Smoke

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Wrap your arms around
smoke and mirrors – learn to love
this curated self

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cc by hortonjac via Flickr

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ShutUp30.22: Shopping Cart

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Tall human, hairy face. Has brought own bag (plastic). One ready meal: PriceCut Special LoSalt Lasagne. 6 tall cans No Frills lager. Large bag pork scratchings. Bip, bip, bip. 

Small human, hairless face. Yellow hair with two tails. Pick ‘n’ Mix; strong preference for fizzy worms. Bip.

Long thin human, hairless face. Long straight hair; long straight turquoise attire. Some evidence of knees. Feet: artificial height enhancers. Masottina Le Rive di Ogliano Millesimato Extra Dry Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG, 6 bottles. 2 packs Private Selection Finest Hors d’Oeuvres. Ibuprofen (generic), 1 pack. Bip bip bip.

Perfect size human, hairless face. Symmetrical chestnut hair. Pleasing peach face. Soft, in all right places. One ready meal: chicken curry for one. Oh! One small screw-top bottle of dry white wine. OH! Bip, bip, my heart goes bip. Are you dining alone? Bip! 12-pack, Durex XL Comfort condoms. Bip!?

Archive: Life in a cold climate

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Kinkakuji, Kyoto, in winter

Kinkakuji in Kyoto: pretty, but impractical in winter

I am not good with the cold. I am frileuse, a samugariya, the one who turns blue come December and doesn’t thaw out until spring. I am, conversely, well adapted for tropical heat. While others sweat and swear, I revel in the comforting soupy warmth and thrill to the knowledge that it’s going to be like this all year.

Japan had a sting in its tail there – arriving in sweat-soaked August I could never have imagined that in four months’ time the palm trees would be heavy with snow. My apartment, replete with charming tatami mat floors and paper-thin sliding doors, proved impossible to heat; having established that my kerosene heater made me see things that weren’t there, I resolved to pass the time wedged under my kotatsu, a heated-table contraption designed for someone a foot shorter than me.

Work was no warmer. The teacher’s room was, in theory, heated – more of those kerosene burners – but as an infrequent visitor I was usually assigned the draftiest desk in the room. I kept warm by drinking umpteen cups of coffee, and, in the few schools where one was available, sneaking off to use the heated loo. The classrooms froze your breath; the students devoted all their energy to fidgeting and looking forlorn; the teachers paced frantically back and fore in an effort not to freeze. Very little was learned.

Mystified as to the logic behind the icebox approach, I asked around. Older teachers spoke of the need to imbue children with the spirit of gaman, of perseverance. Younger teachers alluded darkly to funding issues, took me on a tour of the more impressive cracks in the school walls. All expressed polite amazement at how well looked after we British were – “but then, you are a rich country!” Relatively speaking, no, but…

From here on December 11th 2008.