Peter Falk in Wings of Desire. In this scene Falk pauses to look at the ruined facade of the Anhalter Bahnhof, where Berliners used to catch the train in the direction of the state of Anhalt. There's a pun on the verb anhalten, "to stop", which leads to the line "Not the station where the train stopped, but the station where the station stopped."
Two months after passing along the news that the Japan scholar Donald Keene is emigrating there at age 88 I came across a hardcover copy of his 2008 autobiography Chronicles of My Life: an American in the heart of Japan for $10 at Schooner Books, so I had to read it. It's a surprisingly plain and quick-paced account of his remarkable career as the preeminent herald of Japanese culture in the second half of the twentieth century, told without footnotes, and with a bit less poetic imagery than I would have expected. I think if I were his editor I would have encouraged him to quote more classical verse, or opera, or one of the many Japanese diaries he read as a naval interpreter during the war, and relate it to his own life, and perhaps imply a love affair with the moon as Yasunari Kawabata does in Japan, the Beautiful and Myself. As it is there is a layer of artistic interpretation in the dozen or so fanciful illustrations by Akira Yamaguchi that cluster toward the beginning of the book. The one above puts a storybook spin on Keene's account of a childhood trip to Europe in 1931. The kanji on the brass plaque of the French train window seem to say that although the autobiography is written in English, the story is ultimately Japanese. D
We're looking for a team that dresses like The Beano's Dennis the Menace, in a red and black hooped shirt, black shorts and red socks. So far the search has produced one result: FC Midtjylland in Denmark. But are they the only one, or even the best example? What if they're not dirty players, which would seem to be a prerequisite? The only thing for it is to keep looking.
Let's start with a review of the English clubs. As Scotland has an overabundance of blue teams, so England has too many sporting red and white. Also, it's surprising how many clubs kit themselves out to look like the referee, but that's a tangent for another day. Oh, here's a promising one in Conference North: Droylsden FC, The Bloods. They have the requisite black shorts and red socks, with a mostly red jersey with black flashes and play at Butcher's Arms Grounds. Sweet. Some other near misses in the English lower tiers are: Mickleover Sports FC, Cirencester Town FC, Lewes FC, Kingstonian FC, Eastbourne Borough FC and Histon FC, all close but none that can call itself the genuine Menace.
How about Wales? Guilsfield, Penrhyncoch, Porthmadog FCs are close, but lamentably stripy.
Northern Ireland. Crusaders FC (The Hatchetmen) have the ugly attitude but lack the hoops. Banbridge Town FC are black and red but again not hoopy.
The Republic. Apart from Bohemians FC, the only club that recommends itself is Longford Town FC, but it too is unhooped. Contrary to expectation, Ireland is not stuffed with green uniforms.
Interim conclusion: red and black teams are common enough but the critical bottleneck is hoopage. Must kept searching.
While searching the web for information on Yatagarasu the three-legged crow (which you won't read about here until the Emperor's Cup begins in September) I stumbled across from Japan, a charming and informative blog about the life and culture of Osaka, where its author Miyuki (berry-raspberry) lives and teaches English. I follow a few blogs about Japan, notably the robot-obsessed Pink Tentacle and the rampantly pessimistic Spike Japan, but Miyuki steers between their opposing themes of innovation and decay to concentrate on the seasonal and the daily, writing about the annual cycle of festivals, the seasons of the plant world, and what's on the menu today. She's acquainting herself with the history of her region, and visits shrines, museums and old streets in and around Osaka, teaching you as she learns. Most posts are photographic, with short captions rather than essays. Some events recur year after year, like the Sumiyoshi rice-planting festival, and you get to know quite a bit about the train schedule, especially the Hankai line. The spirit of limitless curiosity exhibited by from Japan reminds me very much of the "Enjoy everything!" ethos of Kiyohiko Azuma's manga Yotsuba&! Douglas