Thursday, January 18, 2007

Why I don't want to go home

The subject comes up with decreasing frequency these day, now we have been here for nearly 6 years, but there's often an unspoken subtext - "When are you going home" and "Don't you want to go home?"

To us, "home" is basically where the tandem is parked - we've not spent more than about 6 years in any one place since leaving school, and as an ex-pat Scot even university was in a "foreign" country" so it is not really obvious where I would "go" to "go home". But on the assumption that the questioner means the UK (and to be fair, it probably is one of the most likely future destinations):

This sort of thing is why I don't want to go home :-(

That's just a newsworthy example, of course. There's a whole lot of mundane stuff we left behind, like
  • the feral children who used to kick a football against our lab windows in the evenings (and put some air-rifle pellets through them until we got bullet-proof glass)
  • my sister getting her wing mirror kicked off her van for the second time (this time round she had even thought to keep a spare for this eventuality)
  • having rockets fired at us when cycling home all though the month of November each year (admittedly they were only fireworks, not proper munitions)
  • the razor wire around the primary schools in the neighbourhood - whether to keep the pupils in or the vandals out, I'm not sure
  • the bollards and steel shutters in front of every shop window to stop ram-raiders
  • bicycles getting vandalised even when securely locked
  • someone putting a brick though the window of our flat (recently, while rented out to someone)
  • prostitutes servicing clients in our lab car park
  • fly-tippers dumping rubbish on our drive
  • joy-riders dumping and burning out cars on the public commons around our lab (and occasionally starting bush-fires in dry summers)
Well, it all adds up to a pretty unpleasant scene.

Returning to the news story that prompted this post, people sometimes complain that Japan is institutionally racist - in some ways it is, and to its shame there is no legislation to outlaw such behaviour, despite the Govt having signed up to the UN International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination. But I bet that despite the laws, most Japanese people in the UK experience much more aggression and hostility than we have ever done here - being occasionally asked "can you eat Japanese food" and told "oh, you are good with chopsticks" is a bit boring but certainly is not ill-intentioned. Even though life isn't perfect here, it only takes a few minutes reflection on what we left behind to cheer me up again!

As if that wasn't enough, we even have sunshine in winter here too :-)


William M. Connolley said...

Hmmm... how the country varies. If you don't have a TV you don't have to worry about BB; and if you live around here you don't have to worry about crime.

OTOH the scenery around here is rubbish compared to yours!

jules said...

Thought you lived in Cambridge Belette? You really leave your house and bicycle unlocked and they are still there in the morning? Besides last time I visited Cambridge it seemed to be full of an awful lot of tramps expecting me to fund their vodka habit. I was quite shocked. I must have gone innocent in Japan. It was out of term time - I suppose that means thin pickings for the tramps and they get more agressive.

Anyway, we don't have a TV either but somehow are still blogging about BB!

William M. Connolley said...

I live in a small village just outside. And yes I leave my bike unlocked.

But even in C the bricks-through-windows would be uncommon, I think

James Annan said...

And I didn't even remember to mention the trains :-)

William M. Connolley said...

The recent massive 60 mph weather seems to have cuased train problems again.

James Annan said...

And the power cuts - don't forget them.

Mind you, we get wind and rain here too, and the trains even stop for an hour or two when there's a big enough earthquake.

Perhaps I shouldn't tempt fate on that score :-)

Anyway, it was really the general ambience of the United Chavdom of Little Britain that I was focussing on.

LuboŇ° Motl said...

Japan must be nice but more importantly, let me congratulate you that 30 million U.S. creationists have just joined the fight against the global change:

The only detail that the scientists had to agree with is that the life must now be described as The Creation. Otherwise everything about the scientific consensus on the climate change turned out to be 100% compatible with creationism and things went smoothly.

God bless you,

EliRabett said...

From personal experience there is a point at which the dislocation and alienation gets to you. One of the things that you don't hear much about is how many immigrants to the US returned home.

James Annan said...

Certainly hardly anyone stays here in the long term unless they pair up with a local. Our 6 year stay is already way over the average. But with two of us working here we'd have to both be sufficiently alienated at the same time in order to actually choose to leave :-)

Anonymous said...

> As if that wasn't enough, we even have sunshine in winter here too :-)

Just for information of our colleagues across the continent:

"Here" here can mean the southwestern side of the Japanese islands, but not the whole islands.

See a quantitative demonstration linked from my name with this comment.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I made a mistake.

>"Here" here can mean the southwestern side of the Japanese islands, but not the whole islands.

Not "southwestern", but the southeastern side, I meant. This is the situation in winter. The contrast across the islands in summer is the opposite in some sense, but less clear.

James Annan said...

Oh, thanks for the plot - very interesting. Counting the actual watts would give a stronger bias in favour of Japan, of course (latitude effect).