Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I’m currently in Japan, in Okinawa to be exact. I have any number of reasons for being here, only some of which I’m prepared to divulge to the likes of you.
One of the divulgables however, is that I intend to learn Japanese.
I’ve been here for ten days and have thus far learnt nothing.

I have several good reasons for not having done so. First, I had to get drunk in Tokyo on my birthday. I don’t drink much anymore but I find that after limbering up with the first pint or two my fearsome mid-nineties form rapidly returns. I go into attack mode, and the gin and tonic, pathetically, puts up almost no resistance at all. It just seems to sit there whimpering in the corner, letting itself be drunk, begging to be taught a lesson.

Then I had to get drunk with Ping’s brothers and dazzle them with my English Karaoke Skills.

I have developed a bit of a karaoke habit, it seems and let me tell you K(a)ra(o)k(e) addiction is a fearsome monkey to have on your back. An ostensibly cuddly, cutely banana munching Nipponese near-cousin he is in reality a Geneva-convention-defying, Burmese-railway-building taskmaster, truly red in tooth and claw. Ah, but how rapidly time passes in an all-you-can-drink Karaoke Happy Hour booth, with its comfy leather seats, ashtrays, genuflecting waiters on heavy double G and T rotation, prospect of tasty fried snacks and a selection of Bruce Springsteen classics to be belted out at unnerving volume!

After a wobbly, self-conscious start I find that as more booze arrives, so the quality of my singing improves until, almost magically, I can span the vocal range from Paul Robeson to Geddy Lee. As I hunted down the high notes in “Hallelujah”, spontaneously shedding a generous quantity of nasal hair with the sheer eye-popping, pit –dampening, booze-soaked effort of it all, I thought I saw a tear rise in Yoshiki’s otherwise inscrutable Oriental eye. Truly I have touched a fellow human soul with a universal form of communication that is beyond mere words, I told myself. Thus emboldened and striving to attain that state that transcends all mere culture and in which we free spirits, casting aside the chains of language and the dross of worldy corporeality, mingle in the timeless aether, I naturally chose something by Meatloaf. Let me simply say that the raw emotion of my falsetto in the climactic “Bat out of Hell” left no-one, possibly even in neighbouring booths, unaffected.
We glimpsed something eternal.
Obviously, glimpsing the eternal at the age of forty can tend to take it out of you somewhat. Hence a day in bed in a darkened room to recover. Transcendence can leave one feeling liverish it seems, yet such is the price we intrepid voyagers through both firmament and fundament must pay!
But that was another day of not learning any Japanese.

Then I had to fly to Okinawa. Here at last. Sunshine, big blue skies, unbearably hot cheapo hotel room! I’m on holiday anyway! Let’s get drunk!
Then I had to find a place to live. Found one! That was easy. A celebration of some sort is surely called for.

Gym and video shop are the two fundamental prerequisites for Impostumian contentment. In Greenwich I lived at the exact triangulation point between The Arches Leisure Centre and my local Blockbuster, with FishFry Towers, palatial residence of both The Monster and The Baron a mere five minute shamble through the Brit permadrizzle away ( though it now occurs to me that FishFry Towers is at the exact triangulation point of the Blackwall tunnel underpass and the book section in Trafalgar Road’s Save the Children!) I can happily report that Japanese video stores are unbelievably great. Imagine wandering into the DVD section of Tower records and surveying the furthest reaches of its incandescent cornucopia of cinematic meisterwerks old and new and thinking to yourself ah, if only I could rent as many of these films at one time as I liked for approximately eighty pence a week. I almost wept in the horror section, turning with trembling outstretched hands and quivering jaw, proffering a copy of Tobe Hooper’s “Funhouse” (tagline “pay to get in, pray to get out”) for Ping’s, admittedly dispassionate, inspection, mouthing the words, I’ve wanted to see this since I was ten, over and over.
Time to watch some films!
Oh, how the time flies.
Must learn Japanese. Must start today. My commitment was absolute. Soon as I get up. No messing around downloading music, youtubing or looking up obscure directors on wikkipedia.
And through sheer self-discipline I have done none of these things.
I wrote this blogpost instead.


Seb said...

日本でようこそ, Carl. I applaud your conviction to learn the language... it's appallingly easy to get by without, as evidenced by my five years here with barely a caveman-level facility with Japanese.

Next time you're up in the capital, give me a holler. Seriously.

carl said...

nice one chimp! ive seen it already...i remember it being (and feeling)very long, that the central actor is in The Devil Probably and Last Tango and has some kind of cache as the spirit of 68 or something...and that Fight Club rips off the "vision of post apocalyptic society" monologue...

Seb, i'm coming back through Tokyo early June so i challenge you to a Karaoke duel, if you're up to the ordeal!