The last Day

Nicholas Quirke was having to admit to himself on 5 August 2921 that he was going to miss the attention . Even in Beijing his nationality, his white hair, beard and dress drew stares , often comments and photographs. That morning he’d had a haircut and the stylist asked an assistant to take a photo of him at work on the VIP laowai and then subsequently posted it on his WeChat page. This was naturally not chief among the things he would miss but it certainly held an allure for him. He had a goodbye message from one his co-workers Lily to tell him that the new laws regarding extra curricular schools meant that she had become a victim of the new laws and the school where he had taught had now closed and she had lost her job which was sad news as it meant that she was now waitressing. It occurred to him that had he still been there he would now be without work. Even though he had benefitted from the extra-curricular system he had been a critic of the punishing schedules that the children were put through and he was never surprised when the kids were difficult after a long day at school and then had to endure 2 intense hours with himself. He adored the kids though and had been extremely grateful that he had had the opportunity to work with them. Preparing for his departure the next day was like army manoeuvres and after breakfast the full agenda began with a final trip to his barber where once he was shorn he was met by Peng ton travel north to his new office where Nicholas was able to see and experience the work place. Continuing the trend of visiting his favourite restaurants they headed east for lunch in the first establishment they had eaten at when they had been released from quarantine, Tian Chu Miao Xiang and the food remained a delicious example of the Buddhist vegan style dining unique to China and he was happy that they had probably saved the best till last. The arc of the day was directed at collecting Peng’s car which was parked in the east of the city at his cousin Jieyu’s and the journey there’s was broken by a stop at Joy City where he first called in at the Lego store to buy the roses for Peng, then enjoyed an Oatly pu’er tea and orange peel iIce Cream, kept encountering an ecological exhibition in the mall which, included some charming sculptures of animals made from recycled products and continued to impress him that the climate change agenda was alive and well in China and topped it with a tea at Teasure and a moon cake they had purchased at the restaurant. He wouldn’t be there in October to celebrate the mid-autumn festival but mooncakes were already on sale and it was good to have one. They walked to to the apartment, collected the car and he enjoyed a nostalgic drive through the city back to home.He was able to get one last look at Tiananmen Gate and the square and he was delighted to have a last look at his favourite 1920 cafe. He could hardly believe that he would be leaving the next day and to combat the feelings of misery that lurked around the edges of the day they looked for an up beat film to watch. ‘The Mole Agent’ had all the hallmarks of comedy it was 5 minutes into this film before he realised it was actually a documentary. The black comedy of the opening sequence belied the sad story of old age and loneliness that this film became. It focuses on a technically incompetent 84 year old man who goes under cover into a care  home to see if there is abuse of the residents. As he files report after report  on the daily life of the people in the home both he and the audience begin to engage and involve themselves in the lives of these heartbreaking individuals. It’s full of affection and love for the lonely lost souls and he surmised that you would have to have a heart of stone to not allow  yourself to be affected and moved by watching it. It wasn’t the upbeat mood he had expected but determined not to allow anything to bring him down he had a positive attitude and went to sleep in good spirits

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