A Word from Mr. Einstein

May 23, 2013
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albert on his bike

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.

Albert Einstein writing to Norman Salit on 4th March 1950

Source: Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World

First Christmas in Solihull – December 2012

January 16, 2013
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…all night he dreamed of his own house and wandered in his sleep into all his different rooms looking for something that he could not find nor remember what it looked like.
-J.R.R. Tolkien “The Hobbit”

My mother having sold the old family home in November, and relocated to Solihull, our annual family gathering was at my sister’s house this Christmas.


My sister’s house in Solihull

How lovely it was to see my family again, after another year apart.

Bernadette & Mommy

Bernadette & my mother pretending to drink Guinness

Nice too, to stuff my face on my sister’s fine cooking.


Risotto with spinach & sea bass


Can’t quit remember what this was, but it looks nice doesn’t it? Maybe a potato & spinach gratin…

Xmas dinner

Christina’s world famous nut roast with all the trimmings!

Some more family photos…

IMG_4789 (Medium)

Christmas Dinner

Boxing day

28th December with the Readers



True story…

July 23, 2012
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Gion festival -
a painted lady dances
and rests on my nose


See also: Snapshots from Gion Matsuri

Most cynical movie lines ever?

July 18, 2012
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Fortunately for you two we’re reviving a cancelled undercover police program from the ’80s and revamping it for modern times. You see the guys in charge of this stuff lack creativity and are completely out of ideas, so all they do now is recycle shit from the past and expect us all not to notice.

- Deputy Chief Hardy in “21 Jump Street”

The movie itself? Very silly. Lots of fun.

Snapshots from Gion Matsuri

July 17, 2012
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Lovely weather for a ramble round Gion Matsuri yesterday and my mind went rambling too. To me Gion Matsuri isn’t simply a special time, it’s an island in time; a special place that magically reappears once a year, and as I wander the crowded streets my mind takes me back to all the other Gion festivals I have attended over the years… In a way I wouldn’t be surprised, to bump into my younger selves wandering about too. You always bump into someone you know at Gion Matsuri…

Here are some images…

After a couple of hours the heaving streets became too intense, so we escaped to Taisho’s apartment where he was holding a rooftop party. It was nice to look at the crowds from above.

And then after wandering through the streets a little more, we retired to bar Kisui and had a photo session with our friend Setchan.

And then we went home, following a smaller parade that we encountered by chance and which took us through the streets practically to our door.


July 12, 2012
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a torn leaf -
no, a hawk moth
with army surplus wings

A Visitor…

July 10, 2012
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Very nice to meet up with my old friend Anne Kobayashi and her husband, Jason at the weekend. Hard to believe it has been 8 years since I left Tokyo and she left Japan…

What I did on my birthday…

July 9, 2012

I turned 42 last Thursday. Here’s what I did.

Had ancient Egyptian beers with my good friend Ted Taylor at the Kyoto University cafeteria whilst looking at a revolutionary clock tower.

Had sparkling nihonshu and some kind of ratatouille appetiser at the restaurant Yoshina on Pontocho.

Got to go out on the yuka balcony when it stopped raining and gaze lovingly at the early evening Kamo river…

Ate cake.

Goodbye Rui

June 6, 2012
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The very first time Mewby and I hung out she showed me pictures of her dog, Rui, and talked a lot about how cute she was. It was clear she really loved the animal, but never having been a pet owner it didn’t really mean much to me. That was until I went to visit her house for the first time, and was greeted by this little, white, fluffy bundle of affection, joy – and an irrepressible desire to lick my face. Naturally I fell completely in love and have continued to look forward to seeing Rui whenever I have visited Mewby’s home, or on occasion, when Mewby brought her to visit me. A sweet, gentle, kind dog, she never barked except to complain when we left the house and she followed Mewby everywhere in evident joy in their companionship. But she was also a very delicate animal and sometimes when I looked at her I would feel a strange twinge of pity that for some reason always manifested itself as a mysterious pain in my arm… Rui was born with congenitally weak organs and had to go on a special diet some time ago because her liver wasn’t functioning properly. Some time ago she also went blind. Nevertheless she remained enthused with love and still had an uncanny ability to find the exact right moment to surprise me with a quick lick to the face. However, in recent weeks she stopped eating completely and her condition worsened. I’m sad to say that she passed away in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but glad that Mewby was with her and that she went peacefully. She was just a little over 5 years and 8 months old – very young for a dog. However, that little dog had a big impact and we will all miss her. My thoughts are with her family in their time of grief at losing their youngest member. Goodbye gentle Rui. Thank you for bringing us so much happiness. And a safe and happy journey to you.

Happier times: Mewby, Rui & her mum last New Year's Eve.

The Great Debaters

May 14, 2012
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Last night Mewby and I rented this great movie about the 1935 debate team of historically all black Wiley College in Texas. Based on true events it depicts the efforts of educator Melvin B. Tolson to inspire his students through knowledge and training to challenge the discriminatory world of the Jim Crow south they have been brought up in. The movie does a great job of recreating the atmosphere of those times; the social upheavals, the class struggles, as well as the fight for racial equality and the general all-pervasive sense of fear that black people had to endure in the segregated south where lynching was all too common. Many of the characters in the movie are based on historical characters: 14 year-old debate team member  James L. Farmer, Jr. (Denzel Whitaker),  later went on to co-found C.O.R.E., the Congress of Racial Equality) and Tolson himself (played by Denzel Washington) was an  educator, columnist, social activist and politician. At the end of the movie we are told that he went on to become a world renowned poet. “Why have I never heard of him?” I thought to myself, and promptly stuck this volume on my amazon wishlist.

Altogether, this is a wonderful movie with outstanding performances and a palpable sense of tension and excitement throughout. The movie is also graced by the presence of two Oscar winners in Washington and Forest Whitaker. Very highly recommended!