Where was I before I was rudely interrupted?
I apologise to my three readers that I have posted nothing for the past week but. of course, a massive earthquake intervened and attempted to throw Christchurch back to the Stone Age. Looking at the television images of central Christchurch today I'm not entirely convinced that it didn't at least partially succeed. The central city will be a 'no go' zone for months. I doubt it will be functional even by this time next year.
As I've been without power - and pretty much everything else for the past week - today was the first time I got to see what the rest of New Zealand and the world have been looking at for the past seven days.
I've had to rely on radio reports and the pictures in the newspapers I've managed to pick up. So although I knew it was bad I didn't appreciate just how bad it was until today. Many of those buildings that are now piles of bent metal and rubble I have been in. I could of been in one of them when the quake hit but, on that afternoon, I wasn't in the central city. On another day I could well have been.
I've spent the last seven days doing what's needed to get by. It has come down to basic objectives like finding batteries for torches and radios , finding all the candles I can and buying food at whatever corner shop or supermarket is open. Yesterday I bumped into former Mayor Garry Moore at the supermarket. He was quite cheery and waffled on about his internet service still being down.
We're all just happy to be alive although these bloody aftershocks are really unpleasant for a population already at the end of its tether. The psychological impact of this quake is going to be severe and long term.
I'm also grateful to my friends Dave and Megan who lent me their little gas cooker which has meant I've been able make coffee and tea and make some basic meals.
It has also meant I've been able to cook up some culinary delights for some people up the road. Macaroni cheese anyone?
Of course the world beyond Christchurch has receded into the background and blurred. I know there's an uprising going on Libya but I'm not strong on the details.
But I'm beginning to stick my head above the parapet as it were.
This is because last night the power finally came back on. A neighbour rang me about 10.30pm. 'Steve, do you know the power's back on?' Sweet words indeed.
There is also some improvement in the water supply and I can flush the toilet. Which means I don't have to dig a hole in the garden at three in the morning.
Thankfully the house has once again withstood what nature has thrown at it and I am once again extremely grateful to the unknown builders who built not only my house but all the houses in this area back in the early 1960s. They did a magnificent job.
Unfortunately the inside of the house got trashed again. Despite the mess very few things were actually smashed although that could be because a fair few things got smashed the first time round. The television is a write off but that's small beer compared to what many people have been through.
I have had the opportunity to walk around the neighbourhood on a couple of occasions.
The local shopping mall is about a fifteen minute walk away. The Palms contains a supermarket, a large food court , a heap of shops, a sprinkling of coffee shops, banks and a post office, a restaurant and bar area and a cinema complex. From outside it looks intact but it is still closed and tonight I read in the Christchurch Star that the mall is in 'a bad way'.
There are work crews all over the mall and every entrance is manned by a security guard 24/7.
Similarly the major high school in the area, Shirley Boys', has been pummelled. My old school is likely to remain closed for the remainder of this year. There is some major building damage and there is silt everywhere.
The Minister of Education gave a press conference in the school car park a couple of days ago. I don't know where Anne Tolley expects to place 1500 pupils since every other high school is bulging at the seams.
For obvious reasons I haven't had much time to ponder the political and economic consequences of this quake. However I am alarmed that the Government may be about to add to the economic burden that folk are already carrying.
Instead of scrapping interest free student loans and slashing Working for Families, this Government should be scrapping its recent tax cuts for the wealthy.
Similarly what are the corporates going to contribute? And will the banks be taking a break from their profiteering ways anytime soon?
Similarly will local city councillors be adding anything to the rescue mission? Will Mayor Orange Safety Jacket and councillors Sue Wells , Barry Corbett and Tim Carter be giving up the 'directors fees' they receive for sitting on the board of Christchurch City Holdings Ltd? Perhaps they could contribute the $35,000 they each receive to the Mayor's Welfare Fund.
And some things don't change,
As he did when the last earthquake struck, Paul Holmes has used this earthquake as another opportunity to promote his mates John Key and Mayor Orange Safety Jacket.
Of Parker he wrote: 'You've got the right man as your mayor, though. Bob Parker is a face and voice of competence and reassurance.'
Mm, I wonder how much the Henderson properties are worth now. That was $17 million well spent wasn't it?
And is this the same Bob Parker who wanted 8000 more people to live in the central city?
NB. Thanks to everyone who has sent me emails or 'Tweeted' me. Thanks for you're concern and support. Much appreciated.