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I was bloody busy in July 2004 - birthdays, festivals and a major emotional upset concering my love affair with Japan...
 
 
July 2004 Highlights: getting old ...or just having a bit of taste?; precoscious teenagers; my friend is a rapist ; Happy Birthday to you, and you, and you; causing a terrorism alarm; Ashton Court Festival 2004...

Saturday 3rd July 2004 - 09:33GMT+1 On my beanbag, Bristol, England

getting old ...or just having a bit of taste?

Last night saw the end-of-course celebratory night out for myself and fellow students who've just completed the one year Access to Combined Studies course at City of Bristol College.

I don't know who chose the venue, but whoever it was must originate from a different galaxy to me.

The first sign that things were not all roses came when upon our arrival we saw a bunch of drunken teenage flooseys wearing next-to-nothing pile out of a stretch limo, past the 5 security guards on the door and under a whole bunch of flags. This told us that:

a) the female population within the pub were probably incapable of intelligent conversation;
b) violence was probably a frequent occurrence at the establishment;
c) many of the regulars loved football, which naturally means lager louts who, unable to discuss the important things in life, instead choose to live through the lives of others (namely footballers), and spend much of their time debating who they're going to buy and sell that week in their fantasy football teams, in between making derogatory male chauvinist remarks about the flooseys - which is really not on, unless of course it's done in a subtle matter so they can't hear, or on the internet the following morning..

Once inside all of those suspicions were confirmed. It wasn't long before my two friends and I decided to move on, but that uneasy feeling of flapping my flippers in a desert began to surface within me, and so at 10pm I returned home to debate the merits of sanitary towels and tampons with my landlady and her niece.

I felt much more comfortable with that.

p.s. there have been some beautiful clouds racing past my window of late - thus the picture above.

Saturday 3rd July 2004 - 09:33GMT+1 On my beanbag, Bristol, England

precocious teenagers

I mentioned my landlady's niece above... she's been staying with us for the past week. It's been a bit traumatic.

Prior to her visit we'd all (including my landlady) had the impression that Flora was a quiet girl. Shy and reserved, we were thinking that her visit would merely mean one more mouth to feed.

Not so.

It was but a few hours before she'd found her feet, and so the cheek began. Flora's 17 you see, and it seems that a stay in our rather liberal household has propelled her into the outer stratosphere where confidence and insults abound. I, in particular, have been a victim of her unwelcome attention.

She's poured half a litre of water over my futon, smeared jam up my arm, bitten me (several times), emptied my piggy-bank all over the floor, verbally insulted me more times than I care to remember, put salt in my muesli, drawn on my face with a highlighter pen, and generally been a complete pain in the arse.

Of course, it's only natural that she be attracted by my natural good looks and charm - and it's only too clear that the only way in which she can show her almost uncontrollable desire to be with me is to transform it into hurtful practices. Well, I accept that, which is why I have not risen to the bait. Rather, I have patiently put up with the abuse, knowing that it is merely a weak mask for what is ultimately further confirmation for me that I am the most amazing person in the whole world.

Of course what scares me is that Flora is almost the same age as most of my classmates will be when I start uni in September! How am I going to cope with all that worship directed at me? As always, you'll have to watch this space.

[read Flora's comeback here]

numerous photos of Flora here

Sunday 4th July 2004 - 20:34GMT+1 On my beanbag, Bristol, England

my friend is a rapist

I'd had quite a big shock this weekend.

I've learnt that a friend of mine, whom I first met some four years ago, is not actually the person that I thought they were. No, far from it.

It turns out that this friend has for many years been committing crimes which run directly against my deepest ethical beliefs. The thing is, I've always been superficially aware of this fact, but only this weekend have I gained a true insight into the pain and damage this has caused to others. This leaves me in a very tricky situation. Do I cut all contact between myself and my friend (whom I have a deep love of), and thus in no way contribute to their continuing acts of hideous cruelty; or do I resolve to stand by them and try to educate them out of their current pattern of behaviour? The problem is, this pattern of behaviour is deeply engrained in their psyche, and I don't think that even years of support would bring about any marked change in them.

My friend is Japan.

 

- By 1997, 97% of Japan's major rivers were blocked by large concrete dams, 2800 of which now scar the Japanese landscape. All but three of Japan's major rivers have been damned or had their courses changed. The majority now have concrete banks.

- In 1994 Japan produced 91 million tons of concrete (vs. the United States' 77 million tons - bear in mind that the US is 20 times bigger than Japan)

- By 1993, 55% of Japan's natural shoreline had been coated with concrete tetrapods (see photo here).

- The Ministry of Construction has, like many Japanese government ministries, its own anthem. The lyrics of this "Utopia Song" included the line "Asphalt blanketing the mountains and valleys... a splendid Utopia"

- Between 1950 and 1997, Japan felled 43% of her native woodlands and replaced them with a monoculture of Japanese cedar (for commercial reasons). This has not only had a devastating effect upon the environment and wildlife in those areas, but has also resulted in 10% of the population suffering from an allergy to the trees' pollen, which was unheard of several decades ago.

- University students who are aware of these issues would like to subscribe to organisations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, but they dare not for fear that employers will learn of it and turn down their job applications.

- Japan has no laws preventing the dumping of toxic waste by industry, and no legislation regarding the release of dioxins into the atmosphere (the reaction of one official when asked why no action was taken to prevent or clear up after a major leak of toxic waste into the mains water supply was "well, not many people drink the water anyway").

I could go on. I could tell you of the innumerable coverups following major accidents at nuclear power plants (I tell you, the Japanese governments attitude towards this technology makes those in charge of Chernobyl look like the strictest health and safety officials the world has ever seen).... but it's getting a bit depressing.

So what now?

Can I make a difference?

Can I help the country that I love to see that this is a suicide mission for all living things?

It's extremely doubtful, but I could at least try.

All statistics: Alex Kerr (2001) Dogs and Demons: The Fall of Modern Japan London: Penguin Books

Monday 5th July 2004 - 22:41GMT+1 On my beanbag, Bristol, England

...yet so are the majority of westerners

The past year has been quite a wake-up call for me in terms of being in tune with the world around me. Before moving to Garfield Villa, to a great extent I took it for granted that the environment around me would remain "as it always has done".

There was one exception to the blindness I had towards the destruction and pollution of the organic non-human world: houses. Whenever I visited my hometown of Hereford I would mourn the loss of another field, another field which now contained a redbrick family home with double garage, as opposed to the herd of Herefordshire Cattle that used to graze there.

Ethical shopping was a luxury that simply couldn't be afforded, whilst recycling was only worthwhile if it was more convenient than throwing whatever rubbish it was in the bin.

A year on and I can't bring myself to buy anything sold in a plastic bottle. Boxes of Kellogg's cereal scare me with their bright shiney inks and mass-produced overtones. Airtight bags of salad on supermarket shelves make me think of mountains of toxic rubbish bordering Spanish farms where illegal immigrants are paid a pittance, the by-product of an industry with a huge market given today's convience-centred approach most people have to shopping. I try to make sure that at least 90% of what I buy is organic.

I never have owned a car, and I never want to. My Claud Butler mountainbike (which I've had since I was 13) is far better for me, and the environment.

I live like this because I feel it's not right to treat the Earth as my dumping ground.

But

I'm finding it difficult to deal with those parts of my life that do have a negative impact upon the Earth. My desire for consumer electronics is stronger than my ethical will, thus I have a whole pile of gadgets that between them have resulted in over a tonne of toxic waste (produced during manufacture, shipping and sale etc, not to mention the power that they now consume) being dumped in various forms upon the Earth. I do still throw a lot of plastic in the bin. I support a multinational when buying my books (Amazon) rather than providing an income for my local community by shopping in Gloucester Road. I have taken numerous flights around the world, contributing horrendously to atmospheric pollution, and in the coming years I will continue to do so. When working on the Welsh Garden Project site I have burnt numerous felled trees rather than shred them, as it's easier and quicker.

I feel bad about all of these things. But, at least I've reached the first stage in addressing these issues - becoming aware of them.

All of this relates to what I learnt about Japan at the weekend. Whilst Japan may be a particularly vicious abuser of the Earth, it's just one example of the way things are going globally (even if the Japanese do insist that they are different from all other races!). The past 100 years have seen an atrocious rape of the world, the kind of which has never been seen before in the history of the Earth.

"Yet, this is yet to be accepted as a possibility, let alone a strong possibility, by the vast majority of humans on our planet. We see examples of actions motivated by short term gains on a huge scale played out every day. Take the invasion of Iraq: control of those oil fields may help Bush get re-elected in November and the west's cars run for another 50 years - but what happens then when the world's oil fields run dry (as they will)? Imagine if the US military budget was instead directed towards developing renewable non-polluting energies - just imagine what we could be capable of if only we chose to act in the interests of the Earth and its myriad lifefoms, rather than in the interests of the political and financial goals of a few humans - who in 50 years will be dead in any case!"

Are we destined to continue in this vein, or can we bring about a shift in global thinking? In an article on Ecopsychology (kindly sent by my brother), Hilary Prentice (co-founder of the UK Eco-Psyhcology Network) talks of a great rift between Humans and the Earth. A rift which results from us seeing our own "progress", development and enrichment as being entirely disconnected from the planet that supports each and every one of us every second of every day. We have ceased to regard the Earth as the source of all that we are, rather, we regard it as an inanimate object that is ours to manipulate for our own short-term gains. She then goes on to ask:

"Will we emerge from this crisis, in due course, having transformed – or at least moderated in a ‘good enough’ way – our collective ecocidal behaviour, our addiction to material consumption and economic growth, which means plundering our beautiful planet to make things out of it, and shortly returning it to itself in the form of mountains of ‘trash’? Will we have stopped pursuing the unsustainable goal of getting materially richer, which means richer than other people, thus creating a world culture of complacency and resentment, envy and brutality, inequality and war, refugee camp and ‘immigration policy’; greed, poverty and the hardening of hearts?

Will we emerge somehow having learned the hard lessons of our destructive mode of living? To a time, perhaps, of cooperating in earth restoration work, of working towards a sustainable and just mode of economics, where the growth and ‘highs’ we seek have more to do, once again, with the mystery and awe of our cosmos, with loving relationship, intimacy, and the joy of participation in the creation of a life- rather than profit-centred human world? A time of learning humbly and skillfully to cooperate with the ‘forces of nature’ (including our own), of ecological and compassionate spirituality, all kinds of creativity, and the healing of our inherited psychic wounds, of finally learning to live diversity …for example?

Will we indeed! In fact will we emerge with a creative and sustainable resolution, or will most or all of us, quite probably, not emerge? And if we do not change what we are doing, how much destruction will we wreak, how badly will we pollute the planet, how many species will we take with us? [2]

Applying this to what I said above about Japan, I now feel a little more hopeful. It's not a case of one person against a barrage of bureaucrats and a culture with its head buried in the sand. Its a case of global awareness, and that's something that every single one of us can do something about. If I can take just a little bit of this thinking to Japan and add one more voice to the vocal collective consciousness, well, I'll be doing my bit. I don't have to feel guilt on behalf of the nation; instead, I can play a part in making positive changes.

Of course, we may exterminate ourselves by poisoning our life-giving planet before we make amends, but hey, if that happens, I'm sure we'll pop up again in some form somewhere - and if we don't we won't be around to know it!

[1] MACEY Joanna, Working Through Environmental Despair, (240- 262) p 241 in ROSZAK Theodore, GOMES Mary E., and KANNER Alan D. eds. Ecopsychology. Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind Sierra Club Books San Francisco, 1995. Cited in Prentice, H (2002) Cosmic Walk; Awakening the Ecological Self

[2] Prentice, Hilary (2002) Cosmic Walk; Awakening the Ecological Self. Scotland: UK Eco-Psyhcology Network

Tuesday 6th July 2004 - 08:49GMT+1 On my beanbag, Bristol, England

happy birthday to you

Last night we held a double-birthday celebration here at Garfield, combining that of my Sister and that of long-term resident Callum. It was a feast, and a mighty fine feast at that.

What I want to know is, is who let the Shreks out (woof, woof woof woof)?

Haaaaapppppyyyy birthday to youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu
something feels not-quite-right...
applauding themselves on being born
Family Shrek

Tuesday 6th July 2004 - 09:29GMT+1 On my beanbag, Bristol, England

happy birthday to you toooo

Last night wasn't the only birthday celebration I've been to this week. Oh no, far from it. On Saturday I travelled up to my lovely hometown of Hereford, where, with the aid of an entire clan of Kirks and associated relatives, we caused havoc in a little Italian restaurant in Commercial Road. The occasion was my best-friend-Jo's-mum-Carol's birthday, who was celebrating her 21st all over again.

Carol, and indeed the whole Kirk family, are very dear to me... in fact once upon a time I lived with them, in their basement which was also home to rats I recall... well, anyway, yes, they didn't force me too. In fact the rats may have moved in shortly after I did, not that they were anything to do with me you understand, I mean, it's not as if I smell or anything... oh dear, I'd better stop digging. Anyway anyway yes we drank we ate we were VERY merry. Unfortunately I drank too much white wine, and although I know that Ii was engaged in intelligent conversation for much of the evening I can't remember a thing. That, I truly regret. I following morning I also didn't remember having taken a photo in the toilet and then passed my camera around the table for everyone to have a look at. Thankfully no flesh was involved, although a stream of urine was. I know, it's shocking. I really do go OTT sometimes. Silly boy. I don't like myself when so drunk. Thankfully I don't get nasty or anything like that, precisely the opposite - and thankfully it's quite a rare occurrence these days for me to drink so much, but all the same, there's an evening lost for my memory. Let's hope I grow up one day.

Anyway, getting back to the point, it was Carol's birthday, and I was delighted to be included in the celebrations. Like a second mother, she's looked after me over the years, and that's something I truly appreciate.

Saturday 10th July 2004 - 21:25GMT+1 The Welsh Garden Project Site, Wales (surprisingly)

feeling mightily disturbed

Yes indeedy, for a couple of reasons, the first being due to a telephone conversation I've just had with someone very close to me... due to certain events in their life today (completely unconnected with me), they were in an exceedingly emotionally-fragile mood: the resulting emotions were transferred onto me, which was rather disconcerting, as I didn't really "get" where they were at until after the call - and they were completely oblivious to where I was at... All in all most disturbing as we had a 10 minute conversation from two different galaxies. I had to call a mutual friend after that to bounce my thoughts off them: I feel reassured now.

Secondly, I've been reading more of the book that I quoted from above: Alex Kerr's Dogs and Demons, The Fall of Modern Japan. It's pretty shocking stuff really for someone who was so enchanted with the place. I tell you, if I hadn't lived there and loved it, this book would put me off visiting the place forever. It paints such a grim picture, which sadly I know is the truth for I've seen it with my own eyes, yet before now given little thought to the reality of the situation. Yes, I have reconsidered whether I want to spend 4 years at university doing Japanese Studies... and Yes I still do. As corrupt as those who run the country may be, and as ugly as the environment is, I still love the place. As a friend said after I'd told them of my dismay at learning that Japan was merely wearing the Emperor's New Clothes, "But what was it that attracted you to Japan in the first place...?". Yes, you're right, I thought. Those sexy Japanese women are still there. The Japanese people are still there, with their totally different ways of being, curiousity and shortness.. It was they who first enticed me over to Eastern Europe, and it is they who make up the day-to-day reality of life in Japan. Ok, so the beautiful ancient Kyoto may have been completely annihilated in the past 20 years, but I could always run away to the outer reaches of Hokkaido, which I know from experience remain relatively untouched by beaurocratic money laundering.

Monday 19th July 2004 - 18:41GMT+1 On my beanbag, Bristol, England

oh hello!

There I was just browsing "My Documents" when I found a folder marked "Tame Goes Wild"... and to my great surprise found within that 7498 files all of which were interlinked in the form of a website called "Tame Goes Wild"...

Yes, it's been a while, but I've been BUSY. Lets see, I did a 6 day stint on The Welsh Garden Project (it's in Wales you know), then back to Bristol for 16 hours before departing for London where I spent 4 days helping my friend \(^o^)/ find somewhere to live, following which we moved all her stuff from Morden down in South London to Tottenham right up in the North. By tube and bus, what fun. The most fun bit was when we got off the bus, and then five minutes later realised that we were one rucksack short, the one rucksack in question containing Katsura's passport and dirty socks.

Luckily, Katsura's new landlady had her head screwed on and pushed me out the door back towards the bus stop. The bus had of course gone, but by sprinting I just managed to catch the next one. The driver was very kind, letting me on without a ticket, and telling me that my best bet was to stay on until the end of the line where the other bus might still be.

It was a nerve-wracking 40-minute ride...

Upon arrival in Glasgow (or wherever it was) I was pointed in the direction of the controller, who, like me, seemed a little stressed out.

"I need the last 279 that drove in here! There's a bag on it, where is it?!"

His rigid expression broke into a relaxed smile, then he started to laugh:

"Ah!! So you're our terrorist!! We were just about to call the police! It's on that bus over there, the one that's been parked right in the corner away from everyone else! We thought someone was trying to blow us up!!"

It seems that all these anti-terrorism measures do have their upsides after all...

I've got no photos from London unfortunately. Well, that's a lie actually. I've got two. But they're of me wearing a girl's swimming costume, so I won't be sharing them with you here. Instead, we shall have a pictorial interlude (thanks to the recent acquisition of some of the family archives) involving my younger sister Jessie and I when we were both under the age of 3, and another of me digging my first sandpit.

I'm the girl on the right!

Anyhow, Saturday morning I was up 6.30 despite having had very little sleep ;o) Made my way to Victoria bus station, past a man who'd fallen to the ground and was now lying unconscious on the pavement. It was quite surreal. There was an intense air of apathy, despite the man calling an ambulance. Was he breathing? Was he dead? No-one wanted to check. I can't quite believe it now, two days later thinking about it, but I only stopped for a few seconds, and decided that there were enough people there dealing with the situation to allow me to walk on... and I didn't think about him at all after that, until now. It's only tonight, going back over events that I've recalled the situation. I didn't act in accordance with my conscience at all - did I? What happened there? No, I really don't know what that was all about, I find myself at a loss to explain my actions.

Moving on I turned my attention to the £1 bus back to Bristol (you can go to all sorts of places in the UK from/to London for £1 with megabus.com or National Express). Don't expect luxury for £1 though. The bus company had run out of coaches, and so we were packed onto an old double-decker bus, the type used for school runs in inner cities with thin bench-like seats and a maximum speed on the motorway of 55mph. Leaving London I felt ...detatched. Having spent 3 intimate days with Katsura, it was only natural that I felt a little limbless.

Thankfully though I had a distraction awaiting me here in Bristol...

www.ashtoncourtfestival.co.uk/

eh it were a corker.

I started to drink at about midday. I'm not normally a heavy drinker as you well know - I get hammered pretty quickly because of my epilepsy (or rather because of the drugs that I take for it) ...so after my third can I was pretty smashed. Then I left the house.

It wasn't long before I met up with me mates, and on top of being smashed got very very mashed. Ohh that were a mistake. I didn't see ANY music, and was in bed by 10pm!

Sunday was a lot more productive. I paced myself you see. Didn't start drinking until after I got to the festival this time. Oh boy was there some beautiful music there. One band in particular caught me: Filthy Cute. I wouldn't bother doing a Google Search on them because somehow I don't think you'll find what you're looking for. Yeah, they were fantastic. Then met up with Tim, Heather and Melanie (pictured below), and had a bit of a shindig to one of the laziest bands on site - I tell you, they spent more time drinking and talking amongst themselves than performing, lazy bastards!

It wasn't long before Helen (pictured below with Sam) turned up, and who, due to her lack of friends, summed up the courage to give me a call and ask me if she could hang out in my presence. Well, I had no problem with that, you have to take pity on these types you know (and she is pretty cute!).

Later that afternoon I was on a comatose trip in search of a program, when suddely I heard a chorous of "JOE TAME!!!" Looking over to the vocalisers I saw a whole bunch of folks whom I haven't seen in absolutley bloody ages - 9 years in fact. Jamie Erikkson, Jeremy Owens, Sam & Seph Franklin, Jed and Dale Powell, Finn Stourhaug (who we gave the birthday bumps to)... I was particularly delighted to see Jamie as he's the only one of my old class of 8 that I've had no contact with since leaving school. And Jeremy - what a nice bloke he is!

Oh, some folks had the ultimate toy at the festival - a GIANT catapult (see above right). The arrows are pointing to the two blokes who are holding each end of the giant rubber band, whilst the guy almost on his back on the ground (circled) is pulling the centre bit back. It was very funny... they'd filled it with tomato pulp, and were firing it from way back towards the main stage. It was incredible how far it went - coating those dancing at the front in fresh cool tomato juice!!! They must have wondered what the hell was going on!! I want one! If you wanted to really wicked you could fill it with blackberries... tee hee

That was my weekend then. I'm now recovering. It was all pretty hardcore.

This guy, Will, certainly knows his festivals.
Even with mobiles it's almost impossible to find people!

Tuesday 20th July 2004 - 10:03GMT+1 On my beanbag, Bristol, England

So it's Tuesday now

and I'm sitting here on my beanbag listening to a lovely song (one of the ten thousand three hundred and ninety six I now have at my disposal) by Ulrich Schnauss feeling a bit funny. I'm caught between worlds you see. Everyone's gone away so I'm home alone. But I'm not really here, because my heart's stuck on the M4 between London and Bristol, my head is floating above Ashton Court but is being drawn towards Reading where tomorrow I'll be attending the WOMAD festival, and my concerns are in the kitchen where I really should do some polyfilla-ing. And eating. I'm finding all this travelling about highly disturbing - yet it's set to continue now until the end of the month. Which reminds me, it's highly unlikely that you'll hear anything from me again until at least the 3rd August, what with this festival then (after about 6 hours here) a week working in Wales, then (with a 30 minutes break here) my sister moving house, then (the next day) an operation to remove a cyst above one of my front teeth...

AAAGGGGHHHH!!! I thought this was supposed to be a HOLIDAY!!!!!

The Daily Mumble July 2004 Archive

 

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