Laoshi Returns

Nicholas Quirke was wary of the principals suggestion that he goes to the school to teach his online and face to face lessons on 8 February 2021 after the debacle of the previous week when he was ignominiously dispatched from the building in the middle of a lesson. He was assured that his presence had been cleared by the Bureau and that there would be no trouble and no one would be looking to see if any rules were being broken. It was in good faith and spirits then that he set off for Chaoyangmen and a morning of tea. He was aware that the build up to new year was gathering paced and on what was 27th of December in the Lunar calendar in ancient China when the traditions were established it was another day of food preparation and was known as Chicken slaughter day. Again, unless you were a butcher or a farmer the mass theriocide of fowl would not be on the agenda. Conveniently his lesson with Jean that evening was all about food and eating and he devised the class, in comfort at ‘The Little Nap Cafe’ in Galaxy Mall, his thoughts dwelled on chickens and his own murky connections with their demise when the hens their family had kept when he was a youth got broody and they had out worn their purpose. The image of the body of a chicken, (possibly the beloved Queenie) careering around the drive once the axe had separated it from its head had never left him and may well be the source of his subsequent lifelong Vegetarian and Veganism. Firstly though he had a two hour On-line lesson to complete on the subject of siblings and sibling rivalry. It felt good to be teaching again and he was relieved that arrangements had been made to enable him to continue to earn himself some money. Peng had been looking for a lifestyle magazine, ’Life’ but had not had much success finding it and Nicholas, who had been happy to help finally found the edition on a stall near the school. This marked a first in his life, as he had never previously bought a newspaper or a magazine from street stand. Unfortunately to his disgust and regret it transpired that he was conned as the seller charged him 40 Yuan and not its actual price of 30 Yuan! The only other member of staff at the centre did not speak and English and he was pleased to be able to practice a little of the Mandarin he had been learning. The conversation was not in depth, but he did manage to make it clear that he did not want to teach in the classroom she put him in as the WiFi was ‘Bad’. He did not finish teaching till six and had also promised Peng that he would collect a case of deluxe biscuits that Starbucks had issued for the New Year. He stopped off at Caishikou and wandered home through the Hutong to an evening in front of the Television. They started to watch ‘The Wanting Mare’ which, after twenty minutes of utter confusion, he declared ‘senseless’; and they watched the straight forward and ludicrous ‘Harpoon’ instead. He was pleased by its simplicity as he did not need to exercise his tired mind which, was ready for sleep.

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