Incheon Airport – Starbucks refusing to either give or sell us hot water for the baby’s milk because, “Environmental,” despite my observation that it’s just an Americano coffee without the coffee, and thus less work for them. This does nothing to improve my general mood. Shortly after this Son #1 pisses on the play area floor, to similar effect.
Heathrow Airport Arrivals Hall – standing in the queue to buy the necessary sugar and caffeine loaded beverage, observe magazine promising “Exclusive: Kate’s Post-Baby Weight Loss Regime” This adds a piquant dash of novelty to the standard post-flight loathing for all humanity. (That’s right, Fucknuts, close as you can. The nearer you stand to the conveyer, the quicker your bags will arrive. It’s magic like that).
Wake at 2.30 am. Baby wakes at 2.40, eventually goes back to sleep at 3.55. Son #1 wakes at 4.10. Rest of household rises circa 7.30. This being parent’s house, am unable to judge what object can be safely kicked with minimal damage to either object of self. Day not off to best of starts.
Everyone wakes at 5.30. Better.
This is new. Britain’s record with national pride has, in all fairness, fucked things up royally for millions around the world. Perhaps in some sort of unconscious reaction to this, of late its expression has been more subdued and implicit. Getting all worked up about how great your country is simply unseemly – something those excitable continentals get up to when they’re not smashing plates or dying of liver failure. Plus of course we’ve not really had much to crow about either, so making a virtue of a necessity and all that.
However, this is my first trip back since the London Olympics, at which we did rather well. It would seem that we’re all winners now, and ‘British’ has become a top-rank marketing adjective up there with ‘premium’, ‘limited edition’, and ‘wipe-clean’. Everything is British and desperate for you to know about it – ‘British Made’, ‘British Grown’ and, my personal favourite, a loaf ‘made in store with BRITISH FLOUR’. The feelings of the Polish immigrants who doubtlessly made the actual bread are left strangely undocumented.
Family reunion. Son #1 escapes our attention and necks the dregs of someone’s red wine. Falls asleep 10 minutes later. This may be a strategy worth further exploration.
Largish shopping centre on the outskirts of a Northern city. Much changed. House of Fraser smaller. Hugo Boss gone. Primark and TK Max both much, much bigger. Clientele likewise. Massive amount of frankly unsightly tattoos and semi-naked flesh on display. 「外人コワイ」my wife observes, and on this evidence I can only agree.
Sitting on toilet in contemplative mood (recognize this is a tautology). Note that the squares of toilet paper in UK seem small. Used to think toilet paper in Japan seemed big. Feel something significant has shifted inside (this is a metaphor).
Son #1’s English racing forward, as hoped. Still not entirely proficient with voiced consonants or consonant clusters – tends to skip second part of latter. Watching medieval-ey kids’ cartoon on morning TV. Misidentifies dragon as more prosaic amphibian. Kiddy knight gets stuck up tree and said dragon is reduced to state of mild panic due to its inability to help.
“Fuck” reports son. Something of an overreaction perhaps, but correctly captures the essence of the situation.
London. You forget. Ironically you forget its biggest differences from the Japanese cities you live and work in now. You forget how much you can love the plurality and vitality of it. You forget how much you can loathe every spittle and gum flecked stone of it. You forget how rapidly and violently you can vacillate between the two.
You also forget that on crowded commuter trains it is not socially acceptable just to put your shoulder down and wordlessly knock yourself a bit of space. This may cause problems.
Suit bought. Achievement unlocked.
The statuary in St Paul’s seems to consist entirely of tributes to men who dedicated their lives to killing other people. Make of that what you will.
“With only fifteen minutes to go, Miranda is struggling to get the couscous stuffing ready for the roasted peppers.”
It’s almost enough to make you forgive Sanma. Almost.
Departures. You’d think it’d get easier with time and practice. It doesn’t.
Day Twenty-Seven +2
No, it really doesn’t. Really rough re-entry this time around. Having kids focuses the mind in certain regards that are probably necessary but not especially mirth inducing. Note to self – when the jetlag clears up, the fatigue wears off, and the emotions balance out again, remember the promises you made to yourself. These ones really matter.