I was heckled in Japanese the other night. I didn't understand him so I ignored it. Apparently he'd said "I can't understand you!" At least we had something in common. I was in Tokyo for a little tour promoting my CDs and spent most of the trip struggling with a cold. It's the worst thing - standing in front of a room full of expectant people knowing you sound rubbish. Fortunately, the people were very kind, so polite and generous; they couldn't have made me feel more welcome.
Favourite moment of the trip? During one of the CD signing sessions I asked a guy his name. "Something," he said. "Sorry?", "My name is something". "Well, I realise it's something but can you be more specific?" He took my pen and wrote it out for me. His name was indeed Something.
Best achievement of the trip? Learning a few words of Japanese to welcome the audience to my shows. It's easy to endear yourself to foreigners - just speak a bit of the language and show interest in their culture. I just had to say "sushi" and they'd all smile and applaud. Note that this doesn't apply in your own country. Saying "I like fish and chips," in Grimsby doesn't work, unless you're Japanese of course, then they'll love you for it.
Favourite discovery of the trip? Warm sake taken immediately after a show is the best cure for a sore throat. In fact I couldn't get enough sake, or noodles, or oden, or sushi, or sashimi. At the Tsatsumi fish market I watched them carving up huge tuna, salmon and squid before eating a plate full at a local sushi bar. Super fresh and beautifully presented.
Favourite pastime in Tokyo. Sitting on the toilet. They are padded, heated, and come with more technology than a BMW. In fact they are more comfortable and far more satisfying than a BMW. A Fisher Price activity centre for your bum. You can choose the direction, intensity, temperature and duration of your "downstairs" wash - rear end or (where applicable) front bottom. You can even choose what music you'd like to expedite your movements. It's like a day out.
Biggest disappointment of the trip? No presents. I kept waiting for people to give me presents. I thought it was customary in Japan. I see people next to me digging in to carrier bags and think "Ooh, at last, my presents," but all I got was one tiny metal snake charm with a bell in it's head. Lucky me.
Biggest surprise of the trip. The prices. Japan is expensive, especially with the Yen as strong as it is. Tickets for my shows were never less than £60 and went up to £110 for an hour lunch time set with a big band. It's only £12 to see me in Cleethorpes next March.
Favourite sights of the trip? Two actually. A day out in historical Kamikura were I visited two remarkable Zen Buddhist temples, and seeing a Kabuki performance. Kabuki is a traditional style of Japanese theatre dating back over 200 years. Highly stylised and largely unchanged, it was a fascinating way to spend four hours. Yes, four hours. Towards the end of the three act I did nod off. I woke myself up with my own snores. Very embarrassed. Fortunately, the Japanese, being Japanese, pretended not to notice.
Thank you Japan. It's was a wonderful trip. Great musicians, lovely people and amazing food. A place where a trip to the toilet promises unspeakable pleasures and everyone's got a smile for you, even if you do snore like a drain.