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Dr John Hawkins

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Beer Garden

Posted on 2006/07/15 04:32:26 (July 2006).

[Friday 14th July]
Yes ladies and gentlemen, the beer garden season has started in earnest!

Yesterday I'd gone for a bit of a warm-up session, but today marked the season really getting into full swing. We had a team outing - 7 or 8 of the guys from work got together and headed over to the Keio beer garden in Shinjuku. Jolly nice it was too.

Those of you not so familiar with Japan may get something of a false impression when you hear the name "beer garden" - in truth only one of those words is an accurate description of the concept. They typically seem to be on the roof of department stores, and are not particularly garden like, but they do definitely sell beer. It's basically just a big open air drinking place. Still I am undeterred by the lack of greenery, they generally seem to have a fun atmosphere and it's always a nice break from the norm to drink outside rather than inside.

We were among the first customers to arrive, but an hour or so later the whole place was packed. Whilst this wasn't one of those places where you're given a fixed time slot, everyone seemed to be about ready to leave by around 9, so we only stayed about 2 hours in the end.

After that the night was not yet over for me - I went and met up with another of my colleagues who was entertaining some broadcast industry dignitaries in a nearby bar/restaurant (maybe a gyoza place, I don't know). Anyway, I had a fun time going through the Japanese ritual of introductions and exchanging name cards. It turns out several of these people knew of me already - it's a bit of a joke in the broadcast community here that there's this English guy working on a uniquely Japanese standard. Some of these people were actually involved in writing the technical specifications and standards documents I now work with. It was nice to have an opportunity to personally congratulate them on what a good job they'd done - "I love what you did in clause - that is a beautifully worded caveat."

The evening ended, not unpredictably, in a karaoke place. Actually the broadcasting dignitaries had left us by that point (probably for the best!) so it was just me, my colleague (the guy I frequently go to karaoke with) and a couple of other people from our company who I hadn't met before - they work in a different division.

Comment 1

John, you are aware of the fact that you are drinking like a "sponge" (as we say in Italy)... I will talk to Chie so that she takes all the money away from you and you can lead an healty and alchool free life!! :))) (I am joking of course before you stop talking to me!!!)...

Posted by Lox at 2006/07/15 13:15:01.

Comment 2

Sorry another thing I meant to ask but I forgot when in Japan... How was I at the Karaoke? I couldn't hear myself all that well (which is probably a good thing)... :)

Posted by Lox at 2006/07/15 13:15:40.

Comment 3

Boire comme un Úponge. Yep, that fits him rather well, Lox! Mind you, sometimes I feel he looks like one (sponge) ;-)

Posted by Sheri at 2006/07/15 14:36:23.

Comment 4

If it ever came to it, John would make an excellent wino!

Posted by Kev at 2006/07/15 16:24:23.

Comment 5

a quick look on Wikipedia indicates that John is probably already a wineaux.

Posted by Kev at 2006/07/15 16:25:59.

Comment 6

Ah... So then... Are these the gang that refuse to leave before you do? :)

Posted by Nigel at 2006/07/15 23:33:43.

Comment 7

Kev, from that wikipedia article:

"A common, stereotypical image of a wino is that of a disheveled skid row bum drinking cheap wine from a bottle concealed within a paper bag."

So is that the image you conjure up now when my name is mentioned?

Posted by John at 2006/07/16 04:21:06.

Comment 8

Nigel: yes these are some (but not all) of the same people.

When it is a work related night out, I think they feel a sense of compulsion to go along, or else be seen as not team spirited. So this is just about the only exception under which you'll actually get them all leaving at a sensible time.

The thing is, work nights out can sometimes feel like you haven't really left the office still - you know what I mean? On this particular occasion there was only a small amount of talking shop, but in the past it has occasionally been quite excrutiating!

Posted by John at 2006/07/16 04:24:31.

Comment 9

Lox/Sher: I only give the impression of "drinking like a sponge" because my exploits are so much more documented than average people. Most people don't feel compelled to write about it when they go for a few drinks after work, but I (rather foolishly) made a commitment to writing a blog entry for every single day of the year... So it is much easier for my social habits to come under public scrutiny. I have to say sometimes I regret that decision?

Posted by John at 2006/07/16 04:27:36.

Comment 10

Sorry Sheri, I omitted the "i" in your name there!

Posted by John at 2006/07/16 04:27:55.

Comment 11

Actuall John I fancy this description from the article is more apt

"Some people who are well-off may extend the idea by using the homonym wineaux, to refer to wine connoisseurs" .

Although I am not sure Whiskeax works quite as well though!

Posted by Kev at 2006/07/16 24:03:50.

Comment 12

John: I actually admire your consumption... Not because it is large, but because it is so varied! :)) My own tends to be so much more limited = Guinness (No! Really?), G&T (I'm sooo sophisticated you know!) and the occasional bottle of red wine... :)) Please don't be discouraged form documenting your social habits! :)))

Posted by Nigel at 2006/07/16 16:02:29.

Comment 13

Oooooooo come on, you know I was joking, if I thought you were an "aru-chu" I would have told you directly and much less politely. Be sure of that!! As you know to us Pizzalanders drinking haits of North European populations are quite peculiar, but having spent so much time abroad changed my prespective quite a lot on the matter (especially after the first few nights at RG1 in Reading)... :D

Posted by Lox at 2006/07/16 23:01:14.

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