the alfmeister

a figment of reality's imagination

Revisiting Christchurch…

>Now this might be an odd title considering I live in CHCH, but trust me, with what has happened the last fortnight or so, there has been little or no chance for me, or anyone (barring dickheads on sightseeing tours and looters!) to get back to the heart of the city and see first-hand what was the result of 22 Feb 11.

I myself had avoided going back in. No specific reason, maybe a combination of little ones; there are people trying to do a job, and they don’t need me in the way; could I actually cope with seeing it; there are dead still there, it is due the respect that comes with that. But last Friday I called in on a customer who needed some assistance and their ‘new’ premises were on Fitzgerald Ave, one of the “four aves” of CHCH that border the no-go-zone. I have to admit, it was with trepidation that I agreed to catch up with them – the following Monday I was attending the funeral of a victim; the following Friday, the remembrance service in Hagley Park – it just didn’t seem right to go in there before everyone else. But I did, and just like a script, it rained.

cnr Fitz and Kilmore
I love the rain, it makes sitting in a car, or in your house seem so much safer and cosier, but as I drove through Fendalton, past Halgey, across Bealey, and into Fitzgerald the rain took on a much more sombre and morbid tone. Things I did not notice, or blanked from that day jumped out at me on every street corner, in every house, on people’s faces. It started with the roads…going along Bealey, a trip I have done so many times before at a reasonable clip had my lowered car bouncing off every undulation, bottoming out on raised manhole covers, threatening to rip the floor pan out on each subsidence. Past the Knox Church, the Carlton, and the bridge crossing the Avon River at Kilmore. The eyes were seeing, but the brain was not computing. More than once I stopped and looked at the scene around me. The first was at a Ford Laser parked on the side of the road. there was liquefaction built up around it – it obviously had not moved since that afternoon. It got me thinking; this car is outside the Red Zone, so why hasn’t it been claimed? Have the owners fled? Or is the owner somewhere in the city, the car waiting, like a loyal dog, for it’s owner’s return. Chilling.
On Fitzgerald
Only a little further down the road, traffic was swerving from lane to lane like drunks as they avoided the numerous cracks (and not just cracks, big fuck off holes in the bitumen) and sunken holes. If it wasn’t them, you risked motion sickness from the wavy nature of the surface. I have sped (ahem) down this stretch at 60-70 without a care in the world, but doing so now would risk ripping the bottom of the car out, or at best losing the front bumper.There is talk of the repair to buildings, but in looking at the roading, it seems literally ripping it all up and starting again.
To my right, the Grand Chancellor, soaring higher than most in CHCH and visible almost from anywhere – trust me, what you see on the news does not compare to seeing the potential for disaster that awaits with this structure – it is eerie. You are transfixed to it as you cannot help but think that with such a lean, it must drop right now, as you watch. It seems to defy physics.

Once I had finished with my customer, I headed back out of town via Edgeware Road. I grew up 40kms out of Cheviot on gravel roads…they were a walk in the park compared to the route I had taken here. Those with Range Rovers and Cayennes and other urban four wheel drives finally get to do what they are designed for.

Papanui Rd – used to be a pet shop here which doesn’t
bear thinking about. Before, you could not see the
building behind.
The following day I had to drop out on another customer in Shirley. I took Katie and the girls with me – it was time for them to see their home and get a sense of reality so easily muffled by the medium of television. Everywhere we went, there was “we had lunch there”, or “remember when we took the kids to that?”…All I can say is that there were tears, nothing more needs to be said.

If we were to be hit by another large jolt, even this positive person would admit that it could well be the end of Christchurch…I dearly hope not, I have no desire to leave…but I am just one.

Me and Katie will be attending next weeks service in the city – there is talk that we won;t be now allowed into the city itself. That is incomprehensible, however, completely understandable.

Formerly known as Bealey Ave Pharmaceutical…
What is it of the human mind that has a morbid fascination with death, destruction and despair? We see it all day in movies, and we watch shark docos despite a fear of the water, airplane crashes despite a fear of flying…and while the rest of the country, say the world, await more grisly finds, they sit comfortably back in their loungers with their tea and bikkies, we sit in the dark unsure of an uncertain future.
I was going to post this on Friday night, and with laptop open in front of the TV, me and Katie sat shocked and in tears as we watched the horrific events unfolding in Japan. Even now, I cannot get that surreal shot of the waves crashing over the coastline and into houses chasing cars up the highway…we have taken too much for granted, we have taken so much from this planet. Could it now be asking for it back?

This to me sums up the spirit here…hope.

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