A First Farewell

Nicholas Quirke was saying his first goodbye on 25 July 2021 in the beautiful surroundings of Na Jia Xiao Guan on the top floor of the China News Plaza. Peng’s cousin Jieyu was beginning his annual leave and wanted to see Nicholas before he left and had invited them and Peng’s parents for lunch. It was better than the day of rest he expected but at the same time he felt tired and could happily have slept a bit more. The meal was delicious and despite some language barriers the company equalled the sustenance. He was very touched that Jieyu and Cui had given him some CCP 100 memorabilia and a book on the history of the CCP and he was also surprised and moved to receive a CCP pin from Peng’s parents. The luxurious surroundings and view from the top floor was the perfect place to enjoy a goodbye and to see the sudden and fierce rainfall that unexpectedly engulfed the city. The food was thankfully spare and for once he was leaving a group meal not feeling bloated. He would see Lianzhuang and Qiuhui before he went but it was the first final farewell he had to say and it was to Jieyu and Cui and a twinge of melancholy passed through him. It was with some relief that he was distracted with a cycle and visit to an interesting newly developed cafe and arts area from yet another industrial site that had been the Beijing offset Printing factory. Complete with theatre space, galleries restaurants, bars, cafes and industrial photo opportunity spots, it was the ideal stylish, cosmopolitan space to review where he was and what he needed to do to round off the trip he had begun on 12 January 2020. In the apartment they enjoyed a supper of tofu and mushrooms on sticks before watching ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ a fun film of badass girls shooting up the guys. They looked good, they were mean and they were utter ball breakers. He forgave the plot holes and allowed himself to enjoy a colourful gun toting, laugh out loud ride. It sometimes felt like it was trying too hard but it was not attempting to be a masterpiece and he would recommend anyone to sit back and enjoy the style. He was mystified that he still managed to make it through the whole day without collapsing from exhaustion though when he head hit the pillow he allowed his bones to succumb to the sleep it desperately needed. He woke the next morning with the the cold realisation that 26 July 2021 was the start of his penultimate week in China and though he longed to ignore the fact and cram in a few more visits in Beijing he had to spend the day seriously preparing for the journey back to England. This meant starting to pack and to divest himself of the extraneous items he had accumulated along the journey. It was not and easy exercise and by the time he had packed the suitcase he had dragged across Europe, Siberia, Mongolia, South Korea, japan and into Beijing he realised that he was going to have to leave a lot more behind him. It was raining profusely through the day and therefore completing the task was the best thing he could do. With his thoughts focused on his impending flight watching ‘Blood Red Sky’ was not, perhaps, the best way to prepare but It was enjoyable and he liked the vampire physicality a lot and doubted he would be facing such a foe on the Cathay pacific flight he was taking. He no idea what the hijackers, and there were many of them, were doing or what was so important about the tiny plane that they needed to enact their bizarre scenario. It gave rise to some fun and thrills or but it was ultimately forgettable and forget it he did in the miasma of sleep.

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