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!

Monday, June 30, 2008

A reasonably quiet week

Last week was okay. Nothing particularly mindblowingly special, but okay.

Tuesday night the headmaster and headmistress of a kindy where I work took us out for sushi after work which was very nice....

Wednesday night, er Thursday morning, I got up at 3.30am, with one of my housemates, to eat bacon and eggs and watch Germany getting through to the Euro 2008 final, although I'm happy Spain won yesterday (when I didn't get up to watch)...

Friday night ended up drinking in Nichome for the first time in about ten months. Managed to extract myself and cycle home about 1am...

Saturday night went for a few hours of drinks after examining all day... but was knackered from the night before so came home early. Gashed my hand open on a broken mug - it took about four hours to stop bleeding.

Actually, going back to the examining - I spent a day listening to how Tokyo is convenient and has many departments but how x has much green place and how actually I didn't want to do my course but my choice was not available and how my hobby is sleeping.... oh, and then there was the girl studying presentation skills who had been taught about non-verbal communication and nearly drove me nuts with her over-exaggerated gesturing throughout the exam.

I'm sure more will come back to me, but half of this was done in a slightly hungover haze...

And yesterday it rained - all day. I turned my bedroom into a cinema and some of my housemates and I sat around watching dvd's for most of the afternoon and evening and made food together.

Last week I had a lot of cover classes in faraway locations so, workwise, it was a bit of a pain but the rest of the week was okay.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Spotted and Sozzled

Sign on a closed and chained door:

'This door is closed'.

Spotted on some man's chest:

'Fever the Quarter'

Learned this weekend:

There is a formal form of saying 'lick my nipple' in Japanese. I was unable to get an explanation of why this phrase needs a formal/polite form. I mean, in what circumstances could you imagine saying it politely in English: 'what you be so terribly kind as to trouble yourself to lick my nipple'?


Actually, I'm not sure why you'd need to say that anyway...

And no. I wasn't getting any action at the time unfortunately. I was in the middle of a Spanish restaurant. As you do.

So, I just had another really nice weekend.

I had plans for Saturday night that were on the verge of falling through completely when I decided to ask my flatmates (and Kate) if they wanted in on a potluck party I was about to cancel. Short story: everyone made enough food for 25 people... and we ate it all. Drank a rather large amount and had a really fun time with about 8 of us squished into my room at one stage.. not as easy as it sounds with two tables put out.

The flatmates had been planning to go clubbing but I'd already decided to not go. So had Kate. Of course, in the flurry of booze I wasn't allowed to not go and we potted off to Shibuya. Anke, the German girl in the house, forgot her i.d. (apparantly every club in Shibuya now asks for i.d., but I wouldn't know as clubbing isn't normally my thing). Misjudging the intelligence of the guy on security, Kate gave her spare i.d. to Anke... but didn't get away with it and they were both refused admission.

We tumbled into more taxis and headed to Roppongi where we suddenly had the brainwave to go and sing karaoke - and continue drinking, naturally, until 3.30am when we trundled into the Sports Bar (or Sports Cafe, or whatever it's called) to watch Russia thrashing the Netherlands.

Dutchies are rather tall, aren't they?! But we had to support Eras, our house Dutchie.

Anyway, carried on drinking til about 6am, crashed about 7am.

Planned to do nothing Sunday daytime. Plus it was raining. But the boys decided we should do something cultural. And then faffed so we ran out of time before we went to meet up with some of my Japanese friends in a really nice Spanish restaurant in Koenji. Had SUCH a nice night. The rather expensive wine we drank (and drank and drank and drank) slipped down beautifully. I've not tasted such a clean wine in a long time. And the food just kept coming and coming... and we didn't have to pick anything from the menu, which was even better, as I'm so indecisive and it was all sooo good.

The restaurant is owned by a Geordie, and hearing a Newcastle accent in a Spanish restaurant in Tokyo was rather odd but lovely guy and wonderful restaurant.

We had a lot of fun, made a lot of noise, and staggered out at some hour or other!

Poor wallet and poor liver after the weekend. But worth it. Again!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rude Bastards

Firstly, a couple more spotted t-shirts, but by a mate this time not me:

On a [quote] "slightly retarded looking bloke":

"Get off my bone, cos I'm doing my own."

And an unspecified person:

"Fuck me"


Yesterday I got so pissed off that I shouted. On a fairly quiet street, in an area I didn't know, where there weren't many people around, I didn't know which way to go to get back to the train station. I called over 'sumimasen' (excuse me) to a passing woman. She ignored me. I thought maybe she'd not heard me so I shouted a little louder as I walked towards her. She picked up her speed and wouldn't even look in my direction. I was LIVID. I hope her dog pisses on every one of her designer bags.

Today I wasn't too happy either with the behaviour of some people: on a Friday I have an afternoon class whose members have changed a bit since I took on the group, eg people only having a few lessons left when I got the group, people taking month breaks, people only signing on for three months, etc. But there's been one constant, a leathery looking lady in her 60s or 70s who has maybe been on time 3 or 4 times in about 4 months, never studies at home and often seems to forget to come and forgets to phone too. Often. But I still have to be there and I still have to prepare a lesson. Well, about 3 weeks ago, I gave a trial lesson to a student and we decided to put her into the same group as leather lady was the only one left at that time. Trial student told us her friend would be joining too and we kind of bent a few rules to accommodate the friend and her low level to the class. Has the friend turned up yet? Has she fuck. She's paid though, which means the lesson is longer than it would have been without her having paid. And Trial'd woman didn't turn up today or phone either. Twats.

I just find it really selfish as I'm expected to prepare a lesson and I'm expected to sit around waiting for them.

THEN I had an 80 minute lesson booked to teach a pretty boring Korean guy - and the fucker didn't turn up or phone and I had to sit around twiddling my thumbs in case he came in late.

I mean, just because you pay money, you can still have the courtesy of contacting the school and letting them know you're busy, sick, can't be arsed, dropped dead, can't you?

FINALLY, I gave a trial lesson to a pretty cute, extremely rich (well, this is what he told reception anyway) 40-ish year old dentist...

who had the personality of a peanut. He was utterly charmless. I felt deflated.

AND in between I'd taught a prostitute, a moustached lady and my two favourite kids.

Did I mention I had 80-minutes the other day with the 19-year old. Teaching that is!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More T-Shirts...

On a woman:

"Anyone is peaceful and is hoping happy days."

On a four-year old boy:

"Most eligible bachelor".

Monday, June 16, 2008

English, English, English

Earlier today, I saw a granny on a bike wearing a t-shirt with the word 'single' emblazened across her chest. I quickly turned around to see what was on the back as she cycled past me... it said 'and available'.

Oh my.

I wonder if she had any idea what the English meant?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ah. Summer Days and Summer Nights.

I had a really nice time this weekend. After sleeping badly on Friday night and getting up early for work, I was too knackered to do anything Saturday night and cancelled the plans I'd made. But then, suddenly got a second wind and decided to go out with a couple of guys from the house for 'a quick drink', got another housemate to come along, met up with a couple more people and drank at Christon Cafe and in a karaoke bar in Golden Gai (the same one I had a hideous hideous hangover from a few weeks ago) and had rather a lot of fun.

Ended up crashing about 4am I think.

Then Sunday daytime, five of us from the house set off on our bikes and cycled to Yoyogi Park to check out the Bangladeshi festival and enjoy the gloriously sunny day chilling and wandering.

No details really needed for last night or today. Both were wonderful and full of a lot of laughing and fun.

Am bloody knackered now though ;-)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Eh? What did you just say?

I was talking about slang and changing languages with a student. She said there's not much slang for 'love' because in the olden days the Japanese didn't have love.


Same student said at several busy times in the year in her job she works 100 hours overtime a month. I asked her if she was serious that some months she was doing five hours of overtime every night and she said yes, and that her company had given her a laptop to take home to do work at weekends too. Oh and that the overtime was ALL unpaid. Additionally, the CEO and board had granted permission for her to have an assistant to help BUT her boss had overridden that decision.

How utterly insane. But people don't stand up to situations like this, so they'll probably never change here.

Embarrassingly, I taught a VERY cute student yesterday. He was very bright, very intelligent, quite funny and had a very good level of English. I had a mini-crush on him.... and then realised he was 18 years old.

Just call me Mrs Robinson. *gulp* - but at least it was a legal crush! And he looked much older....!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Too. Much. Bouncing. Am. Knackered.

Can't move. Knackered. Hard kindy day. Sunshine. Hot. Kids. Smelly. Me. Whiffy. Sweat. Running around in unair-con'd classroom - not such a pleasant idea. Running around in the playground. Hot. Walking. Hot. Brain. Jelly. Talking crap. More crap than normal!

But my first class of 22 four-year olds appreciated my pink t-shirt and accessories (hot weather = accessories, baby!). Half the class said I looked cute, which made me smile!!! - before they tried to knock me over by cannonballing me with hugs.

And that's all that matters.


Tomorrow - back to eikaiwa and a cover day of private classes. Oh joy. Maybe I'll discuss with them how safe Japan is and how dangerous foreigners are, or something ;-)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Social Skills 101

I don't teach social skills to adults, I teach English. However, if I DID teach social skills I'd teach people that the following is a big case of oops:

I taught a cover day and had an afternoon class. There were two housewives in their 50s or 60s (Japanese are really hard for me to age. But then a lot say the same about Westerners; in fact, one guessed my age to be about 22 the other day, but I think she was probably on drugs) and they had a brand new classmate from Korea, in for her first lesson, and about half their age.

She came late. She sat down. One housewife pointed straight at her belly and asked if she was pregnant. She wasn't. She nearly died. The housewife mumbled something about it being the top she was wearing, and clearly wished the ground could have swallowed her up.

I fear newbie is in for a tough ride with the older two!

P.S. I currently can't stop reading http://www.mattlogelin.com/ which is an amazing website about an incredible guy bringing up a new baby alone after his wife died. His strength, his love and the love of the people in his support network are incredible. I can't even begin to imagine how this guy feels but his site is somewhat addictive. He generally updates daily.

Friday, June 06, 2008


In an attempt to sort myself out, I'm trying to cut down the amount of caffeine I consume in a day. It's 18:45 and I've had one tea and one coffee today.

And it's killing me.

I'm talking more rubbish than normal. I just told a student 'sauce' has two s's. I'm obsessed with thoughts of coffee. I'm addicted. And I'm drinking tons of water - and have spent half the day running to the bathroom.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Work - what I actually do!

One of the reasons for my exhaustion is work. My current schedule zips from me getting up very early to not getting up until mid to late morning.

Just to be straight though: I love teaching. I just wish I had a bit more control over what I do and where I do it. However, I have been looking at the bigger picture and things are starting to be a bit less of a blur. In theory.

Anyway, I thought I'd ramble on a bit about my typical work week to give you and idea of what it's like.

On Tuesdays I have a bit of a trek to a kindergarten. I like the kindy although I could live without the trek... In the morning I teach groups off 22 4-year olds and have a Japanese teacher to help me. At this age they have so much energy and enthusiasm. And they're so well behaved! It's a bit of an odd one, because normally with this age group I'd do some kind of craft activity, but the sessions are split so I get 25-minutes to give a lesson and then do a further joint 25-minute lesson with the headmistress of the kindy. It's basically just lots of songs, games and shouting... and I love the attention I get walking around the school with kids yelling 'hello Jo-sensei' at me. Even kids I don't know! Anyway, I do two different sets of kids for these classes.

In the afternoons I teach classes there using our company's texts. I have seven 6-year olds, for 50-minutes, who are really cool kids and pretty well behaved. It's a fun class with the normal lot of games and activities I'd throw at any kids this age.

Then I have four 8-year olds for 45-minutes. One of them, a girl, is lovely. The boys can be little shits, if I'm honest, although they've calmed down a bit in the couple of weeks. One of the problems is they can't read yet - which limits activities a little. The other problem is they just won't bloody listen! Hopefully the flicker of them calming down will continue though.

The final class I have there are three rather quiet 11-year olds who are totally unenergetic and would probably rather be somewhere else. Rather annoyingly their lesson is only thirty minutes so it's a bit of a struggle to accommodate everything that needs to be done.

I then trek back home and normally fall asleep on the train.

Wednesdays are doing my head in. Since February, when the college finished, the company has basically had me on cover days meaning I'm doing something different every Wednesday. The notes I get from other teachers are basically crap so it's an exhausting day of guess work not knowing what the students may or may not be capable of. On the one hand, nobody expects cover teachers to give a shit, but on the other it can be pretty annoying. Especially when there's lots of travel involved to get there.

But on the other hand, I have taught some lovely students on these days, so it's not all bad.

Thursdays are odd. For nine months I've had classes in the evening in an office: one beginners class with two male students - one of whom is rather bloody cute, that I really enjoy teaching as they're so enthusiastic. Then a pre-intermediate class with one cute guy and one dull-as-dust-speak-in-one-word-answers kind of guy. I don't particularly enjoy teaching them. And finally an intermediate group of two guys and one woman. This class is pretty lively and they're really nice people and take learning English pretty seriously.

The reason Thursdays are odd is because I was given this evening gig to fit in with the college schedule. To be in the area for 5.30pm is a real problem if the company wants me to do any other work in the day beforehand. Which basically means, I get the occasion bit of examining or cover beforehand but, more often than not, I'm totally free until I need to trot up there.

Pretty good, no?!

Fridays I have a regular teaching day in one of our schools. It's a pretty cool day. A few private adult classes - all of whom I really like, one group which had two students but lost one last week and is gaining two new ones tomorrow, so could be interesting. Oh and the BEST kids class ever.

The best kids class ever consists of two sprogs I absolutely adore. A six-year old girl and a seven-year old boy. The reason I love them so much is they can read (kind of) but, more to the point, they shut up, listen and learn and are up for everything I throw at them.

For example, recently we've been into full-on roll plays. Two weeks ago I had them roll-playing a restaurant scene using quite a lot of language. We started off by making our own menus and revising the language. I then taught them to ask how much something was and taught them big numbers (something which we never normally do with kids for some reason) and made a load of 'money' for them to play with. They then got on with it and came up with things along the lines of: hello, hello, are you thirsty, yes, i am, can i have a cola please, yes, here you are. are you hungry? yes, i am. can i have a pizza? no, sorry. i don't have pizza. would you like spring rolls? yes please. here you are. thank you. how much is it? it's 5,000 yen please. etc.

Pretty good considering it was pretty much unprompted, don't you think?

Great fun! They then went into reception and started doing the same with the parents. I was so proud. Great kids!

On Saturdays I also have a regular school. In the morning I have one 3.5 hour lesson with five pre-intermediate adults. The key to this group is they seem to actually like each other and listen to and interact with each other. You'd be amazed how often students in group classes don't do this! Some teachers hate intensive lessons like these (the course lasts ten weeks) but I love them as they're pretty relaxed and we can do so much.

In the afternoon I have one 9-year old kid who can't read and who I have in a small room with a big table so we can't even move around that much. Progress is a little slow, but she's quite a sweet kid.

I also have a few private adult classes which are pretty easy to deal with. One of these is rather odd. It's an old guy learning English from an American correspondence course. Every week he has me reading the texts to him so he can record them and then practice at home without the American accent. Most strange. On the other hand, means I don't have to ever prepare his lesson. We also talk about the language of the texts a bit and anything else he wants really!

And that's my week generally!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Head, heart, words, actions

Sorry about being such a crap blogger of late - I've not been eaten by the mice, nor have I been particularly busy, I've just been in another funk and had felt it better to say nothing than to write a depressing p!ost.

I have so many things that I need and want to do and yet I never seem to get around to them. I'm queen procrastinator but more than that I'm just good at making excuses. I have a feeling I could be a really organised person if I put my mind to it, but I just can't be bothered. I'm not just talking about the mundane stuff but the fun enjoyable things too - bit of a case of all talk, no action. And I don't know why. Except I just can't be arsed to make any effort.

Could just be that I'm over Japan. It doesn't totally do my head in but there's so much that I find frustrating or just plain odd. My heart is definitely not in it at any rate. My schedule these days is such that every day has a different starting time - some days I'm getting up at 7am, other days I don't need to get up until, well, the afternoon really. Consequently, I'm always tired.

Okay. I'll stop. I'll come back when I have something more positive to say. Sorry!

Oh yeah, and I kind of turned 37 which kind of scares me kind of shitless. Kind of.