Chinese New Year is here. The Year of the Dragon is upon us – all fire and smoke and thunder. In fact I’m writing this amid a relentless barrage of festive explosions. The streets are reverberating with a cacophony that seems to herald the End of Days. Car alarms won’t stop bleating like frightened sheep.
At midnight I took a walk around my neighbourhood. The air was thick with smoke, the sky ablaze in a multitude of colours, the roads carpeted with red firework shells and there was a steady rain of burnt flakes of paper. A group of revelers pulled me over and gave me the dubious honour of setting off a huge case of fireworks and a long string of crackers. I did as instructed and stood back to watch the rockets tear the night sky into burning shreds while kids ran for their foxholes. One oldish guy grabbed me by the arm and motioned wildly, sweeping his arm across the sky where the darkness had been obliterated by bright pinks, greens and yellows. You should have seen his face! Beautiful in its joyful delirium. Childish in its awe. Pop-eyed and blazing. Stubbly cheeks spread in a wide grin full of broken teeth.