Not only was I feeling sick as dog recently but I had to suffer the double whammy of also feeling sick as a parrot (if I can use such a sporting cliché!) after witnessing a heartbreaking end to Leicester City’s Championship Play Off hopes.
Back in February we looked odds on to be going straight up but then the slump of all slumps happened which saw us win only one out of 12 games going into the final game of the season on May 4th. Incredibly, despite such an appalling run of form we still had a chance of making the Play-Offs if we could just find something to win that final game. However, that game was at rivals Forest where we hadn’t won a league game for 40+ years and they were in pretty much the same position as us where a win could give them a Play-Off place. Expectations were fairly low but if football always offers one thing then its usually good old blind, fairthful optimism! Believe it or not that was rewarded as a last minute winner from Frenchman Knockaert saw us finally win at the City Ground in Nottingham and by miracle we actually sneaked into 6th place as Bolton messed up at home in their crucial game. Our 68 point tally was the lowest total ever for a side reaching the playoffs in a 24 team second tier so there was no doubt that we were fortunate to have limped over the line but the next two (three?!) games could have saved our season and brought us the riches that come with promotion to the Premier League.
So Watford came to the King Power Stadium in Leicester on Thursday night (9 May) and despite being ill I still got up at 3.30am to see the game and glad I did as Nugent’s 81st minute goal proved to be enough for us to take a one goal lead into the second leg at Vicarage Road on Sunday 12 May. Sadly, my celebrations of that winning goal were muted as I had no voice as was the same as Nugent cancelled out Watford’s spectacular opening goal. Thankfully this game kicked off at at a time that was decent for their one fan in Japan! The lunchtime kick off back home meant it was a nice 8.30pm start over here and to be fair Watford were the better side as we went in at the break level but leading on aggregate.
On the hour mark the home side levelled things overall, and with away goals counting for nothing in this game, the thought of extra time and penalties was to become more prevalent as the game entered a nervy last twenty minutes. I can’t even remember why but there was a somewhat lengthy spell of injury treatment as the 90 minutes came up and then incredibly Leicester were presented with an amazing opportunity to book their place at Wembley with 97 minutes on the clock. In all honesty it shouldn’t have been a penalty as Knockaert went down with all too much ease and having dusted himself down he was to be the one to take the glory.
What happened then was the stuff of nightmares as Almunia saved the kick and smothered the follow-up shot too but oh no that wasn’t it as Watford then charged upfield on the counter attack and when the floated cross from the right was nodded back and smashed home our hearts sank. If what makes football great can be summed up in a minute (or even 20 seconds!) of football then this was it.
Watch it here or here if you dare relive the agony!!
The final whistle went seconds later bringing to an end our season in devastating fashion and yet again Nigel Pearson’s team had fallen just short with a French-mans penalty kick costing us as it had done two years ago albeit in slightly different circumstances this time.
So having returned from a busy Golden Week’s Holiday in Vietnam and Hiroshima I returned from the latter on the morning of the 7th and went straight to work and apart from feeling a little tired I survived the day with relative ease. The next morning was fine too but as I was on the short train journey going to work I suddenly started to feel a little weak and slightly lethargic. By the time I arrived at school in Shibuya a short while later I was shorter on breath and had to lie down as I felt weaker in my arms and legs. Somehow I got through the rest of that day but when I got into bed early that night I was having slight breathing problems, light coughing and couldn’t swallow which made it quite difficult to get sleep which is what I was in desperate need of.
Around 1am I had to race for the toilet as I had an overbearing urge to vomit which (close your eyes if you’re a bit squeamish!) included a small amount of blood. A repeat trip to the toilet followed a bit later and I spent a fair bit of time just sitting on the floor of that room each time as I cooled down from a very hot night.
By the time of work that day I pretty much had no voice and I managed to get through the day with minimal speaking knowing that I had a day off the following day in which I could recover. That day was mostly spent sweating in bed, taking on lots of water and sleeping on and off throughout until my girlfriend got home that evening and thought it best to take me to hospital as the symptoms were suspicious of those linked to tuberculosis which had affected a family member in the past. I was given some tablets to take after meals which I wasn’t eating too many of due to lack of appetite. He said to take them for the next week and see how things went but he didn’t mention anything about bird flu which was the rather lazy thing that under-knowledgable colleagues were annoyingly coming out with. Just pure exhaustion was the more likely reason for my illness.
I actually managed to sleep quite well that night and went to work Saturday morning and surprised even myself by teaching with a bare minimum of words coming out of my mouth but by the afternoon it was getting harder and I was feeling hotter and hotter. By the time I got home I was burning up and felt out of breath and severely lacking in energy. Sunday was all spent at home trying to recover but it didn’t seem to work quite as I had hoped. My girlfriend was a great help throughout my illness and in return I kept her awake with my sniffing and mumbling! Oh and I also passed on some of the symptoms to her too!
History was made on Monday morning as I called in sick for the first time in all my many years with my present company as my temperature reached a (recorded) high of 39.6 degrees although my girlfriend reckons that I must have been well into the forties on the Wednesday night prior to that (before we had a thermometer)!
I returned to work the next day which was when I started speaking almost properly again for the first time in about five days and thankfully its been a slow but consistent recovery process since then. Even as I write this over a week later I’m still coughing a little and am out of breath more easily than before the illness but its all a work in progress and I’m heading in the right direction which at times I didn’t think would happen.
If I can paraphrase a Facebook relationship status I can confirm that I am in a relationship. However, this is not exactly ‘new‘ news as my girlfriend and I have actually been together for a long while now but me being me I rarely talk about it.
In this day and age, with so much information and personal views and opinion “out there” on the internet via Twitter, Facebook and this site it is quite nice to hold something back and have an air of mystery about it. However, since I was spotted by a colleague in the Meguro Tavern British pub with my girlfriend and her parents a few months ago there has been increased speculation among some of my colleagues regarding my private life albeit on a scale miles apart from even the Z-listers whose private affairs still make it in the celebrity gossip magazines.
There have of course been a fair few references to a ‘girlfriend’ on here over the last year or so. However, given that the bulk of Tokyo Fox’s hundreds of daily hits come from people searching for certain filming locations rather than actual friends or family, these subtle references go almost un-noticed! I guess over time I will gradually phase-her-in in terms of making some appearances on here as she is now very much a major part of my life (of course!) but it may be hard as she has no interest in movie locations (why would she eh?!) or cycling adventures in and around Tokyo. However, the ‘Dining Out‘ series was started on here as a chance for us to share in a regular activity and hobby. Watch this space is I guess all I can say regarding her future appearances on here! Just remember though that its my name on the door so-to-speak and this site is still very much about my life, travels, teaching ideas and whatever else.
The atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima at 8:15am on August 6th, 1945. It was the first dropping of its kind in world history during combat and it wiped out nearly a third of the city’s population. The area has become a pilgrimage for tens of thousands of visitors from across the world each year. On the 62nd anniversary (back in 2007) of the A-Bomb dropping on Hiroshima I wrote a short piece reflecting on my trip there a few years prior to that and last Monday I returned to the place. Despite it being a repeat visit for me it doesn’t get any easier, or less upsetting or emotional and thats exactly how it should be.
The iconic ruin of the A-Bomb Dome on the banks of the Aioi River was the former Industrial Promotion Hall. I never tire of looking at this place and only wish I could investigate closer but of course that’s never gonna happen and looking through the railings at the devastation is a standing reminder of the unprecedented horror and destructive power of nuclear weapons.
Across the other side of the river is the Peace Bell (above right) and further along the river heading towards the museum is the Children’s Peace Monument (below left). This is a statue based on the true story of a junior high school girl called Sadako Sasaki who was only two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She contracted radiation from the bomb and believed that making 1000 paper cranes would grant her the wish of being cured. It sadly didn’t but her legacy lives on and children from all around the world are still inspired to fold cranes and send them to Hiroshima where they are placed near her statue and these present messages of world peace.
Finally, moving into the Peace Memorial Museum (50 yen entrance fee) we spent nearly a couple of hours walking around and reading the rather substantial amount of stories and articles dedicated to educating visitors about the bomb. These exhibits cover the build up to war, the role of Hiroshima in the war up to the bombing, and extensive information on the bombing and its effects, along with substantial memorabilia and pictures from the bombing.
As well as the section devoted to Sadako Sasaki what was also very moving was the number of damaged school personal items (clothing, pencil cases, lunch-boxes etc) donated by family members of the kids involved with a short, personal story of how the bomb affected said child which rarely concluded with anything other than the news of their death. All very, very sad indeed.
Earlier in the day we had taken a quick trip to Hiroshima-jo Castle but having seen the far superior Iwakuni-jo the day before and wanting to push on for the A-Bomb Dome we decided against going in and moved on pretty sharpish on a lovely fine day.