Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tennis final, biking, post-quake Christchurch, etc.

I've been feeling seriously rubbish again the last few days. Zero concentration. Zero motivation. And zero medication - a nice idea at the time, but it doesn't seem to be working.

My soon-to-be-flatmate came over with his dad on Sunday. When I told him about the earthquake business he got a bit jittery, and I thought he might pull out completely. I was having second thoughts too. He showed me his (expired) driver's licence with a 1977 date of birth. He's older than I thought. He's clearly had problems but what I don't know. And would you believe it, his younger brother has only just moved into another flat in the same block. That's not necessarily a bad thing. On balance I'm positive about living with another person for the first time in ages, even if the landlord thing is new territory for me.

I followed the men's final on the radio, half-hoping that Nadal would make a fast start so I could fall asleep safe in the knowledge that he was well on the way to yet another grand slam (even though I really wanted Wawrinka to pull an upset). Nobody could have predicted the ultra-bizarro match that ensued. The commentators (who included the wonderful Chanda Rubin for much of the second week) were excellent as always - a web of intrigue was being spun, and they conveyed that brilliantly. I was so glad Stan the Man came good in the fourth set, even if his victory was tainted a bit by Nadal's injury. A five-set comeback win for Nadal would have sent the controversy level off the scale.

On Monday morning I met one of the underwriters as she was walking to work. I was about to hop on the airport bus. "Have a good time," she said. "You too." That shows you how my brain was working. Or not. Wellington Airport is currently decked out with a huge eagle - which came down in last week's earthquake - and a Gollum. The flight to Timaru was pain-free as usual. Being over the wing I couldn't see a lot. All I could make out were big green dartboards carved out by irrigators, with the pivot as the bull's eye. It's amazing how sophisticated these giant irrigators are - they're all computer-controlled, and some of them are clever enough to jump over fences. The plane arrived ten minutes early and when I got out, wow, sunshine. Where has that been?

Mum kindly recorded the tennis for me, and I watched all four crazy sets. Perhaps the biggest moment came as Wawrinka served at 5-3 in the first set. He went love-40 down and couldn't buy a first serve, but Nadal was unable to get any of those second balls back in play. It was a weird set, but then things got a whole lot weirder. At the end it was good to see the two players being so friendly, even if Nadal surely wanted to get the hell out of there.

Even if you're not a tennis fan you should watch Li Na's speech after she won - it's absolutely priceless.

On Tuesday I was all over the place. I looked at some government jobs online, with little focus, and found one that was closing the next day. After lunch I took Dad's bike out - it was sunny and the exercise was likely to benefit me. I hadn't ridden a bike for I don't know how long, and I must have done 25 km at least, muttering to myself most of the way, trying to remember what that job was all about. It felt strange cycling on these straight Canterbury roads that stretch out seemingly into infinity. I'd see a truck or a milk tanker in the distance and it would take forever to go by. When I got back I applied for that job, but it was a strange application somehow. Later a couple from the UK arrived - they were staying the night and flying home from Christchurch the next morning. They'd been touring around the South Island, doing the Otago Rail Trail and a spot of Morris dancing.

Yesterday Dad drove us all to Christchurch. After dropping the British couple off at the airport, we had a look at the city. It was the first time I'd seen it since the earthquakes. Holy hell. It looked even worse than I'd imagined. The heart of the city was totally gutted. The streets on the map were still there, but they'd been reduced to almost a bare grid. To think that all that destruction happened in seconds. I couldn't get over the number of containers. They were everywhere. Some were used to shore up building frontages. It was a bright sunny day but it was eerily quiet in what used to be the CBD. An exception was the new Cashel Mall, which was a vibrant array of container shops. It worked very well. A bloke was playing a flute and singing opera. He seemed to suffer from some sort of tic, but he was very good. I happily gave him some money. He was angry when a group of Maori performers turned up and stole his spot. I hear some big company wants to get rid of the Cashel Mall containers and build something imposing. That would be a shame.

We then drove to Lyttelton, where my ancestors arrived 150 years ago. It's a lovely town but was hit hard by the quakes and resulting landslides.

I'll put up some photos from yesterday if and when I get the chance.

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