A long time ago, a friend’s student from Jiangxi complained that you never saw individual clouds in Beijing. The sky was always uniformly blue or, far more often, a single sheet of grey. I’d never noticed this before but it was one of those facts that, once pointed out, is just obviously true. I may be wrong, but I don’t think I saw a cloud on its own for about two years back then. Wordsworth wouldn’t have written that poem about daffodils if he’d lived here.
Beijing’s air isn’t quite as full of muck as it used to be. But puffy white things in the sky are still quite rare, unless they’re being belched out of a huge chimney in the winter. So, this evening, when I popped outside for a cigarette at work (smoking has been banned anywhere inside the building since the leaders burned down the new Television Cultural Center with their illegal fireworks) I thought this view was worth a picture: