Earthquake...

Personal story from husband of survivor of the PGC building of the Christchurch Quake.

 

24th Feb 2011

E-e-e-e-day

 

I, Stephen Murray am the husband of earthquake survivor of the PGC building in downtown Christchurch reporting my personal experience and those around me at this time.

On the day at the time of the quake I was working in what was to be one of the worst hit areas of the disaster. My favourite place I love to work, the pier of New Brighten beach cleaning windows. Crouching low redoing some windows that hadn’t come out that flash,... the quake struck. The noise was what got me first, it sounded like the sound barrier was being broken with an almighty rumble, the sound we have come to dread over these past few months. Only this time much worse, if you can imagine a million stomachs groaning with hunger and crying out in pain, you might get close. But then imagining is nothing like being there. Because that sound is a warning of what is coming, immediately the adrenalin takes over and you brace yourself for “fight or flight” But I was only fighting my fear, nothing else, so it was a no brainer which option I was going to take. I got up in a flash and moved away from the windows, which were shaking madly. Luckily for me they were double-glazed otherwise I would have been cut to ribbons. I struggled to stay on my feet, but I did, slowly making my way down the ramp, seeing people crouching low and holding onto the railings crying and screaming, wondering what fate awaited them. I made my way towards them, asking how they were.  Nobody was injured, so I could make my way to evacuation area and hear for further instructions from the powers that be. The pier librarian said they were evacuating the pier, I went back to quickly gather my gear, taking some photos of the damage for work.





Part of the pier had given way and at least two of the balustrades had blown out, which had only been cleaned just minutes before. I began to text my wife and try to ring her on the cell phone; it was here that I got my first twinge of anxiety, as usually when there was an aftershock I would get a call or text to see if I was ok. Only this time, nothing, I thought that’s not good. Knowing full well that her building shakes like a swinging bridge in the worse of the aftershocks, I tried not the think about that and concentrated on the business in hand, getting back into town to find out if she was alright.  Straight away you look around and see smoke and devastation around you. Buildings that use to be, an old cinema were lying in rubble across the street. If anybody had been walking past when it happened were crushed underneath. I couldn’t see any sign of a body, so I moved on.  A lady thanked me for asking about their well being. Thankful that I had cared enough to ask, the tone in her voice suggesting that I was some hero or something, but no, I was just making sure that nobody needed my help before departing.

 

The drive back into town was a long one; everywhere you look you could see the liquefaction, the sand like sludge that comes out of the ground like quicksand. And just like quicksand, things were stuck in it, like cars, strangled like they had been throttled by a violent attack. As I slowly made my out, I could see the devastation more closely. I took photos on my cell phone trying to remember what these building were and knowing they had died along with a lot of things that day. All other quakes and no deaths, not this time, it was obvious we weren’t coming out of this unscathed. 

People’s homes lay in ruins, a car crushed under its garage, I looked, and nobody appeared to be in it. Moving was agonizingly slow, as traffic was everywhere. Trying to navigate our way through burst water mains and sewage and cracked roads, with asphalt jungle like pillars sticking out.  But it was hopeless; I drove around in circles trying to find a way that was passable. Every time I went down a different road I got the same response from people coming in the opposite direction. “Don’t go that way, I just lost my car down in a pot hole” or that’s blocked, or there was so much traffic you could see if you made it back it would take forever.  I just wanted to keep moving at a reasonable pace, not standing still, any movement was betting than none. Moving forward meant that I could find some news quicker rather than later. I first thought I could make it to my next job, but that was dumb, but I was in shock and not thinking clearly, normality was over, news of loved ones and staying alive was top of the list. Aftershocks continued to rage, every sea of puddles could have meant getting stuck and delaying getting into the city. But I boxed on; eventually I made it out of the worst area and onto Travis road. Along the way I saw a car being pulled out of that quicksand, I smiled. We were in this together, people were helping, and others were idiots, driving too fast, not using common sense. How many car accidents were happening all over the city as traffic lights were down so you had to be extra careful? I had to make sure that I didn’t become a victim of this, as she was relying on me to make it back.

 

Once I got nearer the city, traffic was less congested as I took the back way away from the main roads. Brown water was all over the place, flooding was getting worse, some areas I had to take the risk and drive faster as to not get stuck, not knowing what was beneath all that crap.

Finally I reached one of the main roads that weren’t that far from where she worked. I decided to abandon the car and make the rest of the way by foot. I was wearing gumboots which were perfect footwear in these conditions....I can hear an advertising jingle coming on.

Cars were parked in the middle of the road on the grass, people were walking around in a daze, and then I saw the barriers. And officials manning them, they had begun to lockdown the city, how was I going to get pass them to find out anything?  I approached them, telling them I had to get down there to find out if she was Ok.

“We are not letting anyone through sir”

“Ok, but what about the building opposite the band rotunda, is that Ok”

“A building is down in that area, but I can’t tell you if that’s the one”

“Oh my god, well I need to get down there to find out!”

“Well my back is turned, maybe I didn’t see you”

It didn’t take a Sheldon Cooper (Character in the hit comedy series “The Big Bang Theory”) to figure out this was my chance to sneak around and head on down. My pace quickened, I didn’t run because moving was still slow, what would be point of risking injury now when I was so close to where she worked?

Then I saw what looked like her building, but I couldn’t be sure until I was actually around the corner. Then I saw it, the twisted flattened pile of rubble; what was left of the fire escape was detached from the building. It was then I thought, “She’s dead, how can anybody got out of there alive”

I collapsed to the ground wailing and distraught, I could hear someone say

“Pray, people got out, pray mate....pray”                 

I didn’t do any praying, but hearing a ray of hope was something. I was having a nine eleven, only this time it wasn’t something on TV, but reality.

I felt myself being lifted by rescue workers, still unable to stand up, my feet dragging along the ground, limp.  “My wife’s in that building!” I said, with a shaking voice

“Come with me sir, we have a list of survivors”

“What’s her name?”

“Christine Murray”

“What floor was she on?”

She wasn’t on the list, was she dead?

But I turned around and there was her boss.

“She’s ok, she got out, and she’s at the hospital”

“Is she ok?’’

“Broken arm”

“Thank god,” I said, as I gave him a hug. I began to relax a bit more, some the shock wearing off, but I was far from all right.

I stayed around for a few minutes to watch the rescue, the boss himself was splattered in dirt, blood and plaster, and on his head was a blood stained bandage. But he was alive, I saw that the whole front of the building was like a deck of cards, all tumbled onto to itself. You would think that everybody must be dead, but that wasn’t the case. There was hope, as I stood there, somebody was being pulled out the wreckage and helped down to the ground. They were standing unaided, and I could hear her workmates cheer as they recognise her. But it was obvious that no everyone would have been so lucky. Hours later I would realise that my wife had shifted desks on several occasions recently and any one of the previous positions would have been fatal. Like some airline last minute change of seating plan before an air plane crash. It all comes down to where you are when the disaster strikes, like the ball in a spinning roulette wheel, some of us lucky, some aren’t. Our thoughts are with those who loved ones are still unaccounted for.

 

I took some photos on my cell phone and began my next journey to the hospital, more obstacles to overcome and more anxiety before being reunited.

We like all people here in Canterbury need support anybody wanting to donate to us personally and do so via this website.

 

 

 

 

Feb25th 2011-02-25

Part 2

I slowly made my way to the hospital; I could hear sirens of police cars and ambulances off and on throughout the journey. These sirens, along with the burglar alarms or other security systems going off were a constant reminder this was anything but a normal day.  More carnage and collapsed buildings lay all around. Although I had singular mission, I kept an eye out for anybody I could help. But the city was locked down so there weren’t too many people around other than civil defence, and other officials and the occasional Police. Remember this was only 2 hours or so after E-day so the army had not yet swarmed in and there was a lot of chaos so it was possible to be around these areas if you were brave enough. I never thought about the possibility of dying before I got there, getting there no matter what, was the mission. Of course there were people taking photos, and maybe some of those people were just there to do that and nothing else?  But is that so bad, photos are a record, and I too were not immune to this, as I continued to take the occasional shot. Wishing I didn’t just have the crappy phone camera.

There were sunken in steps to entrances, and the doors barely ajar enough for someone to squeeze through. Any building that had bricks was either totalled or severely damaged and beyond repair. Considering I work on buildings for a living these building were not just buildings to me, but friends. If they could feel pain, I felt it, ripping me apart, just like they had been.

The curbs on the footpath had detached and gaps of about 3 inches separated them from where they had been. Large trees in Hagley Park were down, along grass verges were trails or fissures that had ripped open the grass as if somebody had dug them up with a digger. A statue had fallen off its perch at the Canterbury Museum. People appeared to be gathered or looking at the flower garden around that area. I didn’t stop anywhere long enough to talk to anybody to find out.

The hospital was not far now, I was approaching from a back entrance and there was a security guard standing at in front. Either side of me along the river patients sat, lay, or were walking about with white blankets across their shoulders. I looked at their faces, not seeing anyone I knew I decided to try and get in. Just then two people were being let in; the security person asked me if I was with them. I mumbled something and blindly followed, now any hospital is a maze of corridors, stairs, many floors and rooms, finding your way around unless you have some specially designed GPS or a map, a guide dog or someone knows their way around, you get lost. Today, it was a nightmare, and very frightening, all the time there was aftershocks going off and it was dark, as the emergency lighting wasn’t on. Water was on the floor; and some debris, the hospital may have been operating, but it was far from unscathed. It was wounded, like everybody that day. This was also one of our buildings. We made our way to god knows where, using our cell phones for lighting, trying not to trip up on things. Through this door, that door, down stairs, up stairs until I got to one of the reception areas of the wards.

areas of the wards.

“Hello, I’m trying to find my wife, apparently she has been admitted with a broken arm, and she was in the PGC building”

“Oh, ok, you need to make your way to the emergency area the other side of the building they may be able to help you. “

Many wards had been evacuated, I’ve seen many films of empty hospitals like “The Day of the Triffids” and others, always disaster movies. You think of them all, but it was no movie, even though it felt like I was in one. But the aftershocks were a reminder of that, if they had been another major aftershock and I got injured I was in the right place, but the hospital being so huge, the logistics of recovery would have immense.

I somehow managed to find the X-ray department and thought this was good, but no luck. It was not operational, and nobody was there to ask. I asked the woman’s section, the bone shop, the emergency department, the main reception. Everywhere I went, nobody knew anything. I started to feel a little despair, but remained calm. I met others sharing the same problem; some couple were waiting outside trying to find their son that had a wall fall on him. We wished each other luck and waited for news.

Eventually I found somebody that gave me directions to the “Great Escape” which was the cafe area for the hospital. I smiled, this name seem quite amusing at the time. Escaping was something I felt like doing, but couldn’t. Social workers were in this area and this was the HQ for information, but of course like everywhere else, normal procedure had been thrown out the window. With people coming and going, who has time to fill out the paperwork and keep track of the injured; computers were not operating in all departments, it was impossible to get information out of anybody. But they tried; somebody was dispatched to do so. Meanwhile I waited, and was offered cake, who was I to refuse, being somebody that shuts down after two hours if they don’t eat I needed the sustenance. Cake or something sweet was just the ticket, with a mouth full of cake, another aftershock. This was a big one, the whole room shock. I just stayed where I was. I didn’t know where to go, still being in shock and dazed. Somebody advised me not to sit there because if those beams under those lights gave way....

 

 

I promptly stood up and looked around for somewhere more appropriate to stand. Just as I was looking my cell phone went off. It was her, my wife.

“Hello darling, where are you”

“I’m in the Great Escape where you are?”
“Children’s acute assessments ward room 4”

She gave me directions, but I’m a male, since when do we listen to directions. Besides the brain was jelly, how could I remember such things?

But knowing where she was in the hospital it was no easier to locate her. I found the nearest fire escape exit and escaped to the outside. Going back around to the main entrance and being directed to follow the “green dots”

It was like being in the Wizard of Oz, follow the yellow brick road. Although I was happy I was being reunited I didn’t feel like singing the song, or doing the dance. 

Room 4, there she was, worse for wear, but alive. We hugged and kissed as best we could with her arm in a sling and her being in pain. She told me some of her ordeal and me her.

At the time of the Quake it was lunch time, so some of her co workers were out to lunch. So although that is about the worst time for this, and was also a blessing, many people being saved for the fact that we’re not in the buildings when they fell.  It all happened so quick her reaction time was literally seconds. She remembered what she had read in an email that had been sent around the office at the time of the first big one in September. So whoever sent that email we thank you, it saved her life!  The email was from a rescue person that travelled the world in these situations and his observation of some 20 years had squashed the so-called theory of hiding under things like desks and stairwells. The simple message being  think before an earthquake about how the building is going to collapse and take appropriate action which may not include going under that desk. Being under a desk may not be in a good idea in these big quakes and especially in multi storey buildings or office blocks.  They are made of concrete, and concrete doesn’t give much, or at all, it can only go one way, down.  The advice is to lay down something near a table, or compressed paper, when things fall it can open up pockets, through these pockets you can be rescued.  But unfortunately she left her arm on top of the desk and when the roof gave way, something fell on the back of the head, knocked her out and broke her arm. One of her co-workers was screaming another tried to make her way to a window but was promptly stopped by the roof collapsing. She could hear her breathing heavily and then stopping. Was she gone, or just unconscious, if she was, the end came quickly. She feared for her, but was determined that she was going to get out of this building. She thought of her family, it kept her going.  She waited; it was not dark where she was being near a window area, she could see daylight coming in. Within about half an hour she was being pulled out of the rubble. Some stranger wrapped a sweatshirt around her, some guy off the street, whoever you are, thank you. And a “burly” fireman lifted her out. They tried to get her to grab hold of the ladder, but she told them about her arm. Being right-handed, weak and in pain, she needed assistance. So it was a case of the fireman’s lift or whatever to lift her onto the ladder and safety. The positioning of the body in relation to the fireman under normal circumstances would have been embarrassing, but not today. She was thankful to be alive and to the rescue workers. Our heroes, with no thoughts of their own safety, risking their lives to save others, we hope to give you a big hug one day, we can’t thank you enough. Tears are flowing now, but smiles, she got out SHE GOT OUT SHE GOT OUT.

I would not of have believe it possible, a miracle had happened all else from here not matter what was a bonus. Who are we to complain, when others have not been so lucky?

Over the next few days I heard how some of her other workers survived the ordeal.

One was on a day off, but here at MARAC the workers are close, like a family and they care about each other. Friends, not just work mates, as many of us throughout this great city of ours have. As we spend more time with them then we do with our immediate families. We can’t help but get close, if people are open enough.  So, on her day off she had come in to give them muffins only minutes before and was at a cinema when it happened about to sit down. That wasn’t to be, roof tiles had fallen there and shook and the lights went out. But alive, not in the building, if she had, she would have been in the worst area.

The boss was returning from lunch and had just entered the building, he tried to run out of that building like a bat out of hell. And hell it was, I can only imagine what he must have been feeling. But he didn’t make it, but he said later that he had somehow crawled out by himself, so close he must have been to the entrance. Another  miracle, sustaining a head injury in his attempt to get out, but alive. He was probably the person that made the 911 call to notify but when a building collapsed...I have no idea. There is always going to be people around to notice so he would not have been alone.

I heard of another of our friends being in the work cafe having lunch, they quickly scrambled under the table only to see the chairs they had been sitting on crushed seconds later. They got out and tried to make their way to the stairs, which had now given way and not even attached to the building. No way out, time to wait....waiting was the order of the day and the days to come, for news, good and bad. Each reflecting and trying to cope with what has happened, knowing that things are never going to be the same. Christine tells me she is never go to work in anything other than a single storey building, such is the fear and shock of this event. Who can blame her, these people are scared for life, and can you imagine what it must have been like. I can’t, unless you have lived through it, one can have no real idea. The people in the cafe were yelling out to anybody else outside, screaming to be rescued.

It looks like about half the staff got out; the rest as of today, from what I know are unaccounted for.

We know these people, and they have families, young kids, teenagers, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

I told Christine my day and said goodbye and began another journey back to the car. To get back and as close as possible to take her home, as she no shoes, no socks and too weak to walk the distance...I set off again. Another trek, seeing more destruction, collapses churches, fallen brick walls, whole shopping blocks gone, some houses obviously ruined as their foundations had obvious signs of collapse. People were throwing things out and gathering processions, many people walking, cameras going off, traffic lights just blinking, or not going at all, and those sirens, and alarms going off.

Beside the car were some people, I asked how they were and we exchanged stories, they were shocked when I told them mine.

I donned my fluro gear and hard hat and set off. I thought I stood a better chance using my work gear as cover to get pass the security and get within a hairs breath of the hospital entrance.

It worked, people asking me questions, thinking I was an official, I told them I wasn’t. I wasn’t pretending to be, I just wanted to make it easier to get back, rather than take the long way round and have further for her to go.  I had my hazard lights on all the way and parked very close to the hospital, another mission accomplished.  We made our way out, pushing her in a wheelchair, but trying to navigate around the hospital with doors being shut and then outside with uneven surfaces. Any sudden movement and up went the pain, but we made it, only to discover the hazard lights had not been turned off....typical. The YMCA.....yeah, sing it Village People....were close by and I asked them if anybody had jumper leads. They did, and they helped, at first we couldn’t get it started, being an automatic you can’t just put the leads on. Then I remembered the negative has to be to the body not the terminal. So I changed them and tried again, it worked. We said our thanks and were on our way, finally...

 

 

Of course the usual routes were to not able to be taken, so we had to go long the long way around. We stopped off at Christine’s daughters place but she wasn’t home.

As we got further away from the city the damage was less obvious and then not at all. Which was comforting, we were not expecting any sign of it where we lived. Oxford, North Canterbury, at least here we are safe....

We finally got home about 8:15 and caught up with the messages on the phone asking if we were ok.

We weren’t able to contact my parents, but I had a message returned that I had sent, so I figured it was dad not knowing how to return a message. He’s pushing 80 now, and although he’s pretty good with computers, less so with cell phones.

I helped to bed, but stayed up late until I was so tired I would just crash, but she called me in and we lay down to a restless night of flashbacks for us both and fearing the loss of our friends.

Tomorrow was a new day, and we would deal with it as it came.

More phone calls in the morning, watching the news and doing all the usual household chores that were normally spread between the two of us now had to be done by me. That didn’t bother me, in times like this keeping busy was good.

After breakfast I made my way down to downtown Oxford to get some petrol and check on the supply situation of food, get the drugs for Christine and say hi to people.

There was long line of commuters lining up for fuel obviously “townies” filling up. But although Oxford is a small town, we have three petrol stations. So I tried one of the others, I got in straight away but they were limiting the amount to $40.00 per customer.  I then checked out the supermarket and asked about food distribution. They weren’t bothered, so I thought I might come back later. People were panic buying and basic items were either gone or flying off the shelf.  Too many people were greedy and over buying, this annoyed me and I even said so. I didn’t care, they should feel guilty, and it’s shameful. If everybody just bought what they needed it would last longer

Next was getting the drugs and trying to figure out if we could fix her up at a local level rather than go back into the city. She still had to have her X-ray to see how bad things were and treatment.

I gave them the script and was told to go the local medical centre to find out about the X-ray thing.

They gave me the number for the Rangiora medical centre and they said we could get her X-rayed and fixed up.  Of course throughout all my encounters with people I knew they were asking about us and when I told them that she was in the PGC building they were shocked, and then I would get emotional. The lady in the pharmacy could see I was upset, and I could see tears welling up in her eyes and she gave a big hug. Bless her, I was unable to give Christine a proper hug and it was the first real hug I had since it happened it was welcomed and comforting. Here were people removed miles away from the quake, but really feeling for us, because we part of the town. In Rangiora, it was the opposite, cold, unfeeling responses with no freeing up with medical charges, like places in the city. We were just another number, just another broken arm, the arm can be fixed, but the scares and horrors of that day shall always remain with us. They take longer, and when we attend funerals and all other stuff that goes along with it, it’s going to bring it all back.

I then checked on the postal distribution, as I had parcels coming from overseas for the museum so I wanted to know if they were still coming. They are, but of course will be delayed, but something to look forward to when they do arrive. Of course this might be the last stuff I buy for the year as money is going to dry up, such things have to be put aside.

The doctors took the cast off, first cutting it with a tool but then realising that it could be done with just use scissors.  The X-ray revealed a very bad break; the bone had separated a good inch from each other.

This was when our problems started, when you get people from the medical profession having difference of opinion of how to handle the situation. Their theory was that if you just left the “collar and cuft” on the then the muscles would relax andmake the bone line up, it sounded like utter BS. But probably true, I  was mortified, and disgusted, it wasn’t a normal , Oh I’ve fallen over and hurt myself. She had been through a traumatic experience. Anything that was going to make it more comfortable was worth making the effort, or at least reassuring us that we will check the town hospital to see if they can put a proper cast on. This meant that we had to be really careful; any movement for the next two weeks could put it back out. What a nightmare....the last thing we wanted to hear and put up with.

The bruising was severe and the arm was swollen along with the abrasions and cuts. You could certainly tell this was a body that had been through something horrific.

 

So back home we went, more phone calls received and made and we got out some DVD’s and supplies for the evening. Comedy’s, nothing “weepy” thank you was the order of the day.

Another restless night, another day gone....

Day three...more phone calls, including one from Rangi medical centre. They got an urgent call from the central hospital to bring her in to get her sorted. So our suspicions must have been correct, she needed a proper cast and not some jungle bunny way of letting “nature does its work” crap.

I was not happy and told them so, but then I was already stressed and all this was just an added burden we could do without. We went to Rangi to avoid having to go into town, now we had no choice. So off we went again, her sister was meeting us at the hospital, so I could finally have a break, get some supplies and catch up with other people that I didn’t get a chance to ring before we had to dash off.

On the roads wasn’t too bad, slow, but I had already figured out some possible routes on how I was going to get where I needed to be. I had mostly success, however people’s attitudes were somewhat changed from before. Some were quite rude really, as if I was an inconvience just buying something off them.

I got to my best friend’s house and his son answered the door, the rest of the family had gone for water supplies. I saw there was no visible damage to the property but his collection of figures etc were laying on the table, the rest where they had fallen on the shelves. Lots of damage, hours and hours of repairs, even finding the bits to glue back on must have been a nightmare.  My heart went out to him, having our own collection here; I understood the pain of seeing all your treasures broken. Our museum once again got off lightly, so no problems there.

I continued to buy some items I needed to keep busy for a possible long haul without work.

It was here that I felt the despair that had been building up for days, and I began to feel pretty low. I began to walk around in the quake zombie mode of the daze look and shocked pale face I suppose.

I caught up with family that had gathered at my mother-in-laws house and it was great to Christine more comfortable with the proper cast.  Off home to return to 11 messages on the answer phone, people checking up on us. Another late tea, phone calls and relax in front of the box on channel 4. South park....what a rude show that is.

Watched another DVD we hired out “She’s out of my League”  good film

So ended another day, we like to do normal things and escape from the doom and gloom of the quake. We still care, but with own personal experience to cope with and the ongoing consequences of that. It can get too much to cope with all day, everybody deserves a distraction, and not to feel guilty about having it.

 

Part 3

Feb 26th 2011

Its 345 am another restless night, sleep getting less rather than more. We now have Christine’s daughter with us, sleeping arrangements are messy. With her son first sleeping in a room inside the house and then at the spare room outside with her, this will have to change when I go back to work.

As we are helping out with the clean up next week, I don’t know if I will be able to cope with emotional and physical side of this. But I need to be working; Christine gets pretty head strong and emotional when it comes to family. It’s great to have her here, but any longer than a week and I won’t be able to cope. Sleeping arrangement has to improve as I envision some nights needing to go to bed early, or at least being able to have my usual routine.  Going back to work will bring new stresses on top of existing ones, will they be able to understand things from my perspective or just think I’m being “selfish” If this is this case I will have to live in the city and they remain here. It’s been hard looking after her, as she has often been grumpy, not being use to being the one that can’t do things. This is a problem when the spouse of a loved one has to take on these burdens they have to be the stronger of the two, even though they too are suffering. This will reach a breaking point, so any added stress like a 2 year old that is showing signs of his stress, adding to ours. How do you explain all this to them so they get it. Recently I have discovered that I may have something that explains why I do certain things and have yet to get that checked out.  People are complex, and juggling all this is something that is happening all over the city now as people take family, friends and strangers into their homes. Some will be able to cope, and even thrive off it, while others, like me will come to the breaking point very quickly. It would be different if I didn’t have to go back to work. But this sort of work is vital for us to recover more quickly from this disaster; I’m looking forward to be both working and keeping busy. Just thinking now about how Christine is going to react to reading or hearing all this fills me with dread. These are our problems now, as we are all individuals with different ways of coping, and with different needs, how do manage when everyone is living under the same roof. We are suffering from post-traumatic –stress disorder and it takes its toll. Christine however thrives on having part of the family here, which is great. But I know myself and how I’m going to be feeling in a few days as sleep deprivation takes its toll and new stresses are added on top of existing ones. Christine will need some type of home help and care while I’m work, it has been suggested that her daughter does this. It’s a good idea, but increases the likely hood of her staying here for several weeks.  I shall have to make plans for during the week and return to Oxford for the weekends.

Yesterday was better, we watched the news less, and the coverage is beginning to fade as the rescue teams have not recovered anybody else alive. Recovery is the mission now, even though there is still hope, as there have been cases of people surviving for not only days but more than a week under rubble. We pray for such miracles, and our thoughts continue to be with the fellow sufferers of this tragedy.

We got more supplies yesterday and talked to our friends here in Oxford, who is offering emotional support and food, like bringing stuff around. This is wonderful, as I have been doing all the domestic stuff while Christine inspects. She is a lot more fussy and particular about some things than I and I never live up to her standards. This too adds to the stress, as now more than ever any raised voices or annoyance ups the stress levels. I pity the social workers all over the city now as people cope with the aftermath. May we continue to help each other any way we can so we can all get through this in our way. Wouldn’t it be simple if we were all the same and we all knew exactly how to cope with that, but unfortunately that’s not the case? The social workers and anybody that is now dealing with how to solve these problems are our next heroes after the rescue workers  and officials in the city.

But yesterday did bring some normality, I got cell messages from a family in the city that wanted to come out and “escape” to the museum as a form of “distraction.

The day before I text to her that I was working on my “Time Machine...replica prop” She wrote back, “Can you turn back time” Of course we all know what she meant by that. I said “I wish”

We all wish we could turn back time to before the disaster, warn people, but how many people would have listened to some crazy person screaming at them to get out of buildings?

I said I couldn’t turn the clock back of course to before the disaster, but the museum is a distraction. And God only knows we need them, which so many forms of entertainment being out of action and both the suburbs and central city in chaos and in ruins, people are venturing out and staying in our little town. I do encourage people to check us out, with hope that something positive can come out of this as people discover that there are things beyond the city limits they can go to or do.

As the visitors drove off they said it was a great distraction and they were happy...even for a short while. I was elated; I had provided a service and pleasure, even for an hour. It was good to see people smile and remember the past, as we now look to an uncertain future.

God bless you all,

Feb 27th

The fifth day now since the quake, the pressure is taking its toll in different ways. I don’t cope very well with death and emotional stuff...I have to face the fact that I may have Aspersers Syndrome and go the doctors to get referred to as specialist. More and more I begin to wonder my weird and wacky nature is not really being “Eccentric” but just a mask to cover my inadequacies as a human being. I have to have some sort of normality and order. I tend to escape into projects and things more than people, and know this has to improve. But I lack social skills, and have to be either constantly reminded to be do, or not do things and continue to learn what others find second nature. Yesterday was once again trying to get back to normal. But as usual since the quake, every time I went into the house the phone would go and talk about the quake was going on. People need to ring, and that’s fine. But I myself just can’t be around it anymore. I have to have my distractions, which I always have, but that too is part of my disease (If I have it, but I all my senses tell me I do)

My escape yesterday was the continuation of the Time Machine prop, its slow work. I had to carefully remake sections of the engine pod. As this section can have very little bogging and reshaping if it’s wrong because it has to be see-through for lighting purposes. I got a bit done and painted the words Time Travellers on the front of the building to help let people know where the museum is. We had four people through yesterday; one girl about 8 had been before when we first opened. Such is the power of the past and collecting, people feel compelled to return and are interested in future displays. Another couple were an English lady and her Oxford daughter. When I went it to see how they were doing they both yelled out at the exactly the same time “This is fantastic” quite funny. I could hear them talking while I was painting outside, they were reading the Time-Line on the wall. Others turned up, and went off to get some money, but did not return. I felt mean giving them the money speech. But it does cost quite a bit to run such things; we can’t really encourage people not to give anything. Since three “god bother’ers” Anne from MARAC calls them came round the other week, wrote fantastic comments but gave nothing. I have stepped up the campaign to make sure people donate. I haven’t spent over 15 years of my life and a tone of money

to let people through without them showing their appreciation.  The museum can’t survive on just those happy faces alone. I still can’t get over the genuine joy that people have when they experience what we have to offer, which will improve in time I hope.

The bosses from Christine’s work came around well after lunch, I didn’t feel like making any food for myself that day, and mindful of both supplies and just letting the others get on with things. Nobody offered any, and I didn’t have the energy or the inclination. This is part of feeling depressed, lack of interest in certain things, and apathy setting in a bit maybe. It’s been hard, because we can’t make love, we can’t snuggle up the way we use to, and we can’t hug properly. So the physical contact is less, and I tend to withdraw as self protection thing, having to prod myself all the time to show all those emotions that I feel but have trouble expressing. How can people understand that, I doubt it?

Anyway, the big boys from MARAC came down finally about 2pm, I had been holding out for a paid lunch, as I would have expected them not to come empty handed. Not the case, I was dumbfounded, these guys were the big ear wigs from MARAC earn stacks of dough and we had to provide the bikies or whatever. Not that I mind that, but would it have taken that much effort, it’s the little things that count not just the bigger gestures.  But our hospitality prevails as have all the other people they have visited, somehow think they have got it wrong. Make the effort guys, don’t come empty handed, and one of the trio had a limp-handshake. Sorry one of Christine and I’s pet hates, anybody that has a limp-wrist, um handshake is a no-go zone for us. One of the people we were checking out to marry us was a limper too; out they went with the bath water....go figure. Limpers come across as people that talk the talk, but don’t really mean it. They are not sincere; they just make up the numbers.

Christine caught up with quite a few more people and talked to Anne, who she calls “Chicken” from MARAC. It doesn’t sound like she is holding up that well, who would you come and go; drop off muffins, and narrowly escape death and watch your fellow co-workers suffer on live TV.

Christine’s arm now looks something out of the grateful dead, a alien disease that looks like it’s going to come out of her skin and turn into something. It’s the mother of all bruises, and is still badly swollen, sore, itchy, yucky and...um something else ending in y.

But hey, that’s nothing, every day we thank our lucky stars and are reminded of that.

The evening I decided that I needed to continue my break, and make “the effort” to establish a  new friend here in the region. All my other contacts either don’t care, or live too far away. I don’t have any friends anymore. I’m not into internet friends, they are so superficial. My social contacts are the people that visit the museum and Christine. I’m a loner, and I need to make the constant effort to keep in touch with people.  Anyway off I went a few KMS down the road to West Eyreton to see one of the nerds who has the same social affliction as I may have, so I feel an affinity with him and we have many other things in common too, so it’s a no brainer.

We talked about nerdy stuff, watched Star Trek and I got some stuff off my chest as did he. He’s only 29 but his wise beyond his years. It sounded like Christine missed me; she was a bit put out me leaving for the evening I felt. But I needed to get out, and she hasn’t taken much interest in how this has affected me. I’m pretty sure she hasn’t read this blog, and I can’t tell her my thoughts on having other people around. I know her needs outweigh mine, so like or lump it she will say. But this just makes me more distant as a coping method which creates its own problems. There are no easy balance methods when it comes to me, as my friend Julian from down the road says. Anybody that married him would need a medal just to put up with him. I’m the same; I’m just a pain in the “arse” most of the time. I wonder what she sees in me, I’m just plain weird folks. You could do a study on me write up a paper and still come out baffled by the end of it.

Today is another busy day; I see the museum growing after this quake, despite what has happened. I need to start making the other street signs. I have make everything myself because we can’t afford to pay what it cost to get them made, way too expensive. So it’s constant work, trying to promote it, maintain it etc. But the joy it brings others is the reward.

I have noticed the nerves are frayed with our trucks here, we get a lot of trucks being next door to a farmers feed trucking firm, or whatever the hell they do. Every time one of those dam trucks gets too close I thinks it’s another quake and the stomach dances around with the butterflies and meets up with the blender to make nervy soup.

So begins another day, tomorrow we start to help with the clean up and that will bring more stories to tell.


 

 

 

27th Feb 2011

The usual chaos today, some of Christine’s family comes out in the afternoon, phone rings all day and I get a bit more done of the Time Machine. We hear some rumours about the so-called safety of the PGC building before the quake.  I even have a surprise visitor, I tell you, and I’ve made more contacts since I opened the museum!

It was good to see Christine enjoying having her family here, but the quake is never far away with people ringing and still not having any concrete news about the others.  We still have more horrors to endure in the coming weeks. I just hear Christine say that “sometimes I fine with it, and other times I just lose it”

Such is the roller coaster of stress that everybody is going through in Canterbury.

But on a lighter note I have a funny story to tell. Many people are without power and some of the more interesting stories about the quake have yet to filter out. The social network is running red hot with far more interesting and human stories that some of the BS that the media drums up. Who can trust the media, when half the stories are distorted?

Jade, my friend who fronts the Game Station on Moorehouse Avenue came around and was telling me his story about the quake.

28th Feb 2011

Jade lives in Avonside beside the Avon River, in the last big quake there was a lot of damage on the roads and house. His house wasn’t too bad, but this time, a different story. He showed me photos of some of the damage, window frames, door all shifted making large gaps or cracks, the foundation has moved, all his pot plants are broken, the TV looked like it went on a birdman walk and flew off its perch broken on the floor. Parts of front of the house, which is brick has come away from the framework, it’s a mess. Jade has a collection of his own, and has managed to gather most of that before abandoning all of it to seek shelter elsewhere. He felt bad about leaving all his stuff knowing that there are the vultures circling around everywhere ready to pounce and steal. The low-life of course has stooped even lower than normal under these circumstances as they take advantage of other people’s misfortune; that’s what they do, these people have no conscious.

I did hear about one story about rubber -neckers, some client from MARAC came around to check on Christine and said that they grabbed one of the arseholes out of the van they were in and smashed his face in a pile of liquefaction and said “There, that’s what these people are dealing you little shit” They of course complained and threatened to go to the police..If they do the Police will say “Get a life”

Jade story went a little like this. He went for a walk down by the river and could hear some woman screaming. He listened to where the noise might have been coming from and noticed a car parked dangerously close to the edge of the bank. “This isn’t good, he thought, it must be coming from in there?”

Inside was lady banging on the windows and yelling for somebody to get her out. It turns out her ex husband had turned up and just left her in the car to go off and get a drink. He being an alcoholic, these sorts of actions was quite normal for him. The drink overtaking all else, much likes all the other arse-wipes that have been causing problems in the city.

It wasn’t her car and she couldn’t figure out how to get out. These are the problems people are facing, in times of stress even the simple things like “remembering my name” or a car door lock seem much harder than usual. The brain is liquefying much like the sludge on the streets.

Jade got her out, she hugged him for dear life, even the Parakeet was pleased to be out of there as it promptly made its way to his shoulder and stayed there. Yes a large parrot.....

“Oh don’t worry he’s my best friend he won’t bite”

There was Jade rescuing a helpless woman from some drunken madman with a parrot on his shoulder like Long John Silver. The image of this is just hilarious, you can’t help but laugh at it, and it was something out of a Monty Python film.  Jade took her back to his place, the man turns up asking where she is, and Jade asked him why he left her in the car.

“She got out didn’t she” he says in a matter of fact tone, uncaring and direct.

Jade went and got some neighbours; rung the police and made sure that he wasn’t going to come into the house and grab her. The idiot was in his 60’s and was smaller than them, so it wasn’t much of a challenge. The police turned up, talked to him and confirmed that he was a “moron”

But jade had no idea what fate befell the woman long term, if he found her again.

 

Chores are not getting done with the weather and trying to find the time with well wishers and people turning up. We have no hot water other than burning in the coal range, on a chimney that should be demolished. We have to spend several hours getting free firewood, and now this befalls on me alone.  Like many others, not enough sleep and having done more than usual is taking its toll.

We watched House last night, but once again trying to spend any time with Christine is impossible. With other people in the house and constant phone calls, we are lucky to spend 5 minutes together. This won’t change until it’s just us two again.

Anyway today was another day, and another day from hell.

I had to get up early leave half an hour earlier to anticipate at least that in delays getting to work. I was almost spot on in my estimate of how long it would take. Once you get anywhere near the road blocks that’s when the fun started.  I had to pull over and ask the army which was the best way to get to work.

When I got there everybody was telling their stories while waiting for the boss to turn up, who was stuck in traffic.

We were to be helping with cleaning up the inside of the main council building which had been completed not long before the big one in September. 

 

 

Plenty of idiots out there again today, first people driving in the fog without lights. Then I saw some “tosser” washing his car with a hose. A hose, when water was like god in the city and here was this moron washing his bloody car. The boys said whose going to sort him out?

“I will,” I said, and off I went

“Do you really think that’s a good idea, with the water situation being what it is?”

I turns out he was part of the rescue crew or something, made no difference to me whether he could see out of his windows or not. I said “You could have use a cloth, it’s not a good look mate...you tosser”

If people had seen that in the burbs, chances are he would have been lynched.

I heard of people witnessing acts of bravery but the heroes dying in the attempt to pull people out of rubble when the building fell. And people wonder why people ignore the plights of others; I guess there is always that element of risk. 

The aftershocks continued for the first couple of hours, we were delayed for a while heading out on the road, but then all of a sudden we were away.  Driving around the city is like being in some foreign war zone, like one has seen many times on the news. But for us its reality, a grim reminder those things are not going to get back to normal any time soon.

 

I saw many more building are use to every day laying on the road, footpath or both. Gone, never to be seen again, only existing in our memories, but after a while these too will fade.

We head out as a convoy to convince the authorities that were the real deal and not some clever mob trying to loot or does a photo spread for the media.

We all had to wear our hard hats, high-viz and dust mask for safety reasons, this was a dangerous job? The building stood up to 2 big quakes but who can tell when there aftershocks, going down stairwells all day on a 6 storey building in the heart of CBD. Would you do it?

We had to have a “tool box meeting first” which was basically a safety meeting about what to do if we had to get out there in a hurry. The things we have to do just to make ends meet....

But somebody has to do these things, and that somebody is me.

 

 

The job itself was to gather up all food and drink, and personal belongings we may think people would need take it down to the ground floor into designated areas all the while tagging it. It was messy, smelly and dangerous, as there were plenty of things that had fallen down, or popped up, like floor panels etc. We often missed things, but we were all doing sweeps we somebody had already been. It wasn’t work we were use to, and it was tiring and slow, but between all of us I think we got everything out of those floors.

Dealing with the food was the worse, the whole place smelled like rotting corpses. It’s amazing how quickly things go rotten, but then it was lunchtime and there were plenty of left –over’s from people lunches.  

We left around 4:30 and I left town at 5pm, taking 21/4 hours to get home....the roads were a nightmare. Who were all these people on the roads, I guess because of the groceries, and water shortage and people not having anything to do just drive around from A-B and some are just rubber-neckers. But people like me, who are trying to get home, it just makes the day a lot harder. Just adding to the stress, by the time you get home you’re exhausted, tired and irritable.

 

 

Christine’s time is taken up with everybody and I try to tell her how my day went, but the phone goes again, and again. I just give up, and of course writing all this has to be done pretty soon to remain fresh. Probably nobody is reading, so I don’t know why I bother, but it’s good to get it down on paper.

I had a call from the hospital about coming in a day earlier as they, like us, are worried that she may need that op, so they are checking up as soon as possible. Christine looks tired, having  a two year old around is enough to try anybody’s patience. They wear you out, and the pain, the discomfort and the phone calls. 

 

Now she’s tired and wants to go to bed, another day of five minutes with her.

The job situation is pretty dire; work is on a day by day basis and no guarantee of wages. The government is offering money, but this won’t go far, we shall have to use it when we need it.

I get home and find out our stove has now packed up, with no money to fix it. It’s the microwave, and electric frying pan, and coal range when it’s going.

But we are lucky still, people in the city try and find water, if and when it arrives, basic food in short supply. One’s day could be taken up just driving around getting what one needs just to survive.

With tomorrow marking the first week, I for one know that nerves, patience and everything else you need to be pleasant and human has been spent. We are now operating on reserves, and more raised voices and frustration is the order of the day.

 

Mellisa is going back into town tomorrow, which solves a few problems but of course creates others. She has been a great help, but nothing is ever perfect, and me coming home late, having to cook tea and do all the domestic chores. I will be lucky to have half an hour to unwind every day before crashing to bed to do it all again the next day. How long I’ll be able to keep this up is anybody’s guess?

So I’m not looking forward to tomorrow, the pressure mounts...I hear on the radio today about a 28 year marriage ending because a husband didn’t respond quickly enough when the quake struck. All just an excuse by the sounds of things.

 

 

It’s now March... the eyes of March are upon us as we all keep an eye on each other , offering to lend a helping hand no matter how small. Feeling better after a better night’s sleep and a couple of days of so-called normality of working; not my usual days work, but just the process of working us therapeutic. What we have t do is not pleasant, going through people’s draws is an invasion, but you try not to think about that. Or the uneasy feeling of being so high up, but the advantage of this is you can see down on the city, which gives you a different perspective on things. From higher up, the devastation doesn’t look as bad, considering the amount of tall buildings in Canterbury it isn’t wonder more didn’t fall.

I had to be called into the office on the point of my pay and whether I could go into the city with our car. No on the car, the verdict is out on the sick days. I pointed out on my understanding, being sick and looking after next of kin did class as a sick day. This didn’t seem to be accepted, so needed to be checked up on. Personally, quivering over such details is cruel, If I have sick days, whether it is the rule book or not or should be allowed to use them under the circumstances. How many bosses out there will make their decisions based on the rules, or be compassionate enough to bend them?

Every single person in Canterbury, who works is going to be under stress financially, now is the time to fight for every dollar you can get. After the meeting I thought, if the ruling goes against me, then I can easily get a doctors certificate considering if there was work over those few days, both physically and emotionally I would have been unfit for duty. The boss should understand; these are not the times to be unfeeling. Our boss is moving heaven and earth to keep us all busy, knowing that in doing so we are both helping the city and ourselves to recover more quickly.

 

The day starts off with more stress before work begins; a phone calls from the hospital. They now want to push Christine’s operation a day forward, so she needs to come into town. I have to organize things, make sure she had this message and that somebody is there to take her in. I forget that Melissa is still there, such is the brain turning to mush.  I set off for the day, knowing that Christine is going to be stressed about going in, hating the thought, and terrified of the after-shocks.

I box on, the day is much like yesterday, and Julian and I are paired up as a team. We sweep over each other’s area, double checking nothing was missed. It’s very easy to miss things, food and personal effects are stashed in the strangest places.

 

Some of the bottles of booze we stack on the bottom shelves in advent of another quake or bad aftershock. These thought are never far away, we are now taking any after-shocks seriously. People are talking about the “Moon man” now with more interest. Everybody at work was disgusted with John Campbell’s interview skills; or lack of them when the Moon Man had been interviewed that night. People want to know more about his prediction of the March 20 quake, we knew about months ago. It has been predicted that a large quake will hit and mover along the Alpine fault line, which runs from the west coast all the way through Wellington and beyond. It’s a massive fault line and it runs right through our area. Somebody said a 10 on the Richter scale, now if this is true. That is the force of an atomic bomb, no buildings will survive and there will be huge loss of life.

Is it ever going to end, these are worrying times; if you believe in the bible prophecies, this must surely be the days of revelation...the “End times”

 

Each day is precious now, for how many do we have left. We have to constantly think about the positives and not dwell on the negatives. If you live in constant fear and worry; you can’t function as a human being.

I take more photos of the work space I’m in. When office life returns, many firms will have to change their work station design in offices as most of what I see in the Civic building is impractical.  Office drawers move when the room shakes. More things have to be securely attached to solid objects, and even paper. If you want to avoid hours of sifting through mixed up paper, design work stations that done sprawl papers from arse-hole to breakfast. The worse thing is filing cabinets; some of these are massive and very heavy. I’m amazed I didn’t see more blood on the carpet, indicating people had been injured with the number of heavy objects falling around. People were very lucky in there, but things will have to improve. The sitting of pot plants...what a mess, and the “guillotine” like pieces of glass that hang over the interior stairs of the offices...what a dumb idea man.

 

At 12:49 pm today we are lined up outside the building to pay our respects to the dead. We are being filmed by a Japanese camera crew. We can hear the ceremony a few feet away, and the silence...it was suppose to be 2 minutes. Not a peep for at least ten, nobody “having the heart to call a stop to it” Our “darkest day” remembered, but not forgotten. How can we ever forget?

 

I saw a copy of the Big Quake book lying on the table in the building. If there is another pictorial record published after this one, what are they going to call it? The even “Bigger Quake”

It’s ironic seeing these things, in the Mayor’s office they was a book on old Canterbury. I was thinking this is our “Titanic” in this country. Because Christchurch is going to be forever changed by this, pictured of Christchurch before are going to be collectable. We will want to remember what it was before the quake.

 

Later in the afternoon, I get another call from the Hospital; she is going down into surgery. The recovery and operation time is about 4-5hrs which means I should have some news around 8ish.

The day ends and I make my way to my parent’s house in Northwood, the traffic is much better and it only takes me 45 minutes. I arrive there at 5:45 and catch up with them. Melissa, Christine’s daughter arrives to drop off my laptop and a bag of clothes that Christine had prepared. This was great as I can continue to write all this and stay up to date.

We don’t hear any real news to about 8:45, she is the recovery. The operation went well, and she’s on a morphine drip and has to stay 2-3 nights so she stabilize and be on manageable pain.

With no cast on now, the healing time and discomfort should be less. I’m looking forward to catching up with her, and hope that she takes on my suggestion of banning the phones after a certain time to allow for rest and time with me. As other people know more about her thought than I do these past few days; I have to remain strong for her. But I cannot do that if I’m getting stressed about the noise and lack of privacy. Men and husbands have feelings too, am I being selfish wanting those needs met?  All I’m asking is some one-on-one with my wife. Everybody wants a piece of her, like a pack f sharks in a feeding frenzy, I’m left with the crumbs on the floor. With nobody to talk to, we all need people to talk to, I need her too folks.

It’s another day, after work I shall head on down to the hospital and hope that I can spend some time with her without scrambling for her attention?

 

This is one of the reasons I’m a loner, all my life I have had to rely on myself to get me through things. If you have to lean on people for support and they don’t have the time to give it to you then you have to fall back on yourself. I am feeling stronger today; having recharged the batteries a wee bit and box on trying to get her through this. Thanks for everybody’s support through all of this, it is very much appreciated. I hope in writing this diary, people can get an insight in what it’s like from the partners perspective, and remind them that men are not emotionless, heartless bastards that some woman make us out to be.

 

March 3 2011

Yesterday was the day it all boiled over for some, including me.  All over the city, tempers and emotions are going up and down like many of the roads. It might only take something quite trivial to set them off, the thing that does it, nothing in itself. But it’s that little “wafer thin mint” that makes you explode like Mr Creersote in Monthy Python’s Meaning of life”

We all deal with stress differently, and the way we cope with it could be as individual as ourselves. You might not have any inkling of actually even being stressed, until you find yourself feeling elated, depressed, angry, frustrated, and even cracking sick jokes.

At work, we had one guy that was out of town when he got the message to come in for the Monday meeting. He informed him that was not possible as he had fled town with his family and would not be back until Tuesday at the earliest.  When he arrived on the Wednesday, this was unacceptable as everybody else “had come into to find out their future and the future of the company” But the employee considered his family more important than the firm and was putting them first. This is as it should be, a boss or anybody might have valid points to make, but these are not normal times, and compassion and understanding is needed.  Another employee had lost his father recently and was still going through the grief process of that. Some people really need to take a course on how to handle people; as people have basic needs and money and jobs are not always at the top of the list they are for some.

At work we were cleaning up the debris inside the Civic council building, which was hard work, we all kept thinking how stupid some of the layout and designs were and placement of office furniture.

I look forward to seeing Christine, but had to go and freshen up, have a shower first so as not to infect the patient.  

 

On the way back I filled the car up with Gas, an attended rushed out to give his regards to Christine having seen her on “TV” and wanted to offer his thoughts. I thanked him and moved on to my parents place. I had to remind them to turn on the news, this had happened the other night too. It was here I that I began to think that they weren’t taking it all in. Living in an area where there were no obvious signs of destruction, they had power, water; they are not so affected by the quake. As a result, they don’t seem to have a level of understanding as a lot of people. Unless you’ve seen and experienced all the mayhem out there, you just don’t “get it” Dad had experienced the blitz during the war, but this is different. I don’t think you can really compare the two.

 

On the news we see people being happy as a local postie was the focus of attention for the media. The postie being a symbol of normality for many, anything normal were hot. Distraction help people to cope, get their minds off things, as it seems all roads lead to the quake. No matter what, you either can’t avoid talking about it, or being in it.

When I got to the hospital I noticed she had a haircut, it is short. Immediately it reminded me of some dolls cut, I called it the “Wendy” She was dozing, tired, worn out by the look of things. Public hospitals are the worse place on earth to get a decent night’s sleep.

I got a lovely kiss and a hug and we began to catch up. Mostly moaning about things, her, the hospital, me just things in general. We both needed to off load all the excrement of life to help us cope. Only I had more than her because I had nobody to off-load to for days. This was a bit much of course, but as I pointed out to her. It’s part of the process; this is a time we need to be there for each other. If she can’t handle that, then I will need to talk to a councillor or keep in bottled up. It is the bottling up than cause’s problem.  The reason why the expressions of “popping your cork” or “boiling over” is used so often is that is the best analogy to describe the process. One needs to release the pressure that builds over days, weeks and months that follow such a disaster. Without that release the exploding would be much worse.  Arguments and raised voices are common place at the best of times, but in these worst of times they are much, much worse. Hang in there people, the government here is encouraging people to talk to the experts about their problems. As one of our workers put it; “Everybody in Canterbury has problems”

I have worked alongside these people for quite some time and this experience has certainly brought us all closer together. Real feelings are coming out, and I see a great bunch of caring guys that work for Goleman. I’m proud to be amongst them.

 

For Christine, it was the hospital staff that she was complaining about, some of the nurses are the salt of the earth. Others are just “lazy bitches” not doing things at all, or taking ages to answer the buzzer. Some old dear had to wait half an hour before they sorted her abolitions out, even then it was uncaring. I shall be making a complaint I think, the more people complain the more chance of change. Nurses should have regular assessments of their conduct and attitude towards patients otherwise many “should not be there”. Gone are the days of Florence Nightingale sainthood of a nurse. Such dedication is rare these days, but these Nurses can’t be classed as human. Not of all of them of course, otherwise where would we be.

I walked her to the lifts and we departed...

 

When I got back to my parents place, it was here that my explosion took place. Before I left I asked them to record the Big Bang Theory.  Humour and laughter is ideal therapy is these troubled times; anything that makes you laugh is the best medicine. When it looked pretty grim that the recording

had not come out I got pretty annoyed. This is annoyance was only the steam rising to the surface, it was only when my father said “It’s only a programme” that the explosion occurred.

In normal times, it might be considered that, but for me it was a Godsend. A sense of both normality and something to end the day on a good note; I needed it as much as I needed the air. This comment released the pressure valve and I let rip....

Needless to say, “Your intolerance is intolerable” comment from me best summed it up, and this intolerance continued throughout the watching of the programme when mother dear finally got it to work. I was just an inconvenience, it was too loud, it was this, and it was that.

Half an hour to myself; half an hour of having the volume so I can hear it, was that too much to ask for. Apparently so, it was then I decided I was going home that night. Despite the fact that I wasn’t it a fit state to drive, being both tired and upset; but I left anyway. Much to their horror, but this was normal. All during me growing up years and whenever we stay over, they are problems. Those problems are always caused by him and his ways or intolerance. I vowed never to stay overnight again, both of hate staying there overnight. The hassles far outweigh the convenience, but that is family for you. Good intentions, but when you live in your own world and have everything just the way you like, any intrusions upon that is going to upset the apple cart. Well, no more, this was the straw that broke the camels back, in more ways than one.

I managed to get home, and crash, so ended another day. Not dwelling on it, you reset the jug, and wait for the next boiling....which is bound to come, sooner or later.

 

 

4th March 2011

Radio live has been a good source for hearing about people’s comments and stories about the quake. One of the biggest problems facing residents has been sanitation, washing and going to the toilet. In normal times, these simple and basic necessities are taken for granted, we turn on the tap or flush the loo, out it comes or down it goes. No problems. But the issue of just going to the toilet becomes a trial or a nightmare for some. We all have to poop, if you don’t poop, you pop...basically.

I heard one lady say, “You know you are living in Canterbury when you have to fight over the same patch as your cat for pooping” Her solution was to poop in a bucket and empty it in the garden and then cover it up, like a cat would.  She must have a pretty big garden, because the size of human waste is much bigger than a cat, and probably more frequent.

Others have been reported of commandeering street port-a-loos and parking them on their front lawn. Which is both selfish and possessive, these are for the common good and not an individual shit house folks. I know its embarrassing using them, but eventually you have to go. Try to go when it’s quieter and there are not many people around. This might mean re-arranging your body clock to suit these conditions. I for one, have trouble dropping the bombs in such public places, the trick is to try and not think about the noise and the smell and that everybody is in this together...I can hear another slogan coming on. Those who poop together, stay together.

The talk of the day yesterday and today has been the eastern suburbs, and how they have been badly hit with still no power, water and sanitation. I was there in this region when it happened, and knows too well how bad it is. The effort has been in the CBD, and the resources have not been there to cope with the magnitude of devastation. A lot of anger and frustration over this, but if I can quote Star Trek here “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few....or the one” spoken by Kirk & Spock in  Wrath of Khan just before Spock dies of radiation in the engine core.

In other words, try to understand the gravity of the situation.

 I did hear that one person had died in the building we are cleaning up yesterday, and I have a good idea where; and why that happened. Osh is going to have a field day when all things have quietened down, as there will be changes in the workplace.  More changes and increases in insurance, ACC levies, the list goes on as all forms of raising money for the quake and refilling the coffers.

We shall have to grin and bear these increases, but it won’t be easy, as the whole world is still in a recession with no let up and no real signs of improvement. These are tough times indeed, more and more, we have to support each other. Individualism is over; it is a time to get back the community spirit we use to have.

 

Christine gets out of hospital and decides to spend the rest of the week at her sister’s house in Leeston. I join her for the evening; she looks completely buggered, having no sleep. I shall be holding the fort down back in Oxford and see her again on Monday.

I have some people interested in coming to see the museum on Sunday, I have a full on weekend doing domestic stuff, Time Machine and Museum as well as maybe visiting on Saturday. I chance to unwind; God knows we need the simple things in life...

It’s half past seven in the morning now, and it’s time to start another day, what it brings I don’t know. What I do know is that the rescue has been officially been called off, which means people are officially been declared dead, with no hope of finding people alive amongst the rubble. Its sad news, but we all have to move on. There has been much talk about the rebuilding of Christchurch and about the demolition process. One historic church in Sydenham has been pulled down without permission It looked like it could be saved, but then there are stories all over about people making poor judgements, or at the very least very debatable ones. Like two of our workers were called in to help a rescue attempt of the Cathedral. Twelve people were trapped when the big one struck; but within a couple of hours or so they were all gone with severe aftershocks. But before that, people of supposedly higher authority deemed it unsafe. Many questions will have to be answered as the victim’s families and friends want to know one thing...WHY. Christine and I being amongst those victims, we want answers.

 

Here is a picture of "Jim" a young woker I was working with along with hmate "Kim"  The clock has frozen in time when the quake struck. Usually we find clocks that have lost thei batteries which explains the stopping. This one, the battey was still in it...creepy. But we  are still smiling.

The clean up continues at the council building , now working on clearing some of the desks away from concrete beans that have suffered superficial damage and need to be se right again.

We all try and crack jokes and try not to think about perhaps being in a danger zone. You could say that the world is unstable at the moment, and nowhere can be considered “safe”  Not many places around the world are free from natural disasters and earthquakes. Apparently New Zealand has thousands every year, but most of these wouldn’t even cause a ripple in your bath water, let alone any damage. The expert reckoned that this occurrence may not happen for hundreds of years. The Wellington region every 700 years (They are half way through that cycle at present) however Wellingtonians are planning to investigate just how sound their city is; and what they can do to make it safer. If lessons can be learned from the Christchurch quake, then that give some sort of meaning to the people that died. They are understandably nervous, as they have had some 4.+ ones in recent days. Here in Canterbury we have become quite the experts in interpreting the data and understanding all the mumbo jumbo.

The day was a slow one and Christine got plenty of sleep today, so hopefully she will be able to get back to her old self a bit more at the weekend. Even though I miss her and want to be where she is, I have to remain in Oxford to do domestic stuff and open the museum. We have people booked for Sunday, sounds like we could get 6-10 people coming out????

Anyway, lots of mundane things to do and some exciting ones, but it is good to be away from the chaos and in the country. However the continued discussions over the Moon man’s predictions for this month are frightening.  We all talked about going over to Australia to live, as this country has been going downhill for years, and for many this is their last straw.  With job prospects grim, and maybe more big quakes to come, would there be enough of this country left to carry on. Serious thought now has to be considered on not living here anymore. Australia, or England would be my choice. I hate Australia, it’s too hot, but England has too many problems too.....who knows.

I decided to use my red pass to go home through the blockades....what a sight. Seeing first hand of buildings that you know dying on the road; I didn’t take any photos because the camera was flat and being caught doing so would be severe. I may try again on Monday...as it as opportunity not to be missed.  But it was an eerie feeling driving through a ghost town....I felt like the “last man on earth”

 

Me being silly, holding a panic button

6 March 2011

The day begins yesterday checking the phone messages and house work, paying some bills and checking the account.  One of the girls from MARAC sounded a bit off, so I text Christine to try and ring her, I too tried but to no avail. Then I got some distressing news on our bank account, MARAC had mentioned a “one off payment” to help staff members. But this was baffling to the amount that was paid out. In the last one it was x amount of dollars in this one is less than x, I have no idea how they quantify this amount, but to me, if the quake was more severe and affected people more than you don’t need to be a maths teacher to know this doesn’t make a lot of sense. MARAC have been really good in all of this, but this made me upset. I think it was a bit insensitive, could they not figure out that under the circumstances this wouldn’t make sense and people would question the amount.

I wrote an email to the big boss about this trying to find out what it was exactly they had paid, pointing out that we had not gone to the media about the earthquake and were not milking it like some people appeared to be.  Like the Moon Man for instance, everybody knows who is now!

It wasn’t long before I talked to another staff member about all of this; and they agreed.  It wasn’t really the amount we were upset about but the principal. Later that morning, I got a call from the boss man and he explained that 100 workers work for MARC in Christchurch.  Now that would explain it, more people to dish money out to, may mean less, but even that doesn’t make sense to me, surely the people that work directly for MARAC should be taken care of differently.

This whole episode did however trigger off the next “boiler” questioning the thought processes and procedure of MARAC between the two quakes. For instance I pointed out that did they ever really listen to their staff and discuss how they felt about being in the building, and how the after-shocks were affecting them. This seemed to stump him and he went on about all the engineer’s reports and how they gave it the ok. I said this was all BS anyway, if it was OK it would not have fallen. The staffs thought were more important than the reports. A regular health and safety meeting after every major aftershock and a reassessment of the situation should have happened.  The boss man said they been talked to and were fine about it. I pointed out that “everybody lies” You only had to be in that building during a big aftershock to know it didn’t feel safe. Science is not the only way of gauging something, sometimes you have to trust your instincts too.

It’s not over by a long shot; some of the staff may have a meeting about all of this to discuss how they are going to react and whether to take this further. I pointed out that I had big teeth and “I bite” Yes, I may take on something more than I can chew but I’m more than up for it, and I know a lawyer personally!!

The day goes by quickly, we get two visitors through the museum; one a doctor who fan. They both loved it, enjoying the variety of stuff. The Who fan didn’t want to stand too close to the Dalek, it made him nervous. Such is the power of these iconic figures, the ability to un-nerve you...great stuff.

I said to him I wanted to get 10 Daleks for our convention to invade the public. A Dalek club should be organized and a website?

I finish off the day chopping up free firewood, dvd’s with my friend down the road and catching up with Christine; she had been sleeping most of the day. But was fine, on the mend now, so can only get better in time, like all of us, time “heals all wounds”

 

7th March 2011

My friend Julian stayed overnight, I got up early to write the journal, more housework; museum prep, and some time spent on Time Machine. Later I had time to do some reading, so a pretty normal day overall.

Christine had slept most of the day , while Julian and I gassed bagged, watched some DVD’s. I could have been working on Saturday, but during these times it is important to relax.

The rift between my father and seems to be growing, he hasn’t been as supportive as he could. They are feeling the aftershocks and this is taking its toll emotional for them. Like everybody that has to still live in the Christchurch.  

But this is not a time to be selfish, or too much of anything of the pre-earthquake self. Rise up to the occasion and be better than your normal self. I specifically wanted my father to read this blog-journal to try and get a better grip on how we are feeling and therefore be more supportive. So far I have failed to inspire him to spend an hour out of his retired day and read it.  I got an email from him stating he would do so “eventually”. I’m afraid eventually is not a very good choice of woods in these troubled times. Eventually usually means such a long time, that eventually leads to never...

Well, this doesn’t inspire me to go out of my way either after work to visit them. This is a time when we should be more supportive and stick by each other and be mindful of each other’s needs. But I guess for some that is hard, and more unrest is going on than normal.

It is harder  for me now, I have to get up earlier than usual (which was bad enough) leave earlier, and have a longer work day, and it takes longer to get home, and I have nobody to share the driving long distance. So by the end of the day, visiting people is too exhausting, so “eventually” is probably what it will become dad. They are going have to come and visit us, with having to spend so much extra time earning a living and looking after a sick person, my energy levels are low. It is only a matter of time before I get sick.

I did talk to Christine’s ex workmates that got made redundant 15 months ago and they agreed with my thoughts on MARAC, the plot thickens...

I also heard that one of the girls had a premonition that the back section of the MARAC building collapsed during a quake and since then she didn’t want to be in the building and was taking a lot of time of work as result. She wasn’t in the building when it struck, and would have been amongst the missing if she had. Did this premonition save her life???

The first of the funerals are on Wednesday, I shall try and get time off for at least the first one. To attend them all will be hard, with working.

My friend Kim who is helping out is off to Australia next week, so I shall have to continue to wait to catch up with her.  But they have been busy talking and doing quake things too, and they have found it exhausting as well. This isn’t anybody that I know that isn’t affected by all of this.

One of the highlights over the weekend was beating my old record of 6 parcels arriving to 8 parcels.

Time to get ready for work, I now look forward to my time off in April, and have just started looking for another job. As about half our buildings are being demolished I don’t see much future in Goleman. I will be mentioning this at the meeting, what are our long term visions now that so many of our work has gone up in smoke???

 

8th March 2011

A day of tension in this shaky city of ours, our boss has now been nick-named “Mr Grumpy Nuts” As the majority opinion is that he is not taking this very well and we are in the firing line. Everybody at work is complaining about something.  From cheap dust masks to the type of work we are now doing and questioning the safety of what we do. Danger money is on the minds and lips of some of us, but falling on deaf ears.  I’ll be stepping up the job campaign and pretty soon jobs will be easier to come by, there is always city care. The council will be crying out for workers, as will be demolition companies. A lot of jokes about training me to be an ab-sailer but I wish they would stop joking and make a decision. I did bring up the subject of the number of building and got some BS response of “rumours and waiting for the official word” Now it is very easy to compile a decent list with the areas the workers live in and what we have seen ourselves to reliable sources of information that are firsthand accounts. It is just side stepping tactics; we should be demanding answers, nobody like an uncertain future. Apparently after this week, there may not be any work for the following week.  That time will be spent looking for a job...When I tell Christine about work, she says “I don’t know why you are still working for them; if I was you I’d tell him to stick it”

Christine is experiencing nightmares she tells me, but other than that, recovering well.  We discussed my opinions on MARAC, but she does not agree. Being too close to things, I don’t think she can remain objective enough to think outside the box. So for now, the subject remains closed; I don’t think the official enquiry will find anything wrong, but time shall tell.

Life is certainly very hard, I get home much later than usual, and by the time I do the chores, its 8 o clock at night, another hour and I’m nodding off, being so tired.

I do feel that is now time for another change of direction, having now met many different people and a new group of friends. Work mates are getting closer and I hear about more horror stories of the quake. Like somebody coming up to the roof of the Civic building just to take photos and the boys not being very happy about it. The first- hand accounts of seeing remains of people, and they damaged bodies. The squashed bus was the worse apparently, only one person got out alive.

Another day of cleaning, getting sick of it now; tomorrow is the first funeral and it’s going to tough for both of us. The reality of it all will hit us hard.

It’s my son’s birthday today and I will try and talk to him later today. Not much time can be spent doing normal things as it takes so much longer getting around. I now have to pick up and drop off some new guy in Kaipoi. Another complication, but at least I get a bit of company, and it is good to be helping out. It is not a time to be thinking of just you; we had a bit of a laugh about making a non PC reality TV showed.

It was good to see Christine again, but that haircut is really naff. But practical, a medicinal haircut I suppose another cross to bear; Christine hates it too. But when you only have use of one arm, some things are more important.  Can’t wait till the arm is back to normal too, the little things and normality is what everybody needs to get better.

Work on the other hand is anything but normal, the chaos continues. We now feel that we are wasting our time somewhat. With things not being done in the right order and as a result the messes we clean up are ruined by the construction boys making more mess. What’s the point, you want work to mean something so you feel worthy, both for yourself and the work that you do. I would prefer to pull down chimneys or not work at all than the work we are doing now. Come Monday if we are still working on that shit hole of a place I’m opting out. My time would be better spent looking for other ways of making money.

To top the day off a library book I had been reading to keep my mind of things gets swiped from where we left it after lunch.  I’ll be mentioning a few things at the tool box meeting on Friday if the book doesn’t show up then I won’t either if that’s the type of people I’m working with. I could have easily taken a dozen books and $100.00 cash but we have a conscience, unlike some people.

I tried to get a hold of my son yesterday; lately he doesn’t seem to want to have anything to do with me. I remember being the same at his age so I sort of understand. But it still hurts though; I’m looking forward to seeing my other son, George in April. The convention won’t be on but hopefully we can come up with some fun things to do instead. I am worried about the relationship with my old man; they both have this so-called hold over their off-spring. Using the inheritance as some kind of ultimate “behave yourself” tactic; do something really bad to annoy them and they take it away.

My father has never been a very understanding person, but this time it hurts to think that he has not been very sympathetic in all of this and not taken to reply to my messages or read this journal.

 

9/3/2011

I had a dream this morning that somebody was trying to kill me with rocks, death does seem to be a welcome relief from all of this. I can’t help but feel if there was another huge quake and it finished us off, then we would be put us out of our misery. But I suppose thinking about death is only natural when you have a funeral to go to. This is only the fourth time I have been to one, each time it takes me a while to get over the experience. It is the most unpleasant thing on earth, saying good bye to someone you once knew.

We pulled up to reception area and parked the car, there was a piper playing the bag pipes. I immediately thought of Spock’s funeral in Wrath of Khan. Christine must have had an association too as the water works started flowing. This was the first time we had seen some of the MARAC staff since the quake so that was emotional in itself. The service was the best I had been too, great speeches, tributes, and choice of music. We really got to know her a bit more, which of course made the passing even sadder. Catherine McKinley Lumley was a generous, funny and loving mother, who touched many people in her life and will be missed by all. 

There were some funny stories about her that made us all laugh; she was brilliant getting money out of people. So much so that she had been made redundant 14 times, because of her services were no longer required on account she had helped reduced the company’s debt to a “manageable level”

On one particular occasion when this client had been very elusive, she called upon at his house and knocked on the door, taking her baby with her. The wife answered the door; she asked to speak to the husband. She wife asked why, Catherine pointed to the baby...the wife screamed for her husband to come here. He came, and Catherine handed him the papers, the husband laughed and said, “A fair cop”

It sounds like an episode of Fair Go, Catherine with her personality would have been a superb front person for that programme. It’s a real shame we didn’t get to know her better, the world needs people like her.

At the funeral a shook hands with some more of the big boys of MARAC. On the whole they were better shakers, and even the limper gave me a firm handshake this time. He even offered to help find me work, as he knows a lot of people in Christchurch, having grown up here. This was a comforting thought, as I know it’s time to leave. All my instincts say I would be better off getting out of the job as long as I find something that suits me and the money is the same or better. I hate the thought of getting crap wages.

Still no word from my father, I shall have to ring him on the weekend. Christine asked me about what had happened that night. She wasn’t amused about his response either, bit at 79 years of age, I don’t think he’s about to change his ways now.

 

12/3/2011

Work drags, another quake funeral for Christine, Dr Who book culprit found and the sick jokes start. With talk of rebuilding Christchurch and how to demolish the buildings I came up with an idea to make lots of money and entertain the sick people that like destruction. Invite millionaires, the army, and overseas military and get them to bomb the centre and use tanks. Set up a gambling syndicate to make bets on things and televise it live.  Of course this is distasteful for some and practical for others. We lost people in this quake, but you have to laugh during these times, the humour we make up between my fellow work mates is great. It helps us through the day; it is exactly what we need.

The Big news last night was hearing about a even bigger and more destructive quake in Japan, an 8.9 with a tidal wave wiping out many houses and flooding a whole town. These are the “end times” the natural disasters that predicted that nowhere in the world are immune from. It’s scary and all too real, I now need to repurchase a book I read 30 years ago called The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey.  When did the end times start, for it is suppose to last for seven years....its hell on earth and nowhere to escape? Every day is precious, take up distraction, do as much as you can and spend time we the people you love.

I had a great today on working on the Time Machine and receiving many visitors late afternoon. It got very busy around 2ish and didn’t hold up until midnight.

A group of five turned up first and then our good friends Steve & Sue, and then an American couple on their honeymoon trip around New Zealand. They were special, both being into Science Fiction and movies we had two great chats to the extent of them offering to show us around and put us up if we ever in California. I said we would take them up on the offer; I am constantly meeting some great people and making contacts all the time through the museum. It’s just wonderful, the best part about doing all of this.  Kristina & Chas were their names and today I’m going to ask them if I can send a media release or they can send one about making their day in Oxford.

The day ended on a worried note though as Christine was taken by her sister into town to sort out an infection that had spread in her arm. We have to get another IV drip this morning in Oxford and see how things progress over the next 48 hrs otherwise its back to hospital again. We are all sick of this of course, Christine especially....her other arm is in a bandage now with the drip. The infection; or risk of one should have been picked up. We just don’t trust the medical profession and are not surprised in the least.

We box on...

 

14/3/11

Christine spends the day in bed, the strain is really telling on her now, the infection has knocked for another 6. If it was cricket, the crowd would be cheering and the score would be moving towards a win. We still feel like winners, but the end seems like a long way off. She looks a sorry state; we just long for a normal sleep and do some of the things we did before the quake. It wasn’t much of a life; we didn’t plan too many exciting things. That is why is so disappointing the things we did plan got cancelled. This week is going be tough with three funerals and Christine not in the best condition; I’m worried she just might not be up to it. She has to return to town 3 out of 4 times, and at the moment with my work, and the hassle of moving around. The strain of the working week is two-fold, but we box on. Our plight is no different to other Cantaberian’s , never say die I suppose?

Yesterday wasn’t a good day for me; I couldn’t get my sign back together on my own. Have to redesign it and get help to put it all back after the winds the other week. I was angry again for what seems like no reason, but I think it’s just my frustration over my father not making contact. I sent him an email trying to get him to touch base. We shall have to wait and see...

The museum continues to draw people in, some are not willing or don’t have any cash so they walk off. We are now two thirds of the way through our target goal for the first year, I’m now quite confident that success is assured with a little “help from my friends”

 

 

 

16th March 2011

The last couple of days have been hard work, we have been cleaning up another building; this time a hotel close to the city centre. First task was removing all the rotting food from the coolers and kitchens etc, disgusting job. We had to use respirators, but even with that the smell gets through. I thought I was never going to feel like eating again after that. But of course you do, we are becoming conditioned to this filth and rubble and the ghost town that has become the central city.

Yesterday we were cleaning the exits and stairwells and shifting rubble from the walls that two of my co-workers had smashed down.

Still no sign of hearing from my father, it doesn’t look hopeful on that front, but I could be wrong?

I did vent some of the anger that still resides in me when Telecom sent us a bill with broadband on it. They had told us that we had to wait 6-12 months or more before we were able to be connected now it magically appears on our account without them even notifying us and without a modem. Plus they had advertised free calls to and from Canterbury for the month after the quake. No such like it had been misleading advertising. They had made thousands out of people’s misery, pack of bastards.

I got some snooty, smarty bitch on the phone that couldn’t wait to get rid of me. I wasn’t pleasant but she was a bitch in her tone and manner, hardly missing a beat when I told her Christine hadf been injured in the quake and was on ACC. She did remove the broadband bill but I think we will go to another provider; because what they do is not cricket, it all about making money with them.

 

20/3/11

Christine has been back in hospital with the infection, going mad with boredom, due to lack of actually doing the operation. It is no wonder that people chose to go private, the state system sucks like nothing else. But yesterday she finally got taken into theatre, without any warning, and I caught up with her a couple of hours later. It is her birthday today, so I’m going into to take some supplies and watch Darling Buds of May to cheer her up. But of course everybody else will visit, so I don’t know how much time we shall be able to spend together?

All this is wearing her down, losing a lot of weight, and mentally draining....but you have to be thankful that she is still alive.

 

Today is supposed to be the day of another quake, so it’s a waiting game over the next few days. If nothing happens, then people can breathe a sigh of relief and get on with things. As it has been an emotional couple of days with the memorial service in the park here, attended by Prince William. Who gave a rousing speech, and the Prime Minister, Mr John Key and many other famous people here to help us through the grieving process? We saw images of central Christchurch, and it look bad, much of what was will be no more.  It shall haunt us for the rest of our lives, and when that date come around next year, we shall bleed and weep in remembrance. But the order of the day and months and years ahead has been “Rise up Christchurch” and “Be strong”

Which is hard when there is so much bad news going on in the world, still, I personally hold on the things that are important and those that give me substance and worth; Christine, the Museum, friends, family, and work colleagues. As many have been supportive in all of this, it has brought us closer together.

 

Father has replied too, which is a relief; it has been having trouble with his emails apparently. I’m still in the Murray clan. They are going to catch up when things settle down, um, lord knows when that will be?

On the museum front, things are going well; we are now over two thirds of the way through our target for the first year with nowhere near exhausting our publicity campaign. So I can see a day when we might get as many as 50 people coming every week?

The Time Machine is ticking along, slowly, but surely.

Andrew Riach, my friend from around the corner in Oxford even came around on Friday. He knew nothing of Christine’s plight and was shocked to hear about her troubles. We had a good talk and it was great to catch up. We shall have to see if we can resurrect some sort of regular ‘art house’ cinema showings in our houses once a month.

 

I also finally gave back the book I borrowed from a local a few months ago. She looked worried about the predicted quake, and we talked about our experiences. Many people are going to be like Mary, not wanting to go into the city, to see what it has become, rather holding onto their memories than see such devastation. That is why I needed to stay away for a couple of days, even from Christine, being amongst it every day is more than one can handle right now. The weekends are a time of normality; to recharge the batteries, and be strong for another week of who knows what in these uncertain times.