Friday, December 02, 2005

Song of Experience

Today was what I consider a form of hell... a school trip. Making it even worse, it was to the cinema (which I have gradually become disenchanted with over the years, to the point that I loathe even hearing the word cinema), it was to see Harry Potter (whose franchise I have no real interest in) and was followed by a shopping trip to a sterile and sparse outlet shopping village (where it was grey and drizzling).

The reason I dislike these trips is that my status as an outsider is magnified to the nth degree. Two distinct groups form, the teachers and the students, and I am somewhere between the two but neither. I am in limbo, and it is torturous.

The reason I dislike the cinema is... well, how to best explain it. I'm too tired at the moment to launch into a full explanation, but let's just say that it's a confidence trick created by the Americans. Cinema audiences have been dwindling for decades, so film makers focus on special effects, to justify movie goers forking over hard cash when they could stay in the comfort of their homes. It's a never ending cycle. Cinemas justify the big dumb effects movies. Big dumb effect movies justify the cinemas. Some people like to see special effects and huge, panoramic action sequences. Many others don't. Personally if I never went to another cinema in my life, it wouldn't bother me.

By far the most annoying things about cinemas:

- the fucking preview trailers, which show you all the major sequences of new movies, thus removing any kind of surprise if and when you watch it. And having to sit through 20 minutes of them before the movie starts (you can always arrive late, but you may not get a seat).

- the notion that if you go to the cinema, you have to buy a bucket of popcorn and a bucket of coke, and pay through the nose. You don't have to buy food and drink at the cinema. Heaven forbid that you should have to sit still for a few hours without stuffing your face with junk food.

My woe today was increased with that most Japanese of virtues - the taking fucking ages to do something that could be done in seconds. We arrived at the cinema before half nine this morning. The movie started at ten. We needed to buy the tickets for the students and the teachers. There were no other people there waiting to be served. The class teachers know exactly how many students are in their class. Yet it was 10.10 before the tickets were handed over and we could go in. 40 plus minutes of faffing about, counting heads ten times, bowing and generally wasting time, when all that they had to do was line the kids up in three lines, collect 1500 yen from each of them, collect the other money from each teacher and hand it all over to the girl behind the glass window, asking for the correct number of tickets. Easy.

The reason I don't like the Harry Potter franchise. It's not so much the franchise as the certain sect of people that like it. The aga owning, wellingtons and wax jacket wearing, champagne socialist, henna haired left wingers that wanted Myra Hindley released but screamed bloody murder when someone wanted full fat milk in their coffee. The film itself was quite good. My first exposure to the Potterverse (there's an fucking expression to make me sick), and although I have no intention of watching any others, it wasn't the worst 3 hours of my life, by any means.

The reason I hate sterile shopping villages/outlet malls, particularly when part of a school trip is that there is often nothing interesting there! The one we went to today... my God, what an exercise in boredom that was. Overpriced clothes shops (mostly girls clothes), a few homebase style shops, a run of the mill food court, a Starbucks (how very original) and some sports shops. No record shop, no book shop, no cafeteria, nothing of real interest to anyone other than teenage girls, middle aged women and slightly modern-minded old ladies. So having got to the shopping village, it was inevitable, with this being Japan, that we would have lunch. Cue the drawn out process of ordering, sitting down, eating, expressing that the damn thing is delicious, then sitting around doing FUCK ... ALL ... for an hour whilst the teachers talked about next months schedule. Even the free ice cream generously meted out by the sports teacher was soured, with a repeat of the farce that happened at the cinema ticket counter. He said that we could all have an ice cream each. The logical thing would have been to all go to the board, choose whichever one we wanted and tell him, who would then order them as a list. But nooooooooo... this is Japan! Some people went to the board, some people wandered outside, some were still sat at the table across the food court. Ice creams were ordered individually, with no coordination or intelligence. It took a full 30 minutes and a host of incorrect orders and querying to obtain 7 ice creams, which then had to be eaten sat at the same table for another 30 minutes over more bullshit about schedules and something a student may or may not have said. Cue much fake laughing (the laughter one generates in order to show that you are aware that a joke has been made for your benefit, regardless of if it is funny or not). Finally, the meal is over, and the shopping can begin, but this would have entailed walking around as a 7 strong group, with no one having the backbone to decide on a shop to enter, so I grabbed my cellphone, called my fiance and walked off on my own. Due to the food fiasco, there were only about 45 mintes to kill, but my God they were a long 45 minutes. I had an overpriced coffee in Bodum, and looked at the kitchenware in the home shop in minute detail. By 3.30 i was ready to kill someone and then join them in the sweet release of death.

I hate school trips. I hate the forced bureacracy. I hate the sheep mentality. I hate the straight jacket of society. I hate having to sit with (nice as they are) dull people whilst they talk about nothing. I hate going to places that are depressing. I hate doing things simply because it is correct to make an effort to do such things.

I'm going to go bowling now. I'm going to get a 200 game, I'm going to cycle as hard as I possibly can without dying, and I'm going to get loaded on average lager.


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