Sunday, 30 November 2003


Not everyday your old man gets a mention in a national newspaper, well done chaps.
  • Beaujolais
  • Saturday, 29 November 2003


    hmm, saved and posted that last post with a view to go back and edit (i know how this compurter works now) and it seems to have disappeared off my 'edit' pane. so, i know there are typos in the post below, but i can't do anything about them now.

    ps watched 'chicago' tonight on dvd - please pick any icon on rathergood's swear-o-tron for this piece of nonsense. oh, and add matrix #3 as well.
    Saturday night

    What with the Rugby World Cup over, what is a chap supposed to do? Everyone in Blighty has had it easy - games at 9am mean that the rest of the day is free for drinking and falling over, so when the cup finishes, nothing much has changed. Us poor souls in Japan are now faced with empty evenings staring at the bottom of a bottle of red....

    oh ok, not all that bad then.

    But it does leave a gap, so what better way to fill it than with stories from this week's press to delight and amuse (if I'm lucky), or just give me something to write (much more likely). All these taken from this week's Daily Yomiuri.

    First up is a delightful new scam that some of the youth of Japan have been practising recently. Imagine a spotty adolescent/young hoodlum phoning up a random old person:

    "Hi, it's me [pretending to be errant offspring]"
    "Er hello [in a slightly bewildered fashion], how are you?"
    "Not good, I've crashed my car/got to have a abortion/need to pay off gambling debts/etc, can you give me 10,000/100,000/500,000 yen right now?"
    "Er... [still bewildered]...ok. How?"
    "Pay it into this bank account."

    And they did. To the tune of lots of millions of yen, apparently. Makes you wonder, really, along the lines of, why didn't the old persons tell their 'offspring' to come and collect the money? Or why didn't the old persons mention any names during the exchange? Or even, didn't any of the old persons wonder about the strange voices at the other end of the line? But there you go, but there are plenty of good scams that take in old 'English' persons as well, so we shouldn't wonder too much.

    Interesting news, perhaps even ground breaking, about crime in Japan. Since 1995, the number of robbery cases has increased threefold, as well as injurous assault, sexual assault, fraud and embezzlement all on the increase as well. Not that ground breaking, you may think, but, this is the first piece of reporting asbout crime that I have ever read in Japan where the main focus of the article wasn't about foreigners commiting crimes. In fact, of the 4 columns, the word foreigner appears only once at the bottom of column three. Those of you reading this outside Japan may thing I am being a little over sensitive about this, but it is odd to be a foreigner in a country and every report you read about increasing crime is about foreigners. Oops, could turn into a rant here, so let us move on.

    Those of you who have read this blog for a while may well remember a rant I had a while back about the government putting tax payers money into a failing bank. [if this rant was at the start of August it may well no longer exist. Blogger seesm to have swallowed these for some reason. Apologies]. Anyeay, the point is is that the govt is at it again. This time it is Ashikaga Bank, which apparently has overstepped its adequacy limit, or something, so it may well be off down the tubes if someone doesn't give it a helping hand. Now I'm all for helping out needy banks in times of trouble [actually I'm not, but bear with me here], but this is after Ashikaga has recieved 30 billion yen in 1998 (that's maybe 150million quid) in 1998 and 105 billion yen (oh lordy!) in 1999...of taxpayers money.

    So let's put this into perspective. Some punk kid scams a little old lady out of 100,000 yen and gets put in prison for a year or two.
    The Japanese government skims 130 billion yen out of the country and gets to do it again next year.


    These stories were of course mixed in with then usual reports of white collar crime (Kobunsha Exec in 22million yen embezzlement), non foreigner related muders ('Man shot Grandson, killed self), really dull political news (Govt, Parties spar over pension reform) and an unusually large number of people doing silly things on mountains (Man dies after plunge on Mt Fuji; 4 rescued, plus 30 Hikers found safe after n ight on Mt Kiyosumi).

    Last but by no means least is a another story about the government and money. In a report published on Tuesday, it apperas that over 40% of central government employees still receive all their salary in cash. Yes, in the most technologically advanced country on the planet, 40% of salaries are paid by one of the Office Ladies (and rest assured, it would be a female member of staff) popping down to the local Sumitomo-Mitsui on a friday lunchtime and collecting enough cash to pay everyone in the office in a smal brown envelope. I think it's fab that you can walk around with a very large amount of yen in your purse ad not worry about it.

    Anyway, as I read the first aprt of this article I was scoffing at the backwardness of these silly Japanese. But then I read on. Actually, 40% have their salaries paid in part or all in cash. Now, as you may well know, your average salaryman doesn't actually control his salary. It goes straight into the bank account, an account for which he probably doesn't have a bank card, and his good lady wife doles out a kind of weekly pocket money...

    What better way, therefore, than to have most of your salary paid onto your bank account, to keep the good lady wife happy, but a part paid cash-in-hand to do with what you will?

    And there was me thinking these guys were stupid. Just goes to show....

    Wednesday, 26 November 2003

    whither the weather?

    yesterday was like manchester in a monsoon - really grey, real downpours, running water in the streets, cold, miserable etc.

    today was like sydney in the spring - blue skies, balmy temperatures, glorious sunshine, birds singing in the trees etc.

    what is the world coming too?

    Sunday, 23 November 2003


    Goodness me what a game that was. I can only say that on Sunday afternoon after watching it twice at home. I went to the clubhouse to watch it, of course, but naturally couldn't remember much about the actual game itself by the time I got home. But the emotion, the passion, the excitement, that I remember from last night. What a game!

    The clubhouse was once again packed, this time with English and Aussies and the atmosphere was great. There were even a few Japanese there, surprisingly enough, all of whom seemed to be supporting Australia, for some reason. I'm sure their natto didn't taste too good this morning. And what about Australia, my didn't they play well. Considering they only had about 42% territory and possesion, they seemed very tenacious, dragging the game to 100 minutes. But still, we won! It would have been a lot quicker, I suspect, if Ben Kay had held onto the ball when 5 yards from the line, but oh well. And Jonny and Jonno...what guys. Hearts of oak. And the whole team. Robinson's try, how pumped was he after scoring? Magnificent stuff.

    Most amused that every time Australia took a penalty kick, the English half of the pub erupted in chants of 'Boring boring Aussies!'. Also, because we're all post-modern ironists out here, we did the same when England took a shot at goal as well, just to be fair, you realise. Managed to shout myself hoarse throught the game, so post match analysis was at a premium. However, I think most of it was fairly simple stuff like 'yeeeesss' or, in more lucid and thoughtful moments 'fuuucking yeeeesss'. As I said, I had to watch the game again this morning to find out what actually happened in the match. This wold be a useful skill to acquire with my post match telephone conversations. I usually speak with parentals after big rugby matches and, in most cases, I have little or no recollection of what was said. I suspect that more post-match analysis was aired, probably along similar lines as above, and Minako reminded me this morning that apparently a card we posted on Thursday has already arrived. But anything else, can't really remember, so apologies if I promised to do anything but haven't yet, if I did, best drop me a line to remind me.

    Think I may have left a message on Chard's answerphone as well....

    So it's all over for another 4 years. Roll on the 6 Nations in February. Should some of the team retire? I think some of them should, like Back, Dally, maybe Hill and Leonard probably should give it up after 113caps, but I don't know. Jonno should stick around for a bit, just to let the new guys get established before he goes - surely 2007 is too far away for him? And a new captain, please don't make Wilkinson the skipper, too much on his plate already.

    So nice try Australia, but Rugby is coming home. Well done England.

    (oh, and a note to 'Mat' from New Zealand, you are the bitterest, sourest poorest excuse for a rugby fan I have ever heard. For those who haven't seen, 'Mat's' insightful comment on the match on the planet-rugbywebsite was something like 'this is the death of world rugby, thank you Wilkinson'. Guess he's forgotten about Andrew Merhtens, Grant Fox etc. Tosser)

    Non-rugby related stuff




    Minako's well.....

    Plants are sort of OK but throttling back for winter...(except the olive tree, which is still shooting up (in the sense of growing quickly, not mainlining extravagant quantities of Class A's))

    Off to watch the Matrix tomorrow after studying...


    ah, to hell with it, yyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssssssssssssssss!

    Tuesday, 18 November 2003

    other blogs

    one thing about doing your own blog is that you wander around and find more blogs, especially through Blogger, who provide this mighty and wonderful service.

    anyway, just finished a book entitled 'the baghdad blog' by salam pax, which is his blog written before and all through the gulf war pt.2. fascinating stuff and the blog is still in existence so go check it out at
  • baghdad blog

  • i won't add it as a permanent on the sidebar as i think you have to ask permission for that sort of thing, blog etiquette, which i don't want to do as i think this guy gets a million emails a day and don't want to bother him.

    thanks to julian who, when he couldn't find a copy of the book to buy for my birthday, gave me his own copy.

    Sunday, 16 November 2003


    England 24 - 7 France.

    Oh yes.

    Oh yes.

    Bring on Australia.

    It's all karma.

    RWC final in 1991, Australia beat England in England.

    RWC final in 2003 England beat Australia in Australia.

    Buddha had it right, what goes around comes around.

    You can't argue with the big guy.

    (where's my weekend gone?)
    What a game!

    What a game! Where did it all come from? Who would have thought it? The passion, the skill, the never say die attitude...what a game. Yes, I think Scotland's dramatic 1-0 victory over Holland in their first leg Euro 2004 playoff will go down as a classic. Shame they'll probably lose the 2nd leg, but there you go.

    And the rugby was pretty good as well. Of course it was. Classic stuff. Great atmosphere in the clubhouse as was naturally packed with Aussies and Kiwis. Best thing was that even the Aussies thought they were going to lose. An Australian guy from the office turned up wearing an All Black shirt! He changed at half time as he'd brought his Wallaby shirt as well. I was standing next to a group of Australians and managed to get them and half the pub pointing at Pratty shouting traitor midway through the second half. All good clean fun.

    Anyway, come on England this afternoon. People coming over and I shall get drunk again - turning into a heavy weekend. Off shopping now for supplies, updates to follow.

    Saturday, 15 November 2003

    saturday afternoon

    Decided not to throw the laptop over the 7th floor parapet as, tempting and enjoyable it would have been, it would have curtailed the internet doings of more than just myself, so thought I'd better not. Very Jeremy Bentham of me, you may say, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet. And it isn't my computer, that was a consideration. But I will now be more circumspect in using the spellchecking facility. It wasn't very good anyway, being based, it seems, on an American kindergarten dictionary and thus any word over 2 syllables or seven letters was automatically flagged. I'm trying to thik of an example, but daren't try it again in case it freezes agan, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

    Anyway, it is saturday afternoon and I find myself with a spare few minutes before heading into 'town' to watch the Wallabies and All Blacks bash lumps out of each other in a lively hostelry known as the clubhouse. This was chosen as the clientele is predominantly antipodean, which should make for a good atmosphere, a sort of sine qua non if you will, for watching these sorts of games. (Think I used that bit of Latin properly, read it in a textbook earlier today and didn't have the foggiest)

    But spare a thought for those who are unable to watch the rugby today. Specifically a chap who works for us who had to be taken to a pyschiatric hospital this week as he has a nervous breakdown and manic depressive psychosis. Not a pleasant thing to have at the best of times, but in Japan I think it must be even worse. Some of you may remember the chap I came out here with, Andy, back in 1996. He went mad as well. Is it me? Am I driving people to these ends? Well, not this chap as I don't really know him, but I have met him and done some training a while ago, so you never know. Anyway hope he gets better soon, especially as out health insurance policy doesn't actually cover in-patient pyschiatric problems, which could prove expensive for this chap. But get this, the policy does cover out patient treatment of the same kind, which seems a bit back to front to me. I mean, this chap is in a bad way, but if he was an out patient he could at least fly back to the UK and get treatment there, but now he is confined to a hospital so can't leave so will be racking up huge bills that he can't get out of even if he wanted to try. Doesn't seem quite fair to me.

    Goodness this has turned into a bit of a rant. Didn't mean it to, so apologies, but, well, I hope you can see my point. (Just in case you're wondering, I checked over a couple of other ex-pat health insurance policies and all seem to say the same thing, so looks like you're a bit buggered if you lose your marbles in a big way over here).

    Quick comment in answer to big golf playing Brother's comment on the last post, no there was nothing about golf in the post that disappeared. There is seldom anything in my posts about golf, what with it being one of the more ridiculous pastimes invented by the Scottish. But I'll tell you what, sometime, in the next few weeks, I'll wite somehthing about golf that isn't too rude, how about that?

    Right, I'm off to the pub. Not really sure who to shout for today as whoever wins will be hard in the final. Let's hope rugby is the winner...

    (PS no spellchecking to be done, so apologies for any typos)

    Tuesday, 11 November 2003


    just spent the last hour writing a long post, went to spell check and the whole bloody thing froze. fuck it.

    topics included rugby, the japanese election, post-holiday depression, studying, plants, urawa reds, sumo and my snazzy new counter.

    the next post may well contain a polemic about NEC laptop computers, assuming I can write one after throwing this machine off the 7th floor of an apartment building...

    Tuesday, 4 November 2003

    what is the world coming to?

    OK, I know it's a bit late, but but what on earth happened to Wales on Sunday night? Rediscovered their passion? Gave it a good crack? Didn't take no for an answer? Who knows, but it seemed to work and produced what has got to be of the best games of rugby I have ever seen - and England wasn't even involved.

    Sets up an intriguing England v Wales quarter-final this weekend, can't wait myself. And, for that matter, sets up a good prospect for NZ v SA, if the Bok pack plays up to its potential and the NZ forwards are as useless as they were on Sunday. Ahh, Rugby World Cups, don't you just love 'em...(well, I do anyway)

    Other than watching lots of rugby and doing not a jot of study, not much happened at the Arakawa Riverview in the last week. The plants are looking a bit healthier after I pulled off another bunch of caterpillars and threw them over the balcony (I must admit to feeling a little guilty about doing that, condemning them to a free fall death over a 7th floor parapet - perhaps its because I'm reading another book by Joe Simpson that seems to include a lot of lines like '...and then he died whilst climbing in Bolivia...', which I suppose is quite normal for one of his books, but still). Also pulled off some of the more completely nibbled leaves, which seemed to perk them up a bit. The olives, rosemary and lavender all seem to be going well too, as the autumn continues to be quite warm and balmy in this neck of the woods.

    That's about it really. Hmmm. Will try to have some deep thoughts to share with you all over the next few days...

    ...probably won't happen