Very Severe

I have been ill for a remarkably long time. I have been in bed for 20 of the last 6 24 hours and frankly do not feel that much better. I go to work today but it does not work very well. I check in at the OIST clinic and the charming nurse, whose name is Islay, takes some of my blood and runs it through the strong ju ju machine.  Hara sensei turns to me with wild eyes and says, “The signs are worse than last week! You must go to the lair of the ENT  mundungu in Chatan. Take care Neil san .”

The great shaman of Chatan has much power. He shows me a picture of the inside of my head!

“Much pus! Very severe!” Apparently this all has to do with my sinuses. I thought I had the usual Gadfly ear.

I am lead to a side room where a handmaiden inserts a caterpillar that breathes steam into my nostrils. Strong ju ju.


With my left hand I cast knuckle bones.

I am fed up with this.

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Job sat on a pile of ashes scraping the boils that covered him from head to foot with a potsherd. He had lost everything, his wealth, his family, his health but he refused to blame our redeemer – no more shall I.


Life in Okinawa. Notice spare potsherds.They wear out quickly as boil pus is highly acidic.

I am evacuated from Kyoto very early on Monday morning. I have head inflammation, ear inflammation, sinus inflammation, eye inflammation, fever all day and chills at night. I have pain. “But pain is perfect misery, the worst of evils, and excessive, overturns all patience.” (John Milton)    My brother Ian pointed this out to me.

I have not participated in the great Durbar nor danced with any of the tribal leaders who have trekked across the world in spiced caravans, in stately  Spanish galleons, in quinqueremes of Nineveh, in dirty British coasters, to be there. This chagrins me as I have been working on new steps to display to old friends.

The last flight to Okinawa, before the shut down of air travel due to Typhoon Chaba, is at 7:30 AM from Kansai.  It is a hot ticket. There is no guarantee that it will leave and should it do so, no guarantee that it will not turn back to the mainland. I am booked on it thanks to Naoko’s magic. Shuttle from hotel at 5:00 AM, very bumpy flight to Okinawa, limo to house. My condition overturns all patience. I leave my IPad on the plane.


Blake understood illness in typhoons.

The island, including  the university and all clinics, is shut down. I find old dentistry painkillers that I scrabble to disencapsulate and swallow.

My home internet stopped working when I was in London, ain’t got no rudder, ain’t got no camera, ain’t got no IPad.


The next day I visit our university clinic. Hara sensei was a doc on a Japanese expedition in the Antarctic, which clearly makes him a very good doctor. Akiyo san is just all round wonderful. They reassure me that I am truly crank. I am so pleased as I always feel that I am skiving.


Strong medicine

I have been unconscious on my squalid sleeping mat ever since. I hope I am losing weight.

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But in Battalions

The reason I rushed back from London was to add my huge bulk to the Board of Governors meetings. Very strong juju, drums beat long into the night.

However my concentration is diminished by the imminent arrival of Typhoon Chaba, described below with all the restraint and accuracy of contemporary British journalism.

Having just re-anchored the boat,  I now have to take her out of the water before I go to Kyoto for more heavy juju and tribal dance. During the rescue operation  of the beached Scaffie, I had contrived to snap the thwart as what I sit on when rowing. I cannot sail her no rudder, cannot row no thwart. Very little time as I fly after lunch on Saturday. I have run out of Lemsip.


When was the last time you saw a broken thwart?

I labor long into the night to patch up the thwart to allow me to row the Scaffie up to the harbor prior to extraction. The fruit bats howl.


There are plates bolted on both sides.

I drag myself from my squalid sleeping mat as soon as it is light. I hook up the boat trailer to the truckette and high tail it to Chiuya harbor. I leave the rig adjacent to the slipway and walk home. There is a horrible screaming from the cicadas, sweat pours off me as I yearn tragically for Lemsip,  horribly bejeweled snakes slither and unwind in the undergrowth as I stumble by.

I swim out to the boat but cannot get it. The tide is very high. Accordingly I swim the boat towards the shore until I can get a safe footing to spring, er I mean clamber, aboard. This is exhausting as the wind is already strongish offshore.


I row the mile up to the harbor. The thwart bends but does not break.


I haul her onto the trailer


The truckette pulls her up the slipway with greatest of ease.


We leave the harbor


The road home

The boat is safe. I get on the plane to Kyoto. I don’t feel so good.

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Rogue and Peasant Slave

The last few days have been some of my strangest. Semi conscious in London, semi conscious Helsinki, semi conscious Osaka, I finally arrive at my house in Okinawa to find that I have given bad info about my front door key, resulting in me being locked out. It is a desolate scene, after 24 hours of semi conscious travel, I huddle for shelter from the driving tropical rain in front of my locked front door. It is dark.

Anyway I am finally saved but wake up the next day to find my Scaffie has disappeared. I am astonished as she was well anchored and there were no extreme conditions during my absence. I find her beached in roughly the same place that all my boats beach – luckily sand rather than rock. I do not feel well.


Grind, crunch, wallop early in the morning.

The rode, as what is the rope that leads from anchor chain to the boat, has worn through due to coral abrasion leading to the Scaffie making a break for freedom.

I cannot get the boat back in the water as the tide is low. I have difficulty locating the anchors, They have moved – very strange.  I finally locate them  jammed  carefully in deep fissures in coral about 20 metres from their original positions. It looks like someone has moved the anchors to  a position that they assumed to be stronger than the original placing on sand. Big mistake – the rode passed right over the coral and it would have taken about 3 minutes to slash through the rope.

A mystery. Anyway after much late night boat saving, Lemsip swallowing and submarine anchor untangling, the Scaffie is now back on her original mooring.

However, she has no rudder.

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Lemsip is a traditional british cold remedy. I need it as I fall sick in London. I spend the final two days in England semi-conscious in a darkened room in Clapham.



This is not what I had planned. However, there is something luxurious about drifting in and out of sleep listening to Radio 4.

Soseki san was a famous Japanese novelist.


He lived just around the corner from Ian’s house

His picture is on the front of the 1000 yen bill.


Clapham will never forget

I am now in Helsinki with my Lemsip. I am not sure of the ethics of taking 12 hour flights with a severe cold. I do not even have a Japanese cold mask.


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Breakfast in England

I go to England. The first day I stay with Ian and Anne. Conveniently Rosy and Barry are also staying. We have breakfast.


Breakfast in Clapham

Rosy, Barry and I train it down to their house. Alan joins us, so  we have breakfast.


Breakfast in Sussex


Post breakfast euphoria – Alan, me, Barry, Rosy

We go to see our Mummy. She is very old and er  we are pretty old.



I then train it back to London.


Lunch. I eat it with my fingers on the train. Bliss.

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The Pembroke Players from Cambridge University pay us a visit. First we have lunch.


A curse on both your houses

They then put on a yeeha version of Romeo and Juliet to a packed Auditorium.




My only love sprung from my only hate

Good bunch.



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