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!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Horrible, horrible, horrible

My home internet access is buggered. From last Wednesday morning to now, I had a few hours access on Friday night and Saturday night: and that`s it. I feel cut off. It`s not nice!

Anyway, I`m still alive and everything is fine and my course is nearly over. Thankfully.


Right: let`s talk food before I go. On the news the other night was a feature about the outrage of Japanese restaurants outside of Japan bastardizing Japanese and how combinations were being put together that the Japanese would NEVER eat and how it`s a really bad thing for Japanese culture that foreigners don`t eat Japanese food correctly.

Now, this made me laugh for several reasons, the main one being that this is the country that fucks around with the food of every other country, personalising it for Japanese tastes. For example, the Italians would have a fit if they saw some of the toppings put on pizza here. Or should I start screaming that fish and chips being sold with PEPPER and MUSTARD is an affront to my Englishness?

Noodle sandwiches, curry pizza, generic brown curry for that matter.

Put up, or shut up!

Okay, gotta run: time`s up now, my lovelies.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Machiruda is my saviour. Not only did she help me buy my camera and negotiate a good karaoke deal when she was in Japan, but she just helped me get all my blog settings back from Japanese (no, I don't know why they'd all turned Japanese) - back to English.

I am relieved.



On another note: I've admitted defeat and given in. Tonight, I turned my heating on. This is it. I've admitted that summer is over. Shame.

And I really dislike heating and aircon so I need to be either shrivelling and shivering or dripping with sweat to consider either.

Roll on Thailand and the hot weather :D

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

chihuahua, chihuahua, chihuauhua

I just want to say I find it quite worrying, the number of people who have found my blog by googling for pictures of chihuahuas.

Seriously worrying. And recently there's been at least half a dozen people finding me this way - almost every day.

Let me repeat: Chihuahuas are NOT dogs. They are oversized rats.

Alsations are dogs. Labradors are dogs. Setters are dogs. Things that bark are dogs. Things that yap are not dogs.

Anything that doesn't reach my ankle, when fully grown, is NOT a dog.

There, that's clear now, isn't it?

Monday, November 20, 2006

The answer is clear

Time - 21:40

To do list -

1. tidy bedroom
2. sort out paperwork
3. do washing up
4. put away clean clothes
6. find form to send money to England and fill it out. Now.

Will do list -

1. get out of bed, get a glass, remove cap from bottle of sake, pour sake into glass, drink
2. stare at assignment for a couple of hours.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Today I got some news that made me really happy but as it's irrelevent to most people and might concern some people reading this and I feel it's not my news, I've decided to not reveal it until it becomes public knowledge.

Of course, keeping my mouth shut in this way may kill me. It'll certainly be a challenge.... But we'll see!

Anyway, good day, lovely evening out with a friend, pissing it down with rain - and currently sitting in bed and celebrating the news by sipping on the extremely nice expensive sake my granny student bought me, lap top on an upturned paper tray (so it doesn't overheat) and perched on my ironing board which is the perfect height when perched on my bed to eat from, use the computer on, write on, etc. And, boy is the sake good!

To clarify any ironing board confusion, I have a typical Japanese ironing board which is not similar to a typical English ironing board. If I spread my fingers as wide as they'll go, that's almost the height of my ironing board and, as I don't ever iron, it's good to know it's useful for something!

Fuck the sake is GOOD!

And now? Well, I have two more downloaded episodes of Desperate Housewives to watch!

* oishi = delicious / yummy


So, like many of you, I swapped to beta blogger but now my computer makes me log into beta blogger before it'll let me post and makes me sign in before I can reply to comments on my own blog - both are things that blogger never required.

Anyone have ANY idea how to stop this from happening?

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Today one of my granny class walked into my classroom ten minutes before the lesson, said she'd just been to the bakers, and handed me a bag or cheesy-sconey-bready roll things. I ate them later! Delicious!

Another granny, who I teach later on, came into her lesson and handed me a bag - with a very expensive bottle of sake in it, because we'd been talking about sake last week and I'd said I liked it. She'd mentioned it to her husband, and he'd said to give me a bottle :D

Guess what I'll be doing in between lesson planning and certTESOL assignments the next couple of weeks?


Firstly, apart from having to explain yesterday to my boss and the school manager who hadn't been there yesterday, nothing has come of yesterday's situation. Of course, likewise there's no information / assurance as to what will happen next week, but my friend happened to mentione it to big bosses and I did the right thing according to them too, so that's fine.

This evening I got forced to drink, as so often happens on a Wednesday night. After a two or three drinks we decided to leave the izakaya and go to karaoke. Again, not such a rare thing for a Wednesday night, except there were a few more of us than normal this evening.

My dear readers, take a tip from me: if you are not totally sober and you are your friends are dawdelling and laughing your way over a level crossing, and you are in fact not just dawdelling and laughing but chatting on the phone AND pushing a bike with one hand - you may not hear the beep-beep-beep warning that the barriers are about to come down and a fucking huge train is about to come hurtling towards you at a rather fast pace. At least I didn't. Once the barrier had come down by about 40 degrees, THEN I noticed in, squeeled, giggled and moved a bit quicker.


Another tip from the wisdom of Jo: if there is a 12 foot high inflated Santa in the karaoke reception, and if he's not attached to anything, and if you try to push him over - he may just fall and he may then be unable to be stood back up and the karaoke people may be rather unhappy when you leave the building with their their 12 foot high inflated Santa looking like he's sleeping on the floor of their reception.

Just hypothetically, of course. I mean, nobody would actually try to push over a 12 foot high inflated Santa, would they. [coughs].

The karaoke was good anyway and really cheap, and the gin and tonics were really strong. I managed to cycle home safely. Although it was a bit strange: as I was heading down the road away from where I'd been drinking, I saw men in the road (this was about 1.30am) and LOTS of smoke. I had NO idea what was going on and couldn't see much, but bravely cycled on (yeah right) to investigate (well, get home to my bed actually) - and it was tarmac'ing - felt like a futuristic movie haze or something though: especially with the huge spotlights they had set up in the road.

Wednesday's are such hard work! Actually, Wednesday's are fun - I adore my 4 three-year olds, the two-year olds are - well, one is a space cadet but getting better, one is still a little nervous as he's newer but he tries hard and the third one is a little champ who tries really hard and remembers well. Their mums are all really nice too. Then I have a little six year old with extremely good English and we always have fun. My other three classes on a Wednesday are three adults who are all lovely people and who I've been drunk with a - er - few times!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Things can only get better?

Today started really well. I had a very kind invitation, out of the blue, to stay at someone's house in Bangkok when I'm there. It's someone I've not met but have wanted to meet for a while. Coupled with my inability to get my act together this was a lovely gesture.

It's an odd thing: people talk about internet freaks and whilst there's a lot of them [you] out there, there's also a lot of lovely people. From the blogging world, I've met TimorousBeastie and Liisa, but also met up with a lovely blogger who used to blog from Taiwan. The invitation though came from a poster on Thorntree - Lonely Planet's website - through which I've met up with, er, quite a lot of people, in the past: the majority of whom were absolutely lovely. In the UK, I played host at my house to a few and would do so again with no hesitation. It's a nice thing, in my opinion. But, I'm not going to blog about all that right now.

Anyway, the invitation put me in a very good mood. Have I mentioned before that a lot of my Tuesday students are very hard work? Well, today two were absent so that was very nice, and the classes with the others were a lot of fun. Except...

Now, I think I'm a patient and kind teacher and I have a few students that certainly take a lot of both, but they're warm and friendly and it's... nice. Ditto with the kids. Some take a LOT of patience but on the whole the lessons are pretty enjoyable for us all. I think!

Today though I walked out of a lesson in the middle. Now that I've demolished a large can of apple chu-hi, I've stopped worrying about the implications of this. In brief: remember the autistic adult that I've mentioned before? The one who snaps and gets verbally aggressive; the one who can't do small talk and won't be corrected; the one who has lessons with his sister - when she turns up (and she's mostly late and absent).

Anyway, today my patience was pushed to it's absolute limit. I ignored the first few snappings and felt progressively more and more nervous by this student. I know he has autism, but I don't know if he has any other problems: problems that could make him physically lash out one day. I am NOT a special needs teacher and think it's pretty pissy that I've been put in this position anyway. So, I walked out and explained to the receptionist that he'd made me feel afraid for my safety. She spoke to her boss who said I should go back in and continue the lesson. [er, did you not understand the reason why I walked out?]

Finally, I offered to take him back in for the last 15 minutes, to make the school happy, but luckily he wasn't having it by then and walked out.

Now - I should NOT be worried by my behaviour. I did what any teacher SHOULD do if they feel threatened by a student, surely? So, why did I feel so nervous about the implications of my action? I need to build a thicker skin I think. At least walking out was the mature and sensible thing, in my opinion. I emailed receptionist's boss and she seemed cool enough when I explained again. I also phoned one of the bosses in the company, and they also couldn't see any reason why I should be worried about what I did.

So, why am I nervous about what'll come of this tomorrow?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Always something?

I've made no secret about being a bit run down with all of these six-day weeks I've had since the middle of July with the certTESOL, or of how stressed I've been at times and the odd coughs and colds I've caught during this time, or the tiredness.

Anyway, last weekend I developed a small cold that ended up with an ear infection a couple of days later. I then found, behind my ear a stud-earring sized lump / mole / wart / cyst / something. And it's sore. Of course, that could be because I keep touching it.

This leaves me with two choices: see a doctor or don't see a doctor.

As everyone who knows me knows, I have an extreme dislike for seeing doctors and will let things clear up by themselves whenever possible. I especially have a distrust for Japanese doctors, after having listened to my students stories.

So, do I swallow my fear and go and see one that may send me for tests I don't need or give me treatment I don't need?

I hate to say this, but like everything else it comes down to money. I've emailed my insurance company to check they would cover everything for this kind of problem. If they say no, well, I guess I'll just live with it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

What is the world coming to?

This evening I almost jumped out of my skin whilst cycling home from the station, hands nicely nestled in newly bought gloves as it's now so freaking COLD in the evenings.

Cycling here takes a LOT of concentration as Japanese cyclists don't pay a lot of attention and come screeching out of side alleys and lanes and appear on the wrong side of the hill or road or pavement frequently.

Anyway, this evening, my body seized up into tense-ready-to-break mode as I saw the shadow of a bike about to come hurtling into me from a small side alley.

The fucker who nearly hit me?

My own shadow.

Now, I'm not saying I'm a ditz or anything but....


Here's a drunken picture from last weekend with a couple of mates for you to enjoy. I'm the drunken bint in the middle. Cheers!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It's a cruel world

One of my students, a pre-teen, came hobbling in today on crutches. I asked her what had happened and she said her friend had accidently pulled her down some stairs. I asked what her parents had said. She said they were angry. I asked her why. She said because she had a test next week for her Junior High (to be) that would stream all the students for certain classes and they were angry that she might fuck it up because of her ankle.

You read and hear about kids and teens like this often in the news here. They finally get so pissed off with their slave driver parents that they burn their houses down or stab their parents to death.

Luckily, this kid is pretty sweet and - as much as she detests the way her parents push her to study and study and study - I doubt she'll fall into this category.

At least I hope not.


Two more of my students today showed a unique talent: the ability to summarize a written text and make the summary longer than the original text. I was impressed, in a sort of head-against-wall kind of way.


My Thursday granny class (they of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory post) cracked me up again today (see, not ALL my students bore me to tears). One of the group has been absent for nearly two months now. I asked the grannies if they'd heard from her. They told me she has a bad cold; and then killed themselves laughing taking the piss out of how she's younger than all of them and how they're never ill. I told them they didn't have time to be ill, they were involved in too many activities.

I'm now starting to wonder whether the mid-20 to mid-40 age group are the ones with limited extra-curricular activities [ie lives] and whether the older generation is busy living it up.


"Bless" of the day, goes to a mother and her 21-year old son who I've been teaching since day 1. They told the school they had to change to a different day because the son's university schedule would make it too hard for them to keep coming.

In April.

They have given over FIVE months notice to the school that they need to change days. The school manager and I thought that was pretty amusing.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I blinked and I missed it.

Autumn that is. According to todays news, today is the first official day of winter. This leaves me a bit confused as I'm not sure I've experienced autumn this year. We've had hot days and cold days and hotter days and colder days... but nothing that resembles the autumns I remember from the UK. Sad really.

Even more bewildering is the lack of autumn coloured leaves on trees. I don't even recall any of my students having gone running off to look at the autumn leaves. (Yes, spring everyone goes and stares at the cherry blossom; autumn they all go and stare at the, er, autumn leaves).

And I miss having piles of leaves to kick my way through. I think I may have said this last year as well. Here, if there's as much as two leaves on the ground for more than a day, you tend to see someone panicking and picking them up.

So, I guess this is it now: wintumn is here. I may have to hang up my flipflops for a bit.


This morning I woke up to the sound of my apartment being battered by the wind. Ten minutes later, when my balcony doors were open for me to hang out washing, and my front door was open for me to talk to my neighbour, there was a sudden gush that rushed through talking half the posters off my wall, pictures off my fridge and scattering sheets of paper everywhere. Luckily the house didn't take off though.


On another note: I'm SO bored. I'm really disliking teaching private students these days. Whilst I do have some very nice students and whilst I acknowledge my students are not here to entertain ME: I'm so bored by so many of them. This is, by the way, a popular complaint amongst teachers here.

For example, imagine having this conversation or a slight variation of it 30+ times a week:

Me: How are you?
Them: Fine, thank you.

Me: How was your week?
Them: The same as always.

Me: What did you do before the lesson?
Them: I cleaned my room.

Me: What are you doing this weekend?
Them: Nothing special.


Today, my first two lessons were okay: one student having a make-up lesson (boring), a low-level granny, who I love teaching as I see her improving and she's as nutty as a fruitcake. Next one cancelled, next one was two kids who both turned up late (sweet kids though), next one cancelled, next one didn't bother to turn up, next one came late and I'm starting to have real issues teaching him as he scares me: he's in his mid-20s and autistic. He normally shares lessons with his sister (and when she's there it's not so bad) but she is normally late or absent and I don't like having a student being snappy with me. I've told the school how he scares me, but I doubt anything will be done about it. Finally I had another private student who also came late.

Boring. Boring. Boring.


One of the tutors on my course, on Sunday, suggested my teaching style would be much better tuned to Europe and said I'd enjoy teaching in Spain or Italy. So the next blog would be:


What do you think?

On the subject of the course, it's now drawing to an end, thankfully. It's been stressful but I've got a lot from it, I've loved the teaching practice (big groups, no text books) and I did really well in the grammar and phonology test last week. I was a little stunned actually at how well I did and at some of the favourable comments I got from the tutor.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Gimme strength...

How do you see Japan? Do you have lots of stereotypes of how Japanese people live? Because the Japanese sure as hell have their own ideas about how Brits live. Many are bizarre, some make me want to cry, and a lot are very outdated: they are all stereotypes though.

Today, I was chatting with my pre-intermediate granny class about what English books they read outside the classroom. One told me she's just read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and, as the others grannies in the class knew the book, I asked her if she liked it. She replied she loves books like that because they tell her so much about British culture.

To refresh your memory: Charlie and his family are shit poor. His four grandparents share a big double bed in the one-bedroom house. Charlie's mum looks after them all and his dad has no job. None of them fight and they are always happy. Charlie then meets a creepy man who likes children and he eventually becomes Charlie's friend.

Anyway, to stir things up, I told my grannies that life would never be like that in the UK and that the family would be rich, as all four grandparents would get lots of money from the government and Charlie's dad would get redundancy and dole money. I went on to say they'd be living in a lovely house paid for by the government as well. And that the old people would get everything for free as they were old.

Seeing the glints in my grannies eyes and hearing them ooohing and aaahing over how life for old people must be so wonderful in the U.K. I set them a bit straighter by saying that actually they'd all be in old people's homes and wouldn't be able to survive financially on the government's money anyway.

But they would get free bus passes.

They still seemed to prefer that idea though to having to move back in with their kids here. As they pointed out to me: the average 'kid' leaves home in Japan somewhere around 35 - 45 years old anyway.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006


When the wire in your underwired bra breaks free and sticks into your tit - THAT is pain.

It is, of course, especially inconvenient and painful when it happens in the middle of a lesson and when you think you have an insect inside your bra biting you.