Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Right that's me. Off to Izu for three days (good job I checked last night; I was sure I was coming back Friday but in fact I am staying Friday night as well). I am hoping for rural Japan in the sunshine: clifftop walks, beaches, hot springs (to be looked at but not dunked in of course), waterfalls and the like. It is entirely possible what I will actually get is Beppu-style japanese tourist tat. Wish me luck! (Oh, and wish me luck finding the girls too - I note somebody rang me three times last night but I was at the Hyotan and didn't hear my phone.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2003
And then there were six
Whee! Now we've all got one. Caroline has succumbed to the blogging craze as she prepares to head to France for the winter, and now the whole gang (or 'the girls' as they are known here) has one - well apart from Suzanne but her husband does one for her. Left to right: ClaireH, ClaireP, Caroline, Suzi, me and of course Katy.
Suzi's wedding

Hmm. I've just read an email from Sara telling me about her time in Izu. Apparently she went to a mixed onsen (though wussed out and wore a towel). I'm not sure I'd be too keen on that at the best of times; I am categorically not playing at the moment, even with a towel. Though there are suggestions that all onsen should be out of bounds when pregnant anyway so I do have an excuse (beyond natural modesty) if Rachel and Lorna decide that they absolutely must bathe with the boys.

While I was off gallivanting around Kyoto, Cameron visited the Tokyo motor show ("work"). He's brought home brochures for all sorts of unimaginably space-age transportation, but the thing that seems to have made the greatest impression is the Toyota PM (which seems to have no web presence yet). It seems to be a small one-person pod, which changes shape depending on driving conditions, and colour depending on its mood. It can chat to other PMs and they will get into convoy to travel efficiently. You can sleep while you're in the convoy!
Otherwise we've been pottering about not doing much. We did see Kill Bill at the weekend; I surprised myself by not hating it as I'd expected. So much violence just gets silly and it was much less realistic than the other films, which I did hate (especially Pulp Fiction and yes, I know this makes me a freak). The anime section in the middle was brilliant and the rest of the filming was cartoonish too, with bright primary colours. Just a shame so much of the dialogue was in Japanese - I imagine had we seen it at home it might have been subtitled?!
It's cold and wet and horrible here today so I sloped home after yoga (my lovely teacher has printed me a sheet of supplementary exercises I can do when they all contort in ways I can't manage any more) and have been hiding out at home. Unfortunately I was caught in by the NHK man*; even more unfortunately he spoke excellent English. Must remember to pretend to be from Lithuania next time. I did manage to not pay but only by claiming to have no cash in the house - he says he'll come back tomorrow. But tomorrow I'm off to the Izu peninsula to meet the girls again! (Strangely, when one googles Izu Peninsula one gets a load of results on opisthobranches - sea slugs. This book, on opisthobranches of the peninsula, is apparently perfectly laid out for the nudibranch enthusiast. Hooray.)
*A bit like the license fee in the UK, you are supposed to pay for NHK channels even if you don't watch them. Only we have been told on many occasions that nobody actually does pay it (perhaps that explains the poor-quality programming) - not just expats, but locals too - and I did hear that there is no penalty for failure to pay. We've got away with it so far.
Incidentally, this means I'm away again until the weekend.

Monday, October 27, 2003
A minibreak in Kyoto: day 3
Only a half day for me as I was heading back to Tokyo. We spent the morning exploring the station; every time I have sent visitors to Kyoto I have recommended they have a look at the station building without ever having done so myself (I usually dash straight out to the temples). It is quite spectacular and we spent much longer than we'd intended to riding up and down escalators (trying to get the perfect angle on photos) and exclaiming over the structure and views.
Kyoto tower, from the station Rachel and Lorna on top of the world the roof reflections
We then whizzed briefly through the Higashi-Honganji temple, which the girls had visited in the rain on Tuesday, to compare what it looked like in the sun. It has the world's largest wooden building, and jolly big it was too. Then along to the Shosei-en garden: I am a sucker for Japanese gardens anyway but this one had a cat and a film crew and sunshine and two lovely friendly ladies who came to speak to us and show us their photos from the Jidai Matsuri. They were also down from Tokyo and we had quite a nice chat (in nice, simple Japanese.) Unfortunately I seem to have taken photos in the garden almost exclusively on my film camera so it will be some time before I have them back - here's my only digital snap.
Kyoto tower from the Shosei-en

Saturday, October 25, 2003
I quite forgot!
To wish my oldest friend Katy a very very happy very belated 30th birthday! One down, the rest of us to go. I just wish I could be there to help her celebrate - though I'm sure she'll manage quite adequately.

A minibreak in Kyoto: day 2
We unsurprisingly didn't get up that early on Thursday, although I was woken at the crack of dawn by the woman in the bunk above me (I can't remember the last time I slept in a bunk bed - youth hostels are fun!) getting up to deal with her rustly plastic bag fetish. The traditional Mister Donut breakfast was followed by a quick dive into Gap so Lorna could buy some trousers and I could get a jumper (having worn everything warm to the festival, it was now stinking of bonfire) and a walking tour through eastern Kyoto. Up to the Kiyomizu temple, on stilts on the hill and full to bursting with school children of all ages, and its sidekick the love temple where Rachel successfully navigated between two rocks, eyes closed, meaning she will be lucky in love. I think she peeped a bit: I don't know what that will mean. Along past the multitude of other temples and nice little shops, nipping in to Chion-in, where I hadn't been before. It has a 67-tonne bell that takes 17 monks to ring (we didn't try) and lovely nightingale floors. We were having a break in a corridor, checking guidebooks and having a drink, when we heard something approaching round the corner. We just managed to grab our things and scuttle out of the way before being trampled by a monk leading a procession of about a hundred (we assume) pilgrims, hands clasped for prayer and chanting as they hurtled along and out of view.
We ended up in the handicraft centre to spend all our pocket money.
Later that evening we headed to the entertainment area, Pontocho, for dinner. The restaurant we had carefully selected from the guidebooks was shut and as we were wandering about reading menus to find an alternative an old man with a pointy beard came and told us it was a very expensive area and we were tourists. Cheek! On chatting further, I was trying to have him recommend a restaurant but getting nowhere fast as he wouldn't simplify his grammar and kept correcting my pronounciation (surely if he could understand it to correct it it couldn't have been all that bad?!). My hopes soared when he asked what other languages we spoke - maybe we could communicate in French or German! (Note: I speak less of these than I do Japanese but things were getting desperate and I was hopeful that Lorna or Rachel might prove fluent.) Only he then said he spoke nothing but Japanese, goodnight, and dashed off down the street. A meiko jingled rapidly round a corner and we found a little, reasonably priced izakaya for all sorts of interesting food: seaweed in vinegar (think pond-slime) and tempura dried squid being two memorable dishes.
Later still, we popped into the Gion, in the hope that geisha and meiko might be carousing the streets. Of course they were not but it was quite atmospheric and we saw a witch. At least I think she was a witch, although she was dressed like a meiko, moving so quickly she must have been on an invisible motorised broomstick. Rachel managed to whip out her camera for a snap only her camera then started to make alarming whirring and clanking noises and hasn't turned back on since; I took a picture of her back disappearing down an alley and it is extremely blurred. Witches don't like to be photographed.
Rachel and a love-rock pontocho

A minibreak in Kyoto: day 1
Kyoto was lovely: blue autumnal skies, temples and festivals. We had some dificulties meeting up (somebody can't read a map!) but - thank goodness for the wonder of the mobile phone - eventually found each other just as the first festival, Jidai matsuri (festival of the ages), was getting underway. Lots of fancy dress, horses, big hats, men in grey kimonos; very efficient clearing of horse manure when necessary and a bit of drama when a young girl in front of us fainted and was taken away in an ambulance. Strangely, the parade halted in front of us every few minutes to wait for the traffic lights to change back to red, and the road hadn't been closed to buses.
grey menwe think that hat is to stop aliens reading his thoughtsA lady in a travelling outfit. Much more practical than Rohan.a shriney thing

Lunch was next on the agenda: katsu-curry and fried noodles, yum. A quick mooch through the edge of the imperial palace gardens then quickly back to the hostel to get me properly checked in and sort ourselves out for the evening's activity: the Karuma no himatsuri (fire festival - Japan's beltane.)
The journey and the first hour or so were utter misery: like a Tokyo rush hour but without the infrastructure. Queue for the train then jam-packed in (I had to close my eyes and be a tree) then pushing, shoving crowds (those small Japanese ladies in hats look so deceptivaly sweet!) in the narrow streets of Kurama. Firstly small boys very unsafely marching up and down carrying firebrands and shouting sairei ya sairyo (may this festival be best) - though I must confess I had not a clue what they were shouting and have looked it up since being home. The small boys gradually became men with larger brands (like, 10 foot long and 2 wide) as we pushed our way up the street. We nearly gave up at one point, fearing for our crushed bodies and flammable hair but decided to nip around one last corner - where we found people taking it in turns to bang the huge taiko drum, sake being handed out (to the festival participants but a man very kindly gave Rachel and Lorna a cup each), bare-buttocked men preparing to carry huge burning brands and tall maypoley things with a phoenix on the top and generally much jollity. We joined in the chanting for a while, finding that marching with the parade was much the most efficient way of getting back down the street, then ducked off down a side street to join the throng pushing to get back on the train for more misery.
small boys preparing to carry a brand a drummer
There are some nice pictures of both festivals here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Oh no, it wasn't quite final: just to let you know I'm popping down to Kyoto tomorrow for a couple of days so I won't be back here until Friday (but I promise to bring photos if that makes you feel better).

OK OK I'm sorry. I know I was bad but I'm back here now! I've just been busy busy busy and that, combined with my increasingly slug-like energy levels, has left no time or inclination for blogging.
Let's see; what have I been up to? Well, Rachel and Lorna, two old (not that old!) friends from university, arrived on Saturday morning, so Saturday was spent walking them about in the fresh air so they wouldn't fall asleep. We ate noodles and strolled through the park in the rain, watching teenagers tap dance with umbrellas, before having tea and cake and coming home for pizza. They stayed up until 9 pm, which is not bad going, especially considering I fell asleep myself at 9.30. Cameron spent the day at the formula 3 motor race; apparently he was on the telly later that evening but of course I was asleep so have to take his word for it.
Sunday, Cameron went to the Japanese Scottish highland games (we went last year, remember?) while the rest of us had a nice leisurely morning and an afternoon of tourism. Sushi, Meiji shrine, harajuku freaks, Oriental Bazaar, up the metropolitan tower to see how huge Tokyo really is; up it again to find Rachel's bag; yakitori for tea. The harajuku freaks, doing a kind of S-club-esque dance routine (S-club in that it was obviously choreographed and they knew the words; to my knowledge Rachel, 'H' et al never moshed) to the thrash-metal buskers, were joined by an amazing old lady, complete with kimono and facemask. She didn't seem to know the routine but she was certainly getting into the music. And the yakitori shop had a lucky dip to celebrate their 8th anniversary; I won a bottle of sake, Rachel a bottle of rose wine and Lorna a corkscrew, so that was very productive!
Yesterday they went out on their own while I worked half-heartedly and mooched about feeling knackered. We had a Japanese lesson, my first since July (I had no idea what she was on about most of the time, but I did learn that akachan, baby, has the same aka as 'red' because they are red when they are born), and David arrived home from his jaunt around Kyoto and Hiroshima.
You know you are supposed to play music to babies in the womb? I have an idea they mean more Mozart, Vivaldi, that sort of thing. I wonder what effect the White Stripes will have, because we're going to see them tonight!
And finally, another real-life friend has been inspired to start a blog (I feel quite proud - of course I am claiming parenthood!) so do go and see Claire (another one). She doesn't have comments yet but hopefully that will come soon.

Friday, October 17, 2003
Watashi no shigotokan is a work theme park, designed to attract Japan's feckless youth into the wonderful world of the salaryman (because everybody knows kids love theme parks). It includes an "assembly line attraction" so they can experience the glitz and glamour of life on a bicycle assembly line - only thre are no bikes being assembled in Japan any more.

Thursday, October 16, 2003
I see I'm not the only one falling back in love with Japan now the horror of the summer has passed: Karla and Kavitha (15th October entry) have had the same reaction recently. Today was just wonderful: clear blue skies, temperatures in the high-teens (warm enough to be out, even after dark, in a flimsy short-sleeved top; cool enough to walk around sniffing the air with pleasure) and an autumnal tinge to the trees. They haven't yet reached the garish heights depicted on railway-station posters but there is a definite move away from green (so last season).
The day's joy was compounded by an unexpected absence of work. No good for my bank balance, but we'll call it a mental-health day shall we? I had my taiko lesson at lunchtime, so took the bus to Shibuya. I made friends with a lovely old lady at the bus stop, with whom I had quite a chat (mostly she said that the bus was late and I agreed. Then she said that perhaps the bus wasn't coming and we'd have to get the next one, and I agreed with that too. Then she remarked on how amazing it was that I could understand her - and I agreed) and she even gave me a sweet! It had a picture of Ise on the wrapper; she had been there in August so we agreed that it was a very nice place. And, by the way, wasn't the bus late? Some button-cute Japanese schoolchildren paraded past in their coloured caps - I imagine they were on a nature walk (though it was along a very busy road) as they had collections of twigs and leaves and one little girl (green cap) was wildly brandishing a poly bag full of large green grasshoppers.
Taiko was fun as ever; we learnt a new piece called echo of the ocean or of the waves or something. As the teacher described it, it goes clicky clicky clicky clicky clicky clicky clicky clicky until she shouts sore B, when we go big wave! big wave! big wave! Easy.
Then I hit the shops. (Actually, then I had lunch and read my book for an hour; then I hit the shops. Lunch, incidentally, claimed to be a tuna melt, but contained broccoli, red peppers and seemingly no tuna, though there was a small amount of orange stuff that could have been tuna in some sort of dressing I suppose. It was a bit nasty; stay away.) I collected last week's trousers (picking up a skirt at the same time). I do love Tokyo's posh shops - how fabulously spoilt you feel sitting in a comfy chair while they wrap your purchases in tissue before placing them in the kind of fancy bag that gives a spring to your step and makes you hold your hands perpendicular to your body, a la pretty woman, then stay sitting while they bring the credit-card slip attached to a little clipboard for you to sign. In Formes, they even carry your bag to the door for you and present it as you leave.
From there, I went searching for a poncho (no luck, Claire will be pleased to hear. But I want one: it will fit me all winter and there was one in Vogue this month so they must be OK. I found a teeny one in Gap Kids and a huge one in Zara Men but no ladies' ones to be seen. Yet.) I compensated with a selection of useful purchases from Loft before wandering along beside the railway tracks to Harajuku. The road was full of people looking cheerful in the sunshine; one or two (and me) were even humming to themselves and smiling at random passers by. My feet were hurting by this point so after some failed errands on Omotesando (why do I never remember the Oriental Bazaar shuts on a Thursday?) I caught a train to Shinjuku to buy some lovely new winter boots. They are super comfy and stylish too! Just right to pair with a poncho. Takashimaya just happens to have a 'boot fair' on at the moment so there were plenty to choose from and again, I got to sit (in the middle of a busy department store!) while the girl wrapped my boots and took my card then brought the little clipboard.
And now I am knackered but feel very pleased with myself. Better go unwrap all my lovely new things before Cameron gets home. (What, this old thing? Had it months!)

x-blogs in the Scotsman.

Yesterday's Tokyo earthquake - and I barely noticed again! I certainly didn't feel any shaking; I was walking up the road from the station and realised there was a quake because I heard the buildings rattling and saw the windows vibrating - and the stickmen remarked sugoi jishin na (an earthquake!) Am I just getting used to them?

Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Smell cafe
Do you think aroma might have been a better word to pick from the thesaurus?

Tuesday, October 14, 2003
A writeoff of a day. Hardly slept last night; a combination of discomfort, a squirming child, a buzzing mind and two (gasp!) glasses of oolong tea with dinner, I think. David did very well, he must have left the house at 6.30 to go to the fish market. It's easy before you are used to Japanese time! I did drag myself up in time to get to yoga this morning, only to vomit in the loos before starting, which was a joy. I thought all that was supposed to be long behind me? Not sure if it was tiredness or the pint of banana smoothy I had gulped down for breakfast as I dried my hair. Both, perhaps. Yoga is getting more tricky, with more and more poses I simply can't manage - next week the teacher has very kindly said she'll write me a down a special little routine I can do when the others are lying on their backs, and a different sun salutation because resting my chest on my thighs is no longer really possible and chaturunga is only going to be feasible for another couple of weeks I think.
From there I had a sensible sit-down for 20 whole minutes, with a cheese and ham toastie and a coffee in a nice french-style cafe (actually a croque monsieur and a cafe au lait, according to the menu) before heading across town to meet Alison and make things from washi paper. We bought our kits and paper, sat down at a table to begin...only to be told that was the wrong table, that the table we had chosen was exclusively for making tissue-box covers from fabric and not (silly us) for washi-paper things; that was the other (apparently identical) table. Which was full, and would remain so for at least 2 hours! So we are booked in to make our things on Friday morning. We had a wander around the nice little shopping street (I found a fabulous jug that I considered buying - if I still want it I'll go back on Friday) before heading to Ginza with a vague idea of seeing a film. By the time we'd had lunch we decided to go instead to the secondhand bookshop, right back on the other side of town again...only to discover it is shut on Tuesdays!
Came home in a sulk. And it's still raining.
PS Congratulations to (sometime commenter here) Helen and Simon, just back from a fabulous-sounding honeymoon in Mauritius/S Africa. For anyone who knows them, there are some wedding pictures here (only it's an annoying frames site so you have to click the link to their wedding.)

Monday, October 13, 2003
Bank Holiday weather
Absolutely chucking it down though, unlike the British wet bank holiday, it is hot (26 degrees) and steamy. Cameron has taken his cousin (David from New Zealand, arrived yesterday) out sightseeing; I am waiting for a phonecall to go and join them though unless the rain eases significantly I probably won't be going anywhere. Is that mean? Today's holiday is health and sports day so I imagine I should be out puffing around the park or something. I've done some work and had coffee with Kavitha: mental exercise is just as important, right?
David and Cameron have just arrived home absolutely soaked to the skin. And the rain has stopped.

Sunday, October 12, 2003
New toys
I do like going to Akihabara ("electronics town") on a Saturday afternoon. The train coming away is always full of happy excited people examining their new gadgets. This Saturday that was me: in a bit of a spree I acquired a new scanner (it's slim and minimalist and works standing on its side) and a mouse (its sleek and fast and doesn't need a mat. Though I like my mat so it might have one anyway, as a place to live) - also a USB hub and some minidiscs but that is rather less exciting I suppose.
Then I spent a happy afternoon fiddling; downloading drivers and software (becasue of course the enclosed stuff was all Japanese) and rearranging the desk. Shut up, I had fun!
And then a lovely lady came by with a changing-table-cum-baby-bath; not terribly exciting but a sensible purchase, being secondhand and all.
And then we went to an am-dram production of Blithe Spirit, where we bumped into some friends and giggled over the ridiculous drinks system*; giggled more, like children, at the fact that one of the patrons listed in the programme was called Mr Bumgardner (we wondered if he'd dropped an 'a' to sound less Germanic - perhaps a mistake). Oh and the play wasn't bad - though the lead man was dreadfully hard to understand and we all came away wondering why on earth the maid had wanted to bring back the dead wives; it was not satisfactorily explained.
*exchange money for a coloured token. Take your coloured token to a different table, where a man asks you what you want - because the colour represents the type of drink not the actual drink - and gives it to you. If you have the wrong colour token (because the first lady made a mistake), resulting in, for example, beer rather than wine, get sent back to the first table to exchange tokens because the man at the second table would be commiting a terrible faux-pas if he gave you a glass of wine in exchange for a beer-coloured token.

Friday, October 10, 2003
The scan went well! I'll put all the boring detail over at the other site but I can tell you it has a head and a spine and two legs and was very lively, turning somersaults. No arms, but I am rather assuming that had they actually been missing, rather than me just now seeing them, the doctor might have said something. Oh, and it resembled neither skeletor nor a baby chick, but a load of grey swirls...
Now I can think of something else to worry about (at the moment; Suzanne's scan. Later today: who knows?)

Thursday, October 09, 2003
Look who visited Cameron at work yesterday!

Oh and I meant to say: this week my maid thinks I'm having a girl because my face hasn't changed (compare with two weeks ago, when I was having a boy). It isn't clear what's supposed to happen with a boy - would I have grown a beard?

This is more like it. Temperature back into the 20s and blue blue skies. I had to wear a cardy and socks yesterday!
I went to a pre-natal exercise class yesterday afternoon. My sort of class, we did some gentle aerobics for two or three songs, then sat down to do some arm exercise, then lay down for leg stretches. I can manage that. I felt very depressed when I got home though (pesky hormones): partly work traumas, same old story there, partly the whole trying-to-make-friends routine. I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time and effort trying to make friends here - people keep leaving and I want soul-mates not just aquaintances! - and it's just such hard work. And depressing when it fails.
Today was taiko drumming. We have a performance, in public, in about 3 weeks' time. Should be amusing for the audience. Apparently the hall in which we are performing won't allow us to wear shoes; nor bare feet because our feet are dirty! We have to wear white socks (black or navy socks are apparently also dirty). I am definitely improving: I nearly always bang when I'm supposed to bang and wave my stick in the air when I'm supposed to. I just need to get the shouting (mostly hup!, sometimes ya! and occasionally sore!) and learn to do the whole-body thing, and I'm there. Oh, and remember the rhythms from one week to the next.
The full match report of Cameron's sending-off shame is now available here (click on the link at the bottom of the article). C says the reason the other chap wouldn't shake hands is because he had told him he punched like a girl (and also called him a Very Rude Word).
Lastly, it's Scan Day tomorrow so please cross your fingers everything is Ok - both for our little one and also for my niece or nephew who is getting scanned the same day. (And while we're on nephews, congratulations to Cameron's cousin Elaine on the birth of her son. It's all about reproduction just now.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Maxton, after complaining about the poor quality of today's post, tipped me off that somebody on radio 4 this morning was talking about curry now being the most popular dish in Japan (presumably in the same way we in the UK have chicken tikka masala instead of a sunday roast these days? I think the curry board is getting extra funding from some dodgy source to spread these rumours). I guess he was talking about this - Madhur Jaffrey discussing curry's global spread. Leaving aside the question of why he might be listening to woman's hour, I can only assume she is referring to the ubiquitous curry-rice, a kind of brown slop served over - you've guessed it - rice. Mildly spiced, it is quite delicious, and is served with some fantastic red pickles. I have no idea what vegetable matter they were before being pickled but perhaps it's best that way. I imagine Kavitha might have something to say about this and of course it is not authentic, but it suits the Japanese palate. I wouldn't have thought it would be Madhur's cup of tea at all, though.

These chaps were wandering about Shibuya last night, occasionally posing for photographs and even more occasionally passing out flyers - only they wouldn't give me one. Performance art? Cameron thinks they were advertising some restaurant.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Today I have been waddling about like a proper pregnant lady, mostly due to the effects of yesterday's yoga. It didn't seem that hard a class, must be because I missed last week. That'll teach me. Mark, who I shared an office with during my second brief stint at Shell, came over for dinner last night - he's in Japan for 4 days or something silly. Which was nice, though with a little more warning I'd have done something a little better than risotto with Saturday's leftovers and without proper risotto rice followed by chocolate biscuits. Oh well - take us as you find us!
Today I went to the tokyo pregnancy group and somehow, at some point, seemed to volunteer to take over as (joint) coordinator when the present one retires to have her baby. I didn't intend to - I thought about it when they asked and decided I don't really have time - but somehow my mouth just flapped about by itself and there we go. I met some nice people at the group today though so perhaps it won't be too onerous.
After the group I walked down into Shibuya, knowing there was something I wanted to look for in Loft (an all-purpose, sell-anything-vaguely-housey kind of shop). Of course, whenI got there I had not a clue what it was I'd wanted so I mooched about the shampoo-n-watches floor aimlessly looking for inspiration before giving up and walking to Omotesando and the Oriental Bazaar, where I bought some postcards for Mark to send. Katy has just reminded me of the things I had actually wanted to buy in both places: a nice big body pillow in Loft and (shh it's a surprise) in the OB. Looks like I'll be going out again tomorrow. With a list.

Monday, October 06, 2003
A weekend in reverse
Dinner out at the fabulous legato last night with one of Cameron's Shell chums who's here on holiday with his family, so feeling quite tired today. I did make it to yoga this morning, surprising myself, but it is definitely getting harder. I missed last week, which never helps, but I can't lie on my back for more than a couple of minutes without getting numb feet as my circulation shuts off, lying on my front is becoming increasingly silly, and my balance is unpredictable!
My plans for a nice long walk in the beautiful autumn sunshine yesterday afternoon were scuppered by Cameron stripping the skin off his feet at football on Saturday. Nice. He also got sent off because somebody horrible punched him, so was understandably upset - as was I - I didn't know it was such a rough game (you can't just go around punching people, even on a football pitch) and will have to see about passes out for future weekends! (There's a match report at the top of this page if you are really interested.) So I spent most of the day dozing on the sofa instead, recovering from the exertion of cooking a proper roast on Saturday night for some friends. Friday night we saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Johnny Depp was just fantastic as ever.
I think that's what they describe as "a quiet weekend" in a tone of voice that suggests how dull.

Friday, October 03, 2003
Again. Sorry. I'm getting more expat-wifey the longer I stay, aren't I? If I take up bridge, I'll be sure to let you know. I made a special expedition today to check the maternity wear in Benetton. It was OK but I'm not quite ready for it yet - I did note some raspberry cords that might work in a month or two but it is too early for up-to-the-armpit trousers with large elasticated panels. If I'll ever be mentally ready for such garments. Why don't they make well-cut stylish clothes that have, I don't know, concealed elastic or extra buttons so you can expand them as you need? Tomorrow I am sending a trial order off to one of the British places that do make such items.
I tried on some rather nice velour tracky bottoms ('limpers', as we called them when we were young, because they were comfy and stretchy enough to do a special silly walk in. I'll show you one day.) in Gap...they'd look fab on somebody else! I'm just not a tracksuit kind of a girl - not outside the house, anyway, I feel underdressed. They were nice...but they were white and quite see-through so not practical in the least. I bought a new bag (my old one is so last season darling), some funky shoes and some flowers to cheer myself up, and it worked. Compensatory shopping is all well and good, but won't help in a month or two when I can't get any of my clothes on! Though maybe by then I'll be ready for the Benetton Big Trousers.

Thursday, October 02, 2003
A tantrum
Oh hormones. What joy. Apparently 'crap and a bit weepy' wasn't working out so they've decided to try 'utter rage' instead. I haven't felt so randomly angry since I was in my teens and the world was out to get me. (The interesting thing now is, with the benefit of age, I can tell that I am being entirely unreasonable, but that doesn't make me less cross!) All was going well until mid-afternoon, when I suddenly could not bear to be in the house another minute. So off I went stomp stomp stomp down the road, entirely forgetting until I noticed the way people were looking at me that this is simply not the kind of neighbourhood (darling) where one goes out in a grotty old stained T-shirt, a skirt held together with safety pins (the waistband doesn't reach round me any more) and bare legs and flip flops after the equinox! Disgraceful. (Just to put it in context, I already lower the tone with my jeans-n-bike combo: most of our neighbours are more chanel-n-limo types.)
So I decided a nice swim might calm me down. Went to the gym, checked in, remembering to find out whether there was a class in the pool - not for 25 minutes, good - battled past the stupid girls who were standing in front of my locker purely to annoy me, changed into my cossie (noting in the mirror that not only was I a right scruff, I hadn't brushed my hair), went to the pool...and found it to be full of old women having a chat. Full! I can only assume they had turned up early for their class and decided the best thing, rather than having a nice coffee or something, was to stand in the pool and gossip. Bah. I flounced out (I'd have slammed the door if it was slammable) but nobody took any notice of course (what was I expecting? "oh I'm terribly sorry, you want to swim, we didn't realise, we'll get out of your way immediately"?)
Slammed my gym kit into a locker to stew, crossly caught the train to Shinjuku. Because what else to do when one is dressed like a boogeek, hair on end and rage oozing shinily from one's pores, but to go to the poshest department store in town? I was looking for one of these lovely body pillows because sleeping is gradually getting less comfy (another possible reason for the temper, I suppose. Oh I'm so objective). Of course they didn't have them but that didn't make me cross for some reason, just disappointed, so I sighed heavily and caught the train back.
By this time the class was over so I thought I'd have that swim. Gym, stupid girls, locker, change, pool. Still full (this pool is all of 10 m x 5 m so doesn't take much filling!) but at least the people were exercising now. One swimmer, three old-lady walkers with odd arm motions, two old men alternating between very slow walking and a frantic crawl and one splashy teenager. I waited (fairly) patiently on a bench until two got out, thinking there would be space for me, managed four lengths (40 m) in and out of the exercisers, then flounced out in real disgust when four men - speedos, googles, stretching on the side (it's 10 metres long, chaps!) squeezed into the pool.
And then I came home and strangled the maid because she'd done the ironing and tidied the house (and told me there was a mosquito indoors without saying what I was to do with it). Anyone know how to lay a patio over a body?
If anyone has managed to stay with me so far I can only thank you and say I feel much better now. Quite calm.

Be careful what you wish for
Work. Boring, adult work. So much of it I didn't make it to my childish Taiko lesson (Ok this was actually because I spent so much time this morning faffing about online in a bid to put off starting the work, rather than the sheer volume of it).

Wednesday, October 01, 2003
OK. The Japanese years are numbered from the beginning of each emperor's reign, making it currently Heisei 15. There's a list of the eras and a handy conversion thingy here.

A day in short paragraphs
I had a terribly exciting morning - the doctor produced a kind of amplifier thing and we listened to the baby's heart beating!
I have a Hawaiian friend here who has today convinced me she is completely insane. I knew she had a bit of a 'thing' for Tony Blair but today she admitted to having downloaded a video of him from the British tourist board website...Cameron thinks it's not that strange, if he was on telly he might be 'thinking woman's crumpet' and there's the power thing...I just think his eyes are too close together.
Mystery brown stuff for tea again as I try to clear my freezer. Why do I always think I'll remember what's in the plastic bags, and why do I never manage? Why does everything, from casserole to soup to pasta sauce, look identical when frozen? My friend Rosie just liquidises whatever it is and feeds it to her children with pasta - apparently liquidised lasagne is the least popular option...
The cats have taken to drinking from the toilet. Nice.
Spent the afternoon at a baby warehouse because some friends happened to be going (it's miles out of town), checking out what's available. Feeling a bit babied out now, am definitely going to do something adult tomorrow (pay the phone bill and work, probably).