New Year Advent.

Nicholas Quirke was relieved that the major clean of the apartment had been completed on 2 February 20212 as in meant they could focus on putting up the traditional New Year decorations. Elements of the new year look had been slowly infiltrating the rooms but it was now time for the banners, ornaments, the fou and most importantly, the door gods. All over China he had seen banners around doorways which were the remnants of 2020’s rituals and now, like a fresh coat of paint the fresh bright reds were creating an enthused air. Stringing up the ‘La Hua’ around the apartment was the first task then the paper lanterns and the window Fou. Finally the Menshen Shubao and Yuchi, the divine guardians of doors and gates in Chinese folk religions, used to protect against evil influences or to encourage the entrance of positive ones, were affixed to the front door, completing the trimmings. In the sparkling clean chambers the reds really stood out and added to the festive atmosphere that was in the air. Continuing to dwell on a nostalgic look back to his first week in Beijing in 2020 he embarked with Peng on a reconstruction of their physical meeting on a failed mission to Walmart at Caishikou to buy face masks and hand sanitiser and his solo visit to the 1920 cafe which he stumbled across and was now a regular haunt. Unfamiliar with the subway system and station names he had disembarked at the wrong station and ended up being late. He had captured Peng at that time sulky and defensive as he did not want to be out in public and especially not in a supermarket and definitely didn’t want to be in a public place drinking coffee., This was the mood they amusingly wanted to recreate and the role play gave them a lot of entertainment. It was a bitterly cold day and unlike his first meeting brilliant blue skies. The afternoon ended as it had for Nicholas in the cafe where they worked till the evening. Peng had purchased some ambient lighting for his ‘Home Movie’ set up and having spent some time putting together was very proud to show it off. The lights worked in tandem with the screen and whatever the colours in the scenes on the tv screen were then lighting system echoed them. Nicholas had thought it would be distracting, but when they watched ‘Wander Darkly’ that night the shifting hues complemented the experience. The day’s tasks had seemed light but when bedtime drew near he felt very tired and welcomed a good nights slumber.


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