That would be the nickname of the 88mm FlaK 18, a German anti-aircraft and anti-artillery gun last used in 1945. I never got to see, hear or feel that particular weapon, just as I missed out on the earthquake that rocked Japan last week, measuring an eight-point-eight (or acht-komma-acht) on the Richter scale. Didn't stop me leaving the city on Monday afternoon, after a depressing and empty day at the office, and a Subway sandwich that was marred by my continual fear that a subway wasn't the best place to hang out during an earthquake - and no pun intended; my Subway is in a subway.
I'm in Japan until April 19th, which is just about a month away. The holiday feeling in Tokyo was just about beginning to wear off, and there was I, really just getting into the swing of day-to-day life in the metropolis. I could have quite happily gone on with that, but after the 'quake, the worries set in. Not so much radiation; I struggle with stuff that's there but I'm not conscious of (cf. David Foster Wallace's joke below), but the planned black-outs, the food shortages, the empty houses and office, and that I couldn't have peanut butter on toast whenever I wanted because people have started hoarding bread... No longer holiday, and no longer mundane enough for me.
But the ground shaking every few hours, and my not knowing whether it would mean falling postcards or wobbling streetlights, that really did put me off too. So boarded my hastily booked and packed for flight for Okinawa - 'closer to Taiwan than Tokyo' - come Monday afternoon, and been down south every since. Holiday is very much back on the cards. Good company and temps hovering around twenty have found me castles, ducks, salsa, manatees, barbecues, cliffs and curry. 'Surreal' is still the word of the day everyday, so a return to form there. No-one likes a comfort zone, and evenings with U.S. Marines and competitive games of Jenga are never going to get monotonous.
I'd like to think that there's only so long you can spend each day browsing the BBC's latest earthquake stories, and combing the major newspapers for latest developments. There may be such a limit, but at the moment if they hype, I read. Mildly entertaining at best, unnerving at worst. The Japanese news services seem to be understating, the foreigners over, so that line down the middle is the preserve of common sense, which as they all say, ain't so common. But there's no radioactive rain down here - we're quite happy with putting up with the ordinary watery stuff, though I could do with some more sun, please. If I'm going to holiday, let's make it worth my while, and all that yen.