Saturday, February 01, 2003

I feel a bit like the boy being attacked by Gloomy Bear in the picture above today – battered and bloody. It’s partly because I had such a tiring day at work, with 4 kids classes in the morning (lots of running around and trying to avoid their snotty noses) and four adult classes in the afternoon (lots of running around and trying... ho ho). I’ve also been feeling stressed recently because there’s such a big change coming up. Leaving Japan, having to look for a new job… it’s a big worry. I wrote to an employment agency and they told me that the market for people with my skills – I used to be a content writer for a website – is exceptionally quiet. Plus I’ve been sending off articles to various magazines without much success, and on top of that I’ve pretty much abandoned my latest novel. It wasn’t going anywhere, and I lost all my motivation and interest in it. However, I do have an idea for another one… details to follow at a later date! I think one of my problems is that I’m always bursting with ideas and dreams and plans but never really know what to prioritise or concentrate on. So I end up dithering and umming and aahing and do nothing.

God, listen to me whinge on. I’ll stop now. Think happy thoughts. Lean forward and think of England. Um… Here are the Top 10 Things I Miss About the UK, not including friends and family, which goes without saying:

1. Being Understood. Because my command of Japanese is so rubbish, every trip to the shops, every visit to a restaurant is like trying to ride a bike no-handed – twice as difficult. The simplest things, like buying tickets for a concert or trying to arrange for the redelivery of a parcel, become Krypton Factor-like problems. So number one on this list is being comprehended.
2. British TV. OK, I am fully aware that this makes me sound sad, but I love watching TV, and missing Big Brother 3 last summer was almost more than I could endure.
3. Pubs Just like karaoke is Japan’s great contribution to civilisation, the pub is Britain’s.
4. Newspapers. Oh, how I miss the weight of the Saturday Guardian. Online ain’t the same. And you can buy The Sunday Times here, but only if you’re rich.
5. The buildings. I long for old buildings – pretty churches and Georgian terraces and redbrick.
6. Sainsbury’s. The deli counter. All that cheese. St Endellion brie. Cue Homer Simpson-style drooling noises.
7. Choice for Veggies. See my Guide to Being Vegetarian in Japan.
8. Football. Apart from the World Cup, which was fantastic, I’ve hardly been able to watch any football matches this year. And Butter has just told me that the thing she misses most is Alan Hansen. Though I guess I shouldn’t refer to the scarred one as a ‘thing’.
9. The Buttermobile. That was Butter’s car, a little red, battered Renault 5, G-reg . We had to sell it before we came here. She’s just gone all moist-eyed at the thought of it.
10. Knowing what’s going on in the pop world. I’ve completely lost touch since I’ve been here, which makes me feel old and a bit panicky. Will need to swot up when I get back.

Coming soon – a list of the things I don’t miss about the UK, including groups of drunken lads, the trains and Jamie Oliver. Although I hear he’s suddenly become ‘alright’ since I went away…