I know, I know, long time no write… And do I have an excuse, well, apart from jetting half around the world to Japan (Kobe), and before that taking a short ski break? No, I am guilty as charged – I am, as ever, the lazy bastard who has nothing better to do with his time than write little poems and stories and consume too much alcohol.

Which is what you can really do in Japan – they have excellent beer (all kinds of brews, not just lager), but my personal favourite is saké, and lots of it, please. My hosts willingly plied me with all the alcoholic beverages they could muster – probably in the hope of numbing my brain enough so that I wouldn’t mind taking their son to karate school (and joining in).

Ever done karate? If you think jogging’s hard work, then don’t. You will be forced to stretch, and use, all those muscles, tendons and joints that, well, I’m pretty sure, aren’t actually meant to be used at all. You will run, jump, kick, punch, twirl, block and parry an imaginary opponent whom at the end you will beg for mercy. You will sweat, pant, wheeze and ache, and generally experience a level of discomfort normally associated with places like Guantanamo. That’s just the warm up.

Luckily we had a pressing engagement and had to leave the school after only an hour. I had difficulty walking for three days afterwards. If you want to get fit, and are a bonafide masochist, then karate is the sport for you. It is not the sport for me.

The best thing about Japan is the food. The worst thing about Japan is trying to read the menu (and the karate, but I think that’s the same anywhere….)

But now I’m back, safe and sound, in Germany and just getting back into my stride, whatever that might be. I’ve just dashed down a little piece of flash fiction for your perusal, and you can read it here. See you soon…