Sunday, August 18, 2013

Six point oh no

At 2:30 on Friday we all got under our desks as the latest "big one" shook the building. Despite being a 6.6, a tick above last month's big shake, it didn't feel quite as violent. What really got me this time was the look of terror on some people's faces. They looked, dare I say, shaken up. So that was work over for the week, although we had to wait for the all-clear before we could go home. It's at times like these that I'm grateful I can just walk home; the roads were gridlocked as people wanted to get the hell out of the city on a Friday afternoon. I had a look around my flat when I got home; there were no additions to last month's plaster cracks. I spoke to one of the other owners - we agreed that for a building that's supposed to be as dodgy as hell, it's come out of these two big shakes remarkably well. That nine-storey lift shaft on Lukes Lane, which will hopefully come down soon, has become a symbol of Wellington's earthquake risk. This time the small town of Seddon really felt the full force of the quake - I was reading about a couple who had moved there to get away from Christchurch.

The size of the subsequent aftershocks has taken me by surprise. We got a 6.0 as I was ordering fish and chips. Fish Fins in Newtown were still open - I'd been looking forward to that all week. "Would you like lemon salt and pepper?" Yes please ... uh oh ... holy shit ... are you OK? I had visions of vats of hot oil toppling over - at least the hospital isn't far away. We've had a bunch of fives and high fours, some of which have woken me up, and I haven't really wanted to go to sleep in the first place. My body clock is way out of whack right now.

Mum and Dad have used the shakes as an excuse to ring me almost hourly. They're driving up this way soon to take four paintings to a watercolour exhibition. I'll be seeing them on the 30th - I think they'll be staying here for six nights. Yesterday Dad and I had (another) argument about home ownership. I'm beginning to regret going anywhere near the property market.

I spent ages last night trying to watch 56 Up without my making my computer terminally ill with viruses. It was showing at the film festival but my brother was here, it was his birthday, the weather was good, and it simply wasn't going to happen. I eventually found it online, complete with Chinese subtitles, and watched all three parts. I last saw the series in 1998 (42 Up as it was then) and what an experiment it has been - effectively a real-life soap opera that only airs once every seven years. Neil was the most interesting of the lot, and the one I could relate to the most, but all the participants were fascinating in their own ways and I found all of them likeable (except perhaps Pete who seemed a bit conceited to me, and only participated this time to promote his band). Many of them shared a dislike for the programme ("people think they know everything about me") and I can hardly blame them - there is something eerie about it. But those same people also felt morally obliged to take part, and I suppose it helps if you get paid for it. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that all fourteen participants (ten of whom are blokes) are still alive - you'd have got long odds on that in 1964.

I'm about to watch some folk music at the Museum of City and Sea with some people from Update: The music was good and it helped me relax a bit. The bloke who played the Irish songs had been to Kerrytown where my grandfather was brought up. On the way back I took a picture of the offending lift shaft, complete with bouncers.

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