Sue Wells – The New Canterbury Tales

March 13, 2011

I am a streetwalker #eqnz

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 7:32 pm

I have become a prowler. Pepper and I have been out every day, walking our little patch of paradise. As time has passed I’ve widened my circle, an old trout patrolling her patch.

The hill suburbs are deserted. When Chrissie Williams dropped by this morning, biking into the perpetual headwind that prevails in Christchurch no matter when you come from or where you’re going to (about a 3.9 that one – not worth stopping blogging for although Richard did raise his eyebrow at me over the burger he’s brought me and now he’s telling me dreadful jokes of his own creation) she told me that our part of town is a 1 in liquefaction terms. Hers is a ten. “But you have more damage to houses here – all the bricks that have come off.”

It’s very different here. The destruction on Port Hills Rd is just extraordinary. The beautiful homes of Aynsley, Riverlaw, in bits. Red stickered. Heart pounding stuff. Up through Glenelg, and again the homes I’ve dreamed of buying once I’ve won Lotto (won that on the 22/2/2011 when I got my kids out of Cashel Mall alive – won’t be buying a ticket again) all gone. Broken, in bits. Their owners too, many of them.

Yesterday someone commented that it seems particularly hard for the Christ’s College set, the STAC lot. I quite understand why. I love my neighbourhood and my community, but while I’ve lavished love and attention (and far too much cash) on my little weatherboard bungalow, it’s only a house. My home is portable. It’s my friends and my family and my kids. My house currently has a strange view of my next door neighbour’s truck which wears a large picture of its owner astride a 4wd. They can’t shift it because some little toad ruined the ignition when they broke into it before Christmas. I might set Richard on it for a project. He’s getting pretty good at breaking into things.

You can see the Grand Chancellor from Glenelg. It’s a slightly different angle. The twist is more pronounced today. I do hope it stays there long enough to be dealt with in a controlled fashion. If it falls with a hiss and a roar the sound of broken windows will resonate around the world.

So over the hill and bumping into Jed’s Mum and Dad along the way. Gossiping about the kids, discussing quake humour and quake laughter. Then down the hill and left into Bishopsworth Street, the second house I bought, the house I found the day I found out I was pregnant with Nick. Again, shattered homes. Deborah Nation and Andrew Peach who lived next door to me – their beautiful house is munted. Peter Gould at the front, who shared a drain with us – broken home.

A car came down my old driveway, a young woman reassuring me my old house was fine. I think it’s the fact it was part of the pathway to the old brick works. The land was hard as nails. Impossible to grow much on it and that’s got me thinking too.

Back down Aynsley Tce, and then down Clarendon past Kirsty’s old house. It’s fine. And then a new adventure for me. The old towpath called Radley Track. Enormous land damage, a fissure at least as deep as I am tall running the length of the track out the back of the houses. Two boys chatting to each other over a fence about someone having been burgled. I wave my council tag at them to reassure them I’m a prowler with good intent.

And into Radley Park, where Pepper meets Trip. A beautiful two year old border collie boy whose love of the ball outweighs any interest in girls. Pepper doing the enormous border collie circles, herding him. He ignores her resolutely. Her owner laughs when I tell him Trip is the typical New Zealand man. Lets the woman do all the frantic running around and all he does is think about his ball.

I don’t normally go there. It’s a great park. Well set up for dogs, in a lovely part of Woolston. That’s an area I’m not familiar with. It’s not part of my electoral patch, so I’ve never walked it the way I’ve walked my own ward. It has a remarkably intact feel to it, a bit of liquefaction, but not the catastrophic breakages of the homes on the hills.

There’s a mews along the river which has umbrellas and people and looks up to the hills – that might be my next Lotto fantasy and I could probably afford it.

Not that you’ll get me out of Opawa without a fight. It’s quirky and fun and the people are lovely. As I walk down Clarendon Terrace today, a gate catches my eye. If I’d had a screwdriver, I could well have been done for looting. It’s just as well I look good in hot pink.

I had to explain to a 22 year old tweep who enquired when he saw the photo why I was citing it as the city’s next logo. “Ask your Mum or your Nana” I told him. Another tweep beat me to the punch though. “It’s the Edmonds baking powder logo. Remember their slogan? Sure to Rise.”

There’s an Edmonds cookbook in every Christchurch home, they say. Sure to Rise again, indeed.


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