100 things about me

Well, not quite 100, but I'm working on it.

  1. I'm British.
  2. In fact I'm ethnically English, as far back as my mother has been able to trace all branches of the family. Not a drop of Welsh or Scottish blood, let alone anything foreign.
  3. From about the age of 14 or 15 I've always wanted to live abroad.
  4. After toying with Australia, a week in Vienna as an exchange student enlightened me to the benefits of urban European living.
  5. After leaving high school I went to Berlin for a "gap year", and failed to return.
  6. I financed my first two years in Berlin mainly by selling newspapers.
  7. I spent a total of about 2.5 years living without a telephone: not by choice, but because they weren't universally available in the former East Berlin until about 1995. Unimaginable nowadays.
  8. I've lived in Berlin longer than I have any other place.
  9. I like like learning languages, although I wasn't very good at them at school and my teachers even recommended that I shouldn't choose languages as a university subject.
  10. I have an MA in Japanese Studies (Japanologie). Hah.
  11. Because I wanted to learn a language with a different writing system. I actually started out with Chinese, but circumstances brought me to Japan.
  12. As a child I was quite a picky eater and used to loath fish. My first trip to Japan cured me of that, and now I eat pretty much anything, except more-than-moderately spicy food. And natto. And anything really really disgusting, such as putrid sheep eyeballs or British pub food.
  13. Since leaving Britain, I've spent more time in Japan than in the UK.
  14. In Japan I cleaned toilets in lieu of rent. (Actually I "managed" a small gaijin house and was responsible for cleaning it, and also taking the rubbish out - which is quite a logistical challenge in Tokyo).
  15. I never had a Charisma Man phase.
  16. My wife is Japanese.
  17. Despite all that I'm not a raging Japanophile, though I will admit to a conditional soft spot for the place.
  18. I can't sing. Not even badly.
  19. I have embarrassing tastes in music.
  20. I've never even tried smoking a cigarrette.
  21. I drink copious amounts of tea, with milk (but no sugar).
  22. I drink coffee, but don't make it at home.
  23. I am unable to resist eating any chocolate in the house. Raisin / hazelnut is my favourite sort.
  24. I've never owned a car.
  25. If there was one thing I could change about my life to date: I would love to have experienced eastern Europe before 1989.
  26. I think there's too much "junk" in the world, and enjoy getting rid of it. Or not acquiring it. I'd rather pay more for something that lasts for a very long time (and which can be repaired for a sane price locally) than have to replace cheap consumer items every couple of years.
  27. Which is why my mobile phone is about 6 years old. Works perfectly for its primary purpose. (I just wish people would see it as a much-loved "classic" or "vintage" model, rather than making unfounded assumptions about my pecuniary situation).
  28. I'm a fairly regular customer of McDonalds and similar fast food establishments, particularly in Japan. Not for the food, I hasten to add: they provide a useful smoke-free environment for taking a coffee break in, but aren't as pretentious as Starbucks and Co.
  29. One of my favourite Japanese foods is shrimp burger from Lotteria. I'm also very fond of curry pan.