Ugh. One has to be up at six am tomorrow to be on an eight-thirty flight to “Edinburg” as CC would say. Get there about nine, hotel by ten, changed into my suit for eleven-thirty. Pimms at twelve forty-five.

I hate weddings.

On the plus side I will be the best dressed person there and no I will not be wearing a skirt.



I quite like Gibraltar. When I was ten or so my family took a two month holiday driving around France and Spain and while staying in the south of Spain we visited Gibraltar. It’s a curious experience after two months in France and Spain driving across a border and finding yourself back in the UK, only with sunshine. We went up onto the rock, managed to avoid being attacked by the macaques and spent a couple of hours admiring the view. You can actually see Africa from Gibraltar.

Bunbu ryodo.

If I was going to have a tattoo it would be small and discreet and say in Japanese characters, “Bunbu ryodo” which translates as “Literary and martial, both ways” apparently in modern Japanese it also translates as “balance” which I find curious.  Essentially for bushi, or more vulgarly, Samurai, it was believed that the ideal life was one that encompassed both martial and literary. A warrior ideally was both skilled in fighting as well as refined and educated.

I realised years ago that I could never give up practicing martial arts, it’s just who I am at my core in many ways. I like fighting, I like violence even if in my day to day life I am not actually violent. Texts like Hagakure, Bushido Shoshinshu and various other Japanese writings are part of my psychological makeup along with the general mindset that goes with practicing a Japanese martial art and I suppose a lot of stuff from when I was in the cadets. My teenage and early adult years were filled with what can loosely be called martial influences.

By the same token I can’t help being curious about things and wanting to read. Partly this grew out of practicing martial arts; there’s no point being physically skilled if you’re not psychologically prepared which, I think, enjoins the budoka to read philosophy and to devote serious time to thought and introspection. I think also that it requires the budoka to understand Japanese history and culture so that they can understand the context of the art that they are practicing. Certainly these two topics formed the bulk of my early reading and from there everything kind of branched out.

So my life really is this model of bunbu ryodo; it’s a principle I believe in quite strongly and I find myself wondering at people who don’t practice martial arts or who don’t devote time to study I suppose because it seems so natural to me. The idea of not being the ultimate arbiter of my own security is, weird. I can’t imagine not being able to defend myself and I can’t imagine not constantly challenging myself. One of the great things about martial arts is how often you’re told that you’re wrong and how often you screw things up until being wrong and failing doesn’t act as a deterrent to you pushing on with your life. I can’t imagine not reading either, I can’t imagine not wanting to know things and to know more and understand more, like these plebs I was talking about earlier.

I think maybe I’d have the tattoo on the inside of my left little finger because you hold a shinken with the bottom three fingers of each hand and with the left underneath the right, so the left little finger is basically the foundation of holding a sword and the sword is the foundation of Aikido and Aikido is the foundation of my life. Having it there would be quietly and discreetly making the statement that bunbu ryo is at the foundation of my life, a quiet reminder to myself.

Racism and millennials.

Every once in a while I get called racist and generally I get called such because of the sheer ignorance of the person I am talking to. In this instance there was a link to an article by an Arab journalist saying that Arab conflicts are always portrayed as being religious and sectarian which gives an impression that Arabs aren’t civilised. I responded to this that, excepting Egypt, Arab society is inherently tribal, that the nation state is a product of western imperialism rather than Arab culture and so most conflicts are tribal in nature.

This is uncontroversial. A couple of weeks back there was speculation that Jordan would have to leave the fight against ISIS because the tribe which provides most of the personnel of the Jordanian military wanted to pull out to save their relative. This was widely reported in the news and illustrates the tribal nature of Jordanian society. In Iraq we defeated al Qaeda by the simple expedient of bribing the tribes that had joined it to fight it. Saddam’s ministers generally came from his tribe, his senior military officers came from his tribe. All this can be gleaned from just reading news papers.The various states Arabian peninsula are no less tribal.

A second point that I could have made, but which would have required a little bit more knowledge of Arab culture than I assumed my idiot interlocutor had, a safe assumption it turned out, is that in Arab eyes the pinnacle of their culture are the Bedouin and they’re nomads. They are quite literally uncivilised.

I’ve come to a place where I realise that, “You’re a racist” is really just leftie speak for, “I’m totally ignorant and your statement contradicts my ideology”. I find it quite funny now but I used to get really frustrated that I’d get into these discussions with middle class white kids who are unread, ignorant about other cultures, disinterested in other cultures but who essentially assert that every culture on the planet holds modern western values and get abusive when it is pointed out  that this is not the case. Curiously, though, these are the same people who parrot on about diversity. If we’re all the same how can there be diversity? Or if we’re all diverse how can it be that we are all the same?


So you’re in a small Alaskan oil town in the depths of winter and you’re looking out of the window and there’s a BBC film crew running around in minus fifty chasing after an arctic fox and I bet you shake your head and are like, “Brits…….”


So India and me went out for a drink. I was hungry and so took her to wagamama. She had £10 and had lost her bank card so I paid for dinner and then we went for drinks. I go to the bar, I get the drinks, I come back and sit down. “So” she begins “We should have sex sometime” and I’m like, “Absolutely, this sounds like a good idea”. Then we talked about how J could not find out under any circumstances and how we didn’t know why J couldn’t find out, we just felt that this was necessary.

Now I’m thinking back to how the I Ching said that I should be passive and I’m wondering if I had made a move or suggested having sex whether or not things would have turned out differently. I know rationally that the I Ching is total bullshit, it just seems to be being remarkably accurate bullshit at the moment. Hence one is remarking on it.

I’m at a wedding in Edinburgh next week and she said that she might head up there and so I’ll find some reason to head back to the hotel.

Interesting times.