The Kirk family have been good friends of mine for about 20 years. My trip to Islay (Scotland) to visit them 17 years ago was probably my first ever ‘big’ trip somewhere by myself. Later, they were kind enough to let me live with them for a few months. Jo remains one of my bestest friends – it’s been great to grow up ‘together’ (by letter / phone / email / visits to Hereford & Bristol).
It’s also been great to see the boys (Jo’s brothers) grow up. They’re not much younger than me, although when you’re a child a few years seems like decades.
Anyhow, a few years back Pedro, the eldest, started a band with his friend Luke. Joined by another three friends, they converted the garage into a studio, and then worked damn hard at getting good at what they did.
Things are really taking off now for Brandon Steep. Just last week I got a mail to let me know that they have a CD out in Japan, available from (Amazon, HMV and iTunes.
I was so excited buying this CD at HMV today. I’ve never bought a friend’s CD from a ‘proper’ shop before. It felt real good to be able to support them from such a distance (and get something good to listen to too).
(The chap behind the counter was full of praise for them, saying they were getting quite a following over here).
Congrats to Brandon Steep for your continuing rise, long may it continue!
Photographic entertainment is provided by yesterday’s Office Halloween party (sorry for the repetition to those of you who have already seen them in my site feed).
For the past two weeks I’ve been looking for someone to do tandem learning with. That is, someone who will teach me Japanese in exchange for me teaching them English.
One might think that having just spent 4 years studying Japanese the last thing I’d want (or need) is more Japanese lessons. Not so. I didn’t put as much into my course in my final year as I could have done (a conscious decision that I don’t regret to split my energy between my course and extra-curricular activities), thus I failed to internalise a lot of the vocab I was learning.
I’d like to emphasise that this is in no way a criticism of our course, which was bloomin marvellous. If anyone wants to learn Japanese in the UK, Sheffield is the place to go, no doubt (n.b. I may be biased). But of course, you only get out what you put in, thus a lot of my course-mates have much better Japanese than me.
Whatever, I’ve come such a long way, and am constantly delighted by the fact that I (of all people) have learnt to speak Japanese. However, I do tend to stick to the grammar patterns that I’m really familiar with, avoiding the use of complex structures. It was brought home to me just how far I’ve gone down this road when the other night *Twinkle* applauded my use of a complex pattern – it should be normal, not praiseworthy.
So I put the thought out there – I need a Japanese teacher – and tonight she presented herself (although I didn’t know she was a teacher until after we’d been chatting for a while).
She contacted me having seen my profile on www.findateacher.net, and requested a trial English lesson. We met at a subway station near my office and made our way to a nice little cafe. We chatted a bit more, with her explaining why she wanted to study English.
Then she stopped, and with a mysterious look on her face said, ‘actually, I’ve got some photos to show you’. Confused, I took the envelope in her hand and took out the photos…
…and blow me down if it wasn’t Phil, my coursemate from Sheffield! I was stunned, and naturally clammering for an explanation.
She explained how Phil had been one of her first students shortly after she qualified as a teacher, when he was living in Tokyo a year or so back. It was only after she’d initially contacted me last Friday that she’d mailed Phil to ask if he’d heard of someone called ‘Joseph Tame’ who’d studied at Sheffield. Seeing that I was quite a bit older she assumed that we wouldn’t know each other …and thus was very surprised when Phil replied that he did indeed know me!
So that’s how it went. We’ve decided to meet on a weekly basis for language exchange – my calls for a teacher have been answered. Thank you Universe!
(A blog I wrote a couple of days ago, and am posting now to celebrate our reconnection to the www this morning. Our new fibre modem has resulted in our actual (vs. advertised) download speed quadrupling to 24mbps, the fastest domestic connection I’ve had yet 🙂
It’s several years now since I decided to actively create an online presence. For a long time it was limited to my website, TameGoesWild, and this blog, The Daily Mumble. Not that many people knew about it, and I rarely talked about it. I seldom posted any personal stuff, fearful of criticism from the People Out There. I can remember trying to keep it a secret in my first year at uni, such was the embarrassment I felt when real-life friends referred to something I’d written.
The last 18 months has seen a huge shift in my attitude towards my online presence. As a part of the process of learning to trust my own judgement, and to not be hurt by the subjective opinions of others, I deliberately chose to write about things that mattered the most to me, such as the spiritual path I began to travel down last year. I remember at the time debating whether or not to mention the name Wayne Dyer, for fear of people accusing me of being brain washed by some American celebrity doctor – a fear I can’t help but laugh at now, given just how much I have been helped by his books. I still regularly dip into his take on the Tao, and often find that the one verse (out of 81) that he is focusing on is the exact one I need to hear.
I think the next step for me was signing up with Facebook, something I had resisted for some time. I’d tried mySpace and generally found it to be a complete waste of time …and I must admit that Facebook didn’t do much for me at first either. Now however, it plays an important part in creating and maintaining my sense of place in the world. Regular updates on my friends’ activities gives me context. Living here in Tokyo with access to very few real-life friends would be much harder without my virtual (usually passive) participation in the lives of others.
Recently I’ve been delighted by a spate of photo uploads by my friends from Camp Jened (New York) where I worked in 1997. Those were pre-email days for ordinary folks like us, but 11 years on Facebook has enabled us to recreate that community, to share our happy memories. This has promted me to re-evaluate the part that that experience played in making me who I am today, something I doubt I’d be able to do if working from my own foggy memories alone.
Then there’s Twitter. I forget when I signed up, sometime earlier this year. At the time I didn’t quite realise just what an impact this would have on me. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s basically a tool for micro-blogging, any one post (‘tweet’) having a limit of 140 characters (such as the posts top-right of the Mumble. There’s a great demo video on YouTube called ‘Twitter in Plain English’). Historically, the majority of users have been those into all things techy / internetty, but recent months have seen it move into the mainstream. It’s a powerful dissemination tool – the Obama campaign team caught onto this pretty early on and have used it to great effect.
But of course, without an audience, Twitter serves little purpose as a broadcast platform. Personally, I only know a handful of people who use it, and thus initially wasn’t all that inspired. But then I discovered Twitterific. This desktop app takes my Twitter posts and send them to Skype, where they become my status message, visible to all of my contacts.
…That’s was all well and good, but still, Skype isn’t exactly an everyday app for most users.
The breakthrough came with the Twitter app for Facebook. This takes your Twitter status and posts it to Facebook, thus making it visible to all your Facebook friends. So that’s one message posted in Twitterific being sent to Twitter, Skype, Facebook, Friendfeed, and any web-page you have control over (such as TDM).
But what next? It’s all a bit one-way.
Well it was, until the release of the new Facebook interface a few weeks back. What seemed like just another makeover has actually begun to fundamentally change my interaction with others. Unlike before, it is now incredibly easy to post comments on Facebook status messages. Thus, I can post reactions to friends’ daily doings with one tap of the screen, and of course they can do the same with me – and do. Suddenly, one-way broadcasting has become two-way communication.
There’s one final piece to the online presence jigsaw though – the iPhone (oh cripes here he goes again…). The new iPhone Facebook app is bloomin fantastic. It enables the user to have easy access to their network of friends wherever they are, to react to messages on-the-road almost in real time (depending on how often they’re bored on the train) Couple that with the easy posting of messages and photos to Twitter (using mobile Twitterific) and the publishing of (line-break heavy) blogs via email (which are then automatically reposted on Facebook), and your online-presence becomes an extension of your real life interactions.
I’m sure this all sounds like a complete nightmare to some people. Not only the idea of publishing your every action online, but also the idea of your friends being bombarded by numerous 140-character messages describing tonight’s pumpkin soup (I just remind myself that they can simply unsubscribe from your updates if they wish to)
I’m fascinated by just how much this has all come to mean to me. I guess in my current circumstances it’s not surprising that I am seeking to maintain established (distant) friendships, to reach out to as many people as I can from my relative isolation. It’s a bit of a lifeline really.
I’m also interested in how our shared online presence impacts upon our real-life relationships. So far, I’ve found it to have an immensely positive effect. On seeing friends, one can quickly move past initial catch ups, and get to the important stuff, or explore areas of life that might usually be hidden due to social norms. The Internet offers us the freedom to express ourselves in ways that might be frowned upon in real-life, thus we can discover shared interests that might otherwise never be discovered. I can think of several real-life relationships whose foundations are reinforced to a considerable extent by the things that I have learnt about them online.
An example of a relationship strengthened by an online presence could be that of the friendship I share with an ex-coursemate who is now working in a remote part of southern Japan. They often blog about their experiences, the challenges they encounter, the happy successes they enjoy. We were never particularly close at uni (although I always liked and respected them), but reading their blog fills me with admiration for what they are doing, and makes me feel enriched by the remote friendship I share with them. It encourages me to send good wishes their way, and to want to offer assistance to them should they ever need it.
Having said that, in the long term I’m not sure how much of a difference it will make. If I imagine myself meeting offline coursemates after a prolonged period of no contact, the feelings are similar to those connected with meeting my online friends. This leads me to think that perhaps ultimately, online communication can never have the same kind of impact upon relationships that even limited offline interactions can have. This I find quietly reassuring, as much as I love the online world, I know that ultimately it’s what I do in real life that matters.
After all, no amount of Status Updates will get the washing up done before *Twinkle* arrives home.
The morning of the wedding was pretty hectic. I’d had this idea that if I tried to prepare everything as far in advance as possible, there would be little to do on the day itself …but it didn’t quite turn out like that!
At 7.20am I was on my way to Hereford to do some shopping. Concerned that we wouldn’t have enough drinks, I’d decided to get a load from the local supermarket, to where they could be returned afterwards if we didn’t use them (although I’d forgotten that alcohol can only be sold after 8am – had to wait by the checkout with my trolley, watching the seconds tick by!).
That trip kind of set the pace for the rest of the morning. I think it was also demonstrative of how I was having problems letting go. Having spent so many weeks planning and organising, I was now finding it hard to trust that the details would sort themselves out. I wasn’t used to having so many people on hand willing to help, and still felt that if something needed to be done I should do it myself (not that I didn’t trust others, but rather because it was my ‘responsibility’ to make sure everything was OK).
In the face of this my brother Stephen did a fantastic job of ensuring that I breathed before the service. I was confined to my bedroom, forbidden from coming downstairs. I was to get dressed, and then sit on my bed and wait until it was time to go.
I more or less managed this, and the last hour or so before the service was actually pretty relaxing.
A memorable moment came at 2.30pm, half an hour before the ceremony was due to begin. I suddenly realised that I could hear the bells ringing at the church across the valley – they were ringing for us! That made me so happy… I thought of the difficulties I’d had in finding the bell-ringing team (in the end I located them through a wild Google search!) – it had definitely been worth it!
All suited up, we then made our way to the church in my little hire-car. *Twinkle* would be following later from the guest house with her father in the classic 1930s Alvis, owned by a neighbour of ours who had very kindly offered his services (and he did so against the odds too – only a few days earlier the gearbox had packed up; he’d put considerable effort into finding another in time so that he could drive us on the day).
*Twinkle*, father, and the Alvis, arriving at the church
Arriving at the church a few minutes later I was stunned – there were all these people there that I knew!
I know it sounds silly (after all, I was the one that had sent the invites out) but it really was amazing. All these dear friends and family members, some of whom I’d not seen in ages, had come together for us. It was surreal in a way, and time and time again I found myself surprised and delighted by the faces that were there. The neighbours had come down to watch as well – these were the neighbours that had donated flowers from their gardens, given us cards and presents, leant us staplers for our order of service, dropped off hay bales for people to sit on, offered their homes for our friends from far away to stay in…
They’re all AMAZING!
Flowers, courtesy of ‘aunty’ Louise and mum – and the neighbours
And this is something that has really touched me: the community effort. I lived in Orcop for about 8 years, until the age of 16 when I moved into that bedsit with the walls that crumbled when I attempted to put a shelf up. Since then, with the exception of the Torquay Years, I’ve always regarded it as home, that safe place that never changes and is always open for me to come back to should I need to.
That’s why that despite the fact that I’ve not ‘lived’ here for 14 years it felt appropriate to hold the wedding in the valley. It was also an area that *Twinkle* was familiar with having visited here several times for little holidays. Looking back on the events of last week, I can see now that it was indeed a very good decision.
Yesterday, I was going through a list of people that had helped make it happen. Not counting those actually present at the wedding, I came up with over twenty local families that had played a vital part in ensuring that everything was in place. As mentioned above there was the car, the flowers, the accommodation, there was also parking at the church (in people’s driveways and also in a field of sheep), local B&B and camp site owners who had been so flexible, the church cleaning team, the chap who mowed his grass next door so people could park on the verge, the provision of an amp for the service, oh, and the Royal Air Force too – they did a low, slow fly past in a Hercules when we came out of the church!
It seemed everyone in the area knew about the wedding, and expressed their support and congratulations.
Naturally, we are both very grateful for the all of this support. …and it feels good, affirming my connections with the area before leaving the UK.
Anyway anyway, where were we? Ah yes, I’d arrived at the church.
Walking down the aisle to take my seat at the front I was again delighted to see yet more familiar faces – caw, this was all a bit exciting really! Everyone was here to share in our marriage commitment.
After a little wait, Mum #2 pressed the magic button, and Pachabel’s Canon filled the church – *Twinkle* had arrived. I didn’t turn around though, too nervous at first, but then I kept on hearing Louise urgently whispering in excited tones to Stephen, “Tell him to turn around! Turn around!”
And so I did.
I must admit I felt breathless when I saw *Twinkle* in her wedding dress. She was the most beautiful bride in the whole world ever, soooo beautiful (OK, so I may be biased). I wasn’t sure if I was going to cry or not, so looked away …but had to look back again. Caw blimey, this is quite a coup I thought. How on Earth did I manage this?
Having had the rehearsal not 20 hours beforehand, we were both pretty comfortable with our lines (although I’m told that we both said “till death us do part” backwards – not that we noticed!). It was good though, it felt very right to be making those promises. I know one or two members of the congregation raised their eyebrows at references to Father, Son and Holy Spirit (knowing that neither of us are active church-goers); they told us so afterwards as well. But as I have written before, I see these elements of church services as just another interpretation of broader spiritual ideas / truths / beliefs that are the very core of our existence, regardless of religious beliefs. ‘God’ ‘Love’ ‘Source’, no matter what your chosen label, it’s still referring to the same thing, and that’s the energy source from which we have come, and the energy source that connects *Twinkle* and I.
I was sooo happy when we were pronounced husband and wife! tee hee. What a happy moment. In fact the whole thing was rather happy.
I’m so glad we got married in that church too – it was the perfect setting, with its cute red carpet and sloping floors. Many people have commented on how much they enjoyed the service, and I must say, it really felt very right.
Mum #2 was in ambidextrous mode, and in addition to being our DJ, she read that lovely chapter from Corinthians on Love – she even did the last line in Japanese (and great pronunciation too!). My sister Emma, and *Twinkle*s friend Mariko from Osaka read from Gibran’s The Prophet (‘Valentine’), giving us the opportunity to think about what we were entering into.
As we signed the register with our witnesses Jess (my sister, with nephew Jamie in tow) and Xinxin (dear friend from Sheffield), so Ruth began to play her piano and sing Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’. She has such a great voice, just beautiful. Added so much to the atmosphere. Thank you Ruth.
(Jamie is hiding behind Jess)
Following our blessing, DJ Mum #2 pumped up the volume – we receded down the aisle as husband and wife to Mendelson’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba – a traditional and very jolly tune!
And with that, we were married 🙂
(*Twinkle*s take on the whole wedding thing can be found on Mixi!)
It’s now ten minutes to midnight on the night before my wedding day. I dropped *Twinkle* back to the cottage we’ve rented for her parents, where she will spend her last night before she becomes my wife.
It’s been an amazing day. Thinking back over the last 16 hours I feel tearful – we have been shown such kindness by so many, and the day itself is yet even to begin! We are so so grateful. Thank you so much to everyone involved.
The village hall looks great – we have hundreds of metres of bunting – handmade by a friend. There are hundreds of origami paper cranes too, made by *Twinkle*s family (it took three of them several hours to fold them all, but they look amazing). In the church we have some beautiful beautiful flower arrangements made by my brother’s fiancé and mum, using flowers donated by local gardeners. Paper flowers too, made by *Twinkle*s family and fixed to the walls by *Twinkle*s best friend from Japan, Mariko, who arrived from Barcelona at lunchtime. Our guests from the Netherlands have also arrived safely, as has *Twinkle*s second bridesmaid from Tokyo.
I am staggered by the amount of organisation needed just for a party of about 80 people. My head has been buzzing so much I’ve found myself feeling pretty out of it for a lot of the day. Kind of like, in a dream world. Floating, watching as my body goes about doing this that and the other. It’s not been a bad thing, although I know I’ve looked pretty dreadful!
But I really can’t emphasise enough just how much this wedding is a product of many hours of effort by our family and friends. I am so grateful to be able to hand over huge great chunks of organisation to various volunteers. How can we ever repay them?
Following the rehearsal, *Twinkle* and I decided to spend some time together to just ‘be’ and share our thoughts and feelings of what the day gone by had meant to us, and our feelings about tomorrow, and our married life beyond that (and to practice our ceremonial kiss!). The venue was our lovely little hire car (I am anti-car in principle but i do like our little blue Chevy which came as a free upgrade from the hire company and sports a string of wedding flags flying from the back!), and the Moon Inn at Garway.
I recently wrote of how marriage is changing things – and again tonight we noted how we could almost reach out and touch the change. It’s shifting our feelings for one another to a deeper level. The feeling of trust and commitment is really strong – it’s taken me by surprise several times today. (…but I thought I already trusted *Twinkle*, and wasn’t I already committed to our relationship?!”). The past week has been a simply perfect ‘ramp up’ to what will take place tomorrow. The timing could not be better.
The wedding rehearsal was really enjoyable, and natural. It was very relaxed – meaning that it felt appropriate to turn around and put my finger to my lips signalling everyone to be quiet when the priest asked if anyone knew of any lawful impediment to our marriage… tee hee, ;-p We are very fortunate to have Elaine as a priest – she is fantastic, and sets everyone at ease.
If I think of us doing that for real tomorrow surrounded by 80 or so of our closest friends, well, …wow! Just indescribable! How wonderful to be in that environment, sharing our commitment for one another with all those that mean so much to us.
Well, I guess I’d better get some sleep. It’ll be an even longer day tomorrow.
My thanks again to all of those involved in making this happen. In my mind, tomorrow’s event will not just be a celebration of the relationship that *Twinkle* and I are committing to, but also a celebration of community, of mutual love and support, of family, of friendship, and of the general wonderfulness of life.
Hello. I'm Joseph, Tokyo-based fouder and Creative Director at creative agency/video production house Wild Tame. I'm also known as a runner with an experimental tech streak, father of two, husband of one.
This site documents my personal journey through life.
To learn more about me and my adventures in tech please visit my main site at http://josephta.me