Random thoughts, comments, observations and general fluff from a random bint who left London at the end of September 2004 to embark on a new life and new adventures in Tokyo, land of the cute.... and is leaving mid-June 2010 - and counting!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

I'm a grown up now!

A couple of friends of mine got married yesterday. If they got married, that means they're grown ups. I'm older than them (only a teeny bit, but still) therefore I must also be a grown up.

This realisation scares me. Actually, Jack, in Will and Grace (shit, I love that series) said the same thing, but that's besides the point).

Of course, my mid life crisis is what's making me throw it all in and run off to Japan. Or, as the BBC would put it, I'm a grown up gapper. Except I don't know that this is necessarily filling in a gap or just escaping or spreading my wings, broadening horizons, seeking adventure or a number of other cliche's.

That so many of my friends are doing or considering similar escapes says it all though. We're a clueless generation.

But back to the wedding. I managed to be my normal faffy morning self, who had meticulously planned everything to get there on time, etc, but caught up in lots of things that really didn't need doing. Running in Victoria Station in kitten heels was an experience. Ladylike and me don't generally go together. Ultra girlie dress, posh hair and full make up certainly don't. I got the train I needed by the skin of my teeth and made it to the chapel in plenty of time. Unlike poor Lainey, the bride who, through no fault of her own was 45 minutes late!

Seeing friends all done up in their monkey suits was most amusing. (It did take me 3/4 of the ceremony to actually take it seriously and realise they weren't 'playing' at getting married. I've known Lainey ages. It felt very strange to me.)

Lainey's car had been delayed going back to the hotel to pick her up thanks to a couple of fatal car accidents on the route.

Nick, the groom remained remarkably well composed, save for one brief look of panic I caught on his face. The Ushers were looking more worried than him.

The chapel was amazing. I didn't realise that schools had things like that. Actually, all of the buildings around it looked lovely and I'm sure the photos will be amazing. The whole thing couldn't have been more different from my old school. But the least said about that the better, I think!

I'm going to skip on details, but Lainey looked amazing and I kept myself composed right until the moment she walked down the aisle. I shed quite a few tears in all. The whole day though was perfect, the reception, the meal, the huge quantity of champagne, the speeches, the company......

And even though they've been together forever they looked so totally and completely in love and Nick just couldn't keep his eyes off her, helped her with her veil when they were sitting down and he noticed she wasn't comfortable......

Shit, I'm going to get sappy!

Wonder if they'll have the purple theme from the wedding at their 50th anniversary!

Good luck to you both. I'm glad you finally got around to it!


And this was the first wedding of this kind that I'd been to - in a chapel, with hyms and formality, etc.

I'm sure when I was a kid I must have gone to a wedding, but I have no recollection, so my history of wedding attendance numbers four.

Number One was a Sikh wedding. The brother of a uni friend. We didn't really understand what was going on but I remember sitting on the floor with my head covered, not understanding the ceremony but wondering why the bride and groom chased each other several times around a round thing. I also remember there being food before the ceremony and food afterwards. And I remember us getting extremely drunk. And being white females doing so too..... Actually, I blame the brides grandfather, as it was him who handed me a whole bottle of Jack Daniel's when I tried to ask for a glass full. Maybe he didn't understand and couldn't speak English? Anyway, it was naughty of us, but we were students so I'll leave that as my excuse.

Number Two was a registry office bash down in Brighton. While we were waiting to be called in we got told off for making too much noise outside. As if! Then the bride snorted, giggled and sobbed her way through the whole ceremony. Then we misbehaved. As the bride was Muslim and had a lot of her family there, the first reception (yes, there were two) was to have no booze. It wasn't our fault we were thirsty. Neither was it our fault there was a New Orleans bar opposite the town hall where the registry office is. We felt obliged to pop in and they had happy hour with half price cocktails and we had to have one and some chips and then another one and er..... we found the hall with the reception after buying a couple of half bottles of vodka. We thought we were pretty clever sneaking into the loos with our cokes and topping up. I don't think we fooled many people. We claimed we'd got lost. Oh well. I do remember the food was yummy though. I also remember the bride had got locked into some house accidently between first and second receptions.

Number Three was earlier this year up in Scotland. I behaved impeccably. Though the hotel did go into a minor panic at the amount of Pimms we consumed. If anything out of the ordinary happened I either don't know about it, was too drunk to be aware of it, or have just forgotten it. It was wonderful anyway. I was just grateful it all went off well enough as somehow I'd managed to get caught up in quite a bit of the organising! Plus I'll never forget doing the Hokey Cokey to a Ceiledh Band! Or having been there at the beginning (well, I was in Paris with a load of other people the first time they got together) and the end of the first chapter (the wedding.)

Anyway, I guess the Scotland one and Lainey/Nick's will always remain special for different reasons, but Lainey/Nick's affected me more emotionally.

I thought of something interesting

You know when you play those games: things you don't know about me, or here's three statements and only two are true, or the other varieties of it? Well, I can never think of anything on the spot to say. Tonight though, completely randomly (well, I AM a random person) I thought of two.

1. I've had a go at flying a light aircraft!

I used to be involved in making short films, and one of them involved a couple of light aircraft - two and four person ones. When we'd finished filming, they asked if any of the rest of us wanted to go up and, obviously most of us did. Anyway, I sat in the front next to the pilot and he suddenly turned round to me and asked if I wanted a go. It was a dual control plane. I said yes, and he left me to it. I turned it round and everything. Great fun. I'd love to learn to fly but the cost? OUCH!!!

2. I've been in an operating theatre and observed several operations.

I'm not a doctor or a medical student or anything related, it was when I was a young teen and briefly convinced I had to become a doctor. My mum knew a surgeon who was happy for me to go in and watch. It was cool!

I'll have to try and come up with some more!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

What a shame!

Tomorrow I have the wedding of an old friend to go to. That'll be very strange. Thankfully (?) I don't see my other friends following suit any time soon.

But the main thing is I won't be in work and Series Producer will be back in the office for the first time in ages. It'll be her last day. I'll never have contact with her again. How tragic.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Losing the will to live

The room business is getting me down. Had a troop of people through yesterday again - four people actually turned up. Or was it five? I confuse easily. They were all annoyingly chatty and hover-y and after a long day at work (well, it FELT like a long day) I was finding acting abilities I didn't know I had. One guy decided he absolutely loved it, and despite my flatties thinking he had an extremely irritating accent, was meant to be coming back over tonight with the deposit. I emailed him this morning to check, and he's found somewhere that he can move into sooner. IF YOU WANTED TO MOVE SOONER THAN 27TH SEPTEMBER, WHY DID YOU COME AND LOOK AT THIS PLACE. Twat.

Portuguese guy who wants it is away until 28th August. Hopefully he hasn't also changed his mind. Does mean I can't cancel the people tomorrow though. Bollocks.

I finally got around to getting all the photos off my camera phone yesterday. The quality is pretty shit, and the hassle of the data cable thingy -- thank fuck one of the new flatmates is a techno whizz, cos I'm clueless.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

What wine do the crackers go with?

I'm now starting to get very stressed about the amount of time my room is taking up, what with emails and waiting for people to turn up / not turn up / ignore the time or day I gave them and turn up whenever they want.

It's also a real pain in the arse having to ensure bedroom and flat are both spotless all the time.

I have 18 days left at my desk and 34 in this country. Not that I'm obsessed with counting them or anything. It's just I'm on the verge of a life change and SO completely ready to leave all of this - the BBC, flatsharing, London - behind me, that waiting is a total drudge.

I'm bored out of my brain basically, with so much to do and so little time to do it all. And I've stopped finding time every day to study Japanese which I'm not at all happy about.

Monday, August 23, 2004

One of life's smaller dilemmas

I'm meant to be Selling my stuff (on Ebay, gumtree and whatnot) in preparation for Japan.

So why do I keep buying things?

20kg baggage allowance. HAHAHAHAHA!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


So, I'm advertising my room right now and, typically, I'm giving an abundance of information to people including details of what the floors are like in the living room, how much bills come to per week, what's in the area and an absolute heap of other info.

This is obviously paying off as I've been inundated with people wanting to see it.

What I don't get, however, is people who email: 'can you tell me a bit more about it?' - er, what exactly do you want to know that I've not told you. I'm good - but I cannot mind read.

Additionally, I'm getting asked if there is internet. I'm not quite sure how to answer this. There is a phone line. You order an internet account. To my knowledge, houses are not yet being built with free ready to go internet access.

I just hope I'm not over selling it. If none of this weeks viewers take it, I'll have to get the billion others over to see it. With any luck I can persuade them to buy my telly and some other bits too!

What a Tourist!

In between the nights of being overwhelmed by hoards of people coming to look at my room (well, six on Monday, six tonight and six tomorrow - I consider that hoards), I took some time out last night to do one of the Londony things I've been meaning to do for ages……. I went on the Jack the Ripper walk.

As I've no definite plans of when I intend to come back to the UK, I'm trying to fit in as many of the undone things on my list of things to see, as possible. I have been pretty good over the last few years at taking advantage of what London has anyway - especially the free stuff!

But the walk is something I've been trying to get around to for ages. I did the haunted London one a while back and really enjoyed that, but it was with a different people and only had about 50ish people. Yesterday I turned up at the meeting point and there must have been about 400 people waiting to go off in two groups. I seriously deliberated about whether to stay or go, but thought as I was there anyway………

And it was quite good. I'd chosen the guide as he was meant to be an expert. He was pretty good, but I did get increasingly annoyed with his trying to plug his book over the course of the walk.

What did I learn? Jack the Ripper murdered five prostitutes, or maybe more and nobody every caught him or discovered who he was. Okay, to be fair I did learn a few other things and it was a good nights cheap entertainment.

Haunted London was better though.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

One of the many reasons I want to change career

My Series Producer.

I got in at 09:00 today and she got in about an hour later. She didn't say a word to me until 13:45, even though she sits about five metres behind me. And this bearing in mind I'd been off work 'sick' last week too; but no, not even a half-arsed 'are you feeling better?'. When she did talk to me it was to demand some tapes that, and she hadn't known this, I'd sorted out for myself as I need to see them before the final edit to make sure everything is in place and accounted for and a bunch of other stuff. Her response to my telling her that I had copies was: What do YOU need them for?

What do I need them for? Well, why don't we wait until you're in the edit and flapping about not having all the information you need, and THEN you'll see what I needed them for. Oh and once she'd finished with them? She still didn't offer them over to me.

Conversation two: She emailed me the order the programmes are going out and I emailed back to confirm we would be getting the one first that I thought we'd be getting and that had been discussed all along. Her response: Why on earth would I think that?

Well, perhaps because you hadn't told me otherwise. On reflection, I had heard her tell someone else a few weeks ago, but there's no reason why I should have been listening to that as I wasn't part of the conversation.

Conversation three: There wasn't one. She didn't say goodbye either.

Luckily, her contract finishes very very soon so I'll be able to serve out the rest of my sentence, er contract, without her.



Of course, this is only one of the many reasons but I'm very impressed with my tongue holding ability. Whether that can continue awaits to be seen.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Click, Click!

After talking about it for an absolute age, Linda and I finally got our acts together and went off snapping around all the tourist hot spots of London. Well, I thought it'd be fun to take loads of London pix with me to Japan and I think they could work well with all levels of student. We're talking totally stereotypical London here: phone boxes, buses, tourists eating ice creams, Big Ben - all of that kind of thing!

That is, if they come out okay. I can take wonderful photos when I leave my camera on auto, but that 's not the reason I bought the SLR; hence todays little outing.

I got to thinking about taking pictures of policemen. I wonder in how many countries that would be an arrestable offence? I'm so aware sometimes of the relative freedom I have here to say and do whatever I want without any fear of repurcussions.

I don't want to start imagining how many photos I'll accumulate in Japan though. All the more incentive to make them count, learn how to use the camera and get the best ones possible. In a manual setting.


The course is all over and there's one day now until I'm back in the office. Am struggling to find any aspect of it to look forward to right now. Pay I guess.....

And the countdown to my last working day.


I've got my flight number. That feeling that it might not happen is definitely diminishing now!


I thought I'd jump the gun a bit and advertise my room. I checked my email earlier and I've got over 20 replies about it. It would be such a relief to get that out of the way. Maybe I could sell them a few things too!

Friday, August 13, 2004

No, it wasn't a blank look, they were just thinking...

I was really pleased with the lesson plan I did for todays assessed lesson. I'd thought it through really carefully and prepared interesting tasks with good stimulus material. It was all thought through and pitched at the group I knew I was having.

So, I stood up and my first activity was a reproduction of something we were shown yesterday. I explained it carefully and clearly. Eight faces looked back at me without a flicker of understanding between them. The tutor later said that sometimes they need time to think about things and it doesn't sink in straight away, and that he's been convinced before that students haven't understood but they've got on with the task. Whatever. Maybe I'm getting too involved in trying to read their body language to see when they need or want help, etc, but I'm pretty sure I was getting blank looks from them all. Unphased (okay, going 'shit, shit, shit, shit, shit' inside) I explained it again and then whizzed around to check they got it. Of course it meant the whole thing took loads longer than anticipated and my last activity had to be dropped. Thankfully though, activities two and three did go well, were grasped immediately and challenged them to the right degree, in my opinion. I think they enjoyed them too. This doesn't take away from the fact that the whole thing didn't go as well as I'd hoped it would though and I didn't feel completely happy about it afterwards. I did get a good write up from the tutor and class though so maybe it wasn't as bad as I felt it was.

Maybe I'm just being overly self critical. Guess that'll keep complacency at bay.

I know every lesson I do will be a learning experience for me, as much as for them, but as long as enough lessons go well in Japan, I'm sure I can put up with some not so good ones. And I'll make sure I have something to fall back on in classes in case something doesn't go so well when I'm out there.

I'm also getting increasingly impressed with the sound of the back up service we'll be getting when we're out there. From what I've heard from other people, hopefully we won't be let down. And we'll all have each other from the course to get help from. They're a lovely bunch and we swapped email addresses today. Then there's the 22 of us flying out together and the other teachers we'll get linked up with...

I would like to meet some non-teachers though as well.


On Monday I go back to work and I'm increasingly dreading it. The monotony of the job. The not being stretched or stimulated, or being surrounded by interested people. The being stuck behind a desk. The mountain of work I have to get through before leaving. The catching up on what I've missed this week. I see lots of late nights ahead, as I'm seriously concerned the bastards will live up to their threat of withdrawing my leave if the work isn't done. I wouldn't put it past them either.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I taught! I taught! I taught!

Today was day two of the course and a bit more full on than yesterday. But the highlight was getting to teach a class of 13 students with a lesson I planned last night. For someone who has never even given a presentation and hates speaking up in meetings, etc, I found it surprisingly easy, fun and enjoyable. I also got a real buzz from realising that the students understood what I wanted them to do and seemed to really enjoy doing it. A round of applause at the end was pretty cool too, and I got good feedback from the tutor afterwards.

Have also found out there's five of us from the course going out at the same time, and 22 people on my flight.

Am now counting down the days until departure!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Teacher becomes the Student

There's some Chinese proverb I can't recall about how the teacher should learn from their students, or something like that....

Can I call myself a teacher yet? I suppose not. Teacher-to-be then. Although tomorrow I get to teach so maybe I can then say I AM a teacher.

Seven weeks today I'm off and, again, I'm completely buzzing over it. This week I'm being a bad girl and skipping work to do a foundation teaching course with the school I'm going out with. Being with an entire group of people who are as psyched as I am about doing something is wonderful. A couple of them have done it before, and loved it so much they're going to go and do it again. I am still to hear of a single person who had a bad experience or disliked their teaching in Japan experience. Very encouraging.

Today was a lot of fun, with lots of getting-to-know exercises, a Polish lesson (!), a vocabulary lesson (we're meant to know grammar!) and a chance to meet the students we'll be having to teach over the next couple of days in assessed sessions. Unfortunately, the students were a lovely bunch of mainly Europeans and South Americans, who were all very confident, outgoing and extremely enthusiastic. The opposite of what we're expecting our Japanese students to be like. Shame we couldn't have practiced with some of them, but never mind.

And, like a good teacher to be, I came home (via a quick beer with some of the others) and prepared my lesson plan for tomorrow!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

A Change and A Sale

Career Change. Life Change. Continent Change.

The thought of no familiarity excites me greatly. I'm stagnating. I've tried the corporate life, meshed in office politics and layers of bureaucratic shite. I've tried my hand at a couple of different careers and finally concluded I'm not a career person, I'm not a desk job person, and I need to be constantly challenged, pushed and learning. I've a feeling everything about teaching in Japan is going to do that for me.


I sold my bicycle last night. I actually persuaded someone to buy the rusty old thing. I feel very odd now though: how an inanimate object can bring back such a huge flood of memories. Of exes, of places I've lived, of trying to get it moved every time I've relocated........ of bottles of vodka, and hills, and trains, and loony flatmates, and peaceful canals..... I'd not used the bike in ages, but that hardly seems the point.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Confirmed departure date

I'm partly still convinced the whole thing is going to not happen, even though I now have my leaving date - 27th September - and I'm booked onto a course next week, etc.

Fear of never getting done everything that needs doing (I found my lists!) is competing with uncontainable excitement, and I'm sure people will be glad to see the back of me, if only to get some peace about Japan and how excited I am and how much I have to do and.......

Slowly the preparation is ticking away and calls are getting made, things are getting ready to be sold and more people are getting told.


I finished reading 'Hokkaido Highway Blues' the other day. What a fantastic book. Will Ferguson reminded me of the days I used to do lots of hitchhiking. I was just as clueless as to where I was going and often found myself lost / on the wrong side of the road. I love his writing style and his knowledge of Japan. Many more places to visit have been added to my intended list as a direct result of his scribblings.


I've been told by a friend, that the accommodation given by the school I'll be working for is going to be tiny. I don't care. It'll be mine. I'll be flatmateless and all the mess/noise will just be mine. After a lifetime (nearly 15 years) of sharing with nutcases, you cannot imagine how wonderful this feels. Anyway, I've seen pictures of the accommodation and it doesn't look too bad....... But not having to ask 25,000 times for bill money, or put up with psychos, manic depressives, freaks, weirdos, or clearing other people's hair out of the sink, etc.....

And to just have my own space. I could scream with excitement at this thought.