Friday, February 23, 2007

Post fever...

Having been suffering from a cold-cum-fever for the last few days, the vast amounts of medication that I've been necking have just started to set in... I feel incredibly lightheaded, and my body feels tingly and light, as if I have had too many drinks.

Being sick is never good, but there is one upside - cool dreams. A few days ago I dreamt that Richard Simmons was the new teacher at our school...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My first culinary creation of note

With my wife with a slight hand injury, it was up to me to make the dinner tonight. Apprehensive? Yes, a little. Throughout my childhood the only person that cooked in my house was my mum (my dad's torn-up-bread-floating-in-a-bowl-of-bovril doesn't really count), and the meals of my university years, though a little more sophisticated than merely instant noodles and toast, certainly wouldn't feature in any food magazines.

So, following my wife's sofa-ridden instructions, I managed to knock together a fairly serviceable Shepherd's Pie.

The trouble now is, the wife wants me to cook more often...

Our first wedding anniversary

Growing up where and when I did, anniversaries have always held a certain stigma - that is, it's the time when the hapless husband forgets, the wife gets mad, and no amount of flowers or chocolates an remedy things. To believe the films and tv soaps, it's a night of missed restaurant appointments, bouquets in the rubbish bin and the dog house.

With all this in mind, I was determined not to live up to my tv forebears. So, I opted for a very traditional yet suitable gift for my wife for our first anniversary together - a dozen red roses.

And as you can see by her little face, they were well appreciated. (Note to guys with a first anniversary on the horizon - if she says "I don't want anything", it's a trap!)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

All-you-can-drink with the inlaws

With all the stuff that the inlaws have done for me and my wife, I had been planning to do something in return for them. Dropping in at my wife's ex-co-worker's drinking party last week gave me an idea - nomihoudai! All you can drink! With my mother in law being a stern drinker and my father in law being rather partial to a drop, we made it happen this evening. The venue: a yaki tori place in Kurume. The participants: my inlaws, the wife and me.

Things got off to a brisk start, with the mother in law necking a stout glass of wheat shochu and immediately ordering more. I started on beer, and was able to comfortably keep up. The father in law was silently supping, as is his wont, and the wife was lagging a bit, her solitary glass of "sour plum wine" looking very mediocre indeed.

Food came and went, including (pay attention Englanders) torii tataki, aka raw chicken, which was rather delicious.

The drinks kept coming, the meat kept coming, and, just as is the case back in the family house, my father in law decided to go to sleep..

A bit of gentle teasing from the mother in law turned out to be pride before a fall, as she descended into what could only be called a highschool party-esque descent into vomity drunkeness. Going to the toilet and remaining there for 15 minutes was the first sign that something was amiss...

Joining her comatose husband in a kip was the second... and then, the coup de grace....

filling a soup bowl (blue rimmed, behind the black pot) with vomit. No, that's not rice in soup in that bowl, it's genuine mother in law's multicoloured yawn.

The verdict: a grand night, one of Japanese language, interesting and colourful drinks and delicious meats, and one in which it was proved, at least in my Japanese family, that the inlaws can't handle a bog standard nomihoudai without passing out and/or blowing bits...

Friday, February 09, 2007

A legend departs...

At the end of January, one of my best friends left Kurume for Hiroshima. Ben Gammon, my longtime bowling companion and pool parter, has gone, and the hole he left is wide and gaping.
The first time I ever met Ben was at a Halloween party in 2004. I was dressed as a shadow, Ben as the You Me Town train driver (or Mario, as some people said), complete with canary yellow shirt and red dungarees. Our first conversation? He was talking to a Japanese girl and showing her on a map of the UK where all the bands were from. Turning to me, he asked me if he was correct. I nodded and mumbled that he was - in fact, apart from the more obvious ones, I didn't know. Amongst other things, Ben is a UK music encyclopaedia.

In our second conversation, it turned out that for a portion of his youth, Ben lived in Stowmarket, not too far from where I grew up. This was the first inkling that we had a lot of things in common, and lots to talk about.

For the next couple of years, we met chiefly on the bowling lanes of Kurume, with Thursday nights being the initial choice, then Saturday mornings, and then Friday mornings. Many people came and went during our bowling days, but we always remained. Ben is a fine bowler... he uses a houseballs, which are less responsive and consistent than my own, and without custom finger holes. He bowls straight, which means that he has to be more accurate than I do.

Bowling aside, our paths would cross at the many parties that pepper the Kurume social calendar. A nomihoudai here, a curry there, a costume here, a video night there. Perhaps my fondest memories are those in which we simply had a cup of tea of an evening, watching a bit of cable or playing a bit of Winning Eleven.

For the bowling memories, for understanding my asides about Don Estelle and other 70s references, and for the mushroom cushion wedding present that is proving incredibly useful, and most of all for being such a great guy, I thank you Ben.