Bad Cloud Blues

Nicholas Quirke was in the unusual position of being in a ‘bad mood’ on 16 March 2021’. He’d had days of aches and pains and days of feeling a ltitle unwell or tired, momentary annoyance and frustration but since he had left England on 12 January 2020 he had not experienced feelings of irritation that spilled over into wanting to shout and tell the world to ‘Fuck Off’. Waking up with a dark cloud looming over him was a very unusual experience in China and he hoped that the gloss of the new was not wearing off now things were more routine than he had been used to for some time. Peng was heading off to his office and this was another good excuse for Nicholas to join him and find somewhere to to have tea and work till Peng would join him. Armed with his GPS he went a few more stops and when he exited he was surprised to see the map was directing him across the road. This was a major cross roads and there was no crossing at street level but there was a completely square overpass and so following the arrow he went up the stairs. When he was halfway across the road the direction arrow shifted and sent him back the way he had come but when he reached the point he had started from it was directing him across the road again. Back up the stairs he went but now it seemed to want him to go North. He tried South, East and West too but the arrow just kept sending him the other way and just when he thought he was finally going in the right direction he could see he was going away from the designated path. He let out a frustrated expletive and referred to the ever reliable Peng for help. He was finally going in the right direction and on his way but the twenty odd minutes that he had wasted on the walkway laid heavy on his heart and he scowled his way to the tea house. Once he had found it, ordered his tea he and made himself comfortable he anticipated the black cloud that was hovering over him would lift. He was ready to work but discovered that the WiFi was useless and the connection kept disappearing. He was now really annoyed as he had to spend ages trying to get a connection to enable him to work and progress was slow, and frustrating. The situation with the iCloud storage was irritating enough without this added block to him working. He should have left once Peng arrived but somehow they ended up staying and he gave up completely on trying to achieve anything and played games on the phone instead. This wasting of time made him cross with himself and so the cycle continued. With the pollution count still high and always wearing a mask outside was suffocating, adding to the gloom. It was a relief for him once he was home to get the mask off and to get some work done. It didn’t bode too well that film ‘Mama Weed’ had a very low score on the film review sites, but whether it was the presence of Isabelle Huppert or the lawless bad ass attitude of the story or that he understood the one random phrase that a chinese character said in mandarin but his mood lifted completely and he was able to go to sleep with the cloud dispersed. The day started well on the 17 March 2021 with a long phone and enjoyable call with his mother. Plans for the day revolved around eating and the Chinese Pizza Express, for some reason known as ‘Pizza Mazzano’ were offering a plant based mead substitute on a pizza and pasta dish and it seemed only right to try it out. The closest branch was in Wangfujing Street and it gave him the opportunity to cycle, get some exercise and he hoped against a colourful traditional background to make a short birthday video for a friend. Because of the sandstorm he had put his jacket in the wash which meant he now had northing to wear but his down jacket which was for very cold climates. He had to wear that and choose a short sleeve to compensate but it was still to warm and by the time he arrived at the restaurant in the APM store he was overheating and compelled to go and look for a lighter jacket to wear., He was delighted to find a denim equivalent of a workers jacket in a sale and he snatched the opportunity to echo the Maoist style he favoured. Lunch was limited for him to a plate of beans and chips and both the pizza and pasta were dripping in cheese. Peng located a tea rooms in a nearby Hutong which they retired to for the afternoon. He found a pleasant spot to make his video and then they spent a long and relaxing afternoon in the tea shop working. The evening held no surprises though the appearance of Peng as a puppy was somewhat confusing and the evening film, another french drama, ‘Summer of 85’ was a painful coming of age and first love story which he always found captivating no matter how dark an edge it might posses. The finale was glorious and with the closing images whirring in his mind he went to sleep.

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