Monday 29 May 2023

Off to Osaka

I rise at 8. To watch Match of the day 2.

So depressing, as the fascist Arses win. The jammy twats. Totally undeservedly. Then again, I always think that. In my mind, the Arses never deserve to win. Just for being the Arses. I dream of their relegation from the Football League. If it was up to me, they'd start every season with a deduction of 60 points. Or maybe more.

We get to the station early. Very early. Andrew is a bit paranoid when it comes to travelling. We sit in the station for 2 hours waiting for our train.

There’s some shouting going on. A bloke is very unhappy about something at the ticket counter and keeps slamming down some piece of paper. All the station staff look very uncomfortable. Soon enough, it ends. Without police intervention.

There’s a little shop on the concourse. I go to check it out. That is, get something to drink for the journey.

At first, it looks like they don’t sell any alcohol. Then I spot some cans of beer. And, just further along, soju. Though only 200 ml bottles. I get two.

Every time a train rolls in and passengers tip off, a good percentage are in uniform. All young lads and obviously conscripts. Like Andrew’s university friend Robin, who recently started his military service.

“You should be glad they dropped conscription in Holland.”

“They didn’t. It’s still on the books. I received my papers.”

“But you don’t actually have to do it.”

“Not at the moment. They could easily bring it back, if they wanted.”

“It would be good for you.”

“In exactly which way, Dad?”

“Get you out of the house.”

“Good for you, you mean.”

“Cynicism is so unattractive in the young,”

“Fuck off, Dad.”

I’ve been surreptitiously working my way through a bottle of soju. I nip to the shop to replace it.

Maybe I should say a word about soju packaging. The larger bottles look very much like bottled water. Clear liquid in a clear plastic bottle. Only in Korean. One prominent brand even has an image of a drop of water. It would be dead easy to mistake it for water. It must happen.

I'm glad we booked up our seats when we arrived in Pohang. The train is packed after a couple of stops, with people standing. It’s almost like being in the UK. Though obviously nothing like as stupidly overcrowded as that.

We're lucky with our timing when we arrive in Seoul. The next express train to the airport is in 5 minutes. They only run once every 40 minutes. More lounge time. Yippee!

Checking in is a breeze.

"How many bags can I check in?"


Brilliant. Though we only have two that need checking. I wonder if I can save the extra one for a later flight?

Before going airside, I change the remnants of my wongs into yen. Always handy to turn up with local cash. And the wongs aren’t going to be any use in Holland.

There's a bit of a queue at security. Nothing too bad. We're through in 10 minutes. And go directly to the lounge.

It's pretty big. And rather good. They give me a decent slug of whiskey. And there's lots of hot food. It's even better than the Air France lounges. Though maybe not on the cheese front. Mikey still regales friends with tales of the Air France cheese counter.

I watch some Early Doors. Which is rather surreal. And continue stocking my belly with whiskey and scran.

“It’s your round, Andrew.” He doesn’t look very keen on going to the bar, the lazy git.

“What do you want, Dad?”

“Jim Beam, no ice. A Double.”

When he returns, he has that sheepish look again.

“They put ice in, didn’t they?”

“Sorry, Dad.”

We cut it a little fine with going to the gate. Everyone else has already boarded. A couple of staff hurry us towards the plane.

"Don't worry, we've checked in bags. They won't be leaving us behind."

Andrew just gives me a look. Faithless bastard.

“Have I ever let you down, Andrew?”

“Yes. Loads of times. It’s what you do.”

The ungrateful bastard. After all I’ve done for him. Right, well, I’ll not be wiping his arse again.

It’s a good two minutes, three even, perhaps, after we fasten or seat belts that the cabin crew close the doors.

“See, I told you we had plenty of time.”

“Just shut up, Dad. Really. Just don’t say anything.”

I'm not that hungry, but the food is pretty good: spicy pork stew. Lots of legroom, too. Even for lanky legs Andrew. Who is strangely uncommunicative.

I'm knackered when we land in Osaka. Immigration and bag collection go smoothly. And they have baggage trolleys. Free ones. Not like robbing US airports. The robbing bastards.

Customs insists we open our bags. Perhaps, because of our natural sweatiness. I'm tempted to say: "The drugs are in the other bag." But wisely keep my gob shut. Customs officials aren't noted for their sense of humour.

There’s a ticket counter for the express train. So up we traipse to it. We've just a couple of minutes until the next one. I’m not going to rush. We’ll get the one after.

There's a vending machine on the platform and Andrew gets us some drinks. I need a nice cold water. It was weirdly warm in the arrivals hall.

The train has airplane-like oval windows. Giving it rather the appearance of an airliner. If you don’t look too hard or worry about where the wings have gone.

It takes about 45 minutes to Namba. They whisk past in streaming lights and the occasional blinking tower. Impossible to get any impression of what it looks like in daylight.

At Namba Station, where the express terminates. we try for a while to find a taxi rank. It's not very well signposted. Not even on some of the maps. I can’t do with any unnecessary wandering around.

The first taxi driver can't read the name of our hotel. We have to get out again. Luckily, the next one can read Roman script.

It's not that far. But I'm too knacked to walk. It costs 740 yen. The minimum fare is 680 yen. That’s how short a journey it is. Yet one I really needed in my state of totally bollock knackered.

After checking in, Andrew goes down to get some beer from the hotel's vending machine.

“No proof of ID needed.” He says grinning gleefully on return.

“Japanese only channel” a notice says on the TV. Though on NHK they’re showing a programme teaching English. Hah, win for us.

I just drink some water. That’s how tired I am. Then collapse into bed. Over 12 hours travelling, in total. That takes it out of you. Especially an old git like me.


Matt said...

What's your particular animus against Arsenal, Ron? Despite being a Manchester United fan, and having been traumatised as a child by the end of the 1979 Cup Final, I've got a bit of a soft spot for them to be honest, partly because one of my mates who's originally from north London supports them. I also quite like Arteta and his young players, and was rooting for them in the title race against Manchester City and their hideous owners.

Ron Pattinson said...


I hate all London teams (Other than Wimbledon FC) on principle. But I have a particularly deep seated and totally irrational hatred of Arsenal.

I even composed a dance track called "I hate Arsenal" featuring a sample from James Bolam in Whatever happened to the Likely Lads.

One of my best mates is an Arsenal fan. I still believe he thinks I'm joking when I say how much I hate them. I'm not.

Martyn Cornell said...

I too hatge all London football teams except one. That one beong the Rs, who my family have supported for five generations now.

Anonymous said...

Is it because they look like the Watneys works team all running around in their red and white?