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The Daily Mumble February 2004 Archive
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February 2004 will go down in history as the month in which I found my Mojo, following what was getting on for a year of involuntary abstinence. In addition to all of that excitment I had Sheffield University on my mind: firstly the fantastic Open Day, and then the offer of a place saw me getting one step closer to achieving my goal of becoming a star in Japan ... and speaking of stardom, I made my BBC1 debut, attracting over 1 million viewers!
 
 
February 2004 Highlights: A near-death experience; Basil Brush and a dental receptionist; Ethical News Roundup; Tate Modern's Weather Project; Kodo Taiko Drumming Group; Sheffield University Open Day; the university's decision to let me in; I got my Mojo back!; a disturbing attraction to zebras; my sister Catherine; Viewing Figures from my BBC1 debut...

Monday 2nd February 2004 23:50GMT - In my home, Bristol, England

A near-death experience, quite literally

I'm tired. I had a hardcore weekend what with going out, studying and stuff... and then this afternoon I nearly killed someone when I was driving whilst very stressy and hyper. There's always a tendency to look to where blame should be allocated in situations like this, so for routine's sake let's say it was 50/50. I was on a dual carriageway, approaching a traffic-light controlled pedestrian crossing at about 35mph. He was pressing the button.

When the lights turned amber I was very close to the crossing, and decided that it wasn't safe to stop - the car behind would probably ram into me, and in any case he shouldn't start to cross before the lights actually go red and the little green man appears. What I didn't realise was that he wasn't watching the traffic lights - he was watching the traffic. The car on my left was going a bit slower than I was, and so braked as the lights turned amber. The pedestrian saw this, and stepped into the road, not paying any attention to me in the far side lane...

I've never jumped on the brake so fast! Despite there being an anti-slip coating on the road, I skidded pretty badly (accompanied by a lovely screech of tyres!) ...stopping with my bonnet just over the crossing, and the man right in front of the car, his knees almost touching the bumper!

I felt so bad, and apologised profusely through hand gestures and mouthing, whilst he took the child's dummy out of his mouth (yeah, I thought that was a bit odd too) and began yelling at me. "YOU STUPID F****** W*****...!"

I sat there waiting for the lights to change, feeling idiotic, guilty and humiliated. He meanwhile walked around to my window, signaling for me to wind it down. In my shocked state I obeyed his order, but instead of whacking me round the face, he said, "Respect to you mate, yeah, nice one man, No problems eh?", before putting his dummy back in and walking off.

Bizarre.

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Tuesday 3rd February 2004 09:21GMT - In my home, Bristol, England

Why hello said like this. (n.b. this is a .wav file so if you've got a Mac and don't have any software for playing WAV files then well, tough. Mind you, being a Mac owner you'll be used to having to compromise anyway) (when listening to this please observe the deafening roar of my hard drive which happens to be positioned right by the microphone).

 
I note that The Daily Mumble readership has increased by 50% recently as two more gullible halfwits surfers with taste have been ensnared by my charm. For the one that lives up the road, here's a special picture just for you - and if you click here Basil might just have something to say to you. (International viewers who haven't a clue what I'm on about click here). My other recent acquisition is apparently someone who, for anonymity's sake, we'll call "Vicky", and who, for the sake of it, we'll say is in Singapore, and is allegedly a lot foxier than Basil (left), although my previously reffered-to fan might argue against that. (Incidentally, "Vicky" makes a guest appearance in the guest book this month) (surprising place for a guest appearance don't you think?).

Anyway, look, I'm getting distracted. There I was with a whole pile of important issues to tackle, and instead I've been sidetracked by a stuffed toy with a big brush (it's NOT a tail) and a stranger who may only exist in the outer cosmos of reality, a far off system when one tends to be located on the planet Zong as I am.

Oh, good news on the Dream front. As you'll know (if you're psychic) I've been having some really bad dreams these past few weeks. We're talking death, blood etc. Last week I carried out a mercy-killing on a giant Turtle because it was suffering so greatly from wounds inflicted upon it by someone else. On Friday night a colleague tried to stab me to death - weird because we get on very well; in fact last week she gave me a very gratefully received birthday present consisting of a video compilation of the 1970's/1980's Japanese game show Takeshi's Castle that I got addicted to whilst in Switzerland. Yes, so anyway, Saturday night saw the dream-theme do a 180° turn, as I took a trip to the dentist.

I can't recall what happened whilst I was being treated, but I do remember walking down the stairs to the receptionist afterwards to arrange another appointment. Gesturing towards the vacuum cleaner that I had slung over my shoulder, I said to her with a smile on my face, "I won't bring this next time, I see the dentist has got one of his own!" This could be a reference to that little tube that's stuck in your mouth to remove saliva whilst you're being treated. It could also be a reference to a maths lesson I had last week during which, whilst talking to my friend Sarah (who I don't know terribly well), I dribbled. Thing was, I didn't notice until afterwards when I saw the little puddle of drool on my pencil case, and by that time it was too late to apologise or make a joke of it. She'd watched me dribble and said nothing.

Anyway, back to the receptionist. Yes, she was absolutely lovely. We had a natter about this and that... and then she invited me out on a date. At that point I woke up feeling happy.

Last night I think I had a pretty good dream too. I can't remember anything about it, but I don't feel like I've been stabbed either, so that's good news.

Anyway I did actually have something proper to write about but for the life of me I can't remember what it was, so I'd better go have breakfast instead.

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Saturday 7th February 2004 09:21GMT - In my room, Bristol, England

News Round-up

A new bullet on the market

  "The brutal essence of the Bushist Era was thus laid bare last week in the unlikely venue of the Army Times, a corporate-owned military newspaper in Washington. In an article detailing the effectiveness of a new kind of ammunition, the paper -- inadvertently, we assume -- stripped away the patriotic tinfoil wrapped around the arms industry and revealed that "patriotism" for what it really is: extortion, crude and thuggish, a raw greed driven by threats -- including the threat of turning their death-wares against the Americans they are purporting to defend.

The story, by John Roos, deals with the controversy over a new bullet made by a Texas firm, RBCD, and distributed by Le Mas Ltd. of Arkansas. As Roos explains, the new 5.66-mm Le Mas round is "frangible" -- it will "penetrate steel and other hard targets but will not pass through a human torso." Instead, it effectively explodes inside a body, ravaging tissue in all directions, "creating untreatable wounds."

The ammo has not been adopted by the U.S. military yet, but it is being used by some of the "private security consultants" hired by the Bush administration to prowl the streets of occupied Iraq. These mercenaries are not always bound by the laws and codes of honor that govern regular military forces, so they're free to do any dirty work that the Bushists want to keep off the books. They are also free to carry out productive "field experiments" of new ammo on human targets, the paper reports.

Roos writes of hired gun Ben Thomas, who works for an unnamable company carrying out unspecified tasks in Iraq for the Bush Regime. Thomas cheerfully relates his first kill with Le Mas' fabulous frangible, during what he said was a skirmish with Iraqi gunmen in a rural village near Baghdad. "It entered his butt and completely destroyed everything in the lower left section of his stomach," Thomas said of the single bullet from his M4 carbine. "Everything was torn apart. Nobody [could] believe this guy died from a butt shot."

- Chris Floyd. Full text here

 

Extinction:

Scientists estimate that 130 species are driven extinct every day. Think about it, there's almost 1000 less species of animal on this planet today than there were 7 days ago - almost entirely because of industrialisation and deforestation.

78 million acres of forest are felled each year (an area larger than Poland). Almost 75% of the world's original forests have been cut - most of these in the past century. the continental US only 5% of native forest remains.

China:

Well, that will certainly help ease congestion and pollution..

Shanghai is to ban bicycles from most major roads in the next few months. "Bicycles put great pressure on the city's troubled traffic situation,' said Shanghai police official Chen Yuangao. Maybe you should try visiting Bristol on a Friday evening to see what a real traffic jam is like, Chen.

Meanwhile, in 2003 China's oil imports were up a staggering 30% on the year before.

The over-pumping of groundwater supplies in China has created huge tunnels underground, covering an area of 150,000 square kilometres, and has resulted in the cities of Shanghai, Tianjin and Taiyuan each dropping by 2 metres since 1900.

In the last two decades, huge areas of Northern China have experienced a dramatic increase in the number of droughts and dust storms, resulting in 2500 square kilometres of land being swallowed up by desert every year.

"I'm becoming more and more convinced as time goes by and we look at the research, that global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" - Senator James Inhofe, the US's negotiator at a United Nations conference on climate change in Milan in December 2003. The US is responsible for 25% of world carbon dioxide emissions.

Since 1990, the Earth has experienced the hottest 10 years on record. The planet has lost 10% of its snow cover since the 1960s. Arctic sea ice has not only thinned by 40% since the 1950s, the surface area that it covers during the spring and summer is down by 15%. In 1998 the financial cost of natural disasters was $65.5 billion; the World Health Organisation estimates that the spread of disease induced by global warming may have led to 5 million deaths.

This is all due to a mere 0.6° centigrade increase in global temperatures.

So what are the predictions?

If we continue to release greenhouse gases into the environment at the current rate (375 parts per million of the atmosphere) global temperatures will rise by another 1° centigrade. This will result in the probable disappearance of glaciers and sea ice, a huge increase in extreme climate events such as floods, heat waves, landslides and violent storms. The lack of rain during the growing season will have a sever impact upon food production, and energy consumption will increase enormously as nations try to deal with the tougher conditions.

If energy use continues to grow at the current rate the UK Metrological Office's Centre for Climate Prediction and Research envisages a catastrophic 8° centigrade rise on today's global average. This would result in temperatures that have not been seen since 40 million years ago, when the planet had no permanent polar ice sheets and sea levels were 12 metres higher than today. Most of the world's capital cities would be lost, along with much of our best farmland. Survival under these conditions would be all but impossible, especially in those parts that have already been industrialised.

Well, yes, it may happen, but it's not my problem. I won't even be alive. I mean, we're talking centuries away, right?

Wrong. The above estimates are based on a period of 80 - 100 years. 2080 may sound like a long way off, but it's not. Thinking of having children? Chances are they will be alive to see this happen. Personally speaking I've noticed a change in the climate even in my short life of 26 years. It used to snow in Orcop, I mean really snow; it hasn't done that now for well over 10 years.

As you know, I used to live 2000 metres up in the Swiss Alps. From my bedroom I could see the 4000 metre Jungfrau (mountain). My friend Dan and I once climbed its north face to reach the base of the glacier that gripped the upper half of the mountain. I remember, when we got back, looking at a photo taken in the 1950s. How different the Jungfrau had looked then - that magnificent glacier had once reached all the way down to the base of the valley. That made me feel very sad.

So what can I do?

Well, I think the most important thing is to be aware. Don't buy any bullshit that the politicians may try to sell you (that esp. applies to any US Mumblers!). If you own a car, think about whether each journey you make is actually necessary. What about public transport - or even better, get on your bike (especially if in Shanghai - let's see some mass peaceful demo's!). Don't buy into all this consumer crap... if you live in the UK, make sure you're not supporting a coal-fired or nuclear power station. It's so easy to switch to a green provider (did you know that a wind farm off the Welsh coast has just gone live?). Use less energy in the home, shop locally and organically, avoiding supermarkets at all costs! A typical meal using local ingredients uses up to 17 times less petroleum than the same meal bought in a supermarket. How much petroleum went into your breakfast this morning?

If you don't live in the UK, find out about your own local alternatives. Don't be ignorant, educate yourself.

The key really is to appreciate that this is OUR problem. If you really don't care about the future for whatever personal reasons (maybe you have no children or have no wish to ever have children) then that's fine. But otherwise, well, it's not someone else's problem to deal with, it's ours. WE are the consumers and WE can make a difference by directing our spending power to sectors that are not poisoning the planet.

[figures obtained from The Ecologist ©, February 2004]

Comment

These past 10 months have seen me becoming increasingly political. A lot of it has to do with living with people who really do care about the effect that we have upon our environment (and future generations). There are so many issues that one can get all het up about, sometimes it's difficult to carry on without feeling completely powerless in the face of commercialisation.

This climate issue though - it does kind of overshadow everything else. I mean, take the illegal attack upon Iraq carried out by the Bush administration with his little buddy Blair last year. Sure, it was totally totally wrong, but at the end of the day, 80 years down the line, will it matter? When the oil supply has run out, and millions of people worldwide are dying on an annual basis due to severe drought and flash floods, will it matter who the head of state is in any country?

How about if the US directed the billions of pounds it now spends on killing people into renewable energy? It's a win-win situation. The US would not be reliant upon others for it's energy requirements and pollution would be cut dramatically. What is now spent on developing bullets that explode inside human torsos could be directed towards environmentally friendly, safe public transportation systems, (such as maglev trains, my favourite vehicle of the week), cutting the need for cars, cutting the demand for oil, and increasing the chances of finding love as you commute to work.

Well, it's just an idea. I'm now going to go and have breakfast. Toast made from organic bread baked down the road in the family-run bakery shop, coated with organic honey produced by the bees that live in hives in the back garden of my sister's boyfriend's house not 2 miles from here. Then I'm going to replace the break blocks on my push bike.

Then write a psychology essay. Excitement all the way.

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Monday 9th February 2004 22:17GMT - In my home, Bristol, England

Real News

It was pointed out to me by a regular Mumble consumer this morning that the February 2004 edition has so far seen no "real" news. Well, that was actually intentional: the idea was to force you to read all of the above, as at the end of the day it has far more relevance to your lives than anything about me, unless of course you're my future partner in which case I doubt you're reading this now anyway because a) the excitement of knowing that you're my future partner would be too much to bear without jumping up and down shouting "hurray I'm Joseph's future partner" which would making reading TDM quite a tricky task, b) having read TDM you'd know better than to be my future partner, c) if you are my future partner drop me a line and I'll send you my mobile number so we can hook up. You do realise that it's Friday 13th in a few days (and me having been born on such an auspicious day it's always lucky for me) and the the day after that is Saturday 14th, otherwise known as Valentines Day...

Ok, so having established the reason why there has as yet been no "real news" on the Daily Mumble, let me feed the hungry gannets amongst you that demand it.

Emily Loved Bagpuss

Ok ok, I know it's not real news, but I found this picture of Bagpuss and Professor Yaffle the other day and couldn't resist but include it in TDM. Once again,apologies to international viewers for this shameless voyage into cult British TV dating back a couple of decades.

Ok, so yes, right, on Sunday I popped over to London to see my favourite giant bicycle wheel, the London Eye. I know it's featured in TDM before, but I never tyre of it (boom boom!!). The manner in which it floats through mid-air, supported by nothing but a few skinny bits of wire - it's just magical.

My next port of call along the South Bank was the Tate Modern. Walking in through the west entrance I was struck by the sheer enormity of The Weather Project - it filled the vast expanse of Turbine Hall - a space that takes up half of this power-station-turned modern art gallery.

  'In this installation, The Weather Project, representations of the sun and sky dominate the expanse of the Turbine Hall. A fine mist permeates the space, as if creeping in from the environment outside. Throughout the day, the mist accumulates into faint, cloud-like formations, before dissipating across the space. A glance overhead, to see where the mist might escape, reveals that the ceiling of the Turbine Hall has disappeared, replaced by a reflection of the space below. At the far end of the hall is a giant semi-circular form made up of hundreds of mono-frequency lamps. The arc repeated in the mirror overhead produces a sphere of dazzling radiance linking the real space with the reflection. Generally used in street lighting, mono-frequency lamps emit light at such a narrow frequency that colours other than yellow and black are invisible, thus transforming the visual field around the sun into a vast duotone landscape.' - Tate  
looking up... and down, upon onself

 

Lying down on the concrete floor, one looked up at the ceiling far above, to see...

oneself, reflected in what must be the world's largest mirror.

 

me!

spot the joseph!

 

 

Having got a nice tan, I retraced my steps along the bank of the Thames, and took a seat at the front of the balcony in the Royal Festival Hall. There, I witnessed two hours of the most stunning performance by 16 drummers. Now, you would have thought that there could be nothing duller than such an extended period of listening to nothing but percussion, but you'd be wrong, because this was Kodo, Japan's No.1 Taiko Drumming group.

I must admit I too had my doubts before the show, but it had me gaping, open mouthed like an open-mouthed-gaper for virtually the whole performance. They drew sounds and rhythms out of those drums that you'd never imagine could be produced outside of a computer. And the power... well, forget any sub-woofers at your local club, this was power. The biggest drum, some 1.5m in diameter and 2m in length, was positioned on its side on a huge stand. It was played by two men, one at each end, wearing nothing but loincloths who hit it with all their might using what looked like baseball bats!

These guys (and gals) treat drumming as a way of life. 4 months of the year you'll find them touring the world. 4 months of the year you'll find them touring Japan, and 4 months of the year you'll find them living a monastic lifestyle as a community on an isolated island in the Sea of Japan. There they recoup, and devise new rhythms and routines to share with the world.

I thoroughly recommend them.

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Tuesday 10th February 2004 10:28GMT - In my home, Bristol, England

Real News pt. 2

I'm going up to Sheffield Uni tomorrow for an open day. I'm reallly looking forward to it as it means I'll have a chance to check out the talent for when I make up for lost time on the lurrrve scene meet the tutors and other folks who shall be aiding me in my quest to reach stardom in Japan by 2010. I'll also be given a tour of student halls where I'll probably be living from September, and have the chance to meet the person who is ultimately responsible for offering me a place at uni. I've bought the big box of chocolates already.

I phoned them yesterday actually. They were saying that I shouldn't worry about having recieved no offer yet - no-one has. They've been so busy. Anyway anyway that's about all for now. Life is wonderful, I'm happy, big smiles.

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Wednesday 11th February 2004 19:54GMT - On a train, somewhere in the Midlands, UK

Sheffield, my love, I shall be with you soon (I hope!)

This morning, following the sounding of 4 sucessive pre-6am alarms, I wriggled out of my sleeping bag and into my clothes. Having put a wash on (6.15am) had breakfast (6.18am) and made a thermos of blackberry tea (6.21am), off I set on my super fandabbytastic 13-year-old mountain bike without effective breaks, with a gear changer that skips 7 gears, with a bottom bracket that squeaks like a mouse taking part in the Grand Final of the 2004 Grand Mousqueakathon, for Bristol Temple Meads. Onto the train, out with the laptop, on with the psychology essay.

Three hours later I arrived in my future home: Sheffield. Sheffield, Sheffield, oh how I love you Sheffield - and I've only known you but 10 hours. Yes, today was the open day at Sheffield Uni, the only university that I have applied for, and for that reason the university that hopefully shall be making me a conditional offer within the next two weeks (the condition of acceptance being that I pass my current Access course). Naturally, the first thing I did upon my arrival in the city this morning was... er... well, I bought three pairs of boxer shorts actually. Er yes, well, following that I moodled around (it's a crossed between the verbs to "mooch" and to "pootle", and the noun "poodle", and sums up what I did this morning in Sheffield town centre very aptly) for a while, then boarded the "Supertram", destination: Sheffield University campus.

Having entered the building that the School of East Asian Studies (SEAS) is housed in, I found myself whisked back to a shoe shop in Bern, the capital of Switzerland. They had one of those lifts without the doors. You knoww, where you just have a continuous cycle of lifts all joined together on some kind of pulley system. They go round and round all day: up on the left, down on the right; you just have to jump in them as they pass by, being careful not to get any projectories caught in the gap. Just like that shoe shop in Bern. I'm wearing the shoes that I bought there in October 2002 right now...

Anyway, sorry, my mind is prone to wandering. I'm writing this on a lovely Virgin Voyager train, lots of distractions.

Ok, so, yes, I found the SEAS office, walked in, and began to mumble to the staff,

"I'm looking for, er, Susie? No! I mean Lynne"

The two ladies in the office turned to face me, and almost in unison cried

"You must be Joseph Tame!"

Well, you know, it's only to be expected. My fame preceeds me. I reckon it was announced over their office tannoy system, "Joseph Tame is entering the building!"

I had been under the impression that what with Sheffield being such a big uni etc it would be a bit faceless, official and lacking in the human touch. Not at all! Throughout the following few hours I had the chance to chat about all sorts of stuff with all the people who push the buttons up there. They're all so friendly and human. The professors aren't the pension-aged grey-haired types with thick black-rimmed glasses that I thought they'd be. I had ALL of my questions answered, a good natter with some final-year students and generally felt very at home.

I have been a little concerned about getting in - I've yet to receive an offer of any kind, but the admissions tutor has agreed to look it up when she's back in on Monday. Mind you, my chances aren't all that great: in the past two months they've had 50% more applications for Japanese than they had throughout the whole of 2002/2003. That equates to 200 applications - with only 40 places available. So, theoretically my chances of getting in are 1 in 5.

Can he pull it off? Watch this space (or see below!).

I actually feel quite confident as I have a lot going for me: I'm a mature student (safer bet than 18-year-olds), I've lived in Japan and have a great passion for the place as opposed to the more usual mild interest, I understand how difficult the language is (they expect a 50% drop-out rate over the duration of the course it's that tough), I'm so enthusiastic about doing this course I've apllied for no other!

Well, anyway, I'll be closer to knowing whether I've been offered a place next Monday.

Outside of SEAS, I'm VERY impressed with the uni. The Students Union is HUGE!! So much going on, and right bang in the middle of campus. I also had a tour of the Student Halls (university catered accomodation where everything is done for you, great if it's your first time away from mummy). Mmm, not bad. But, I think rather than going down that road I'll opt for a self-catering flat in a house containing about 8 other students. Bit quieter, cheaper, and I can use my rice cooker. Which I haven't bought yet. They've recently invested a lot of money in I.T.: about 75% of rooms now have broadband internet access (so fret not, you can still keep an eye on what mischief your favourite Tame gets up to).

All in all then, great day.

And I've had a lovely train journey home too. We're just about to pull into Bristol Temple Meads, so I'd best pack up and get ready for the ride home, on my bike with duff breaks and a bottom bracket that squeaks like a mouse taking part in the Grand Final of the 2004 Grand Mousqueakathon.

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Monday 16th February 2004 22:31GMT - At home, Bristol, England, UK

See, I told you that Friday 13th was my lucky day

Hello! Just a REALLY quick scribble here to share with you this email that I received today:

Dear Joseph,

It was nice to meet you at the Open Day on Wednesday. I hope you found the afternoon informative and useful. I am just writing to tell you that a decision has been made on your application, and I am pleased to tell you that you should be receiving an offer through UCAS shortly. Good luck with your studies this year.

Best wishes,

Eleanor

*******************************************************

Eleanor Jones
Undergraduate Admissions Tutor

What that means ladies and gentlemen, what that means is that I have been offered a place at Sheffield University! Fan-dabby dozo!

I GOT MY MOJO BACK!

Did you know that I was born on Friday 13th? Well, I was, and therefore whenever a Friday 13th comes around, I feel touched by a little luck. This weekend was no exception. For the past four days I have been staying in Coupleville, and I must tell you that it was absolutely wonderful, lovely, and far better than anything I could have wished for. Perfect timing, what with Valentines Day and all (see below for more).

In another region of my galaxy, I have a flight booked for Italy this Thursday, returning Sunday. Should I go? I don't know myself yet. I know what the sensible answer is, but since when have I ever listened to sense?

Body Hits, last summer's BBC program that I feature quite prominently in has made it onto terrestrial TV. BBC1 in fact, the UK's most popular channel. Friday, 12.05pm. Be sure to miss it, It's truly dreadful. I wasn't myself at the time. Please don't think that I'm actually like that.

Wow. I'm really spun out. It's staggering how much life can change in such a short space of time. I'm so excited, about everything. I really am truly happy tonight. My guardian angel absolutely deserves a medal.

xxx

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Tuesday 17th February 2004 22:29GMT - At home, Bristol, England, UK

ok, ok, I'll tell you more...

I have been receiving hassle from some of you out there for more information on my stay in Coupleville at the weekend...

Well, we first met last November in somewhat odd circumstances: an English-teaching mate of mine in Tokyo sent an email saying that one of his ex-students was in the UK and having a hard time due to the isolated nature of the place where she worked. Yes, Brixham, that god-forsaken stinking-of-fish town that is a veritable verucca on Britain's southern shoreline. Anyhow, we met up for the weekend, which was all very weird, being complete strangers etc - the language barrier didn't help.

This time around she came up to Bristol for the weekend. We met on a train (risky business that) on the line just north of Exeter where I'd been working that day. It was strange, but almost immidiately I felt totally at ease with her. She infiltrated my comfort zone within the space of a few seconds, and I didn't feel in the least bit imposed upon. The language barrier too posed no problems, it simply melted between us.

Well, it just went on from there... She's adorable. I can't get her out of my head.

No-one in the house saw much of us that weekend, despite the fact that we hardly left the comfort of its four walls. Tee hee. She was going to be leaving Sunday 2pm, then I suggested that she get the same train as me on Monday morning at 7am when I went to work, then I cancelled work and we stayed in bed until 3.30pm! There has been much merriment provided by my housemates since: comments, jokes, and songs such as "What a difference a lay makes"! They know me far too well around here. Well, I mean, it was quite a significant event you know. In two weeks I would have passed the 11-month mark of my involuntary abstinence marathon. I was almost a virgin again, at 26! Can't be having that you know.

Still, no matter how much I go on about sex, and no matter how much of a sukebe I am (ask your Japanese friends what that means), it's the warmth, care and love (in the many forms that it can take) that counts. It's the being woken in the morning from your dreamworld in which you're piloting giant animatronic giraffes with mouths full of coconuts (that one's still vivid in my head tonight - where do these ideas come from?!!) by someone who wants to give you attention and affection in return for yours. It's the holding you round the waist as you make the miso soup, and the taking of your hand in theirs as you head for the bus-stop. It's the sudden unprompted kisses and smiles that are bestowed upon you during conversation: it's all of these things and more.

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Saturday 21st February 2004 11:16GMT - At home, Bristol, England, UK

a disturbing attraction to zebras

I've not been out much this week, at least not in the daytime. Imagine my surprise then on arriving home this morning and seeing this tree outside the house. No, it didn't grow overnight, and yes, it was there last time I looked. BUT, it didn't have all those pwetty flowers on it. Spring is on it's way. New life, new smiles, warmth and light.

Jo, Lousie and Helen caught on CCTV the morning after

12 hours ago then I was seduced by these three lovely ladies into staying awake all night in a house without heating, talking non-stop in an Irish accent on the coldest night in British history since the last time it was that cold. I think it must have been the whole bottle of white wine that I drunk in the 45 minutes prior to leaving the comfort of my room that did it. It was just a wee celebratory sup you understand: I'd just finished writing my second essay since Wednesday. Yes so anyway one of us had access to a deserted house and knowledge of the alarm deactivation code, so having spent a very pleasant evening in a lovely restaurant talking about big noses, diabetes and vibrators we headed for that abode. Switched on the TV for my BBC1 debut - that was a bit odd - and settled down in front of the log fire to marvel at the manner in which all the heat went up the chimney. I remember something about the Brit awards, and wanting to climb inside the zebra suit that the lead singer from The Darkness was wearing.

Later I came across a photo in a copy of National Geographic taken in the exact spot where this was taken. Ah, happy days. I was working as a volunteer with a bunch of other foreigners at an English school / UNESCO community in the far north-east of Japan way back in 2000. We'd spend the evenings eating, drinking and being merry at a local family-run restaurant type place, then get in our two clapped-out bangers and drive like maniacs down the long, straight deserted roads that are common in that part of the Japanese outback. I seem to remember us racing alongside one another, poking garden implements out of the windows in a kind of Colluseum-battle type way. Strikes me as a tad dangerous now, but it was hilariously funny at the time. Our destination was nearly always the hot spring beside that huge icy cold lake, where we'd lie back and feel at peace with the world around us that was gently illuminated by the starlit sky above.

I had a few hours sleep this morning, although I kept on waking up needing the loo, oh, and my friend was snoring pretty loudly.

Anyway anyway look I have so much to do today (have a bath, brush my teeth, shave, clean the loo, sleep, write a sociology essay) so I really must get on. This website is such a distraction. People sometimes ask me how long it's taken me to build it... oooh I hate to think... but then, last week the average person in the UK watched over 25 hours, yes, over one whole day, of television, and I don't watch any. So there you go. RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

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9pm (10 hours later)

I don't understand this. I only got three hours sleep last night but I'm yet to doze off. I should be a complete wreck, especially considering that a whole bottle of wine was involved in my downfall last night..

I've done all of those things I set out to do today (except the sleeping bit), although admittedly today's college assignment isn't complete. I have to design and pilot a study into whether university top-up fees will influence the thinking of students when they are deciding what degree course to take.

I was reminded of Catherine last night, my sister who died of an overdose about 21 years ago. I hadn't thought about her for a very long time. It must be months. That's quite unusual I feel. I remember times when I would think about her almost every day, for weeks on end. I was always trying to figure out whether I had "stuff" related to her to work through. Having been so young when she moved on I don't have any "physical" memory of her. I still have little cover and Floppy Ted though, made for me by her. Floppy Ted's sitting on my scanner just to the right of where I sit now. Yes, throughout my teens and even up until just a couple of years ago I was searching for supressed feeling in my subconscious that needed to be aired... but never really found any.

I have a strange relationship with Catherine. I understand that she was very close to me, and because of that I also feel very close to her... yet, it's a closeness that I can't feel on any emotional level that I'm used to working on. I think I used to be able to - but having said that I do have a suspicion that I created that bond within my head for my own selfish reasons. I also have a fear of my sister. A fear of her ghost: I'm told that not long after she died there was an occasion when I turned to my parents and said, "What's Catherine doing here?". I was very young at the time, and not really aware of what death meant. I believe that I felt that she'd just gone away, so when I did see her ghost I was just puzzled yet happy to see her. In later years the knowledge that I had seen her after she had died really did frighten me. I don't think it's a personal thing, more a fear of ghosts in general.

This quest for supressed emotions relating to Catherine is tied to my curiousity about why I am the only one in my family to have not yet experienced the lowest of the lows. Whether it be depression or a complete nervous breadvan, they've all been there at one time or another and bought a whole wardrobe of T-shirts back as souvinears. Except for me. Sure, I've had some difficult times, but they've nearly always been related to matters of the heart rather than the mind. Perhaps I don't have the mental ability to have a breakdown. Perhaps I'm not clever enough. Will my time come? Hhm, maybe. Watch this space.

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Monday 23rd February 2004 21:09GMT - At home, Bristol, England, UK

Figures just in - Joseph Breaks the One Million Mark

Not a day has gone past since Friday without someone saying to me, "Joseph, what were you doing on my TV the other night?!"

Yes, I have made it BIG time. I've just paid a visit to www.viewingfigures.com, the company that provide a minute-by-minute analysis of what people are watching on British TV, and obtained the figures for Body Hits, filmed last summer and broadcast for the first time on terrestrial TV (BBC1) last Friday night/ Saturday morning at 12.05am.

As you can see, after the initial slump (pre-midnight inflated viewing figures caused by famous film being broadcast) there wasn't too much of a drop in numbers, I mean, I never dipped below the 1million mark. Note that more women than men were attracted by my sensitive nature.

Gosh, you know that means that about 1 in every 56 people in the UK have seen my face. How will I cope? the fan mail, it's gonna be awful... I might even have to move house.

Ah, I guess I'm gonna have to just get used to it. It's practice for when I make it REALLY big, in Japan.

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The Daily Mumble February 2004 Archive
 

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