Two little stories seem to me to sum up this country and its people.
A tour bus pulled up as I emerged from a quick lunch at The Thirsty Weta cafe. Elderly passengers alighted and stood around in a semi circle, as if expecting some event to begin. I pushed between them and walked on towards where my car was parked, then noticed little knots of people standing up and down the main street of the little town. The flags were at half mast.
I stopped too. An older couple bustled out of the Mitre 10 hardware store. The woman tugged her husband’s sleeve. ‘Stan, stand still!’ ‘Why?’ asked Stan, setting down the plank of wood he was carrying. ‘Christchurch,’ she whispered.
It was 12.51, the time it happened, exactly a week ago.
There’s little happy news from Christchurch in this morning’s New Zealand Herald, but there is one good story:
To raise money for the relief effort, Phil Johnson is auctioning the 30 tonne boulder that rolled down the hill and smashed its way into his home. ‘Rocky’ is advertised as ‘a landscape feature designed to create an indoor/outdoor flow’. Mr Johnson has had plenty of enquiries and comments, including one from a woman who thought Rocky sounded like her ex – ‘no personality, stoned all the time, sits on his arse and does nothing and I guarantee the TV remote is under him somewhere.’
Phil believes it’s a welcome distraction for people and it’s giving his fingers a good workout, ‘which is just as well because my gym’s been destroyed.’