All By Myself Alone

Nicholas Quirke was feeling ashamed 3 February 2020. In a country where a virus was raging and he was so happy he could dance. It was an inauspicious start to the day waking at 7am, his phone ringing, from a deep long, clearly needed sleep. He was very aware that he hadn’t had a proper meal since he had left Ulan Bator and had eaten supper with Slava and Kesinya and he was determined to make sure that he actually breached the doorway of a restaurant and put something more satisfying and healthy insides him. As he studied His Happy Cow app, he had a message from Peng and they started chatting about where he could eat and he was recommended a Vegan establishment run by Buddhists called Godly. Though he had no worry about sorting out things for himself, Despite the stress it caused, having someone look out for him and help him out was a short cut to success and he was very happy with the assistance Peng was providing and the friendship, even if it were at a safe distance behind a computer screen. He set off and realised, as he felt a sudden chill through his trousers, he had forgotten to put on his thermals. A fact he was glad of as the weather turned into a bright, bright sunshiney day and he for once, was not overheating. The skies were blue, the streets were empty and it felt like a mild English winter day. The Main streets in Beijing are huge and though he thought he had reached the restaurant, the apple map he was following said it was across the junction. Once the other side of the 10 lane road he realised he was correct and should have been the other side. However, . as the area looked interesting He decided to move forward and and explore, as it had worked so well for him in Kiev. He noticed he was passing Government Buildings and intuition told him he might be nearing Tiananman square. When he was last in Beijing Tiananman Square was shut due to a political meeting. There were crowds everywhere and he had seen nothing other than the impressive frontage of the Forbidden City. It had held an allure for him since June 5th 1989 when a sole figure stood in a face off with the tanks that were coming into the square to disperse the protesters of the Pro democracy movement. The Square, named after ‘The Gate of Heavenly Peace’ with the ’Monument to the peoples hero’s’, The Great hall of the People’ as well as the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong and where the founding of the People’s republic was proclaimed in 1949 , is such a famous landmark it was disappointing for him that he had never seen it. When he took a left along a deserted street which seemed to have increased in size, he continued with mounting excitement, both his energy and stamina, despite having been walking for nearly an hour, doubling. . Still there was no one on the streets and as he approached the square he had to pass through a police check, subjected to a temperature check, his passport examined, and he was let through. The sun was blazing , the square, apart from a couple of judiciously placed officers was completely empty, a space that he had barely glimpsed was now completely and utterly his. He could barely imagine how many people in its history had ever experienced the sight as he saw it. He was so happy he wanted to dance. He had it all to himself alone. Nicholas, enjoyed the experience of wandering around this historic landmark, and noted that it was the 2nd Mausoleum to a communist leader he had seen in a matter of weeks. Like many of his generation he had a fear, and awe of the world behind the Iron Curtain and to have penetrated beyond both supreme bastions of oppressive socialism, even in these more enlightened times gave him a thrill almost impossible to describe. after drinking in the sights he turned his attention to the Immense ,historic and magnificent sight of the Forbidden City. In 2018 he had plumbed the depths of the City so he was not too disappointed it was closed, but he did have the opportunity to study and capture the facade of the construction without hundreds swarming around the exterior. He was feeling so smug and delighted with himself and kept reminding himself that this Privilege was at the expense of lives and he tried to mute his self satisfaction. However nothing could take away the glory of his day and the sight he had seen. On his way back to the hotel he stopped at the restaurant He suspected was Godly. On entering he pointed to the Restaurant on his phone To check if it was the right place and the woman sin stead of welcoming him in shooed him out in a very irritated manner and wouldn’t serve him. Another day then without proper food. His soul had been fed, but his body was starting to feel the strain he had been on his feet walking for about 4 hours by the time he got back. Nicholas stopped at the supermarket and bought some bananas, avocado and fruit before taking the opportunity to capture more of dystopian aspects of the Hutong. He would stay in again, make noodles and entertain himself with talking to his sister and finalising the matter of electricity and the tenant. Discussing work options with Dominic who put him in touch with a recruitment specialist, and sent him details of a drama teaching role. He also had a chat with Wei, who confirmed he would be back in Beijing on the 5th, and continued to build a friendship with Peng who was on hand with more advice and help. Nicholas mentioned that he was starting to get worried about getting more masks. he was coming to the end of his surgical masks and was there any possibility of ordering any online. The availability was really stretched and he noted that even the Ex-Pat group were reaching a similar situation, Peng said that he would bring him some rations; masks, handwash, hand gel, Dettol spray. Once again he was overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers. It was with a confident spirit that he took to his bed that night.


  1. What an amazing experience you are having…..but even vegans must eat. Please find some nourishing food, wherever you can. Absolutely loving the Blog….a daily highlight for me.

  2. An extraordinary opportunity. I think the BBC would love access to some of your footage.

  3. Gosh Nick, what a way to see Tianenmen. Truly startling. Good that you already saw the Forbidden Forbidden city. Pleased to hear of avocado & banana too! Hope you get a hot meal soon. Can you buy a carrot & greens to chop up tiny into your noodles if not? I lived on that when I had no kitchen,only a kettle for a month. Anyhow, Delianess over. First corona case arrived in Brighton yesterday, from Singapore. A snuffly, heavy breathing lady next to me on the train, right now, is prompting me to hide behind my scarf! I get why the Chinese are isolating themselves at home…take full advantage while they do. Xxx

  4. It’s so weird to see everywhere so deserted but good for you to be able to see these things peacefully and take it all in. Please eat a proper meal!!! xxx

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