Nicholas Quirke was on a bike and out in the streets at 10am on 4 April 2020 when the air raid siren stooped the traffic and all the people. All the car horns sounded joining in the wailing. China was holding a national mourning day, on Sweeping Tombs Festival, for martyrs and compatriots who died in the fight against and a s result of COVID-19. It was 3 minutes of blaring noise, a lamentation and it was a very moving During the commemoration, national flags flew at half-mast. He had needed a ride after the hearty breakfast of Congee, marinated Tofu, spring rolls and sweet pumpkin Pies and finding himself in a city that stopped was a little exhilarating. He felt uplifted by the thought of a nation united for those 3 minutes as he cycled through Tiananmen Square, where for once there was a plethora of people. As he cycled he felt a sense of unity with several fellow pedallers greeting him as they waited at traffic lights. By the time he got to his destination, APM. Mall for a cup of tea and where he has arranged to meet Peng, he was in an ‘I love the world’ mood. When a local started chatting to him at the doors he readily engaged in conversation, enjoying the sensation of making another friend. The man was an art teacher and they discussed Chinese painting and calligraphy and when he said he was going for a cup of tea his new friend joined him. As the conversation progressed he realised that this teacher, Leo Peng, who painted delicate watercolours on the inside of small bottles, was only talking to him in order to sell him something and not out of interest. He felt duped and trapped even though he was trying to say no. The man became insistent and talked about the family he has to support. He willed his friend to arrive and rescue him once again from the situation he found himself in. It was frustrating that he had failed to identify that he was being scammed and that as a foreigner he was so vulnerable to the ‘interest of strangers’. He was well aware that he was a target, but the subtlety with which he could be played was a little terrifying. By the time Peng arrived he was being persuaded to part with 200 Yuan for something he could buy for 48 Yuan. His friend was very angry that he had been made a fool of, even though he hadn’t bought anything, and he stormed away from the scene with Nicholas following sheepishly but relieved he had a way to escape the fraudsters persistent demands He saw a side to his friend that surprised him and he felt ashamed of his lamentable lack of judgement. They had a strawberry Sorbet to settle the air and then cycled 4 miles to another Mall for Lunch. He was impressed with sculptures and the design of the mall, and equally impressed by the lunch at Avocado Tree. Once home he managed to resolve the technical challenges he had faced and got his delayed blog out. Only now he was behind. He made a smoothie for supper from some leftovers and then they sat and watched a sci-fi movie ’Underwater‘, Alien at the bottom of the ocean which was fun but he fell asleep before the end and thus the day ended.


  1. Beautiful music to a fab video Nick. You are looking very trim and fit! Are you still being advised to wear a mask when out? It’s so interesting to see first hand what is happening in China whilst we are at the beginning of this crisis.
    Stay well Nick and try to be a little less trusting of strangers who pose as friends ! xx

  2. I was expecting a scene to coincide with the Amen ending of The Requiem of you sheepishly leaving the trickster behind with an empty wallet! As the saying goes ‘You can always fool a foreigner’. To quote Mr Theroux again ‘Being mistaken is the essence of the travellers tale’. But hard to be thick-skinned when you want to believe the best in people. The next, or next but ten, encounter could end up making a friend for life.
    Love the look of the congee breakfast with spring rolls. And some far out sculpture / mall art!

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