Today I'm leaving to go back to England for the summer.
I leave Baiyin at four thirty this afternoon, fly to Beijing, take an
early flight to Paris tomorrow morning, take another flight to
Birmingham and hey presto I'm back in England and freeloading off my
friends for a few weeks.
So, I got up this morning. The weather here is gorgeously sunny and
very hot, the downside of which is that it's very sweaty and sticky at
So I got up this morning and went to take a shower. Or I would have
gone to take a shower. But this is China, good old reliable China
where scarcely a week passes without at least one of our utilities
going off. Today, you guessed it, it's the turn of the water. I
noticed yesterday that water pressure was low but today it's gone
I can't take a shower.
I can't shave.
I can't wash yesterdays dishes which are in the sink.
I can't have the last mop around to clean the apartment before I leave.
I can't even go to the goddam toilet because I have no way to flush it.
I'll have to stay dirty.
The dishes will be festering there until September and then the new
tenant will have to buy a Hazmed suit and clean them.
The floor will remain unwashed.
I'll somehow have to survive without a toilet for the next eleven
hours until I get onto the plane.
A week ago China put three astronauts into space, had them stay at the
space station and brought them back safely but it's beyond the wit of
their sanitation engineers to keep the water running.
Or for that matter the electricity and the gas.
I've said it before and will doubtless have many chances to say it
again next year - in China everything works, but nothing works well.
But why couldn't the water have gone off tomorrow instead of today?
Now I'm going to have to travel to Baiyin all grungy and smelly. I
just hope the shower is working in my hotel.
The Imperious Criterion of Meaning
2 hours ago