I’m on a Shinkansen “bullet train” as I write this. They go pretty fast, but without too much clickety clack from underneath. They are expensive (or would be if I were not using the JR rail pass), clean and the facilities top notch. They are timed to the minute over 100’s of kilometres and they pull up to within 1 metre of their allocated stopping position. Lots of stuff is like this in Japan and I don’t know how they can subsidise it all. This place isn’t real. It’s the sci-fi version of the future where everyone lives in peace, in small communities with strong social bonds, extreme consideration for your neighbour and with top end technology powering everything. But that sort of future ignores the other, less productive for industry aspects of humanity like passion, laziness, strong individualism, dream chasing and so on. Japan has outlets for those things like the rest of the world, all the vices are covered, but they seem to come out a tad distorted. That must create pressure. I suspect if the Japan of the future becomes more like the rest of us, that is less caring about social conformity, those trains may not work as well.
Right, that’s my attempt at social commentary on the Japanese done, it’s de-riggorrr. Electric picnic was a blast. Paddy and myself relaxed, enjoyed and conquered. The usual heads were there, James and Oige, with a few absentees in Brian and Derek. If one thing summed up the weekend I suppose it would have to be the pies, which were great. Keep an eye out for PieMiester, the new venture in boutique festival appetite supressant from Paddy next year with a new range of pies such as “I dunno, just give me the first on the menu”, “Breakfast pie”, “Pie face” and of course “Fat John’s”. Oh yeah, the music was good too. Leaving on the Sunday left me with a bit of pity but as explained previously, an extra night of fun at the expense of future ambitions is not worth it.
Monday morning came around and adrenaline got me going. Somewhere after 2pm later in the day I finally conked out and started paying properly for my weekend excursions. The interview went fairly well, although my nerves as usual got in the way and had me occasionally babbling a bit too much and, in retrospect, occasionally missing the point of some questions. It wasn’t a highly technical interview, just questions about my reasons for applying for the course. In case I hadn’t mentioned, I’d applied for the Msc at Trinity in Interactive Entertainment Technology. A masters has been on the back of my mind for a while now, although none had tempted me. I’d previously just about gotten a 2.1 in Hons Computer Science, which while good was less than I could have had. After a couple of years working I’d formed the opinion that I’d love to go back with a no-nonsense attitude to college and apply a, well, better and more experienced brain to the task. And not just as a proving ground, but as a space to let me catch up on those areas I’d like to look in, but couldn’t when in a more production focused environment. That isn’t to say that work didn’t get me more freedom than many/any other place I might have ended up, but you can’t beat college for the ultimate opportunity in self growth. I left the interview knowing that at that point it wasn’t really up to me anymore or even the interviewers, ultimately it would come down to the competition. I got a phone call the afternoon I arrived in Hong Kong confirming I’d made the cut.
In Hong Kong (and later Japan) I was travelling with Barry, a good friend of Pete’s who I’ve met several times before. We spent our time there trying out some decent Chinese food a few bars, one club (Sugar – where I somehow ended up having to chat to some guy for an hour after starting off so promisingly chatting to one of his female friends). Barry knew a girl called Dolphin (or perhaps Daulphin) who worked slightly outside the city in a cool public garden that cleverly disguised and muted it’s location right bang in the middle of a busy freeway. We met her in the vegetarian restaurant she worked in, letting her order the menu for us. The food was excellent. We were slightly abashed when she paid the bill without telling us. We tried to offset the difference later by inviting Dolphin to the Peninsula Hotel rooftop bar for a drink or two. The views were fantastic and the drinks expensive. But in Cinderella fashion we left before midnight to get the last trains back to the Island. The next day we set out for Japan.