Saturday, 30 October 2010

Happy birthday Scorpio, thirty minus one

I’ve never quite believed in any of the daily horoscopes that are in the daily papers or women’s magazines predicting my day or week ahead. Mystic Meg style predictions elude me; “tonight Scorpio a sexy, talk, dark stranger will ask to meet you.” Go figure........

But, I do believe that the time of year a person is born has some bearing on personality. My colleague in Tokyo really believed so too; or at least he learnt all about star signs to pick up women and date them. During lunch conversations he often discussed the secretive and dominating side of Scorpio. He knew that it was safe to lend some very risqué books; other women might have started a lawsuit for sexual harassment. Amusingly, I joined him at one particular lunch meeting, he informed about Scorpio sexuality. Apparently Capricorns and Scorpios are most likely to become escorts. Capricorns decide to become escorts for the money and Scorpios for the sex. I nearly choked on my Sashimi.

Here are a few things about Scorpio personality, after reading this you can be as much of an expert as my colleague.

‘Scorpio is the symbol of sex and Scorpios are passionate lovers, the most sensually energetic of all the signs. Scorpios are the most intense, profound, powerful characters in the zodiac. Even when they appear self-controlled and calm there is a seething intensity of emotional energy under the placid exterior. They are like the volcano not far under the surface of a calm sea; it may burst into eruption at any moment. But those of us who are particularly perceptive will be aware of the harnessed aggression, the immense forcefulness, magnetic intensity, and often strangely hypnotic personality under the tranquil, but watchful composure of Scorpio. In conventional social gatherings they are pleasant to be with, thoughtful in conversation, dignified, and reserved, yet affable and courteous; they sometimes possess penetrating eyes which make their shyer companions feel naked and defenceless before them.

Their tenacity and willpower are immense, their depth of character and passionate conviction overwhelming, yet they are deeply sensitive and easily moved by their emotions. Their sensitivity, together with a propensity for extreme likes and dislikes make them easily hurt, quick to detect insult or injury to themselves (often when none is intended) and easily aroused to ferocious anger.

Whisper something romantic that would melt another girl out of her senses and the Scorpio girl will simply give you an intense, penetrating look that will see right straight through to your real intentions. She’s a human X-ray machine, so don’t flirt.’ If you’re sensitive, don’t ask his opinion or advice. You’ll get the naked, brutal truth. You asked them, they’ll tell you. Scorpio will not pay a false compliment to gain a point or win an ally. It’s beneath him to flatter. When they say something nice to you, treasure it. You can be sure it’s sincere and unvarnished.

You can be sure that heaven certainly has no fury like that of a Scorpio woman who’s lost her normal steady control over those inward, seething, Pluto emotions. She can be overbearing and domineering, sarcastic and frigid- then turn as hot as an oven at 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Because she’s drawn to investigation of the shadows, she may at first seem to be tempting, forbidden fruit, and the deep, strange expression in her eyes intensifies the impression. It’s true that the Scorpio girl sometimes wanders into dangerous waters in her efforts to penetrate life, and since there’s not the slightest trace of fear in her, her search may indeed take her into some weird byways. But the typical Scorpio will emerge from any discovery still strong and pure.

She could be the keeper of quite a few secrets. It’s surprising how many dark deeds are confessed to Scorpios, though their own inner lives are marked: “Private-Keep Out.” She likes to hear secrets, but she’ll seldom tell anything anyone has confided in her, not even to you. You can also expect her to have a stack of secrets that relate to her personally, and don’t try to pry them out of her. There’s a private part to this woman you’ll never touch, a part of her mind and soul that belongs strictly to her. She’s not untruthful, in fact she’s more often too brutally honest, yet there will always be those special thoughts and feelings she won’t confide to you or anyone else.’

So that’s Scorpio women for you, well minus the jealousy aspect, oddly enough. Dare you meet me after all this.........only if you like a challenge.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The condition of me.

Now it’s official, I have a named condition which explains my whereabouts, or lack of whereabouts. It all seems so magical, whimsical, following my desire to travel to the next place, and the one after that. It has a Greek term, Greek terms are nearly always used my doctors when you have something deadly or embarrassing. Dromomania: the uncontrollable psychological urge to wander, or, to take up different identities, (and indeed, occupations!). Fortunately, there’s no need to show anything to the doctor. I’ve shown enough to doctors recently when I had a mole removed and later, stitches taken out. The difference between physical and psychological conditions is that action can be taken and sympathy directed towards it.

Imagine a new couple at home; WOMAN: “I can tell you’ve caught the man flu, poor you, you should go to bed. You look so red and hot. Could I get you anything to make you feel better?” MAN: (Very happy to spend the day in bed pulling a sick day under the duvet with a caring woman). Then, with the eclipse of twenty years: MAN: “Oh, I feel really bad, I have a fever and my glands are the size of melons.” WOMAN: “Stop snivelling, it’s just a cold or you’d be dead already.” At least a response to a physical condition is provided.

Psychological conditions are dealt with impersonally because no one believes that anything’s wrong. So, lots of people all over the world with the said condition report to strangers to find someone that will listen to them and share their dromomania shame. (I’m writing this blog after all.) I wonder if there’s a meeting for people with the condition, much the same as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. That meeting room somewhere, is full of people in a moldy church or echoing school hall, perhaps Bolton or Las Vegas for contrast, full of people announcing; “My name’s Bob, and/or Sue. I can’t decide to be here or there, or just about anywhere. I’m concerned people are beginning to think I’m omnipresent”. (I know what I would be doing if I could act and be in many places simultaneously.)

My friends all refer to this period as Louise taking another holiday. I can imagine the conversation in their households; PARTNER 1:“Oh, you know we haven’t seen Louise in a little while, where is she?” PARTNER 2: “Erm, I’m not sure. Last time I spoke to her on the phone, I couldn’t hear her very well. It must have been a bad connection. I think she’s in X and X and X”. PARTNER 1: “Whenever I hear about her, she’s on holiday. Lucky devil”. I’ve given up trying to tell friend and partner 2, 3, 5, and 1006, that I’m actually working very hard in X and X. It’s far more exotic to agree with them.

Or, take my mother’s example, talking to her friends on the phone; “oh yes she’s still out there, I barely see her in fact. She’ll be back for a few days at Christmas”. A true dromomaniac does so at the expense of their family, not so much my career in this case, but because of it. Even if I do hear in the odd interview, the sinful word, ‘wanderlust’. The condition’s symptoms affect as a recurring theme in my blogs, my ‘love life’. You can choose to have men in some ports, Trieste; Montevideo, Boston or Rotterdam. Or, one man in a town, like Bognor Regis or Dudley. A man probably called Dave.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Tokyo city

Perhaps the most famous film about Tokyo city at the moment is ‘Lost in Translation’. They at least were lucky enough to be able to swan around in fancy hotels and see the city in limousine luxury. At the working end of life in the city, it’s very different. Trying being lost in the city hall to register as an alien to obtain an ID card. In spite of efficiency, everything takes that little bit longer than expected.

I have set myself various missions for life in the city.

Mission number one: join a gym.

Of course, I don’t speak a word of Japanese and there were various rules that had to be explained to me before I could join. I have a helpful friend in the city, thankfully!
I was asked the most hilarious question, “Have you ever been a member of Yakuza?”. If I’d ever been a member of any such group, I would be skilled enough to keep it a secret, so the question is void before it’s asked. Or, I would just bribe or threaten the management for entry in the sports club. The front line staff wouldn’t know a thing about it.

Mission number two: fit in

I don’t think that is ever going to happen. This has nothing to do with my nationality. I dance, sing, tap, hum and click my way to work, it’s easy to stand out when I behave like this. The route to work is always crowded and I feel like I’m playing platform game walking the distance between the station and work.

Mission three: Get to work on time and alive.

If there are nine million bicycles in Beijing, there must be nine and a half in Tokyo. The rules are quite relaxed, but I fear I will come home with tyre marks across my face. I’ve also invented a phrase for the commute to work, it applies to all countries with metro systems and travelling at peak times, ‘people jam’. Sometimes I’m pasted onto the train windows, sometimes I manage to get a seat. Then I often find people swaying into me, like ballasts at the side of a moored yacht. Now that rainy season is about to begin, I face one last challenge, dodging umbrellas. Usually this is not a problem for me as most places I visit, people are at least a foot taller than me. Now the danger exists at my height. At least the view is colourful instead of the usual sea of black. The view of the streets from above probably looks like sugar-coated-smarties.

Mission four: make some friends.

This was a very easy task in Moscow. I always had someone crazy and available to be crazy with in the city. Gay clubs, roller skating, film clubs, language exchanges, Lindy hop, it was all available. Aside from being miserable outside, it was fairly bustling inside, I never rested during the weekends, I used my time at work to do that. I’m lucky that I live with two amazing girls, one of whom has to be the Chinese-American version of Pink. So I decided to attend an international party and find out about the ex-pat scene. For a start, there were more men than women, more Japanese women than Western women. I have found out what it feels like to be positively discriminated against, they gave me a discount. Judging by the gender imbalance I thought it wouldn’t be easy to meet others to make friends with. Most of the women didn’t want to make friends with me. They’re too busy conducting interviews of prospective boyfriends and husbands, female company is redundant.

At least the Japanese guys said, “hello” and I managed to find out more about the city. I was fortunate enough to meet the driest Canadian, as dry a cactus spine, in comparison to his Australian counterparts. I couldn’t take too much Canadian sarcasm, but I admire Australian spirit. An Australian I used to know was game enough to go to a gay male strip club in return for my services as cupid one crazy evening.

Mission five: return to my own body

I’ve travelled a number of places, and I class myself as well travelled. However, I’ve never sat in same place for 12 hours in a row, I normally prefer transfers. It took a number of days to feel like myself again. It was like a miracle one sunny morning when I woke and all of I sudden, I felt sexy. There is a fine line between wanting to have sex and feeling sexy. The latter can continue on it’s own all day, even a t-shirt rubbing against freshly washed skin feels exciting. I sauntered and sizzled around the streets of my little town that day and shopped for delicate second-hand items and books. I began to make sense of my new surroundings.

Learning the lines

It’s national poetry day this Friday. My own introduction to poetry you could say was rather comical. I had a beautifully elegant teacher called Miss Smith, with a grey-silver bob. She dressed her age in pixie browns and greens, it off-set the colour of her hair. I had a respectful girl crush on her and she expressed faith in me. She introduced me to poetry and debate to much aplomb and consequently, comic timing too. I remember having to study ‘The lady of Shalott’. It’s as long as the conservative budget cuts. Keen to example exactly how assonance was used in the rhyming couplets; speaking before thinking, I read out ‘go’, ‘blow’, ‘below’, from the stanza to prove my point. It was hardly surprising that it raised a laugh in the classroom.

Well, I’m no poet laureate like Carol-Ann Duffy. (I enjoy how uncomfortably close she brings the reader to the topic.) But, I’ve written a few poems; I used to write about rubbish I didn’t understand and later, my somewhat odd sexuality. It didn’t develop as quickly as some people would assume. At the end of my trip to Dublin, the words, after being trapped in my mind for a while: they decided to assault me. Words are a suit of armour made up of newspapers with a lance, poking me at night when I’m trying to go to sleep. Apparently there’s a book in everyone and writers should write what they know. Well there’s a book waiting to come out, but I’ll be seventy-five by the time I know enough to write it.

Well, here’s a book in miniature version just for national poetry day. Enjoy and please share your comments or maybe even send your own in for the site.

In part

I’m your stalker, your thief
Of the digits you possess,
Of the pages you’re gripping with
Finger and thumb.

Your hand disembodied, and I
The owner of your hands
And the book I can’t understand
That you read
On my watchful commute,
There I can follow you.

Your movement I record,
Your seconds become
Second-hand seconds for me to record, replay.

I wonder what else has been gripped
Under those thumbs.

Your thumbs have gripped
Recycled money,
Felt the grains in the pulp.

Inked soaked metro cards,
Breasts and sweat on collar bones.

But I am your stalker.
My eyes are the owners
Of your hands.
I comb my hair with my fingers,
I press strands of hair to my cheek
Do my tips experience the same as yours?

Expat

I can’t decide which country I’m in anymore.
I crunch over flints of black gravel.
The path is English.
The grass, the scent
These are journals of only days,
Playing knife, fork, spoon, up against the hill
Boys try to discover our differences when skirts fly up.

I watch the man mowing, not dropping the idea of England
He buzzes over the flowers, he doesn’t whistle.
Looking at him, I make out the longitude of this place
Stretched up, my head bumps the atmosphere.
England is floating in the sea.

I’m so removed, it is a jigsaw map.
Countries have pegs, each in Technicolor.
Too scared to shift and shake the pots of people
Under blankets of purple, blue and green
I’m not as callous as a god.

Landing on a pavement,
I eek open the gate and close the garden behind me.
I’m running an errand for my Mom, skipping over the bridge.
Is this when I left?
I wake up every day when the moon fades,
A struggle, kicking back blankets.
There’s no satisfaction in all beds feeling the same.
Sinking into fabric, acknowledging, England doesn’t lie next to me.

Thirty-eight degrees

My head bursts
Out of a void, the bells that rang in thrusts over the hill.
Hitting the mercury,
The heat seeps up into a fluster of scarlet in my follicles,
Not able to sit, crouching over blades,
Each with a vein, freezing against my forehead
Contented they don’t have ears.
When the swinging rope stops swaying they will be jealous.

I love silence, clean pauses. Drums can be muffled,
Engines can stall and I don’t have to talk to enjoy it.
Bricks on the hill scratch my face.
There is no blast better than feeling,
Catching the last tolls of the bells,
My muscles boom. Blades dance.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Beat me Daddy, eight to the bar.

I’d been so busy going from one place to another that any nerves I was going to have about the night hadn’t surfaced, even whilst I travelled on the train to Wales. That was until my friend called me and said, “You have to curtsey to the lady in charge. She’s received an MBE for services to entertainment in Wales”. I had thought it was going to be a fun, low key event full of deaf old ladies. I hadn’t quite imagined the mayor of the town, the station master and officers all coming along to the event. I took part in the meet and greet and felt like apologising for my performance before the show had begun. I was spellbound to meet this battler of a director, producer, costume designer and performer in her 70’s. Her motto for her audience is to give them songs by the pound, very H.T. Ford. I guessed she’d ticked a few people off in her time, the Alexis Colby of the Welsh theatre circuit.

Concern soon disappeared when she started to show me off to her friends. It helped I had put some effort, as well finding some ‘things’ just lying around, to complete the look for the day. I‘ve now heard more coos from old women than I’ve ever known any man offer over my seamed stockings. “Ohh, how authentic, just like back in my day.” “Look. It’s natural seamed stockings with black seams. Look at the hat, have you seen the hat”. If only I could have just stood around and modelled all night.

Looking at the play list in the changing room I realised I was almost last in the first half of the show. I’d have much rather have performed earlier on and sat out for the rest of the evening. I wouldn’t have had the detriment of knowing how fantastic every performer was to make comparisons with. I’ve parted with huge sums of money to go to musicals in the Piccadilly and was left disappointed. There wasn’t a chance of that for this audience, songs by the pound performed by excellent vocalists and dancers. I had a lot to live up to after turning up looking the part. I realised then I had to perform it too and I didn’t even know the order of my songs. All the globetrotting meant I hadn’t been able to rehearse with everyone, but with my nerves, this was probably for the best.

The best part of the event was seeing such range of ages all dressed up in period clothes. I’d spent so much time in the changing rooms looking at Japanese women, that I had forgotten what female fat looks like. It’s not an ethereal or entirely elegant mix; much sexier and practical down-to-earth raunchiness, which seem to go hand in hand with laughing and talking dirty. I think this was summed up in one of the song the old ladies sang, about getting frisky in the stalls after drinking some whisky. All the women in the changing room discussed the era; how women were women, comparing the glamour of the time with the American white trash look which presently remains popular. This took me up to my turn....

Stepping out in the spotlight, I still had no idea of which song was due first. Aside from that, my only concern was to remember the lyrics; I couldn’t see a thing out of the stage. It was blinding, I couldn’t even see myself. I needn’t have worried about the audience. My nerves were focused on remembering the lyrics, which I still forgot, I continued on with a remix version and smiled. The shift of nervous focus meant that my singing voice wasn’t a problem at all. I recalled my singing teacher’s voice instructing me to breath. I wouldn’t claim it as the most enjoyable moment of my life, I happen to feel that singing is not good for my waist line. I’d worked up so much nervous energy, by the time the interval came, I munched four bourbon chocolate biscuits, five cheese straws and a fairy cake. But I was satisfied, I was even more satified when I danced with the dashing members of the armed services whilst making money for retired and injured members of the armed forces.

Words, words, words.

Well I have been accused lately of being shy of the written word. Well, I have been listening to words, taking notes on words, speaking words, in order to meet new people and most importantly, singing words. For a while, there were no words left. It’s enough that I had to remember words and that was my biggest fear of the last fortnight.

When I commit a promise, I see it the whole way through and give it my best effort. I spent weeks listening to Dinah Shore and Peggy Lee songs just to make a good selection for my performance in the 1940’s concert. I even set my schedule to fly back from Argentina to make it back in time for the show. I would have stayed longer and made many more friends. One of whom made a timely introduction into my life. At first I called him, ‘Marmite Man’, (special powers to eat Marmite and cheese), but I thought this was a little derogatory. Thinking a little more about it, Paddington Bear came to mind. As a few of us met together for dinner one evening, Paddington asked me if I am spy due to all the travelling and because I wouldn’t refer to some people by name. For example, I couldn’t and wouldn’t fully explain what on earth I was doing in the city. So, he concluded that I am a spy, especially when I wore my red beret. From that we developed the code names of Agent Arrow and Agent Bear.

When I arrived in Argentina, my host was bemused by the presence of the largest pot of Marmite I could buy. But if you have read my blogs, you will know that this gift was a year overdue for Agent Bear. It was the best trade off I could ever imagine. I was taken out for a steak, which we ordered for one. The two of us together couldn’t tackle it and I was told lots of stories about the city by my Brazilian friend. But I think fate had a plan, the timing of our meeting was more than coincidence. Agent Bear just happened to know of an open mike night in San Telmo. I was already having singing lessons in the city to help me with my breathing and delivery, but the real problem I have is performing in front of people. I spend much of my professional life trying to help people gain confidence, that’s it’s odd I don’t have enough in this area.

The thing is, I know I can sing very well, in my house, in the shower, when I am ALONE. In these places I am relaxed and no-one can judge me, but performances are better on a stage, and performers better with an audience. In the back of my mind, I imagine Simon Cowell type criticism for all the wannabes that appear at the beginning of shows like ‘The X factor’. It would be simply awful to discover I might be delusional. I can cope with being terrible and then I can move on. Those that are delusional bark up the wrong tree for many years. Coincidently, barking is often the noise made by wannabe performers

As my motto to others is to be brave, I knew this had to be my ‘carpe diem’ moment. So I seized it, Agent Bear fortunately played guitar and sings, he offered to accompany me on stage to perform ‘Blue Moon’. The chords we worked out just minutes before. I also decided to sing a verse from’ Feeling like someone in love’, at the end of Blue moon, acapella. I had listened to a female singer murder the song earlier in the week. I declared it would have to be rectified if I was ever to lose the horrifying memory of her performance. So I sang it, I am aware that I sound conceited to decide that I did a better job of it. It actually went very well, apart from my left leg shaking like a blender. I had to shift my body weight from time to time to control it. I had enough power left in my body to say “Muchas gracias”, before I stepped down. By that time, according to Agent Bear’s friends, I had become as white as a statue.

The following week was equally as interesting. I had chosen a new song, ‘Feeling Good’ and I mailed the song to Agent Arrow, who promptly forgot to turn up with the chords. This time, his friend, who he admitted was a better guitar player accompanied me on stage. But without the chords we needed somewhere quiet to practise, so all three of us trundled into the girls’ toilet. It was not my finest hour, but at least I can say I been to the bathroom with two men. Whether our activities were pure in nature or not, we were promptly told off by the management. It all went rather well except that he didn’t know the tempo of the piece and started to speed up, by which point I fluffed my lines and it was noticeable. The valuable lessons I learnt and managed to put into practise later in the real performance was to make up it. Don’t let anyone know, sing some words, any words and keep smiling.

Tokyo city

Perhaps the most famous film about Tokyo city at the moment is ‘Lost in Translation’. They at least were lucky enough to be able to swan around in fancy hotels and see the city in limousine luxury. At the working end of life in the city, it’s very different. Trying being lost in the city hall to register as an alien to obtain an ID card. In spite of efficiency, everything takes that little bit longer than expected.

I have set myself various missions for life in the city.

Mission number one: join a gym.

Of course, I don’t speak a word of Japanese and there were various rules that had to be explained to me before I could join. I have a helpful friend in the city, thankfully!
I was asked the most hilarious question, “Have you ever been a member of Yakuza?”. If I’d ever been a member of any such group, I would be skilled enough to keep it a secret, so the question is void before it’s asked. Or, I would just bribe or threaten the management for entry in the sports club. The front line staff wouldn’t know a thing about it.

Mission number two: fit in

I don’t think that is ever going to happen. This has nothing to do with my nationality. I dance, sing, tap, hum and click my way to work, it’s easy to stand out when I behave like this. The route to work is always crowded and I feel like I’m playing platform game walking the distance between the station and work.

Mission three: Get to work on time and alive.

If there are nine million bicycles in Beijing, there must be nine and a half in Tokyo. The rules are quite relaxed, but I fear I will come home with tyre marks across my face. I’ve also invented a phrase for the commute to work, it applies to all countries with metro systems and travelling at peak times, ‘people jam’. Sometimes I’m pasted onto the train windows, sometimes I manage to get a seat. Then I often find people swaying into me, like ballasts at the side of a moored yacht. Now that rainy season is about to begin, I face one last challenge, dodging umbrellas. Usually this is not a problem for me as most places I visit, people are at least a foot taller than me. Now the danger exists at my height. At least the view is colourful instead of the usual sea of black. The view of the streets from above probably looks like sugar-coated-smarties.

Mission four: make some friends.

This was a very easy task in Moscow. I always had someone crazy and available to be crazy with in the city. Gay clubs, roller skating, film clubs, language exchanges, Lindy hop, it was all available. Aside from being miserable outside, it was fairly bustling inside, I never rested during the weekends, I used my time at work to do that. I’m lucky that I live with two amazing girls, one of whom has to be the Chinese-American version of Pink. So I decided to attend an international party and find out about the ex-pat scene. For a start, there were more men than women, more Japanese women than Western women. I have found out what it feels like to be positively discriminated against, they gave me a discount. Judging by the gender imbalance I thought it wouldn’t be easy to meet others to make friends with. Most of the women didn’t want to make friends with me. They’re too busy conducting interviews of prospective boyfriends and husbands, female company is redundant.

At least the Japanese guys said, “hello” and I managed to find out more about the city. I was fortunate enough to meet the driest Canadian, as dry a cactus spine, in comparison to his Australian counterparts. I couldn’t take too much Canadian sarcasm, but I admire Australian spirit. An Australian I used to know was game enough to go to a gay male strip club in return for my services as cupid one crazy evening.

Mission five: return to my own body

I’ve travelled a number of places, and I class myself as well travelled. However, I’ve never sat in same place for 12 hours in a row, I normally prefer transfers. It took a number of days to feel like myself again. It was like a miracle one sunny morning when I woke and all of I sudden, I felt sexy. There is a fine line between wanting to have sex and feeling sexy. The latter can continue on it’s own all day, even a t-shirt rubbing against freshly washed skin feels exciting. I sauntered and sizzled around the streets of my little town that day and shopped for delicate second-hand items and books. I began to make sense of my new surroundings.

A whole lot of hugging

I’ve had a lot of opportunities to get up close and personal with an obese woman and trees. Outside of Yoyogi park near Haraku a bunch of people were offering free hugs outside of their free hug hippy bus. Taking the opportunities for all expereinces, I just went for the first person, it’s clearly a British mentality that beggers can’t be choosers. It was a free hug! The comment from my friends was, “why did you pick the fat one?” “I didn’t select, I’m sure she doesn’t discrimate either when she offers free hugs”. Some people can be far too fussy. But, I now know that trees are less selective than humans.

A few weeks ago I climbed Mount Takao, I expected it to be difficult. My day began with an exercise to get back in touch with nature. The leader of the event was a very tall American. So tall, I wondered how he coped here in Japan, he must spend most of his life crouched or sloped down. I’m remain curious about men who are leaders, especially those in physical occupations, they require a lot of trust, which could easily be abused. My day began blind folded in the forest surrounding Mount Takao guided by two Japanese woman. The purpose of the exercise? To understand and feel the tree, so when I’m no longer blind folded, I can find the tree. I had touch the tree very carefully for every lump and hole, for moss and leaves, perhaps the spirits in the tree enjoyed it. In turn, I lead two rather exhuberant Japanese women around the forest. What kind of kicks does a man get watching twenty blind-folded women in the forest?

I had hoped for something more challenging, challenges or rather seeking them out seems to be a sport of mine at the moment. I was very sorry that it only took sixty minutes. I was expecting something challenging so imagine my disappointment when I reached the top so quickly. It wasn’t a mission for the A team. It seems when something is not a challenge I don’t enjoy it as much. I went on a taster sailing course in April. I had the pleasure to meet my skipper, minus a parrot and eye patch, but he had a black toe and a typical sailors thirst for alcohol.

It was force six, nearly seven and I’d never been sailing before. The skipper said he was unsure if he should have taken me out as the only person without sailing experience. But he commented I was like Joan of Arc leading her army into battle. But I don’t think that Joan of Arc wore Ellen MacArthur Dungarees and a plastic mac. She probably had some cool chain metal armour too and thrilling weaponary skills to display. Even when the bough of the boat tipped up and smashed down onto the waves, I was without fear. The excitement only increased when it was my turn to steer the boat. On calmer days, my interest was subdued and I began to feel onset of sea sickness. I’m sure Joan of Arc wasn’t cut out for periods of peace and serenity. Likewise, I work better with an adventure on the horizon.

You don't like his face?

After sumo wrestling, dating and talking about dating is the most popular sport for Japanese women. Considering everything is so private here, I was surprised when I was quizzed about my very (non) eventful lovelife. I often go through the whole explanation, well I’m only here in X,Y,Z for X weeks and I’m leaving then, so there’s no reason to think about any commitment to someone I only half-like. However, making friends is possible. I explained to a Japanese friend of mine that I’ve made friends with a few guys, maybe she would like to meet them. I was rolling into talking about my new male friend, that we went for dinner and clothes shopping together. This is often torture for me in the UK at the grand height of 5"2. It’s wonderful in Japan because I’m the average size. I also consider shopping a torture that girlfriends dish out to their boyfriends when something is not quite right or perhaps flattery is required. The public arena of the changing room is not the best space to answer your girlfriend when she’s fishing for compliments. “Does my bum look big in this?”, and quite rightly the male of the species begins to squirm for the right answer. Does anyone answer, “yes, of course it does”, with the exception of Jamaican men to their beloved.

I normally take the male role of waiting outside the changing rooms and giving opinions on clothes, minus the flattery. I give very straight answers, I’m the human anti-serotone, those who fish for compliments are often sorry. Likewise, I don’t fall over swooning at a compliment, this makes me very difficult and stubborn to catch. I keep a pinch-of-salt on the radar for such occasions.

“Is he your boyfriend?” she asked. “Well he’s really cool and ....... “. But you don’t like his face”, she interjected. I spluttered at her bluntness, she’s Japanese so I didn’t expect it, but the language barrier was the probably the cause of the most accurate sentence I’ve ever heard. She’d managed to beat me at my own skill.
“O.K, who do you like? I found myself trying to retreat from the conversation, (I tried quickly making up a person), but I guessed she’d caught me there. “Well there’s someone attractive to me, but I’m not sure about the personality, so I don’t think about it seriously.” “Ah, it’s very difficult, you should switch the personalities and the bodies of the two men.”

If only I’d thought of that before!