I asked The Chairman if he would come out for a drink with me on St Patrick's Day, since he is, like me, a person of Irish ancestry - a generation or two back, at any rate.
He regretfully declined, on the grounds that he had committed himself to travelling out of town for the weekend to do some IELTS examining. (He's supposed to have been giving up - or radically scaling back - that line of work; but his resolve on this point has faltered after just a few months.)
As he put it: "I've sold my birthright for 40,000 mao."
I replied: "You could call it 400,000 fen*, and it still wouldn't sound like a good deal."
I then added: "I hope you've at least got some Jameson's in the hotel mini-bar."
No, not much of a St Pat's this year. All my playmates were otherwise engaged (bloody rugby!!). And mobility was inhibited by foul weather: the day-long damp cold had long looked as if it wouldn't produce anything worse than the persistent mizzle we'd suffered on Thursday, but in the early evening it suddenly developed into a proper rain; within an hour or two, the rain became quite heavy; then it transitioned into sleet; and by 10.30 or so it was snowing like the clappers. So, the city's increasingly ropey taxi service - and much of the rest of its public transportation system - ceased to operate, and everyone was STUCK wherever they happened to be. I couldn't even make it a mile up the road to catch Des & co. playing their Irish songs at Modernista. No, I was trapped in 12 Square Metres all night. Still, there are worse places to get trapped...
[* A mao is slang for the one-tenth of a yuan currency unit. A fen is in theory one-hundredth of a yuan, although it has ceased to exist as a practical unit of currency.]