With the hundreds of millions of people at the group, we had hundreds and millions of pieces of homework to listen to. At the August session, we each randomly chose different numbers, and the numbers represented various things (a conflict, an object, a character, a location, a trait) that we had to include in our writing.
Conflict = revenge
Object = box of gold
Character = engineer
Location = phone booth
Trait = happy
And here's what I wrote.
Him Next Door
You know how sometimes there are people you really don't like. I mean people you can't stand at all. No matter what they do, you want to punch them in the face. My next door neighbour is one of those people. I don't know how long he's lived in his house, but we moved here about six or seven years ago, and he was already here. It's a nice house, in a cul-de-sac, so everyone knows everyone. And I don't mind the other people. But him, Martin, he's just so happy. All the time. There's no need for it. I'm not miserable or anything, but every time I see him, he's too cheerful. It's not natural. Do you remember that song, the sun has got his hat on, hip hip hooray? He sings that. All the time. I see him and hear him out in the back garden at all times of the day, in all types of weather. If it's sunny, the sun has got his hat on. If it's raining, the rain has got his hat on. And no doubt if a tornado or earthquake hit, they'd have their hats on too, hip hip hooray.
The wife thinks he's harmless, but I've got my suspicions. I mean, who is happy 24 hours a day? Is that even possible? He pops around every now and then with homemade cupcakes and bread and pots of stew, because he makes far too much and doesn't want to waste it. His favourite time for doing this is first thing on a Saturday morning. What happened to the fundamental human right of a Saturday morning lie-in?
I don't think he ever goes out, or has people round. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen him with a woman. I always thought he must be a bit, you know, left handed. It makes sense now. All that baking and gardening and no female company.
The wife invited him round for dinner just after we moved in. Never again. Not only is he stupidly happy, he is unbelievably dull. Oh my goodness is he boring. He's an engineer or a science tech guy or something. I don't know. I pretty much stopped listening to him after he said 'hello'.
The wife thinks I'm obsessed, but you should see him. He's always out in his front garden, measuring the blades of grass with a ruler. And every time he sees me, he waves like a lunatic. I'm surprised his hand doesn't fly off.
So last week, after a little bit of planning, I robbed a bank. Nothing major. Just got my hands on a box of gold bullion. I'd tell you how I did it, but I'd have to kill you. Last night I buried the gold bars in the flower beds in his back garden. I'm now going to call the police from the phone box around the corner so that they can't trace me. They'll come round and arrest him in no time. Let's see him make a happy son about that.
We then had a 10 minute writing exercise. Our task was to attempt a piece of travel writing. I've never thought about doing any travel writing, but once I got into it, I really enjoyed it.
We step out of the underground and the humidity of the morning punches us in the face. I don't think I've ever felt this hot at 10 o'clock in the morning. We hurry as quickly as we can, through the heavy air, into a small supermarket and stand by the fridge to cool down. I buy a bottle of Orange flavoured water; the most popular water in Japan, and I now know why. It's delicious.
Feeling brave, we walk outside. It's still too hot. I walk slowly and take photos of everything. Yes, I look like a tourist, and no, I don't care. It's not that things are different here; it's just that I feel different here. A change is as good as a rest, so they say.
We're lost. I can't read the Japanese signs, and even though Charli can understand a bit of the language, she still doesn't know where we are. Surely a castle can't be that hard to find. We walk. I feel like I'm melting. I put my empty water bottle into my bag and buy another from a vending machine by the side of the road. They have vending machines everywhere here.
Charli tells me that when she was out walking one day, she came across a vending machine in the middle of a field. She had no idea where they plugged it in.
We see a sign with the words 'Osaka Castle' written under some Japanese squiggles. We're not lost anymore! We turn into the most beautiful park I have ever seen. I'm just sad that I'm here at the wrong time of year for the cherry blossoms.
It doesn't matter though. It's stunning nonetheless. We walk over to a map by a river to try and find the entrance to the castle. We know we must be in the right place as everything has English subtitles for us stupid tourists.
A Japanese woman starts talking to us. She loves England and English people and the English language. She looks like she's going to explode with excitement when we engage in conversation with her, and answer all of her millions of questions. The woman opens a Burberry umbrella, tells us to have a good holiday and says 'goodbye' about twenty times. She waves us up the path as we walk through the magnificent gateway into the castle's grounds.
Hoards of school children are walking quietly in line, and are listening to everything their teachers are saying. I know I'm definitely not in England now.
Homework for this month is to write up to 500 words about somewhere in the local area. Best get my thinking cap on.