Sandstorm Blows in From Mongolia

Nicholas Quirke was alarmed by the dawn weather when he woke on 15 March 2021 not only was there a pollution warning but the sky had taken on a ghastly orange pallor which was definitely not a smothered sunrise but turned out to be a sandstorm blowing in from Mongolia which, had already claimed six lives and over eighty were missing in the originating country. He was advised by Peng to stay inside and looking at the air which was deemed to be be the worst in a decade he was not going to go anywhere in a hurry. Though the school was closed he had a message from Jenny to ask if he minded going to Jean’s home to tutor her there in the afternoon. He always liked to go into other peoples homes and so he readily agreed. Having finally found a way to resolve his ICloud storage problems he spent the morning saving then downloading the videos from the start of his trip. It was slow work but he hoped it would pay off and return his storage to normal. He left in the afternoon and thought the sky was less orange he could feel the grit in the air and wore some glasses he had got in Japan which covered his eyes and protected them from the sand. He kept his journey on the bike to a minimum and went most of the way to Chaoyangmen by subway. He wanted to post a card he written for a friend and went to a post office in the vicinity of the school. He was taken aback by the fact that it was only 6 Yuan and he did not have to go through the usual rigmarole of putting it in another envelope. He was very delighted that it was easy and he didn’t question the process and happily left the card with the post office assistant. When he reached Teasure, where he was going to sit for the rest of the afternoon till it was time to teach, a thin bead of sweat broke out along his forehead as the suspicion that his card would never get to England began to dawn. He had to go to the school first where he assumed he would be given directions to get to the apartment but to his pleasure Ayi, the school assistant, was going to take him there on her scooter. He experienced a frisson of excitement as he had not been transported in this way before and he sat back and enjoyed the thrill of journey to the mystery location. It was a fun ride and he even managed to tell Ayi that it had been a thrill. She laughed a lot. It was very interesting for him to go into the apartment which unlike Peng and his families homes was small and filled with ephemera. Jean’s Ni Ni and Yi Yi were there to greet him and made him comfortable in Jean‘s room to study. It was very refreshing to see Jean without a face mask and the lesson went as always, very well. When it was time to leave the grandparents managed to ask him how he was going to the station and he was pleased with himself when he was able to say ‘Qi zi Xing che’ and be understood. Jean’s grandma took him downstairs and showed him where the bike were and satisfied with himself he sped away and back home. He was less complacent with the film they watched that evening, ‘Come True’ which, initially engaged him with its visuals but ultimately became monotonous and he ceased to care about its outcome and welcomed the opportunity to sleep when it finally came.

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