Archive for February, 2013

Barring the hour-each-way commute each morning and evening, I just spent the most wonderful and nostalgic week working at the Japanese Consulate in Edinburgh. I was there to assist with this year’s crop of JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Programme hopefuls – a group I happened to be a part of the last time I visited the consulate in 2007. Not for nothing, it was also the first time I’d worn a shirt and tie since I left Japan.

The JET interview process is actually a hotly-debated topic each year, with entire forums and Facebook groups dedicated to exchanging information (and, more often, misinformation) about its mysteries, so it was a fascinating experience this year for me to see what actually goes on behind the scenes. (I think the majority of conspiracy theorists would be disappointed by how startlingly obvious the selection process actually is.) I also had the opportunity to exercise my rusty but happily-not-forgotten Japanese skills, particularly with the lovely gentleman who gave me the cup of Jagariko potato sticks I’m eating in this very picture.

I have no end of good things to say about my time on JET, and feel certain that those chosen from the nervous, excited and hopeful bunch I met this week are in for the time of their lives – “Not farewell but fare forward, voyagers.”


A few weeks back – in the curiously incongruous setting of a gentlemen’s lap-dancing club – I had the great pleasure of meeting Sharon Needles: contestant, and ultimate winner, of RuPaul’s Drag Race. (Think America’s Next Top Model with drag queens and higher odds of finding a career once the show is over). (more…)