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, 9 May 2010

The Law

Today was a peaceful day - surfing, dinner, onsen, massage - marred only by the fact that I was very nearly arrested. I'm not a big fan of being very nearly arrested. It makes me anxious; or it would if I wasn't absolutely convinced that I am impervious to the law and nothing truly bad will ever really happen to me, in any way. As it is, I take it all in my stride; convinced - just as I am convinced that I am possibly immortal, because I cannot conceive of no longer being - that it will all be alright and nobody is ever going to put me in jail because that sort of thing only happens to other people.

It was a close call, though.

Apparently - and I know this now - a red triangle sign with white writing in the middle of it does not mean, as I thought it must do, accelerate at all possible speed, while fiddling with the buttons on your stereo. It means stop. The cross man with the police uniform told me this after he had waved me into a sidelane and gesticulated angrily at me for a few minutes.

I told him I didn't understand Japanese. He told me he didn't care and continued to shout at me, via my Japanese-speaking friend who was in the backseat (Betty was taking up one half of the car, including the passenger seat. Surfboard, not grandma). The entire conversation was conducted in a very strange shape; he shouted at me - refusing to look at my friend - I looked at my friend while she translated, and then looked back at him so he could continue shouting at me in fast and official Japanese and he pretended that there was only one person in the car.
"But the light was green!" I told my friend.
"The light was green," she told the police man in Japanese.
He said something angry and pointed to the sign.
"He says it's a stop sign anyway, even when it's green."
"Even when it's green?" I exclaimed indignantly.
"Even when it's green?" she asked him, a little less indignantly.
He said something that presumably meant yes, even when it is sodding green.
I apologised, kept looking at Betty sorrowfully (clouds were starting to come out and I wanted to be on a beach and not having a run in with the Japanese law), and waited for him to stop shouting.
Then he said something and held his hand out.
"He wants to see your driver's licence," my friend said.
There was a pause.
"It's at home," I answered, and then my friend put her head in her hands.
"Holly, it's totally illegal to drive without having your licence on you in Japan," she mumbled through her fingers. "They can and will lock you up."
I stared at her, and then I stared at him. He looked very cross and was still holding out his hand.
"Lock me up?" I repeated eventually. "They can't do that."
"They can," she said.
I looked at the police man and he nodded. They could, apparently, lock me up. And he looked like it would be a veritable pleasure to enforce this law.
"I...." I looked at my friend. She was staring with fascination at the seat of my car. I opened my eyes as wide as I could and looked as young and scared as it was possible for me to look at nearly thirty years old and not very scared at all because it was all actually a bit of an adventure and I was kind of hoping I could blog about the inside of a Japanese prison cell. "I'm very, very sorry," I said in a tiny voice, in Japanese. And then I added, in English, for good measure: "I promise I have got one, it's just not here."
There was a long silence, while Betty, my friend and the policeman all decided how often they were going to visit me in jail.
And then the policeman's mouth started twitching.
"Not do it again," he said with an excellent English accent. "Next time, you in trouble."
And then he laughed and indicated that I could drive on.
"Jesus Christ," my friend exhaled as we pulled out onto the road. "That was close."
I ignored her.
"After all that," I eventually managed, "he speaks bloody English?"

It's nice being impervious to the law, especially when apparently you have broken it every single day for at least a month without realising it.