Archive for July, 2006

Festival Fever!

Caw blimey gov I’m dead excited about life! It’s just great, oh, except for when it involves inflamed tendons in one’s right arm, a result of spending 5 hours trying to fix a glitch in a wee website I know called TGW. That was two days ago. My own silly fault, I didn’t take any excerise breaks. Just hours of holding my arm in the same place, mouse in hand.

Other than that though, all is super. *Twinkle* has been dazzling me again with her imagination and desires – I feel like anything is possible with her :-) except perhaps for me to get pregnant, that might be pushing it a bit. I must work on my self-belief though (I CAN get pregnant, I CAN!) – recent events have highlighted the fact that cynicism is coming to be a force within me with a little more vitality than I would ideally like – thus the fight-back begins.

Still got that horse’s head from The Godfather in my mind though. Started to watch it last night. Nice. Must be really shocking to wake up with a severed horse’s head next to you. I mean, I find it shocking enough just waking up and finding that it’s morning.

Going to a HUGE beach festival this coming Friday, organised by my bro. The lineup is, as you can see, simply stunning. YOU are invited too, map here.

You are invited to

WEATHER PERMITTING

Friday 4th August 2006, 4pm onwards, Thurlestone Sands, South Devon

Headline Artists:

The Sand

A collaborative performance of movement, sound, and lying about in a beach style configuration, The Sand will be performing throughout the afternoon and evening – 7.39 pm will mark the most extensive climax of this eclectic fusion of different rock and shell based artistes.
- “Probably the largest group of individuals playing together over the festival season” NME

The Sea
The Sea – best known for the 1999 collaboration album “Waves on a Beach” will be the support act throughout the afternoon and evening festivities. For those late night revelers, The Sea will be rising up and taking over the stage at 1.57 AM, offering an epiphany of extensive dampness, in a performance which promises to be both salty and family friendly.
“In terms of sheer wetness, this is one act you’d be foolish to miss” Q Magazine

YouLot – plus special guest stars: your favourite friends

A melange of beautiful people, simply a bunch of darlings providing much of the entertainment in the myriad forms of sitting about chatting, dancing, sleeping, singing, playing, cooking up food on barbeques, frisbee, and cricket playing, eating, drinking and making merry.
- “They know how to laugh and have a good time, in a carnival spirit which is magically both vibrantly mad and gently soothing
Robert Dunkleson- The Party Crowd Review 2006

The Sun (T.B.C.)
Currently touring the Southwest, bringing joy and happiness, we are hoping The Sun will be performing for much of the afternoon and early evening.

Special Events

7.15 PM WORLD RECORD ATTEMPT
All are invited to bring Frisbees for an attempt on the following world record: “Largest simultaneous Frisbee throw and catch on Thurlestone Beach at about 7 o’clock on Friday 4th August 2006″

Last week I decided to make a video of myself running around a field as fast as possible and with as many sharp turns as possible. As one does. Freaked the dog out. More than that though, it left me almost paralysed with exhaustion, after about 30 seconds. Thing is, I have done almost no physical excercise (erm, well, almost none) since Spring 2002. Back then I was jogging down the back streets of downtown Tokyo, and suddenly felt like I was having a heart attack. At the local hospital I had a heart monitor strapped on, which I wore for 24 hours, before returning it to the hospital where I had to sell my kidneys to pay the bill. Anyhow, although the tests didn’t show any abnormalities, since then I have been wary of excercise like that. However, the fact is that my heart is ok, and I really must stay fit and healthy (stay? doesn’t that infer that one is already in such a position?) if I am to avoid my father’s fate (incidentally, for an update on his condition read on). I’ve recently put on a bit of a belly, and don’t really feel terribly healthy. The odd ‘dizzy spell’ (which falls under the epilepsy label) brought on by physical tirednesss reminds me that in order to keep healthy and not be effected by seizures I have to be fit and healthy in the first place.

Thus, one thing I am doing is going back onto the fantastic organic & totally natural protein supplement that I took last year and which helped boost my energy levels, as I simultaneously increased my Epilim dosage (which can lead to tiredness). Secondly, and perhaps more significantly for lazyass me, is I am starting to jog everyday (shoutout to miss ene!!). Today was my first outing. Good job we have such a big garden. Didn’t hurt, and no heart attack. Jolly good. I’m also going to start doing my daily excercises for my arms and shoulders too – you know my history of accidental dislocations at inopportune moments (such as when taking my coat off at the Bristol Japan Club meeting and suddenly screaming “FUCK FUCK FUCK!!” in front of a bunch of very quiet Japanese strangers as my arm popped out. I then explained to them that my arm has dislocated itself, but inadvertantly chose the same word in the dictionary that refers to feelings of not-belonging. They were bemused to say the least).

So there’s all this, then the Kanji, then the pile of books I want to read. Arrggh how on Earth can people have time for TV? Especially the UK average of about 25 hours per week.

Dad’s heart: About two months after the scare involving him being taken to hospital due to heart trouble (you will recall he’s had a quad-bypass and all three of his brothers have heart problems), the consultant has finally returned from holiday and given their verdict – he’s ok. Yes, a part of his heart muscle had been damaged, but apparently it’s ‘not a very important part’ (What?!). If the trouble continues and his angina worsens in the artery that is a bit clogged he’ll have a stent fitted (thing that widens the artery), but for now he’s ok. As long as he doesn’t overdo it. (A Tame overdo it? You must be kidding!).

Was dragged kicking and screaming to Monmouth Festival the other night. A week-long party in the streets, featuring lots of alcohol and young farmers (see webcam here for a piece of the action, although you’ll have to get your timing right). The music was a bit upbeat and jungle stylee for the locals that night, but I must admit, I pretty enjoyed it, and had I been a bit more drunk than I was when I took this shot I would have made my monkey moves.

Monmouth really is a party town. This is evident from the town’s car park where they have a special space for the full-time MC.


Sarah & Ryan were my hosts that night, being related to mum#2 of Welsh Garden Project fame. Ryan actually made me cry, although thankfully this was due to laughter, and not a broken heart, as he recounted a tale of a previous year at Monmouth Festival when he made a very drunken promise to run the famous, gruelling Kymin Dash (check out that incline!), a 7 mile run around Monmouth. Now, most people train hard for this event, for at least a couple of months. Not Ryan though. It was late, the night before that year’s race, and he was very drunk. He was talking to some girl who was telling him how hard she’d been training.

“Yeah, I thought I’d do it too”

he said, falling against a lampost.
This throwaway remark was seized upon, and when Ryan awoke the following morning, still drunk, he recalled the promise he had made before a number of witnesses.
Ryan did actually manage to complete the course the following day, but as Sarah reminded him,

“Yes, but the other girl was actually able to walk after the race”

Crossing the finishing line, Ryan fell face down onto the ground, paralysed by pain. For the following ten days he could only get around by impersonating someone who had both legs in plaster from the tips of their toes to the top of their thighs. It was his demonstration of this walk (worthy of the Ministry) that had me nearly wetting myself.

Anyhow, it was a great night. Just a shame that *Twinkle* couldn’t have been there too. Mind you, Saturday, oooh, I was very hung over, not really capable of doing anything. But it had been a wonderfully cathartic evening. All that pent-up emotion ousted, leaving me feeling wonderfully positive and just so excited about it all.

Crikey oh riley, 5 weeks tomorrow. Have to start packing soon.

tatta!

my homemade stone staircase



Tame Staircases – No job too small!

Authentic Ye Olde Stone Staircases created for any location, although ideally suited to somewhere that has an up and a down.

Rock solid through and through, using recycled materials from start to finish. Railings also available for oldies. Guaranteed for first 500 uses.

COMING SOON: Pedal-Powered Stone Escalator.

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one big bundle of emotion

I’ve got my soundtrack to the gardening down to a fine art now. Every night I create a playlist for my iPod for the following day. I use three sources: podcasts downloaded from the likes of the BBC, TWiT.TV, Guardian Unlimited, New Scientist; my second source is a collection of self-development seminar things that get me thinking about me; the third is a recording of the stories related to the kanji that I’ve learnt over the past few days. My playlist cycles through this collection, thus giving my brain a rest between lessons and the like. I LOVE learning though, it’s such a thrill.

For the past couple of days though, I’ve been thinking that there’s something missing – Music. Nowhere in my playlist does music feature, despite the fact that I have over 13,000 songs to hand. I’ve started to miss music, and when out in the garden have thought ‘hmm, must put some in the playlist tonight’.

I’ve also been feeling increasingly emotional over the past few days. It could be due to tiredness, although it’s more likely to be PMT. Anyhow, when I awoke this morning, I knew that I could wait no longer – I NEEDED music. I had my iPod by the bed having fallen asleep to the kanji last night (I tell you, apart from Glenn Hook, it is the BEST way to bore yourself to sleep!), and so it wasn’t that hard to navigate away from the Gardening playlist and onto one that I have imaginativley called “4* and above”.

I was in for a bit of a shock; the effect that the music had on me was extremely powerful, and within 30 seconds I was in tears, desperately holding on to my teddy bear. Power of association. And it happens to be a beautiful song.

I’ve been only too aware of the power of music ever since I carried out that experiment (of which I’ve spoken before) when, on my first trip to japan, I listened to U2’s ‘It’s a Beautiful Day’ first thing in the morning and last thing at night during my two weeks in Hokkaido. Even now, hearing that takes me straight back to that room, with the stinking kerosene heater, the ice on the windows, the smell of urine rising up from the communal hole-in-the-ground outside, my makeshift curtains, and the magnificent cranes standing motioneless together in the frozen ice-paddy to the front of Shin Shizen Juku (“New Natural School”) where I was an inmate. I chopped wood, I attempted to pull up daikon (Japanese radish)s from the solid earth, I visited local colleges where I was due to start teaching English later that month (terrified, I skipped the island and got a ferry to the south!). My first visit to a Japanese post office took place there too. I can still remember trying to buy stamps, not knowing what the word for them was, let alone “England”. Oh, and of course my legendary first trip to a public bath where I knew nothing of the protocol, and thus caused a great commotion.

Incidentally, I have just received an email from a student in the year below me at Sheffield, who, upon my recommendation, decided to go WWOOFing in Japan this summer – they are having a fantastic time. Coincidentally, and rather bizarrely, they have ended up at ‘Heart’n Tree’, the family owned restaurant/pub just a couple of miles down the road from the New Natural School where we spent virtually every night getting drunk, before heading off in two cars down the long, straight deserted highway at crazy speeds, driving side by side and trying to attack one another with mops through the open windows. Ahh, happy days.

Last night I watched a superb NHK production that the BBC had bought and added a David Attenborough soundtrack to. It told the story of a village not far from Kyoto that is surrounded by wetland, where the people live and work in harmony with nature (they do things like get the local overgrown goldfish to do their washing up – a clever idea or what?!). That really made me feel that I MUST go wwoofing again this coming year. I miss the isolation of rural Japan, most noteably Hokkaido.

I’ve also been trying to get hold of another friend in the year below me at uni who was seduced by WWOOFing tales on TGW, and is now somewhere in the Japanese outback for a period of three months. I’m assuming that Saimon sama does not have internet access as he has been ignoring my requests for information on his well-being: if you are reading this get in touch you lazy b****** or you shall have your access to the TGW network withdrawn forever (evil cackle).

The emotions connected with this September’s return are beginning to accumulate. It really feels like it is a return home. Yes, yes, I know I was there last summer, but one is in a very different frame of mind when one is on a 3-month tourist visa! One’s relationship with a place, if just visiting, is so different from that if one is staying. Constantly burdoned with a backpack, and no roots. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the freedom that the road provides, yet I feel that at heart I am a very homely person. I need to feel settled somewhere; constant limbo is exausting. And of course I’ll have stability in my love life too, in the form of *Twinkle*. …unlike last summer, when I was dogged by a rather complex situation involving someone whom I referred to as my ‘friend’, someone with whom I had a rather torrid 2-year on-and-off relationship. I won’t criticise her in public.

But she was completely insane.

I was thinking last night, I’d really like to do a bit of a cycling tour of Japan. Train is all very well, but you miss so much. It’s only when you go off the beaten track, as I did in Shikoku last summer when attempting to hitch-hike the 1000km back to Tokyo that you find yourself momentarily involved in other people’s lives – and isn’t that what we are all about – interaction? Remember the women in the little shop who gave me some watermelon? The local teacher who bought me bread? The village idiot who couldn’t stop walking backwards and forwards in front of the strange foreigner? The pilgrim on her tour of the 88 temples? The train driver who abandoned his train on the platform and followed me downstairs to the ticket office to help me buy a ticket?

I never finished writing that story on TDM, but I have it here, beside me in the pages of my 49th diary. This weekend I shall type up the remainder of the tale, in which I was charged 30 pounds to cross a bridge, then had to spend a night out on a pavement being watched by the local police, before managing to travel hundreds of kilometres by train for 80p.

Ha! 38 days! That’s only 17 days off the magic 3-week mark, and we all know what that means!

Hmm, I’m ready to face the day now.

xxx

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I never thought I’d see the day


McDonald’s joins fight to save the Amazon

Take your hand off the mouse. Now reach over your shoulder, and pat yourself on the back. Because you did it. The mighty McDonald’s jumped when you objected to their role in Amazon destruction. After only a few months of being in the spotlight over rainforest destruction, and receiving more than 30,000 emails, McDonald’s not only made a U-turn in no longer sourcing soya from the ashes of the Amazon but are also actively urging other companies to join them. This week the world saw what happens when tens of thousands of Greenpeace supporters from all over the world act together as one to protect the environment. So take a bow, smile and accept our heartfelt thanks for your efforts.

- Greenpeace News, Volume 6, Number 6 – July 2006

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Mr. Posty is my friend

Look what Mr. Posty delivered this morning!

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