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October 2004 - a mad month. As I settled into the routine of university, I discovered that all those rumours about how hard my course was were true. That didn't mean that there was no time for having fun though... oh no, far from it...!


Saturday 2nd October 2004 - 20:06GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

Jungle Guu

I thought I'd give the boys a treat last night, and so slipped into my size 8's and that sexy top that set me back almost a tenner when I was trying to find a cheap bra in Bristol's charity shops. I did manage to find one for 50p, but just as I was about to buy it I realised that the girl behind the counter was the seagull-obsessed zoological specimen with whom I'd had a disastrous blind date some weeks beforehand. I dropped the bra and ran - and ended up being ripped off in a vintage clothing store.

Yes, they weren't too sure what to make of it all actually, having only met me a fortnight again. Oh well, it's all experience for the young-uns, they'll learn...

So yes you haven't heard from me for a while. You know why? Because I've been BUSY! Busy shagging every fresher in sight.


In fact I remain a Uni virgin much to my shame, although I must admit I have devoted virtually no time to shag-hunting. Quite honestly, I just haven't GOT the time. My course is absolutely bloomin mad, talk about in at the deep end! I mean, it's ok for me as I lived in Japan, but imagine if you come to uni to do a BA in Japanese Studies having been told that you need no prior knowledge of Japanese - only to find that you're one of only two people in a class of 15 that have only just learnt to read and write the two phonetic alphabets, sitting there listening to everyone chatter away in this foreign tongue whilst the teacher repeats some question or other to you over and over again in the vain hope that you'll eventually understand. So it is in our classes. The speed with which new vocab and grammar is being introduced is staggering, and I know now that they're absolutely right when they say that a) 66% of people who start the course will drop out and b) whatever we already know we will have covered in class by November. Even the most proficient of us are finding it all a bit shocking, so how on earth those first-timers are coping I don't know. I'll be surprised if the classes haven't started to shrink in size by the end of next week as people switch to the somewhat easier 3 year East Asian Studies course.

Despite the intense pressure (there's not only the language module, but also "Understanding Japan" to get to grips with, which requires the reading of about 3 million books), I'm really really enjoying the course. Our teachers, 1 English and 4 Japanese, are absolutely fantastic. They are all very very funny, very relaxed, and only one is possibly not from this planet, but she signed my form in order that I can get a student's rail card so I won't be too tough on her just yet. I have a favourite - Nagai Sensei, she's very very funny, and makes me think "hmm, maybe I could marry a Japanese person after all..." I know, just can't get those romantic thoughts out of my head even when I'm supposed to be learning the intricacies of Japanese verb conjugation.

I've spent a fortune on books this week, but today, having reviewed my post-fresher's week finances I have discovered to my shock and immense pleasure that I have 600 quid that is currently unallocated. You know what this means? Possibly a trip to Japan next summer. I'm going to buy a load of premium bonds on Monday - they offer a better return than my current account and are a tadge more secure than the Under Joseph Tame's Mattress Bank.

It's the Fresher's Ball tonight, but I won't be going. No, not for me all that dressing up and wedging my breasts into an impossibly small dress (strapped down for security with duck tape). I WILL be going out however, my flatmates and I are off for a little meal, then I'm going to join the other Fresher's Ball rejects at Pop Tarts, the union's regular Saturday night party in the Fusion / Foundry (two huge clubs in the basement). I tell you, this union is amazing, We've even got a full size cinema where they show films for only 1 pound! That also plays host to Sheffield Anime Society, which I am very glad I joined. I've never really been a fan of Anime (Japanese animated films), but I tell you, Thursday night changed all that. What a great show. A fantastic mix of absolutely horrendous 1980's dross (G Gundam) which had us all in hysterics it was so cliche ridden, some awe inspiring stuff from Studio Ghibli's Miyazaki (known for Spirited Away, 2003) and possibly the trippiest anime ever made, "Jungle wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu" ("Jungle Guu" for short). If you ever get the chance to see it, do.

Hale and his mother live peacefully in the jungle, until one day Hale is overtaken by a omnipotent shadow. Later, he awakens to find Guu, a strange girl with even stranger abilities. Notably, the ability to switch from a cute, lovable Guu, to a menacing delinquent who eats everything. Now Hale must live with Guu, and lead a normal life, despite her oddities. <link>

I've had to drop 5 other societies which I'd joined last week, I just have no time. That leaves me with two: anime and Japan soc. Japan Soc is fantastic, bloomin hundred's of members, including lots of Japanese. (*down boy, DOWN! Go and sit in the corner until you've calmed down!*) No, mustn't go down that road. Mustn't. Bad habit. There's an event coming up where they hire out an entire nightclub... oooh it's gonna be fun... a step or two up from the Bristol Japan club where about 15 of us would gather in the dungeon that is the Polish Club for a couple of dirty pints. (No offense intended. That's just the way it is, and I'm ever so grateful to the Bristol Japan Soc for all the happy times...)

I've been to the dentist, I've got the doctor lined up for monday, and in less than a fortnight I'm taking a minibus test. I'm told that the examiner is not a nice man, and fails most people that pass through the centre. Why do I want to drive a minibus? I want to do some voluntary work, and this is one area where the uni voluntary services desperately need people, for driving other volunteers to various other voluntary projects in the area. I must say, I'm not overly confident that I'll pass. Watch this space - and wish me luck on Thursday 14th October.

Sunday 3rd October 2004 - 10:00GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

joseph is in his element

There have been times this week when I've been ecstatically happy, giving rise to the need for me to write text messages to a friend stating "I'm so happy! This is like one big theme park created just for me!", and so it is.

Last night I discovered MY regular party night - POP TARTS!

Pop Tarts website

Eee by 'eck it were fun. I think my friends were quite glad that they couldn't get tickets on the door, as it meant that they didn't have to spend the night with a pre-booked-ticket-holding Joseph Tame who was sporting not only his legendary psychedelic trousers, (right, modeled by his bottom) but also one of his very camp homemade tie-dye sleeveless EDF Energy T-Shirts!

A manifestation of my those anti-pull tendencies within me that strongly resist any attempt by my willy to openly seek sex... but also very appropriate for the theme of the night, the 1960's.

Despite my dress I was was propositioned four times: once by a girl who was clearly desperate, once by a man who squeezed my buttocks (the naughty boy!), and twice by prostitutes on the way home ("are you doing business love?") (no, Economics boom boom!).

Ah, my washing must be done by now, and I've just received a call from a very good Tokyo-related friend who tells me I'm being taken out to a stately home for the day! Well, whatever next?!

xxx joseph

Monday 4th October 2004 - 07:02GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue

"As the short sighted-rhino of time attempts to mounts the VW Beetle of eternity, and the Rubber Glove of hope gets lost in the Aberdeen Angus of Destiny..."

Ah, there's nothing like I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue to put a smile on your face after you've been woken up at 6.30am on a Monday morning by the fire alarm.

We were warned this would happen. The annual fire drill. We were also warned that if we didn't all get out quickly we'd have to do it again another day...

The thing about 6.30am is, it's too early to be a normal getting-up time when your first lecture isn't until 10am, but it's too late to be tired enough to go back to sleep having been made to stand outside in the cold for 15 minutes. I guess it's the perfect time to catch up on a backlog of emails that have been generated whilst you've been out and about exploring a world that reminded you ever so much of your former home, Tokyo.




A donkey disguised as a snail? Your guess is as good as mine. Hedgehog's revenge?

  "Following the indiscriminate hit and run killing of his aunt by a Flymo 400 Superglide Lawnmower, Harry the Hedgehog sought comfort by decapitating an entire colony of ants with the latest hand-driven Qualcast 654 Turbo Cutter"  

Yes, it seems Britain's garden centres can match Japan in terms of kitsch. Looking at these you can almost hear those Japanese schoolgirls bleating in unison, "Kawaii!".

Another thing that struck me about Britain's garden centres were the Quantum Leap factors: 1) they go on and on repeating the same kind of dross i.e. cheap tack, and 2) they focus on any time that isn't the present. As can be seen here, Christmas in this particular Derbyshire garden centre starts on October 1st, almost two months before the day, by which time Father Christmas's innards would surely have started to

ho ho ho? the carcuss began to smell in the second week

Another site of particular interest yesterday as John John (my young friend of unknown planetary origins, who for a number of years resided in the city of Tokyo, planet Earth) and I explored Derbyshire with Kactus and Naomi, was Chesterfield church spire. It defies belief, and is surely in the running for the next "World's Unsafest Buildings Competition". Let's make a comparison. (Please note, this photo was taken through a wet car window travelling at speed).

Well personally I don't think there's much between them. Bear in mind that the Pisa photo is taken side on, whereas the church spire was not taken from its most impressive angle as we were driving around a roundabout at the time that the shutter was pressed. Quite why there's a paperbank in the middle of the roundabout I don't know. Perhaps the council couldn't afford to empty it very often. Or perhaps there were some wombles living on the island.

Ah, life's great mysteries hey?

I went to a comedy night last night, having been persuaded by my housemates that I didn't really have to study. Hmm, good show, all in aid of charity, mate. Not bad, not bad. My favourite was a chap whose name completely escapes me, but he was very funny. Do go and see him if he comes to a club near you.

This is what the ad said about the MC:

"The night is glued together by the slick wit of Sheffield Renaissance man Elliot J Huntley - 'oozing hilariously superficial charm like Hugh Grant's black sheep of a brother'.

Personally I think it should have read "The night is held together ever so loosely in the style of a very wet piece of sellotape that's lost its stick by Elliot J Huntley - 'a complete twat'.

Mind you, I would say that, having made the mistake of sitting in the second row and being publicly crucified due to my naivety regarding lap dancing clubs. You would have thought I'd have known better following my experiences in Istanbul... *let's not go there*

On the way out we were reminded to give generously to the British Heart Foundation who it was in all in aid of, the guy holding the bucket shouting "come on ladies and gentlemen, there's millions of starving people out there, give generously". Hhhmm. Me wonders *Did he know what charity he was representing that night?*

Ah, it's now light outside. A sure sign that it's time for my porridge.


Wednesday 6th October 2004 - 11:02GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

this close

I tell you, I am THIS CLOSE to wiping my computer of its entire memory! Oh if it does anything else to wind me up I swear it's going to be in with those Recovery cd's and Format & Reinstall!


But but but this frustration must be due to me having too much fun last night at the Japan society and generally because of the happiness brought about by hanging out with my class mates who are all utterly wonderful and lovely...

Must dash lecture calls

Saturday 9th October 2004 - 12:02GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

The Week in Numbers

number of times porridge burnt:
number of times learnt to spell porridge in Japanese:
1 (porijji)
shags lined up for next month:
1 (95% guaranteed)
bicycle pumps bought (no association with above):
nights out:
meals not made at home:
bloomin' expensive books bought:
Japanese women attempted to seduce at Tuesday night's Japan Soc:
0 (fight against addiction going well)
English women attempted to seduce in last 7 years:
0 (with one recent notable exception, according to the other party's memory of events, which is probably more accurate than mine)
hours spent organising study routine:
hours spent studying:
Swedish Rounders games attended with Japan, German and Scandinavian Societies:
1 (this afternoon. Will I get past first base?)
number of times porridge burnt:
add 1 to the above total. Tit.


Yes, it's been yet another bloomin' busy week. The workload has shot through the roof. Let me demonstrate.

As you can see, Friday actually requires about 47 hours study, and I could only fit 24 in, so I'm already way behind, and today, Saturday, the graph shows that I have to do 55 hours of study, with 63 hours on the cards for tomorrow.

Best get on with it.

Wednesday 13th October 2004 - 15:25GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield


My loved ones,

I sit before you today, clean and freshly shaven. Out of my respect for you, I could not present myself before I had cut the millions of hairs that were emerging from my face down to skin level, using a series of ultra-sharp blades that moved backwards and forwards very fast. And now I'm just going through that stage where I run my fingers over my freshly-mown chin and discover one huge long hair that somehow managed to miss the Sword Of Doom, more commonly known as the Braun T105 Cordless Shaver.

In addition to being smooth skinned and deliciously big-nosed, you also find me in a state of great physical discomfort. Vodka Poo's have been the order of the morning, suggesting that last night I consumed vodka, which I don't actually recall doing, but there again, that kinda figures. I've never felt quite the same about Russian Blood since consuming half a bottle in twenty minutes at the age of 16. I crawled around the floor of Trudie's living room for a little while, threw up on the carpet and then passed out, only to find myself waking up surrounded by naked ladies and crabs sporting the latest Calvin Klein Jeans. When the alcohol wore off I realised that the naked women were in fact goldfish in a tank of water, and the crabs had been put there by Trudie who in a successful bid to confuse me had let her collection of Calvin Klein Jeans-wearing crabs loose in the living room.

I blew my entire week's entertainment budget last night at 'Middle Kingdom', a nightclub hired out by the Japanese, Korean and Chinese societies of the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam uni. My god it was like heaven! A seething mass of hundreds, I mean HUNDREDS of scantily-clad orientals, all moving to the groove as one big organ. The women weren't bad either.

Matthew and I John and co
matthew and i (note the inexplicable evil look in my right eye)
john and co

* Joseph thinks about the night before, and attempts to pat himself on the back, dislocating his right arm in the process *

Yes, I really have cause to congratulate myself. Even in that situation, you know, well I don't have to spell it out for you do I dear Mumblers, just put yourself in my shoes - I'm sure they'd fit at size 12 (45) - what with my history, my past addictions, and the fact that the 95% guaranteed shag for next month fell through (I knew honesty was a bad idea) - well, add all those factors together plus the one involving my gender, + alcohol = odds stacked against me remaining on the wagon. Yet look at me today - I remain a Sheffield Virgin.

Of course you could argue that it was actually my big nose, slurred speech, monkey dancing and inability to walk in a straight line that dictated the course of events, but that would be slander.

Lynne, Jen and kathryn, the Golden Girls, as seen through my alcoholic vision
these guys are just lovely
Lynne, Jen and Kathryn, the Golden Girls, as seen through my alcoholic eyes

Yeah, it was a great night. Nice helium balloons.

"You were outrageous last night! You just went crazy!" was what I was greeted with by John this morning.

"What? Me? No, I was on my best behaviour!" * I was *

"Guinea Pig Ass!" said Tyler.


"Shakin' all over the place you were..."

One of my class mates even tried to give a demonstration of how I was dancing. ...Honestly, no one would dance like that, even if drunk. ...Would they?"

Well, I've no idea what they were on about.

This is my favourite photo from last night. Taken by the lovely Kathryn, I like the 3-tiered effect. Note the silly prat in the background putting his hand up to ask sensei a question.


Wednesday 13th October 2004 - 16:25GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

eating in the future

I realised this week I've been eating in the future.

My unconscious has been saying

Today's meal doesn't really matter, it's just to get you through the next few hours. What does matter is the meals you're going to eat in the next few weeks and months. All that food you've got stored under your bed in sacks and in the kitchen in jars (beans, lentils, rice and the like) is for all those dishes you're going to make, not for today's meal. If you were to eat them then there'd be nothing left for tomorrow.

Maybe I should take a leaf out of one of cyber-friends' book, that being Kimberly.

Of course the obvious side effect of eating in the future is actually pretty horrendous: one day it's all going to catch up with me and in the space of a couple of hours I'll put on about 5000 kilos of fat, and channel 4 will come and make a film about me and my pervert of a wife.

Perhaps not necessarily a bad thing as that means more airtime.

Wednesday 13th October 2004 - 16:37GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

a spoke from the past

It may be true that there's a lot more love up North than in the South (just talk to any female Sheffieldian over the age of 45 and you'll see why), but it's also true that you are much more likely to die whilst cycling in Sheffield than you are in Bristol. I'm not sure why, but drivers up here are absolute maniacs when it comes to watching out for green-toed folks like myself. (The green-toe reference by the way is a slight play-on-words based on the "green-fingers" saying which refers to gardeners, which I'm borrowing and applying to cyclists in an environmental sense, due to the lack of exhaust gases emitted by cyclists, although now I come to think of it that might not be entirely true in my case. Anyway, I just wanted to point out that I don't have gangrene, in case any future partners of mine are listening. That's unlikely of course as: a) statistics show that 90% of Mumblers are in fact generally regarded as intelligent life-forms, and b) the remainder, my dearly beloved American fans, have heard the stories told by the girl I lost my virginity to in Upper New York State in 1997).

I think, but I'm not quite sure, that the rules of the game "Road Kill UK" must be different up here.

In Bristol it's only 4 points for hitting a cyclist whilst driving a car, but 15 points for a granny with a zimmerframe (the reasons for this are obvious when you consider the superior design of southern zimmer's, as demonstrated by this model that I made for my friend who twisted her ankle earlier this week - I also provide you with my cut-out pattern should you wish to make your own)

In Sheffield cyclists must be worth at least 25 points, judging by the enthusiasm with which car drivers attempt to save fuel by parking their cars on top of my saddle whilst I'm in motion.

Anyway, the point of all this is, is that I bought a bicycle helmet last week. Just in time too, as three days ago my front brakes suddenly failed completely. I say just in time, but actually it wasn't me riding my bike when the incident occurred. It was Tyler, He Who Must Not Be Called By His Real Name for reasons involving a toaster without a browning control and a particularly nasty incident with a door hinge. Yes, it's rare for anyone else to ride my bike, so I was quite impressed by the fact that in the 46 seconds Gareth was seated upon my gel saddle he ripped his jeans and the brakes failed.

This in turn all reminds me of the day I moved up to Sheffield. Dad and I were driving to the railway station. We'd gone but half a mile when suddenly, in the road ahead of us was a figure who had featured prominently in my childhood, and whom I hadn't seen for at least 8 years. It was

i-always-wear-my-bicycle-helmet-back-to-front man

As a child, we'd often pass i-always-wear-my-bicycle-helmet-back-to-front man (IAWMBHBTFM for short) on the way to school. About 40-years-old, he was an odd chap. He had a bright red helmut in those days, which he ALWAYS wore back to front. And I always wondered, why did no-one ever tell him?

It would be understandable if it was a one-off: I myself admit to wearing my first helmet back-to front for several weeks without noticing. The other road users did however as that was a motorbike helmet.

So yes, 8 years on, IAWMBHBTFM has got a new helmet, not all that dissimilar from the one you see me sporting here (note: the facial expression is not mine, but one I borrowed for demonstration purposes). And, despite the obvious discomfort he wears this one back-to-front too. Perhaps he feels it helps him see what's behind him?

As we continued on our journey dad told me of IAWMBHBTFM's other hobby: collecting car tax disks.

Here I graphically re-create the look of i-always-wear-my-bicycle-helmet-back-to-front man

Apparently, IAWMBHBTFM is trying to create a collection of tax discs that spans many many years. For my Mumblers of non-British origin - a tax disc is basically a round piece of paper, about 10cm diameter, with a month and a year printed on it, demonstrating that you have paid your road tax and when you need to pay again. Yes, so as he walks his dog around the village he knocks on people's doors whose tax disc in the car out the front of the house is about to expire - and asks them if he can have it. He was boasting to my dad that he's only got a few missing from the last decade.

Whilst trying to find an image to accompany this story I came across a website I'm sure he'd die for (especially if he was cycling along whilst typing the address into internet explorer on his laptop, went into a tree and suffered severe head injuries due to a certain "design fault" with his helmet..) I hope you realise that I don't actually expect you to follow that link.

He's also well known for talking non-stop to his dog, and then getting audibly frustrated when the dog doesn't reply.

Well, that's Orcop for you, the rural village where I grew up. That may help to explain a few things.

Anyway, look, you're distracting me. I've got a driving test tomorrow, a minibus driving test that is. Apparently the examiner is an absolute sod and virtually everyone fails, but hey, you never know.


Wednesday 13th October 2004 -17:52GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

our domestic staff

Did you know... here at uni we're even provided with our very own cleaners - Sharon, Tracy and Denise (I kid you not!). They're absolutely lovely, and I always make sure they get a cup of tea when they come round every Friday.


So there you go.

Thursday 14th October 2004 - 13:02GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

failure is always the best way to learn

well, it was what I expected.

The theory was no problem, likewise with the passenger lift / wheelchair securing bit.

I did pretty well on the driving too actually. A couple of minor faults for incorrect use of gears, crossover-steering etc, but I would have passed ...if I'd stopped at the stop sign. Yes, rather a stupid mistake to make, but the road was completely clear and I hadn't seen the sign. Nice instructor though. Bit shy, but he told me my faults as we went along - he really wanted me to pass.

Retake is next Thursday. Watch this space.

Friday 15th October 2004 - 21:19GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield


You may have heard already, but the Americans have got an election coming up.

The American elections are different from other national elections, in that they effect everyone in the world. Look what's happened in the time since Bush got in - the number of people killed internationally as a direct result of his administration's actions runs into the millions. We have not seen such appalling disrespect for human rights on such a large scale since Hitler.

The US administration's insistence on invading sovereign lands on the weakest of arguments affects us all - as does its refusal to acknowledge that Global Warming is a problem, (let alone sign the Kyoto treaty) - so shouldn't we all have a say?

Well, now we can, thanks to the Guardian. There is the possibility for us to influence the outcome of the election.

Click here to take part.

Go on, just do it. We can't have that prat continuing to order the killing of millions of innocent civilians in pursuit of oil to power his hidden-mic.

Copywrite Steve Bell 2004

Oh, incidentally, if the whole world was voting, the result might look something like this...

...and incidentally, the anti-American comments you find on TGW do not extend past the president and his administration. Although having said that, I do think that those Americans who are intending to vote for Bush should be locked up in big caves and made to watch one episode of Friends over and over again, contemplating the consequences of their intended actions.

Tuesday 19th October 2004 - 00:50GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

hurrah for the internet

...for it makes me doubly happy tonight.

Firstly, thanks to the internet I finally understand the function of that legendary particle of Japanese language, "keredomo". Yes, I always thought it was just something that people said when being upper-class snobs, you know, just for the hell of it and to sound posh, but actually, it's a disjunctive subordinate conjunction that combines two sentences. So there you go.

I know this thanks to one of two books that were delivered today by Yahoo Japan: 'A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar' and 'A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar'.

When trying to get hold of these books I was told by various bookshops and distributors that they were out of print, and wouldn't be available in the UK until December at the earliest, and the two combined would cost me over £70. Enter - three weeks later I have both books, and I paid only half the UK quote.

It's a bit scary actually, I'm finding myself getting EXCITED by Japanese grammar. Or perhaps it's the fact that I'm actually understanding what I'm saying that's doing it. Generally, I loathe grammar. And avoid using it correctly as much as possible. As you can probably tell from the Mumble.

The other reason for my internet-related happiness tonight is that I have been able to listen to all the radio I've missed recently, thanks to the BBC's Listen on Demand service. I heard a fantastic play set in Bristol called 'Slam-Bangin' Home Again'. The actor playing the main character was a little wobbly, but the inclusion of real live Slam-Bangin' poets was a real treat. I'm now relaxing to some great world music thanks to Andy Kershaw, one of my all time favourite DJ's. There's some really great "stuff" out there. So much talent, it's wonderful to be able to bring it into my room.

Not much chance of bringing any other kind of talent into my room...

no, it's all good.

Tuesday 19th October 2004 - 01:00GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

more dross

Exciting news then, that's what we want eh?

Hhhmm, haven't got any. Weekend was spent studying. Went out on Saturday though. To my local health food shop. Bought some organic bananas and a box of Earl Grey T-bags. Sunday I didn't leave the flat once. Yeah, I'm really living it up here.

the end

Thursday 21st October 2004 - 12:01GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

a letter home

"You find me in a somewhat abnormally relaxed mood this morning as about an hour ago I passed my MIDAS minibus test (2nd attempt). Only one *minor* fault that being when I put the vehicle into reverse at some traffic lights when attempting to pull away in 1 st. Gave the driver behind a bit of a shock, but then he was in a great big articulated lorry so it would have been me that suffered ultimately. Thankfully my minibus was equipped with not only a beeper that went *beep beep* when in reverse, but also a TV monitor on the dashboard that came on automatically when the gear stick moved into R position. You would have thought that it would display images from the camera mounted on the rear of the vehicle rather than adverts for a No Win No Fee Accident Claims Specialist but there you go, that’s 21st century sponsorship for you. Anyway, I now have a certificate that enables me to be a volunteer driver, taking groups of people to various local community projects. My first job is on Saturday, taking a bunch of children with learning difficulties to their Saturday school (I think). I am hoping to eventually get behind the wheel of the University run “Night Safety Bus” that takes female students home from outside the union. I was thinking that I could introduce a break for refreshments on the trip - the refreshments being served in my room.

Exciting news is unfortunately somewhat sparse at the moment. That’s not to say I’m bored, because I’m not. At risk of sounding like a complete nerd who never leaves his room, I’ve spent most of my time this week like a complete nerd who never leaves his room. Yesterday, upon my return from lectures at about 3pm , I set about studying for 11 hours, with a brief break for supper. Oh yes, uni life, hat’s what it’s all about.

Actually, I did get to know the young girl I’ve mentioned in previous communications a bit better. I’m glad to say that my feelings of lust have been replaced by a paternalistic attitude. It would simply be too much of an American Beauty scene, and I don’t really want to get shot by the closet gay next door just yet.

I’ve joined the Japan Society Committee – couldn’t resist. We’re organising a trip to Alton Towers on Halloween (just your cup of tea!), very excited about that as I haven’t been since I was 16. I think that was the time when to my horror I discovered that a hippo I’d met in a dark pub, snogged and had myself fiddled with against the wall of Safeway Supermarket a week earlier, was in fact also a new student at Hereford 6th Form College, and was in fact sitting in the seat in front of me. I made the mistake of telling my friend Trudie (whom I fancied the pants off), and it wasn’t long before the whole bus was trying to make us give a Meaning-of-Life style explanation / demonstration of the birds and the bees. It was very embarrassing."


So yes, there you go, that's my news. RAAAAAAAAAAAA

Thursday 21st October 2004 - 19:12GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

it's a conspiracy

Well, I knew it all along..

Thursday 21st October 2004 - 21:54GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

Worried? Who's worried?

You may think that I really have no cause to lock myself up in my room 25 hours a day.

But you know, I'm not the only one that's stressed. Check out this note from John, posted on our department's message board. John, one of my classmates, is, by his own admission, a compulsive worrier.

25 DAYS until our "Understanding Japan" essay IS DUE!!!!

Greetings peeps

That's right, only a meager 25 days left before our final essay needs to be handed in. Though by the time you read this, it might only be 24 days, or possibly 20 days, or maybe you only read this message the day before, thereby having not written the essay and thereby failing the course!

Still, not to worry, its only worth 50% of the grade, which is like what? About half?

And anyway, even if you fail this whole year, you can always redo it, and then you'd have the oh so lucky privilege of getting to endure not 4, but 5 grueling hellish years of University life. Which people keep telling me is great. Which I'm sure it is, if you sprinkle prozac on your whiskey soaked cornflakes.

But anyway, back to this essay. My advice is, if you haven't done so already, is to sell your souls, I hear you can get a good trade in on an essay that's a guaranteed first. Because remember, a degree isn't just for Uni, its for life. Can you really afford a grade that's anything less than perfect?

Back to the essays: I'm sure you've all read the reading lists? About a dozen books need to be read? Not all of the books, just most of the chapters and you should be fine.

Plus there's the whole analytical aspect, the need to reference EVERYTHING otherwise you instantly fail, plus a whole lot else.

2000 words people. TWO THOUSAND.
And if the average letter count is about 5 letters per word, that's over 10'000 letters.

And we have how long? Oh yes, 25 days.
That's 600 hours. Less actually, since by the time you read this it will be more like 500 hours.

So then, 10'000 words, within 500 hours. Tricky isn't it ladies and gentlemen?

That's 20 words an hour. So really it's not too bad.
Best get started now, because did I mention, this is worth FIFTY PERCENT OF THE GRADE?!?!

But remember this piece of sagely advice:
Even if you fail uni, and get no degree, and end up massively in debt, with no future prospects, no house, decent job or family, and feels like your entire life has been wasted... feel re-assured that there will always be a manual labour job waiting for you. So if you don't get to live and work in japan, you can always spend the rest of your days packing pork chops in England.

Have fun with the essay peeps, if you need me, Ill be finishing mine off. ^_^

It's so good to know that there's someone more worse off than you.

Friday 22nd October 2004 - 01:39GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield


It's no good, I'm just too excited. I can't sleep, despite the fact that I was up at 7.45am yesterday and it's now 1.40am tomorrow.

I'm not even sure what about. It could be the weekend. It could be the fact that the Minibus test is over and done with.

But I think it's more than that. I think it's the excitement of making new friends and all that jumbly wumbly stuff that goes on in your stomach when you're falling in love but obviously to a lesser degree, as I'm not falling in love, as far as I can tell.

I think it's just the multisplendicious nature of life that has got me high.

Ooh I must show you this. My multitalented classmate Kathryn can not only speak Japanese, but is also a professional graphic designer, check out this kawai logo she's made for the Japan society!

Yes, I know I haven't quite managed to transparentize it properly, but to be honest, I've got better things to do with my time. Like mumble.

Isn't it great?

What else is great?

Baileys. Remember that Christmas when I got through about 7 bottles in two weeks? I don't. Hardly surprising. Used to glug it out of the bottle perntly. Sorry, that was meant to say apparently.

Cheese can be great, and grated. Fires have grates. Great Scott!

There were some funny moments in class today. We were all pretty hyper actually, apart from Nabhan who recently seems to have had a permanent hangover. We were asked to write down what we liked, to practice the use of " sukii desu", the "I like" phrase. Most people wrote down things like "Japanese films", but I just couldn't stop myself from putting "se ga chiisai onna no hito ga sukii desu" (I like short women). I didn't know the word for dwarf.

You know what the problem with eating healthily is? It's never having any bars of chocolate to eat in the middle of the night when you get cravings for junk food. Like now. ungh ungh ungh (the sound of a Cravy Monster in my stomach).

I wonder who it is that keeps peeing on our toilet floor?

Ok, I'm going to have to at least attempt to shut my brain down for the night, otherwise I'll have no energy left for all the entertainment I have to provide tomorrow.

My poor class mates and friends. Oh if only they knew who I really am. Oh they would shudder, and lock up their stationary. Lock up their tortoises too as you just can't beat a nice TLT (Tortoise Lettuce Tomato) sandwich.

Which reminds me. This is what you do when you're REALLY pissed off with your colleagues..

Friday 22nd October 2004 - 17:10GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield


This is the result of today's contribution to the United States of Procrastination.

a complete waste of time, as you can see.

Friday 22nd October 2004 - 17:22GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

soup ladles and [sorry, text has been deleted due to explicit nature]

oh yes, *that's* what I was going to ask you. Have you seen my teaspoon? It cost me one pound and I miss it. I object to having to having to stir my Earl Grey with a spoon the size of a kangaroo's tail; it strikes me as being so brutish.

The other thing I was wondering was, why ...

[I've had so many explicit messages sent to my guestbook in response to this entry that I've had to delete it!]

oh, get on with it Joseph, your homework can't be THAT scary...

Saturday 23rd October 2004 - 01:30GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

it's ok now

I found my spoon. I was just doing my 1.25am wash-up when I discovered it in the bottom of a saucepan that contained someone else's 3-day-old polonaise.

I washed it up just how it likes it, and now it's back safe in my drawer, where it can't be used. Just how it likes it.

Sunday 24th October 2004 - 23:43GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

i know nothing

Foteini brought her camera to the gathering that had come about in celebration of Rooman's birthday tonight.

"I've got some photos of you here Joseph".


It was all such a long time ago you know. I don't remember a thing.

Tuesday 26th October 2004 - 23:43GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

John Peel OBE (1939 - 2004)

The most important person in the British Music industry.

A warm friend who was just talking to you.

You will be greatly missed.

Wednesday 27th October 2004 - 14:23GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

John Peel OBE (1939 - 2004)

Not 24 hours after the announcement of John Peel's death, the tributes to this legendary broadcaster are already appearing on the street.

Here is one such message, created by a local graffiti artist and applied to the outer wall of the Sheffield University science block.

Front Row Special: John Peel OBE

John Peel's homepage

Wednesday 27th October 2004 - 22:02GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

nihonjinron driving me crazy

All this talk of Nihonjinron ("Discourse on the Japanese") is making my head spin.

I am surrounded by sentences such as:

"...In any case, to speak of introspecting a purely immanent framework when to graduate, teach and think about such problems in Japan one must read a mass of Western works, is very much like insisting on one's virginity several decades after a polyphiloprogenitive marriage"

a what?

maybe I should have chosen English instead of Japanese.


Friday 29th October 2004 -01:01GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

i feel like a woodlouse...

I don't think you realise just how much of a breakthrough this is.

No, really.

The elements of Japanese grammar that we have been looking at this week are the very ones that I have put a great deal of effort into avoiding studying for three long years now.

Such a barrier has this particular element of verb conjugation provided in front of me that once, when I was falling off a cliff in Switzerland, I suddenly thought of this grammatical category of madness and I stopped, instantly, in mid-air. THAT'S how strong this barrier has been.

I was thinking that when we were eventually brought face-to-face with this monolithic monster of epic proportions (bigger than a very big Bigfoot in the Land of Big) we would spend at least a week delving into its murky depths to reach some understanding of why Japanese verbs are put into three categories, which are then subdivided into a further 12, and how this affects their usage.

But no, imagine my horror when yesterday, we spend about 2 hours on the subject, and told, "this is very important, so please study very hard at home.

Then today we move on to another topic.

What's even more shocking is that everyone else understands it perfectly, whilst I have been left floundering, like an overweight woodlouse in a pile of duck down, with an industrial strength vacuum cleaner attached to the hoover-bag of hell approaching at lightening speed.

BUT BUT BUT in between doing copious amounts of advertising on behalf of the Japan Soc and drinking peppermint tea, tonight, I have begun to get the hang of it. My green flash cards have been flashing away, *flash flash*, and I have been smiling internally at my ability to not put them in all the wrong categories.

There is hope.

I still find this course somewhat shocking though. So shocking indeed that I have reinstated my Japanese Learner's Arm.

I'm afraid I'm too tired to take a picture with a proper camera, so you'll have to make do with this. You can just about see the mown area. Fresh, raw skin. Hairs do not obscure my words. They are handsome, diachronic and remind me of a polyphiloprogenitive marriage.

And the lack of sex at university. That's something else that shocks me.

Friday 29th October 2004 -17:37GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

i want a dog, an aibo

Two things:

1) I want one of these: Yes, Sony's latest Aibo (robotic dog). It's far more intelligent than any of its predecessors, and most of it's predecessors' owners. This one not only learns to recognise your voice and face (and therefore respond to your commands), it's also connected to the internet via a wireless link, so that when you're out of the house it can take photos of anything that moves and send the pictures to your mobile phone by email!!

Can't be bothered to get up and change the CD? No problem, simply command Aibo to come to you, then show him the cover of the CD that you want to listen to - and he'll play it! Aibo also has built-in internet radio, meaning you could spend hours indulging your fantasy of having a dog that speaks just like Joe Grundy.

Anyway, the title of this Mumble has made me feel all nostalgic for the Pet Shop Boys, so if you have any to hand, join me in Being Boring. (ooh, that's clever, their web site sings to you...).

The second thing is, I've completely forgotten. It could have been about the red-kidney bean and orange salad I've just made. It could have been about the girl... that's something that I'm really sort of secretly excited about although it's a really bad idea. Really bad so let's not go there. ...It could have been about how generally over-excited I am about everything. But, I don't think it was any of them.

that's how excited I am.

Oh, I know what it was. I wanted to tell you, I've bought some sheets of white card. 5p each they were. They're white. And cardy. RAAAAA. They make me want to say RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA they're that cardy.

Have I mentioned Origami Boulder? Oh, you must have a look at this, especially the "letters from dumb dumbs" section, and description of the Performance Art option.

Drugs, where's my drugs? Friday night, agh, no alcohol available (without a walk), hmmm, maybe after homework?

gridget gridget time for a cup of tea, THEN I'll do my homework.

Alton Towers tomorrow.

Friday 29th October 2004 -18:52GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

kawaiiiiiiiii deshou!!! (see dictionary for translation!)

oh oh oh look what I just found on the homework that sensei returned to me today!

It's a little rubber stamp, and it says "taihen yoku dekimashita!", which means "REALLY Well Done!"

It's just so cute... I wonder if I was the only one to get it (*evil grin*)

Must remember to not fall in love with sensei.

Sunday 31st October 2004 - 01:42GMT+1 The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield


Put my head in a fireplace yesterday, looked up, held my camera to my eye and took this photo.

I like it.


Looked up at the sky this evening. Held my camera to my eye, and pressed the shutter twice.

Liked the results.

There's more where they came from, in the usual place.

Yeah, I tell you, that was the most stunning fireworks display I've ever seen. I'm told that it didn't quite compare to the Athens 2004 Olympics Opening Ceremony, but nonetheless, that grin took about 2 hours to prize off my face. If ever you get the chance, I thoroughly recommend the Alton Towers Halloween Fireworks display. Not only fireworks, but some damn swanky TV screen thing that could physically split up into sections and move out of the way to enable those right at the front to see the fireworks behind. Music too, the fireworks actually went off in time to the music! They reinforced the bass beat - incredible feat of technical timing. Lasers too. Oohh it was just great.

I was especially happy too as I'd just met a Japanese guy who's gonna help me purge my language of all it's flowery touches, to make me into more of a MAN! Well, we'll meet up anyway. Good to have a language exchange partner who isn't female, helps when on the wagon.

Speaking of which, or rather, speaking of someone who has just become a victim of the Asian addiction, today I got to know a chap (who we shall call "James" for anonymity's sake) who was on my course briefly and has since changed to another. He's a funny guy, really makes me smile. He told me the most fantastical story of how he was seduced (virtually raped!) by a very cute East Asian girl two weeks back, and has since found it impossible to get East Asians off the brain... it was very funny actually, there were another three of us who knew the situation only too well, you know, intakes of breathe between the teeth, "ah, well, yes, you see once you've had a drop you want the whole ocean..."

When discussing which rides we should go on at Alton Towers, James said,

"I hate rollercoasters! I only came because it's the Japanese and Chinese societies..."

The two+ hours we spent waiting for one particular 30-second ride enabled us to get to know one another pretty well, and no doubt we'll be catching up again soon. He could be a bad influence on me though, I can tell, and he's about 4 years my junior, I really shouldn't pay any attention to what these hormone-fuelled willy-led youngsters say...

...except I'm one of them.

Anyway, enough about that.

oh, except that my obsession with someone who lives pretty close by is starting to affect my sleep. It's really really stupid, I mean, well, it's really difficult. I don't want to get involved in a relationship, right? And yet, I don't know, there's something about her that I really really like (and it's not just sex for once!), and as a result of that no matter what I tell myself, I find myself going to ridiculous lengths to try and bump into her. Take tonight for example:

It's 02:15, yes, quarter-past-two in the morning. I'm still up, sitting at my desk. Why? Not because I'm not tired, because I am, I did spend the whole day traipsing around a theme park after all... No, you see I know that this girl is out at the moment, and due to come back sometime soon... and she'll walk past my window, and knock on my window to say hello... oh, it's all so silly, I'm behaving like a little 13-year-old and I just can't stop it! I mean, if I think about it, I know it would be a very bad idea, because she deserves someone far better than me. Someone who can spend time with her without getting stressed about not studying...

I'm 26 for heaven's sake, does this kind of behaviour afflict people in their 30's, 40, 50's and 60's too? Feedback welcome.

Aah, I hear familiar voices outside... oh dear, ergh, nervous, ooh, don't listen, oh I can't cope, must sign off, stomach's got butterflies...


Sunday 31st October 2004 -11:27GMT The Red Light Cupboard, Sheffield

silly, silly boy

you see, this is what happens. It always ends in tears.

Well, maybe not tears exactly. It ends up with me not getting to sleep until 4.45am, then waking up at 11.15am thinking "oh crikey, ...and I was going to write the introduction to that essay this morning...".

Ok, I think it's time for a bit of will power.

I, Joseph Tame, swear upon my new multi-colour biro, that I shall no longer think of the person whom I have been obsessing about this week for any longer than is entirely natural for a friend to think of another friend. I shall cease flirting with them, and stick to my principle of not getting involved wioth anyone this academic year.

Good, now I can get back to normal life again.

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