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The Daily Mumble February 2002 Archive
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Sunday 10th February 2002 - 14:00(GMT+9)

The Daily Mumble is inaugurated.

Sunday 10th February 2002 - 14:00(GMT+9)

How has such a violent man managed to become President of the USA? Where's Monica Lewinsky when you need her? At least some people can extract humour from his existence.

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Wednesday 13th February 2002 - 00:35(GMT+9)

When talking about day-dreaming, do people in metric countries say "I was kilometres away"?

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Wednesday 13th February 2002 - 00:40(GMT+9)

About two hours ago we had an earthquake here in Japan. On the "Shindo" ("shake") scale it only measured a maximum of 4, which is pretty low. Here in Tokyo, we were about 200km from the epicentre, so we were only shaking to a 2 - but all the same it scared the hell out of me. Those of you who live in places prone to earthquakes will probably laugh, but with me coming from the UK, well, it's quite a novelty. A scary novelty. We live on the ground floor of a pretty much brand-new earthquake proof apartment block. Essentially it's a solid lump of concrete. Boy was it weird to see the whole room shake like jelly. I mean, the walls were actually moving! The table started crawling, the TV stayed still whilst the trolley that it stands on wheeled back and forth across the moving floor. Kae laughed at my reaction as I could hardly believe what I saw. Within two minutes the details of the quake were flashed up on TV over the Wednesday evening drama.

Recently Tokyo has had a quiet period when it comes to earthquakes so I have not witnessed any since I was here over a year ago. Recently, whilst preparing an English lesson for my private students, I found myself stumbling across various earthquake related websites - and was shocked to find that there were about five quakes in the UK last month!

Hhhmm, it's all very strange. A real distortion of reality. Makes me wonder if I'm in the Matrix what with all this wobbling going on...

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Thursday 14th February 2002 - 00:15(GMT+9)

"Enjoy", "Safety", and "Convenience" are probably the most over-used words in the Japanese language, despite the fact that they aren't actually Japanese. They're not really "English" either, more bordering on "Engrish" (plenty of photos of that kind of thing over here). Anyhow, the ultimate in convenience can be found just inside the front door of many department stores and office buildings. No, not the umbrella-locker-stand (no chance of your Louie Vitron brolly being nicked), but the Umbrella-Condom-Machine. Coming in from the rainy season the last thing that you want to do is carry a dripping umbrella around the leather goods section. No, instead, simply insert your brolly into the hole in the top of the little stand, and seconds later it will emerge from the front - wrapped in a snug-fitting plastic bag!

Don't risk your umbrella's health! Prevent BTDs (Brolly-Transmitted-Diseases)!

Always use a "Brolliedom"!

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Thursday 14th February 2002 - 09:30(GMT+9)

It may be Valentines Day, but there's not a chocolate in sight in our apartment. We have a dilemma on our hands: In England, the man should be doing the giving and proposing. In Japan, it's the woman who shows her devotion. So you see, as an English man with a Japanese girlfriend in Japan, I reckon that she's the one who should be feeding me the Cadbury's. Her argument however is that as an English gentleman (heah?) I should always be the one buying the roses no matter where I am.

Well, we'll see what happens when I get home from work, but my guess is they'll be chocolates and lurrve all-round! ...After all, I am a romantic, caring English Gentleman. (cough).

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Wednesday 20th February 2002 - 00:30(GMT+9)

It's most disturbing. I keep on waking up to find that my girlfriend has been abusing my digital camera by shooting some obscene video of me talking in my sleep. Last night I predicted that "England will win the silver in the World Cup" - I think I was getting a bit mixed up with the Olympics...

Anyhow, you heard it here first. I'm gonna have to hide my camera if photos like this are the result of her mischeivous nature.

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Friday 20th February 2002 - 12:30(GMT+9)

I think that this job must be one of the funniest I've had too. My students could easily write one of the best joke books compiled of appalling English. Recent examples include:

"Do you have the same suit in a smaller colour?

"Do you have the same style in a darker size?

"I have teached children English in a private school and at their hom as a part time job"

"Could I go at smorkless sheet in this flight?"
(could I have a no-smoking seat please?)

"The Emporer's Palace was surrounded by the Imperial mole"
(The Emporer's Palace was surrounded by the Imperial moat)

"Could you fill out on this form please?"

"Could you pass the penis butter please?"
(could you pass the peanut butter please?)

"On Thursday a meeting was called by Mr Tanaka, our important subliminal manager..."
(god knows how they got from "line manager" to "subliminal manager"!)

"For her restrant she needs refadurator, drilles and norck shake machin."
(refridgerators, grills and milkshake machines)

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Wednesday 20th February 2002 - 14:30(GMT+9)

If only every job were as jammy as this one in Tokyo. In a way I'll be sad to leave at the end of next week Why?

1) Paid a hell of a lot for a job that even a monkey could do (if it was a highly trained monkey with native English-speaking skills)

2) Set hours Monday to Friday 9am - 5.30pm

3) Only two hours of dedicated work per day! Honest to god, I have six-and-a-half hours per day in which I can pretty much do as I please provided I LOOK like I'm working. Admittedly, 4 of those hours are spent with a headset on. However, the conversations about the weather with my students have become so familiar I am able to get on and do things like write meaningless rubbish such as this. Boy am I lucky!

4) p.s. I'm not boasting, I just can't believe that an idiot such as me can have such luck. It's amazing where unbelievable amounts of charm will get you.

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Saturday 23rd February 2002 - 09:21(GMT+9)

Our local Sento (public bath) seems to be run single-handedly by this one little old lady. When I paid my second visit there last night I wondered why she smiled so broadly when I stepped through the front door. It was only when drying myself off afterwards that I discovered the reason for her joy: she's got a security camera watching over the men's changing room!

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Sunday 24th February 2002 - 19:20(GMT+9)

My boss often accuses me of having a filthy tongue, so, in a bid to ensure that I get my bonus when I finish my contract next Friday, I have bought a Tongue Brush - It was a bargain at ¥99 (about £0.50).

The instructions tell me to lightly drag it from the back of my tongue to the front. They also warn that this brush "should not be inserted too far" and that it shouldn't be used for anything except tongue-brushing.

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Sunday 24th February 2002 - 19:24(GMT+9)

I first saw this sign when very drunk on my way home from a party last month and was very confused by the name, "Urbane Fox for Ladies".

Today I saw it whilst completely sober, and discovered that it's actually a clinic for women who have been fitted with pacemakers.

Well, that explains the name then...

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Sunday 24th February 2002 - 19:30(GMT+9)

If Father Christmas is still missing next December then this is where you'll find him. Some merciless Tokyo resident has lashed him to their balcony.

Kae and I often explore the backsreets of downtown Tokyo, it's quite exraordinary what you see. One of my favourite customs which is practised by old ladies is "taking the dog for a ride". Basically, they put their little terriors in shopping baskets on wheels and push them around town to see the sights.

We met our friend, the Sweet Potato Salesman again. This 70-year-old charmer spends his Sundays driving a van around Suginami-ku with a wood-fired oven in the back. He gave us a discount as last month we sent him a photo of himself!

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Tuesday 26th February 2002 - 09:00(GMT+9)

Why oh why do I never listen to myself when I say "I'll never drink that much again"? This morning's hangover has seen me do some daft things (we won't even go into last night...), including trying to get off the subway train without letting go of the support rail, attempting to put my change into my mobile phone convinced it was my wallet, and standing in the lift for thirty seconds waiting for it to go somewhere when I hadn't pressed the button. I felt a right idiot when one of my Japanese colleagues came along and found me in it.

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Tuesday 26th February 2002 - 17:30(GMT+9)

Only three more days of marking beautiful examples of poetic English like this:

Our company had decided to buy a uniform for 300 women employees.
We are interested in ordering a uniform from your company.
We need two uniforms for an employee.
We have the uniform that are a beige blouse and a dark green skirt at present.
A new uniform is same color, but we would like to charge style.
Could you please send me the following information?

1. The brochure of a uniform and the prince list.
2. How long do you deliver the uniform?
3. How much will it cost the shipping charges?

I look forward to hearing from you son,


Takeshi Sato.

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Wednesday 27th February 2002 - 10:00(GMT+9)

I'll have to be careful what I say in the future in The Daily Mumble. On Wednesday 20th Feb I was describing my job... and today my boss left a nice little note in my guestbook...


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Thursday 28th February 2002 - 10:33(GMT+9)

With the Korea-Japan 2002 Football World Cup only 92 days away, fears are growing of possible hooligan behaviour. Just last night on TV I saw a few mock riots as police forces across the country train in how to deal with trouble. What with Japan having such a low crime rate this kind of thing is all-new over here. Fears are especialy high in the northern city of Sapporo where England will be playing Argentina in the opening round (I think, although in all honesty I know virtually nothing about football. I've only just grasped the fact that Michael Owen and David Beckham are English, and as for an understanding of the off-side rule, well, that's simply galaxies away).

Speaking of crime, there were headlines yesterday when security cameras were switched on in Kabuki-cho (central Tokyo) for the first time. This area is one of the first places in Japan to have security cameras monitoring the streets, and the reaction from many people was "Why do we need them?" Perhaps they didn't know that Kabuki-cho (which is particularly well-known for its specialist clubs and love hotels) suffers a crime rate which is 80 times higher than the Japanese average! My students were startled to hear that most cities in the UK have CCTV fitted, and the majority of them objected to the new cameras in Tokyo.

Elsewhere in Japan the outlook is not so gloomy. Local councils are distributing phrase books to the general public to help them welcome their World Cup visitors in seven different languages. It's all in a bid to give the tourist industry a boost, especially in rural areas - last year 50% of visitors to Japan never ventured beyond the "security" of Tokyo.

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The Daily Mumble February 2002 Archive

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