In this conversation, I’m talking to my friend Wes, who like me is from Essex. Apart from being able to hear Essex accent this episode is good for anyone who wants to hear a conversation between friends and the kinds of things that friends say to each other and talk about when they haven’t seen each other for a while.
Vocabulary and phrases
tenuous – (adjective) very weak or slight
E.g. That conversation was only tenuously related to the previous topic.
mixed bag – a colloquial expression – some good things, some bad.
inscrutable face – a face that shows no expression
Regency times – A period from from 1795 – 1837 in the UK according to Wikipedia although there are some controversies about this.
constantly wittering away – constantly talking about nothing.
vaporizers – a type of electronic cigarette now popular in the UK.
vapes – the shortened version of vaporizer.
ruffians – bad looking dudes/ dudettes
dunno – don’t know (contraction)
faux pas! – mistake (a French expression) that is used in English
nazi – Slang for strict.
This is used a lot with grammar e.g. Mark is a total grammar Nazi.
social restraints – social rules
a libertine – a person, who freely indulges in sensual pleasures without regard to moral principles.
Black Country – an area of the UK, part of the West Midlands, West of Birmingham
I do have love for _noun_– a strong expression often used to pay tribute to an area or thing
e.g. I do have love for Manchester.
I do have love for Jazz music.
_noun_is always in my heart. – Another common phrase used to express fondness for something.
E.g. Akita is always in my heart.
The memories of summer will always be in my heart.
Mark: ‘cos you guys in Harlow don’t do traffic lights.
Wes: Aha, I think there’s too many roundabouts as well, but it’s definitely real Essex, you know you’re not real, you’re not Essex unless you living in the shadow of London,
Mark: We had that conversation before about real and wheel. Do you remember that?
Wes: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, your double “ll” sounds?
Mark: Will? Haha.
Wes: Will, will real.
Mark: Mmm, mmm, anyway, you’re kind of another escapee, can I call you that?
Wes: Er, yeah, you can call me escapee, you know, spiritually you know I’ll always remain faithful to the, the homelands, but yeah I can get down with escapee, that’s fine by me.
Mark: Ex- ex- Manchester, hmm, how can we call that? Ex manc, ex- ex- Manc -Essex expat now living in Worcester, does that…that doesn’t make sense does it?
Wes: Hahaha, tenuous, but I like it. How are you finding life over in Japan?
Mark: A mixed, a mixed bag like it’s very good in terms of eating food, and er learning about quiet, being quiet.
Wes: Being quiet?
Mark: Yeah, they don’t do like small talk, er people round here, and er, you know like that, kind of er…the inscrutable face? Like you don’t know what people are thinking…
Wes: Ah right, they’ve got the poker face?
Mark: Yeah, like people are really good at that here, like, no expression, and I’m like what are you thinking? is it something really deep? And like someone told me, a Japanese guy, like it’s not deep, it’s just, they’re not, they’re not having to fill the space, the void, with sounds, with words, you know, they’re kind of at peace almost, it seems.
Wes: I think, I think, I think of British erm as, particular I say British but I [mean]… perhaps more the English, I always gonna think that the English people are, feel terribly uncomfortable with any kind of silence in a conversation I heard once like in, in Regency times if a person [was] sat next to you when you’re having your dinner, erm,
Wes: Whatever they ate in Regency times, unless they were constantly wittering away about nothing and…
Wes: And everything then it was considered really bad manners,
Mark: Oh right.
Wes: And, I don’t know, yeah maybe that sense still, kind of, carries over, you know, the Japanese people like the strong and silent, the, the strong silent type whereas you know…
Mark: Yeah, yeah I think, that’s the case, and so that means they’re really down with smoking, like, it’s still really cool here, apparently.
Wes: Is it?
Mark: Yeah, yeah like real cigarettes not the…
Wes: Not the vapes?
Mark: Yeah not, not into vaporiz[ers], the vapes yet.
Wes: Are you still smoking?
Mark: No, I gave up, didn’t I? Still, since Brighton, so it’s like seven years ago.
Wes: So still haven’t touched a cigarette since?
Mark: Yeah, I haven’t been there, though I’ve been around [smokers], passive smoking like around, I’ve been back to the UK to work, er, and you know people are still smoking, hehe.
Wes: Passive smoking is the best type of smoking if you ask me.
Mark: How you doing with it?
Mark: How you doing with it?
Wes: Er, oh, er 3 and a ½ years, I think.
Mark: Ah wow, you gave it up as well, amazing.
Wes: Yeah, yeah, I ha-, I miss it so much, and you know, you say no, I think like you can you can give up smoking but you never really truly quit smoking, I think you just have like long periods where you just don’t do it.
Wes: But like, I think, immediate, immediately after I kind of gave up you know the Arndale Centre in Manchester?
There was always that one really, really, like slightly rough kind of exit that went on to [the] Northern Quarter?
Mark: Oh right yeah.
Wes: I was like deliberately walking out that walk because it was where, like all the other, kind of, like ruffians were standing smoking their cigarettes, and you kind of walked out to this beautiful plume of nicotine-laced smoke, it was beautiful.
Erm but I’m past those days, the hard days are behind me now. You know I just look longingly, jealously at smokers.
Wes: Erm, so what’s the downside then of Ja-Japa-Japan? You know use if it is kind of a mixed bag?
Mark: Oh it’s probably the chatting thing, like find it a bit er, it’s hard to get to know people, because like you don’t talk to strangers, you don’t do small talk, so like if you go out to a bar, hmm, well, if you go you can sort of talk to people, but it’s really hard, I think, but um, I want to chat more than is kind of socially acceptable.
Wes: Oh really?
Mark: Yeah, and then at the local supermarket we go to, er I go to, to do, one of the old ladies on the cashier[s desk], she like she’s talked to me twice in like three years but that’s more than any of the others, and like it’s made me really happy, like,
first time like I bought some like Japanese alcohol and like some really weird crisps, and she started laughing, like, like you can’t eat this and drink this like, so that’s really weird, I was like, wow, like warmth, you know, like interaction! I was like yeah, but don’t laugh at me!
Wes: It took three years, but you broke her down.
Mark: Yeah that was, that was like two-three years ago, and then like last week she started chatting away to me, I was like, wow, cool I’ve got to always come to your till, ‘cos like you’re the best one.
Wes: What about the next time though? Like if she’s leaving three-year intervals between the conversation, so what happens the next time you go and see her? If she doesn’t kind of like chat nicely too you? Do you just have to wait like another three years? Till you kind of like have that meaningful conversation with her again?
Mark: Maybe but, you know, it’s like er, did you ever play that computer game, Zelda?
Mark: It’s like, well I was rubbish at that, it’s like, you walk around this landscape and you don’t know what to do, and it felt like, that like, go and talk to the old lady in the inn, she’ll tell you something really important, but you know you’ve got to actually, do it first and like go through all this kind of silen[ce]. Erm,
Wes: I think in Zelda I just ended up randomly digging in just random patches, ‘cos, I yeah, I know you mean, like, it, it feels like you’re even though it was a computer game you felt like you were imposing on these people, by just like blabbing away to them, but you’re quite happy just digging up turnips or, you know staring at oaks or whatever.
Mark: You know, it’s an important thing , it’s important, like the, er daikon, like the radish around here it’s like, like that (makes a wide sign with hands) big, man, it’s really important you’ve got to dig it up well.
Wes: Do they?
Mark: Hahaha, yeah at the supermarket all the vegetables are immaculately clean and very nice, so that’s, that’s a good thing.
Wes: You should try and provoke this lady into conversation…
Mark: Yeah I heard that.
Wes: The next time I make some weird kind of combination of stuff so like you know get some sake, and like I dunno cheese and onion crisps again and see what she, kind of, makes of it.
Mark: Haha… er no, disgusting! What are you doing?! Yeah.
Mark: Yeah, but that’s… I was then, I was talking about [it] a teacher cos I’ve been thinking about that for a bit like, and he’s like, “yeah, yeah, we don’t talk much”, I was like, “Is there something deep you’re thinking about? Like you’re thinking about like Nirvana? Or like some Buddhist [stuff]? Or you know something really like how to perfect something?”, He was like “no”.
I was like, “Wow, that’s so deep, like, I can’t, I can’t [thinkl like that”, I needed to fill the air, and then I felt like “I’m talking too much, aren’t I?”
Wes: Is that through all of Japan though? Or is it like, you know in the islands, like? And the mainland? Would it be kind of the same in Tokyo, really?
Mark: I think it’s same in Tokyo, where we live, Akita, it’s very known for that, but then in the place called Osaka they’re known to be like chatty, like they chat on the train, and stuff.
Wes: Chat on the train? That’s a total faux pas! In every country, if you ask me.
Mark: You know I don’t actually like it too much, like you know, like on the bus or [train]… and you hear everything about somebody’s life, you know when they’re talking on the phone, and it’s like, [for me] God, I don’t need to know what you had for dinner or what your [problems are]…, you know I don’t need to know that,
So, but like hushed talking, I’m okay with, with like hushed voices,
Wes: Ok, ok.
Mark: I’m a bit of a Nazi, aren’t I? Hahaha.
Wes: Ha, well I didn’t want to be the one to say it!
Mark: Yeah, I don’t know, I don’t know.
Wes: I like the idea of that though, you know, cutting out on all the small talk, you know, I think I’d be a lot more productive if I didn’t have to kind of do as much as small talk, you know, I feel it slows me down sometimes I’d be walking along old people be chatting at me, my instinct would just be to like look at them with disgust and walk off quickly.
Mark: Get out of my way!
Wes: Yeah, yeah, exactly these social restraints though they make me want to chat to them. You know, difficult times, I reckon, your productivity would increase like three fold.
Mark: How’s, how’s the…how’s the chat in Worcester?
Wes: Erm, it’s okay, it’s all right, like, I don’t, I think sometimes they’re kind of like I think people are a little tiny bit narrow-minded, you know, with no disrespect to the, the beloved Worcestonian people out there, erm, and like me and Leisha are obviously, we’re not married, which [we] never ever even really thought about, but like in Worcester, pshshsshshshshe you know children, unmarried, living together?
I think, it feels so much more traditional, and people are a bit like that you talk to them really, like erm, you know, they talk about farm-ery type stuff.
Wes: Quite, quite conservative,
Mark: Oh right.
Wes: Yeah, and it’s just, I suppose, it’s just, just middle England, the thing that I noticed most though, about like people here and how different they are, is their park… their driving attitudes, you know,
Wes: They, they don’t care where they’re parking, you know, they’d be like right on the very corner of a really busy road they’re just parking there diagonally because it’s their right to park wherever the hell they want, they paid their road tax, they own it.
Wes: Yeah, yeah, and it’s, it’s that kind of like, that like, arrogance of, you know like, this is my land, this is my property, you know, and, and you kind of get that a little bit, when you talk to them, as well.
Mark: Are they doing it with tractors? Or is it just cars?
Wes: Er, there are some, yeah you do get tractor-y people, like, I don’t, I don’t, really associate so much with the farmers,
Wes: Not because I’ve got anything against farmers, you know I’m all pro-farmer.
Mark: Are we-we talking about the Black Country?
Wes: No, Black Country’s a little bit further north, like, that’s, that’s kind of you know, more like Birmingham, like Worcester’s, Worcester’s kind of, it’s kind of in between really, not southwest, it’s not with the West Midlands, it’s not Wales, it’s just its own unique little place, very beautiful though.
Wes: Yeah we’ve got like the Malvern Hills are around here, which are like these they’re just nice stretch of, kind of like, hills which are so pretty, erm, apparently Lord of the Rings was based on them, when JR Tolkien was writing them, erm and really, really nice, it’s actually like, and I never considered the Midlands to be beautiful, and maybe, I still don’t but it’s a little bit less ugly than I thought it was.
Mark: Haha, is the air fresher than Manchester?
Wes: Yeah, yeah definitely, though I do have love for Manchester.
Wes: Yeah, always in my heart.
Mark: Yeah, well that’s a big move, you’ve both moved.
Wes: Yeah man.
Intro music: Happy by Setuniman, see his work on Pond5.com. Royalty-free licence.
Outro music: Accordion Improvisation song by Tristan Lohengrin. CC attribution licence.
Image by By David Martyn Hunt (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons
Episode 8: A DJ’s life, and how pub and club culture in London is changing
- Wes is an Essex boy. ↑
- Manc is short for Manchester ↑
- This is meant in a slang way. ↑
- This is Wes being sarcastic, he’s always nice to old people I believe. ↑
- Same as above. ↑
- This is meant as a joke. ↑