The Daily Mumble September 2004 Archive
September 2004 - the month I'd been waiting for, for a very long time. The month that I finally got to indulge my passion for Japan and its language on a daily basis. The month that saw my social circle widen as it had never done before. The month that saw me drink more alcohol and spend more money than an alcoholic gambler. Boy was it fun!
from the gutters to the stars
Hello boys and girls. Welcome to September 2004, a month that has never actually happened before, even if Mr. Flamboo, my invisible friend, says it has.
Well well well let me tell you about my wonderful weekend that took place, surprisingly, at the weekend.
My friend of Japanese origin, Mr. Tom, whom I first had the opportunity to meet almost two years ago now and who has ever since been a great support and friend to me, is currently on a trip to these foreign parts. Having not seen him since I left Japan a year-and-a-half ago, I was very excited about meeting up with him.
It was all jolly good fun, with meals out, drinkipoos, glass tables and long escalators that reminded me of long escalators that I used to frequent in Tokyo. We caught a film premiere at FrightFest, "The Dark Heart of Cinema" at Leicester Square's Prince Charles Theatre. A truly dreadful film actually, Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt. I've just found a review on the Internet Movie Database, and I must say, this chap sums it up nicely:
Quite. Perhaps a little generous in fact. Apart from the Elsa Pataky references. I think I'd howl like a wolf if I met her on a dark night. Or in the middle of the day come to that.
Still, it was a good job we had a dull start to the afternoon as it was to be a long day / night - we needed our energy. Following an evening birthday meal for a friend at a little Indian place, Tom and I moved on to Turnmills where Norman Cook a.k.a. Fatboy Slim was DJing.
Great set. Great atmosphere. Great crowd.
Great night all round.
It was 9am by the time I got to bed. Didn't get any sleep until 12 hours later though, as I was staying at Katsura's and had to, er, help her with some English homework. Oh, and there was the Notting Hill Carnival, which sadly we missed most of (there's a few photos in last month's album).
I'm absolutely shattered now. Spent the whole bleeding day in front of this laptop trying to catch up will all the happenings of the past fortnight. I've had enough now. Someone else can write it. Send your entries by email to the usual place.
Just have to add though,
"Oh, you're going to live THERE are you? Of course, you know what that area's famous for don't you..."
Darlings hello. I have re-emerged from the swamps that encrust the train tracks of Great, Great Britain to tell you of my little 36-hour adventure to Sheffield which came to a grinding halt as the the brakes were applied to the Virgin Voyager that I rode upon for the best part of 4 hours last night.
I was dismayed upon discovering that the seat that I'd reserved was next to another that had the misfortune to have the bottom of a man upon it, a man who was possibly the most odd inhabitant of the entire 5 coach locomotive. My allotted piece of fabric was littered with Cadbury's Chocolate Eclair wrappers (how different can they be from those whose name they steal? One is big and soft with a juicy layer of cream in the centre, the other is as tiny as my desire to become a supporter of the Bush campaign, chewy as a cow's backside and leaves hard sticky bits between your teeth that can only be removed with the aid of a reinforced asbestos tongue). The man stank of a combination of week-old dried sweat and fresh, pungent foot-fungus. His nerdy glasses were buried in some trashy playstation magazine.
I lasted 15 minutes. I had to move. So what if I HAD reserved that seat, I'd willingly sit on the floor of the toilet cubicle if it meant I didn't have to put up with watching globules of loose snot drip from his hairy nose.
As it happened I found an almost completely empty carriage at the end of the train. Had a table all to myself. Bliss.
Anyway anyway what am I doing telling you about the train journey home? What about Sheffield, my home-to-be?
Top priority then was checking out my flat. That was easy enough, it's so close to both the tram stop and the uni I didn't even have a chance to get lost. It's not the most sexy of buildings admittedly, and it does have a car park as its centre piece, but it'll do me. Unfortunately I couldn't see in through the windows due to the cunning use of reflective double-glazing and pieces of material known in the north as "curtains" - but I have a feeling the flats can't be that small. I just hope I don't get a room on the ground floor, as I like to have my windows wide open with light flooding in.
Later in the day I was speaking to one of the 2nd-year students. "Oh, you live THERE do you? Of course, you know what that area is don't you?"
"That's bang in the middle of Sheffield's Red Light District!".
...Well that's me sorted then. If by some bizarre twist of fate things don't go according to plan, I now have backup.
Er, I mean, well, there is no plan, honest, no, it's not like that...
* joseph: remember to not give this web address out at uni, don't want to get a reputation (unless it's rightly deserved!)*
If this is not the ugliest listed building in the world, I am just a tribute
Dear Mumblers, may I introduce the home to my faculty: The Arts Tower, Sheffield.
Arts Tower, meet my Mumblers.
Yes, it's a listed building. I think it's grade II. What this means, my dears, is that this 1960's erection is regarded as being architecturally important and as such cannot be fiddled with. My department is somewhere on the 4th floor. I'm quite glad about that as the fire brigade can only reach the 8th floor, and there's only one staircase down which is absolutely tiny. I understand that the lecture halls are in the basement. Mmmm, nice. Somehow fitting though don't you think, when you consider that the last time I studied Japanese on a full-time basis was in a dungeon situated beside a septic tank.
Oooh, I knew I shouldn't have followed that link. It's made me feel all nostalgic. Agh, memories.
[What's with this Windows XP Service Pack 2 (released this week)? Not only did it take about an hour to download and install (and that was via Broadband!) it keeps on interfering with my website...grrrr]
Do you reckon that the hurricanes that are hitting Florida are payback for the 2000 presidential election? Just a thought. (Vote Bush in November and they'll be even worse next year.)
You see what's happened now? This streak of nostalgia has got me all over the place. Hhhm, maybe it's not that. Maybe it's that I've just turned the radio on to find a live concert by Bryan Adams being broadcast, enough to make any Canadian want to become an American - extraordinary that one man can have such a strong effect upon one's mindset.
Right, yes, well, what was I going to tell you about? Oh, yes *sneeze* (thank you), the Mature Student's Welcome Day that I attended yesterday. Shall we have a proper title for it, just for reinforcement, so I don't stray again, like the littlest hobo (*sings* maybe tomorrow I'll wanna settle down, but till tomorrow I'll just keep moving on...)
Mature Student's Welcome Day
And jolly good it was too.
The idea behind the Mature Student's Welcome Day was to address any issues that we may have had due to being in a minority group. This month, something like 8000 new students will be starting at Sheffield Uni - approximately 96% of them will be under the age of 21. What with us being old fogies and all, integration can be a problem. You know, and Us and Them thing. The purpose of yesterday's proceedings then was to give reassurance to the fogies that the 18-year-olds are far more scared of us than we are of them, and provided we join lots of societies and drink lots in the student bars, finding friends will not be an issue. We also had the opportunity to meet the president of the Student's Union - the largest in the UK in turns of turnover (good news for us as it means there's far more activities provided than at any other university). He was a good bloke. I chatted with him for a while over our rather decent buffet lunch. Told him the story about the time I hitch-hiked around Japan and got picked up by a mad woman just outside Kyoto, who insisted on pulling over on the motorway every few kilometres to enthusiastically draw pictures of rabbits on the slopes of Mount Fuji, insisting that this was an important part of Japanese culture. He seemed to like the story as it was later quoted back to our group by another committee member to whom he'd been talking.
Got my foot in the door of the president's office already, and I haven't even started yet - you're impressed, I can tell.
The day was rounded off with a drink in The West End pub up the road. I was so drunk after my second pint I nearly fell off my chair. I love being a lightweight, so easy on the budget.
no, it's NOT a wig
A special mention must be made of Ruth and Rich, the famed inhabitants of north-left Sheffield who graciously unfolded their sofa-bed in order that I could rest my weary limbs.
I'd been put in touch with them by one of my two managers at The Welsh Garden Project Site (from where I now write) - Rich being the offspring of the afore-mentioned lady.
I think I may have been a little more hesitant in accepting the offer had I know that Rich was in fact an Orc with a face that changed colour and shape depending on atmospheric humidity...
Nice tusks eh?
And no, it's not a wig.
He's a pretty talented chap is our Rich. Not only does he convert sofa-foam and cow-skin into gruesome ghouls, but he also draws. Take a look at his website, it's over here.
the Tame strikes again
My housemate, Tim, picked up the local newspaper this morning. It had been lying around for a couple of days.
"Ah, what's this I wonder?" he said. "Hhmm, a double page advert for City of Bristol College. Oh, look, what does this say?"
He read, " 'Joseph was working in Japan when he found out about the Access course at City of Bristol College...'",
...and he went on, quoting some highly cringeable stuff apparently from my own mouth. I checked my archived emails to see exactly what I'd written several months back for their advertising team... they've made me sound like a right wally by picking out a few phrases here and there and pritt-sticking them together, resulting in a mish-mash of grammar.
Must check out the new prospectus, see if I'm speaking Clingon in that too.
I guess it was inevitable that I make a lasting impression upon the City of Bristol College. It would have been extremely hard for them to ignore my natural-born talent, after all. And (never begin your sentences with "And") it was time for a bit more exposure; it's been a month now since my last bit of publicity, that being my appearance on ITV watching someone read a poem out of a pumpkin whilst perched on top of a garden shed.
My time at Garfield was the happiest of all my time in England to date. Tim, Melanie, Callum and I forged a genuine family spirit between us, a spirit that enveloped us, enabling is as individuals to sense and act in harmony with the feelings of the other members, and in harmony with the overall spirit.
The love that bound us together enabled us to forgive and even celebrate one another's at-times less-than-appealing attributes (the details of which I shall not divulge here). It seems to me a little odd, but the name, "Garfield Villa", as carved in stone above the door, played a vital role in binding us as a unit. It provided us with the label to which we all belonged. It was our family name. It seems that our natural need for a label to bind us as a group was strong.
Leaving Garfield was not hard as I have something so incredibly strong pulling me on. But take all the thoughts of Sheffield from me, and I am left like a dislocated limb, wrenched from my family. The humour, the love, the support - I shall miss it all very much.
Garfield supported me throughout a whole series of challenges. Initially, there was the pain and confusion associated with my departure from Japan. Not long after that, the horrendous split from my partner. Distraught, they gave me great comfort. Over the summer of 2003 they tolerated my career in going on disastrous blind dates with bearded librarians and blink drunk sex-crazed seagull-fearing hippos.
I invited the BBC in - not an eyelid was batted. There were my Japanese friends coming in and out, and then, finally, college. I would talk CONSTANTLY about my lectures, the essays I had to write, my friends, and, although their boredom must have been extreme, they allowed me to continue to waffle.
Late 2003 saw me embarking upon a fling (without the physical side!) with an acquaintance made some several months earlier, who, rather bizarrely has recently moved to just five doors down from Garfield .Unhealthy though that was, I was not condemned outright, but instead gently nudged in the direction of what was right.
When Jo arrived on the scene, and her pre-existing connection with Garfield became apparent (I was living with two of her former teachers), I was delighted. The Garfield bond deepened. A Japanese friend then came into my life, and once again, unhealthy though that was, there was no serious criticism.
Over the summer months we've all been away from the nest. Upon our return from various parts of the country I think Garfield breathed a sigh of relief and joy that it was able to spend just a little more time in its organic whole, before remolding itself once more to create the next Garfield community, the next in a long line that has provided great love, sustenance and nurturing care to a few very, very, lucky souls.
Welcome to The Red Light Cupboard
So yeah, I'm here, and all's good. Initial fears that my 5 flat mates would have a combined maturity in years of about 45 were unfounded: with not a single 18-year-old amongst us. We're four brits (myself, Alan, Liam and Andrew), and two Malaysians (or should that be "Malays"?), Chin Tuan ("CT") and Choong. Everyone is cool, it's a good crowd, and I'm happy. Choong's brought a rice cooker that also does porridge, so that's two of my meals a day taken care of. Only major complaint is the heating - it's always on, and even with the radiator turned off seems to have the ability to turn my room into a sauna, only without the steam. Or the attractive wooden panelling. Or the mass of sweating bodies watching the egg timer on the wall and thinking "crikey I really want to get out of here but I HAVE to stay in longer than that bloke opposite who was in here beforehand or he'll think I'm a right wuss"). And with a rather distinctive smell that reminds me of dirty carpets (the dirty carpet probably has something to do with that). Not sure what to do about this problem - lit a jostick yesterday, which coincided with someone in another flat spraying deodorant into a smoke detector, setting the alarms off throughout the whole block... Following the incident back in the woods near Barnstaple last month this time I was only too quick to call the on-site emergency services to let them know that I might be the guilty party... the two fire engines screeched into our court yard just a few minutes later. I've since discovered that there's a fine for setting the alarms off, so I'm pretty pleased that it was someone else trying to fumigate their room that caused the alarm and not my own attempts.
The fact that we're on the edge of a Red Light district is causing some amusement. A friend told us a funny story: her boyfriend was dropping her off late the night-before-last. After she'd got out of the car he waited for her to reach the door of our block of flats, to make sure she was ok. However, as he was waiting, parked up on the street, a lady of the night opened the door and got into his car!!! He was pretty surprised to say the least!
Another friend, this time from China, smiled at a woman as he passed her on the street last night. She stopped him, and asked him, "Are you doing business?".
"No", he innocently replied. "I'm doing Economics".
My disappointment upon entering my room for the first time was pretty intense. I'm on the ground floor (not good in terms of security and ability to have the curtains open whilst I prance about in the nude). My cupboard is pretty small, although having lived in Japan for 18 months or so that's not too much of a shock. It doesn't come anywhere near the oppressive atmosphere of the Dungeon in Hokkaido or my concrete box with a view out the window of a concrete wall in Asagaya, Tokyo. At least here I have sunlight for a few hours a day, and broadband internet to give me a portal to the outside world. Makes the room feel much bigger.
The bed is single, although unfortunately up until now that hasn't proved to be a problem. The carpet is grim, and cheap rugs have so far eluded my eagle-shopping-eyes (as have wooden chopsticks). I have a desk, a wardrobe, and a sink. I also have a telephone which accepts incoming calls - mail me for my number.
[Oh, that reminds me, if at any point over the past six months or so you've emailed me via the email address that appears on my contact details page, I do apologise for not having replied. Unfortunately there was a slight glitch on the server meaning that the mail never reached me. However, I have just been informed that it is actually still there, sitting in my inbox, so later today when my broadband is finally up and running I'll wade through all 57mb of it.]
Being a mature student helps a lot, really has made a huge difference. I see these 18-year-olds, nervous about pretty much everything under the sun, and I feel gentle concern for them. Must be tough, being one of 7,000 or so, all feeling self-conscious and freaked out by the whole moving away from home thing. As mature students, we're members of a minority group - which gives us a natural starting point for the process of developing friendships. Our flat's teamed up with most of the flats in the block - they're also mostly mature students.
Ah! Time to go out... tarra
We really are lucky in our flat. We're all so nice:
Alan: 25-years-old, tall, plays guitar, down-to-earth, straight forward, open and honest.
Liam: 21, a real sweety, in touch, very funny, reminds me of a guy called Nick on my Access course. Very shy when it comes to dancing.
Andrew (also known as Antonio I think): at 19 the youngest of the bunch, but a vital part of our setup. He is the ignition within the group, with that youthful energy that us old fogies once possessed but seem to have misplaced. Intrigued by the bizarre collection of health foods that keep on appearing from within my room.
Choong: 22ish, Malaysian chap in his first of two years here at Sheffield. Really nice guy, typical of an Asian student in his attitude towards British culture (eager is the word).
Chin Tuan: Haven't seen much of him at all really. He was pretty ill for the first few days and so stayed in his room. Since then we've seen him a few times when he's come into the kitchen to cook. I get the impression he's a bit shy, and finds the culture shock all a bit much. Don't blame him at all, Sheffield must be pretty different from Malaysia (it hasn't really stopped spitting since I got here, even when there's been completely blue skies. Bizarre.)
Joseph: Amazing guy. Ah, I just love him and really want to sleep with him. In fact I did last night. And the night before.
I've been hearing tales from other Broad Lane Court dwellers of mystery flat mates who never make an appearance. [Ah! My tea-bag's just split!] They must have stacks of pot noodles in their rooms, portaloos and a length of knotted bed sheets with which to enter / exit via the window. Not nice that, living with ghosts.
As women have begun to make their way into our lives (hardly surprising considering the vast amounts of sex appeal that us lads have as a collective) so we've begun to get to know one another. There was a little sharing of disappointment and so forth in the kitchen at 3am this morning. Not involving myself you understand. I am lying in wait, until that shining star descends from the heavens and wallops me slap bang in the heart. Hope that doesn't happen for a while as love and commitment-to-study don't go together in my experience. In the meantime
Of course this is all hypothetical really, as we all know how easily seduced I am. My record does not speak in my favour...
Hurrah! I'm back online after a prolonged absence. Not just any old internet connection either - this is a 10mbps monster. I can now listen at my leisure to the truly dreadful j-wave radio in Tokyo with honto ni baka na presenter (with a really stupid presenter... well he is half American, and you must admit, my dear American Mumblers, you do make truly dreadfully awfully whiney cheesy presenters).
Good job I've got broadband too. As I mentioned above, I've had a slight problem with the Tame Goes Wild mail server, meaning that all of my emails have been piling up in secret. I checked them today for the first time since April:
I kid you not. Over thirteen thousand emails. I've been downloading them for the past 2 hours (8,700 and counting). Seem to have picked up a few viruses along the way so now I'm going to have to go through all the palaver of sorting them out. Raaa. Printer packed up yesterday as well, had to buy a new one today. That's ok, but what am I supposed to do with the old one? Having sought advice it seems I only have one option - the rubbish bin. What a waste. Yet more landfill. Sheffield's bloody awful for recycling actually... ho hum.
I'm feeling all distracted this afternoon.
Yes, bit displaced.
Got to know the ladies in the flat upstairs a bit better last night. One in particular - Sian. She reminds me of Katie Jones. She's great company, despite her comment that my habit of using chop sticks for every meal is pretentious. Well, if I wasn't used to using knives and forks I could well same the same about her eating habits. So there. Nur nur nur nur nur.
Ah, and the Greek girl whose name has also eluded me so far. She's terribly tactile, as many Mediterraneans are, and so it is important that her "friendliness" is not mistaken for anything else. She told me last night that, erm, er, well, I don't think I should share it with you my dear mumblers, because I could get in big trouble for it.
I've got my placement test tomorrow morning (to find out what my Japanese level is). I'm truly dreadful when it comes to grammar and stuff like that, and so shall probably bomb it. I suppose I'd better do some revision tonight. There's talk of a "social gathering" in our flat. Not a "party" no - because if you want to have a "party" you have to follow a whole bunch of rules such as limiting the number of attendees to double the number of people who actually live in the flat. Great. We can invite 6 people. Not really suitable for an organisation such as ours (the legendary Flat 32 Entertainment Committee).
agggghhh I must be off I have 13,000 emails to work through...
Mini gallery: The latest people to become a memorable part of my experience of life on this earth
a letter back home
Tonight I wrote this little letter to my "family" back in Bristol, and I thought I'd share it with you, my dear Mumblers.
Ouch. It hurts. No, it REALLY hurts, and I'm still drunk (it's 9am) which means that it's going to get much worse. Oh boy. I've drunk as much water as I can physically hold in my belly, but I can still feel the dehydration jabbing my body like a sharp stick that's used for jabbing people with.
How much did I drink I wonder? I think I had three (little) beers before I went out, and I spent ten quid, so that's about 5 drinks, one of which wasn't for me I know. So that's about 5~6 pints. Crikey, that's way over my limit. Thankfully I don't think I did anything really silly.
Oh. I remember. Wish I didn't.
I offended someone. Now that was silly. I recall being completely ignored when I was trying to apologise. Ah, yes, that was one reason why I came home early wasn't it...? I felt very bad about it. Think I was must have been in bed by midnight, judging by the progress that Bjórk had made through the seven-hour playlist I had on the go featuring her sweet sexy funky music when I woke up at 5am.
I don't think I drunkenly staggered into KFC, and I'm pretty sure that I'm not responsible for this, found in the kitchen this morning:
That would be doubly embarrassing: a) it's micro chips with all the goodness of a rotten dog poo; b) It's Tesco, with all the morals of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe (whose homepage you may wish to visit).
erg. Have to go lie down. This is all too much for me.
I am feeling funny today. I think its partly a hangover from yesterday's hangover. Oohh I tell you that was a bad one, I was disabled until about 5pm. Made me feel very old, especially what with everyone else showing no symptoms of having over-indulged the night before. I can almost feeling my joints creaking.
I apologised with a letter and rose (clip-art that is) to the girl I offended, and I think I'm forgiven. Yes, no more binge drinking for Joseph.
Last night was an interesting one. One of those nights where alcohol consumption (not on my part) blurred the line between friendship and foreplay. The situation sparked off a great train of thought within the woodchip interior of my brain.
I don't want long-term commitment whilst here at university. My third year will be spent in Japan and therefore any relationship that I happen to be in in June 2006 would have to come to an end (no more long-distance pain for me please!). However, the idea of 2 years of abstinence doesn't particularly thrill me, which leaves me with only one option: to embark upon an adventure into the wonderful world of promiscuity.
BUT this, believe it or not, would be quite difficult for me here at university, because my past record demonstrates that due to feelings of guilt, responsibility and a fear of being clung to I tend to have to leave the continent following the end of an affair. It's happened several times, but here I cannot run. Not only can I not leave the continent, I can't leave the country, the city OR the campus! The notion of sleeping around with people that I see on a daily basis shrieks out "DANGER" to me, danger of emotional turmoil ahead. I guess if the parties concerned live the other side of campus, aren't in my department and don't attend any of the socials that I do then it'll be ok... but that then kind of begs the question, how on Earth am I supposed to meet them if our paths never cross?
You see the problem? There is a simple solution of course: to become a cold heartless bastard, a user and abuser. Oh, if only I'd been to a state school, it would all be so much easier! Curse you, Mr, Steiner!
I particularly like the line, "Think of chaos as dancing raspberries"
What does it say on your shopping bag?
"Every Little Helps"? "Making Life Taste Better"?
The story behind your weekly shopping is not as rosy as you may think.
[Although these particular articles were written for British Readers, they really apply internationally, to any country where supermarkets exist, which I guess is pretty much everywhere.]
Quick plug for me mate, Billy Salisbury a.k.a. the Undercover Hippy - he's got some new songs out, well worth a listen - see www.undercoverhippy.com - follow the links to the external site where you can download and listen to some of the stuff on his new album.
The Hereford Waldorf School 21st Birthday Celebration
I've been feeling a resistance to writing about this event, and I'm not entirely sure why. Because of that, I'm going to keep it brief.
21 years ago, my school, the Hereford Waldorf School, was started up by Greta Rushbrooke in the front room of a parent's house.
21 years later, almost 1000 pupils have benefited from the fantastic education provided under its roof.
Last Saturday saw several hundred former pupils, parents, teachers and friends of the school gather in a large marquee in the school grounds, where a great evening was had by all...
It was mightily strange seeing all those people again. Imagine walking into a tent containing a few hundred people, all of whom 10-years back you knew really, really well. Every person has a place in your heart, every character draws out a wealth of memories and emotions. Imagine a huge family gathering, where you are reunited with brothers and sisters that you have not seen for a long long time. They have changed, grown up, but their souls shine as brightly and with as much warmth as they did all those years ago. Even the ones that threw you in the stinging nettles (and who you bit in return!) - you are ever so happy to see them too, and they feel just the same. A celebration of achievement in terms of the school, a celebration of achievement in terms of the development and blossoming of the integral parts of the family.
It was very special, and very funny too. I don't think I've ever laughed so much at stand-up routine.
May the next 21 years see the school continue to grow and prosper upon the foundations that we have all helped lay down.
Greta Rushbrooke, founder of our school
© Joseph Tame 2000~2006