…from Mike Marklew

Chotto ippai

Literally, “a small cup-shaped object” but as all of us sarariiman types know, the words above are the invitation to a session of some food, much alcohol and lots of conversation after work.

Different countries employ different phrases but the basic idea is the same.

‘Time for a quickee?” in Australia, although loaded with sexual connotation, when said be­tween males, usually means to indulge in a few middies or schooners before returning to the missus.

Venues vary. In Japan, there is the yakitori stand-bar, where you emerge smelling like you’ve bathed in chicken fat, and in central and southern Europe, the street side cafes give you uninter­rupted traffic pollution.

Germany has those cavernous beer halls with gigantic beer steins which don’t change weight, full or empty.

Britain has pubs. Millions of ’em, although as I’ve said before, these days, “Wait waine” and Perrier quaffers are more common than ale im­bibers.

It’s the Americans I pity. Sure, the “play it again Sam” bars exist, but they are blessed with abysmal public transport, and unless you have got a “designated driver” in tow, a few drinks after work may mean you lose your license — or your life.

Japan is definitely the drinkers’ paradise. Not only do we have more eating/drinking joints cheek by jowl to each other than any other land, but we have a train system which caters perfectly to the average Suzuki-san-in-the-street’s desire to be home around midnight.

Add to those things the wonderful mentality of Japanese wives, who will always be happy if you answer her question, “Did you have a nice time?” with the simple word “Yes” (If “No,” you get asked, “Why did you stay out so late then?”)

It’s getting dark as I write, and I suffer with­drawal pains if I don’t have a beer in my hand 30 minutes after sunset.

Thought I might get one of my mates to join me, pick up a carton of cans, and go sit in the mud amongst the marina-like masts of the cranes where Meguro’s Gajoen beer garden used to be — and reminisce of earlier days. “Kampai!