Nicholas Quirke was was unhappy on 8 July 2021 that his day should have ended with a painfully long avoidable journey to the eastern outskirts of Beijing resulting in another lesson learned. He had not felt the forces of chaos that had mustered around him for most of his life much while he had been sojourning in China. He couldn’t deny the presence of his angel of catastrophe was still close by and there had been moments of loss, damage and failure but it had certainly been held at bay. Maybe it was the presence of Peng whose guiding light of order put the dark beast that he and Dee referred to as ‘Smithy’ into shameful semi silence. However, ever since word was out that he was returning to his native shores trouble had accompanied him. The day had not begun with such sour and low expectations, in fact once he had got the breakfast and his weekly chores out of the way he got himself ready to accompany Peng to a new branch of the Vegetarian restaurant with a strong Vegan bias that had opened in Gouloudajie but a hiccup already occurred as the ticket for the sleeper he was buying to get to Shanghai couldn’t be bought online and meant they had to make a detour to Beijing railway station. Seeing the station reminded him of his arrival in Beijing on the 29th of January 2020, how cold it was and how excited, nervous, and manipulated he felt about being there at the start of the great adventure. Now it was all too familiar and though he had no fears about being there as the day was an inferno and the sweat was dripping he felt equally uncomfortable as they had to queue for a ticket in the glare of the sun for over thirty minutes. They took up positions in alternative lines to maximise the time and he was wary when a guy came and stood next to him and bit by bit encroachers into the queue trying to get infront of him. Nicholas complained and the guy started shouting at him. Peng, a mere two metres away and supported by the ladies in front of of him addressed the guy who slunk away in shame. The ticket got booked and they could get onto the subway to their lunch. It still required a cycle ride from the station and by the time they got to the establishment his shirt was soaked. The food was delicious. The delays at station had made Peng late and he had to rush back to the apartment for a meeting. Nicholas however, got to visit a nearby which turned into a torture as the sun beat down and the park turned out to be home to an open air swimming pool which he had neither the time or costume to take advantage of, though he did spend a few minutes envying the people that did. He also noted a guy with twelve circles on his back which he initially though were tattoos but turned out to be Cupping therapy, a form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin with the application of heated cups. Its practice as with many alternative medicines has been characterized as a pseudoscience and its practice as quackery but is used in China for a wide array of medical conditions including fevers, though the numerous ailments for which practitioners claim cupping therapy is useful present some risks of harm, especially from wet cupping and fire cupping. Bruising and skin discoloration are among the adverse effects of cupping and are sometimes mistaken for child abuse. It was a lovely park but it was quite a distance from the school and despite the heat he chose to cycle. He passed by the Llama Temple and the temptation to call in at Veggie table for an ice cream was too great and while it momentarily cooled him when he was back on the bike the humidity hit hard and he arrived with the sweat pouring off him. Typically it was at this point that the security officer he saw every day wanted a photo with him and he of course obliged, taking the opportunity to get one for himself. The class with Harry and Willis went well and they had a good long laugh about Willis wanting to eat dinner with an ant in a trash can. His spirits were high when he jumped on a bike and set off for the station. The joie- de-vivre feeling was almost immediately dispelled and chaos entered his day. He hit a few bumps in the road and immediately checked his phone case only to discover that it had fallen out again. He swiftly turned round but it was already gone he checked, rechecked and then went back to the school to utilise their WiFi and ask them to call the. He could see on ‘Find my phone’ that it was travelling speedily across the city. Lily and Peng both called the carrier and he eventually answered and agreed to hand them phone back. The only problem was that he needed to get to Lucheng which was the east end of line 6 and an hour long journey. The day before he had taken line 6 to the west end of the line to go into the mountains and now in a short space of time for the most mundane and time wasting exercises he had ridden the entirety of line 6 and experienced the view of the each terminus. It was dusk when he arrived and the view he was presented with was uninviting and grim.He hoped to find a cafe where he could get on line to alert Peng to the fact that he had arrived and to let the guy know but the view was a wasteland but after a moment of panic he was resourceful enough to enlist the station officials through the art of mime and broken English his problem and that he needed WiFi. He was connected, he contacted Peng and 20 minutes later he had his phone and could make the 1 hour 30 minute journey home. He did not get in till nearly ten ban he was tired and fed up that his day had ended so hopelessly. He had got his phone but had missed his lesson with Han and in total had wasted over three hours of always precious time. The only positive as far as he could see was that he had traveled the entire length of of the Beijing line 6 and his DNA was scattered to the winds at the terminus of Jin’anqiao in Shijingshan District to the terminus of Lucheng in Tongzhou District. It wasn’t an ideal positive to go to sleep on but it satisfied him.
***Unresolvable Technical problems have prevented the uploading of a video and some photos. Will resolve this as soon as possible***