Sue Wells – The New Canterbury Tales

July 7, 2011

If you’re going through hell, keep going. #eqnz #chch

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 9:40 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“You’ve been very quiet lately,” one of my tweeps said today. “Is everything all right?”

EQ blues like everybody else, I replied, and work has been chaos. And it’s tax time. And I’ve got a rotten stupid headcold. I need some cheese with this whine, except I think I’ve eaten everything in the fridge. Three kilos of quake weight in as many months and I feel like calling Greenpeace for help every time I roll over in bed.

Life at  the moment feels like it normally does in the week before Christmas when everyone is totally knackered and past the point of being nice to each other. At Christmas though the weather is warm and there’s at least a hope of Santa sticking something pretty under the tree (even if Santa’s handwriting looks remarkably like your own).

It’s not that I’m without hope here – it’s just been such a long haul since September 4th 2010. That’s over 10 months ago. I think I speak for more than just myself when I say I’m currently a tiny bit over it.

I’m not despondent, don’t get me wrong. I know that things will improve. We have things to look forward to. We have the Crusaders game on the weekend, and a welcome home for the boys at the airport on Sunday afternoon. We have the entertainment zone gearing up in Hagley Park. That’s lovely too. There is a ton of good stuff being done for the city’s future by any number of strong, enthusiastic, energetic people and organisations. But sometimes you just run a bit low on puff.

I was asked to write a piece for a book that’s being published about “things I love about Christchurch”. I wrote it. The author edited it because they didn’t think it was upbeat enough. I pulled out of the book, because I’m not going to sugar coat how hard things are for a whole lot of people right now. We’re all missing things. It’s part of a grief process and I’m not embarrassed to admit that.

But it feels really shallow and selfish in the light of so many greater hardships to admit the particular things I’m missing. Still, if we don’t acknowledge them, how do we get past it?

I miss roaming on the hills, I miss letting my dog swim in the river, I miss the easy access we had to town. I miss the traffic jam free roads, I miss my local supermarket. I miss my friends who’ve moved away. I’m not even going to begin to talk about buildings and people, we all carry that burden every day. I miss the security of knowing when I wake up in the morning the contents of the pantry will be in the same place they were when I went to bed (teenagers aside, of course). I am sick of waiting for the next shoe to fall.

This is one of the hard points along the way. When you think about it, and you reflect on the series of physically exhausting events we have been through, and then some people get the extra trauma of losing their home or their family member, and you put the time frame into the mix, it’s no wonder there are many brave faced Cantabrians who are part of a weary grouchy mob at the moment.

Some of the challenges people are facing are homes which are still cold, still occasionally surrounded by piles of liquefaction (and then dust if it isn’t removed). Getting insurance is a real problem, and for people currently living in the red zone who are being offered their Crown Offer of Purchase, that is a worry as they look to a new property for the future, if they can afford to buy one at all. Some people don’t want to be living here but their houses are keeping them tied here. Others don’t want to leave but their jobs have gone. Schools are still a big cross town journey for many, our thriving business community has largely shifted to the north western suburbs with all the consequent impost on their resources –  oh, and did I mention it’s winter so you can probably chuck a lump of seasonal affected disorder into the mix as well.

So many problems. One simple solution. Winston Churchill put it well, I think, when he said “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

So as we all will, I am.

I filed my tax return today, on time, if down to the wire. The staff at the IRD were just lovely over the past three days as I first failed to remember my user name, then subsequently my password, then I deleted the emails with the all the information in and had to start again (I emptied the trash too – no half measures.) The login information they gave me then didn’t work – it turned out to be a browser problem. And now it’s fixed.

I read a novel this week – the first I’ve read all year. Dave Marshall’s truly lovely book, “Shaggy Dogs and other stories.” I laughed so hard the family discussed calling the men in the white coats until I read them the section on the exploding budgie and we all wet ourselves together. I’m now embarking on reading another novel. It’s called “Paul Henry, what was I thinking”. I have no idea how it will end but so far it involves more explosives than the ether that blew up the bird.

The gardener has been and the vege garden is weed free.

I went for a 10km run yesterday over Ramahana Rd and Aotea Tce. When I told them this at the dinner table last night I  was asked if I had tailored my run to suit Maori language week.

Pepper has had a visit to Splash & Dash and no longer smells of pre-loved duck – as she has taken to sleeping on the floor of the bedroom that is certainly a plus. The cat has started stalking her now. We were woken in the dead of last night by an enormous growl and bark and what can only be described as a cat tittering behind her paw. (This makes up for the moment earlier in the week where Pepper was running for the door, barking violently at a knock, only to accidentally stand on the cat who was lying innocently in the sun. Yelp, hiss, scrabble, slash, yike yike yike.)The once timid Fang now waits malevolently until I put food in Pepper’s dish, and then saunters off and very slowly hoes into the biscuits. Pepper sits patiently and waits until she’s done, a little like a white zone resident waiting for the Tonkin and Taylor report.

And tonight, after a late afternoon nap, my gorgeous Chef fed me a delicious home made red Thai curry which is guaranteed to make my rotten cold run for the hills before dawn breaks. Just as well, because I’m filming a week’s worth of shows at CTV tomorrow and there’s nothing sexy about a drippy nosed on camera performance. I am well looked after, I am well loved, I am a very lucky woman.

Downs, yes. Ups, yes. As the IRD knows, you need to look at both sides of the ledger in order to reconcile where you’re at.

And where I’m at – is I’m keeping going.



  1. I went back to the UK for nearly a month, but I am so glad I am back.

    Politeness, less congestion, more sun and the views make up for the supposed safety of the UK

    Comment by Steve Taylor — July 7, 2011 @ 9:48 pm | Reply

  2. I miss the art gallery, museum, library, walking through the square, and basically anything local I used to do for a wind down that didn’t involve talking to people or drinking!

    Comment by rethreads — July 7, 2011 @ 10:56 pm | Reply

  3. “I need some cheese with this whine,” Is this a freudian spelling mistake – I’ve not known you to whine before?

    Comment by K Prince — July 8, 2011 @ 10:56 am | Reply

  4. Sue,

    We’ve been in Auckland/Hamilton for the past week. One of the things that has struck me forcefully is how relaxed and cheerful people are. It dawned on me that these days you never see anyone walking down a Chch street just smiling to themselves. At the first social event I went to, the impact of a group of 14 or 15 just eating dinenr and chatting about all the usual mundane blah blahs of life in a cloud of relaxed banality was almost too much to bear.

    …Tom (stealing Kris’ login)

    Comment by Kris V — July 8, 2011 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

  5. Good old Winston! Says it all, Sue, though to me it feels as if someone keeps postponing Christmas! Caught up with a friend for coffee at The Boat Shed cafe this arvo – first time since 22 Feb. Felt SO good to be back near old haunts. Reminded me of how it felt to (be able to)visit familiar surroundings. Keep safe and warm!

    Comment by Martin F-A — July 8, 2011 @ 4:52 pm | Reply

  6. I miss walking my dogs down my local beach and running through the forest without seeing massive piles of silt and rubble. I miss indulgent High Street Saturday shopping and lattes at Le Cafe.

    I find now everytime a snipet of Feb 22nd is shown on TV, I sob.

    That’s new for me.

    Yet I’m ok.

    Thanks for being so honest and not pretending Sue. It’s good for us all to know we’re not alone in missing the city and life we had.

    Comment by Suzy — July 8, 2011 @ 6:44 pm | Reply

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