Sue Wells – The New Canterbury Tales

March 18, 2011

Memorial Day Service #eqnz

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 9:16 pm

Memorial day.

Some folk didn’t think it would be a good idea. I did. We need to grieve as a community and let go together – pick up the pieces of our past, treasure them, hold them in our hearts and take them forward with us.

It’s terribly hard when the likes of Matty Beaumont is as yet nowhere to be seen. I would love it if that changed, but perhaps it never will. I saw his beautiful fiancee today at the service, and my heart breaks for her. It does too for Grant Roberts, with whom I worked at CTV. I thought he was there to support the station. Wrong. His 39 year old daughter, Debra (Deborah) worked elsewhere in the CTV building and the jewellery her Mum was planning on buying her for her next birthday will remain in a store. I had no idea. They sent her away yesterday while we were farewelling Sam.

Started the day at 4am. Drank too much red wine last night so it woke me up. Dog spent the night poking her paw into my neck or her snout into my armpit. I’m tired and plan on sleeping vigorously. Then had to be up at 6 for Radio Live at 7 (Marcus Lush is a very talented broadcaster and a really compelling character in person. I’d like to do lunch with him, in one of those “who would you like to have lunch with” ways. Suspect he’d tell some great stories that would make you think. Plus he wore a pink checked shirt that matched my hi vis vest. Clearly the man has taste.)

Spent 15 minutes on air with him then came home for a shower, to pack our bags, to walk to town.

The suburbs were silent as I drove home. It’s a Canterbury day of mourning. Many have mourned elsewhere, terrorised by the predictions of Ken Ring the moon man whose doomsday forecast for Saturday has people thinking the end of the world is nigh. (Maybe he’s forecasting for Japan – or if you’re right Ken, I don’t care anymore, I’ve learnt to love who I have, do my best for their future, and not worry what tomorrow will bring.)

We walked en famille to the service. Chris, his girlfriend the lovely gentle Rachel, Nick (who didn’t really want to come) and me. It was like walking through Middle Earth, with me as Frodo out in front. Through dusty St Martins, crumbling Waltham, Portaloo Sydenham, and past our church we all tried to save. Asked the soldier to take our picture. They are so obliging and gorgeous all at the same time.

Past Blackheath, still standing, over the Durham Street bridge and the giant carpet factory sheep. The Grand Chancellor backlit, cold and clammy morning fog having burnt away.

We the councillors and our families gathered together at 11 at the Armagh Street Bridge. Took an hour and a half to walk slowly from home. We walked slowly in, they gave us each a rose. Mine was hot pink. It wilted during the service. At the end I laid it on a mountain of other wilted roses and again I wept.

The sun came out and baked us all. It was beautiful. The crowd (had to be over 100,000) was engaged, respectful, courteous. The USAR and other recovery teams received standing ovations from us as they arrived. Mayor Bob Parker’s speech was a triumph – no notes, heartfelt, real. Prince William was gorgeous and quoted his grandmother.

That was the most wonderful service I’ve ever attended. You couldn’t fault it (except perhaps Sam’s Johnson’sbarbeque lighting skills – shall have to get him back round here for a practice.)

I am not a believer in a third party god figure – but I particularly liked the experience of the prayers from half a dozen faiths in our community. I’ve never seen that before, and I felt I knew myself a little better at the end.

The music was wonderful. Malvina Major’s voice so mature, Hayley Westenra’s much more to my taste now she’s a little older – and the choirs and I still love you Dave Dobbyn THANK YOU SO MUCH for singing me Loyal again.

I cried and cried. So did Barry. My kids ate easter eggs and jaffa thins. I made Nick wait till the clapping after one of the prayers to open the plastic wrapper. There was a lot of clapping.

We all came together today. Richer and poorer, in sickness and in health. We saw our shared past and our shared future, and it will be beautiful in days not far to come.

I love this town. I love our people. I love our communities, our cultures, our strengths. I love the ethos we have here. We forget what it is. We are doers, we care for each other, we get stuff done.

We were, we are pioneers. This time we have a chance to do a little better than the time before.

The lessons of the past have not been lost on my ears or my eyes.

Nor have the lessons of the present.

Prince William told us of his lesson today – one he wishes for all of us.

Kia Kaha, Christchurch. Be strong.

Oh – and I was also on the tv tonight on TV3 Campbell Live, about CTV. Can we resurrect it?

How can we not? Who tells our stories without a gentle impartial local media? We have to revive CTV and bring her back somehow. You walk away from CTV, you walk away from Christchurch. And I’m not doing that my darlng place. Not again.



1 Comment »

  1. Nicely put – wish I could have been there.

    Comment by Robert — March 18, 2011 @ 9:28 pm | Reply

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