My eldest son has two friends stopping over tonight which means that I am effectively a zoo animal in my own home.
I like Japanese people. I get on with Japanese people better than many other Westerners living here, but one thing that gets me down is the attitude to foreigners.
People tend to regard you, the gaijin, with embarrassing idolatry, familiarity, indulgence or outright hostility. With the possible exception of Tokyo, it is impossible to be just another person.
Walking to the station yesterday I passed two youths on an otherwise empty footbridge. One in a mocking and affectedly effete voice said ‘hello’ as I passed. A small thing, but illustrative of the way people can’t leave you alone. People stare at you, they won’t sit next to you on a train and store clerks and waiters panic if you speak to them, even in Japanese.
You are constantly asked about your tastes and lifestyle, and if anything matches the Japanese way of doing things you get a barrage of ‘eeeeeeh!’ noises, the local equivalent of ‘wow!’ or ‘no way!’. Your nose, height, hair colour, and eye colour are more causes for comment.
Tonight in my own living room I got a ‘Mecha ashi nagai!’ (What long legs!). You can just about put up with this outside, but not at home, which is supposed to be a sanctuary.
Imagine if I went up to a Japanese person and exclaimed, ‘wow, what black hair you have, and you’re kind of skinny.’ People would think me an utter idiot.
Next time someone tells me I have long legs, I might just point out that if they were shorter they wouldn’t reach the ground.
I wonder whether this leg-obsessed youth in my living room realizes ‘long legs’ is a term used in appreciating whisky. A well-made whisky is more viscous than water and you can see this after swirling the drink around in your glass in the trails of whisky running down the inside from the tidemark. Long, thick trails are known as ‘long legs’.
This month’s whisky, my Christmas present is very leggy indeed. It is a Bowmore 17 and is a very exciting tipple with or without the legs.
I am thinking of writing a song about it: ‘Bowmore Is Big Leggy’. Do you think it will catch on?
Burned orange. That’s what I thought of on tasting the Bowmore. Peat and burned orange. Earlier this month when trying out the Laphroaig, I threatened to stop reading the tasting notes and think for myself. So this is what happened on Christmas day when I opened the bottle — I tried thinking for myself. I repeated to myself ‘burned orange, burned orange, burned orange,’ like a mantra, utterly convinced that if I checked the tasting notes, I would find lots of references to burned orange. So I was nonplussed after reading four reviews of this whisky to find not one reference to burned orange, not even something that could be considered close to it.
Martine Nouet says:
Flowery, peaty. Mix of turf, dried herb and heather, lightly smoked. Briny notes emerge. A delicate intricacy of aromas.
Very smooth and velvety. Malty with an assertive smoky tone soothed by licorice and coconut. Wood keeps control of peat and smoke. A salty feel.
While Dave Broom tells us:
Richer with scented peat hanging above it all: heather, hint of lavender essential oil, then into cod liver oil, shoreline. Less overtly briny. Well balanced notes of brazil nut, moist tobacco, resin, liqueur chocolate, walnut, dried fruit, Jaffa cake.
Chewy and soft. Peat has a bigger say in centre, chocolate, mint. A slightly soapy note.
Approximately none of which suggests itself to my nose. Except the peat, which I could have guessed, this being an Islay. So much for thinking for myself.
Nevertheless, a thoroughly fascinating whisky, which as I type is sitting in the bottle begging for me to go over to the cupboard to let it out.
Though the bugger could save me some effort and just walk over here to me on its own legs. Mecha ashi nagai!