It has been remarkably easy to slot back in to life in Histon. The village and the people in it haven’t changed, the fens in winter look beautiful as ever, and I have spent a lot of my time either eating food I can’t get back in Japan, or sitting in pubs having a few drinks with my friends. To be honest, I don’t think this holiday could have turned out any better.
My Christmas haul was smaller than previous years, but all the more well-considered for that. Along with a new stereo system with DAB radio (to replace the one which broke dring my first year at Leeds), I got two guide books to China, a couple of books on Japan, Citizen Kane special edition DVD, some clothes and other bits and bobs. One of the best presents was Alex Kerr’s Dogs and Demons, a damning report on the flaws of modern Japan, their causes and consequences. I read every page with a sense of uncomfortable recognition, feeling that at last I wasn’t the one person to look at the semi-urban skyline of Japan as it speeds past the train window and think of it as an ugly, inconvenient and altogether unpleasant place to live. Kerr unflinchingly outlines what has gone wrong with Japan’s progression to industrial modernity, from the perspective of someone who cares about the country and its people. It’s an urgently needed book, and should be read by anyone with an interest in Japan.
Aside from that, I’ve been going out with friends quite a lot. The jaunt out to the King Bill (our local from days past) ended in oddly time-honoured fashion – we met up with some random friends of friends, wandered off with them, and fetched up in a garden shed, drinking beer and talking about stupid stuff. It was a curious reminder that no matter how far you go from your hometown, once you come back you will assuredly revert to type.