We are Family.

Nicholas Quirke was adapting easily into Beijing life on 18 March 2020 as it had become apparent that he would now have to spend quite some time here. His visa allowed him 90 days each visit and if he was to stick to his plan of staying in China for a year then he he would have till the end May before he needed to leave for another country and then return. At the moment, if he left, even if he travelled to another city he would have to be quarantined for 14 days in a government facility and at his own expense. This did mean his plans to travel around China, to see the Pandas in Chengdu, a river hike in Guilin, Shanghai, Tianjin and Zhangjiaie National Park, Hangzhou’s temples and Pagodas, and many other highlights of this vast beautiful country were going to be put on hold till it became clear what regulations would be as the Coronavirus lessened it’s grip on the country indeed the world. It seemed crazy to return to England, itself succumbing to the panic the pandemic was causing. As long  as he was in Beijing he was safe. Clear of the virus and able move around the City with a certain largesse it made sense to stay put in the accommodation he had the pleasure of being in. The only question for him was how would he would spend his time. During the 2 weeks of quarantine he had been spoiled, he’d had the company of Peng and the alliance they had formed during this time to keep his spirits up, with activities that revolved around his hosts lifestyle. Now, with Peng at work each day he was going to have make his own plans. As a result he was settling into a domestic routine with cooking and housework, realising that a review of how he could make some money was desperately needed. His order of Calcium tablets arrived and he was able to begin the long attempt to rebuild his bone density. After housework he planned to cycle to Joy City Mall to do some clothes shopping before he attended his 2nd treatment at the massage hospital. He needed to make sure that he all the essentials he needed from hand wipes and hand wash, Face mask, Passport, community pass, door key, power pack, translator, AirPods, phone, his travel totems and his metal straws and utensils, everything he might need for a day out in Beijing. It was another warm spring day and being on a bike Gave him such a sense of joy and belonging, navigating the wide streets and Junctions, it really made him feel like he belonged. He stopped off at the Joy City mall which was quite an extraordinary construction. He was headed for the 2nd floor but then accidentally got on escalator that took him up 6 floors. Quite the longest ride he had ever had and as he took a picture of the height he experienced a sharp attack of vertigo. Getting back down was not so easy and he had to search the floors in the warren. When he got to the establishment he wanted, all he had time to do was to buy some socks that weren’t thermal or highly coloured. On arrival he saw a number of familiar faces and said Ni Hao, to all. Due to an error he had made on Monday he had to re-register and paid for another 3 sessions. This meant he saw Dr Lau again who was patient and friendly as they waited for the translator to repeat what he said in Chinese. A nurse found a patient who could speak english which made the process easier. He had a different masseur, a bulky guy who got deep into the tissue causing him much discomfort, however, he knew he would feel the benefit ands endured the pain. Nicholas felt drained by the massage and eager to get home and relax he took the subway home. From the front gate he carried a parcel for Peng all the way back to the apartment only to realise it was 501 for a separate building. This meant walking all the way back to the gate. Detail, a skill he lacked. He put on his new sweat top which he was feeling very pleased with and sat down to enjoy some TV and have a long conversation with Cole in which he learned of the ravages of COVID19 on his sons ability to earn, as several projects were cancelled. Frustrating to learn of the disappointments and unable to be of much help. Of course he realised how deeply his own ability to earn money would be affected if he were at home. They were joined by Harvey and they enjoyed a good Father/sons talk. It made him feel a little homesick and he could have done with a hug from them both but sharing a laugh was enough to sustain him for a while. He had supper with Peng, watched more of The Outsider, started to do some writing but allowed himself to be distracted by his friend and his plans for the next day. By the end of the night he really started to feel the benefit of the massage and looked forward the next session on Monday..


  1. Great to see all three faces there. I know what Cole’s going through. I had a freelancer job wipe-out yesterday (and this, on top of last week: you can imagine my state of mind). And I know what you mean about cycling giving a sense of belonging. Enjoy the warmer weather and your freedom there Nick as we begin the long haul here.

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