Published: December 7th 2006November 17th 2006
The Death Star - Kyoto Station
Kyoto Station is like something out of a Science Fiction movie. It looks great on the inside, but scary as hell from the outside.
The waitress was cute. Despite my newly married status this fact and the length of the girls skirt had not escaped my attention as we ate our meal. Needless to say my [I'm not allowed to use the word "wife" so from here on she will be referred to as "Chip Monster"] Chip Monster was all too aware of where my attention was and was making the command face that, according to the instruction book I came with, meant "stop it; you are being a sleaze". This I duely acknowledged and accepted with a wordless shrug and some mumbled excuse about me just admiring the boots she was wearing. (Without wishing to in anyway take away from the laddish nature of this meaty story thus far, there is a certain amount of truth in this... Patrick Cox, aubergine leather - ladies, need I say any more?)
Anyway, throughout the ordering process and the meal, in the little contact I'd had with the staff in general and said waitress in particular, I liked to think that I'd hatched an egg in their minds. This hatching replaced their initial impressions of me as a bumbling, gangly, floppy haired, unshaven sleaze with that
Devestated by an Earthquake in 1995 the city has been completely rebuilt with some good looking buildings and a cosmopolitan, international feel. Check out these toe curlingly splendiferous vistas from the Venus Bridge.
of a rough and ready free spirit who probably models part time for Levi's and runs a successful business carving wooden toys for orphans. (The orphans wouldn't have to pay for these toys; I wouldn't be in the business of exploitation or anything - they'd get the toys for free or maybe bought for them by some unknown benefactor... arse! these fantasies can get really complicated... why couldn't I just have said a successful banker or international spy?).
Having done the ground work I was confident that when it came to ordering the bill I would have the waitress, half the kitchen staff, the old lady at the table next to us and the girl at the piano killing Beatles songs swooning when I requsted our hefty cheque in the native tongue.
With Bond like precision I loaded the phrase required into the Walther PPK that is my brain. A quick "Sumimasen" and a nod of the head had alerted my target to the fact that the dashingly handsome foreigner in the tuxedo... O.K., in the bobbling, black Next tee-shirt... required attention. Don't all rush now girls... think of the other diners if you can...
to our table like Bambi (but on two legs and unaccompanied by a rabbit). Ready...
I flashed a smile - met her eyes - and slightly tilted my head in an adorable, yet adventurous, foreigner about to speak kind of a way... Aim...
I felt the phrase slide out of the chamber of my brain and through the barrell that is my gob as I pulled the trigger with my tongue (Kids - this is just a metaphor. Never attempt to use a firearm with your tongue as it could result in serious lead poisoning and apart from anything its damn unhygenic.) ... FIRE...
Well, my perfectly crafted Japanese phrase seemed to hit her square between the eyes. Nicely done Bond. But what I initially took for success and a girl in mid swoon turned out to be something else. Surprise and confusion. For that split second she looked as though someone might have sneaked up behind her and given her a wedgie. Her eyes sort of crossed, spun round and then settled in their sockets.
She frowned at me with a look that saw my previously hatched orphan-toy-maker egg replaced with a new forcing-orphans-to-make-wooden-toys-with-blunt-chisels-and-no-porridge one.
"I Love You...
...so I've been to B&Q and bought us some padlocks and a permanent marker".
"Eh?" perhaps best describes her look.
As she fumbled for English and I fumbled for Japanese (which makes it sound much more sexual than it actually was...) my Bond lay dead on the floor beside me, his tongue wrapped round the trigger of his Walthar PPK, his trousers round his ankles and his pants stretched over his head in a giant wedgie. "Do you expect me to talk? No Mr. Bond. I expect you to die."
Bob had returned.
Her grip of English was better than mine was of Japanese (fnar, fnar) and she eventually suggested that I might have been requesting the bill. Flustered and red-faced like a French farmer blockading Calais with his cattle truck I conceded that this was the case. (Of course I'm requesting the bill woman...! Look at our plates... empty! We've got our flamin' jaykets on an awe!).
It was then I realised that I'd made a school boy error in my preparation of the phrase "I'd like the bill please". You see the Japanese for bill is "Kanjo" but I'd added in vowels where there shouldn't be any (like when we were on holiday in Ibiza when I was 13
Kobe's International Quarter
More like the French Quarter! England gets two houses, America, Panama (!), Italy and Netherlands get one house each and the French get several streets, a Patisserie (we'll let'em have that), numerous restaurants and a flamin' jazz club... what do the French know about Jazz?
I should add that Scotland and Ireland are both represented in the usual manner: The Dubliner (paint a bar green, serve Guinness and nail lobster pots to the ceiling) and The Highlander (paint a bar blue, serve watery local lager and deck the place in tartan and stuffed animals).
and Dad tried to say "Restaurant" in Spanish and came out with "Restaurestaurante"). So where I should have said "Kanjo" I actually said "Kanojo" - literally translated I'd said - "I'd like a girlfriend please".
I watched as she slinked off to the tills near the kitchens and passed on the details of our conversation. The place erupted like acne on a teenager. The laughter was deafening... or at least to my ego it was. In reality it was no more than a titter and a giggle... but the damage was done... the blade was in and being twisted... I sat and smiled gormlessly in the direction of the grouped staff before turning to my ever patient Chip Monster who sat before me, beautiful, smiling, positively glowing with contentedness. I couldn't tell whether this sparkly loving look in Chip Monster's eye was because she was utterly impressed by my communication skills due to her lack of handle on the local lingo or because of her recent intake of fish and chips (with vinegar!!). Either way, I would refrain from mentioning my faux pas to her until much later - for now I was just pleased to have impressed the
International Quarter back alleys
The Scottish themed back alleys were the best. They included graffiti covered, piss stained walls and an authentic chibbing experience. Felt like home.
person that I should have been impressing from the start.
There are more photos below