Rainy Days and Mondays

Nicholas Quirke was not one to give up easily and on 6 July 2020 he did not let the torrential rain battering the sidewalk put him off from going out. He had umbrella and light rain mac and after his breakfast of bananas and apples, delivered to him at 7.30 he made his first destination the propaganda poster museum. He took the subway as cycling would be too brave. Thankfully it was a good and smart move as he reached the exit a torment of such force started that he and the other commuters had to stay put. Some braved it with umbrellas but the wind too was fierce and he kept sheltered and dry. For 20 minutes they were trapped till there was a momentary lull and a break was made as he turned the corner he espied a Starbucks and hurried for tea and shelter while the storm found its renewed vigour. It actually took about an hour in total before he could set off again on his mission. When he arrived at the Plaza where the museum was located he was disappointed to discover he had lost the Montbel cover to Pengs umbrella. He had to ask a guard where the gallery was and he was pleased with himself when he recognised that the guard said 17, though actually it turned out to be on the 9th floor. The range of work in the gallery was astonishing, covering the Lady posters from the 1920s and how they and New xx year art work influenced the artists engaged to n designing the propaganda posters. He was the only customer and CNNif course the only laowai. An elderly gentlemen shuffled out from an office and Nicholas asked him if he was Yang Pieming and it was his collection. It was indeed and the result of his boldness was he got a personalised tour with some amazing insights into the posters and in particular the Big Character posters from the Cultural Revolution, a war of words, which, Yang emphasised, immediately became art. He was proud too that there are no books, other than his which feature the Big Character propaganda and is a culturally significant step in the development of Chinese contemporary art. Here was someone who had lived through Mao and Nicholas wished he had time with him to really talk about what life was like living through the philosophical and brutal revolution. The Jing’an Temple was his next stop Which was an extraordinary ancient building that had been completely absorbed into the fabric of contemporary society a seemingly exclusive shopping mall. Typically the gates to the inner temple were shut so he had to make do with photographs from its perimeter, browse the stores and take sanctuary from the rain to enjoy a cup of green tea, which he was horrified to discover before he drank, had a cream cheese topping! The precipitation was relentless as he arrived at Tianzifang, a collection of old style Shanghai homes that had become a Camden Lock style market. In the midst of this he had been able to locate with the help of Peng an authentic Shanghai bistro that served a locally famous dish of tofu soup. He got engaged in a chat with the elderly female owner about her daughter and an American Lover who had seemingly ditched her once he got back to England. He was completely over fed by them in the end and by the time he left the day long downpour had finished and he was able to enjoy the areas before travelling to finish his day at the Bund to enjoy the night view of one of the worlds most famous sights. The banks of the Huangpu river were teeming with life and visitors to see the splendour of the illuminated colonial buildings and the neon skyline home to the Shanghai Tower. It was a balmy and beautiful night to take a long walk along the bank the bund was situated close to his hotel and it wasn’t long before he had headed home and tucked himself into bed.

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