Opportunity Knocks

Nicholas Quirke was surprised by the swiftness with which the wind of change began to blow on the morning of 16 September 2020. He had spent 15 September in a state of suspended animation, when the uncertainty of the previous day led to feelings of inertia, and only food preparation, finalising the tenancy agreement with his new tenants, completing a work assignment and watching two more episodes of ‘Raised by Wolves’, which he was becoming obsessed by, was what remained of the day once he had cancelled all plans. It had been an opportunity for him to reflect on his situation further and when he espied, amongst 154 messages, a call out on his ExPat WeChat group for native English Speakers, he immediately investigated further. A school was looking for a part/time English teacher for 6 – 12 year olds and despite his lack of formal teaching qualifications there was interest and within an hour he had an interview booked for the next day. He believed the logistics of him getting employed were actually too complex for him to get the role as it would mean a change to his existing Visa, he was already too old to be able to teach in China and overcoming these drawbacks for the school might well prove too overwhelming. But as ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained,’ rang in his ears he felt it behoven on him to try and as he set forth on his mission for the day, there was definitely a spring in his step, a glide in his cycling and a tune in his head. That could, of course, be due to the blueness of the sky which actually looked unreal, so cloudless was its vista and deep its hue. He cycled to a tea shop where he did some work, enjoyed a Longjin green tea and had to sadly turn down the free delicious looking Macha cake that came with the serving. He then set off for a nearby Jing-tian-hong, fried cake, shop, where armed with pictures of the cakes he confidently addressed the proprietor with a “Ni Hau” and pointed at the cake and said “Are” as he required 2 of each product. They seemed bewildered and he turned to his translator. The owner kept speaking and asking if he wanted one. He was so confused he had to call his help who after a conversation discovered that they didn’t understand his accent. It also, later transpired that actually although he was using the correct counting word for 2 apparently when ordering, one had to use ‘Ling Gu’ for two. There still seemed to be some confusion and two nurses buying a treat for themselves helped out and the order was made. He would have to wait 10 minutes. The shop owner kindly gave him an extra bun, presumably for the amusement he had provided. Once he was back at the apartment they enjoyed the fried glutinous rice cakes, one with a rose petal and pine nuts filling and the other with rose petal and mung bean. He had a catch up meeting with his sister who had been helping him resolve the home emergency issues that had raised their head over the past week and as soon as they had finished their conversation it was out again and on the road to the barbers. He asked for an undercut, though both hairdresser and Peng said it would look horrible. He was quite happy with outcome and pleased that it was not the horror story they predicted. He was aware that as he generally always wore a hat, any misfortune in the hair department would be hidden from view. Another festival was approaching on the 1st of October and was celebrated with Moon Cake they passed by a store selling vegan cakes and they bought a couple for Nicholas to taste as he had never eaten one before. It was a southern style moon cake with pastry and another rose filling. His verdict was very tasty. The film for the evening was ‘Z’ a disturbing Canadian horror. Feeling positive about the future he was able to relax and sleep well.


  1. I don’t understand how you can keep eating so many cakes and yet continue to loose weight Nick. What’s the secret?

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