Nicholas Quirke was for once feeling the irritation that comes with the ineptitude of others on 23 December 2020 when the school had cancelled the Christmas English workshop. He had anticipated being at the school till late but not only was the anticipated party been stopped due to two case of Covid identified in an area of Beijing, but the reading he was supposed to be doing with a new student wasn’t happening either. This left him with only one class and the remainder of the evening on his own as Peng had arranged a night out with friends. The day itself had been uneventful, though he found himself at Livat Mall and Ikea once more as Peng wanted to get some frames to finally put up the watercolour portrait and landscape a friend had done for him. Tea in InWe was accompanied by fried cake which satisfied his increasing desire for sugar. The New Year resolution list would have to a feature a firm termination of added sugar. His disrupted evening ended with an enjoyable online lesson with Terry and his students on the subject of diamonds and as always he learned a lot from the students and their presentations. Christmas Eve was an entirely different story, no disappointment or let down and he made the most of the beautiful sunny but cold day. From waking he was active with a domestic flurry of ironing and writing in the the morning. A delicious Shing Goa lunch and an excursion to the Northern section of the Olympic Forest Park which they had not made it to on the previous visit. It was a cold experience but the austere beauty of frozen lakes, walking on ice, elegant boathouses, babbling brooks and water falls were worth the effort. He was surprised and astonished to see snow, and in such a localised spot that he believed it had somehow been imported and in the chill temperatures it stayed. Nicholas had made the trip as the only place they could find to make a Vegan cake for Christmas was near the Olympic Park and though it felt very remote and as if he was cycling on a motorway, in less than 20 minutes he made it to the location where he was to collect the cake. It was a residential area and he had to wait a long time for the girls to arrive with cake but as the residential agents were handing out apples, dressed as Santa’s and loved gathering fact that a laowai was hanging around photographs, a Santa hat and much fun was had. He had been on his feet for hours and was longing to get to Solana Mall where he was having supper with Peng and seeing the Christmas light show the mall were displaying with the slogan ‘Stay Strong, Stay Shining’, in order to sit down and relax. The planned restaurant where Peng intended to eat the new plant based burger, which Nicholas was uncomfortable eating as it was a product devised by the still reviled ‘Nestle’ conglomerate, was full and instead they ate at Mocha Bros, though he was intrigued to see the serving and dining situation in SpaceLab. If there was any doubt in his mind as to the Chinese celebrated Christmas, it vanished. They may not observe it as a holiday but the decorations, the lights, the markets had all the hallmarks of a traditional western yuletide and to say that the streets were packed would be an understatement. Barely room to breathe on the subway. At home it was still all about Christmas and indeed it wouldn’t be Xmas without a viewing of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, especially when he got to introduce the movie to a newcomer, and Peng loved it. They saved the last hour for the next morning as by 23.30 exhaustion had set in and its was almost impossible to keep his eyes open.