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The Daily Mumble June 2003 Archive

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It had now been two months since Joseph had left Japan. Bristol was turning out to be an excellent choice of place in which to re-integrate himself into the foreign culture that was Britain. Having found a house, made a few friends and counted several thousand cars as a Traffic Enumerator, Joseph now turned his energy towards finding full time long term employment that would PAY! Oh, and there were to be big unexpected changes on the emotional front too.

Read on to find out how it all went...


 
June 2003 Highlights: Joke of the month, Banana bomb, Strawberry Farm weekend, a day at the races, PUBLIC HEALTH WARNING, The Isle of Wight Festival, GM Free Britain - It's now or never, parting pains, The welsh garden project, I Am Office Boy, ringing the bells, Riding Lights Theatre Company, guilt and sorrow, the opportunity to do WHAT to one another?...

Links: Map - where am I today? June Photos Guestbook
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Wednesday 4th June 2003 - 10:08 (BST/GMT+1) My home Garfield Villa, Bristol, England

Joke of the Day:

Q. What's the difference between a duck?

A. Both legs are both the same.

Joke of the month:

A young punk gets on the bus. He's got spiked, multi-coloured hair that's green, purple and orange. His clothes are a tattered mix of leather rags. His legs are bare and he's wearing worn-out shoes. His entire face and body are riddled with pierced jewellery and his earrings are big, bright feathers. He sits down in the only vacant seat, directly across from an old man who glares at him for the next ten miles.
Finally, the punk gets self-conscious and barks at the old man, "What are you looking at you old fart...didn't you ever do anything wild when you were young?"
Without missing a beat, the old man replies: "Yeah, back when I was young and in the Navy I got really drunk one night in Singapore and had sex with a parrot.... I thought maybe you were my son."

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Wednesday 4th June 2003 - 13:54 (BST/GMT+1) My home Garfield Villa, Bristol, England

Tim's been making Banana Wine.

It's potent stuff. Initially he put the demijohn on a piece of newspaper in the living room. But then a gurgling was heard. The gurgling got louder, and then banana-flavoured water started to dribble from the top of the glass U-bend wotsit. The demijohn was moved to the sink just in case, and then sure enough, this morning whilst on the phone, I heard from the kitchen the sound of a a muffled wet explosion. The ceiling had a nice coating of banana puree. Tim then decided that it would be a good idea to gently ease the bung out and let off a bit more gas, however, he'd slightly underestimated the power of banana wine: seconds after he'd begun to work it out there was a sudden explosion of banana-sick, all over his front! I had to laugh! After that little episode there was not much more that we could do. The bung was washed out and put back in leaving the fermentation process to continue. I then spent lunch watching the demijohn vomit banana puree every 10 minutes or so. It's was quite impressive really. It hit the ceiling twice. This could be a fantastic source of energy for the 21st century.

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Wednesday 4th June 2003 - 15:05 (BST/GMT+1) My home Garfield Villa, Bristol, England

It's been four weeks now since I moved in to Garfield Villa, and I must say that I feel completely and utterly at home. I think it's because just recently Melanie, the owner / landlady / source of energy of this house has started to be very rude to me. Only yesterday I came downstairs to find an ancient baked potato plonked on the breakfast table, it was being licked by a rubber chameleon and labeled"Yum! Joseph's Breakfast":

Doesn't she know who I am?

Last Sunday I did something that I have always said I'd never do: I went out with The Ramblers. For those of you who aren't in the know, The Ramblers are basically a bunch of pensioners who go out at weekends armed with walking sticks and generally cause a lot of nuisance everywhere they go. After their walk they take over a local pub and fill it with aching joints and antique jokes, jokes that are so old and overused that in any world other than that of the Ramblers would crumble under the weight of their un-funniness.

...or so I thought!

I had a great time! My sister Emma had asked me to accompany her on her second ever outing with the Young Ramblers (which is made up of walkers between the age of 20 and 39), and as I am a country bumpkin at heart I decided to set my prejudice aside for a few hours. After spending half an hour feeling very unsociable and "why did I bother come on this walk?" I discovered to my shock and horror that I was actually having a good time. After three hours of going up lanes, across fields and down small country paths, I felt quite happy. One factor was the surroundings - England really is beautiful (see my June photo album) - the other factor was the people: everyone was really friendly and interesting. The requisite post-plod-pub-stop was also really fun, with five of us completely overhauling the UK education system, with promises to do the same with the National Health Service next time (not my normal choice of subject but strangely gripping in any case).

Writing about that makes me want to drink some Coca-Cola, but I'm not sure why.

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Wednesday 4th June 2003 - 15:32 (BST/GMT+1) My home Garfield Villa, Bristol, England

last night I went out with a couple of Japanese friends to see Live Forever a documentary film that is "an affectionate look back at Britpop, Cool Britannia, and Lad Culture". It was really good - I learnt so much. I hadn't even been aware that Britpop was over - I'm so out of touch. I would try and use the excuse that I've been away for the past few years, but that doesn't really hold water as Britpop came and went before I skipped the country in the first place. Anyhow, if you liked Oasis, Blur, Pulp and Massive Attack go see this film. Liam Gallagher has some great lines!

The above Mumble leads me to my next quandary: Where does the expression "sooooooo" come from? I'm talking about the "so" that can be inserted into any sentence that in the past might have contained the words "very" or "really", and is often used to emphasize negativity.

"You're sooooo out of touch!" / "That is soooo 1990's!" / "It was sooo not on!" / "I am sooo not ready!"

I'm sure it wasn't sooooo widely used when I left England. It seems to be everywhere now. Why is it sooooooo popular now?

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Sunday 8th June 2003 - 10:41 (BST/GMT+1) In a caravan on a strawberry farm, Devon, England

Yesterday lunchtime I drove down to this mad strawberry farm in Devon (south west England) from where I now broadcast. I'm still in bed, fighting off the first signs of a hangover. I will NOT have a hangover, I will NOT have a hangover! I've had my water and orange juice, and although I did drink a lot last night I didn't get completely hammered due to my amazing pacing skills.

Constance is a friend whom I met for the first time last month whilst she was on her way from Singapore (where she had had a high-flying career in the advertising industry) to this strawberry farm in the middle of nowhere, Devon. At 26 (I think she's 26) she'd decided that if she didn't travel now then she probably never would. She found a job through the fantastic book Work Your Way Around The World (11th edition came out last week) and two months later found herself in a world very different from her own ("I've never seen so many trees at one time!"). Anyhow, that's Constance. I know her as she's a friend of a friend...

So yeah, I thought I'd come and visit her - any excuse for a party! Yesterday afternoon Constance, Emma and I went down to one of those huge dirt-cheap warehouse supermarkets that are full of, well, er, people, and food. Stacked our trolleys full of junk food and BBQable stuff then headed back to the strawberry patch. There, David, Phillip, Tyson and Katie had already got the fire going, so all we had to do was sit back and crack open the beers.

Phillip, David and Constance - Click here for more...
Emma - click here for more...
Katie - click here for more
Tyson - click here for more...

It was all very funny. and nice. and cosy. and friendly. We cooked all sorts of stuff on the BBQ. My personal choice was some exceptional sausages - and so they should have been at the price I'd paid for them. What is it about BBQed food? Somehow it's all so tasty and has a great feel-good factor about it. Perhaps it appeals to the caveman/cave woman spirit that still lurks in the depths of us all. Either that or it's just the beer, wine and spirits that usually goes with it (as on this occasion).

After a couple of hours of merriment the rain that had been forecast finally showed up. Not to worry - 7 very large pieces of cardboard appeared which we held over our heads. As the BBQ died down so our bonfire rose, until it was so hot that more cardboard was needed to protect out legs from the heat - see my photo album for the results of that exercise!

By about 10pm we were all quite jolly but not exactly pissed. Oh, except for Constance who having downed a hell of a lot of wine, beer and anything else she could get her hands on, was pretty loopy. She was very funny actually, caused much amusement... I shall spare you the details (more for her sake than anyone yours!). <to be continued>

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Wednesday 11th June 2003 - 11:25 (BST/GMT+1) In a car just off junction 14 of the M5 motorway, England

Hello. You join me in a car beside the M5 motorway in western England. I'm on break at work - it's my last day of car counting today. I've quite enjoyed it really. All very relaxed. A little boring perhaps but totally stress free - just what I need at the moment! I've got so much going on, which I'll tell you about in a mo, but I just wanted to tell you about what I did Sunday, the day after the BBQ. At about midday a taxi turned up at the farm to pick all seven of us up and take us to the races. Now, I don't agree with horse racing. Firstly, it's cruel. If you're telling me that horses enjoy being driven around a racecourse like that with lots of hedges to jump over, well, that'[s a load of rubbish. The only people who benefit are those upper-class toffs with far more money than sense. Then there's all the gambling, which I don't agree with either (especially since the time I lost all 11 bets I placed on last year's World Cup Final game!!!). But anyway, the owner of the strawberry farm where Constance is working is owned by a multi-millionaire who has his own race-horses (in addition to fruit farms and all sorts of other businesses, including the taxi company that picked us up).

When the meter had reached 40 pounds we turned into a huge field on the edge of Exmoor, and there before us was a racecourse. Not a real one with white fences and stands to parade your new hat in, but a pretend one with temporary fences and a couple of tent. Upon arrival we ran through the howling wind and torrential rain that was sweeping across the exposed site to the beer and butty shelter, where both were rapidly consumed in an effort to lift our spirits.

This wasn't really what we had been expecting. There was no champagne, no camera crews and no celebrities. Instead there was the local evil looking ale, a dodgy man in a white van trying to sell homemade videos of previous races and a lot of dirty old farmers all wearing identical green tweed jackets and caps. An hour or so of people-watching later the bookies who'd set up their funny tripod-contraptions in a long line were taking bets for the first race. There were only four horses in it. Despite not having a clue what I was doing I put a pound on two horses that everyone was muttering about. Following that we wandered over to the course. There wasn't a horse in sight but apparently the race had begun - that was according to the man who surely must be declared winner of the Most Unenthusiastic Commentator Of All Time award. His tone didn't rise once, not even as the horses were approaching the finishing line! I can prove it: here's an extract of his commentary from the end of one particularly exciting race. You can hear how enthused the crowd are, but the commentator - well, he's almost asleep! Click here for the commentary if you've got a fast connection or time to waste [horserace.mp3 877KB]. I won £2.50 on that race, giving me a profit of 50p.

The horse I backed in the next race was 50/1. Ok, so I knew that the chances of it winning were slim, but I still couldn't believe when the jockey simply gave up after half a lap! It just trotted off the course! Lazy so and so. Because of that by the end of the day was 50 pence poorer than when I'd got up that morning. I think that the most interesting part of it all was the people watching - and so many different types of people there were too. I mean, different in that some of them had green wellies and some had black. There was even one guy who went so far as to wear a brown jacket instead of the usual snot-green. Cckkk!!

The horses didn't seem at all disturbed by the herd of elephants on the course.

Click here for more

Give me all your money please you silly people

Click here for more

After all that fun we piled back into the taxi - the driver had been told to stay at the races until we were ready to go. Back to the strawberry farm for a relaxing evening, watching the dreadful Big Brother and generally chilling out.

And that was my weekend. I had a nice time.

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Wednesday 11th June 2003 - 21:21 (BST/GMT+1) My home Garfield Villa, Bristol, England

FACT: The illegal war on Iraq resulted in Sadam Hussein being unable to publish his latest book.

It was titled, "Get out of here, curse you"!

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Tuesday 17th June 2003 - 20:57(BST/GMT+1) My home Garfield Villa, Bristol, England

On one of the world's most respected television channels tonight, live from the Cabinet War Rooms in London:

Click here for the official website

"Focusing on the country that recently illegally invaded a sovereign nation at the behest of its score-settling unelected leader, whose interference in Latin American politics has set the cause of democracy back by decades and cost thousands of lives, which has stockpiled the globe's largest collection of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, which rejected the Kyoto Treaty on the environment despite being the worlds most noxious polluter, whose multinationals exploit child labour in third world countries before ferrying the profits back home, which refuses to ratify a ban on landmine usage, whose billion dollar turnover pharmaceutical companies block attempts to provide poorer states with affordable, lifesaving drugs, and which feels free to criticize the human rights records of foreign nations while simultaneously holding hundreds of prisoners without trial and boasting a policy of state sponsored execution that is both barbaric and inherently racist – just why is Uncle Sam, not always the most popular member of the global family, asks Andrew Marr"

I do love the reviews in Bristol's listing magazine, Venue. They make me laugh! ...whilst reflecting how people on the street really feel!

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Tuesday 17th June 2003 - 21:17(BST/GMT+1) My home Garfield Villa, Bristol, England

I've been debating with myself whether to write or not. I don't want to cause any more hurt. I don't want to make people feel sorry for me either - that makes me feel guilty when I know that others are suffering more, but at the same time I want to share what I'm going through.

In brief, this is about the split at the weekend between my girlfriend and I after 31 months together. It's very sad. I'm very sad. What's particularly sad is that there was nothing actually wrong with our relationship, other than the fact that we live a long way apart. I've found that very difficult to deal with. Too difficult. I've really tried to come to terms with the reality of the situation, but it just hasn't worked for me. And if it's not working for 50% of those involved, it's not working at all. I wish I could be happy living apart, I wish that our love alone was enough to make me feel that I could do it - but it isn't. I've really missed her, I've really needed her with me. Day by day that pain of separation has grown, and I just can't sustain the relationship on those foundations in these circumstances.

Things have turned out very badly. That's all been my doing, it really is all my fault that things have turned out how they have. My weakness - I really am very weak when it comes to relationships and difficult decisions - has caused so much hurt and distress, the very things that I have been trying so hard to avoid at all costs.

I think I should have a tattoo across my forehead that says

Public Health Warning!
Avoid getting involved with this boy at all costs!

The thing I find difficult to deal with is that I know that I have always tried to do the right thing, but I have still hurt the one that I love the most a great deal. There have been times when I have made (big) mistakes (most notably last summer when I disappeared off to Hokkaido, northern Japan, due to a fear of commitment) but, apart from those times I have always tried to place the welfare of the one that I love before my own. It's quite ironic that recently by doing just that in the short-term I have caused much more long-term hurt. Not being able to deal with difficult decisions when they should be dealt with.

I don't know what to do now. I feel very bad, although because I KNOW that there were no selfish reasons behind my actions (just weakness and a short-term perspective), I can live with it.

But I've hurt her so much. I'm so sorry.

I can but hope that in time I can be forgiven. I can but hope that the wound can be healed. I can but continue to love and care, as I always have done, and as I always will.

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Tuesday 17th June 2003 - 23:00(BST/GMT+1) My home Garfield Villa, Bristol, England

So for the past two days I've been living in a parallel universe. A universe where everything is absolutely the same as before, but simultaneously completely different. There's been a huge invisible shift in my reality. I was very attached to my old reality. Sure, it's had its ups and downs - but it's always been there. And now suddenly, it's gone. I can almost picture it as it flies east across Europe. It's currently speeding over Siberia.

The new reality is young and doesn't know how to behave. It doesn't know it's place in this world, having only just been exposed to the light. It's got its eye's closed. Nervous of what's out there, but curious too.

My mind and soul meanwhile are not at all happy with this change in realities, and are stubbornly refusing to accept it at the moment. I spent the weekend at The Isle of Wight Festival: I saw little of the music (didn't miss much though, the headlining act was Brian Adams!) but instead lay in the sun smoking marijuana and drinking beer, a combination that ensured that even if I had been ready to embrace my new reality I would have been completely unable to do so!

Click here for more photos

Yesterday I survived by getting up late, drinking a can of cider, then going back to bed and sleeping through to early evening. Oh, but then I was prodded into doing something useful with myself: I went along to a debate on the commercialisation of GM (genetically modified) crops in the UK.



Click here for the GMNation websiteClick here for the GMNation websiteClick here for the GMNation websiteClick here for the GMNation websiteClick here for the GMNation websiteClick here for the GMNation websiteClick here for the GMNation website

THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT IS ABOUT TO MAKE THE CRUCIAL DECISION - IT REALLY IS NOW OR NEVER

This is a subject that I feel absolutely passionately about, and

IF YOU HAVE ANY SENSE, SO SHOULD YOU.

I'm not going to write a lot about this tonight because I'll end up going on for hours, but this is a really important issue. The UK government is soon to decide whether or not to allow GM crops to be grown commercially. Despite all the evidence pointing towards the "don't do it" side of the argument, the government is set to allow commercial GM farming to go ahead.

Why? MONEY and POLITICS ! Margaret Beckett, the minister in charge of all of this, does not care at all about the environment or our health. She is a politician who knows virtually nothing about the real issues here, being far more concerned by what Bush is demanding of the UK.

GM DOES NOT increase yields: 6 years experience shows that the main GM crop (Roundup Ready soya) yields 6% - 11% LESS than non-GM varieties

GM DOES NOT reduce the amount of fertiliser farmers have to apply to their fields (farmers in America have found that they have had to spray their crops with up to 4 times more chemicals than non-GM crops)

GM DOES NOT increase profitability for farmers because the seeds are more expensive and the market price is much lower for the final crop

GM DOES NOT help feed the starving millions. It is now a well known fact that third world countries are simply being exploited by huge multinationals such as Monsanto who strike deals with governments ensuring that all local farmers have to buy their expensive seeds every year, thus driving them out of business and resulting in nations that have to import all of their foodstuffs, when they had previously managed to provide at least some locally.


Also, I'd just like to point out that new drugs have to go through extensive test procedures, including testing on humans, before they are released onto the market. Has their been any testing of GM products (e.g. soya) on humans? NO! Why not? The tests that were done on rats showed such horrendous side effects that the US government stepped in (after pressure from one of its biggest budget donors, Monsanto) to stop the trials! (Incidentally, in Scotland the British Medical Association, which represents over 80% of doctors, has urged that GM crop trials be stopped immediately to safeguard public health).

Then there's the issue of contamination, the single greatest problem. If GM is introduced in the UK, contamination could not only completely wipe out out all organic farms (as happened in the north American province of Saskatchewan), but also infect all non GM crops - then we'd have no choice but to eat GM food, the side effects of which we simply know nothing about.

LOOK HOW LONG IT TOOK FOR BSE TO COME TO LIGHT!

How many years had we been feeding recycled animal products to cattle before it was realised that this was lethal? GM IS NO DIFFERENT! We just don't know what the effects could be.

And who pays when a crop does get contaminated? Check out what happened in America:

A non-GM farmer whose crop was contaminated by GMO's that came from a neighbouring farm was sued by Monsanto for $400,000 for infringing upon their patent rights.

WAKE UP TO REALITY!
GM IS BAD FOR EVERYONE EXCEPT THE MULTINATIONALS!
WE JUST DON'T NEED IT!


What YOU can do

Go to www.gmnation.org.uk and fill out their online form
this one is going to 10 Downing Street!

Here you will also find a lot more information about the alleged pros and the cons
of GM crops. You can also order a free toolkit to help you get involved in the debate and make sure that your voice is heard.

Here's MORE info on the dangers of GM

Email your local authority to make it GM free, this will make it much harder for the government to force commercial GM growing on us
Go to www.foe.co.uk to tell your local US ambassador how you feel
Contact your local supermarket - see below
Fax your local MP (via this link): tell them them about your concerns. They are legally obliged to reply!
Get your Free GM-Free Britain stickers here

One last note then, especially to you Brit's out there: Do you remember a few years ago we managed to get all supermarkets (starting with Iceland) to stop using GM ingredients in their own brand food? Who would have thought it possible, but we did it! Consumer power really does work. I recently attended a meeting held by the Patrick Holden, Director of the Soil Association. He told us how when in conversation with the chief executive of Tesco last year, he was told that it takes surprisingly few letters to arrive at head office for a matter to be raised at the board meeting. So come on, let's get writing and phoning!

Click here for the questions you need to ask, the telephone numbers, postal addresses and homepage addresses.

Click here for the GMNation websiteClick here for the GMNation websiteClick here for the GMNation websiteClick here for the GMNation websiteClick here for the GMNation websiteClick here for the GMNation websiteClick here for the GMNation website

Oh, crikey, it's 2am. I'd better go to bed.

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Wednesday 18th June 2003 - 22:00(BST/GMT+1) My home Garfield Villa, Bristol, England

I've had a very angry day today. Been feeling angry with myself, and others. The loss of my loved-one is hurting a lot.

How? Because I'm pretty stupid sometimes. Because I broke my promise. Because I was too weak. ...But I did try. I tried very hard... I guess that's irrelevant to the the outcome though. It's still me that caused the hurt.

I hurt someone else the week before last, another good friend. I broke their trust. I didn't mean to. I was very emotional at the time. I'm angry about that too.

I can't look at any photos from the last two years, it hurts. I miss her. It's all your own doing Joseph.

Winge winge oh do be quiet.

This happens all the time in the movies, in the magazines, in other people's lives. I know so many people who have had relationships that have lasted for years, and have then broken up for one reason or another. There must be so much guilt in this world if people feel anything like I do about this. But, well, it happens to other people, right? And it's nearly always in the past, right? It never happens to me, and it never happens now!

I think I'll go to the hospital tomorrow morning and have my Granny's Hip x-rayed.

I've been reconsidering my decision to study Japanese at university. The events of the past week have really rattled my foundations when it comes to what Japan means to me. However, I am happy to report that having thought quite carefully about it I SHALL be going on to university to study Japanese. I shall come out top of my year when we graduate and I shall return to Japan in 2008.

I had a meeting with my new manager yesterday, the chap I'll be working for as an O.L. (office lady) from next Monday. Really nice guy, very laid back. "If you need time off for Glastonbury, let me know, I'll try and sort something out". Although there's only going to be three of us working for this particular branch of the electricity company, I now understand that we'll be working within a much larger open-plan office. That means that I should be able to make some more friends, something that I'm very much looking forward to. It really does signal the beginning of the next chapter. I don't want to move on, but I know that I must.

I'm really enjoying my Japanese evening class. Gives me an enormous sense of well-being.

Tim, the man about the house, had his bike stolen this morning from the allotment, right outside a prison too! There's some nasty people around.

I tried to make myself feel a little bit better this afternoon (having had a very angry, guilty morning) by delivering a load of whole food, comforting a little boy who'd been knocked to the ground by another boy, giving the bathroom and toilet a thorough clean, and doing quite a bit of anti-GM campaigning. It's astonishing what you can do with the internet. NO, no, not clean the bathroom silly! I mean campaigning! Have you done your bit yet?

Well, I'm tired now. My shoulders are tense, my stomach feels pitted, my heart is black. It must be time for bed. Let sleep take it all away. I hope I don't dream about the dead spider that I found whilst cleaning the bathroom window ledge today.

Night night.

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Let's have a bit of comedy to finish off eh?

This is the transcript of the ACTUAL radio conversation between a US Naval ship and the Canadians, off the coast of Newfoundland, Oct 95. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-10-95:

CANADIANS: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the South, to avoid a collision.
AMERICANS: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the North, to avoid a collision.
CANADIANS: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.
AMERICANS: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.
CANADIANS: Negative. I say again, You will have to divert your course.
AMERICANS: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER US LINCOLN. THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES ATLANTIC FLEET. WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS. I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH, I SAY AGAIN, THAT'S 15 DEGREES NORTH, OR COUNTERMEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS SHIP.
CANADIANS: We are a lighthouse. Your call.


Sunday 22nd June 2003 - 23:21(BST/GMT+1) My home Garfield Villa, Bristol, England

Hello again. It's me. I'm back.

I have so much to tell you - but no time tonight. Instead, here's a few picture clues; I'll fill in the gaps tomorrow night after my first day at work as an O.L.

I transformed a garden from this...
...to this
Click here for more photos
Click here for more photos
there's been live theatrical performances..
click here for more photos
games of Splat the Rat...
click here for more photos
an evening meal with a pair of foxes...
click here for more photos
and then this morning, after my VERY big bonfire, I learnt how to ring a bell...
click here for more photos

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Sunday 22nd June 2003 - 23:21(BST/GMT+1) My home Garfield Villa, Bristol, England

Last week I was on a train going through the countryside with my 27-year-old Japanese friend. Suddenly, he became very excited, bouncing up and down on his seat, whilst shouting "Look! Look!" and pointing out of the window. I turned, but other than the herd of cows sitting in a field, I saw nothing.

"What is it?" I asked, puzzled.

"Look! The cows! They're sitting down! I didn't know cows could sit down, they're always standing up on TV!"

Well, I guess that's City Kids for you...

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Thursday 26th June 2003 - 07:50(BST/GMT+1) The Office, Aztec West Business Park, Bristol, England

it's ten to eight in the morning. I'm in the office.

The tea's brewing. I've been sitting in the manager's chair for the past 15 minutes so it's nice and warm for him when he arrives, twiddling my thumbs and trying to look pretty.

It's my fourth day on the job so far, and overall it's been pretty good. OK, so I've felt as stupid as a very stupid stupid thing with no brains, being unable to figure out what's the difference between CCMS, RCB and CIS. I bet you don't know either. I heard a rumour that they are acronyms for the computer programs I'm supposed to be using.

I'm working in a very quiet office belonging to one arm (or is it a leg, or possibly an eyebrow?) of a very large electricity company. A while back, this company merged with another, and when the customer databases were combined half of the information went all topsy turvey. As a result of this, the current database is in a right pickle: enter Joseph (that's me) and Mark to sort it all out. At least, that's how it goes in theory. So far I've only managed to sort out a maximum of four customer accounts in a 10 hour day. I should be doing hundreds. My nickname is monkey. I got that on day 2.

My manager is certainly very forgiving at the moment. I'll tell you more about him when my two week trial's over. That way, he'll have to give me a week's notice and not the current one hour when he find's out what I've been telling the world.

Our team, consisting of four apes, is situated in a little section on the top floor of a two-story building. (I describe it like that because in Japan "1st floor" = the western "ground floor", which is a much better system don't you think?) Looking around, there's enough workstations for about 60 staff - but there's only ever been a maximum of about 20 folks in at any one time. Apparently there's been quite a few redundancies recently, which is a bit of a sore point: some people that are being fired have been here for over 20 years, and yet just as they're being told to leave we're being brought in. Apparently HR stuffed up by not offering our new jobs to the old staff before asking the agency to find some new employees.. We just keep our heads low and try not to look like we're having too much fun. It's difficult to not have fun though when you have a huge kitchen area with all mod cons including a live full-time employed human dishwasher (she presses the button marked "start" when it's full), an extensive range of delicacies available for purchase in some amazingly futuristic vending machines and Wimbledon on TV all the time. There's a Gym too. I've never ever been to a gym and I have no intention of starting now. Waste of time if you ask me. I'd rather work off the fat by doing something useful such as gardening, or cycling 20km (I've gone off miles recently) every day to and from work.

In fact, it was only yesterday that I learnt what a "6 Pack" is.

I've heard people talk about them, and knew that it was connected with men who were allegedly very fit and muscular, somewhere in the chest or tummy area, but I'd actually thought that it was something to do with cans of beer. Anyhow, being a gaijin in England, I was able to ask a friend of mine what a 6 pack was without feeling silly. She explained about the muscles etc. I understand now. I also realise that the reason that I never have understood is because I've never had a 6 pack or anything that resembles a 6 pack. Except a 6 pack of beer.

Ah, went slightly off track there, where was I? Oh, this office. Yes, it's all very futuristic. I think the best thing is that there's nearly always a load of delicious food left over from various executive meetings. Yesterday, not only was there a stunning range of salads, but cheese and biscuits too, including a fantastic Stilton which was really smelly.

So yes, that's my new job. In between eating and watching Wimbledon I do actually do a bit of number crunching. As I said before, I'll tell you more about the incredible perks and the most generous manager in the entire world when my fortnight's trial is over.

Ah, the others are just arriving at the office, I'd better post this before I'm fired for mumbling in company time. Gotta touch up my eyeliner too...

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Saturday 28th June 2003 - 00:17(BST/GMT+1)The Welsh Garden Project site, South East Wales

I'm working 7 days a week now.

Having essentially been unemployed since last August it's very refreshing to be working full time, very full time!

Monday to Thursday, 8am - 6pm you'll find me perched in front of my desk at The Office in Bristol, then Friday, Saturday and Sunday you'll find me labouring outdoors as I work on the Welsh Garden Project. I call it that for reasons of anonymity. I'm actually working for a good friend in Wales whose huge garden has been swallowed up by a riot of brambles following years of neglect. My task is to cut them back, so that it's at least possible to find your way from one boundary to another without having to use a GPS handheld device. My friend has asked that I withhold all info on who they are and where they live, purely because if I was to release these details there would within a very short space of time undoubtedly be a large rabble assembling outside the door demanding to meet the Tame that has Gone Wild.

I love this work. I love being outdoors. I love doing something that really makes a difference (even if only to one person). I love clearing out old rubbish. I love working with tools. I love physical, sweaty work. I love a job that I can do whilst listening to my MiniDisc of Japanese vocabulary. I love being forced to cut all contact with the outside world - there's no signal for my mobile phone here. There's no television. There's no newspapers. There's no cheap internet access. I can forget about everything that is worrying me back in Bristol, all the things I have to do there. Here I can just simply live, and do hard physical sweaty work.

Last weekend (my first on The Welsh Garden Project) the local village was having it's annual festival. There was all sorts of traditional community-based things going on, from flower festivals to beer festivals. One of the highlights for me was the performance by Riding Lights Theatre Company (based in York) of a play written by them about poverty in Africa. I've never seen anything like it before. For a start, the stage was quite unusual. Circular in shape, it had wheels mounted on a base which enabled it to rotate continuously throughout the performance. The power for this rotating stage came from none other than the actors themselves, who cunningly took it in turns (in time with their lines and character's actions) to mount one of three fixed bicycles the tyres of which were firmly resting on the surface of the stage: The actor peddled, the stage rotated.

Before the performance in the graveyard oustside the theatre (which the church had temporarily become), there were a few traditional fairground games, such as Hoopla and Splat the Rat. The prize for winning one of these 50p games? - a stamp on the back of your hand reading "Congratulations!". After the show we were told how much money we had raised and asked how we would like to use it to help others. We chose to use it to send 8 chickens to a community in Africa, via a charity whose name I forget at the moment.

The following afternoon the festival continued as the church opened its bell-tower to the public. That was exciting! I've never rung a church bell before - and I don't think that I ever will again, I was very bad at it! In fact, I think the 3-year-old lad put on a far more convincing act than me!

don't let go!
...woops!

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Last weekend also saw a trip to a great pub with a couple of friends. Three pints and a vodka ensured that the following morning I felt really rough!

Since then I've basically been working non-stop. I do have 3 daytime hours off every week on Friday mornings, but other than that every hour is accounted for. I intend to carry on in this mad fashion throughout the summer, if it doesn't get to me too much that is.

Being busy keeps my head and heart occupied.

Kae and I are getting on much better now. She's the kindest person I've ever met. I miss her. mouu.

I promised her last September that I'd never leave again. Then, 6 months later when she'd just started to trust me once more, I left.

Do the reasons matter? They don't change the basic fact that I have hurt her as no-one else could have done.

I won't forget what I've done to her, and I won't forget how much I've hurt her. I currently carry these bits of knowledge around with me in the form of guilt, sadness and a general dark-feeling. I've been having the most terrible dreams recently too. I've been waking up feeling awful, but unable to remember what journey I'd been on in my sleep to take me to that point at my moment of waking.

Apologies don't make Kae feel any better, and I'm not surprised.

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Sunday 29th June 2003 - 23:02(BST/GMT+1)My home Garfield Villa, Bristol, England

The opportunity to do what to one another?

Being an international celebrity inevitably has its drawbacks. Fanmail is one of them. For example, how am I supposed to reply to this letter that I have just received from a male nurse who lives in East Asia? Here's an extract for you: (please bear in mind that I know virtually nothing about this guy - he wrote to me after seeing my contact details in a magazine and has since inundated me with cards saying "thinking of you" and postcards of his local town hall.)

"...Maybe someday when you find yours day and have enough money you will be able to come here and visit me. By that time I could cook a delicious meals - and so we would enjoy good food, the richness of good wine and company. The opportunity to gently hold and touch one another as brothers to the background sound of music. I know this sounds like a lethrathesly. [a what???!!] My mobile number is xxxxxx, my home number is xxxxx, my work number is xxxxx. You can call me at 9.30am your time then it will be 6.30pm my time."

Excuse me? I do hug my brother when I see him, but I can't say that we gently hold and touch one another to the background sound of music. Perhaps it's a cultural thing. Mind you, this extract was penned by the same chap who in his first ever letter to me wrote

"...On a personal level, I am certified single male, endowment 6 cut bottom. Smooth and almost gymnast body well defined medium build, dark hair, brown eyes, naturally smooth versitile. On an even more personal level, my personhood would be possible be characterized by someone who enjoys art... swimming naked and naked in bed."

Ideas for a reply on a postcard please.

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The Daily Mumble June 2003 Archive

 

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