Nicholas Quirke was celebrating some birthdays from afar on 26 October 2020. His son Cole was to enjoy his 25th, one of his oldest friends Dee who was significantly 60, an age he was about to reach himself and comrade Kiera. He had sent some cards but a more immediate way of marking these events was by making a video of him singing the Birthday song in Chinese. His editing tool was supposed to be able to do blue screen and he had wanted to add a suitable background to his warbling. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to work so instead he added filters and music to make an unholy, unique mess. The process though took him a long time and he realised that when he had finished he had spent more hours on the one task than he had on the activities he had populated the previous day, 25 October 2020 with. He’d risen early to get to his class and walked to the subway through the neighbouring Hutong, where he was particularly interested in the many modes of transport on offer and received many an incomprehensible look. The residents were clearly unused to seeing a laowai at that time of the morning. He really enjoyed the class, though there were only 3 students as Oscar had a bad eye and couldn’t come. When he said “poor Oscar” they were outraged and he had to explain that ‘poor’ didn’t just mean financial poverty but an expression of empathy when someone is ‘poorly’. He was meeting Peng for lunch at a nearby Indian restaurant and once he had finished the lesson, he cycled to the location. The lunch was delicious but again very spicy and he hoped that it would not play havoc with his insides as the last meal had. Peng had spent the morning at his parents, and Nicholas was embarrassed to find out that they had a camera in their apartment and when he had gone with Peng during their absence had seen him not only empty their draw of the Goji berry snacks but also film and photograph their apartment. They clearly thought he was a nutter but kindly sent Peng home with a tin of Berries and snacks for him. They walked through Ritan park which had previously visited in the spring, though he was disappointed to see that the sacrificial alter was still closed to the public. The rest of the day had been spent watching films including the sequel to Borat which, was utterly tasteless and genuinely hilarious. They also watched the brilliantly conceived but somehow poorly executed Norwegian horror ‘Cadarver’ Once he had made the films on Monday he set off to the Apple store in Xidan to collect the iPad that Peng was having fixed he was able to capture more of the floral displays that Xidan had put in place to celebrate the national holiday. He was not out long though on his way back he managed to get himself into trouble by filming and photographing some fire engines that were on display outside the fire station. This seemed an unusual thing to prohibit the photographing off but he sucked it up and moved on, though he already had the footage he wanted. Back at home he called Cole on FaceTime. They had a great conversation and to his delight he was also able to talk with Harvey and Grace who had travelled to Brighton to spend Coles Birthday with him. The evening was rounded off with the Canadian horror, ‘Broil’ which was intriguing but more disappointing fare to send him to sleep.


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