17 Jan 2008

Only a day in Tokyo, strolling in the Ginza, Keith was already suggesting ways in which Japan could be made more like the UK and, therefore, improved. He’d figured out why it was that Honda was outstripping Toyota in Japanese car sales.
 
‘The exact same thing happened twenty years ago back home in Bishops Bonking,’ he said (I get confused. I can never remember which one Keith is from: Bishops-Bonking-On-Sea or Bishop-Bonking-In-The-Fields.)

‘Oh really?’ I said. By mistake.

‘What happened was,’ he continued, ‘Bishops Bonking Quality Used Toyotas were getting murdered in the forecourt by the Bishops Bonking Previously Loved Hondas...’

… and so he went on into something typical about Bishops Bonking Quality Used Toyotas adhering to the ‘wrong business model’. As he resolved to send an e business card to the worldwide CEO of Toyota to share his (Keith’s) marketing ideas gained from years of international media experience and thus single handedly turn Toyota’s global financial position around, I clearly remember thinking I hoped his car sales idea was better than the one where he tried to sell reruns of ‘Songs of Praise’ to a TV station in Dubai… Yep.

Hours passed, and I intrigued myself trying to figure out why I didn’t feel as compelled as I usually do to ask Keith what possible relevance the failure of Bishop Bonking Quality Used Toyotas could have to the real thing. Why wasn’t I grinding my teeth?

And then it struck me. The answer lay in the Japanese, ahem… toilet.

As any of you who have ever visited the fine country will realise, the act of intimate ablution is Japan is like nothing on earth. Their toilets come with a NASA style console of buttons which will command the can to do every conceivable thing you can possibly imagine to your naughty bits.

Takes a while to get used to. Its all about personal preference gleaned from experience, but if you're new to this form of self awareness experimentation let me suggest the following settings to get you going:

Horizontal jet: 60 degrees C, pulse, stream 
Front vertical jet:  0 degrees C, throbbing pulse, spray 
Seat: 15 degrees C, slow rumble with irregular surface tremble 
Music: ‘Train’: Allison Goldfrapp 

(Eventually, I figured out that the front vertical jet is better suited to people of a different gender from myself. But I persevered and in the end I got along okay.)
 
Which leads me to my point. Nice Mr. Gormley, is there anyway we could stretch our individual carbon footprints just a little bit to allow us each have a Japanese toilet? I acknowledge the increased water usage could present an initial ideological problem, but it would be offset by reduced vehicular emissions (I guarantee you, if you had one of these things you’d never leave your house. I’m surprised I saw Tokyo at all). ASBOs would be unnecessary. The prison population would be pacified. Illicit drugs would become superfluous. And if global warming is going to kill us all, what a way to go! 

                                  *******

Back in Japan, it’s a couple of days later. Keith and I passed a Toyota sales showroom on the motorway. I waited for a comment. Not a single word. Serene, he was, like a Buddhist monk on a flight out of Borneo.

He, too, had found a toilet setting which worked for him.

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