Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.


Sunday, 16 May 2010


I've seen many funny things during my time in Japan. I've seen three hundred children brushing their teeth at the same time; I've seen karaoke lyrics so badly translated that they are unidentifiable; I've seen t-shirts that are entirely inappropriate because the wearer can't read them; I've seen families camping with full steel stoves and full sized mattresses; I've seen noodle sandwiches and bread sushi; I've seen the kind of dancing that everybody should see at some stage of their lives. But I have never - and I mean ever - seen anything as funny as a man walking a cat.

Two cats, actually. A black one, and a white one. Both attached to the end of a lead, and both enjoying a nice stroll along the beach front with their owner.

Except that "enjoying" isn't really the right word, in this case. Where a dog will happily be attached to a lead and led at a swift pace - stopping now and then to pee or sniff or poo - a cat is not quite as happy about it. First of all, they're not really in it for the exercise: these cats were clearly absolutely indignant that they were being forced to use their legs on a perfectly nice weekend afternoon when they could be sleeping on a windowsill somewhere. Second of all, they had one idea of where they wanted to go, and the owner had an entirely different one: the result being that it was less of a walk, and more of a dragging session as each cat made a bid for a different direction and then dug their heels in. Third of all, the cats clearly couldn't decide which they liked least: walking, their owner, or each other, and thus they were trying to pull away from him, and the walking, and the other cat, as far as they could. None of which is conducive to a particularly elegant or productive exercise session.

The best bit, however, was when the cats saw me. Terrified by the big white girl, they immediately flattened themselves to the floor; ears down, legs spread, tails between their legs. And they were not moving for hell or high water; these little cats flattened themselves out and started hissing as the old gentleman - with absolutely no sentimentality or affection whatsoever - continued to drag them along the surface of the path with their eight stiffened little legs scraping lines in the dirt behind them. What ultimately resulted was a kind of strange cat dance: a combination of flattened heel digging - a tug of war between two cats and their owner - and then, as the tension became too much, a sort of quick step in the direction of the lead while they struggled to get a grip on the sand again.

As they got nearer to me, both cats simultaneously decided that the best possible course of action would be to stop resisting the approach, and - instead - to get as far away on the other side as they could. So what was a heel digging dance now became another waltz entirely as each cat zigazagged as fast as they could and strained with all their might to go past me, in utterly different directions: stopping and starting as they reached the end of the leash and had to wait for their owner to catch up. And never - ever - looking at me at all: shiftily racing past me with the whites of their eyes on full display.

All of which was dealt with intense irritation by their owner, who clearly had been forced to take them out and thought they were tiresome animals and also quite wanted to be back in a seat in the sunshine, asleep, and not walking the damned cats. And - more specifically, from the way he glared at me - thought that I was making a bad job worse, and that none of it was funny in the slightest.

As I sat on the kerb and I laughed until I started making piggy noises at the back of my throat and had to use my sleeve to wipe my face dry, I decided that I was going to have to politely disagree with him.