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The Daily Mumble July 2002 Archive
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July 2002 Highlights: 11 bets placed on the World Cup, rafting, Japanese construction workers, concrete hugging, the Sinkin Bank, de-icing a freezer with a chicken, Hello Kitty scooter granny, my bath, return of Harry and Larry, love...

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Thursday 4th July 2002 - 13:34(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

"I'm expecting to lose most if not all of the money that I gambled."

Well at least it came as no surprise when I lost all 11 bets that I placed on the World Cup Final.

That was the first AND last time I place a bet on something like a football game... I guess if I knew anything about football I might of had better luck. What a silly hair cut anyway.

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Thursday 4th July 2002 - 13:38(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

Something started to happen on Monday which has helped me a great deal.

It's no secret that I'm really struggling to cope with the situation that I've put myself in this summer. It's almost reached the stage where I'm counting the days - at the moment it's just weeks that are being marked off on my calendar. I've been getting so obsessed with my loneliness that in my mind it's become blown out of all proportions.

Monday saw the launch of a new program on England's Virgin Radio , the rather naffly titled "Jezza's Virgin Confessions". As described by the DJ:

"We offer non-biased advice and sometimes, a kick up the arse if necessary and provide the opportunity for people to rant and rave about a topical issue they are passionate about. We are also often the first point of call for advice for people and can act as a springboard in helping callers get further professional help and advice. The show can be very emotional and depending on the topics, will have you in fits of laughter or tears of despair. We don't counsel, but do listen and help where we can. This is essentially the fundamental nature of the show."

I've never listened to any radio like this before. I won't say it's fantastic, but it certainly makes for a change. I don't agree with a lot of what's said either, but I like the fact that people are given the opportunity to waffle on for about 10 minutes about something that really matters to them without being prodded off-air due to time restrictions. It reminds me how lucky I am - there's people all around us going through absolute hell - listening to the people who call the show makes the most far-fetched Eastenders storyline totally believable.

I won't go into detail as the stories are many and varied. But, if you want to hear something different tune in to Virgin Radio between 7pm and 11pm (GMT) Monday-Friday. You can get Virgin in the UK on 1215MW, or via Sky Digital (which I use) or of course online at .

This site is not sponsored by Virgin Radio although it would be nice if it was as this Internet connection costs me a bomb...

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Monday 8th July 2002 - 08:21(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

Recently I got roped into rafting down our local river. I'd been warned by a colleague that it wasn't very exciting, so before we set off I downed a few beers.

I felt fine until we hit a bit of white water. When this photo was taken I was just on the verge of throwing up, although managed to hold it down for the sake of the camera.

Silly Joseph.

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Monday 8th July 2002 - 08:27(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

It's no secret how Japan manages to maintain such a low (official) unemployment rate: 99% of the population work in the construction industry. You think we have too many roadwork's in the UK? You obviously haven't been to these Asian islands then. On one 50km stretch of road that Tomochan and I took the other day, we encountered no less than 17 completely unrelated construction cases, each involving a staggering number of workers. Here is a classic example: in addition to the many signs warning of the hazard ahead, we passed two men blowing whistles and waving flags to slow us down, before arriving at the traffic lights. At the traffic lights there was a man with red and green flags, which he would hold up to reflect the colour of the traffic light! I always thought that people sweeping up leaves in parks at the beginning of Autumn had the most pointless jobs until I saw this chap!

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Monday 8th July 2002 - 08:46(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

Whilst out and about with Tomochan the other day I hugged my first concrete tripod.

It was a bit cold really.

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Wednesday 10th July 2002 - 22:54(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

When in Sapporo recently I came across this bank. Would you trust YOUR money with them?!

With a name like that...

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Saturday 13th July 2002 - 22:41(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

Having caused a riot in the kitchen this afternoon, I was sent down to the basement to de-ice the huge chest freezer. Using my common sense, I took a big bowl and an ice-scraper with which to tackle the frost. Ten minutes into the job however I was really struggling - that ice just wouldn't budge. It was then that the owner appeared to see how I was getting on.

"Use a chicken" he said.

"Use a chicken?" I questioned, whilst trying to figure out what he was really trying to say using his Japanese-Engrish.

"A chicken. A frozen chicken is the best way to do it"

There was no doubting it, he WAS telling me to use a chicken.

You know what though - he was right. The ice was no match for me, wielding my chicken breasts.

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Saturday 13th July 2002 - 22:54(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

I bought my ticket home this week. ¥105,000 (about £550). It's a 3-month open return; Tokyo-London, Rome-Tokyo, departing Japan in early September.

Once that was secured, I booked my hire-car. Despite having been incorrectly issued with a £130 parking ticket last time I hired a Mercedes from, I've chosen to go with them again. They just can't be beaten - an A-Class Benz for only £8 a day! If I'd booked a few weeks earlier it would have only been £5 a day. The closest rival was double that price. And yes, I do like driving a Mercedes. I like nice cars, although I don't like owning them.

Renting a car suits me down to the ground as it means that I can totally abuse the clutch etc. without caring for the consequences. I love driving too ( I seldom get the chance to do so unless you include the mini JCB digger thing and sit-on mower here at Milky House). It makes my stays in England a real holiday for me. Gives me the freedom to visit whoever I want. Provides me with a mobile home when I'm between homes. Lets me drive fast which I like doing... but I don't think I'm a dangerous driver.

Having got used to (firstly) Swiss and (secondly) Japanese trains I think I'd find using British Rail too stressful. Exposure to too many window lickers too!

I think I'm a bit of a poser really. Secretly. At least I am when in the UK anyway. I think when I'm in the UK I'm the most un-Joseph that I ever am. I think I revert to that "Joe" person I always was over there. No-one knows me as anyone else there. In a way that makes me feel a bit sad, as it means that even my close friends cannot understand me, even if they think they do.

It's different with family though. I love my family, I think I'm very lucky to have them.

So I'm feeling much better this week. The prospect of returning home (even if for but a month) is really exciting, and then after that there's the reunion with my girlfriend in Italy...

I think I'll be smiling for the rest of the year :-)

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Friday 19th July 2002 - 00:43(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

I'm sitting in bed listening to the 24-hour Beatles Only cable radio station. It's almost one in the morning, but there's a few things that I'd like to share with you. Just mumbles you know - don't get too excited.

Fame at last?

I was contacted by Wwoof Japan a few days back. Firstly, they want a story about Wwoofing in Japan for their next newsletter, and secondly, they've been approached by a TV production company that's looking for people who have sought to break free from the rat race. Don't get me started on that one - you'll run out of film... Of course it could all come to nothing - watch this space.

Feedback from story published in Australian magazine

I've started getting some very positive feedback about my article on life in the Swiss Alps that was recently published in International Penfriends' magazine, People and Places. I have a regular column, which gives me the chance to waffle on about this and that to people in all corners of the globe. A bit like The Daily Mumble I suppose.

Daddy records me a tape of talk

It's about ten months now since I've seen my family, and recently I've found myself missing them quite a bit. That's unusual for me - I left the UK in March 2000, and until now have never felt homesick.

Anyhow, last week Dad recorded a 60-minute tape of waffle for me... I love it! When in the UK, people who know all us Tames sometimes say to me, "Ah! You get more like your father everytime I see you!" Until yesterday I thought that that was a load of rubbish, but on hearing his classic humour I realised with shock that I'm now telling the same jokes that he has been telling for the past 50+ years. He is a very funny man though, and easily beats any stand-up routine I've seen.

It was amazing how much came across on that simple voice recording. My mother can be heard all the way through in the background, correcting my dad and generally acting as his mid-term memory.

DAD: "...then we had a lovely lunch. All home-grown vegetables. We had carrots and, erm... er"

MUM: "potatoes!"

DAD: "ah yes, potatoes. And for dessert we had, er... er...

MUM: "chocolate ice cream!"

DAD: "Ah, yes, ice cream, that's right. In the afternoon I went swimming, where I..."

MUM: "No you didn't Peter! That was yesterday!"

DAD: "Oh do be quiet woman!... (She's always right you know...)"

These days they are a very strong couple. I have a lot of admiration for them both, considering all the family's been through in the past. I think I'm very very lucky to have the loving support of those two mad oldies.

Say goodbye to that ¥110,000 (£600) Joseph...

I mentioned the Sinkin Bank the other day: "Would you trust YOUR money with them?!" Today I inadvertently opted to pay for my return flight at one of their branches. They're very cunning you know, only displaying their give-away name in Japanese characters, and in English on the receipt you're given after completing the transaction. Let's hope my ticket shows up.

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Sunday 21st July 2002 - 12:24(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

I went out for a scoot around Niseko yesterday to make use of the 6 hours without rain this month. Found a lovely field of sunflowers. Reminded me of driving through France on a Eurolines coach when on the way to Switzerland at the age of 7.

I like sunflowers.

Sunflowers... click for this month's photos

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Sunday 21st July 2002 - 11:52(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

Hello Kitty!

I first saw this woman a few weeks back, cruising the highway on her pink scooter. As you can see, at the age of 50 she's made a huge effort to maintain her youthful good looks (cough). I especially like the blonde wig and Hello Kitty cushion attached to the front basket.

Obtaining this photo involved speaking to her, the idea of which was, I must admit, a little daunting. Having gone through the usual routine of "Where are you from" ("Doko kara kimashita ka?"), she spotted the helmut in my hand (I was riding Hanachan, Eikochan's scooter). The following converstaion ensued (in Japanese):

Her: "Where are you going now?"

Me: "I'm just exploring this area"

Her: "Why don't we go to the river together?"

Me: "ah, ne, erm, sorry, my Japanese is very bad. I don't understand. Sorry. I must be going..."

I jumped back on my bike and headed for the safety of Milky House, continuously checking my mirrors to ensure that I wasn't being followed by Miss Piggy.

I'm very grateful that people like this exist. They make life a lot more amusing.

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Sunday 21st July 2002 - 12:25(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

If I feel very stressed, tired, or in need of doing some thinking, I like to take a nice relaxing bath.

Here's my bath.

The water's very hot, being the naturally heated volcanic variety. I tend to spent a lot of time sitting on that rock in the middle, gazing out across the wild park situated to the left of the photo. Trees, a cool breeze and birdsong.

When I build a house that's the kind of bath it's going to have!

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Thursday 25th July 2002 - 13:00(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

My time spent with Ruth between 1997 and 2000 left with me with a great fear of long-term relationships and commitment in general, due to the misery that we both enjoyed.

I think it's time I got over that fear.

I've been so silly.

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Monday 29th July 2002 - 11:36(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

They're back!

Those of you who met me between November 2000 and Spring 2002 may well have also met Harry and Larry (See Harry and Larry have a Starbucks Coffee/ Harry and Larry call the Queen) Sadly, Harry and Larry were crushed to death in a tragic incident earlier this year. However, recently I've been some very strange dreams which involve Harry, Larry and their cousin Barry.

Using the latest Japanese dream-recording technology, I can bring to you an image from a dream I had last night, whereby Harry, Larry and Barry met up for a chat in Heaven's most fashionable bar, Bugsy's.

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Tuesday 30th July 2002 - 13:17(GMT+9) Niseko, Japan

Tomochan left us yesterday, meaning that it's back to the old crew once more.




Mad! They're all mad!!!

Kumi and Eiko are very supportive of their crazy gaijin colleague. Which is nice.

Myself and my girlfriend have had a very bad argument which is entirely my fault. Long-distance relationships are difficult, long distance arguments are, well, lets just say that that's the last time I have one. Still, the fall-out has driven it home to me just how much Kaechan means to me, and brought about a big change in my thinking which should have happened ages ago.

The worst part of all this is that I've got to wait 35 days before I can do anything about this - I return to Europe on September 3rd and I really can't wait!

Those of you who are reading this in the UK can expect to see me between September 14th and October 17th.

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