Louring Clouds

Nicholas Quirke was convinced that his number one pleasure in Beijing was getting on a bike and cycling to somewhere in the city and on 25 May 2021 it was no different. The sun was shining and in the morning anxious to get out and ride the familiar streets and sights he decided he would forgo lunch and ride to a tea rooms where he would while away the time working in a tea rooms. He noted too that for a second day the ‘Vegans of Beijing’ chat group were promoting KFC’s plant based product. He felt it behove him to point out the irony of buying the corporations products, plant based or not as supporting the company in anyway was funding the hideous farming practices they used. This set of an almighty row about eating vegan which made him question the intentions of the group and managed to enrage him. Animal welfare had always been at the centre of his choice and finding that this seemed to be less of a priority than some quest to turn everyone vegan as the purpose of many of group was appaling. In order to take his favourite route down West Cang’an Avenue taking him past Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City he went to the tea rooms in the bookstore at Dongsi. His lesson was with the five troublesome reading students and as expected they gave him a hard time. To his relief Jenny came and sat in on the class and they settled down and paid attention for the duration which they hated but he loved. At home Peng had added to his Switch games with a tennis collection and they played a few matches, though it seemed impossible for him to master the swing. The games meant that there was no movie that night and rather than the mood of the story they had watched permeating his dreams it was the scent of failure that troubled him as he slept. Nicholas Quirke was breaking his routine on 26 May 2021 by starting the day with an alternative breakfast to smoothie and having a shao bing instead which proved to be a spicy start to the day. As usual on a Wednesday he cleaned the apartment. Having managed to get over the animosity he had started to feel towards the ‘Vegan’s of Beijing’ group he posted a picture of his lunch the mushroom and the plant based meat products of his favoured Chinese burger brand and when they came back and said that the ingredients of the included chicken powder and pork he was disbelieving and horrified and found another reason to disassociate himself from the group. His day brightened, though rain clouds continued to lour over the day, when he was among one the first visitors to Xidan’s latest addition to its shopping malls on which, had opened that week. The ‘New’ mall was an exclusive mix of shops that sat underground at one of Xidan’s major west/ east crossroads. The sunken mall was really lovely and boasted many exclusive shops and art instillation s. Filled with cheeky ceramic angels and baby faced statues by artists, Qu Guangci and Xiang Jing. He had an excellent time exploring the new facility. The mall was host too to a pastry shop and under Peng’s guidance he bought some expensive tarts. It was also the first opportunity he had to visit a cafe he had been to once before and as it started to rain as he left Ca Cafe seemed a suitable place for shelter and work. As he left he had an amazing view of the The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, colloquially known as the Xuanwumen church or Nantang to the locals, dark storm clouds loured around the steeple with the sun penetrating the few gaps to bestow an image of religious awe to its perspective. That evening he had a lesson with Dylan on line so again there was no movie night. Though the class was initially beset with technological issue which, he determined to be of his own making, it went well and his student seemed to enjoy talking about food a lot. Once it was finished he retired for the night and enjoyed a long satisfying sleep,

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