Wednesday, 27 September 2006

Back in the saddle

OK, we are, as the title says, back in the saddle. The old NEC laptop has been replaced by a new NEC laptop, which some might say is only courting disaster (and a certain part of me thinks the same way) but it is new and seems to work so far, since last Sunday, and came with the added bonus that the internet was up and running with a few clicks of the mouse (we were both expecting lengthy phone calls to Guatemala in order to get it going, but no, just a simple “do you have an existing provider?” and from there it was simple).

So, quite a lot has happened since I was last able to post. Various people have had birthdays, for a start, including me and golf-playing-brother, so well done there. The Kool Kid has finally departed from Prime Ministry and has been replaced by the rather dull and dreary Shinzo Abe, who looks very much like the 50 odd PMs who came before The Kid (i.e. grey, boring, accountant-like). But, interestingly (if you like these sorts of things) he is the first Japanese PM to be born after the end of WWII, which makes him one of the baby boomers that are causing all the problems for the pension systems (hope he’s paid his premiums…). Anyway he says he wants to continue with The Kids’ reforms and, even, speed them up, which would be good to see. I hope he does something interesting soon as I have got to think of a nickname for him (i.e. Koizumi = The Kool Kid; Mori = The Fuckwit and; Hashimoto = The Bryan Ferry of Japanese Politics (which I agree isn’t a snappy nickname, but hey, there you go)) and it hasn’t been easy so far, and calling him The Accountant is just too lazy (and could apply to most of the working ale population). Nevertheless he’s here to stay, apparently, though no news of when we’re meant to be having an election – not for a while as, thinking about it, The Kid had one this year over the postal dispute thing that I wrote about somewhere.

Another thing you might have seen is that one of the Japanese royal family dropped a sprog within the last month. This was big news as it had lots to do with the succession. Now personally I am something of a republican – no, I’m everything of a republican unless royal families go the way of the Dutch, or maybe Belgians, where the royals all cycle around and are generally normal people. When they start to get ideas above their station, like having people bow at them and all that nonsense, let alone taking my hard earned yen, or pounds, and then just being given it for no good reason (give it back to me, I say), then my goat begins to be got. But when you throw in a good dose of misogyny, as the Japanese do, they can all go the way of the Dodo for all I care. But I’m writing about then so there must be something there. Anyway the problem was no male heirs were being born and under Japanese law, or the constitution, or more likely some old tosspot in the Imperial Household Agency, women are not allowed to ascend to the imperial throne as they might sully it, much in the same way as women are not allowed to enter the sumo dojo. This was a vexing question as although the crown prince was a man, his progeny was the princess Aiko, definitely a girl, so when it came down to it, how was she going to be able to rule the heavens and earth, or whatever it is the emperor rules? The Kid was going to have a committee look at it but then the crown princes’ brother’s wife got pregnant and everyone held their breath for 10 months (it is one month longer in Japan – they’re special, you know). But luckily for everyone concerned the brother, who has a 70s porn star moustache, and his lovely wife, had a boy! Thank goodness for that, everyone said, as now we don’t have to address any difficult questions of equality, gender bias or any other nineteenth century concepts we don’t like and have managed to avoid for the last 100 years (goodness it has been a while since I let the bile rise). So now, I think, the succession goes the crown prince, then the brother, then the brother’s son. If I was princess Aiko I’d sue.

Naturally there have been a few scandals over the past few weeks. One of the better ones was the Gifu Prefecture government who made their very own slush fund, as you do, from the very tax revenue that should probably have been paid to the royal family. Anyway after a while they realized that even by bloated Japanese standards they had skimmed off quite a large amount of cash, so much so that they couldn’t spend it all, even if they went to the swankiest of restaurants and the most expensive of foreign ‘fact-finding’ holidays work tours. But then, to really piss off the people of Gifu, when the fraud office started sniffing around the slush fund some of the members took bundles of cash and threw them in the incinerator! What bastards! I mean ‘appropriating’ other people’s money is one thing, but burning it when you get found out…

Otherwise there has been the usually spate of parents killing their kids then committing suicide; parents killing their kids then bottling out of suicide; kids killing their parents and not even thinking about suicide; and more unusually a crack down on drink driving. This was because of a couple of particularly nasty crashes, including one where a drunk driver lamed into a family’s SUV so hard it pushed the SUV off a bridge, whereupon three children drowned as their parents struggled in vain to release them from the car. The drunk driver was apprehended even though he tried to drive off. In fact traffic accidents have been in the news very much recently, none more so than our very own Kawaguchi, where a not-drunk driver, whilst adjusting his car stereo, managed to run into a group of 30 kindergarten kids and their teachers who were walking to a park, killing two little girls and putting 16 others into hospital. Tragic stuff. Anyway it seems to be being taken a little bit more seriously now, which can only be good.

As for this bit of the clan, things are ok except both the young ‘un and the Guru both have colds at the moment and are generally under the weather (and as the weather is bad, it makes it doubly worse). The young ‘un’s vocabulary is increasing all the time, his latest favourite word is atsui, or atchee as he pronounces it, which is the Japanese word for hot – this sounds good and most of the time it is as he points to quite hot things, like the hot tap in the bath, and says this repeatedly. However for really hot things, like the grill on the cooker, he will say ‘atchee’ once and then go and try and touch the hot thing, rather defeating the purpose of the self administered warning. Oh well, kids eh?

Thursday, 14 September 2006


Was the last thing the NEC laptop said last week, and then...silence. This is going to make posting pretty tricky for a while, at least until we can rustle up enough of the folding stuff to persuade Dell or some other such cheapo desktop manufacturer to part with their wares.

So, watch this space...