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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Vicki Anderson: Can we fix it?

Vicki Anderson: Can we fix it?

Last updated 12:52 02/03/2011
The two minute silence to remember those we have lost hit me pretty hard yesterday.

You can't tell toddlers to be quiet for two minutes, they just don't understand.

I sat on a stranger's couch across from someone I barely know that I've been house sharing with. I wanted to sob like a baby but felt strangely awkward.

The best thing about your own home is that you can hide away from the world. If I'd been in my own house yesterday at 12.51 I would have thrown myself on my bed and cried until I felt better.

Instead, I sat in a stranger's living room. As the two minute silence began Finn, 3, and Hollie, 2, started loudly brawling over a toy.

"Muuuuum," they screamed. I tried to silently break up the fight while flashbacks of Christchurch's CBD last week flashed into my brain.

Tears ran down my face.

"Mummy," they yelled, looking at me with puzzled expressions.

I didn't want to cry in front of the Dutch nurse also living here so buried my face in Hollie's t-shirt and hid my tears.

The owners of the house we are in come back on Sunday as their daughter's school starts back then, so we have just a few days to find somewhere to live. I've put an ad on TradeMe so fingers crossed something comes up.

The kids will hate leaving this house. It's three times the size of ours, has every toy you can imagine, and it even has a hammock. I am surprised at how resentful of this family I am.

It is awful of me to admit this after they have been so kind, but I am jealous of them. An enormous house, a holiday house in Hanmer to bolt to, their lives unaffected.

Lily, 11, and I talked about this on our way to get fish and chips as a treat for tea last night.

She was wearing her only pair of shoes, jandals a size to small which came free with a magazine in a service station. She took them off and pouted.

"It's just not fair. Some people have so much already, we already didn't have much and now we've got nothing," Lily said.

I tried to tell her that this experience will enrich and inform her existence and shape the priorities she chooses for the rest of her life.

Truth is, though, I am scared too and I know she knows it.

In the fish and chip shop is a woman with an adorable baby. I ooh and aah. Sarah puts her hand out. We shake hands. We talk instantly of our deepest fears.The earthquake has seen the end of inconsequential chatter.

I am staying in Burnside and so is she. I had been living in Brighton and so was she. Our only difference is that she is leaving for Taupo the next day.

"I can't stay here any more, I can't do it all again," she said.

But I can't leave, I couldn't afford to even if I wanted to.

Yesterday I accepted a friend request on Facebook from someone called Robert Parker. This may or may not be our mayor.

I am staying because the Christchurch music family, full of people I love and adore, is caring for me more than my own family.

Anika Moa: "Let me know if you and the family want to go and stay at my mum's place."

Anika is auctioning a one-off painting of herself on Trade Me to raise money.

Dave Dobbyn came to Christchurch and played for homeless people in the welfare centre. I wanted to interview him about it but he didn't want anyone to know he'd done it.

Christchurch musicians and extended community got together yesterday in St Albans park to do what they do best - play music and give great hugs.

Someone talked of wanting to do a remix of We Built This City (on rock 'n roll).

Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd calls me on the phone. His mum lives in Hampshire Street. He's organizing downloads of rare Flying Nun material as a fundraiser.

"Bit rough mate," he says with typical Roger understatedness.

Miriama McDonald and I had a lunch date for Tuesday, February 22 at 1pm. I talked to her for the first time yesterday. Her inner city home, a block from the Pyne Gould building, is lying on the street.

She had to leave St Albans park early because of the curfew. It's like being a teen again she reckons.

Her job is gone, yet she is grateful we made our lunch date - if we hadn't she would have been in her crumpled office block.

She even joked "I got a video out from Alice's on Tuesday, it was an overnighter, do you think they'll charge me late fees?"

Right now I'm waiting for The Eastern van to arrive to take me out to the Press' temporary office.

They're playing a free show to cheer folks up. I haven't seen my workmates since that day.

What were my children fighting over during the two minutes of silence?

It was a Bob the Builder book.

As the silence ended, Finn looked at me and asked: "Can we fix it?"

My reply through suppressed tears was barely audible: "Yes we can."

- The Press


Wytze Hoekstra #18 11:41 am Mar 06 2011

Hi Vicki, thanks for writing this, in particular your words about the Christchurch music community. Many will have known pianist Murray Wood, managing director of Canterbury Television, who sadly died in the CTV building collapse. One of the tragic outcomes of the disaster is the number of music venues destroyed - where to begin? The Arts Centre, the Music Chapel, the Harbour Light, all the inner city cafes and pubs lost ... And the city's pianos: I am a piano tuner in Christchurch and I was due to tune the Steinway in the Great Hall on Thursday morning for the very first concert there since the September quake. Who knows what happened in the Hall on Tuesday at 12.51 pm? There is talk (hopefully untrue) of the Barbadoes St. Music Centre being demolished - with all the dozens of pianos still inside it. Our carriers have craned several grands out of destroyed homes; one Steinway was simply lifted out the side where the whole lounge wall was missing. A new $70,000 Boston concert grand, destined for the Bannockburn Community Centre, was destroyed. Several of the pianos I rent out across town have been badly damaged, the houses abandoned. I am still awaiting news about the beautifully restored Hamburg Steinway D in the Music Centre Chapel and many other fine grands in the city centre. My own Bluthner grand in our home in Mt. Pleasant ended up across the lounge - in good shape. Here is a musical tribute that I recorded on it exactly a week after the quake: a spontaneous response to the strong feelings, the grief for our city and the ongoing aftershocks. Kia Kaha, Christchurch.

d thompson #17 07:58 am Mar 06 2011

Can we fix it? NO. Having family in Osaka, Japan & working as a carpenter on the reconstruction of Kobe after its 1995 earthquake I have seen first hand the high standard of techniques & materials used in USA/Canadian design & construction. North American building are built for hurricanes, extreme snow loads & earthquakes. NZ design & construction is inherently of a poor standard. NZ must adopt the knowledge gained from passed seismic building weaknesses of Japan & America.

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