Perhaps we can


In the past few months I’ve been inundated with requests for private English lessons, some from former students who dropped out years ago and now suddenly want to brush up on their language skills, and others from people who have decided that they or their kids desperately need to learn English.  Curiously I ask them, why the urgency?  Almost all of them reply with one word: Obama.  As I’ve reported before, his speeches are extremely popular here, and his books have become bestsellers.  Now people are wanting to emulate his supposed oratorical skills, or at the very least are keen to learn how to decipher his speeches without resorting to Japanese subtitles.  For some reason, the Obama Effect has led to an English-language boom in Japan, and I am benefitting greatly from it.  (Strangely enough, they never showed any interest in doing so with his predecessor; on the contrary, they actively avoided English then, and my business affairs suffered, but perhaps it was just as well?)  Obama is revered here, and I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve told me enviously “I wish we had a leader like him.”  I’m not really into politics, but I can tell you one thing: America has revived my career, after eight years of apparently trying to kill it.  I owe your President a great debt of gratitude.  I only hope it will last.


10 comments on “Perhaps we can

  1. Karen says:

    Ah, the political honeymoon, usually of short duration. So much is expected of the guy, I don’t see how a mere mortal could live up to the hype. He’s inherited the biggest mess since the Great Depression. And, it took about 13 years and a war to recover from that.

    All my neo-con friends are screeching shrilly and filling my inbox with dire predictions of all the horrible things he’s going to do and how he’s going to ruin the country. Hey, how much worse could he make things than they already are?

  2. Miko says:

    The wave of hype is just incredible here, I may as well ride it for the duration. Recently another teacher told me that he’d started a study group for Obama speeches, I’m thinking of doing the same thing using easy-read versions. Here’s to the honeymoon, long may it last (in Japan, at least).

  3. Petra says:


    Your friends are kind. I’ve already heard that it is Mr. Obamas fault that we are in this mess. If he hadn’t upset the markets by his candidacy for president, none of it would have happen.

    Jesus, send brain from heaven, please!

  4. karen1945 says:

    I’ve decided I don’t like old people – people my own age. All I’m getting from our elderly friends is gloom and doom predictions. “The country is going to hell. There are going to be food riots. Blah. Blah. Blah.” This is exactly what every previous generation of elderly has said. Why is it that getting old takes away optimism and tolerance? Is it fear? I don’t know, but I don’t like it.

  5. Miko says:

    I know a lot of elderly folks like that, but I’m surrounded with some very fine role models, too. My mature students are amazing! They are all active, lively, and openly curious about the world around them. Yesterday one of them mentioned that she’d just celebrated her 42nd wedding anniversary. She plays tennis three times a week, volunteers as an interpreter for the city, teaches English to small children, paints, makes jewellery, collects antique furniture (on her regular trips overseas) and helps raise her grandchildren … and she’s really beautiful. She is quite typical of the 60+ women that I know here. Hanging out with them gives me a lot of hope for my future.

  6. Petra says:

    As an aside: I noticed that elderly Japanese women very often are absolutely beautiful and much younger looking than their real age.

    Any secret there we poor Westerners could adopt?

  7. Karen says:

    Well, I’m glad to hear there are some elderly folks who don’t think the apocalypse is fast approaching. I wish I knew more of them.

  8. Miko says:

    Well, you could always comfort your friends by telling them “Yes, the country’s going to hell in a handbasket but don’t worry, you won’t be around to see it happen!”

    As for the secret to Japanese ladies’ youthfulness: I think it’s partly good genes, partly lifestyle and diet, partly all the make-up they trowel onto their faces, and partly the fact that they don’t think deeply about shit, which is a very important point. Many of them are incredibly child-like in their attitude and outlook (well, as you know Japanese society does not encourage women to be clever), so they tend to take things as they come, and don’t stress about stuff they can’t change, and I think it shows on their faces. Serenity. It’s one of the things I like about them.

  9. Karen says:

    Well, unlike most of the people around us who are our age, I do NOT think the country’s going to hell in a handbasket. We are in a period of change and upheaval. That’s always painful. The oldsters in the 1960s were making the same apocalyptic predictions because of all the hippies. Now, the hippies have gone mainstream, & they’re the ones moaning. It is entirely possible that the US may come out stronger from the chaos.

    Here’s another thought. We have been THE superpower since the middle of the last Century. It’s entirely likely that we won’t always be top dog. Britain and Germany in their days were both top banana, and now are not. Yet both are still great countries and good places to live. Americans are NOT guaranteed top billing in the world.

  10. Miko says:

    You don’t need to hang out with those stuffy old bores, find yourself some new friends, preferably young and good-looking.

    Also, huh? I thought it was just Japan.

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