It is Saturday morning so I set off to the fish shop. I ride along the coast line occasionally stopping off at beaches to watch people collect seaweed in the rock pools.
I make a halt at a pottery. The potter speaks a little English and is delighted when I tell him I come from Scotland. I await the usual, “I love to get ripped on Lagavulin!” but this time it is different. “I played Rugby when I was young – Scotland very good!” He must be quite old.
When I get back to Big Red there are two very fashionable Japanese looking at her. “Is this your bike?” “Hai” “So cool – 1980’s Bianchi!” It is a great morning that only gets better.
I buy fish at the shop-depot-restaurant place and order lunch.
The service system is taken from Starbucks. You order your meal from a blackboard and the guy, who has left off slashing up tuna to get your order, says, “Name?” – “Needo.”
I sit outside overlooking the fishing harbor and a couple of minutes later a hatchway opens and a smiling lady shouts out, “Needo san!” I go get my lunch.
Sea grapes, fish eggs, octopus, squid, tuna, other fish, prawn, on plain rice. All raw, er except the rice, and all just pulled from the deep. There is a bowl of seaweed in fish broth to go with it. It costs 900 yen. Wonderful bike ride along country roads beside the South China Sea in warm sun, terminating in world beating fish lunch in the simplest of settings for very little money. I lke it here.
But then I think of the terrible events going on up North – mourning families, homeless in the snow, nuclear threat and I don’t feel so good. The learned Judy Jackson reminded me of this poem by Auden.
“Fall of Icarus” by Breughel
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
I feel like the torturer’s horse scratching my innocent behind as a dreadful martyrdom goes on in the background.