Nicholas Quirke was used to his plans going awry and on 13 January 2020 when the majority of his day fizzled into an admin challenge he allowed himself to go with the flow rather than fight against the tide. It did not help that Peng had an attack of a recurrent back problem and that he found himself tending to the wounded. The prospects had looked good, and indeed his early morning chat with son Cole had given added impetus to his day, but once the weekly domestic chores had been completed and lunch was out of the way, completing his tax return turned into a mathematical conundrum and led to the discovery of a fraud charge on his account. He had thought completing the tax return for 2019 -2020 would be straightforward, but the logistics of calculating expenses and gathering data was time consuming. When he found that there was a charge from Amazon on a card he had not used for a couple of years and didn’t even know where it was, he was drawn into the rabbit hole of dealing with fraud and his bank. It was going to require a telephone call to multiple call centres as Before he could report the fraud to his bank he had to check with Amazon that it wasn’t legitimate. Making calls from China was not cheap and would probably end up costing the amount of the fraud. He was able to resolve the issue but at the cost of a completely uneventful day. His evening however proved to be less taxing and his spirits were buoyed by a trip to the local theatre. Peng had been reluctant to get seats for the ‘Fringe’ theatre at Xuanwumen and questioned the quality of low budget theatre, but as only someone with a China ID card could obtain tickets he agreed to accompany Nicholas. The show at the Star Theatre called ‘A Desperate Love’ had been in repertoire at the venue since its premiere in 2013 and for a performance to run, even only once a week for that number of years, its had to be pretty good. The studio space was really nice, but the seats were uncomfortable and for a performance that lasted over 2 hours with no interval it was difficult for him never mind Peng with his bad back. To his relief, the play was entrancing and in particular for his friend who had carped and complained about attending. Visually he could follow the plot but once again the subtleties of the language defeated him though with Peng at his side he was given occasional commentary on what was being said and he could follow the story of a young cynical man who found himself in his grandpa’s body during the Sino-Japanese war which aside from the humour that was to be gained from courting his own grandmother allowed the story to explore the roots of modern China and the coming of age of youth and China itself. It had many magical, imaginative elements and he was pleased to be leaving the theatre with a happy companion busy recommending the play to his family. The temperature had increased and at only minus 2 degrees it felt quite warm on the walk home compared to the conditions he had been getting used to to. It was late when they got home and that meant the usual end of day routine and sleep.


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