The Daily Mumble May 2003 Archive
Having now spent one month back in the UK after three years in Japan and Switzerland, May 2003 saw Joseph settling into the city of Bristol. His mission for the month ahead was simple: to move house, to get a job, and to get a social life. All very scary things when one has been living in a gaijin bubble for so long.
The story continues below...
On Tuesday I went to a presentation by Bristol City College, the aim of which was to promote their Access courses. Now, as you may know, I left college without completing my "A" Level courses, the exams you take at the age of 18 in order to get into university. Because of this, before I'm allowed into Sheffield to study Japanese I have to do a one year "Access" course which will basically teach me how to study. It covers all the basics such as English, maths, research and essay-writing techniques etc. I can also choose another three subjects from a (fairly limited) list, you know, things like psychology, sociology and so forth. The course will begin in September and last until next June. They'll be 15 hours a week studying in college and another 15 hours a week studying in my own time. It's all pretty full-on but will hopefully help my brain to speed up, and give me a good start at university so I can concentrate on winning all the prizes for "Best 1st Year student".
I'm not particularly looking forward to the Access course as none of the subjects appeal to me. However, I accept that it is necessary so I shall try my best when the time comes.
It's ok, please, sit down. Please, save the applause.
Good evening. Konbanwa.
I've just got home after an evening out with my friends whom I met at the cheesy club the other night . Alice, Jaime and I were joined by Lucy, and together we popped on down the road to Beijing Bistro, which, it must be said, is crackin'! Very nice food, pretty cheap, and not a hint of SARS in sight. Yes, highly recommended if ever you're in Bristol. Anyway, enough advertising. After that it was off down pub, where we were joined by Sarah.
Much of our time in the pub (which was filled with underage goths) was spent talking about illness and disease - as is so often the case. In particular, narcolepsy was under scrutiny due to the recent showing on TV of a documentary: Nap Attack. Now, I've vaguely heard of this medical disorder, but it had never occurred to me that it would be so serious as to ensure that at the monthly Narcolepsy Association meetings they have to have THREE people taking down the minutes as one or two of them will often drop off to sleep! I can sort of empathise with sufferers of narcolepsy as I am a fellow -lepsy sufferer!
Anyway, I promised them that I'd add them to the Tame Goes Wild Hall of Fame, so as I'm a man of my word, if you click here you'll find the photos.
One thing that tonight has shown me is that my name change from Joe back to Joseph is going to work in the UK. The members of my company tonight had no problems with Joseph, not once shortening it. It felt natural, it worked. I have yet to try it out with the one section of the population that is most likely to have trouble getting it right: young adult males. I guess with time the opportunity will arise to test the part of their memories related to names.
hello. Welcome to my first broadcast from my new home, The Big Room. It's so big, that I would feel a little agoraphobic if I wasn't so happy to have all this space to myself to spread. I haven't had my own BIG space since, er, let's think, gosh, it must have been when I was 17-years-old, living in Stanhope Street, Hereford. Since then, all of my homes have either been broom cupboards, dungeons, or I've been sharing them with someone else. Here's a couple of photos that might give you an idea of how big it is:
I even get a big bay window through which to watch the players in this game of Suburban Living. I haven't lived in a Victorian terraced house (definition for non-British folks: houses that were built in long rows when Queen Victoria was in power in the 1800's) since the Torquay Years. I disliked it then, but love it now. There's children playing ball games in the streets, neighbours chatting over fences, young families going off to the park, little front lawns being mown: it's all so surreally real I feel like I'm in the Truman Show.
Why did I move anyway? Well, since returning to England a month ago I've basically been living with my sister in her very small flat in central Bristol. It's lovely but, it is small, and I felt that I needed my own space. Camping out in her living room was actually working out very well, with both of us very happy with the situation. However, if I'm going to ground myself then I think that I really do need some space to come to terms with all this stuff that's going on (i.e., being reborn at the age of 25 and not having a clue how anything works, whether it be a ticket machine at a railway station or a situation in which I have to interact with another human being).
Enter Emma's best friends!
Tim (horticulturist) and Melanie (teacher), my new "landlords" are simply lovely; providing me with a room in their warm, caring home. I am a part of the family, along with Callum (not exactly sure what callum gets up to!), another tenant who's been here for quite a while. We take it in turns to do the cooking and washing up, we talk, we laugh, we share our thoughts and madness.
One day I might get a photo of them so you can see who these three people are that are providing me with a firm base, both physically and emotionally, for the next two months.
during my most recent holiday with Kae in Japan:
So now that I've got my accommodation sorted for the next couple of months I really should concentrate on finding a job. I did start looking in earnest last week, and I'm hoping to get a positive phonecall tomorrow telling me that I have a temporary position that pays very well. That would keep me busy until the end of June. Watch this space for more on that. Meanwhile, there's a million and one other things that I want to do. Take tonight for example: it's almost midnight, but I still want to:
1) Write and upload this
2) Write some emails
3) Write my private diary
4) Practice my Japanese
5) Start reading a book about anthroposophy (scary stuff!)
6) make a list of everything that I need to do tomorrow
7) Chop the dead flowers off my huge lily plant
8) Go to the loo
I haven't got time for a job! I need to study! I need to sort my life out! Come on, I've been unemployed for 7 months, you can't seriously expect me to just start working again. I need introductory pretend jobs, where I have no responsibilities and everyone spends their time debating what it's all about, either that or Japanese grammar which I seriously need to work on.
In addition to becoming a student at university, there's something else that I have always wanted to look into but been too scared of: "Spiritual Stuff". This term (for me) covers many forms of healing, therapy and paths towards enlightenment, all forms of religion, belief systems - you get the picture. Coming from an anthroposophical background and having the family that I have, I know many people who know a lot about all of this kind of thing, whether it be reiki healing, yoga or anthroposophy. I have no experience in any of these fields, and so cannot give you any opinion - I have none. That is something I would like to change, I want to learn, to understand all these "airy fairy" that at the moment go straight over my head. I do not discount any of it as I know nothing. I don't like knowing nothing. I feel left out and ignorant, as if that is another playground which I'm not allowed into.
Let me play.
Now this may strike you as daft, but it actually only occurred to me today that I can change that. I can learn. I can understand. I just have to make the decision to do so. I can stop merely listening with interest as friends and relatives tell me of their experiences with powers other than those mentioned in a physics textbook, and start to understand and possibly empathise. But that of course is only the beginning (or the end) - how could an understanding of these mysteries affect me? Only time and effort can tell.
This really is the time for me to get off my arse and tackle these areas of my life that I would to change. Why is now the time? Because there is no time but now! Anything other than now is not happening! Mind you, the future must happen otherwise how do car-finance companies manage to offer interest free loans on their latest models?
Ah, I'll leave that question for another day. It's time for me to upload.
I'll leave you with a couple of photos taken over the past couple of days. Don't forget to check out my latest album, there's plenty more shots there.
It's just ridiculous! It can't be true! It's too good to be true!
Living in the UK and want to call friends abroad? Living abroad and want friends in the UK to call you?
Check out www.telediscount.co.uk. No, it's not a con. Yes, the prices are genuine! No, TGW is not sponsored by this company! I can call Japan for the same price as a local call - under 1 pence per minute at weekends (4p per minute peak rate mon-fri). Perfect for long-distance relationships! Australia: 2p / USA 2p / New Zealand:1p / Uganda:1p / Azerbaijan:5p... the list covers virtually all countries in the world.
Here we are then, the long-awaited (since 3 days ago in fact) shot of the house in which I now live. It's the one with the yellow window frame just to the right of the tree.
I'm starting to settle down here. I've still got that jumpy stressy feeling that you get in a new place (whether it be a home or a job), where you don't really know the people that you're living with, and you don't know quite what's expected of you. Thankfully here the people are very straightforward and very little is expected of me, other than to be a lovely person (so obviously no problems there)! Last night I stayed over at my sister's house following my Japanese evening class - and found myself feeling homesick for my new room where I've only been based for 4 days! That's a good sign. But then, thinking a little more about it, this homesickness could be less to do with my new home, and more to do with the memories that are being stirred up by living in a fairly cold room by myself. It's Japan all over again: It's last summer in The Dungeon, it's last winter in The Broomcupboard and then My Room With A View. Those were difficult times. I was without friends, without work, without routine, trying to find my place - and here we go all over again. So why is it that I find myself wanting to go back to those places and times? Am I a masochist? No, I think not. Instead I seem to unconsciously categorise any bad times as being purely beneficial; we all know that you learn a lot more when things get difficult.
Anyway, that's how I'm feeling - half in the present and half in the recent past.
I went to the doctor's today. I'm 70.8kg and 184cm tall you know. Apparently I'm a little underweight for my height, so I've decided to do a sit in at McDonald's next week. My blood pressure is a little high, although I had just cycled up a very steep hill to get to the surgery. Tomorrow morning it's the dentist. I thought I'd get myself seen to whilst I'm unemployed as I won't have to pay. Fingers crossed no fillings. I HATE going to the dentist. Well, I HATE the drill and all that... itai yo! (it hurts!)
Speaking of cycling though, oh, it's so good to get back on my bike. I've been using it every day to get around town. Bristol has a wealth of cycle paths unlike any other place I've been to, oh, except the Netherlands, but they haven't got any hills so it's hardly surprising. Bristol has. Check out my highly accurate diagram showing the incline of the route between my house and Emma's:
As the crow flies we only live about 5 metres apart, but due to the ludicrous hill between us it takes me 15 minutes to get there by bike. However, this is a good thing as it means that after years of virtually no exercise I'm finally going to get really fit and work off all my flab. (yeah, right!)
I've got a job. For some reason I'm very reluctant to tell you about this. I don't know why as it's a perfectly respectable job. Quantity Surveying I believe is the field I'll be working in, only, it won't be a field, it'll be a road. From what I can gather, the police will pull motorists over into a lay-by, where I'll ask them questions (such as "Where have you driven from?" and "Where are you driving to?"), the answers to which are then passed on to the Highway Agency, a government body.
The hours are long, but it pays well. It's a temporary contract and will take me through to the end of June. I start Tuesday. Tuesday will mark the end of my 7 months of unemployment.
Boy am I tired. Must sleep. Night night.
Hee hee I've got BROADBAND in my bedroom! I've managed to link up to the Broadband cable connection downstairs via a wireless PC card, so I guess that means that if I feel like it I can surf the net whilst in the bath...
Oh how beautiful life is! I can now listen to my favourite radio program anytime! Surely the best radio program in the entire world. Want to participate in my happiness? Click here to go to the BBC Radio 4 Home Truths homepage, and then click on the "Listen" link at the top of the page.
So, despite being distracted by that very show as I type, I shall attempt to share with you a few bits and bobs that I noticed whilst out and about on my bike yesterday. Oh, hang on, photos would require less brain power wouldn't they?
Ok, so we've got, a) a sheep house; b) a paper bag making factory; c) Hereford Street which didn't take me home, and Asahi Beer in the supermarket! Oh, to feel such joy and then sorrow in the space of a few seconds. Asahi Beer is Japan's most popular, but rarely available at a reasonable price over here. Yesterday, at Sainsbury's I found a whole pallet being sold off at half price - but I was on my bike miles from home! I asked if they could deliver, but was told not from that supermarket, only if I ordered online. Hang on, let's take a look...
Ah! I found it. But there's a 5 pound delivery charge, which kind of bumps the price up quite a bit. And, thinking about it, I only notice the difference in taste whilst drinking the first pint, after that anything'll do!
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I'm so drunk! It's 8.28am and I'm still drunk! I also have a mild case of amnesia. I've been trying to work out what happened last night, what time I got home, how much money I spent, how many phone calls I made etc. My phone tells me it was just three at about 11.30pm, which must have been when I was on my way home. There's ten pounds in my wallet, and having checked online I see that I withdrew 20 pounds from the bank. Not too bad. I remember being sick due to the mixture of white wine and beer... oh! I remember fondling a beer pump thing on a bar - it was Asahi beer (see the photo above)... where was that place? Noodles. We ate noodles. well, I ordered some but didn't actually eat them...
The evening had started at about 3pm. I went over to my dear friend Jo's house, which just happens to be right beside a huge park full of trees, birdys, streams and the odd torrential downpour. Despite having lived there for 18 months Jo had never been into the park, and so together we went on an exciting adventure of discovery. It was lovely to walk, skip and stand on bridges watching ducklings. At one point we passed by a family with two young children. "Look! A supermarket trolley!" one of them exclaimed, pointing to just such a thing that lay in a shallow stream. The mother, who was obviously well equipped in the humour department, replied, "Ooh, that's a funny place to do the shopping isn't it?!". The children didn't quite know what to make of this remark, being of the age when everything mummy says is true. I smiled, and felt happy.
We also came across a dead rat and a Tesco carrier bag. For some reason I thought, "Oh, how very British". Perhaps if I saw a Migros carrier bag and a dead rat I'd think, "Oh, how very Swiss", or if it was a Wal-Mart bag and a dead rat, "Oh, how very American". I'm not going to turn this into a study on dead rats and carrier bags though so please don't worry about sending in any of the afore mentioned items. Back at Jo's house, we joined Joe (her boyfriend - confusing or what?!), Becky and Mark. I think it was Mark; my apologies if you're not Mark, Mark.
It was whilst eating some delicious pasta stuff that the wine was passed around. Oh, with glasses, I don't mean it to sound like we were swigging from the bottle because we weren't. But anyway, anyone who's enjoyed a drink with me will know that I'm a lightweight, and so after one glass I was drunk. 4 glasses later I took the bus into town to meet up with another old friend, Noah, whom I mentioned last month. Lovely to see him again. I remember feeling very happy, and having a very nice time. I also have vague recollections of matchsticks falling from the sky. Sadly, by 11pm I'd reached my limit and felt the need to go to bed, which I did, before waking this morning at 6.45am very drunk and in need of a wee.
WARNING: Toilet humour ahead!
Just after having written the above, I went to the toilet for a number two. To my horror, upon flushing I saw the water level rapidly rise in the manner that usually precedes a flooding incident. Thankfully it stopped just before reaching the rim of the bowl - but then this left me with the embarrassing knowledge that I had blocked the toilet in my new home. After working up the courage, I approached Melanie and said, "Er, I've got a big problem". On hearing what I'd done, she burst into laughter, before reaching into the cupboard under the sink and pulling out a very large pair of red rubber gloves. These she held out towards me and said, in an ominous tone, "That's what these are for!" Still very drunk, I screamed, and begged her "no no no no, pleeeeeeeeease no!" "It's ok!" she giggled, "you don't have to put your hands down the toilet! There's a plunger in the upstairs bathroom".
So that's what I spent the next 20 minutes doing. Then I decided to clean the entire bathroom (that's my weekly chore), I figured that it would be better to do that whilst drunk as it would all seem like great fun, which it almost did.
I am shattered!
Today was my first day of employment since late August 2002! I was up at 5:50am, left the house at 6:20am, arrived on site at 6:35am and started work at 7:00am. I didn't finish until 12 hours later! I'm knackered!
It's too late to tell you all about it now, (although I will just say that it is pretty much as I'd expected, as described above) but here's a couple of very small photos that I took on-site with my phone.
I'll tell you more about it when I get a chance, but now, I must sleep! Oyasumi!
And so just as a semblance of rhythm enters my life in the form of a job, my heart and mind swerve out of control. A chance glance at a column in a tabloid newspaper led my imagination to put the peddle to the metal. All very well; initially the path was as forecast, and then, unexpectantly a hairpin bend appears. It was not on the map. I crash through the central reservation and into the path of oncoming traffic. Post crash, I'm left suspended, not quite sure whether I'm in this world or another. Tears appear from nowhere, I shout along to the lyrics on the radio, as if this is my swan song. There's tiredness in my head and the lingering of a spider-in-a-cup dream. My stress is telling me to take drastic action, my head wants the stress to be taken away by alcohol. I'm tired, very tired. Exhaustion. I spent hours yesterday Running up and down that motorway junction handing out questionnaires.
Ahhh, you'll get no sense out of me today. How about something someone else wrote about what I've been doing 12 hours a day for the past three days:
But you know
YOUR WHOLE LIFE CAN TURN AROUND IN A SPLIT SECOND - ALL IT NEEDS IS A SPARK, PROVIDED EITHER BY YOURSELF OR A THIRD PARTY. IF YOU HAVE ACCESS TO THE INTERNET THE CHANCES ARE THAT YOU ARE ONE OF THE FORTUNATE ONES IN THIS WORLD TO HAVE THE CHOICE TO CREATE THAT SPARK IF YOU WISH.
Oh Joseph, do be quiet. I think I'm just tired and generally peed off with it all. Actually, fed up is the exact term to describe my state of being. Must be time for a beer and cola, and music.
Oh no! After a very long night out I've woken up today with the theme tune to Blockbusters stuck in my head!
I'll have a P please Bob.
This evening I shall attempt to write something that makes a little sense. Looking back on my mumbles from the past week I can appreciate that they haven't been at all clear. But then, I do aim to bring to you, the reader, a sense of how I am feeling, and I think that I managed that admirably having written in a mish-mashy, dazed and completely flitty manner.
This morning, following yet another night out in which beer played a key role, I came to the decision to quit depending upon alcohol to relieve me of anxiety. My vision is blurred enough without that thankyou very much. Also, it's an expensive habit. Up to three pints per day at the weekend is allowed. Anything over that is just silly, and tends to invite unpleasant consequences, such as an empty wallet, a dazed head and a Granny's Hip or two. Watch this space to see how I get on, or click here if you're too drunk to read this.
I'm actually enjoying my new job. As you've probably gathered, I'm part of a small (20 strong) team carrying out a survey on traffic flows in and around Bristol. The 12-hour days really are shattering - I struggle to get to the site for 6.30am. In fact, on Wednesday I had to go through that terrible routine of waking up only to discover that the alarm went off half an hour ago, I'd turned it off and then promptly fallen asleep again. I had 10 minutes to get from bed to a supermarket car-park the other side of town (I managed it too).
The work is easy, following a four-hour cycle: one hour spent counting cars with little clickers, one hour spent numbering the postcard-questionaires, one hour spent handing out the afore-mentioned postcard-questionaires, one hour on break. It's only the actual handing-out of postcards that requires any physical effort, the other 9 hours can be spent sitting in a parked car or on the grass. Next week I am determined to get organised and use the time to study Japanese.
The vast majority of drivers are remarkably good natured about it all. I was astonished by how little verbal abuse I received having caused so much congestion on Thursday afternoon that it took some motorists up to an hour to move one mile.
Most team members are over 60-years-old, retired, doing this part-time to earn some pocket money. I do enjoy hanging out with them, if not just to listen to their old jokes which can be very funny, or to eavesdrop on conversations in which they argue that the only way to get the youth of today into shape is to reintroduce conscription! Yes, I'm sure that teaching all those young lads how to kill others will do the nation a world of good...
I am also fortunate to have two colleagues who are in their early twenties. James and Frank are very funny guys: it seems that no matter how dull your job is, if you have good friends around you it's ok. I'm sure that there are exceptions to this rule - suggestions on the back of a sealed-down envelope. But yeah, James, Frank and I help to keep one another sane as the traffic rolls on by.
Whilst running up the motorway with a handful of postcards on Thursday, I thought about how well I was doing my job. This led me to then think about my work attitude in general, which, in my opinion, is simply great. Mind you, any egotistical Joseph would say the same thing. No, but this really made me smile as I realised that I now have the opportunity to succeed in whatever I do, having spent months feeling useless and unemployed.
So that's my new job.
I have to get to bed now as my Granny's Hip is really taking its toll, as is sleep deprivation - I was down to only 4 hours last night.
I am shattered! Getting up at 5.30am really doesn't suit me!
The past two days have been spent about an hour south of Bristol, counting cars just outside the village of Brent Knoll which is apparently populated by very young drivers.
This week us Traffic Enumerators (the official term for the likes of me apparently, although I prefer the term Quantity Surveyors) haven't been handing out postcards to passing motorists. No, instead, we've had whole lay-by's to ourselves, into which drivers are directed by a policeman, four at a time. We then attempt to obtain the exact postal addresses for where people have driven from and for where they are driving to. It's shocking how many people don't know where they're going you know...
There were a few highlights: the near-hysterical performance by a teacher who was late for a GCSE exam that she was supposed to be moderating. She refused to answer my questions and demanded that I move the cones (which incidentally were all joined together by bright orange rope) so that she could immediately pull out of the parking area in which we were working. I told her that if I did that I would be liable for any resulting accident, and as such I was within my rights to refuse. She then drove at me in an attempt to get past the cars in front of her, whilst hurling abuse through the open window. Having jumped out of the way, I simply turned my back, leaving her to steam, until the traffic moved on and her exit was clear.
A lorry nearly shed it's load of bricks right in front of us when some nutter pulled out of our interview area in front of him. He was pretty badly shaken - as were the bricks - but otherwise no-one was harmed. A similar incident occurred later in the day when a coach had to make an emergency stop as one of our interviewees pulled out without looking - it's remarkable how those traffic cones can pop straight back up after having a huge great bus parked right on top of them for a while.
Our policemen are usually quite docile. All they do is stand there directing the traffic, whilst occasionally sending text (SMS) messages to their friends. However, now and then they do have outbursts, which are very impressive to observe. A victim of one such episode pulled up in front of me ready to answer my questions - but he wasn't ready, as he was on the phone. Whoever he was talking to was was obviously a very important client - the driver was being so polite to him. Now, as you probably know, using a phone whilst driving is now a serious offence here in the UK, so the policeman wasn't at all impressed by this guy who'd just driven right past him without even thinking to at least hide his phone. I was about to kick in with the first question when the policeman appeared by my side. He was a tiger unleashed, and a huge roar emerged from his lungs:
"How dare you use a phone whilst I am directing you! Driving past an officer of the law whilst on the phone is bad enough, but continuing to do so whilst being directed to stop is really taking the piss!
The businessman crumbled. He broke off mid sentence to his client, and mumbled "er, er" before hanging up. Yes, officer, I'm sorry officer, I'm very sorry officer, I'm very sorry sir, I'm sorry, I, er, I'm sorry officer.
The policeman continued his onslaught, "I've a good mind to book you right now! How dare you take the piss like that!" and so on. Eventually he returned to his post, and I got on with asking this man who was now a pile of jelly about his journey.
I must admit I was quite impressed by PC Plod.
Having a website containing one's contact details does have its downsides, namely SPAM. No, I don't get copious amounts of Luncheon Meat in my email inbox, but I do, on average, get ten spam messages for every one non-spam message. Mind you, that could just be down to the fact that no-one likes me. No, no, I rarely send emails except when replying either.
Anyway, when checking through today's usual collection of mails offering me enlargements, diets, home finance or a chance to make a million dollars from the wife of a recently deceased president of a diamond mining company in Africa, I spotted the following message regarding a Digital cable TV decoder, those little black boxes that allow you to watch cable TV without paying the cable TV company. Ok, so we've all seen this one before, but what caught my eye was one of the features listed:
100% Bullet proof?!!
Does everyone in America have a gun by their remote control on the coffee table? "Oh, hi honey. Sorry, I shot the television".
What a poor comment on today's society.
Yesterday was my last day counting cars for a while. Next week is half-term, which gives rise to abnormal traffic flows and is therefore not suitable for traffic enumerating (!). So the question is, what to do with my 11 days off work? Well, I'm broke, and I really should look for another job for when my temporary contract comes to an end, so I shouldn't leave Bristol. I should go to the job centre, and register with some agencies. I should also not be so lazy perhaps. All these should's and shouldn't's, I don't know.
Last Saturday I wrote about my decision to quit bingeing on alcohol in order to relieve stress when meeting new people. I must say that 6 days into the trial I am absolutely delighted with the results. I have had two great nights out on the Three Pints Maximum rule, and enjoyed myself much more than those times when I've got way too drunk. I really do get quite tipsy on half a pint of beer, or one glass of wine; it's just enough to help me relax.
I'm sure you'd all love to follow my progress as I skip down the road to recovery, so here's a little calendar to help you do just that.
Last Friday night I lost my favourite jumper too. I'm very sad about that. But I guess it helped drum home to me that this reliance upon alcohol just has to stop.
Well, I spent so long designing the beer glasses above that my stomach is now pining for breakfast. I think it's time to go and make some Miso soup whilst mulling over the dream I had last night in which I found an injured baby kangaroo on the road here in Bristol whilst counting cars. I picked it up to try and move it out of danger - to which it responded by deliberately projectile-urinating in my eye! Now there's thanks for you!
I've just got a call from a friend asking me to do some modeling - NUDE modeling! I'm gonna have to give it some thought!
Gosh I've been so busy. I even forgot to tell you that last week I saw The Dandy Warhols at the Bristol Academy. I was invited to go by a friend, and although I had no idea what they sounded like I knew that they were pretty well known and thought that I'd probably like them. The first surprise came when the singer opened his mouth - I'd been under the impression that they were a British band. They were very good though, for about 50% of the time. Some of their stuff was just too hardcore headbanging stuff for me! The 14-year-olds in the mush pit seemed to enjoy it all though, especially as the band kept on throwing lit joints into the crowd! I left the concert thinking. "Mmm, that was interesting. I wonder where I can get my perforated ear drums fixed?"
Friday night, after an evening playing pool in a pub full of young hoodlums, I returned home to discover that I'd left my keys inside the house. It was too late to wake anyone, and so after 40 minutes of trying all the classic ways of semi-forced entry (cursing locked windows, getting my arm stuck in the letterbox as I attempted to flick the catch with a 2kg iron rod) I gave up, and phoned a friend. Noah very kindly let me sleep on his sofa, which was almost as comfy as my bed.
Saturday was my Day of The Matrix. In the morning I watched the 4 episodes of the Animatrix that I'd downloaded the night before, then I watched the trailer for The Matrix Reloaded about 5 times (I like broadband!). 3pm saw me near the front of a very long queue at the Odean cinema, and 4pm saw me jumping up and down in my seat with excitement as part two of the epic tale of a miserable reality vs a happy unreality got underway.
The reviews haven't been great for The Matrix Reloaded, and to be honest for the first thirty minutes I was bored stiff. But then, it really kicked off, and I lost myself in the excitement of it all. It is vital that you remember what happened in the first film before seeing the second, so if you're not sure get it out on video before standing in line to see Neo dealing with one hundred Agent Smiths at one time.
Warning! Useless trivia ahead!
Did you know that the green code that makes up the matrix actually contains many characters from the Japanese "Katakana" alphabet written backwards? Reading it I can't detect any meaningful words though.
Sunday saw a rare event in our family: us four siblings getting together. What with my tendency in recent years to not be in the country, it's been unusual for myself, Emma, Jessie and Stephen to get together, but this weekend we managed it, along with Stephen's partner Louise. Jessie is now four-and-a-half months pregnant which is all very exciting - her baby boy is already over 30cm long! But despite this, Stephen's belly is actually bigger than Jessie's! I do have a photo to prove it, but it would be cruel to publish it online.
We had a lovely time eating, drinking, talking, eating more and watching a DVD. Yesterday morning we then went out for breakfast, over which we read a whole pile of mad magazines whilst feeling very Sunday-ish and happy.
The thing was, underlying my happiness I felt a great sense of unease with Jessie, Louise and Stephen being there. Why was that? It didn't take long to figure it out: they were invading my space. I'd forgotten that they's been to Bristol before, indeed that they'd been to Emma's house before, and so was very put out with their sense of familiarity when in my world. Don't forget, I'm used to my gaijin bubble. I realised that in order to feel at ease in Bristol I'd subconsciously created another little bubble, one which I'd allowed Emma into (due to the fact that she lives here!), but into which no-one else was allowed. Therefore, when Jessie, Louise and Stephen came along and paid absolutely no-attention to the soapy wall, I felt really shocked. Although this feeling did ease by the following morning, it never quite dispersed entirely.
Yesterday afternoon, with the rest of the rabble gone, Emma and I went on down to Bristol's harbour side where Bristol Music Live, a week long event, was reaching its climax in the form of a free live seven-hour gig, featuring artists from all around the world. We liked Keith Waite and Souad Massi a lot, but it was Fundamental with the Mighty Zulu Nation Choir that really got us going. Simply fantastic! Amazing music, amazing live show. Check out all the photos on page seven of my May 2003 album.
And that brings us to today, for which I have absolutely nothing planned, oh except I might meet Noah this afternoon to discuss this modeling business.
It's been another busy busy few days in the life of a Tame gone Wild.
Tuesday: I can't remember what I did at all on Tuesday. I know I went out in the evening. Ah, no, hang on, I remember. In the evening, Yumie, Sachiko and Akemi came around to help me cook Japanese food for my housemate Callum. Here's a photo:
By some bizarre coincidence, Yumie, Sachiko and Akemi just happen to all live in separate houses within 20 seconds walk of my house! They all attend the same language school, and in addition to being able to help me serve up a great meal of egg noodles (well, actually, they almost did it all by themselves whilst I looked on feeling pathetic and useless!) they are great teachers of the Japanese language, what with it being their mother tongue (funnily enough). Poor old Callum though - he got home from a long hard day at work hoping to relax, but instead was forced to be sociable in his own house with 3 girls whom he'd never met before. My main contribution to the meal was the pudding: stewed rhubarb, complete with healthy doses of raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. I made it partly because they'd never eaten rhubarb before, but mostly because it's the only dessert I can make. (Directions: take rhubarb, cut it up, put in pot, add water, cook, add sugar, cook more, eat - you can't get much simpler than that.)
Wednesday was spent studying Japanese from morning to night: in bed, at my desk, in the park, at Bristol University, in bed. Muzukashii yo!
Thursday I had a really stressful day, freaking out about work and money having got a call from my traffic-survey boss telling me that next week there'll only be one day of work available. Down the Jobcentre it was for Joseph, where I found a few interesting opportunities. I really want a job in which I can work outside - I've applied for a few grass-cutting positions which are surprising well-paid. I've got experience having spent most of last summer in northern Japan accidentally driving over bricks whilst on my sit-on mower. Not that you really need experience. I mean, we've all pushed mowers over big stones, right? Not to mention accidentally left big round brown splodges where we've fallen off the edge of the lawn. Watch this space.
Last night I saw Matrix Reloaded for the second time in a week. My sister offered to pay for me as she really wanted to see it. My advice to anyone considering seeing it twice in a week: don't do it! Once is enough.
Tonight Melanie (owner of our house) and her partner Tim returned from their holiday caravan in Pembrokeshire; and just in time for an impromptu fashion show featuring a skanky old brown coat. Tim was so disgusted with it that he refused to focus!
well, that's been my physical life for the past few days. What's really been holding my attention is all the behind the scenes emotional stuff though, which I'll have to write about tomorrow as it's now 1:30am, and I'm really tired.
I really don't like dentists.
It's a bit of an unfounded dislike though, as they've never really caused me much pain. As a sixteen-year-old I had a great time at Hereford General Hospital having my wisdom teeth pulled out. They gave me so much gas that I was in hysterics, and was told by the dental surgeon to please calm down as the people in the waiting room were getting rather edgy - they's mistaken my screeches of laughter for screeches of pain.
As an old teenager I had one of my upper front teeth pulled out completely due to an infection above the root. This was then replaced with a porcelain covered gold tooth that was attached to the one beside it. I seem to remember that being quite fun too as between appointments I was given a temporary-tooth that I could take out and put back in at will - great party trick.
Then there's that weird sensation of feeling a wadge of anaesthetised flesh attached to the side of your face. I like that.
Yet, despite this complete lack of any bad experiences in the past, when I went to the dentist yesterday I was completely terrified. "It won't hurt will it? You will stop if it hurts won't you? I don't like injections." You know what though, it didn't hurt a bit. In fact, it actually felt Good! Am I abnormal?
"Summer MUST be here - Joseph's got his pipecleaners out!"
Well, that's what Tim said anyway when he saw me sporting my new shorts for the first time yesterday (see coat photo above). My legs aren't pipecleaners! Ok, so they may be white and a little chicken-like but all the same! I'm just debating what to do with the legs of my jeans which were made redundant by my action with a penknife. I guess theoretically it would have made more sense to hack away at my jeans that have holes in the knees rather than the ones which still had quite a lot of wear in them - my excuse is that I'm very attached to my holes, it's taken me months to create, many hours have been spent sitting Cesar style etc.to achieve the worn out look.
I've been having quite a lot of flashbacks this week to past lives i.e. those in Switzerland, America, Italy, Japan and as a child in Hereford. They've mostly been brought on by music: I've just started sorting through a box of 300 minidiscs that have not seen the light of a class 1 lasor for several years. Amongst the music (such as The Kleine Scheidegg cover version of MC Hammer's "Can't Touch This", featuring all members of staff dropping in a "Can't Touch This!" at strategic moments) I've found some discs that contain audio diary entries from 1996, by Yours Truly. It's freaky how the sound of one's own voice can bring it all back so powerfully. Rediscovering Jewel took me across the Atlantic to upper New York state (camp Jened), whilst the sounds of Yamogen saw me once more in a thermal rockpool in Hokkaido, 2000.
Then completely out of the blue, and within 30 minutes of one another I received first an email from one of my teachers with whom I've had no contact for almost 10 years (Trevor Read), then another from one of the first girls I ever had a crush on, way back at the age of 12. I hadn't really heard from her since about 1991.
This all resulted in a huge rush of nostalgia, followed by an intense happiness, and then a big down. I think it's because it disturbed my sense of self and dislodged the fragile rock upon which I am building a base here in this environment that could be described as Life in England.
Incidentally, I used to have a complex about living in England. I think quite a few people might actually, although I doubt they let it bother them to the extent that I used to. For example, yesterday, my friend sent that email from California. A few years ago I would have felt a little jealous, and somehow inadequate, being "stuck here in England". And, from the other side, there was a time when I would look down upon those "still stuck in England". But now I see that that's all a load of rubbish as I'm really quite happy here having made the decision to be here, ans should I want to be somewhere else it's simply a matter of making a decision and then acting upon it. I know, I know, this is all common sense, but it's taken me 25 years to get to the stage where I can really believe it!
So overall how am I feeling two months after having left my love and my life in Japan?
Pretty good actually. Kae and I have had our serious ups and downs (all due to my changeable nature) but are currently feeling quite secure. I don't miss daily life in Japan any more - it'll be there for me when I go back. I don't miss the language as I have many opportunities to use it here in Bristol. I am very pleased in that I have not lost the sense of freedom that I cultivated within myself whilst in Nihon and Schweiz. I do not feel constrained by society's rules as I used to. I am a free spirit. My bubble remains intact (despite the odd prodding by my siblings!). I have broadband internet access, and Groove Armarda to keep me bouncing up and down. I even have a pink piece of card that will allow me to get my Granny's Hip x-rayed at the Bristol Royal Infirmary without making an appointment beforehand. Can life get any better?
Ok, so things on the job front are not quite as I would like them to be (i.e. I only have three days of work lined up in the next fortnight!), but I have two interviews on Monday and more in the pipline. There's also been an offer of employment by a friend, a gardening job which is just what I'm looking for - the only drawback is that it's a couple of hours north of Bristol.
On the friend front, I think I've done fairly well this month: I now have at least three in Bristol that I can phone up when feeling in the mood for a social evening.
On the alcohol front May has seen a dramatic improvement in my behaviour. If you take a look at the chart above you can see that I have been able to stick to my "3 pints maximum rule" no problem, whilst only mildly flouting the "no drink during the week" rule. I think that's great, as I really was beginning to take it for granted that going out into new social environments could only be possible with lots of drink.
Financially the past two days have seen the biggest change in my attitude since the 28th of August 2002 when I bought a 2000 pound ticket at Tokyo's Narita airport to ensure that I got to Milan by the 29th.
With all of these things taken into consideration, I declare that May 2003 has been a very good month for Joseph Tame, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those that have helped me make it such.
A few miscellaneous thoughts from May 2003:
"Should I start doing sit-ups and pumping iron? I've never worried about my rather un-masculine physique before - should I start to care now?"
"Gosh! I really HAVE got a big nose!"
"Is my hairline receeding at the front?"
"Although I'd like to keep myself informed regarding world news, it's too depressing, and I can't cope. I'll avoid it instead"
"Wow! Writing to your MP (Member of parliament) really can affect the outcome of government debates on important issues".
"That day when I become an adult is never going to come. I had always assumed that one day I would just wake up being an adult. I'm 25 now and it still hasn't happened."