Part of the Family

Nicholas Quirke was not expecting any surprises on 1 January 2021 and when Peng presented him with a framed picture of them with Peng’s parents to put on the wall with his family photos, he was amazed and honoured. It was good to feel he belonged there and the feeling of belonging continued with a New Year chat with his sister in the UK mercifully recovering from Covid. Dealing with family reminded him that there were some birthdays coming up and he had some cards to send. This meant he would have to face a trip to the Post Office again and when Peng told him that there would be queues as it was the 1st and a new issue of stamps would be on sale his heart sank. He really couldn’t leave it longer, and as flights were cancelled to the UK he wasn’t even sure they would get there. Still he had to try and it was another lovely day and excuse to get outside into the fresh air. As predicted there were queues but clearly China Post were ready for them as they had formed a cordon to separate ordinary customers from the philatelists and to his delight he seemed to be the only regular postee. As was traditional in the UK he greeted the officials who all recognised him now with ‘Xin Nien Kuaile’ and he got lovely happy responses, despite the post office overflowing with customers and their first edition stamps. He was tempted to join the throng and get some but it seemed a complicated procedure and he let it go. With no other business he went back home and prepared for their lunch of Xiang Guo in Xidan at ‘Kai Chong Yuan’ The Spice Pot’ It was one of the major elements he liked of Chinese cuisine that everyone ate from the same pot and dish, it was more communal and somehow friendly. The walked to Mall and he was able to see the street decoration that was being constructed just pre Christmas. It seemed to be a dragon which surprised him as the approaching new year was the Ox and he had expected to see a representation of that. They had decided to spend the remainder of the day doing nothing but watching films and thus snacking and sprawled on the sofa they consumed the touching, though overlong ‘Your Name Engraved Herein’ a Taiwanese love story and the hilarious ‘Death to 2020’. It was good to idle the day away, it felt like home and the feeling of having utterly over eaten was the perfect sentiment to take into the new year and the next day when he would begin his fast not wanting to eat ever again. He checked the multitude of New Year wishes from friends and family and drifted to sleep in cocoon of wishes.


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