A Chinese Name.

Nicholas Quirke was closing a cycle on 27 February 2021 having observed as attentively as possible the ancient and modern traditions of the Chinese New Year and the ushering in of the new bought him almost to the completion of a full year of living in China and with Peng. The day felt strangely flat after the build up to the end of the celebrations and holidays and the sense that his days were about to plateau out with work and routine beckoning was underlying the attempt to make more of the day than may have been necessary. This feeling was reflected in his agreeing to go and see ‘Tom and Jerry’ at the cinema. It felt like a desperate move and once he had sat through the the tedious story the sense of purposely killing time, in fact murdering the hours was overwhelming. He had loved the cartoons anarchy as a child and though the film did capture some of the chaos it was such a contrived and illogical narrative with its mixture of live action and animation he really had no idea what to make of it. If he was in danger of becoming to settled into life in Beijing the journey to the cinema reminded him that he was on alien soil and no matter what he would never quite fit in. He observed the moment he sat down that a passenger sitting opposite was mesmerised by his presence and even when he took to filming the unflinching gaze the eyes remained riveted to his being. They had planned to eat after the film but as neither was particularly hungry they went instead to a cafe in one of the SoHo malls where they had once enjoyed a vegan meal at ‘Sister Curry’s’. It had been an excellent meal but as the owner was utterly garrulous and a little crazy Peng had refused ever to return. The cafe though was very comfortable and relaxing and typically after a couple of hours food and what to get was much on the mind. They agreed too a curry and a new place nearby was located. Once they arrived though both realised they had actually been there before. It was impossible not to recognise the venue with its western ephemera decorating the shelves and in particular a wooden figurine of Tintin the familiarity of which, on both visits had tweaked a mild yearning for home. Now that he had established some roots in the country and had lived there a year Peng thought it was about time he adopted a Chinese name and presented Nicholas with a few proposals which he and his cousin had envisioned and reflected elements of his name and persona. He could choose a surname from:柯 (KE) or 康(KANG) and his given name choices were 胜为(Sheng Wei): victory, vegan, vintage, 素生(Su Sheng): veggie, born or 维观 (Wei Guan): Vegan, observe/opinion. It was a difficult choice and it would take a while for him to fully appreciate which looked and sounded best but he was both honoured and flattered that it was considered he should have one. Despite the prosaic tenor of the day’s beginning he felt invigorated by the time they were home and the evening movie, ‘Minari’ was as deeply human and touching as the trip to the cinema was trivial. The hours had been consumed and sleep was welcomed to come and take another seven away.

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