HOLLY MIRANDA SMALE

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.







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Saturday, 8 May 2010

Traditions

Today is my Unbirthday.

I`ve been celebrating my Unbirthday since I was six, when I decided that one day a year with me as the allocated special person definitely wasn`t enough and it needed to be repeated as often as possible; which – after much trial and error (every Monday, for instance, or every second Wednesday) – turned out to be the 7th of every month. As my birthday is the 7th of December, the 7th of every month – as of my sixth year - therefore became my Unbirthday; a day that is celebrated 11 times a year by me and only me, because absolutely nobody else is even remotely convinced and never has been. Especially not one of my best friends, whose real birthday happens to fall on my Unbirthday and is distinctly unimpressed every year when I remind her of it – quite hopefully – while handing her present over. “And,” I always add, “it`s my six month Unbirthday, so it`s a particularly special one.” The noises she makes in response indicate that she isn`t sure why she keeps hanging out with me.

I`m in a new country now, though, with new customs, so I just made a very fervent attempt to introduce the Unbirthday to my favourite Japanese colleague in the hope that he might pick up on it as a British tradition that he hadn`t heard of before but thoroughly embraced anyway.

He didn`t.

“Once a month?” he said.
“Yes.”
“The seventh of every month?”
“Yes.”
“You get presents?”
There was a pause while I thought about it.
“Yes,” I lied hopefully.
He looked at me suspiciously.
“Every month?”
“Yes, and on the seventh of December I get a really big present.”
“I have not got a present for you today because I did not know.”
“That`s okay,” I said. “You can bring me two in June.”
“Eleven a year? And a big one?” he clarified in confusion.
“Yes,” I answered firmly. “And a cake.” I thought about it. “And a bottle of sake.”
He looked at me.
"Everyone in England has this?"
I considered it; as the only English person in Nichinan - possibly in Miyazaki - I could probably get away with affirming this assumption, but he might Google it and find out that I`m fibbing a little bit.
"Just me," I admitted.
“No,” he said eventually. “No presents from me until December. I think you are...” and then he ran out of vocabulary and simply put his finger up to his temple and twisted it a little bit, which – as we all know – is the international sign language for you are bonkers.
“Oh dammit,” I sighed. “Not even a little one?"
So he gave me a lollipop and told me I could have that, which made me quite happy until I realised that it was from somebody else and everybody had one and I was due to get one anyway, Unbirthday or not.

The Japanese need to be a little more open to different cultures I think; a little more receptive to ways of life different to their own. I think, when I`m done with Japan, I am going to move to a country where people are a little more impressed with British traditions.

Especially the ones I just made up.