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April 2005

the 1950s

April 27, 2005

the 1950s

Before the incident with the marine, the same evening, I went to an underground 1950s theme bar — a bar which avoided being tacky by being so pixel-perfect that I felt weirdly out of place in my bland 21st century civilian clothing. The house band played flawless old school rock and roll tunes — even getting the voices uncannily close to the original performers’. The ghost of Bill Haley, singing with a strong Japanese accent. It would have been very David Lynch if the joint hadn’t also been jumping.

Incidentally, Opera 8 came out a couple of days ago, which is very exciting. Opera is my favourite browser, see. If you’re using Internet Explorer to read this, you should almost certainly try it…

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the visitors

April 26, 2005

dancing queen

Argh, keep meaning to write but time seems to have been slipping through my fingers lately — I’ve been having a busy month, and have been off-island most weekends. At the end of March, Graeme came from Tottori prefecture, on Honshu (the largest of Japan’s main islands), and we had an excellent, though sleep-deprived time wandering around Naha and the island. Just as he left, Alex came over from Sapporo with his friend Mark, and while they were here we went to an uninhabited island and a concert by my friend Teru’s metal band, which was ripping. So long since I’ve seen a live band, let alone a face-melting rock band!

This picture was taken the day Alex and Mark arrived – the day before Graeme left. The four of us sat at an outside table in front of a little bus that is actually a bar, and drank cold drinks in the warm evening. That morning Alex and Mark had been in the sub-zero temperatures of Hokkaido. The couple who run the bus/bar have a two-year-old daughter who already seems to know almost all the dance moves. She danced in front of the bus the whole time we were there, waving drumsticks around and obviously revelling in the attention, and posing for our photographs. Too cute. She’s the little spinning blur in the middle.

And soon: more visitors! On Thursday I’m going to Tokyo to meet Andrew, who is coming from far away on another part of the Earth’s surface.

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a violent evening

April 19, 2005

A strange weekend. I went across to the mainland to do a couple of dives on Saturday, which meant that on Friday I was sitting in a bar in Naha when a bunch of US marines walked in. A couple were shirtless, one had a split lip, and so the barman asked them to go somewhere else. I didn’t notice the resulting confrontation until, as the marines were leaving, one of them took a kick at the glass door on the way out. The barman—a large bloke—flew out and wrestled him to the ground, and suddenly there was an intense stand-off, involving lots of shouting between the (five or so) marines and the (two) bar-staff, while the customers watched uneasily, hoping it wasn’t going to turn any nastier. Fortunately, the other girl working at the bar stepped between the barman and the marines and told them firmly to go. Which they did, though with a fair amount of cursing.

What exactly happened next, I don’t know for certain. Possibly the marine who had kicked the door stumbled drunkenly on the steps. I suspect he tried to go back up to have another go at the barman and one of his friends pulled him backwards. Either way, what happened was that he went flying down the stairs and smashed his head against one of the lower steps. Which resulted in an unconscious marine lying in a pool of blood on the pavement of Naha’s main street.

What happened then was this: two of his friends did a runner. The others panicked and started giving him heart massage (the fact that he was breathing being apparently lost on them). When the police came, it seems they told them that the barman had physically thrown their friend down the flight of steps. Which was a straightforward lie: about half a dozen people in the bar, including myself, saw the barman come back in while the bloke was still standing at the top of the stairs. But it did mean that the barman and the other girl working there were taken in for questioning by the police. In fact, they were, it seems, questioned until about lunchtime the next day. All because of a couple of marines deciding to lie about their friend’s accident — presumably either to pass the buck or to get back at the barman for refusing to serve them.

I doubt there’s any need to bother trying to express the extent of my contempt.

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