Contaminative crises: coronavirus and radiation
My longread on the social and personal consequences of the Fukushima disaster came out this week: Nine years on, Fukushima’s mental health fallout lingers. When I arrived in Japan, televisions were blaring news of spreading infections in a cruise ship moored off the coast of Yokohama. Japanese nationals were being repatriated via emergency flights from…
Monsters on bikes
I recently wrote for CityLab about the conflict between cyclists and pedestrians in Amsterdam. I found fascinating that this city’s cycling culture is so often held up as an ideal for other cities to emulate — and yet pedestrians are so often forgotten in the equation. Our picture of an aggressive cyclist is also often…
Recently I thought I might like to write about pain. It’s a state I’m often in, thanks to myriad overlapping conditions. If I’m writing to explain and describe my existence, then pain is primary. But the thing about pain is that it shrinks the mind. Consciousness is reduced to a stabbing, thudding, pulsing, sensation that…
White apologies are almost as bad as the crimes that sparked them
“most racism is masked by good intentions. It’s implicit, unconscious, and unintentional. We didn’t stop being prejudiced when the civil rights movement stigmatised racism - we just became more afraid of being labeled a racist. And to deal with our shame and embarrassment, we deflect accusations without ever confronting what they actually mean.”
Nature confounds logic
Nature sometimes seems to confound logic. The forest fires we’re now seeing could have been prevented, or limited, if small-scale fires had been allowed to break out more regularly. These small fires, which are a forest’s own way of keeping its ecosystem in check, burn up the brush and undergrowth on the forest floor, which…
Football as stress relief
Watching England play has always been an excruciating experience for my generation. It’s bum-clenching, temple-pounding, teeth-grinding kind of stuff. I watch games between my fingers, or from behind cushions, as if it were the Blair Witch Project. Apart from the repeated trauma and particular sting of lost penalty shoot-outs, there lingers always a terrible feeling…
It started four years ago, walking the sodden streets of London with a Japanese friend. Forced to wind around an interminable diversion at London Bridge, I moaned to him about the inconvenience of London compared to Tokyo, expecting him to empathise. Instead, he said, “What are you complaining about? A bit of inconvenience is good…
Back in Japan
When I walk around the city I feel like all semblance of nature has been scrubbed away and replaced with a simulacra of reality. Coming back to Tokyo after just six months away after seven years of living here is surreal. Instead of feeling “natsukashii”, recalling all the things I’ve forgotten, it feels weirdly over-familiar,…
Who the hell does Google think you are?
Google promised us a vast, constantly updating directory of human knowledge and exchange. It promised to be our teacher, our personal assistant, our greatest confidante. Stupidly, we thought this was for free.
The Exercise Distraction
Procrastination comes in many guises. Mine happens to wear lycra. When I’m not writing, you’ll find me exercising. Or rather: when I’m trying to write and failing, you’ll find me thinking about doing exercise.