Matters from Home

Nicholas Quirke was consumed by all matters concerning his flat on 10 September 2020. Not only was there the pressing matter of the tenancy agreement but it seemed that something in his flat had leaked and caused some damage. In the middle of what felt like a mountain of administration, sorting out additional problems added to the headache. He was now so used to life being about his travel and recording his experience that the mundane tasks that actually enabled him to pursue this particular journey really felt like an inconvenience. Added to the mounting anxiety was the thundering sound of drills that continued to resound around the flat from the renovation work that was still being carried out somewhere in Building 3, Changchunyuan, Laoqianggan Street. This led him, after breakfast to make and escape first to the post office, where for the first time on his own, he negotiated the vagaries of the Chinese postal service. He found it was actually quite good fun. Firstly, he had to purchase two envelopes to put his post in, from a representative who showed off his knowledge and went through all countries in the United Kingdom in English and then he had to write out the addresses and his China address, he then had to stick the envelopes down with glue, which he got in a bit of a mess with as he dropped the stick. Finally all this had to be written by another representative who was asking something and Nicholas could only thing to reply ’Yingou’, (England) which apparently was the right thing to say as she wrote it in Chinese. This was further confirmed by an old gentleman, who seemed to delighted to see an Englishman and forced his business card into his hand. It was all done but he hoped that 6 weeks was enough time for the recipients to get the mail. He made his way to InWe for a tea and some sanctuary from the noise and finalise the agreement he had been working on. He cycled back to the apartment for lunch and then both he and Peng fled from the clamour the building work wrought on their ears to the cafe he had visited once before next to the Pagoda of Tianning Temple, Beijing’s oldest, with 13 stories and 8 sides built around 1100 to 1119, during the Liao Dynasty. On the way home they called in at Walmart to try out some snacks for the planned journey at the end of the month. It was another evening of film viewing and their treat for the night was the clever french thriller, ‘Only the Animals’. He had spoken with his sister Kate to enlist her help in resolving the problems with the flat and experienced a moment of home sickness when he learned that she would be attending their brother Michael’s private view of an exhibition in London which he featured a paining done of Nicholas, from a school photograph circa 1973. It seemed that even though he couldn’t be there in person, he was physically represented and there in spirit. He felt his spirit waft westward as he closed his eyes and slumber suffused him.


  1. Brilliant painting Nick. The image it’s self is so of an era. I remember it well. Look at all that hair!

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