Johnny England Blog 1


I fell out of love with England when I bumped into the beautiful Japan, many years ago. The east felt more refined and exotic than the stony face of London. But I still thought about her. In July, I snuck back to my old flame to see if she had changed her wicked ways.


When I set foot upon home soil, it was sizzling. London was under an unprecedented spell of fine weather. British people are starved of rays, so when summer sun emerges they peel off their clothes and dive onto the nearest patches of grass to baste themselves brown, unlike some of the older Japanese women I have seen who stave off UV by equipping themselves in jet-black sleeves, obsidian Star Wars-style visors and dark parasols. No one lives in the shade in London. And notice how Londoners are much, much less style-conscious than Tokyoites:



My very presence brought warmth upon my homeland. This was the best weather Britain was blessed with for a decade. Usually the beams in London don’t hold up for more than a week before collapsing under the weight of the heavens.


On my first night back, I went to see a band called Blondie in the world-famous, historical Kew Gardens with my dad. These gardens are national heritage and contain gigantic greenhouses containing rare species of plants, vines and cacti, and play an important role in botanical conservation and research. I’m not sure if Blondie were big in Japan back in the ’80s … I don’t like them – I prefer electronic music and gangsta rap – but I went along anyway to spend time with my real hero; my dad. Kew Gardens set the theme for a British summertime stereotype: families sprawled on picnic spreads swallowing sandwiches and strawberries, washing everything down with champagne and beer.



All that was missing was the rain. And all I could think of was how different British people were to Japanese people. I guessed most of my countrymen were ignorant to how the outside world saw them. As a foreigner living in Tokyo, I am acutely aware of how alien Anglo-American customs and actions come across. Then I suddenly felt, for the first time in a long time, proud of my heritage; of our dopey cluelessness about the outside world; and of our innate love of music and the arts.
As someone who came to life on dark dance floors under the unforgiving thump of electronic music, I didn’t enjoy Blondie. I sat awkwardly throughout the concert as clusters of middle class people sheepishly tapped their toes and swayed their aging hips.
しかしこの日は、一つだけ欠けているものがありました。それは雨。そこで僕はふと想ったことは、日本人とイギリス人がどれだけ違うのかといこと。イギリス人たちは、自分たちが外国人からどう見られているかさっぱり分からないでしょう。 しかし、東京に住む外国人として、西洋人がどれだけ日本人にとって不思議に見えるかはわかるような気がします。それは、お互いに接する機会が乏しいからかもしれません。イギリス人は、外国人から自分たちがどう見られているか、どれだけイギリス人がその事について愚かで無知なことか。しかし、それと同時にイギリス人の良い面もあります。それは、音楽や芸術に対する生まれ持った心情。僕は、踊りを楽しむ田舎っぺのイギリス人たちを見てると、不思議にも自分のルーツが誇らしく思えたのです。

The next day, my dad took me on what can only be described as a whirlwind tour of London. The old lady looked and felt a lot better than I remembered. I think the sun had done her good. In the morning, we visited an unmistakably British gallery full of war photos. My father took great restrained pleasure in detailing their origins, and critiquing them. I hung on his every word but pretended I wasn’t impressed to try to impress him. The gallery was pretty inconspicuous; London is so swollen with artistic goodness that much of it goes under the radar as par for the course.


As the gallery faded from memory, we drew near to a secret club, stopping off at many places on the way – on a whim – including an Indian percussion shop on Chiltern Street nestled between wedding-dress boutiques, whose owner painstakingly demonstrated to us every instrument in the place, including the sitar, tablas and the dreaded auto-drone [don’t ask].

ギャラリーでの記憶が薄れる中、二人で会員制クラブへ向かうことにしました。 途中で、チルターン沿いのウェディング・ドレス店に挟まれたインド楽器のお店に立ち寄ったりもしました。ここの店長が、楽器一つ一つの音などを丁寧に説明してくれました。シタール、タブラ、そしてあまりに酷かったオート・ドローンという楽器(詳しくは分からないので聞かないでください)。



In London we have steel nets on our tennis tables (they would be vandalised if we used real nets)



And these are what traditional London pubs looks like, in case you were wondering. They look pretty normal to me




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