Sunday, 29 June 2003

Another Sunday evening

This seems to be falling into a pattern, as perhaps these things do, of a sunday evening session with a midweek update. So today's great news is that today we ate dinner laced with fresh herbs from the herb garden! Yes, an auspicious moment without a doubt. The dish was a sort of tomato and chicken stew, delicately flavoured with basil picked moments before serving. The whole thing wasn't too bad and you could actually taste the basil - I was so proud. Now all we have to do is wait for about 8 weeks until it regrows or some of the other stuff gets up to the level of edible (though that may be thwarted by hell freezing over first).

Friday was my last official day at Minami Urawa office, in honour of this occasion, I did absolutely no work. This was partly not my fault as I was in the process of handing over the reins to Chris, so I didn't really have much to do anyway, and also last week Paul told me to go down to Nishi Kasai on Friday, so I got someone else to do the training I was meant to be doing, but then Paul changed the day to Thursday, leaving me with nothing arranged for friday and therefore nothing to do. So I did nothing. The bit that is my fault, a little, is that I didn't exactly go out of my way to find anything to do either, but bugger it, I was leaving. In the evening we had a farewell party with all the office staff at a local bar called Zan, which was very trendy and we all felt cool and sophisticated...well, I did anyway. Tomoko, who deals with accomodation in the office, managed to get pretty smashed on one cocktail, this after assuring everyone that she could drink 2 bottles of wine without falling over - hmm. However Tomoko is good fun and a crowd of us are going to go sea fishing in Tokyo bay in August, organised by her husband. (I realise that 'sea' fishing in Tokyo bay doesn't quite have the Hemmingway-marlin-fishing-off-cuba kind of style to it, but you have to start somewhere). I must have got drunk at the farewell party as i ended up drinking sake. This is always a good indicator of my state as if I am sober or thereabouts, sake for me is pretty rank stuff. But with a few inside me I suddenly feel the urge to be more Japanese and thus start shouting for sake, or if I'm really drunk, shochu, which is poor man's paint stripper from southern Japan. Anyway this accounted for a nagging head on saturday. But to be 'more Japanese', I would probably be better off sticking to the beer or going onto even ranker Japanese whisky (or maybe they spell it the US way whiskey) both of which appear to be far more popular than sake these days. In a way it is a shame, but it does mean that the sake you get these days is much better quality than the gut rot that used to be available, by all accounts. Apparently little specialised sake breweries are opening up all over the show now, which is good news, and not just for the Japanese, for me too.

The one time I've had really top notch sake was when a student took me out on the piss. This was years ago and the guy was Fujino-san. He was an old guy, about 60-65 and a patent attorney for Snowbrand,who recently have had some pretty severe scandals even by Japanese standards, but in those days were a big company in the dairy products market. I thought this guy was great as he was a Japanese salary man of the old school. He lived in Kanagawa, about 2 hours from Tokyo and his lesson was on a saturday afternoon. This was thhe only time in his weekly work schedule that he could fit in an English lesson. He used to come to the lesson and basically slag off his colleagues of the younger generation for not working hard enough. He was in the office at 7 every morning and was the last to leave, past 10 every night (so he said) and couldn't understand why the younger generation weren't doing the same, if not longer hours..."they are younger than me, and they live in Tokyo. I am and old man and still I work harder than them. I fear for the company" was the gist of the first 5 minutes of every lesson, and he was right as Snowbrand now apparently does not exist, or rather it has changed its identity after the scandals alluded to earlier.

Anyway, slightly ff the point here. So, Fujino liked me as I was a teacher (major respect) and I liked a beer. There may have been more to it than that, who knows. But getting back to the original rambling, he took me out drinking one saturday after work (I expect he rationalised it by thinking it was study time, therefore he could leave his office). Usually, when you go out with students, they take you to an izakaya, or to their mistresses house for dinner (that's another story), but this guy took me to the Hotel New Otani in Akasaka, one of the most swish places in town and one which I had not expected to be taken to. With us was also the school manager, whose name I have now forgotten but I can remember she was a bit of a looker. So, up to the 20-something floor and into a bar that it would cost 20 quid to walk past, but we breeze in and its all smiles and hellos to Fujino, who is obviosly a regular. We sit and he orders sake and yakitori for the 3 of us, and this sake is absolutely sublime. Delicious, melt in the mouth, like drinking liquid velvet. Of course I drank plenty of it and can't remember too much of the evening. One thing I do remember is him sitting there with a beautific smile on his face saying nothing excpet "you are a beautiful couple" to the school mamager and I every 5 minutes, and nothing else. Heaven knows how much the evening cost as he would not let us pay, but I know that I will not be able to afford to drink there for a long time.
And I blame him for making me dislike sake as I spent the next couple of years drinking a lot of it, but much cheaper versions, which give you stinking hangovers, in an effort to rdiscover the essence of the east...or get really drunk, take your pick.

So anyway, more specialsed sake breweries mean better quality sake, and probably better quality hangovers.

I was going to harangue the Japanese banking system in today's polemic, but that will have to wait for another day. Lastly there is a new link, this one is to Thana Towers, the website of Bangkok Dave of the Olive tree fame. Nice to have you aboard Dave.

Thursday, 26 June 2003

not enough hours in the day

want to write stuff, but am tired and shagged out after a long squawk (to paraphrase). managed a sidle today and got onto the namboku line without braining anyone. obviously i was in nishi kasai (new job place) today, although still not really started - was being confused about salaries today, made a change from being confused about schedules. thought monday this week was to be my last ever teaching day (for the forseeable anyway) and it was, unless you can forsee (is there meant to be another 'e' in there...?) monday next week, when i shall be back at stalker central okegawa for one last time...again. also had an auspicious moment last week as bought and used a non-gillette razor for the first time...i was going to say 'in 15 years' but i think i can say my life. am now seeing the folly of my ways as this new japanese razor 'with rotating drum cylinder to make bristles stand proud" is crap and cuts my chin and throat far more than the old one - if i change back, will it be a defeat?

plants are doing well, percy thrower coriander is growing pretty well, but all the original stuff now seems to be dead - what am i doing wrong? basil continues to show up all the other plants except for the olive tree - had email from dave in bangkok, who originally looked after the olive tree and who passed it on to me. glad to hear you are doing well, soon this tree will be as tall as you are. but also the lavender is putting on a bit of a spurt, which is good as it smells nice, unlike bins, which don't. who knows about the coffee tree, it seems to grow its own cobwebs. most unshrub like.

Sunday, 22 June 2003

hot hot hot

are three words that sum up Japan this afternoon, although it is cooler than it was this morning, when it was sunnier. Now it is cloudy, humid and hot....a bit like a Le Mans crotch....what a deeply unsettling image that is. I really should be studying right now, but somehow can't summon up the energy or compunction. All this after having a good half hour panic yesterday about what I was trying to do, how I was trying to do it, what the f**k was going on, that sort of thing (but then I watched England stuffing Australia and all was right with the world). My usual study time is in the morning at the office before everyone arrives, but recently this has become more of a 'check-emails-and-do-nothing-time', which will have to change this week.

What is it with certain travel writers? Or rather certain types of travel writers? As a genre, I enjoy reading travel literature very much, unless it is written by Paul Theroux, or anyone who writes like him, like Alan Booth. I am reading Will Ferguson's Hokkaido Highway Blues, sent to me by a doting parent, thank you. This is travel writing in the Bill Bryson vein, i.e. amusing, interesting and, most importantly perhaps, about travelling itself. The problems I have with Paul Theroux is that he is always utterly miserable about anywhere he is, and that the travel books seem to be about him in a place, rather than a place that he is in - if you get my drift - far too self reverential. Same with Alan Booth, who wrote a book called 'The Road to Sato', mentioned by Will Ferguson, where he decides to walk fom Hokkaido to Kyushu and seems to spend 300 pages complaining about it. If you don't want to do it, don't, no-one is forcing you, you daft bugger. I know no-one was forcing me to read the books, but I want to know about Japan (or other parts of the world) so I read these books. Although now, I avoid Paul Theroux books as I do not want to be depressed reading about something that that should inspire. But I can't understand the compulsion to write in this way. I've been in Japan for nearly six years and still get the wide-eyed awe and fascination bit every now and again (as should everyone) and, should I feel the urge to write a travel book about it, would want to write it in such away as to make people say "that sounds fab, I'm off" rather than "christ that sounds awful, I'm never going there".

So what fantastic experience has brought this on? nothing really, just reading these travel books and putting together a bookshelf yeasterday afternoon. OK, there was a little bit of one yesterday afternoon. I went for a run along the river bank, the Arakawa of this blogspot fame, at about 5pm. It was getting towards the end of a long hot day but even though i was running along the banks surrounded by about 12 million people, I could not hear one sound of man made noise. I had clear blue sky, a gorgeous yellow-orange sun starting its descent and the sound of birds and insects. In the middle of Tokyo, it was definitely a moment.

Except that I was far to shagged out to appreciate it at the time.

Tuesday, 17 June 2003


Today was the first day in the new office - it was weird as I don't know what's is going on...nothing new there then. Anyway, I get two days at the new office then it is back to the old office until the end of the month. The reason for this is so I can do one part of my new job, the really shitty part that no-one else wants to do - oh lucky day. Still, it wasn't that bad and I'm sure I will have a clue sooner or later.

But getting there - now that was fun. Rainy season really started with a vengence today, so the walk to the station was a little damp as it was raining and humid. Now since I've been in Japan I have always got the train going against the rush hour flow, so space hasn't been a problem, until today. And not only was the train really busy, but also the one there when I arrived was delayed, so the 8:01 became the 8:11. This meant that not only was it late, but it had 3 trains worth of people trying to get on. And it was really cramped. Chest crushingly cramped. Can't physically move cramped. And hot. And humid. And somewhat akin to a train in Mumbai (I suspect). So that train was late, which made me late for the connection.

Now, when Japanese people want to get onto a crowded train, they kind of sidle up to the door way, hook their arm under the upper doorway sill and then lever themselves and eventually just push on, crushing everyone back a little further. I had always wondered why the sidle, rather than just push, and today I found out.

As we remember. I was late for the connection. I was changing from the Keihin-Tohoku line (really busy commuter line highly reminiscent of the Northern Line) to the Namboku line (a jolly new subway contraption with doors actually on the platform to stop people throwing themselves in front of trains in fits of depression (the other way the subway companies are trying to combat this all too frequent occurence is to put mirrors on the opposite wall of the platform, apparently if you see yourself you're less likely to top yourself - I don't understand this)). Where were we. Yes, so, onto the namboku line. As i was coming down the stairs i saw a train waiting and thought "crickey, this may save me a few precious minutes" so I launched myself at the gaping door, like a Japanese commuter, but where they, as we remember, sidle, I flailed. I got my arm into the requite 'hooked' position for the doorway to lever myself, but forward momentum was such that I went straight throught the doorway and propelled myself into the middle aged lady - my elbow connecting quite firmly with her skull, just around the eyebrow...

I feel sure she would have cried out, but was in way too much shock. To add insult to injury, although I apologised profusely, she then had to endure her journey of 3 or 4 stops with her head almost, but not quite, nestling in my armpit, such was the crowded nature of the train.

All in all it was not a great experience. Well, for the woman I brained anyway.

Moving on

Well done Bentley for winning Le Mans this year - start to finish win with Tom Kristiensen getting his 4th in a row. Magnificient stuff from him. And well done to to Ferrari for the Prodrive 550 Marenello winning the GTS class.

Sadly the Radio Le Mans link will have to go, but will be back again next year.

Sunday, 15 June 2003

Le Weekend

So it has been a couple of days since the last update and I know that everyone is dying to hear what's been going on. Well Friday was a DoS meeting where my new position was announced to the world at large, well, the other DoSs, and I can say that is was received. That's about all I can say really. Indifference could be another way, or with boredom. But who cares. I also found out who else applied for it and am still a little surprised that I got it (although I could go for a big dose of hubris and say something about the quality of the opposition, but that would not be fair). Otherwise the meeting was on the dull side, which is not surprising as they usually are - would they be better with some genuine discussion rather than stale dissemination of information? I think so, give people some ownership of decisions, that sort of thing. But that is not how the company works, more's the pity. Beers afterward were fun, and there was me trying to convince Minako, myself and my conscience that I woud not be drinking after the meeting...yeah right.

Saturday was, of course, the epic All Blacks-England match from Wellington. Now let's be honest, it was a pretty awful game. It wasn't helped by an absolutely shocking referee - hold your head in Australian shame, Stuart Dickinson - but both teams had a bad day at the office. Luckily England's real strength, their defence, did hold out and therefore we won. In the end we had 9 people over, including 2 Kiwis, so the atmosphere was most convivial and not a small amount of beer was consumed. I feel sure that I am the first gaijin that has lived in this block, so it may have come as a bit of a surprise to the other Japanese residents to hear a very vocal bunch of foreigners bellowing at the tv for 2 hours - and there was an awful lot of bellowing.

Now, of course, is Le Mans time. I am sitting here at 130pm listining to the 630am update - Go Bentley Go! - live from the race. As with the cricket, live sport from the other side of the world. Isn't that fab! The proposed messenger conference never seemed to take place around start time, I think this may have been something to do with the amount of beer and/or cotes du rhone being consumed in various corners of the world. Let us now consider Japanese sports coverage.

TV Asahi are really into motorsports and Le Mans in particular. Because the race started late in this part of the world, at 11pm, TV Asahi decided to show 7 hours of uninterrupted coverage. "Great" says the motorsports enthusiast. But this is Japan, of course. The show has to be hosted by a 'talent', which is Japanese shorthand for small young fit girl who knows nothing about [insert show's focus here]. So with the race starting at 11pm, the first actually footage of racing is shown at 1120...the first lap and a half or so, then it is back to the studio for some more brainlessness. Then a 30 minute section about Japanese cars racing this year (basically the Team Goh Audi, but a bit about the Taisen Porsche), then back to the circuit for another lap and a half, then back to the studio. Doh! Not once in about 2 hours did they go through positions or anything like that. I had to give up, although the alcohol was doing it's nefarious best at this point. Minako said TV Asahi needed a 'talent' to get people to watch, or something like that. But surely that can't be right as the only people who are going to watch live Le Mans coverage at 2am are the people that really want to watch the racing and who don't give a toss about the studio, i.e me. I just don't think they get it. In another example of this craziness, the Champions League football final coverage started an hour and a half before kick off, showing various things. It was scheduled to stop at 6am, a time that didn't really take into consideration the fact that there may be extra time and penalties. So just when this match actually got interesting, the coverage stopped and we went to the news! So why on earth did we need an hour and a half of crap first. Anyway, luckily I did not watch it so it didn't really bother me, but I did want to watch Le Mans.

So there we go. I shall continue to sit here and listen to the fab radio le mans coverage and wait, without bated breath, for the 11pm Le Mans show on TV Asahi - great scheduling that, let's start the coverage after the race has finished - bizarre, like most things in this country

Thursday, 12 June 2003

It's Le Mans weekend

But most of you know that already. For those that don't, check out the new link, tune in, grab a bottle of cotes du rhone, half a roast chicken in a bagette and enjoy the show...

Wednesday, 11 June 2003

how things change

So you may have read before about how I had convinced myself, and those around me, that the promotion that was in the offing was not to be. Well bugger me six ways from Tuesday if they didn't go and offer it to me. And there was me convinced, really convinced, that someone else had got it. I feel sure there is a moral there somewhere, but to hell with self reflection, that is for wallowing in at weekends. Naturally I have graciously accepted the position (was there ever any doubt?) but am not sure when I will dispense with present duties and commence with new ones - July is looking a good bet. In an amusingly ironic twist, one of the reasons I got the job was because of a solid year's experience in the recruitment industry in London - those of you who know what a shambles that all was will be joining me in saluting the good ship Centre People for the experiences she gave me.

So from a most despondent weekend, the week, figuatively speaking, has brightened considerably. In real terms it is grey and humid as rainy season can't make its mind up whether to start or not. This, as you can well imagine is playing havoc with the coriander, which desperately needs a good solid burst of sunshine to really get going. (havoc is a strangely spelt word - I'm just trying to think of any other words in English that end 'oc', but can't find too many...Roc, I suppose. Apparently it is from Old French and/or Middle English and weirdly enough, is also a verb - mayhap I shall go a havocking on the morrow etc)

Anyway, what we are all really looking forward to is saturday afternoon and the England - All Blacks game. Well, I am anyway. People are coming over, including Julia's NZ partner Mark and we shall all get pissed and cheer on the boys in white (well, Mark won't, I guess, but he's pretty quite and the rest of us will no doubt make more than enough din to cover him). If I had a goat, it would most definitely be got by the all this nonsense to do with David Beckham and where he will ply his advertising contracts next year. Who cares? Is it really worth so many column inches? Actually Japan is a good place to be as it is not much of a story over here, they have their own sporting gods to bow down to (Come on Ichiro! Sock it to 'em Matsui, Slap him around a bit Chiotaikai!) and Beckham's new hair do is usually small fish in comparison. No, it is when I log on the the Telegraph, of all places, and see that the top half dozen stories are all about will-he-won't-he-should-he-(be-shot) blah blah blah. I mean really, for goodness' sakes, give it a rest. And come on England...

Monday, 9 June 2003

BOP...and more

So I tried to write this last night, when I returned from BOP a little worse for wear, but for some reason I couldn't get into the website. Maybe because I was alittle worse for wear, who knows. So now it is monday and we can reflect on what went on. BOP, the Big Omiya Picnic, may have to be renamed MSOP, the Medium Sized Omiya Picnic as only about half of the teachers who said they would turn up actually did. But for those that did, we had a most pleasant, relaxing and enjoyable time in Hikawa Koen. Wine and beer was drunk, food was consumed and...christ this is riveting stuff, isn't it? It was a picnic, we went to a park and got drunk, end of story really. But it also sums up human nature. The two teachers who have campaigned and complained most vociferously about the lack of organised social events were two of the ones who didn't bother to turn up. Why is that?

Talking of 'why is that' questions, Japan is full of them. It is also a country where style comes before content or thought much more often than say the UK. A good example of this is weddings. Apparently it is very popular in Europe and the UK to get married in June - June Brides is a big thing, or so I am led to believe by Minako. So naturally if you are Japanese and want to get married and be jolly modern and international looking to boot, you absolutely must get married in June, darling! At least this is what the magazines have told the marriage punters, or vice versa. But, and here is the flaw in the system, June is a shitty month to get married in Japan as it is rainy season - for those of you who have not experienced rainy season, the weather looks like February in england (i.e. grey and wet), but the temperature is up to about 25-30 degrees and humid as well. So why is it that everyone wants to get married in june? who knows. Today was Okegawa day, as well you know, and the receptionist came back to work today after getting married (though to be fair her wedding was at the end of may), but again in style over thought moment, the 'hottest' place to honeymoon right now is Australia, where it is now Autumn and her perfect beach honeymonn was spent watching the rain come teeming down. Do these people have no idea?

The plants are doing well. Excellent advice, it appears, re the olive tree pruning (see Tuesday 3rd June) as it has stopped growing upwards and is definitely trying to grow sideways (unlike me, who desperately wants to stop growing sideways, but has little success). The new 'percy thrower coriander' seems to be growing, we have four plants, although one seems a little on the small and stunted side (for those that know him, please insert your own Robbie joke here), the others are doing all the right things. As for the 'old' coriander, I think we may have to give up on that soon. it is will be a harsh decision, but someone will have to make it.

And just a quick word for the England rugby team - well done stuffing the Maori's earlier this afternoon, bring on the All Blacks...And well done to the England Sevens team for winning the Twickenham 7s and only just failing to win the series.

Saturday, 7 June 2003

no news...

So of course nothing was actually said about the interview on friday evening. Well, actually that is not true. What was said to me was that the decision has been put off until Tuesday. Or, as I read it, the position has been offered to someone else and they have been given the weekend to decide what they want to do. Now, even though I said before that I may not accept the position if it was offered to me, that does not mean that I don't want to be offered it. Far from it. (listening to TMS, Zimbabwe now 73-9, goodness me). If it is not offered I shall be mightily pissed off, as one should.

of more, there is not much as it is friday evening and I am a little inebriated. perhaps more tomorrow...

Thursday, 5 June 2003

Isn't the internet fantastic!

Sitting here in Tokyo at half past nine on thursday evening and I'm listening to Test Match Special on Radio Five Live. Personally I think that is fab.

Wednesday, 4 June 2003

Raining again

It are raining in Tokyo again. Is it my imagination or has it been a pretty wet spring here in Japan this year? For those of you not in Japan, this won't mean much, but goddammit one of the reasons I came back was to get away from the grey of English weather, and what do I find? Japan is trying to do the same.

So, today was interview day. I don't think I have mentioned before, but I applied for the role of 'Director of Recruitment & Personnel' here at work, mainly because I have been doing the director of studies job for long enough for it to become a bit too straight forward and auto-pilot-ish (well, that and the principal telling me I should). So it was a not entirely unpleasant 2 hour grilling by the aforementioned principal, and also the chap who was the DRP, but has now moved into another role. 3 other people are having interviews and the whole thing will be decided on Friday afternoon, apparently, although knowing how Shane work, this could well mean friday next week or next month. But I am undecided as to what to do if they decide to offer me the job. On the one hand it is a promotion, more responsibilities, new challenges and things to do, more access to people for the mba and so on. But on the other hand the pay increase isn't that great, it is more travelling as the office is further, probably more stress and less dealing directly with people face-to-face (although this is a good thing as well, sometimes). So we will have to wait and see what happens on Friday afternoon I guess. But fear not, regular updates will follow.

Not much to report on the window boxes as it has been raining all day, but I have 'pinched out the new growth' on the olive tree so am awaiting developments re bushiness down below. Also here's a weird thing, on the coffee tree there is a kind of siamese leaf, which is attached to the main stalk at both ends and is growing in a sort of horse shoe shape. Weird.

Tuesday, 3 June 2003


weather forecast says it will be raining on sunday - there goes BOP again. Bugger!


and check out the new link - some of you will have seen this before, but for others, it will be a whole new world...
not a lot happened today

Is about the size of it really. Some olive tree pruning advice has come in from the parental quarter. "pinch out the new growth to encourage bushiness underneath" or words to that effect. Well, I shall undoubtedly give it a go and keep you informed of what happens. Also mention was made of the spelling and apparent non-use of the spellchecking facility - this is true but only so far as the good folk at blogspot have failed to provide the wherewithal to automatically check the spelling (I am only in blogger basic afterall, perhaps it is a feature of the superduper blogger extra service, which looks good except you have to pay for it, and that's not where I'm at, man). So I'm afraid it is dodgy spelling all the way. It doesn't help that I still have to look at the keyboard most of the time when I an typing, though this is getting better.

Ah, the other thing I was going to say was Congratulations to Paul and Ruth, who got married on Saturday. As I said on the phone, I would have sent a card and message etc, but the invitation you sent to us is still somewhere in Clanfield and so I never actually knew the date of the nuptualling. So sorry about about that and good luck for the future.

And watch out for Japanese bakeries. They are ok if you like your bread to be a) sweet or b) covered in cheese or c) covered in seaweed and fish eggs. Otherwise, you've had it. And the ready sliced bread you can buy in supermarkets is somewhat akin to soft squishy cardboard. Oh how I crave a granary batch...

Monday, 2 June 2003

Back to work

Monday so it must be Okegawa. At the moment I teach on a Monday at a relatively new school. Okegawa is a weird place in that although it is a nondescript place in the middle of nowhere, it has quite an infamous place in Japanese modern history. It was there, about six or seven years ago, that the the first Japanese case of a stalker who got someone else to murder the object of their infatuation took place. No really. According to Minako, who is suitably vague about this, the woman was in her mid 20s was killed by some guy who the stalker asked to top her. Apparently this foxed the police for a long time as they couldn't find any links between the murderer and victim. Anyway the case continues in court to this day.

now, one of the perils of using a small but perfectly formed laptop has just been made clear to me. Because the keys are small and clso together, it is quite posssible to press exciting combinations of keys that do strange things like move whole chunks of the screen around, without even realising that you have done it until you look at the screen and think 'oh, that's changed' or 'where has the task bar gone...?' This i have now done and the top aprt of the internet exploer screen has disappeared, as has the bar at the bottom...hmm. i love computers me. oh, and I took my dodgy disk into work this morning to see if I could retrieve my work from yesterday, no such luck. Even Chris the technically minded chap couldn't figure it out.

And I know you're all dying to hear about the plants. well, no real news except someone managed to kick over the coriander tub today (and i think i can guess who), making it look more like the Eastern Front circa December 1916, with piles of dead herbacious borders amongst the retreating coassacks. or something like that. At least the new percy thrower generation is doing better in the egg cups - when will their day come..?

Sunday, 1 June 2003

more of sunday

steve emailed me to say that i should talk to my coriander to make it grow. naturally i have been doing this all along, but it seems to no avail. my new plan is this. i have planted some new seeds in an old egg carton (with soil of course) as a kind of seeding tray - i seem to remember percy thrower doing this sort of thing on blue peter years ago and thought i'd give it a try. the reason that perhaps the coriander isn't doing well is that in the original tub it is too crowded, and in its new one, my transference of seedlings was slapdash to say the least, so i probably killed them all in the process (though some are still hanging in there, in a kind of vegetarian recreation of the somme, it must be admitted). anyway, some of the new seeds have sprouted, when they are strong enough, i will transfer them to a big tub - and the cunning bit is that i hopefully won't have to break their roots to do it as they are each growing in their little egg cup thing. alan titchmarsh eat your heart out. oh and i forgot to mention, i also have a coffee tree, which was left to me by a chap named dave coleman when he went back to australia earlier this year. this is sort of happy but,not having a lot of experience with coffee trees, it's hard to tell. and i have an olive tree, which was left to me by a chap named david mathias, another fantasy football punter who moved to thailand in september last year. the olive tree is going grat guns and has shot up this spring. in fact, such is its prodigous spurt that i am toying with the idea of pruning it - though mindful of the fact that i am killing more plants than i am growing right now, any olive tree pruning advice will be gratefully received.

in the last posting i alluded to working today. as no doubt everyone has experienced, today was a "my f**king computer" day. My first brush with microsoft mayhem came between 10 and 12, when i wrote a draft questionnaire for my mba. i had sketched out the sort of questions i wanted to ask, but this was to actually put thing into some sort of order (you may think it is easy to write a questionnaire - think again as it has its own rules of ethics, triangulation and other stuff i don't understand). so finished off, i go to print, without (har har snigger snigger) saving it first. i didn't even get the blue screen of death, just something about not enough memory (patently untrue), freeze and shut down. this annoyed me. so, thinking i would try something else, i attached the fdd and then set about writing a report that i and my colleagues have to give to the company on friday. saving every 5 minutes onto a fd would, i think have been enough. so, when this was finished at about 230, i saved again and, just to check, minimized the screen and checked it was on the fdd - and it was. until i closed word and went to the fdd just to check for a third time. well, it is still there but the computer won't open it, says it can't access it or something. it was at his point i was going to do to the computer what i did to the ps2 controller on friday night (but minako was rightly worried about the paper doors...). it is still on the disk and so i will take it into the office tomorrow to see if i can print it there (or even work out what is wrong as there is a computer in the office that has an english o/s - you think computers are hard to work out, try getting warning messages in japanese!) but i'm not holding out a lot of hope. so the best laid plans of me went astray thanks to a combination of bill gates and nec, who built this dastardly machine. i was exceptionally annoyed by the end of all this, but have now rediscovered my equilibrium through beer. marvellous stuff.
You just can't trust the weather

I should realise this, of course, coming from England. Today was meant to be the day of the Big Omiya Barbeque, or BOB for short, but BOB had to be changed. First of all, in a draconian bout of anti-enjoying yourself legislation, the Omiya Koen Parky has decreed that none shall feast on barbequed fodder in his domain, oh no (unless you are Japanese and it is cherry blossom-viewing-drinking-in-the-park-eating-grilled-yakitori season (annoyed! moi!)). So BOB has become BOP, the Big Omiya Picnic. But about the weather. Typhoon #4 made its way to Japan yesterday, the earliest typhoon for 40 years or something (what happened to the other 3 this year?). So yesterday was hot and sticky and chucking it down with rain. Stay in, feel depressed etc. The forecast said Sunday would be of a similar vein, but of course we are now basking in glorious early evening sunshine, not too warm, not humid at all, in other words, perfect barbeque weather. Has Micheal Fish made the move here? And I stayed in today and worked, thinking that the weather would be bad, but I'll save that anguished story for later...