An American in Japan

Hotel check-in in Takayama.

“Would you like to join one of our short courses?”

“Sounds interesting. What do you recommend?”

“Get black belt in karate in a week.”

“Is that even possible?”

“Are you American, Sir?”

“No. I’m from London.”

“Oh. I’m so sorry. In that case, I recommend our selection of books.”

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Terrible twos

“Hi, baby!”

“No hi! Bye!”

Bar in Hiroshima

“We don’t get too many people from Poland in Hiroshima.”

“Here’s your chance to meet one. How come you speak such good English.”

“Prison education in Japan is good.”

“What was it for?”

“Some petty crimes. Would you like a drink?”

“Why not. What’s life like in Hiroshima? Do you still think about the bomb?”

“Yes. We thank god for it!”

“Are you drunk already?”

“The alternative was to surround to the Soviets. Look at Poland after the war. You were ‘freed’ by the Soviets. It was much better to get these two bombs than the Russians for 4 decades.”

Undercover Search

“I got drunk last night and had unprotected sex with a prostitute. Nana Street in Bangkok has its own rights. It’s impossible to say no after a few beers. I now need to get tested. Can you help me to find the HIV clinic?”

“Use Search on your phone.”

“I’m too scared to do it. The minute I type that into the search box, it’s like telling the world, or at least 10 thousand companies, that I had unprotected sex and potentially HIV. They’ll start showing me condom adverts. I need to go undercover with this search. Will you help?”

Guided tour of Saramago’s house

No flash photography allowed. Time start: Study. Press 2 on your device. Saramago wrote here. Let’s read the passage from his book. Any volunteers? Next. Saramago’s living room. He rested here. This painting is about The Stone Raft – Saramago’s book about the Iberian Peninsula separating from Europe. Kind of Brexit scenario. Have a look at his bedroom. Press 4 to learn more. Saramago died here peacefully surrounded by loved ones. Let’s go to the kitchen. Coffee anyone? Then his garden. He loved his olive tree. Finally his library. 15 thousands of books sorted by author’s nationality and gender. Goodbye. Thanks.

Difficult question

I know Lanzarote island well. I’ve been here before, mum. On my own. I remember these houses and mountains. I was picking fruit and veg – avocado, beans and cabbage. I was crying and no one came to help. I was completely on my own. I walked here from London on my own feet. Mum and dad stayed in London. I was on my own. I’m now two and a half years old and I can clearly remember it. Why did you leave me here on my own, mum? I was so little back then. And I was crying.

The coffin shoes

I bought these shoes on Amazon a few years ago but never used them – they were too big. Now you are using them. Will you wear these trainers in your coffin? Is this the last pair of shoes in your life? Do you ever think about it? Sorry for being brutal but have you chosen your coffin shoes? You said you never wanted to be cremated and wanted to be buried. You clearly need coffin shoes. My great grandmother started thinking about her coffin outfit in her 80s. It’s so sad you have to do it in your 40s.