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.

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