Nick and Jacky: Funniest thing seen in Japan

By on May 31, 2012
TF talks to parents Nic and Jacky about family life in Japan.

What brought you here?

Jacky’s work.  She’s an M&A lawyer for Hogan Lovells and speaks Japanese. Hogan Lovells were keen to move her to Tokyo from London to help build the M&A practice.  Lehman Brothers had recently made me redundant and I was sitting on the couch at home wondering how I was going to find work when the call came from Jacky’s office.  In the words of the UK Tax office on my exit form, I am officially a “trailing spouse”, you can imagine how many times that has been wheeled-out at parties.But I’m getting used to it.  Japan is the second time I’ve trailed my spouse.  Shortly after we were married, we moved to New York with Jacky’s work and again I had to resign from my UK employer.  That move was a lot less stressful – no kids and a new life with a new wife in a new city.  I’d always wanted to write so I took some time out to write a novel –  “The Sheriff of Nowhere”.  It was a subject close to my heart at the time.  It is everything your parents would have told you about becoming a parent if they hadn’t split up when you were only 8 years old.  It includes priceless information on why breast pumps come with a car adapter, why you should always have a tub of soft scoop vanilla handy when trying for children and how to cure a Wheaton Terrier of constipation.  The research was hilarious, but I now have two beautiful daughters, so I clearly learnt something.   “The Sheriff of Nowhere” is available on Amazon and I’m promoting it in Tokyo. I hope some of your readers will take a look.

Who had to convince whom to establish your career in Japan?

Jacky: Nic was made redundant on his first day back after paternity leave with our second daughter, and it looked as if the London financial system was about to fall off the edge of a cliff, so there was very little convincing to do.  It was either move to Japan or he would have to brush up his bar tending skills at the local Working Men’s Club.

What is the funniest thing you have seen in Japan?

Jacky: He had no idea that the mama-chariot bikes are electric powered.  His first experience of being overtaken by a waif-like Japanese mother with a child front and back as he cycled up the hill from Nakameguro to Daikanyama was quite something.

We are also big fans of the wavey-wand men who crowd round the road works watching the others work.  It’s the equivalent of the English builder leaning on his shovel and drinking tea whilst his mate digs the hole.

What is their most annoying habit picked up in Japan?

Nic: Nothing we can put down in print and stay married!  But we do get competitive about the girl’s Bento Boxes for school. They are a lot more fun than the mandatory wagon wheel and cheese sandwich in the UK.

What is the biggest change in your life since being here?

Jacky: As we have no family here and both of us work we needed to find a nanny for the girls.  That was a massive challenge.  All of a sudden we had to rely on someone who we barely knew to care for our children, but she has now been with us for over 3 years and is part of the family.

Who calls the shots? And be honest!

Nic: Our 5-year-old daughter.  Unless we are in Magumbo’s, when Jacky calls them.

What is the perfect family day in your household?

Jacky: We have a garden at home, so after a week at work, a day spent in the garden pulling out weeds whilst the girls chase dango mushi is very therapeutic.

What is the biggest family nightmare?

Jacky: Being apart from the girls if another earthquake hits is a major concern.   We must be one of the most prepared families in Tokyo; we have all sorts of supplies tucked away.

Homesick blues. What is the cure?

Jacky: Dowloading podcasts from the BBC for Nic…
Nic: …and local newspapers from Jacky’s home-town in New Zealand sent over by her mother.
Jacky: And drinking New Zealand wine when it all gets too much.

A word on the in-laws…

Jacky: Like human olives.  Very much an acquired taste.  And very nervous about their only grandchildren being here.

Who takes the role of good cop, bad cop with the kids?

Nic: We tend not to have a bad cop routine, but with a lawyer for a mother, the kids have learnt the art of negotiation at an early age.  Only problem is they haven’t learnt the art of compromise… but then with a lawyer for a mother…

Who takes the rubbish out?

Jacky: Nic does.  Rubbish is an art form here in Japan and it took him the best part of 6 months to fully understand the different recycling days.

Nic: There is nothing so humiliating as being berated by the local recycling men at 8am on a Monday morning whilst still in your dressing gown because you’ve left the tin screw top on the glass jam-jar.

What was the most romantic thing he/ she has done for you over here?

Jacky: It’s the little things.  He sends me texts when I’m working too hard.  I’ll be at my desk or sitting with a client at 2am, feeling exhausted and wondering why I bother when all of a sudden my phone will light up and a text will be there telling me that I am wonderful, that my children love me and that he is proud of what I am doing for our family.  He has a knack of knowing just when I need to hear that kind of thing.

What do you appreciate most about your partner?

Nic: Jacky could write the book on being a super mum.  She makes time to take the girls to school every day, works 60 hours a week, bakes cakes at the weekend and manages the running of the house.  She’s one of these people who has an incredible capacity to get things done.

What is your favourite family quote?

Nic: “Team SD”.  It’s who we are.

What is family to you both?

Nic: Popcorn and movies on a Friday night at home on the sofa with the girls.
Jacky: Nic has watched more Barbie movies than any man should.  His life is pink. And I love it!

Nic and Jacky Scanlan-Dyas live in Naka-meguro where they are raising two daughters Savanna, 5, and Danielle, 4.

About Nic
Nic authored a book under his pseudonym, Henry G. Radcliff to protect the innocent.  The book entitled “Sheriff of Nowhere” is a story of one man’s pre-conception preconceptions.  The back cover reads “ Henry Radcliff is suffering from not one but two mid-life crises.  He is within weeping distance of his 40th birthday and is suffering from a chronic bout of PPS.  The symptoms of Pre-Parental Syndrome (pater timidus), or PPS as it is more commonly known, are simple:  the sufferer is utterly and overwhelmingly terrified at the thought of becoming a parent.  They feel wholly inadequate – both twenty years too old and twenty years too young to be a dad”.  The love child of Nick Hornby and Bridget Jones,  the debut novel written like a diary, is an account of a man’s  journey from dating to dad-in-waiting.

Available at in Paperback US$11.65  Kindle Edition

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