3.08.2005

Why can't it be spring all year? (Rotation of the Earth).

It's a joy to stand on the Okozakimae Nankai platform these lately balmy days.

Some sparrows were busy having dust baths. I watched them, chuckling away at their rapid head jerks. There was an old woman on the platform too. She was talking to herself. I was chuckling, she was talking. Must have looked like a Tourette's institute outing.
Those sparrows though, they seemed very gleeful. Tweeting away they were. That's why I imagined them gleeful. They may have been yelling 'Bastard! Bastard!' and it might well have been a sparrow Tourette's institute outing, but what I heard was 'tweet tweet' and an occasional 'chirp chirp'.
They were making this sound because they are sparrows and because I am English. So birds tweet, frogs ribbit, and dogs stink. Ask a Japanese schoolkid what a dog sounds like and they'll reply 'Wan Wan'. A frog? 'Gerro Gerro'. I have English phonics in my head. Japanese schoolkids have Japanese phonics in their heads. And Print Club.

So I tried to listen to the sparrows as if I were a Japanese schoolkid. I found it difficult to pay attention. This was a sure sign that I was achieving a measure of success in becoming a Japanese schoolkid. Eventually, after imaginary murmured consultation with the guy who sits next to me, the guy who sits in front and my best friend two rows over, my new mind decided that I heard the sparrows going ちるちる. Which is 'Chiru Chiru'.

Boarding the train I was feeling smug. I'd listened in Japanese. Oh yeah. Until sometime between Okazakimae and Nichizengu, watching the woman who rotates the advertisements hanging from the carriage roof, it dawned on me that if you add another 'r' along with a 'p' 'chiru' could well be 'chirrup'. English.
And later still, as I unlocked my bike for the final leg of the journey home, I found myself humming a song from 'Mary Poppins'. Professional Cockney Dick Van Dyke had coined 'chiru' some time ago, I realised. Usually as a suffix to 'chim chimeny, chim chimeny, chim chim'.

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