The Lower Depths

Nicholas Quirke was looking forward to the cycle to the National Film Museum on 22 May 2021. He was relieved that they were not going to see a film early in the morning which meant he could relax and enjoy the Shangdon style Jian bing for breakfast and that there would be no furious cycle to get there on time. He was however continually amused by the really long journey to the cinema to see it on a quality IMAX screen., though hen was certainly not adverse to travelling for his entertainment and in the UK often spent 2.5 hours in a car getting to London and the theatre. The subway ride to the nearest station was almost an hour and then they faced a 7km ride to the northern outskirts of the city where the monolithic and impressive cinema and museum resided. It was particularly questionable as on this occasion they were seeing the 9th offering in the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise named simply ‘F9’. He had never seen any of the films in the series as he had always sensed it was complete action nonsense and seeing 9 did not change his perspective though it gave him some hilarious and eye popping moments like seeing Dame Helen Mirren at high speed bedecked in stolen jewels, articulated armoured vehicles standing on their heads, a drive across a rope bridge collapsing behind the extremely lucky crew and ‘cars in space’. It was true to its title ‘fast snd furious’ and he didn’t yawn once. Though it was still another 6km journey away they had planned to have late lunch at a vegan restaurant they had visited early in his stay in Beijing in what he remembered as being a rundown area of the city. They went by Didi to Wanjing and on the surface he did not see any improvement. The restaurant was located on the 2nd floor of a semi derelict mall. The paving was uneven, the escalators did not operate and there were only a number of units that were operating. It was dirty and unkempt and as unlike anything he had seen in Beijing to date and filled with a suspiciously dangerous proletariat. As the restaurant did not open till five they killed time by going to a Wumart which sold a small tofu burger, grilled tofu filled with coriander and soy, so delicious they went back and bought two more pieces. They walked around the corner to find a coffee bar and it suddenly felt like they had walked into Mayfair with the Rabelaisian landscape they had emerged from was just a dream. They had tea in a glamorous ‘Luckin Coffee’ and went for their Vegan meal. The food as he had remembered was delicious and the journey had been worth it. Once they had eaten and shared the location with the ‘Vegans of Beijing’ they went straight home. It was dark and a storm was brewing by the time they reached home and as they started to watch ‘The Army of the Dead thunder, lightening and torrential rain filled the skies. The film was long and they decided to watch the final part the next day choosing instead to ruminate on the day in a deep satisfying sleep.

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