Friday 23rd March: Ray and Yuri Join the League!

I was fully intending to play mahjong this evening despite the hangover. What had happened was that I had spent Thursday afternoon with Jeff and Kenyon playing a boardgame called Shogun over at Jeff’s flat above DEH. I got through the game by drinking tea and building a Western Empire and a Northern Redoubt, avoiding conflict. Jeff and Kenyon spent the afternoon tearing large chunks out of each other’s “armies”. However, since the only way to replace “armies”, once a certain level of growth had been achieved, was to have your existing armies killed off, neither party suffered as he ought to have done.

The way in which armies battled was most peculiar. You took all the “troops” – little wooden cubes off the board and hurled them into a box inside which there were arranged a series of baffles to trap some of the cubes. The player who had more cubes fall out of the chute at the bottom of the box was deemed the winner of the battle!

Meanwhile a fortuitously drawn card led to a peasant rebellion in which Itsukushima shrine got burnt to a cinder. Apparently the game has no fixed end so my well laid plans might have come to fruition had not the game been terminated in order to switch to a Wild West cattle ranching card game…

Not many cows were raised in the course of an admittedly truncated game, but I was able to make off with some loot via a stick up job or two on my – and the game’s – last turn before heading off into the night…

Ah, the night… a night when the cannikin did clink… a night over which to cast a veil. Let us say no more than that the Lenten Fast was breached in honour of a misconception, or rather a misnamed conception.

Well anyway, later there was an unlooked for wake amongst familiar company which kept the beer and the words flowing until about five in the morning…

The thing I most clearly remember is how keen my taxi driver was to stress that not only was he not your regular run of the mill Japanese taxi driver, but also that he was cheaper. He pressed me to patronize his services on a regular basis and forced his card upon my person. It is amazing how one fellow, as often as not a base mechanical, a callous-handed hardy son of toil, will pester one to patronize him while another, a thinner skinned sort of fellow and less given to manual labour, will bridle and go wild at any hint of his being patronized. We live in strange and perplexing times.

When we arrived at Rakurakuen, Nostromo turned off the taxi meter (I think he saved me the princely sum of 150 yen) and offered to drive me right to my door. All very well and good, but in the first place I really would like to walk thank you very much, and in the second place, familiar as I am with Rakurakuen, I really can’t say in my current state where my house – let alone the door to my house – is unless I do get out and walk. This exchange left us both out – I was out of the taxi and he was out of countenance.

Rosy fingered Dawn, and the saffron morn, with early blushes spread, now rose refulgent from Tithonus’ bed. So she might have done, but I, searching for that selfsame Tithonus’ bed in which to recumbpose myself, only made it to the floor in front of the “settee” (that is what we always used to call the thing that nowadays we call a “sofa”) and the resident Little Imp opened the thing up on top of me. So thus I slept for a couple of hours with the settee serving as a kind of futon while the Little Imp disported herself in front of the television making the most of what she most delights in – a “lazy morning” when the Old Man doesn’t cart her off to nursery school and she can idle the morning away with lolling.

Old Ardle and His Edirol

Later that day (Friday), Old Ardle turned up in the vicinity with his Edirol, hoping to get The Relaunch of the A-Bomb City Podcast underway. First, however, we required some dinner (that is what we always used to call the thing that nowadays we call “lunch”) and met at the Little Imp’s favourite diner, Saezaria. The place was packed with schoolkids.

After dinner the Little Imp put on a convincing show of being about to fall asleep which, it turned out, was nothing but a cunning ploy so as to avoid being taken to nursery school. It seemed much easier to carry her home, let her sleep and then do the podcast… but no sooner had she got home and discovered that her ruse had worked than she sprang into life. The photo on the left (no longer available) is Ardle’s snap of us attempting to record our first podcast in a month.

Well yes, quite. It became evident that the pod was not podding today… So Old Ardle engaged the Little Imp in various gaseous exchanges on the subject of that hero of Japanese folk tales, Kusai Onara, aka “smelly fart”.

Oden Kun

If you are not aux faix with your Japanese fart, check out the Japanese anime series, Oden-kun, which features a cast of characters based on the different types of oden hot pot ingredient…

The smell of this chief brat, Jaga-kun’s farts is “sugoi” to say the least and he takes every occasion to wave his buttocks in your face – full on “oshiri furifuri”!! These charming attributes are sufficient for him to qualify as one of the Little Imp’s current favourite animation characters…

Incidentally, if one must refer to the odoriferous quality of another’s flatulence it is preferable to say “sugoi” rather than “kusai” – at least that is what my own chief brat tells me without actually putting it into practice herself.

With podcasting a no-go we spent the afternoon watching Hal’s Moving Castle before Old Ardle moved himself off homewards…

It was only then that I began to realize that I had been maneouvred into a situation in which I was at home with the Imp and therefore not in a position to charge off early to play mahjong and catch the tram home again… And by the time relief arrived I had begun to think more fondly of an early night than another night on the tiles, mahjong or otherwise…

Mahjong Report

I therefore hand over the reporting of the Cockseye Club activities to Jaime:

Hurley was absent from mahjong on Friday as he had over-indulged the previous evening and through wanton disregard to his faith had broken his Lenten fast (again) by downing a beer or two. Or maybe he was just as Hemingway opinioned in For Whom the Bell Tolls “An intelligent man [who] is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools”. Reader, I offer you the choice, but I know to which one I adhere to.

The evening’s play started when Enami arrived to be joined one game later by Ray! Tim had come along for a “quick pint” and to have a little chat, but didn’t lay his hands on any tiles. 2 quick games were spat out resulting in Jaime being bottom, Noda down a smidgen, Ray a little and Enami taking the points. The low-point being a yakitori awarded to Ray for not winning a hand in his 1st game of 2007.

During the latter part of the 2nd game the rest of tonight’s mahjong-ers sat down at the only free table and munched on their mama-san / convenient store purchases. Once the last hand had been finished tiles were shuffled and the result was the 4 Japanese would contest the 1st table and the 3 foreigners the other. Kenyon seemed overly-happy with this arrangement, but his demeanor changed when Noda (as reigning Yokozuna) decided a re-arrangement was in order as the current status “would be a bit dull”. So after another clacking of tiles Kenyon joined Noda and Enami whilst the remaining 4 would occupy the last free table of an extremely busy jansou.

On Jaime’s table 3 games were completed with the crafty Irish wolf Ray staging a later day comeback to stand atop of the points table. Although, undoubtedly the player of the table was Yuri, who was also making her 1st toe-dipped-in-the-water play of 2007. She racked up some good wins whilst oya and was only undone by some carefree exuberant (OK naive) tile tosses towards the end – which Jaime especially seized upon.

The topic of conversation on our table was the correct usage of the English slang word “bollocks”.* Yuri had informed us that Hide had taken quite a liking to the word and had been encouraging her students to articulate the word frequently. The only other audible English utterance that could be heard was “freakin’” from across the room…

Around the Witching Hour Noda and Enami departed leaving a hovering Kenyon to flit around while we finished our last game. Yuri also decided to leave and so the final quartet re-grouped on our familiar corner table to bring in the early hours of Saturday.

A resulting 3 more games were played out with Kenyon taking the brunt of the British Isles attack. During the 2nd game Kenyon did muster a series of wins as oya, including 1 hand where he took some revel in counting his numerous dolla tiles. Fortunately and indeed fortuitously, both Ray and Jaime avoided the rather large payout.

Hide started strongly taking a good many points of Kenyon, only to suffer reverses in the next 2 games to finish up in the red for the night. Ray was the top Gaijin with 5 successive “in the black” finishes whilst Jaime once again played for over 7 hours only to finish -5 for the night. Not that he is complaining, -5 is much better than -76!

So the final table in descending order are as follows:

Enami: “The Chameleon” +72
Ray: “The Comeback Kid” +59
Noda: “The Bull” -3
Jaime: The Illusionist” -5
Yuri: “The Crocodile” -10
Hide: “The Bollocks” -30
Kenyon: “The Mighty Freak(in)” -76