A Short Smooth Breath

Nicholas Quirke was catching his breath on 11 May 2021. He was teaching in the evening and with a whole day stretched out ahead of him his plan was to do as little as possible. He started the day with a long ironing session during which he watched two episodes of the chess drama, ‘The Queens Gambit’. He had some work for a friend to complete and also set about working on what was now a routine chore, cutting down video footage in i-cloud. He had learned that he was filming on the Go-pro in 4K which took up huge amounts of data and to compensate he had returned to the usual pixel quality and was removing all video that had been shot in the greedy format. Peng prepared lunch and after an afternoon nap he cycled to work. he did not have enough time to go somewhere for tea but was still about an hour early and he went to Dongdan Park to watch the dancers and to waste a bit of time. It was another lovely day and a walk in the park was a pleasant and relaxing occupation. Though he had been in Dongdan a few times he was surprised by how much attention his presence caused and he found himself making contact with a wide age range of the populace. His reading class were always a little lively and troublesome and he was relieved to see that the principal sat in on the lesson and as a result the behaviour of the children was subdued and they managed to get a lot of work done. He got home, he showered and settled down to watch ‘The Silent Forest’. Based on a true story, the Taiwanese film of sexual and physical abuse in a hearing impaired school proved to be a shocking and painful expose of the collusion perpetrators, victims and authority engage in to maintain a status quo and keep silent. Never were the words of Philip Larkin so apt, “Man hands on misery to man,” as in the tragic story. Powerful and moving though not the restful innocuous fare that suited a pre sleep entertainment. Nicholas Quirke was relieved to continue another smooth transition into another day of relative inactivity on 12 May 2021 though he did place himself at the mercy of Peng’s inquisitive appetite which, meant after a morning of chores another cycle ride across the city and to his eternal delight passing by The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. They were going with the intention of sampling the plant based menu ‘La Pizza’, the companion establishment of the restaurant they had tried to go to only a few day previously. Again they sat down and made themselves comfortable before discovering that they only had the Pizza, which at the ludicrously over priced cost of 110 Yuan seemed unreasonable and they left the Laowai dominated eatery for a cheaper and more native noodle dish. Served with kimchi it was to him a far more satisfying and tasty dish. Peng got a message from the community asking him to send Nicholas for his next injection of the Covid vaccine the following morning. It was exactly 21 days and he was impressed to see the vigilance with which the process was being admistrated He had an online class that evening with Dylan and before hectoring the poor infant from Wuhan he watched and enjoyed another episode of ‘Mare of Eastfield’. Though it was only an hour, teaching online seemed more tiring than 2 hours in the classroom and once he had finished he was ready to sleep.

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