It's gone midnight here. I won't be sleeping anytime soon so I thought I'd post an update. I haven't much time of late for even sitting down. My days are still a blur of chlorinated water, train journeys, bad grammar and the throb of the last few crickets and cicadas.
At the weekends, I've been (in no particular order): going to the beach, eating cake, bellydancing, cooking, watching movies, going to Tsukiji fish market and eating okonomiyaki, drinking beer and watching movies. And reading books.
The books I've particularly been enjoying, and have finally found something for the first time in a few books that has me hooked. I started reading, after a few false starts, Dominic Hibbard's biography of Wilfred Owen
, which I bought all the way back in 2003. I'd been waiting to get a set of poems before reading the biography, having decided to leave my copy of his war poems back in England, but compromised and got a set from the internet, though sadly not a full set. the first few chapters were rather dull - family history, characters who seemed to have little importance. However, once Wilfred discovered his poetic ability, started questioning his faith, and ran away to France after was may have been the discovery of some "inappropriate relationship", it all got much more interesting. Most frustrating about his life, is that his brother was very scissor happy with Wilfred's letters and had removed any hint of scandal (i.e. allusions to homosexuality) from them, taking with these "amendments" the details of two major turning points in Wilfred's life.
Having gone into a near panic at the thought of not having any new books to read (and also having a weird Murakami craving), I managed to assuage the thirst for a while by picking up a copy of Robert Graves' "Goodbye To All That". Having encountered him in the Owen biography, and owning a well-thumbed copy of "The Greek Myths" (again, back in England) I picked it up for 500yen in a second-hand book market in the basement of a department store in Shibuya. It's excellent. As a companion to the rather dry facts of the Owen book, Graves' war stories (be they from school or WW1) are often bleakly hilarious. I particularly like one story from Charterhouse where he accuses a master of "kissing" his "boyfriend". I'll quote it here sometime. I hope to locate some Evelyn Waugh next, and maybe some E M Forster.
Speaking of the Greek myths, I was thumbing through old notebooks the other day and found a dream I had written down in which I was visited by Greek, Egyptian and perhaps Norse gods. I'll dig that one out too.
* * *
Anyway, the title of this little entry relates to my moral quandary. I've been vegetarian since the age of 13. Over the years I became more lax and have gone through periods of eating and not-eating fish. I think that was related to a mixture of self-weakness and the desire to acquiesce to the disapproval of various people. I think I also forgot that I had any morals, having become rather misanthropic and introspective.
This week saw National Vegetarian Day in the UK, which tied in nicely with the deliberation I've been having. The question is not about whether I should be vegetarian or not. Unless I was facing starvation, I sincerely doubt I could ever touch meat again. No, it's how much of a vegetarian I should be. I decided after being in Japan for a few weeks, that being a full vegetarian would be impossible without becoming a social leper, so I decided to relent and eat fish whenever a vegetarian alternative was not available. However, I still feel guilty when I eat fish, and the continued guilt is starting to get to me. I also have to constantly field queries from people who think I'm even more of a weirdo than those in Yorkshire do. Why am I vegetarian? Don't I WANT to eat meat? Isn't it unhealthy?
Given that size of my arse, one may have a point with that last one. I blame my love of cheese. Anyway, I'm fed up of saying "I'm vegetarian, but sometime I eat fish". The health thing I do have the facts for - less chance of getting bowel cancer, less chance of getting cancer in general, lower cholesterol, lower rate of heart disease etc etc etc. The thing I always struggle against is the total incomprehension of people when I explain my moral position. Perhaps it's just the way I say it, too many big words like "sentient" and "suffering". In fact, I was arguing with a guy I work with about this yesterday while we were chowing down soba for late lunch. It eventually came round to whether or not I would kill a human being. I do have to admit to having slightly more compassion for animals than humans, who are quite capable of messing things up themselves.
So what to do. In the last few places I've visited for lunch or dinner, I've checked for vegetarian options. In only one place have I found a vegetarian option that wasn't "Ceasar Salad" (which isn't technically vegetarian anyway, is it?) Nowhere else has provided anything I could eat. On the up side, this would reduce my restaurant bills, but it would also reduce my enjoyment of going out, and my desire to even do so. What's the point in going to a food joint and not eating?
Anyway, if anyone has thoughts on this, they'd be welcome.
In rather nice news, I have a free ticket to see Radiohead tomorrow in Saitama. And next week I'm off to Osaka for a weekend of gabba, chip and other electronic related weirdness at the Gocha festival
in a wood. Any DJ called Scotch Egg had better be good enough to pull of such an unsavoury