Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Black smoke still billows over the hills of Yamato Town today, but even after it clears, the events of Sunday evening will live long in the memory of its 1000 residents. Details of the blaze that razed Muimi Syuugou High School to the ground remained unconfirmed until this morning, and it was thought that the fire was either due to a faulty electrical appliance, or "foreigners!", in the word of three local pensioners this reporter spoke to yesterday.

Now however, a startling confession has emerged from the depths of Tosu gaol, which in part proves the pensioners right. If the confession is to be believed, the fire was started deliberately and with premeditation by Louisa-Ann Sittle, the ALT that worked at the now destroyed High School. The confession, in its entirety, is reprinted below:

"I, Louisa-Ann Sittle of Chuuhai Machi, Kurume, originally of Edinburgh, Scotland, hereby confess to the deliberate starting of the fire that consumed Muimi Syuugou High School on Sunday. Whilst I must admit to not expecting the fire to completely destroy the school, in the wake of learning that no one was injured or killed I am wholly satisfied with the result.

"What are my reasons for doing what I did? Where to start... could it have been the petty bureaucracy that meant I had to stay at my desk for an extra 3 hours a day regardless of finishing all my work? Or perhaps it was the daily meetings in which the same things were said every single day with slightly different wordings that lasted for an hour and made me want to kill myself. Or maybe the fact that despite being fluent in Japanese and holding degrees in management and education, I was passed over for promotion for a simpering imcompetent who can't find his arse with either hand but knows how to say "hai!!" 20 times in a row when on the phone and how to speak like a pouting 5 year old when answering a question he doesn't know the answer to. Or even the fact that the whole school was made of wood, and the first year students were made to polish it day and night, with stick beatings befalling them if they missed a spot. No, in the end it would have to be the memo library, in which every single written memo - be it on lined paper, the back of a receipt or beer mat - had been pointlessly catalogued and filed away for the last 20 years, never to be seen again.

"I don't regret what I did, and I believe wholeheartedly that the world is a better place without Muimi Syuugou. So punish me how you see fit. I really don't care, as anything has to be better than spending the next 25 years in that place. To paraphrase the Beatles, so I lit a fire, isn't it good Japanese wood?

With *warmest* regards,

Louise-Ann Sittle, Tosu Gaol, December 2005"

Ironically, were it not for the fact that Ms Sittle's alien registration card was not in its required plastic wallet - a grave offence in Fukuoka prefecture - she might have escaped incarceration and received no more than a warning and endless paperwork for the much less serious charge of grand arson and endangerment. More news on this as soon as it comes.


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