Nicholas Quirke was unable to do much on the morning of 8 October 2020 as his cold had escalated and aside from enjoying a traditional Xi’an breakfast of Noodles he gave himself up to the malaise that had overcome him and he lounged listlessly on his bed. They had a 6 hour train journey ahead of them to Beijing and he needed to save his resources for what now seemed a test of endurance. They were on a direct subway line to the train station and had decided to take the subway, which by the time they left was heaving again. There was a strange system of boarding the train which was through a gate to the doors rather than just getting on. He was concerned that he might not get on but they managed it but had two stand the whole way. A seat did come free but he did not have the energy to fight for it. He had a slight concern that his temperature was higher and that he might not get on the train but although it was slightly elevated it was not enough to cause concern For once on the High Speed Train back too Beijing he did not have a window seat and as it seemed too much to film and photograph the landscape past his stranger neighbour he relaxed into a state of inertia. He slept, organised some photos, did some work on his blog and the time passed surprisingly quickly. To stop the continual blowing of his nose, he stuffed tissues up his nostrils to block the flowing mucus. When they were finally home there was unpacking and everything thrown into the laundry basket a shower take away supper and sitting down to enjoy the season finale of ‘Raised By Wolves’. He knew as his head touched the pillow that the next couple of days were going to be spent in a stupor of recovery and indeed other than an excursion to Joy City in Xidan where Peng enjoyed a cake at Lady M, 9 October 2020 was spent indoors indulging in the binge watching of TV series ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ and ‘Lovecraft County’ At Xidan he noted there was a huge floral display which had been created for National holiday and had a particularly poignant message. Over the 2 days of downing of tools he also took the opportunity to resume some exercise and on the treadmill and walked for an hour watching ‘Hamilton’. He found it extremely pleasurable to be doing nothing but realised that this was not a sustainable practice. There was work to be done. He was going to have to prepare for another visit to the exit/entry bureau and really had to give some thought about his future. He could not stay indefinitely without a plan and as there was still no word from the school about teaching he was writing that experience off. If he returned home there was the possibility of work with Phileas Fogg and some PA work but with no home in Brighton to return to and no real guaranteed income as COVID19 was escalating in the British Isles again, it didn’t seem a great option. With these thought whirring in his head he resolved that on waking from his sleep he was going to refocus.


  1. I know you’re not crazy about returning yet but – as Peng has clearly house-trained you – you can consider my spare room an option if/when you need to Nick. Px

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