The Stink of Fish
Andrew eventually escaped England in 1989, not long after his twenty-fifth birthday.
He never felt he belonged in England. His father was alive but mentally absent and boarding school had been ten years of torture. So when he finished his B.S.C in Management and Japanese at Winchester University he booked a flight and left the very next day. He did not look back. He was glad to escape. England was boring. England was the past.
He travelled to Japan and settled in Tokyo. He loved it there; he loved the noise, the hot and humid summer heat, the neon lights of Harajuku, the constant sense of culture shock, the endless sea of people, the smell of fresh fish at the Tsukiji Market. He never felt so happy. Each day he saw something new, some object exotic to stimulate his senses. Even going to the supermarket for groceries was an adventure. Japan was exciting. Japan was the future.
Then he met Yumiko at a staff party. She worked behind the supermarket deli. She was petite, slim and pretty. She wore dark glasses and floaty floral dresses. Andrew fell in love quickly. He’d never had a girlfriend before. He’d always presumed he was too ugly.
Yumiko was an Anglophile. She loved all things English; English tea, English cakes, even English food. Within a month they were living together. Eight months later they were engaged.
After they were married Yumiko asked Andrew if they could move to England. Her parents were a nightmare she said. Her mother was cold hearted. School had been torture she said. It’s been my life’s dream to live in England she said.
Andrew wanted to say no, but he couldn’t. He wanted to make his wife happy. So they moved to England.
‘Okay’ he said and Yumiko kissed his face till it was sore.
They returned to England and settled back in Winchester. Yumiko got a job in a high street café serving English tea and English cakes.
Andrew got a job as manager at his local Sainsbury’s but always avoided the fish counter with its display of eel and mackerel, tuna and salmon. The stink of it turned his stomach.