Nicholas Quirke was becoming obsessed with the temperature and now began each day with asking Siri what the temperature would be. He was alarmed on the morning of 29 November 2020 when the response was minus six degrees. His lesson at nine meant he needed to leave at seven thirty and the thought of going out into sub zero temperatures was not a pleasant one. Peng had a supply of double thickness face masks from Japan and it was now definitely the time to start wearing them to help protect his face. The journey to the school was freezing. He had originally arrived in Beijing on 29th of January, exactly nine months earlier and he could not remember it being this cold, though at that time he had been through Siberia and Mongolia where it had been minus twenty degrees. He had not been looking forward to the lesson as the children had been quite difficult the last time he had seen them and it was a surprise that they were seemingly very engaged by the topic. He had started with a game of Hangman which they loved and maybe they got it out of their system. They were joined for the second half of the class by a new student, Tiger whose parents wanted him to learn with the Englishman. Once the class was over he cycled to ‘The Place’ to try the remainder of the new Qmex vegan menu. He chose a table in the marquee outside which seemed comfortable and warm. When Peng joined him though they ended up moving indoors as ones of the customers, a laowai, was smoking, despite it being a non smoking area. Peng addressed the girl and asked her to put the cigarette out as it was not allowed but her response was “It’s only one” she then claimed it wasn’t bothering anyone. “It’s bothering me!” said Peng and thus a verbal fight broke out with Nicholas saying she was arrogant and that if it was anywhere else other than China she would have been thrown out of the restaurant. ‘Who are you to call me names?’ she said which baffled him till she said he had called her arrogant. “That’s not a name” he said, “It’s a description’. And on that note she went outside to finish her cigarette and they were moved inside. He was deeply offended by the lack of respect for other people and the country she was in that she displayed and it took him a while to calm down. The lunch, like the atmosphere in the restaurant was very spicy and very filling. Once they had eaten they went for a long afternoon tea and coffee where he was challenged to play an observation game which he lost woefully, The sun was bright and they walked about 2km to the subway station even though the temperature was still below 0. There was no evening film, instead they started playing a new Apple Arcade game, WCF, on the IPad which consumed a ridiculous amount of time. He wondered if now he was 60 his digestive system was rebelling against all the spicy food as once again he felt a little strange with a stomach in mini riot as he finally put the screen away and went to sleep.


  1. That salad looks delicious and I’m pleased the smoking girl finally got the message. Horrible sense of shame & responsibility when your ‘side’ let you down abroad. Well done for staying cool in the cold Nick. xx

  2. What a horrible girl, good for you and Peng for confronting her, such a shame people behave in that way x

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