The Chairman’s Birthday

Nicholas Quirke was amused to see that there was a significance to 26th December 2020 that went beyond the principles of Boxing Day and which proved to be appropriately  in tune with the day. Ever since he had been caught on camera visiting Peng’s parents house during their holiday and been invited to eat with them they had been looking for a suitable date and the 26th which, also being Mao Zedong‘s birthdate, was the best that there was. He felt it a great honour to be invited into their home and was excited to be meeting the children  of Mao’s China. In 2019 70 years of the peoples republic were celebrated, echoing the birth of Mr Guo. He had a lot of questions which he hoped weren’t too intrusive but as they were served a warm Chinese liquor made from glutinous rice neither he nor his hosts felt particularly inhibited. He felt warmly welcomed and grateful that they were accommodating his vegan diet and as dish after dish appeared on the table he was even more obliged as they had not made any meat or meat dishes for themselves. The food was really delicious, and it was difficult to decide which of the 10 dishes served which he preferred and indeed he made a point, out of politeness to savour each dish equally. The conversation revolved around his travelling and as they had also recently holidayed in Dali where he had spent a few days there was plenty to talk about. He was surprised to find them uncommonly frank about his physique but it allowed him to be equally bold and talk about life under Mao. Both were still members of the communist party and revealed that both had willingly been integrated. He was interested to learn that being a native of China did not automatically enrol them in the party and while Mr Guo had been admitted at 20 during the peak of the Cultural Revolution, Mrs Guo had to wait until she was 30 before she was given her card. There was a time when citizens were assigned roles and with careers in film distribution and publishing he had wanted to question them on their personal freedom of choice. Both agreed that life was infinitely better now than when they had been young and he would really like to have gone deeper and discovered more about their lives then but they too had many questions for him, not least being what did we think about ‘Boris Johnsons’ hair. The Chinese actually think it is utterly disrespectful to the people of the UK to have such an unkempt and clownish leader. Nicholas did not want to make excuses for a Prime Minister he was repulsed by but he did try to explain that having found his way into politics through journalism and being a ‘Character’ and a little eccentric somehow seemed an acceptable persona to a large proportion of the British electorate. He was also posed the question why did we not have a United Kingdom football team rather than 4 individual national football teams. It was not a teaser he had any answer for. It was a really lovely lunch and he clearly made a good impression as he was invited, if he was still in China, to spend Chinese New Year with them. The liquor which he had downed; it would be rude to not indulge, had put him in an “I love the world mood’, and flushed with alcohol and looking like a Tai Chi master in his formal shirt they posed for a photograph and bid their goodbye’s. Laden with the leftovers and a plethora of mushroom bing and Su Bao, Mrs Guo had made hey took a taxi home and spent the remainder of the day slightly comatose in front of the Television. ‘Let them all Talk’ with Meryl Streep provided intelligent and undemanding entertainment and it was an ideal story to eventually drift to sleep on

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