Lows, highs and my eternal gratitude for both

Well, at the risk of tempting fate, we’re still here despite the mass exodus of oarfish. Although regular visitors might be forgiven for thinking otherwise given the shameful lack of recent posts, for which I can only apologise.

I’d love to be able to explain the aforementioned post drought on work pressures or thrilling adventures being had in far flung corners of the globe. But the truth is – I haven’t really been motivated to sit down and pontificate much of late. After the chaos of Europe and the UK at the beginning of the year, I’ve been enjoying just bumbling around the house with the toolbox and doing something other than sitting in front of the PC. But that’s not to say I’ve been idle. Oh no. There’s been plenty going on in Shoan Nichome, as I shall now relate.

Firstly, Little M started at University. We went along to the matriculation ceremony at the beginning of April. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting. As we were ushered into a lecture theatre to watch a video of the proceedings on a big screen, I had a suspicion that this probably wouldn’t turn out to be the most exciting experience of my life. And so it transpired. Nevertheless, I was as proud as punch of Little M and her achievements, and very grateful to have had the opportunity to have played a small part in helping her get to where she is. Incidentally, Princess Maki is a classmate of Little M – who knows…maybe an invite to the Imperial Palace might be forthcoming after all.

The big disappointment was your humble scribe failing to achieve 3rd dan in iaido. To be honest, I didn’t deserve it and it’s a good thing that I didn’t get it. I’ve never failed a martial arts grading in 30 years of training, so perhaps it was a lesson I needed to learn. In any event, it has kicked me out of my complacency and made me more determined to practice hard for the next chance in September. My resolve was given a boost by winning in my class at the Tokyo area championships a couple of weeks ago. Nobody was more shocked than me, but I finally hit gold in Japan. It’s not like winning an Olympic gold or anything like that, and actually it really doesn’t mean anything. But I’m secretly bloody chuffed that not only have I had the chance to train in Japan but I’ve actually beaten Japanese in straight competition. Amazing. The nervous little 10 year old that started karate in Lochaber Road church hall in south London would never have dreamed that the path he was starting would lead so far.

Next week marks the 6th anniversary of the “official” start of my relationship with Big M. We’ve been talking a lot about that week and it is still so fresh in my mind I can almost feel the gentle Pacific breeze as we walked hand-in-hand along the harbour wall in Kamakura. I can see her dear face sheltered under an umbrella as we dodged Spring showers between our numerous forays to various restaurants, shrines,temples and bars (not necessarily in that order!) It was a magical time. I won’t go into details, but I will say this: If anybody ever tells you love isn’t real, don’t believe them. Love is as real, as powerful and as glorious as all the poems and songs say it is. Most people never get to experience it the way I have – and I am truly and daily grateful for that.

Anyway – it’s 1.30am and the shochu is slipping down far too easily as I write so it’s probably time to call it a night. I won’t leave it so long next time!