This afternoon, shortly before my teaching at the University was due to begin, I was sat in a nearby cafe, reading my book and trying to stay warm. Suddenly there arose a loud screeching sound, pitched somewhere between that of a tortured parrot and a drowning dog. At first I thought it was someone’s mobile phone, but when the sound continued and the rest of the cafe was plunged into silence I started to have my doubts. After a while a woman, near the source of this sonic assault, picked up her handbag and left the cafe, taking the noise with her. Looking outside the window I was able to piece together what had happened: Incredibly this woman had been keeping a dog in her handbag, and as the handbag was not particularly big, and the dog not particularly small (a terrier), it had obviously rather forcibly objected to being held captive in a canvas coffin whilst its owner enjoyed a latte. I thought about ringing the Japanese equivalent of the RSPCA, if only because I was only a couple of nouns away from being able to use the old Japanese language school staple of: ‘the cat has been placed in the refrigerator, against its will’.
At just over two weeks until our China trip, the play is starting to take shape: we now have a (almost) finished script, a (slightly hazy) plan of action, and an (very very rough) idea of the target audience. Other from the fact that most of the students are on a week long trip aboard next week, and that I still don’t have a visa, I am quietly confident that we are going to wow and inspire the good people of Tsinghua University. At any rate, we now seem nailed on to avoid any (major) political incident.