Monday, 22 March 2004


The Guru and I had a lively discussion this week and it all started with sellotape.

Or Scotch tape, for those of you who know it by that nomenclature. The Guru subscibes to a weekly email newsletter from a Japanese woman who lives in England. She has been living there for years and so offers sage and timely advice for those Japanese women who, or who want to, live in the UK. One of her many valuable contributions to the sum of Japanese housewife knowledge of the world is to point out, in no uncetain terms, that English people do not all have a full afternoon cream tea at 4pm everyday, and for this she has earned my undying admiration (as well, I suspect, the vitriol of Japanese tourist agencies trying to flog over priced cream tea holidays to the Cotswolds).

Anyway, in her last missive she started having a go at British sellotape. It is crap quality, you see, always breaking in the wrong place, twisting, difficult to handle and generally a bane in her life. The Guru nodded along with wholehearted agreement. "Useless" she laughed, casting amused looks in my direction (as I had anything to do with it! (But at 1 pound for 5 rolls in Brixton market, what did she expect?)). But the crowning turd, as it were, was the fact that the rolls of tape don't come with a built in cutter. In Japan, apparently, rolls of sellotape come with a small metal clip type thing that is actually a cutter and means you save valuable nanoseconds when wrapping your presents (not that Japanese ever wrap presents, the department does it for you!).

Now I have tried to use these little cutters and cannot get the hang of them, and nor has a friend in Japan Steve, so we prefer the 'biting with your teeth' method favoured by, I think, most English. So the argu.. discussion started on the relative merits of Japanese vs English sellotape and then progressed, through a series of logical bounds, to the Guru stating the opinion that the English never innovate. When they have invented something that is useful, apparently, they never try to improve it whilst the Japanese are always doing this, hence the little metal clip/cutter on sellotape here. My point was that firstly, it isn't an improvement and, if it was, it would catch on in England as well, and that, secondly, the Japanese are respnsible for a whole lot of unnecessary crap in the world mainly because they try and improve on things that don't need improving. And here we reached impasse as neither was willing to concede to the other. Then we went out on Saturday evening and met up with Steve and Yasuko, had the same discussion and came to the same conclusions, only double the numbers.

This is one that could run and run, I fear, as now anything useless or unnecessary that I see in this country I point out, whilst the Guru, when she remembers things that used to drive her crazy in London, doesn't shirk from reminding me. I am willing to concede her views on occasional, small things, like the London Underground, but she will not budge from her view. This made me happy the other night, though. She was washing rice in it's cooking pot when I mentioned that it was easier to wash rice in a seive under running water. "This is the way it's been done for thousands of years" said she.

I don't like to keep score, but that one went on the fridge door.

(The Japanese woman who started all this off, by the by, lives in Margate. Enough said.)

Fukuoka, Kyushu.

I'm off on a business trip!

That's right. Tomorrow I have to troop off to Haneda airport and fly down to Fukuoka on the southern island of Kyushu. We have a new franchise set up there so I have to go down to do some interviews/orientation for a bunch of new teachers who have been 'selected' by the franchisee, and then do a couple of days of training with them as well. Get to stay in a hotel that I don't have to pay for and get extra money for doing my job. Marvellous.

I am looking forward to this as it is a chance to see a new city, meet some new people and generally not be in the office for four days. Sounds like a great deal and should all be smooth as silk as luckily the franchise department isn't one of those where all the staff received, and used, DIY lobotomy kits for christmas last year. Oh hang on...

Full report next week.

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