A Waiting Game

Nicholas Quirke found himself spending much of the day waiting on 1 August 2022. What had started as a day full of promising activity transformed into a an exercise in patience. July had seen the opening of The Museum of The Communist Party of China and having already seen the impressive building his interest had been aroused and Peng had booked a ticket in his own name for him to go in as Guo Peng. It had proved very difficult to get an entrance for a foreigner and a second ticket for the 3rd of August had also been booked using his own name. It was a sunny and very hot day and they made the journey to the Olympic park where then new Museum was located. He was familiar with the sights now but they still held a magic for him and he still took photographs. There was a long discussion at the gate with security who were adamant that he could not use Peng’s ticket to go in but they allowed Peng into the museum to speak with the customer service team. Nicholas had to wait and found a spot with a fan to linger by while the behind the scenes negotiations went on. When Peng appeared there was good news and though they couldn’t go in that day he could come back on Tuesday and he could be admitted, the only catch was that he would have to take a nuclei acid test before then. The initial plan was that that they would go to the museum and then go to Peng’s parents for a farewell meal but as there was no museum there was time to go to the hospital and get a test done. This meant a trip back to Changchunjie and to the hospital whose doors were shut when he arrived. This meant they had to wait till 1pm. Peng located a local coffee bar in the nearby Hutong and they made their way to the new, tiny space to wait. It was run by an artist who keenly admired Nicholas’s hat. By the time he returned to the hospital at 1 the queue for the test had grown significantly. With new cases of Covid on the rise through China it was once again necessary for most people who were now beginning their summer holidays to have tests and this meant another long wait in the sun for Nicholas. He was of course the only Laowai there and to his amusement, when he was addressed by one of the staff as English the murmur of ‘Yinggou’ could be heard around the crowd. Finally he was tested and they could get on with day he was meant to have. As a thank you to Peng’s parents he had arranged for a bouquet of flowers to be sent to their home and he had also written them a thank you letter in Chinese. The living room looked different as they had not only got a new fridge/freezer but the sofa had already gone and they were waiting for a new one to be delivered. The dinner was delicious and Qiuhui had made some sugar free versions of his favourite dishes including sugar coated walnuts and yams. They laughed a lot about Nicholas coming back to Beijing as an Olympic winter sports competitor and what sport he could do. He was pleased to see that they were pleased with his flowers and touched by the card he had written. He felt very sad too be saying goodbye, but they were resolute that he would return and they would see him again. Fortunately the film that they watched that evening lifted his spirits more than he could have imagined. Pixar triumphed again with ‘Luca’ a 1960’s Italian set plot was a total charmer. Embracing diversity sits at the heart of this exquisitely crafted story and he not only had that feel good feeling throughout but long afterwards and into his deep satisfying sleep.

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