For Parking’s Sake

Nicholas Quirke was feeling at a loss on 30 December 2020. Peng was having a pre New Year clear out minimising his clothes, belongings and rooms according to Japanese minimalist guru Marie Kondo and Nicholas was feeling like he was in the way. His own belongings were vastly reduced and other than making sure that there were no extraneous seasonal items of his clothing on display there was little for him to do other than advise on what cutlery and Tupperware to keep. To stay occupied he started a new online Mandarin class which was going to require 15 minutes of his day and it was surprising once he had started how much basic Chinese he knew. He was happy though to learn ‘sorry’ which, should have been one of the first things he learned considering how often he seemed to use it. ‘Dui bu qi’ was now firmly fixed in his mandarin armoury. It being a Wednesday, he followed the breakfast of Guo Nushi’s Su Bao with his weekly cleaning of the apartment but once this was out of the way and he had looked briefly at the tax return he was due to complete other than lunch he needed a plan and as he hand’t visited a park for a while, he felt that despite the cold the Xuanwu Art Gardens beckoned. On his way out he helped Peng dispose of unwanted clutter and then bracing the freeze once again he headed out. He was amazed that it actually seemed to be even colder than the previous day, though it didn’t seem to stop any of the park locals from attending to the gardens and exercising. I was defiantly less inhabited than the last time he visited and he missed the Opera singers that usually frequented the pavilions that looked derelict and abandoned in the wintry world. The ponds were thick ice and it was interesting to see the park attendants breaking the surface at the edges to protect the buildings from the contracting pressure. It looked like another world with the trees stripped bare of life though signs of creativity still flourished with ‘Character’ paintings, photographs and paintings lining the colonnades The open air theatre was still closed and he longed to see inside; thoughts of open air Shakespeare loomed across his mind. He was treating Peng to some Glutinous Rice cake and walked to the small shop operating out of a series of windows along the market front in Niujie. The area is Beijing’s largest ethnic enclave, the major residential area of the Muslim Hui people and which, has a history dating back to 916. He queued along with a number of people in the cold to get a sugar ear and GAO from a little window booth. He felt like a local. He had gone out solely for the pleasure of parking and once that and his errand was complete he returned home for a supper of Jaozi and his purchase. It was a silly Christmas romantic made for TV movie, ‘Five Star Christmas’. Undemanding and trivial and perfect for the season. As a result sleep came easily.

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