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Full Circle

Day 61: Shanghai

Michael Palin - Full CircleAt seven o'clock this morning they are ballroom-dancing on the Nanjing Road. Thirty or forty couples are waltzing on the sidewalk to the sound of an old Vera Lynn tape. It's all quite unselfconscious and matter-of-fact, as though this is what people all over the world do on their way to work. In terms of musical taste, China is the Middle of the Road Kingdom. The old and middle aged, who were probably Red Guards twenty years ago, now love to hear Vera and Jim Reeves and anything by the George Melachrino Strings. They also assume, mistakenly in my case, that every Englishman dances like Fred Astaire, and I am soon at work on the pavement, joining this slow, rhythmic moving mass as the bicycles and cars stream past us down the road.

My partner is an attractive Chinese lady with a sleepy smile. At the end of the number I am congratulated on my deeply inept display. A very old, sprightly man in white gloves winks at me and says in English:

'You are Chinese Romeo.' He indicates my partner. 'And she is your Julie.'
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 61
  • Country/sea: China
  • Place: Shanghai
  • Book page no: 88

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