I don’t rise very early. Hang out the “do not disturb” sign and wait for the kids to rattle on my door, has been my plan so far. I see no reason to change now.
The laptop, staring cheekily at me from the desk, tempts me out of bed before I get the knock on the door. There’s always someone to argue with on the internet. Day or night. About something.
An irregular beat on the door tells me the kids are here. Alexei complained of a sore throat yesterday. He’s feeling worse today. We head off to the convenience store for provisions and hopefully something to help Alexei’s throat.
It’s surprisingly easy to find the throat medicine. They all have lurid illustrations of red-hot throats. Almost as easy as finding the whisky. That, helpfully, has “whisky” on the label. Bit of a clue, that.
After a hotel-room brekkie, Alexei isn’t feeling any better. He just wants to hang around the hotel for a while.
“OK, fair enough. Pub, Andrew?”
You don’t have to ask Andrew twice if he wants a beer. True, the brain-melting heat outside might put him off a bit. But his beer muscle is stronger than a little bit of heat stroke.
Some internet fiddling reveals a beery-sounding pub not that far away. Sunny Day Beer, in a handful of tiny streets of low buildings close to the main station. It’s only a couple of hundred metres. Even Andrew should be able to manage that.
Pretty much every building is a miniscule bar or restaurant. But they're all closed. They seem to have an afternoon siesta here. We can see staff inside many of them preparing food. But none are open.
“I guess they aren’t much into afternoon drinking here. Strange.”
“You only say that because you’re English, Dad.”
We wander onto the main road in hope of finding somewhere to have a drink. After a couple of disappointments, we find somewhere with its doors open.
“This looks open, Andrew. And the name includes the magic word: beer.”
Monte Beer is the name. Helpfully spelt out in Latin letters. Inside is quite large and a little pub-like.
“This will definitely do.”
“Let’s face it, Dad, pretty much anywhere with beer would do you.”
“Says Mr. Sweaty, I need a beer or I’ll die.”
“You’re such a twat, Dad.”
We take seats and start looking through the many laminated menus which adorn our table. The menu has a bit of everything: pasta, pizza, curry, ribs, burgers, Japanese stuff. Yum. Something for everyone.
While I’m contemplating the culinary masterpieces, we get ourselves beer. Kirin. A couple of pints. Well, half litres. Or so. They could have been US pints, which is a measure quite a few places use.
The beer selection is a slightly odd. With both Guinness and Heineken on the menu. Two rival mega-groups. Play nice, children.
I decide to have some Japanese tapas. First ordering what look like fried dumplings in the photo on the menu.
“They don’t look much like dumplings.” Andrew comments when they arrive.
I give one a bite.
“Pretty sure they aren’t dumplings. Judging by the bones. You rarely get bones in dumplings. My guess is chicken wings.”
A woman in her 40’s sits on the next table. Lights up a fag and orders some food. Her meal consists of five fags and four dishes. I’m impressed.
What I eat next: deep fried chicken gristle. Not sure I’d order that again. Slightly too crunchy and gristly for me. My own fault really. I should have paid attention to the name.
While I eat – Andrew is fasting again – we slurp down a couple of beers. This is fun.
“This is fun.”
“Shut up with that crap, Dad, and let me enjoy myself.”
That’s me put in my place. “I guess you won’t be wanting another beer.”
“Really, shut up with that, Dad.” Andrew is a man of principle. “Another large Kirin, please.” Well. Not as much as the not having another free pint level of principle.
My next tapas is something described as “chicken gristle”. “That must just be an unfortunate mistranslation. I can’t imagine that they really serve gristle.”
They really do serve gristle. Battered and deep fried.
“That sounds crunchy, Dad. Is it really gristle?”
“Well, sort of.” It totally is. “Quite nice, really.” No it isn’t, but I’m not going to admit that. I crunch away, spitting out the inedible bits.
“Looks lovely. But, as you’re enjoying it so much, I’ll let you have it all.”
“Thanks. You’re such a good son.” Such a total and utter bastard.
It’s still hot when we walk back to the hotel. Thankfully it isn’t that far. This heat turns even the shortest stroll into a death march.
Alexei has perked up a bit.
“I told you that drugs worked.” I claim, having dealt Alexei the ‘mols.
“That’s what all junkies say.”
“I’m hungry, Dad.” That’s fair enough Alexei. He’s been at home all day. “My throat is feeling much better.”
I’m such a good dad. Feed my kids painkillers, then vodka. Is it any wonder they’re so healthy?
“I’d like some ramen. There are plenty of places just over the river.”
I’m sure there are. In the tiny streets of we all close for the afternoon restaturants.. Ramen. That’s not so filling. And I’ve only eaten throw-away bits of chicken so far today. Body parts I wouldn’t usually consume.
“Nae probs, Lexxo. I can be up for some noodly soupy stuff.”
“Can you stop with that pretend Scottish shit? It’s really annoying. But I really do want some ramen.”
I hate the children so much. In so many deep and complex ways. But, good father that I am, I suppress my anger and strike a conciliatory tone.
“Shut the fucking, fucking, fucking, fucking fuck up. You fucking, fucking, fucking, fucking twats.”
“Way to go, Dad. That’s really going to make us pay attention to what you say. And you’re a twat, by the way.”
“Let’s be off, then.” I say, neatly avoiding further discussion. “To the ramen!”
“Can you just be normal for once, Dad?
“What do you mean? This is me being normal.”
“Normal normal, I mean. Not you normal.”
The hotel is really nice. And the lift dead fast. All too soon we’re beyond the reach of the air conditioning. But Alexei doesn’t melt quite so easily as Andrew. And the sun is down.
We cross the river and enter the tiny streets by the station. Full of tiny restaurants. We pick one of the smallest.
“Look Lexxie, nothing on the menu is over 600 yen. There’s cheap for you.” For me, really, as I’ll be paying. No change there. “What do you fancy? Pick anything you want.” I’m so generous.
“You’re so generous, Dad.” Alexei replies sarcastically. The little bastard.
Everything in the restaurant is tiny. There are just a few seats at a counter. The other side of which is an equally tiny kitchen area. The menu is tiny. As it’s all in Japanese, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The chef/waiter keeps it simple: “Ramen?”
Fuck yes. Though I leave off the fuck in my actual talk.
We both order a bottle of Kirin, too.
The ramen comes with two slices of pork. And some dead yummy broth.
Alexei is quite into ramen. I can tell from the way he’s slurping it down.
“You’re enjoying that, aren’t you?”
“Can you not comment on everything?”
I finish my ramen in silence. Not such a bad thing. They deserve some respect, being delicious.
The city looks magical as we cross the river. Lights dancing on the rippling waters below us. I really like Hiroshima.
We chill out the end of the day in the kids’ room. The city shimmering behind the window. And more weird TV on the screen. Life is good. Or would be if the kids would show a little effing respect.
Have to be fit for tomorrow. Another train journey. With reserved seats this time. Though there are reports of a typhoon approaching.
Sunny Day Beer
Tel: +81 82-258-1975
Monte Beer Hiroshima
Tel: +81 82-262-0988
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