Thursday, 6 December 2012

TROUBLE WITH DOUBLES -- 2012 Japan Election Diary: Day 20

Click here to go to Day 1 of the 2012 Japan Election Diary.

I'm flying to Zurich from London Heathrow, my telephone told me this morning.

This was news to me, having no connection to Zurich or any interest in cuckoo clocks at all. But there it was in black and white, an email confirmation of two tickets bought and paid for in my name on a Swiss Air flight.

This had to be a scam or something, I thought. But the email wasn't seeking money. And then a second email arrived with the e-tickets attached, already bought and paid for. In my name. Looks like I was going to Zurich for a long weekend in March.

Odd, I couldn't remember buying the tickets. Was it possible that in a haze of diary writing in the middle of the night (given the the thrills of this election) I'd inadvertently bought myself the tickets? Certainly, I'd knocked back a fair bit of Chile wine to get through the Day 16 entry, and it could well have happened. But Zurich? Why in God's name Zurich?

Everything was in my name, spelt just like it is in my passport. I looked again at the email details. It was sent to my gmail address, but had a dot between my first and last names.
That wasn't my email address.

So, I was receiving someone else's private emails. Someone else who happened to have the same name as me. How on earth did it slip through the ether to my address box? Then I had another thought. If I was receiving this chap's emails, maybe he was receiving mine, the poor man, no matter how well-named. So I did the only sane thing under the circumstances, I wrote an email to myself.
Dear Me,
You don't know me, but I am you. I have received emails addressed to me, but they are for you. I am writing this to you because I have no intention of going to Zurich in March. I wonder if you have any odd emails for me?
All the best,
PS it is entirely possible that you are not me, but are somebody else. However, our passports have the same name, and the evidence is stacking up to the contrary. 

I sent the email and drank my coffee. Then my telephone told me I had an email from myself.

So, that proved it. It was me. All I had to do was wait for my hotel booking to come. Hmmm. Who was the second ticket for? Zurich. Shame it wasn't Rio, I could have contemplated throwing caution to the wind and trying out for a second life. But I wouldn't want to jettison my current life only to end up in a convention of insurance salesmen.

I was out of ideas, so I asked twitter for advice. Apparently it's quite common to have digital dopplegangers. A friend gets regular unsolicited email updates on her digital doppelganger's infant embryo. I didn't have to work till the afternoon, so I decided to take a quick nap and see if couldn't start the day again with fewer outakes from Jose Saramago's The Double.


My snooze was interrupted though by loudspeakers on trucks. First there was an indeterminable woman's voice, I couldn't catch the name of the candidate. Then as I drifted off, a man's voice shouted a slogan, which I didn't catch. I closed my eyes and thought of Swatch watches and Toblerones. Then a truck pulled up outside my bedroom playing children's music loud enough to rattle the windows. It was a paraffin delivery truck.

I gave up trying to start the day again.


It's 10:30pm and the cover life is done. The brush with the campaign sound trucks was just a memory and now I'm ready to tackle the day's election news. That means I just did what anyone with a vague interest in the 2012 Japan Election would do, and that is type in "2012 Japan Election" into Google and check the most recent story. That happened to be a Daily Yomiuri story from 18 hours previously, which I normally would steer clear of on matters of principle, taste and bad memories of being bamboozled by their graphics. You have not been bamboozled until you have tried to follow one of their flowcharts. The Yomiuri is the only newspaper group I'm aware of that uses explanatory graphics to explain their explanatory graphics. But this Yomiuri story featured a sexy headline:

'Assassins' add edge to election

If only they were assassins. Actually, they are rival candidates who have a reasonable chance of defeating a prominent incumbent. Not exactly an assassin. But beneath the paper's surprisingly legible, if dull graphic, was a reasonable race to watch.

The Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda (remember?), who has a bit on his plate nationally, has to fight against not only a former LDP winner of his constituency, Mikio Fujita, but also his own former party member Yukiko Miyake who jumped ship and joined the Lady of the Lake's Japan Future Party. Squeezed doubly from the right and left, there's every chance Noda will lose, or as the Yomiuri would have it, be assassinated.
This blog series
 is now a great
 book. Honest.
Cleaned up and
 all presentable,
Guts Pose: Diary of a
 Japanese election
 gone bad
features a previously
unpublished afterword
 by me and foreword
by Michael Cucek.
You can buy it here.

Go to DAY 21

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