The man next to me in one of the ferry’s communal dormitories had some kind of sleep disorder, and kept me awake for half the night talking, walking around and even singing. He was so noisy that eventually I gathered up my things and moved to the next room, although he soon sleepwalked in to join me, and come the morning was complaining that his wallet had been stolen, when what he had almost certainly done was to leave it somewhere on his nocturnal wanderings.
After breakfast I got talking to Mr Pure Hemp Spine, who was originally from Osaka but now lived in Tsukuba. He worked for ten months of the year on events and exhibitions as a carpenter, he said, and spent the remaining two months on holiday, this being his twentieth time in Hokkaido. Even though it was ten in the morning he was already on the beers, because, as he explained, a friend was coming to pick him up from the ferry terminal and would drive him and his bicycle back to Tsukuba.
‘Had he found any gold, then?’
‘He had but it wasn’t much – not enough to pay for the holiday, anyway.’