We’re going to be really happy.
Considering the hotel’s rickety elevator, cracked cement walls, worn-down carpeting sprouting mould, our room could have been much worse. We had a double bed, comically firm. There was a TV with a range of State-sponsored cable channels. “We’re going to be really happy here,” I said to Angela. We just might get something out of it. Maybe some romantic couple time, or a chance to get some work done. This might be the perfect place to write after all.
I worked as a foreign teacher in Beijing for six years before the Covid-19 epidemic, and when China opened up again I applied for a new work visa, with my teacher wife, Angela. I had to give the Chinese education authorities my sponsoring employer’s application, my extended family’s entire employment history, a vial of blood, and a signed declaration of allegiance to the Communist Party.
All this took months to process. My application was held up because I didn’t disclose my …