I know how a heavy smoker must feel, wracked by spectacular coughing fits. Mind you, to get the kind of cough I’m afflicted by, you’d have to be smoking something stronger than tobacco—maybe crack rocks cut with a generous dose of drain cleaner. I sound like a tuberculous dobermann, and I don’t feel a whole lot better.

I’m really looking forward to my holiday. One week left, and I can catch up on two months of sleep deprivation. When despotic regimes do this to people, it’s called torture. In my case, though, it’s described as being gainfully employed. I already feel like a barely animated corpse, and if I were to work for much longer without a break, you would soon be able to elide the “animated”.

I spotted a poster in the school I visited this afternoon. The caption was in Japanese to the effect of “Barrier free is very important”. Dodgy translation, I know. “Barrier free” is a popular (pseudo?) English expression used in Japanese to mean accessibility; removing barriers for the disabled. Ramps, wheelchair level buttons for elevators, braille captions and tactile paving for the blind; that kind of stuff. Public consciousness about the impact of the urban environment on the disabled has grown recently, and it’s definitely a good thing. It’s one of rather few areas of real social progress in Japan.

I spotted the poster in question in the stairwell of the school. A three-storey building. There is no elevator. I guess there’s some way to go yet.