A provincial public holiday has been set aside for Canterbury this Friday and a national memorial service will be held in Christchurch's North Hagley Park.

In my travels in the 'Eastside' (which is a term I am going to use from now on, because I like it) I haven't detected a great deal of enthusiasm for the timing of the memorial service. The general opinion is a memorial service should be held but not a mere three weeks after the devastating quake.

An online Press poll, when I looked at it yesterday, showed that 5786 people (53.6%) thought the memorial service was too soon while 4880 votes,( 45.2%) thought it was 'about right'. I suspect that those who think the service is much too soon would be far higher in the Eastside.

It's not hard to work out why.

Out in the eastern suburbs people are living in damaged houses and many are without power,water or adequate sanitation. The roads look like they have been bombed and there is mud and water everywhere.

Many people are in temporary accommodation, like garages, that could be home for many months to come.

And let's not forget the smell. The stench coming from various streams is very bad. Yesterday I couldn't walk beside a small stream because of the stench coming from it.

While Mayor Bob Parker is attending cricket matches in Wellington, folk in the Eastside are wondering if they have a future in Christchurch given that John Key has indicated that the suburbs they are currently residing in may be classified as no longer 'habitable'.

If this memorial service is intended to be some kind of 'cathartic' experience for the city , then it really is an insult to the Eastside which will be struggling with the aftermath of this quake for months to come. There will be no 'catharsis' for the Eastside and certainly no sense of 'moving forward'.

Naturally Mayor Bob Parker isn't on our side. On Friday's Close Up on Television One he was asked if he thought it was 'the right time' to have a memorial service only three weeks after the quake . Sideshow Bob circled the question, speculated if any time was ' a right time', and then finally said he was in favour of the service. We got there in the end.

But Bob couldn't say anything else because that would have placed him in direct opposition to a Prime Minister and a Government he loyally supports.

Some of us might let ourselves be persuaded by sentiment to support the memorial service but that doesn't make it any less a service driven by the political establishment, a establishment hugely unrepresentative of Christchurch.

While they will speak much of the 'tragedy' we should not forget that many of them are the very same people who have failed the Eastside.

The eastern suburbs have had to wait for weeks for basic services and many still don't have them . Many streets still don't have portaloos. Last week the authorities were scrambling to get 30,000 chemical toilets out to the Eastside.

Sideshow Bob has held a number of community meetings out east (a relatively new experience for Bob I might add) and while he has denied that the meetings have been 'angry' at one meeting, which I attended, he was accused of favouring his mates and ignoring the eastern suburbs.

Since the Minister of Earthquake Recovery Gerry Brownlee admitted a fortnight ago that the eastern suburbs had been 'neglected' its a bit late in the day for Sideshow Bob to claim that its all 'peace and light' out in the east. Shambala it ain't.

Bob and the Government think a memorial ceremony will dampen the anger and engender some kind of 'unity' Not only are they wrong they have badly misjudged the political climate in Christchurch.

That Sideshow Bob seriously thinks that the visit of Prince Willie will give Christchurch 'optimism' just goes to prove just how out of touch he is with ordinary people.

The memorial service will not paper over the yawning divide that now visibly exists between the poorer suburbs of the east and the favoured suburbs of the west.


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