Celebrating Childhood

Nicholas Quirke was informed that 1 June 2020 was international Childhood day. A day to celebrate ones own, ones family and those enjoying the privilege right now and it seemed right, if wrong, to spend some time in a pursuit only children now, without any conscience, can enjoy. He allowed himself to be talked into cycling the 5 miles to the Beijing Zoo, which, aside from the unusual and extravagant stone carved entry gates, boasted a Giant Panda enclosure. The experience of the Zoo, lovely space though it was , and the sound of the children’s glee at seeing the unusual and strange animals was a lovely sound, left him firmly of the belief that removing animals from their natural habitat, caging animals was wrong. Many of the exhibits had been born in the zoo and hadn’t known what it was to live in the wild, but ‘Oh’, he thought, ‘imagine being in a room and a yard for eternity’ The boredom, the monotony of life, enlivened only by the familiar and unfamiliar faces that watch you going about your daily unimaginably tedious routine. No building homes here for these beasts. Being stared at and talked about was something he was starting to understand as numerous families stared and observed the ‘Lao Wei’ in their midst. Nicholas felt like he was one of the animals who had gone rouge and moving amongst the humans in a harmless way. He had to admit there was an element of fun in seeing the Pandas, who like most of the animals had wilted and lay lazily in the sun and their expansive enclosure, created in honour of the 2008 Olympic Games was a beautiful home, and he particularly enjoyed seeing the messages engraved in clay tiles from children around the globe with their pleas for peace and unity; touching reads in world immobilised by a virus, in anger over the brutal and ignorant treatment of blacks in America and where Pride month is needed to bring attention to gender, a world slowly dividing in fear. The highlight of his tour, was his encounter with a randy Lion and his lioness, he was amused to see that none of the onlookers hurried their children away, though he would like to have understood the explanations parents gave to the young innocents. He hadn’t realised how tired he was as he peddled back home, mercifully, once again arriving before the storm and heavy rain began it’s tempest. Though they tried to watch a film it’s wasn’t long before the weight of his eyelids became to much to keep open and he was dragged into sleep.

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