The Wine Widow in Japan
A friend sends me a WhatsApp that says “Good Luck for tomorrow” which is when we leave for Japan to attend an international trade fair. The Widow has been promoted to Assistant for the next week. “It feels like the opposite of Christmas Eve” I message back.
That evening we go to the launch of The Silo Collective which is packed with friends, most of whom seem to know a lot more about Japan than I do and I find myself practicing bowing and receiving business cards with two hands but my attempts are met by a puzzled “No… not quite like that.” In the back of my mind I am definitely thinking “I may never see any of you again”.
This is because aeroplanes are not natural, a 14 hour flight is not natural and I will probably get a blood clot despite two pairs of very unnatural stockings in my bag. When I get there, I will loom over everyone on account of being over 6ft in the aforementioned stockings and be unable to communicate and therefore possibly starve.
Back home I find myself looking at the drooping basil plant by the kitchen sink and wondering “Oh, has a plant ever been quite so lovely?”. (I am listening to Mansfield Park and can’t stop thinking in Austen speak). I am, in other words, already homesick.
Zam is obsessed by jet lag and how to avoid it. He has downloaded an app that tells us to put on dark glasses and sit in dim light at 3pm, then get up at 5am in bright light. It tells us that we’ll be fine in three days time which seems to me exactly when one would be fine anyway. When we try to check in we are told “no reservation found” about which Zam is more relaxed than whether he should be doing this in the dark.
24 hours later - it must be more but what with time zones and lost days I can’t be specific.
- It is very sunny and pretty warm.
- Zam’s jetlag is worse than his Assistant’s.
- Only one person has commented on our height and he said it very politely.
- I have not yet bowed on account of still being very self conscious about this but it doesn’t seem to matter and I will attempt it tomorrow.
- Everybody wears a mask all the time. Which is not compulsory.
- There is a card on the table at breakfast with various instructions including “please enjoy your meal silently” which is a card I will be bringing home.
- And yes, the loos are clean with many symbols none of which illustrate Flush. It turns out be the button with 9 dots on it. I googled it. In desperation.
- I spend the day in the Great Britain section surrounded by UK cheese makers. Estonia is on my left, Italy on my right and Latvia just behind me.
- Team spirit amongst the British is high. Am very happy with the three stoppers Adrian lent me. He’s got one of our ice buckets.
- Skeins of cormorants fly over a lot.
- I have just been told that the Japanese do not on the whole go for sarcasm or irony. So I must stop saying it never rains in England.