...everyone can hear you scream. Or so I imagine. Judging by the odd looks when I emerged, they can certainly hear your sharp intakes of breath and quietly high-pitched expletives. Although they may just have been startled by my face, which was a rather spectacular shade of red. This was obviously enhanced by my embarrassment, suspecting they'd heard my pained expressions as well as now being able to witness its cause: south-of-England-style sunburn, in its most brilliant and bright variety. In one day on the beach, I think I probably exposed myself to more harmful radiation than if I'd stayed in Tokyo. At the time, I knew I was burning - but I always burn. Not until my return did I realise that this was perhaps something a little worse. So armed with after-sun (aloe and menthol), I retreated to the bathroom.
I don't know whether it was the gel's aloe, or whether it its menthol. It might just have been my highly sensitive nipples. But whatever it was, it stung like a scorpion on acid. A week later, and I'm still peeling a little bit. But of course, no pain, no gain, right? From that - today's favourite t-shirt, spotted on the man who cooked my burger (and what a burger) was 'No rain, no gain'. Maybe he does some farming on the side. I at the moment do nothing on the side. I do nothing as a main, it's the dish of every day. Of course, not literally - you can't sit in a hostel's living room all day, nice as it is with its leather armchairs and wi-fi. I watch obscure mockumentaries at the local film festival, I write short stories and I find neat cafés to read neat books in. These have all been on the menu since the weekend, now that everyone left.
I do get occasional emails, some of which checking I'm coping with all this radiation and general Japanese danger. I feel rather absurd when I answer, telling family (and) friends I am why yes still in Japan, and have spent the day lazing on a deserted beach with some Oxford girls who picked me up, paddling occasionally in the azure waters and watching the fish glide over the shallow coral reefs. Of course, I was then rather red for the next few days, probably as some sort of prescient karma for being so crass as to refer to Pan and Amélie merely as 'good company' and 'Oxford girls', when really they deserve a post of their own in thanks and memory. And while on memory and memories - plenty of them, not mine, at Pan's own blog (sorry): http://tokyomeridian.wordpress.com/
Having latched onto the two them, together with a then-accompanying Hollander, I passed a pleasant nine days in their aforementioned good company, during which I of course posted briefly. It was in their company that I enjoyed a local island's beach, and in theirs that I saw most of the wonders mentioned below. They have now gone to a better place. Well - two better places; Thailand and Oxford, respectively. Since their departure, I've passed an entertaining weekend - entertaining evenings and early mornings would be more accurate - with Goldie, a young man from Sheffield, by eleven years in Japan, and awamori, the local firewater, most of which has been in Japan for far less than eleven years, save a few tasters sampled at the local brewery.
So here I am, all alone in Naha. Although you do struggle to feel quite lonely in this particular city. Feels like Hong Kong selling a Japanese take on Americana by way of Brighton and every other metropolitan seaside city of the world. I've seen a man walking his cat in a red silk coat. The cat, that is, all dressed up. Recycling vans come round each morning playing 'Greensleeves' (I think; else the tune remains mysterious), and that only adds to the cacophony. This is Tokyo-loud, but difference is it all dies off after about ten p.m. Can't say I particularly appreciate the local music, and especially not the Musak, but my quite little coffeehouse/bar plays jazz records, and is decorated with old radios, record players and television. All some of my favourite things, and now including John Coltrane's fourteen minute take on the Sound of Music classic.