Nine Months

Nicholas Quirke was amazed by the date on the calendar of 1 November 2020 which, marked 9 months of living in China, exactly the gestation period from conception to birth of a human life. When he had set out on his journey on 12 January 2020 he had no idea where the adventure would lead him. Other than seeing and experiencing China his expectations were woefully inadequate. It was definitely a day to reflect and he was given that opportunity once he had finished his early Sunday morning lesson with his four charges who proved to be a lively group that day. As they discussed ‘I live’. On his journey home he spoke with Kim in Australia who as always probed, questioned and provoked him into deeper thought than the day to day motion of getting through life afforded. When she asked how he felt about living in China though, his instinctive answer was unquestionably positive. He loved it here and there was very little that wasn’t appealing to him. He loved that he could travel around the city so easily, that a subway journey rarely cost more than 4 yuan (45p), and that he could cycle a bike anywhere and as often as he liked for approximately a penny a day. He loved the sights and sounds, from the colourful temples and relics that littered the ancient city, to its parks and its flora, its streets and the Hutongs where the detritus of the inhabitants lives was on show and he loved its people who stared at him and said hello to him, who danced, sang and played music and exercised in the streets and parks, who squatted on the kerb sides to smoke and chat, that rode around on motorbikes with children without helmets, on the sides of flatbed trucks with flagrant disregard for health and safety,. He loved being in a place where he could ‘Nishing’, that there was even a word for going the wrong way down a one way street; it was a refreshing, invigorating change. He had had nine months of experiencing life in China, had travelled and seen incredible sights and pushed himself beyond what he thought he could physically endure. He wholeheartedly embraced what felt like new life, a rebirth. Back at home and in the mood for celebrating his anniversary he was lured into a game of the classic monopoly that after the irritation of the ‘Game of Thrones’ monopoly proved to be a surprising delight. Here he had the opportunity to own Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanging, Tianjin, Chengdu, Chongching and many of the cities he had travelled to and it was not a surprise then that in his mood of conquistador he triumphed. The new version though came with a new chance card where the banks stock of 100 notes was thrown in the air and whatever is caught was kept by the players, the outcome of the ‘Chance’ was pitiful with not a note being caught leaving them breathless with hilarity at their ineptitude. Before he went to bed he received a message from the school asking if he could teach a child the next evening which, as he had missed out on Fridays class, he agreed to. The 2nd of November then became a day of staying indoors and preparing for the class, making a tofu dish and a beetroot soup. He had left early to have a tea and to do some work but there was nowhere local where he could sit so he went to the school only to find that they could not teach there and he had a 10 minute walk to another location where he met his new pupil, the lovely 6 year old Jean who for 2 hours sat and focused and worked. It was late by the time he got back home but still found time to enjoy a movie before sleep time.


  1. Do you think you will ever want to come back to the UK Nick? I envy you, especially at the moment as we enter a second lockdown here. So happy that you are happy though, and I love your videos. They uplift me! xx

  2. Sounds like you’re very settled and happy. Great to see you so happy and enjoying life in your new home. x

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