Everything went well, there were seven other judges (mainly lecturers at prestigious universities, I was the only “commoner” in the bunch) and I liked them all on sight. However, I was disturbed by the vibes that I picked up from two of the judges who were assigned to work together in the preliminaries. He was a slightly snotty Englishman, and she was, um, a typical American. Oh, they were friendly enough to the rest of us, but behaved in a distinctly cool – and slightly hostile – manner towards each other. I was a bit concerned. As both hailed from the same department of the same university, I quickly concluded that there was some departmental infighting going on there (very common in Japanese universities, and possibly elsewhere in the world). I fervently hoped that it wouldn’t affect the outcome of the speech contest, and luckily it didn’t. Everything went so smoothly in the end that I put it out of my mind completely … until a few days later, when I happened to be walking down the main drag of Osaka.
By a marvellous coincidence, guess who I saw walking hand in hand and looking every inch the lovestruck couple? Yes, it was none other than those two. Before I could look away, one half of the couple caught sight of me, and gave me a naughty wink.
I’m so looking forward to seeing them next November.