Fengtai Feast

Nicholas Quirke was accepting that the week in Huangshan had seriously depleted his energy on 18 June 2021. Two days of toing and froing between the exit /entry bureau had meant the had not given himself time to recover and he literally had to drag himself out of bed on Fridays morning to get the day started. The heat didn’t help the lethargy he was experiencing, but it did mean that he stayed indoors and remained fairly static for much of the day. A session in the massage chair gave him the opportunity to see the end of ‘All My Sons’, an Old Vic production with Sally Field an Bill Pullman but also gave rise to some serious snacking. He had tasted some black sesame and green tea vegan cake in Huangshan’s old street which had been delicious and Peng had ordered some for him for when they were back in Beijing. The inertia that he felt was ruling his day did not extend to the frequent trips to the kitchen to eat the cake and other delicacies. Peng for once was not working from home and was in the office though he planned to return for lunch the plan was pushed back and he did not get home till 2.45pm by 3.30. This meant that lunch was short as he had to leave for his Friday lesson. As the temperature was lurking in the mid 30s he could not face cycling to the school and took the cooler though longer subway instead. His students arrived in the classroom full of apologies for gathering previous behaviour which boded well for the upcoming lesson. He had spoken too with Vicky who had taken the class while he was away and her comments about not pushing the students in the class when they got difficult gave him a new perspective on the teaching method in China. He felt more relaxed and the lesson, though not without its challenging moments went smoothly. It had been good to hear too that his brand of physical and vocal humour translated to the Chinese children and that it helped with their learning and their wanting to come to the class. The lesson passed quickly and he was on his way home and the latest Lisey’s Story episode in record time. He was touched on his return to the apartment to discover that the one of the two pairs of all starts that Peng had purchased in the latest round of online sales were a present for him. Felling a little self satisfied and appreciated all round made for a satisfying nights sleep. Nicholas Quirke was not aware of any commotion from outside on 19 June 2021 but when he was called by Peng to look out the window he could clearly see that planes, preparing for the 1st of July 100 years of the CCP celebrations had ruptured the skyline in a verity dramatic way. The day of relaxation began with some games on the Nintendo switch before they left for once again for a feast at Pen’s parents. The temperature was now 38 degrees and was almost too much for him to handle. Every movement seemed to induce an outpouring of sweat from his forehead The food as always was delicious and it was a fine spread laid out for them and he needed no persuasion to overindulge. They spoke a lot about their trip to Huangshan which had been a recommended journey by Quihui and Lianzhuang who were very interested in knowing more about Er Wen’s family. The opportunity to show photographs of sons, siblings, nephews nieces and matriarch at various ages was an irresistible one and they were also keen to have a deeper view of what home life in the UK was like . He promised to send them film on his return and as he had invaded their home with his camera, it seemed only fair that he should do the same with his own. As the next day was Fathers Day, Peng had bought a cake to celebrate with his Father and it reminded him of how far he was from his own offspring. The visit also served to highlight the dichotomy he had noticed between the generations in China of the pre and post 1990s. He had observed that the youth were consumers but the older generation whilst appreciative of new mores were more thrifty and inclined to to adhere to the tenents of Maos China. The protocols and manners were important were important to them but maybe as a result of social effects of the one child policy the generation that grew up without siblings from the 80s onwards were greedy for individuality. It was a good feeling to be welcomed by them though on a regular basis and he was beginning to think of them as family too. On the way home they made a detour to a 7/11 in Caishikou where they got some authentic Tabasco chips and to combat the excessive heat which was now nearing 40 some delicious Iced grapes which he had first discovered in Japan. The evening movie’s‘ subject matter of censorship and the backlash against gore fest movies in the 80s made a fascinating story. A censors life spirals out of control as her story begins to resemble the  plot of the video nasties she endeavours to protect society from. ‘Censor’ had some gruesome moments but he found it a genuinely tense and well put together homage to the genre.There were some unpleasant scenes through and the mood of these nasties populated his dreams once he had gone to sleep.

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