I've been hearing about bird flu in Japan since I was a wee lass (and Scottish, it would appear...?) in University. My task was to translate a NHK news piece in to English and give a presentation to the class on it. Of course I couldn't be arsed actually studying or whatever you're supposed to do at University, so I chose a story containing birds so in the case I really had nothing to say, I could just put on a chicken suit and go around the room clucking. I also backed up this cunning plan by using my upper-middle class status and paid a Japanese student to "help" me, as in I mean she just did it for me and I gave her some cash so she could support her imported Japanese rice habit or whatever. It was a nice deal actually!
Anyway, bird flu panic has been in and out of the news for a long time now. Anybody going to Miyazaki would steer clear of chicken and it was one of those things that was worrying enough to put a bit of a frown line on my face for 5 seconds, and then be forgotten. So I was quite surprised the other morning as I arrived for my morning run to find a bit of scandal going on at our local pond. I've mentioned the pond before, the whole way around it is 1.6kms, which is perfect for my running tastes, long enough to go around without feeling like a goldfish in a bowl but short enough for me to see the end of the tunnel when I'm really fucked. It also attracts a lot of old people who I don't mind seeing me sweaty and red faced, flummy and boobs bouncing all over the place and all. It also attracts a lot of big arse fish, a few turtles in summer and a sprinkling of ducks and other birds. *scary music here*
As I approached the usually deserted pond, I was met with a back up of vans that had satellite dishes on top of them, and unless the FBI was tracking me, I realised it must be TV broadcast thingies, you know, the ones with the little spinning things and antennas and stuff. And sure enough, scattered around the pond entrance were camera men, reporters and random women working for TV stations (tea bitches no doubt). I was curious as to what all the fuss was about and couldn't possibly imagine what had gone down. Is it a rape? Is it a murder? Is it Superman?/ No. It's a...bird.
OK, so fair enough the bird was dead and found to have bird flu, but still. It's just a bird. Very disappointing.
I would have been totally unaware that the birdy had caused all the commotion if it hadn't been for an old lady who I'm on a 'good morning' basis with coming up to me with the gossip. She's nice enough but I hate the fact that now we are on greeting terms, if I ignore her I'll be banished forever, so I have to scan every old woman's face to make sure it's not that particular woman, she usually wears the same jacket, this is helpful. She's also quite 'touchy feely' too and poked me in the ribs mid-stretch one morning to give me a hearty "OHAYO GOZAIMASU!!!" Scared the shit out of me but she's friendly at least. So pokey lady came rushing up to me and said "Have you heard!? Influenza!! Influenza!!!" Now at this point I had nooooo fucking idea what she was on about, she hadn't mentioned any damn birds, or the TV cameras, so I thought she had the flu at first, I was about to ask her why she was out walking if she had the flu but then I spied a poster stuck to the fence surrounding the pond that said some dead birds had been found infected with bird flu and it all clicked in to place. She then went on her merry way saying she was going to try and get them to interview her so she'd get on the news. And she did, as I jogged past she was excitedly chatting to the news crew who looked a bit like they wished they'd never asked her anything. On my 2nd lap around the pond a news dude was asking lots of people for interviews and started heading in my direction but made a quick dart the other way as soon as he realised my blatant gaijin-ness. Poor bastard was bright red when I giggled and jogged past him.
I'm not too worried about bird flu, but that's probably because I paid someone to do my Uni assignment for me and have no idea of the dire complications... One worrying point is the fact that the pond is a drinking water source, I'm sure chemicals would kill all the nasties that dead duck would bring, but still, nice fresh glass of water with a film of scummy bird flu residue isn't that appealing is it. Good news is that my drinking water comes from another pond, so as far as I know, we're still safe!