Sue Wells – The New Canterbury Tales

October 3, 2011

Central city plan – the hearings commence

Our first morning session of central city plan hearings has concluded. We are in for 8 x 11 hour days. 4707 comments were received on the plan. 427 people/groups have asked to speak.
Our hearings are taking place at the Balmerino Room, Riccarton Racecourse as the council building is still out of action. A jockey exercising their horse entertained me before the hearings began. To my left is a full wet bar. Rest assured it will not be used otherwise there will be guaranteed nodding off before we finish day 1 at 8pm.
So far we have received (and I have read) 5 volumes of material from submitters who wish to be heard. We have three further volumes to come plus another 10 or so volumes of “not heard” submissions to assess before deliberations commence in two weeks. Each volume is roughly 500 pages long.
I have learned some lessons over the years about long haul hearings. I bring my mug and some flowers from home, my own favorite tea and coffee. I bring snacks (healthy) and Kim made my lunch (even healthier).
When I take notes from the submissions, they’re multicolored with a coding system I develop as I go. I take notes in sketch form as well as in written word – it stimulates my thinking (and helps me stay focussed).
People are given 5 minutes to be heard and organizations 10. No small ask to get everyone through in time but we are working to the government’s timeline. We have a job to do and do it we will. What is more, we will do it well.

(and happy birthday Warren Brixton)

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September 25, 2011

Pouring pints for Penguins #eqnz #rwc2011 #chch

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 9:58 pm
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We have spent some time at the weekends in Dunedin lately, the closest venue for the Rugby World Cup 2011. As there is no volunteering here in Christchurch, it seemed appropriate to head south and help out there. I haven’t been to a game and I’m not planning to. Being part of the service team is much more fun.

My sister and her family have been very kind and put us up, late night arrivals and stupidly early departures. Friends of ours own bars in New Zealand’s most Scottish city. It’s been all hands to the pump, literally in my case. Kim has dishpan hands and I have RSI from opening bottles of beer.

We had a good giggle on Saturday. Radio Live rang the bar I was helping in, asking for a staff member to give them a quick description of the atmosphere in the Octagon. The phone was thrust my way. I felt a twinge of disloyalty to my beautiful city as I described the crowds and the fun and the buzz that Dunedin was enjoying – that soon passed as yet another swarm of Barmy Army supporters descended on the bar.

They’re such well behaved lovely people, the rugby crowd. For by far the most part they drink sensibly, they have designated drivers or they walk, and they’re here to enjoy the company and the beauty of New Zealand.

During the buildup on Saturday I served any number of chain mail clad knights. As the evening wore on, I poured pints for penguins and a giant green flower with a very broad Geordie accent. A passing troupe of Vampires and the occasional HRH brightened the throng.

The weather was vile yesterday – cold and raining. Dunedin’s lovely lidded stadium is clearly worth its weight in gold in terms of keeping the crowd from getting wet, but it’s still no butterfly house, only a couple of degrees warmer than it is outside. Lots of polarfleece and puffer jackets in black were the order of the day – England’s away strip is a good sneaky camo colour for further into the tournament, methinks.

We left to come home as dawn broke this morning. Driving over the Kilmog, the light on the hills was so clear and beautiful they looked like they were shouting “Ta-Da!” The alps were dusted with fresh snow, the lambs were springing – it was the green and pleasant land my befreckled forbears must have dreamed of in their darkest moments.

I wished that the crowds enjoying our beautiful southern city had also had the chance to see our national game played in our own little piece of paradise. The blossoms are so gorgeous at the moment, the Botanic Gardens so lovely, and our untouched hills are just aching for a hammering. It’s a great time of year to be a Mainlander.

This week I’m in tidy up mode. I have some business to sort out before the onslaught next week of the Central City Plan hearings and deliberations. We have 7000 (that’s seven thousand) submissions on the document, 500 submitters wishing to speak in person. We will be doing 11 hour days as of next Monday until the job is done, and then deliberations hard on the heels of that. October is going to be a massive month, and not just for the All Blacks.

So this week I’m stopping to smell the daphne, smile at the daffodils, enjoy the sunshine and the blue skies, spend time with family and friends as much as I can. They’re the things that make life worth living, in Christchurch – a place that’s still very much worth living in.

 

Barmy Army, Rugby World Cup 2011

 

September 10, 2011

Grief and the Rugby World Cup #eqnz #chch #RWC2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 7:57 pm
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A blonde boy wearing a Canterbury rugby jersey reduced me to tears last night.

He swooped, he leaped, he tackled, he scored. Hundreds of goliaths fell as he ran across Eden Park, the number 11 emblazoned boldly on his back.

He was the child we all were who dares to dream. We have all been the hero on the field, wearing the shirt of the place we love the best. For that lad, the shirt was red and black, the emblematic colours of our broken city.

His hero, Jonah Lomu, our unconquerable former All Black met him at the end of his journey. Our Canterbury lad was then supported by New Zealand’s great, the past supporting our future, the whole of our nation supporting our province. It was subtle, it was beautiful, it was immensely appreciated. It made me cry. Remembering it now is making me cry again.

I’ve done nothing but leak in the last 24 hours. I even woke in the middle of the night, crying. This tournament is bringing to the fore the most enormous sense of loss. There isn’t an ounce of jealousy or resentment – if I get half a chance I’ll be whizzing down to Dunedin to share the buzz that we all should enjoy. This emotion is far more primal than that – it’s grief, pure and simple.

It’s to be expected after all. We have lost so very much. People, buildings, and this week has sheeted home for me how much joy we have temporarily waved goodbye to.

We should all have been surrounded by visitors now, and our town would have been glorious. We have lost a once in a lifetime experience. Unsurprisingly, that hurts. It is a huge loss, and it is traumatic.

Al Nisbet’s fantastic cartoon in The Press summed it up perfectly this morning. Auckland, lit up by a skyful of fireworks. Munted Christchurch, lit up by a couple of search lights, some torches and candles and a single left over sparkler.

It probably doesn’t help that the tournament arrived in the week of our first earthquake anniversary. That’s a time which was always going to be hard. I do feel like we’re something of an embarrassment at the moment too – as if we are the sorrow that must not be named lest we spoil the national party. (I suspect I’m being hypersensitive there – that’s ok – that’s perfectly normal as part of the grief process.)

A tweep mused today that they had hoped the Fanzone might be the thing which brought the town back to life. Although it’s a lovely thing, I doubt it will have quite that big of an effect.

I think the thing that may do it is Cup and Show Week. When we get our hundred thousand back enjoying the fashion and the sun and the horses it may start to feel hopeful and normal again. The Ellerslie Flower Show will do it for me too. I won’t be at Le Race this year, but that event is on the radar too as something to aim for. Getting shops back into Cashel Mall might do it but that will carry its own shocks, I think.

The big notch for me will be when we get Rapaki Track back. I hope it’s while I’m still fit enough to ride it. (Ran 20k with the dog today – my legs have not forgiven me.)

Tonight, I’m on my own and enjoying watching Japan vs France (I’m cheering for France) and then Argentina vs England (sorry England, even compliments from your captain about my pink hi-vis can’t sway me). I’m in my dressing gown with my Argentina hat, armed with a cup of herbal tea, a basket of fruit, a novel in case the game gets dull and a snoring border collie. I’m enjoying the rugby and at half-time I might even streak around the living room. The heat pump is blasting away in preparation for that momentous event.

I would love to have been in Dunedin to share the buzz around the town tonight, but I have been asked to attend a civic event tomorrow with a VIP from the UK, and duty comes first. Might have a wee wander into the Fanzone after that – Australia vs Italy at 330. As much as I love our cousins across the ditch – Viva Italia tomorrow. Got to support our Great Wine Capitals partners – unless one of them ends up in the final with us. Then the grief will be heading in their direction.

 

 

September 8, 2011

Rugby World Cup in Christchurch #eqnz #chch #rwc2011 #earthquake

It is Thursday, September 8, 2011. It is the eve of the Rugby World Cup 2011.

When a few years ago it was announced that we had the rights to RWC I started preparing my garden. (I’m a planner – this is what we do.) It’s full now of black pansies and violas and little black ferns. I had a plan of plots of black and white.

Our home is exactly a mile’s walk from AMI Stadium at Lancaster Park. The intention this time last year had been to invite overseas guests in and enjoy our little spare room. I wasn’t planning to go to any of the games – I was instead really excited about being a RWC volunteer. That’s because when the Lions toured here a few years ago, the heart of the city went off like I have never seen before. This year was going to be all that and then some.

At the moment, our TV screens are full of RWC coverage. I hope I’m going to get to a point where I’m going to be able to watch it and fully commit to enjoying it. I’m not quite there yet and I do hope there are some readers of this blog who help make it so for me and for my friends.

It’s not that I’m jealous or envious of any of the other centres which are hosting games we’ve lost- that wouldn’t make sense. We in Christchurch are not in any position to host games because of damage to our stadium and our hotels. It feels a bit like being a kid who’s been punished for something they didn’t do – like we’ve been sent to our room for a crime we didn’t commit.

Yesterday, I spent time with some of the England team. They were lovely although I did fear for the capture of my pink hi-vis vest at one point. The England team had come up to Christchurch to show their support and visit kids and sick folk and generally share the love. Their media trailed after them, the camp followers in that symbiotic relationship.

Some of our publications criticized CERA letting the international media into the Red Zone. I’m more than happy for us to host those media. They will take our somewhat schizoid message back home – that on the one hand we are going through the biggest natural disaster (in insurance terms at least) that the world has ever known – but that (on the other hand) you can come and stay here and from the city west it looks like nothing has happened – and it is good to come here and stay, live and invest.

The international media also is helpful in spreading the equally schizy message that yes, we might have a jiggle while you’re here – but chances are you’re safe.

Make no mistake, Christchurch is open for business. Akaroa is open for business. Hanmer is open for business. Queenstown, Nelson, Blenheim, Hokitika – they are open for business. Although the Christchurch earthquakes have changed the specifics of that, they haven’t changed that overall.

We want visitors here. If you’ve come to Godzone (NZ) to see your team play in the Rugby World Cup, we would love it if you came and looked at our city, got a sense of what we’ve been through, brought your camera, your compassion, and your wallet.

If you’ve travelled a day to get here, we’re worth a half-day trip at least in your visit – don’t you think? We’re the beautiful place that is your natural stopping off point between Nelson and Dunedin.

While our spare room may now be occupied by teenage boys, there are still spare couches, roast lamb and kumara, lots of laughter and rugby on TV. Can’t want for much more than that. If you read this and you’re a Rugby World Cup visitor wanting to drop by for a wine and a chat and a bed for the night – get in touch. The games may not be here any more, but the hospitality hasn’t changed.

Haere mai, haere mai, haere mai.

Welcome to Christchurch. Still open, still smiling, still here.

August 11, 2011

Christchurch adopts the draft Central City Plan. #eqnz #chch

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 8:30 pm
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“Make sure it’s environmentally friendly,” said everyone from my 81 year old dad to the neighbours to my kids. “Make it about people. About bikes and pedestrians more than just cars. Make us the safest city in the world.”

Today the Christchurch City Council adopted the draft Central City Plan which will now go out for consultation. When the CERA (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act) legislation was passed in April, we were given 9 months to develop an implementable vision for our destroyed central city. Today we moved into the second phase of a three step process.

Since April, the council has met at least weekly on the plan. Our incredible staff and consultants have worked the most phenomenal hours. Together we identified the key themes and strands of the plan. They were teased out through the Share an Idea programme of consultation. Our staff brought back in distilled form the 106,000 opinions and suggestions offered by our community.

Our debates have been behind closed doors, and for good reason. Some of the ideas we canvassed were wild and wonderful and would have made great headlines that would not have helped move us forward. Our discussions have been free and frank. At times there have been cross words, stormy departures.

There was none of that today. The plan was adopted unanimously and consultation opens on it next week.

My kitchen played host some of the first informal discussions on the plan. When the senior staff saw my stove I had to stop pretending that I can’t cook. Even feeding them didn’t seem to alter their perception.

Our staff today looked absolutely knackered. The hours they have been putting in are just mind-blowing. I’m shattered after today. If they’re not tucked up in bed by now (it’s just past 8pm) I will be very surprised.

I’m going to offer more detail on the plan over the next couple of days when I can keep my eyes open properly. In the meantime, here’s the link so you can have a look at it yourself – www.centralcityplan.org.nz

What I will say to you is it’s green, it’s people focussed, and I don’t think Dad will be disappointed when he reads this first draft. I hope that he (and you) will take the chances starting from next Tuesday and again share your thoughts on it. This plan needs to belong to us all.

Very tired. Bed beckons. Going to leave you with this lovely comment from Suzy who brought tears to my eyes when I read it.

“I’ve just read the plan cover to cover. I had expected to be disappointed however it’s bold and visionary. Inspirational even. It makes me want to stay, to live and to invest. It gives me hope. What an incredible gift it is to this city. To those responsible – thank you.”

Suzy – right back at you. To you and all the 106,000 contributors, to the staff, the consultants, my colleagues, I thank you too.

 

August 9, 2011

AMI Stadium, Convention Centre, Town Hall #eqnz #chch

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 8:26 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I went inside AMI stadium today. I’m not quite sure when I was there last but I know doors have been locked since February 22.

I know some of the people who were there that day. My friend Fiona, who works for the diplomatic corps, was there with a number of very highly placed US dignitaries when the quake struck. She has stories to tell about how they were evacuated and where they went and where their luggage did and did not go at the same time I was running into town to find my kids.

We can all see the grounds on the outside of the stadium. There the liquefaction mounds are obvious and pronounced. I’ve seen pictures of the turf inside the stadium before, but until today I didn’t realise that the patchwork holes across the pitch are human formed, inspection holes to look at the drainage systems.

We the Council and our insurers have yet to make calls around the full future of the complex.

The Council engineers are recommending the demolition of the Hadlee stand.

The other three stands would need complex repair work if they can be fixed at all.

Recommendations should be at the council within the next couple of months (I add a grain of salt to that and call it discussions with the insurers).

I’ve driven past the Convention Centre. I won’t be going in it. Nobody will. Engineers are telling us that the roof structures are not in good shape and that there will be no internal inspections – they are recommending its demolition.

Our insurers are yet to agree to that but we are discussing things with a view to reaching a mutually satisfactory outcome.

Perhaps the saddest news of all is the uncertainty around our Christchurch Town Hall. A group one listed heritage building, it sits on the Avon River bank.

That complex has three buildings near Kilmore Street, one near the river bank. The latter has moved about 100mm away from the others and is sliding closer to the river. The others have suffered badly from liquefaction. They have reshaped to match the contours of the land. Whether they can be saved is not yet known. It is not just a matter for insurers and the council, it is also a question of whether repairs will impact on the very heritage fabric that we would be hoping to save.

What a day.

Jendy Harper and I sat on the top stand today and reminisced about the various things we’d attended at the stadium. As we sat there, we noticed the clock on the western side of the Hadlee Stand stopped at 12.51, and the flagpole on the eastern side pointing aimlessly to half past something.

I don’t know yet what the future holds for AMI stadium.

I know for sure that underneath it lies Lancaster Park.

Some things never change.

A vote of thanks to the UK rioters. #not #ukriot #eqnz #chch

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 7:59 pm
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Dear UK rioters.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, I thank you, I thank you.

If ever I question my faith in rebuilding our beautiful southern city, I will think of you and this last day and remember why Christchurch matters and why we bother doing what we’re doing.

I spent the day today at our city’s earthquake damaged stadium. Here we are agonising over how to fix the damage nature has done. You’ve spent the same day incinerating shops and homes, looting, trying hard to find new ways to burn down the place real English citizens call home.

We have fallen victim simply to gravity and we will rebuild stronger and better here. You who are striking down your cities are nasty little neanderthalic two bit muppets with too much time on your hands and pathetic hate in your hearts, the waste products of drugs, laziness and chronic dependency. You don’t have it in you to build. You only have it in you to destroy.

I have to say, dear UK rioters, our earthquakes came as a shock to me but your self-destruction surprises me not at all.

When I visited your country a couple of years ago I came home horrified at what I’d seen. I was appalled at your hands-out culture, the level of your public subsidies for housing and transport and education for people eligible for it simply by spawning little urchins and refusing to create themselves a constructive future. I was disgusted by the hatred I saw for the immigrants who have populated your country as part of your EU membership. I was baffled at how you were going to afford to pay for those immigrants and your own welfare dependent lifestyles. Clearly, so are you.

Here we are trying to rebuild our city, doing it hard, doing it together. You are trying to tear your country down, a country for which you clearly feel nothing but contempt. You don’t even know why you’re doing it. It’s just another excuse to steal. That’s all you know how to do. To lie and cheat and steal from your neighbours. You are an embarrassment to your nation. I have the right to say this because you are part of my heritage and you disgrace me.

In the beginning of your outrage was one emblematic man who died at the hands of the police. His family and friends have made it clear he was not a martyr to your cause. You have stolen the reason for his death, you bunch of parasitic hooligans. You’re having a party on a dead man’s grave. You are beneath contempt.

How drab and sad your little lives must be that this is your big excitement. How proud are your parents – what hope they must hold for their grandchildren.

You have a nasty little lesson coming your way which I believe is going to take a lifetime to learn. It’s that money doesn’t grow on trees, that you get what you work for, and that the community which sustains you in times of trouble isn’t built by burning it down.

Dear UK rioters – I thank you for renewing my faith in rebuilding this beautiful city so far away from you and your horrible Jeremy Kyle culture of greed and expectation.

Dear UK Citizens – for you I mourn, I grieve, I send my love and compassion. Your rioters are a vile minority, but you have bred them and fostered them and unless you change the way you nurture them they will be with you for generations to come.

Here we have the experience of a community being brought together by being brought to its knees. You have the experience of having a bunch of muppets rip your community apart. Give me an earthquake any day. I’d much rather submit to the vagaries of the earth than regret having raised a generation of vipers.

Ka Kite.

August 8, 2011

Shove over Gordon Ramsay – make way for the New Central City Plan #eqnz #chch

A courier delivered me a parcel tonight.

Wrapped (unusually) in crisp brown butcher’s paper, it contained the draft Christchurch Central City Plan, the first Council agenda I have ever seen protected by bubble wrap.

The culmination of months of work, the draft plan becomes public on Thursday and it’s embargoed until then. When we adopt it on Thursday, it doesn’t become the final version. It remains the draft and it is anticipated that it will change through the consultation phase. Here’s a website to keep an eye on: http://www.centralcityplan.org.nz/

I suspect it will be a love/hate document, because it deals with something so important to us all that I’m not expecting reactions to be other than visceral. I hope some of it will delight, inspire, enchant, I suspect that some may disappoint, annoy, offend.

Given all we’ve been through and what we’re trying to do, that’s the nature of the beast.

Here at home, we’re still recovering from a beast of a different kind.

On Saturday we became the beneficiaries of a piece of wild boar. After much research involving watching lashings of Food TV while sipping on a decent pinot noir, Kim fashioned a plan involving our piece of piggy, kumara, potato, carrots, brussel sprouts, crackling and gravy. Dessert was compliments of Gordon Ramsay. Pain Perdu with caramelized peaches, raspberry coulis and chantilly cream. Who knew dessert could involve basil?

In order for our dinner party to happen, we had to clean the house. Yesterday we cleared the lounge of the debris of February 22nd. The books are back on the shelves, the plaster dust is gone. It almost feels like a home again.

We were seven at the table last night and we counted it a roaring success. Rachel licked her dessert plate clean. Big Nick ate his brussel sprouts. I tried hard not to calculate the calories as the dishes were assembled – that proved easy because I soon ran out of clean fingers on which to count. There was great conversation, lots of laughter, and chop bones left for the dog.

It was a glorious confection of a meal and today we are all still groaning. Tonight’s dinner was a much simpler affair involving chicken, rice and a renewed commitment to burning off the flab that has settled over the long nights of winter. The prudent need to use up the left over raspberry coulis and the whipped cream meant we had to curtail our good behaviour long enough to hoover a couple of bowls of icecream. Each. No point in letting good food go to waste. (There’s still a brioche left in the fridge. If I’m going to eat it without wearing it, I have some cycle route planning to do.)

Today was gorgeous, a hard frost leading to an 18 degree day. The dog had an early run this morning, then I dusted off the mountain bike, Kim blew up my tyres, and I rode to work and beyond. The need to battle the winter bulge has been thoroughly kick started by last night’s epic gastronomic adventure.

Gordon Ramsay has a lot to answer for.

August 6, 2011

About leaking, and the Christchurch Central City Plan #eqnz #chch

I was trapped in Dunedin, snowed in for three days. While Christchurch was (according to my teenage sons) a beer bottle deep in snow, Dunedin was an ice rink. Flights were chaos. You couldn’t even reach Air New Zealand on the phone, let alone reschedule a flight. Instead of flying out on the Monday morning, I ended up as a voluntary barista until the Wednesday. It was just as well – the staff were stranded on the Monday, unable to get to work, and so while Kim spent the day slaving over a hot stove and up to his armpits in rubber gloves and dishwashing liquid, I finally conquered the coffee machine and remembered how to mix a martini.

I arrived back to a house that was beyond clean – it was shimmering. The boys had coped magnificently without me. I chose not to look in the recycling bin, but if they had partied, they did it with all the cunning and aplomb that could be wanted. “We were fine, Mum”, one of them groaned after yet another ‘I missed you’ hug. “We went for a walk at four in the morning in the snow and there was a big crack just in front of us and these branches crashed to the ground. It was awesome.” I hugged them again.

I’d missed part of the conversation on the central city plan while I was away, but that couldn’t be helped. I was back for the mammoth council meeting that awaited, with 58 items in three volumes keeping me well and truly occupied with reading upon my return. Blogging has been the victim of my choice to have something of a life, and make time for those I love.

Exercise has been nowhere in the picture – a revolting little lurgy has had me by the throat. I’ve been tired, sick and thoroughly out of sorts. There’s a lot of it going around – so far Kim and the boys have avoided it. I’m putting it down to stress. There’s certainly been plenty of that at work.

In the last couple of weeks we have concluded the drafting of the Central City Plan. It goes to Council this coming week. From its adoption there, it becomes a discussion document, open for public submission and hearings later this year. Once it’s published, we get our listening ears on so that you can tell us what you think of it, whether it’s about right or not, how it should be improved, whether we’ve gone far enough or not, or too far.

The planning process has been exciting as well as exhausting. I would love to have been writing about each day’s discussions, about the personalities at the table, the great debates we’ve had. Obviously (or so I would have thought) I can’t do that – and I won’t do that.

What I will share is that I have found it draining and physically challenging. Sitting on hard chairs hunched over a table for 8 hours at a stretch, straining to hear and concentrate on the detail of the documents while listening attentively to your peers is no small ask, particularly when you consider the vehemence and passion of each of the contributors. I’d go home at the end of the day with my back screaming and my head pounding. It is very easy to lose sight of the immense opportunity presented to each of us steering this plan into fruition.

I was chatting with one of our temps after we wrapped things up on Thursday. “Did you enjoy doing this?” I asked her. Her face lit up, she nodded. She couldn’t believe her luck, she told me. She was stuck in a building in town on the 22nd of February, and at that stage vowed and declared that she would do anything in her power to rebuild this town until the last brick was put back. To have the chance to be part of the process was something she couldn’t have dreamed of – she couldn’t believe her luck. “I don’t believe in luck anymore,” I told her. “I believe in fate. You were meant to be here.” I asked her what she thought of the plan. “If even half of what’s in there gets done, it will be the most amazing city in the world in which to live,” she replied.

I was drained, exhausted, grumpy. She was glowing. In her face, I saw the belief that there is a bright future that we all share, and that the possible is the achievable. I’m so donkey deep in the process and so focussed on getting it as good a draft as it can possibly be that at times I’ve found it hard to keep my eyes pinned on that hope.

That conversation with her reminded me just how immensely privileged I am to have a place at the Council table at this moment in our city’s history, no matter how heavy the responsibility sometimes feels. I hope when you see the plan in the coming days you will feel like we haven’t let you down. I want you to know that for the last few months I have watched our planning team sweat blood to bring this document to life, and I am grateful to each and every one of them. They are absolute heroes, they just don’t give up.

I have been very disappointed with certain things which have involved council in the last little while. Incredibly sensitive private discussions and legally privileged information have found their way into the hands of the media. I don’t know how that has happened, but as far as I am concerned whoever the parties are that have participated in making that happen have committed an unforgivable act of contempt for fair process and democracy. It is the worst kind of disgraceful behaviour that can only have been done by someone who has no ethics, no moral compass, no integrity. Whoever you are, I hope you read this and know how profoundly you disgust me.

This is a time when our city needs to be pulling together, not engaging in moronic gamesmanship. I have a message for you. Grow up. Stop being so selfish and pathetic. And if you can’t do that, rather than enable the disclosure of information in the shadows, have the guts to do it publicly and not skulk behind the blanket of the media like the coward you so clearly are.

There – I’ve said my piece. You know how I feel. That’s because unlike you I have the courage to put my name to my actions and wear the consequences.

In other news, Kim and I had a lovely day off today. It was warm and beautiful. We rose late after a night of earthquake and teenager induced insomnia, brunched, then took Pepper for a walk around North Hagley Park. We picked up pine cones, marvelled at the hole that used to be Victoria Lake, watched a game of rugby being played, hollered at Pepper to leave the golfers alone, and made it back to the car just as the wind turned chilly. Then we took our smelly girl to Splash’n’Dash on Blenheim Road.

It’s the most wonderful facility for hosing down a humming border collie. While I fetched the change, Kim manhandled our reluctant beauty into the washing box and chained her in. The look on her face was of the most unwavering disgust. I sobbed quietly with laughter as we went through each of the stages of cleaning her up. As Kim tried valiantly to steer her into open waters, she glared at him and leaned as hard as she could against the wall of the box so the lovely warm water couldn’t reach her.

We won. She’s lying in front of the fire now smelling of talcum powder and flea spray and has all but forgiven us for tormenting her on such a lovely day.

As I write, the Bledisloe has just drawn to a close. Piri Weepu’s savage haka foretold the result – 30-14 to our All Blacks at Eden Park. Richie – you may not have had the chance to hold up the Super 15 trophy – you’ll get the chance to heft a bigger one in a moment. Long may that trend continue.

July 24, 2011

Grounds for revenge – a tale of coffee and bazookas. #chch

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 4:17 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I drink black coffee. In truth, I prefer Moccona to complicated. Therefore the difference between a latte and a flat white has been a mystery  to me, and as for cappucino – I wouldn’t have known one had it jumped up and bitten me on the nose.

Those carefree days have come to an end. On free weekends, I run away to a bar owned by friends in  the south. It’s great to get away and do something completely different. All care and no responsibility, and I love dealing with the public. Unfortunately, some of the public enjoy dealing with coffee – hence my crash course in barista training.

Anja spent hours yesterday trying to teach me how to make coffee.

She’s a beautiful, tolerant soul with espresso toned hair, enormous beautiful mocha brown eyes, smoothy creamy skin and a sweet personality. When it comes to coffee, Anja is a member of the cognoscenti. I am a member of the idiot brigade.

“Why isn’t it coming out?” I wailed, trying unsuccessfully to make a takeaway flat white with a single shot and three sugars for our most demanding regular customer.

“What have you done this time?” she said with a sigh.

“I have absolutely no idea. Shall I put this in here, give it a bang and try it again?”

She turned towards me at the point and walked towards what I can only describe as the cardboard bazooka I had unwittingly created from a takeaway cup and the industrial strength coffee machine.

“Sue, what have you done?” she repeated, peering into the container.

“BOOM” it replied.

Her face was a picture. So was her neck, her chest, her top, arms, torso – so in fact was the entire bar.

Little blobs of coffee grounds peppered every visible surface.

“Ow,” said Anja, or words to that effect. And for a moment the world fell silent.

“I’m so sorry,” I wailed, “does it hurt? And while you’re thinking about that would you mind if I got my camera?”

She stood there, gazing at me, all big brown eyes and little brown blobs of coffee. Behind her, the snorting of elephants came from the end of the bar. Our most demanding regular customer was trying not to sob with laughter. He didn’t do very well. Nor did the customers at the other end. The entire bar gazed in wonderment at our pepper potted beauty as I slowly picked morsels of Arabica’s finest from her person, apologising and ever so slightly weeping with suppressed laughter as I went.

“I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry” I chanted for the rest of the day. “Can I make you a flat white to make up for it? How about a moccacino? Hot chocolate? By the way you’ve missed a bit in your hair. Come here. Oh sorry – it’s hardened off. Would you like me to cut that bit out?”

She was very sweet and very forgiving and said she didn’t mind at all that I’d just given her favourite shirt a makeover. I suspect that’s not the whole truth but as she refused to accept my offer of a new one I’m going to have to sneak one up on her when she least expects it.

It is snowing in Dunedin, so today’s lesson is going to be in hot chocolate and Irish coffee. Anja has come prepared. She’s wearing a black and white spotted outfit and a wary expression.

“What did your boyfriend say when you told him what happened?” Kim asked her.

Anja frowned. “He gave me a cuddle and asked me if I’d been serving a lot of coffee.” She gave me the look. Across the bar ran a ripple of suppressed sniggering.

“Anja didn’t serve as much as Sue did,” someone whispered.

The airport has now shut and the chances of getting home are slim. We could be in for a long one.

I suspect it could involve snowballs. And Anja.

To be fair – it is her turn with the bazooka.

Frappacino, anyone?

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