 times what it meant, but I’ve finally managed to move it into my long-term memory.

Doh!

Hello hello.

Another good days work then. Managed to finally clear that patch of land of stumps, roots, plastic and 15-year-old flowerpots. Tomorrow I shall rev up my rotavator and get stuck in (hopefully not literally).

Today’s Random Photo: ‘Across the River Han’ (Seoul, 2003)


And what a big river it is.

It seems that Joseph crossed the line when posting a story entitled “Oh God” a few days ago. Joseph has now removed the post, and would like to offer his apologies to all of those affected (most noteably AC, LH & JA). To those others who were not personally affected by the story but sent in dissaproving messages, I would like to pretend to be an American Citizen for a moment (just for a moment though, the thought of having a mentally deranged monkey with a fondness for spending tax-payers money on killing other people in charge of my homeland is pretty scary. It’s bad enough having his poodle in Downing Street) and cite Amendment I of the Bill of Rights.

I thankyou.

Gardnin’

Joseph the Gardner sat contentedly on the little stone wall that bordered the deep beds he was creating. As he sat there with his cup of tea, his face being warmed by the spring sunshine, he thought how lucky he was to be here, in the beautiful Welsh countryside, surrounded by twitterin’ birdies and a dog that kept on wanting him to kick a football up the hill.

Trees in Wales struck by deadly Dulux Oak Disease

Whilst on my way here from the station last night, I saw something that brought a furrowed brow to my face and a dark cloud to my heart. In the gloom I could just about make out some trees in a nearby field that looked distinctly off-colour – this brought to mind an urgent environmental health-warning released by the Environment Agency last month.


The report detailed the spread of a deadly virus, known as the Dulux Oak Disease, that attacks species of tree that are native to the UK; English Oaks have been found to be particularly suceptable.


It is a fungal virus that is spread by birds flying from tree to tree: once it makes contact with the bark of a healthy specimen, it spreads rapidly over the entire surface: trunk, branches and all.


There are several strains of the disease, which can be distinguished by the colour of the fungi – red, white or blue. The latter has so far proven to be the most deadly, bringing death to even the strongest of trees within a matter of days.


These 4 victims are located not 5 minutes down the road from the WGP. The Environment Agency has sealed off the field concerned, and fitted the trees with elaborate alarms to scare birds off, which have been constructed from modified doorbells.

Liverpool

Until yesterday, I’d only been to Liverpool once.

I was about 16 at the time. Attempting to be a wild child. Dreaming of being a cowboy, galloping after some freight train onto which I would jump from my steed. Not quite sure why, but it seemed terribly romantic at the time. Too many Sunday afternoons spent watching Channel 4, that’s what it was.

The reality of my own ride on a freight train was a little different – 5 hours cramped in an open-top wagon on a freezing cold night, ending in a high-security British Steel compound just outside of the city that is famous for the Beatles, two football clubs and Fred the Weatherman.

Anyway, so it was that yesterday, 12 years older and wiser, I made my return to the Mersey (this time arriving by Virgin Trains, which was marginally more comfortable than afore-mentioned freight locomotive). I also happened to be accompanied by *Cough*, who incidentally is still only eating for one, and who was on her way to one of my least-favourite cities in Europe, that being Milano. I think it was the way people parked their cars that really annoyed me. Over there, when manouvering in or out of a tight space, it is common practice to only apply the break after one sees the car in front/behind actually move as a result of one’s own car making contact with it. Oh, and it’s in Italy as well. Ok,ok, NORTH Italy. I have an idea that the South is actually quite nice, but having never been there, I can’t be sure.

I suppose my dislike for Italy first began in 1997 when I lived just the other side of the Alps, and had an Italian manager – Mr. Teiglia. I doubt that a more bad-tempered person exists on planet Earth. I swear that in his bedroom he had a sign on each wall reading “wrong side”.

I was shit-scared of him. Literally. I remember my first day as a waiter: I’d waited 30 days for my visa, slowly becoming more and more nervous, until on the evening itself, I found myself with horrendous diarrhea.

The worst times were when the Japanese numbered over 250 – that meant that there weren’t enough of us Service Staff, and we’d need HIM to dish out the soup. It’s bad enough trying to balance 3 bowls of soup on your arm whilst navigating through the equivilant of Shinjuku Station during the rush hour without some red-faced bad-tempered old git shouting at you in some language you know nothing of. I suppose it was inevitable really – stuck up the mountain for years on end with nothing but two mangy alsations for company. They only added to our fear.

I was delighted, upon returning to the Alps 3 years later, to find that Herr Teiglia had gone. It was only after a week or so that I discovered that his replacement was, Herr Schmidt, was an alcoholic, and had been known to use physical violence against staff when on a bender. The fun had only just begun…

Anyway, I digress.

Back to Liverpool, where *Cough* and I are checking into the rather grand Adelphi Hotel. According to Lonely Planet, the Adelphi was once considered one of the world’s grandest hotels, and it’s easy to see why. With a vast lounge area, lit by some rather impressive chandaliers that would look wonderful crashing to the ground in ‘Die Hard 8’ (or whatever they’re up to), 400+ en-suite rooms which, if they all resembled ours, were rather nice, and a club called “Wave” (the literature read “Wave is the latest craze to sweep the UK. Come and check out our amazing lighting and sound system”. We did venture down to the basement to try and get some shots for the benefit of you, dear readers, but the lastest wave to sweep the UK was hosting a WI conference…).

Apart from the dissapointment in connection with Wave, and putting to one side the appalling manner of the receptionists, most of whom couldn’t even speak English (or Russian, see below), oh and apart from the buttons on the lift that made noises like fire alarms and scared the poop out of you, it was a bloody nice hotel. (NB: Since ‘bloody’ has been allowed by the Advertising Standards Authority in connection with the Ozzie tourism ad I have decided to add it to the vocab allowed by the TGW auto-censor).

The bath was without a doubt the biggest I have ever seen in the UK. Of course what this could have meant was having to wait a few hours for it to fill up – but oh no – check this tap-action out:

Impressive or what? I think it only took about 3 mins to fill. In fact, it’s almost enough to inspire one to start a bath-filling league table.

TV! There was a TV!! I was glued to it, having not seen such a machine since January. Watched some pretty groovy BBC wildlife programs, Eastenders omnibus in which Grant and Phil nearly got shot – gosh, I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

In the evening we went in search of some food, but all we found was this HUGE Chinese gate, the biggest in Europe apparently.

Rather pointless though I though, seeing as (a) there weren’t any guards and (b)one could easily walk around it rather than going through the middle (in the case that it had secret lazer beams that would trigger some portcullis-type-affair) (ouch).

Other things we bumped into during our 24-hours in the European City of Culture 2008: some very impressive Greekish buildings just outside Liverpool Lime Street, a pretty decent (free) museum complete with genuine samurai suits of armour dating back to the 15th century, a very tall tower, The Tate (doesn’t even touch the Tate Modern in London in my view), some very strong winds, lots of cranes, some very depressing shopping centres full of burberry and lots of boarded-up shops.

Overall, my opinion regarding Liverpool is now this: If you’re thinking of going there, you’d be better off waiting until 2008 when it becomes European City of Culture. As it is at the moment it’s pretty depressing, and reminds me of Sheffield about 10 years ago (not that I’d ever been to sheffield before 2004 but that’s beside the point). It’s a city that has seen its main industries collapse (most of the Beatles are dead I think), and is struggling to reinvent its identity. Sheffield was just the same: it had long depended on the steel industry for its survival. With the decimation of that in the last century it had to reform and become service-orientated, something which in my view it has done remarkably well, with some really nice new developments right across the city and lots of happy people (mainly rich students from other areas…). In Liverpool they seem to be just starting out on the first stage – that being demolition. There’s a huge project going on down by Albert Dock (Fred the weatherman is no longer in sight – perhaps he fell in? Or was he pushed?!), but there still remain streets of boarded-up shops and roofless houses – see my photo album for the photos (when I get around to uploading them). I bet the Japanese government is highly envious of Liverpool – all that potential for the laying of new concrete.

Another word of advice for those thinking of visiting the city – take a dictionary. This way, when people talk to you in Russian (that seems to be the language of choice in that area, unless I was very much mistaken and it was actually a strong accent masking some form of ungrammatical English) you can ask them to point out in the dictionary the words that make up their incomprehensable sentances.

Now, I admit, I don’t have the best of ears when it comes to accents – notable examples include my shock at discovering that they spoke French in Glasgow (it was actually just Glaswegion English), and the incident last month when I had to get my Japanese girlfriend to translate what the girl in Gregg’s The Bakers was saying (“Cheesenbrokli”). Nonetheless, I cannot accept the idea that that was English that I heard spoken in Liverpool.

I can only assume that the Russians came over to sell Vodka in the 17th century and never left, as they liked the Beatles so much.

So that’s Liverpool for you.

I think it is important to point out that there really is hope for the city, especially if one compares it to, say, Berlin in 2001.


Note the similarities? Berlin is now a damn sexy city with a well-groovy vibe – whose to say that Liverpool will not follow in its footsteps.

Watch out for my follow-up report in 2 years time.

Oh, incidentally, I found another two horse cocks to add to the TGW collection (for those of you who are not aware of it, ‘horse cock’ comes out at no.1 in the table of search-terms entered into Google that result in TGW being returned). Metal this time, for a change.


*Cough* and I have gone our seperate ways for a few days. As mentioned above, she is now in Milano, and I am here, back in the comfort and seclusion of the Welsh Garden Project, where for the next week I shall wield my shovel and spade and construct a new deep bed.

Oyasumi xxx

The BIGGEST birthday cake in the whole wide world ever

Last week saw Yuki and Kana celebrating their birthdays.

Always one to be thinking of others, Ranmaru decided to organise a wee party, in preperation for which, and along with three helpers, he made the Biggest Birthday cake in the Whole World Ever Ever.

It was THIS BIG!

The cutting of the 4-layer sponge monstrousity, which was packed with strawberries, blueberries, Twix bars and chocolate goo, resembled a Japanese civil works project differing only in that (a) the huge number of hands on-site were actually required to complete the task (b) it didn’t come about as a result of pork-barrel politics (c) there was no concrete involved. Other than that, identical.


And jolly yummy it was too.

Oh God

Good heavens! What a sensitive bunch you are! I shall have to remove this post before the Bishop comes knocking at my door!