SOL Square: 100 Days Project

SOL Square, 3 May 2017

A fence went down in Christchurch this month, so you can look a bit further into SOL Square.

Back in the day, I went with friends to see Goldie at Ministry. Me and Mr T went right to the front, close enough for Mr T to get right up in Goldie’s grill. We stood there by the turntable, and Mr T laid down some challenges to Goldie.

Probably the most gangster behaviour I’ve been an accessory to.

Slow mo

Wednesday 25 November. Bus to town and get off across the road from the Manchester Street carpark, not that it is there except for rubble. I walk down Gloucester Street, and down New Regent Street.

Probably stop to admire this.

Buy some white chocolate and macadamia cookies at Mrs Higgins. Walk down Armagh, then onto Colombo by the Town Hall. Then, as usual, scoot down Colombo to the corner of Bealey and Colombo Street.

I like to keep left and cross from Pepperberry to the 24 hour surgery on the corner. It feels slightly less exposed, though I usually look over my right shoulder as the traffic behind me has a green light when I go across Bealey Avenue.

I have my headphones on, and cross alongside another pedestrian. We are about halfway across when there is a ruckus. I turn right and see a large vehicle, maybe a 4WD rocketing through the air, dragging a large piece of metal with it, and wires behind.  I feel it whistle past. Smashing sounds, and people screaming. The air is full of dirt as the vehicle has ripped up part of the verge, and it seems the metal is part of a traffic light. The car hits into the eastbound traffic stopped at the lights.

The other pedestrian and I duck down and grab each other, then scuttle off the road together, back to the corner of Bealey and Colombo outside Pepperberry. We are stunned, occasionally hugging each other, aware of people coming from all directions, and a phalanx forming on someone on the other side of the road from us. We don’t know if it is someone from the vehicle, or a pedestrian who took the parallel route to us.

People are quasi-traffic controllers, standing on each roadway into the accident.  From the 24 hour surgery, medical staff come running out with a gurney.  I ring my partner. My legs shake shake shake.

A journalist asks questions, on his way to an appointment.

I exchange name and numbers with my pedestrian comrade.

Lyn G bikes past and walks me home. I talk to the police on my way past. I think I am holding something of his, sunglasses? but he just wants his official police pen back.

I am home, hugs, more hugs, tweets, thoughtfulnesses from others, a rosé  with a kind friend. Worry worry for the person in the road, and anyone else in that mad place. What even happened?


If you remember the 1980s, you’ll remember how the threat of nuclear war was as scary as hell.

There was an educational segment in the local newspaper on what would happen if Invercargill was nuked (its risk was as a food production area) and I did a bunch of computer calculations on the half life of various radioactive materials for school.

I read about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Was fascinated by radiation. Watched The Day After, the American blockbuster (I remember seeing a horse’s skeleton lit up at the moment of the blast). I read The Greenpeace Book of the Nuclear Age. Don’t forget the plutonium fuelled Edge of Darkness with Bob Peck.

When the wind blows by Raymond Briggs broke my heart as an old couple endured nuclear war.

Threads came out in 1984. It was a BBC programme that showed nuclear war, and the leadup to and its effect on Sheffield, England.

1980s – I remember the sheer horror of it.
1990s – at Otago University they had an AV room, and I rewatched I Claudius. And Threads.
2000s – after meeting my bloke, we went on a dystopian movie bender. Day of the Triffids. The Stand. Survivors. And Threads – Alice in Videoland has it.
2010s – S. was watching it a couple of nights ago. I sat and watched. Had forgotten how skilfully it blended the banal everyday, with the menace of imminent war in the background – on the news on tv, on the radio, in the newspapers. Then the speed at which everything unravels, and war comes, B52s fly off, and the government and authorities go to the bunkers. I watched the bomb go off, the dad is on the loo with his pants around his ankles. Nana is being escorted down the stairs into the cellar. A woman on the street turns this way and that, puts her hand to her head. Another woman in the street stands there and the camera pans down to her feet and a pool of urine floods out across the concrete.

I stop there.

Dead sheep

When Dad sheared sheep, he left them with sideburns so they looked like late era Elvis.

Once when we were visiting the home farm on the Coast, we tried to move a dead sheep and both ended up retching. My stoic little sister held the contents of her stomach intact. That ghastly sound of expellent air as we tried to move it. The smell, the smell.

At high school in Gore, the worst insult the boys could hurl at a girl was “Dead sheep”.

Sherriff, George, 1846-1930. Sherriff, George, 1846-1930 :[A victim of the keas. ca 1885]. Ref: 1/2-002753-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Sherriff, George, 1846-1930. Sherriff, George, 1846-1930 :[A victim of the keas. ca 1885]. Ref: 1/2-002753-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

The year of many albums: 1979

CarsArcadiaIn 1979 – at a very tender age – I won 10 LPs in a competition run by The Truth newspaper. This has left me with a capsule of 1979-iana  and fostered my life-long love of music (and vinyl).

It included the following:

Blondie – Parallel Lines
This is an all-time stone-cold classic, from the iconic black and white cover to the musical gems like Heart of Glass and Picture this. And 11.59: “Leaning in your corner like a candidate for wax. Sidewalk social scientist don’t get no satisfaction from your cigarette.” Perfection.

The Cars – Candy-O
I have special love for the segue from Shoo-be-doo to Candy O.

The Little River Band – It’s a long way there – Greatest Hits
This album probably got the least lovin’ – sorry Aussie dudes.

Wings – Greatest
Pretty tasty stuff.

Cheap Trick – Dream Police
I think I just listened to the title track. The rest of it is a mystery to me.

IMG_2816Bad Girls – Donna Summer
Toot toot yeah beep beep.

Racey – Smash and Grab
The song “Kitty” is exactly the same as 80s Toni Basil classic “Mickey”.

Communique – Dire Straits
“Lady writer on the tv talking about the Virgin Mary”.

The soundtrack of Grease
Hammered this one. Of course I wanted to be Rizzo not Sandy.

Breakfast in America – Supertramp
“When I was young I thought that life was so wonderful”.

I also won a copy of Roxy Music’s Avalon off Radio Hokonui.

Like most music-lovin’ people in Christchurch, my music collection is a bit scattered and scrambled. When our place was demolished, we spotted this in the garage. Bye bye Belle and Sebastian.


The Twofers; or Double Doublets

Aftershocks in Christchurch on Monday 13 June 2011 were a ripping of the wound. Yes, there had been plenty of aftershocks but this was bigger, and it also broke a kind of detente. Until then, we had the tacit understanding that while an aftershock was a bastard, there wouldn’t be one of a similar size straight away. We were wrong, and June saw the first of our doublet earthquakes.

I was working at home, and had been to Merivale and grabbed a vege pie and coffee from the Edgeware BP. Was literally in the doorway of the house when the quake hit. So held on to the doorway. I visited a neighbour, and met another in the driveway looking at liquefaction. I was starting to reset up my laptop when number two hit. It was worse, and stuff fell down all over the house. Much more liquefaction bubbled up. My family was away in Redwood. Was visited a friend down the road after #1; I visited him after #2 by which time we were both feeling pretty damn dark.

We had a bumpy night all in the bed, and woke up to hear the landlord out digging the liquefaction. I went to help, all dressed in black and petticoat. That was hard yakka but took me out of myself, was feeling down to it.

The next day, we packed up the car to get out of town for a bit. Stayed the night at Cheviot, had fish and chips and world-famous potato cakes. In the morning we stopped up the hill at St John’s Church. It had beautiful William Morris designed stained glass. It looked all locked up but we found a side door and went in for a look. The play of dark and colour was breathtaking. I felt shellshocked and the beauty was ecstatic.

We drove up to Picton with many stops on the way. While there we ate and slept well, went for walks, shopped at St Vinnies. We visited my rellies at the Picton Cemetery. I had a laptop with me, and worked either at the library or at home. We rode the miniature trains, played at parks, went on walks, and made friends with Downunder Books. “What’s that?” “A book” went numerous kid conversations.
Charlotte Heberley - Picton cemetery June2011 135June2011 024June2011 015June2011 112June2011 132

23 December 2011.

I had the day off and went to The Palms to do a spot of Christmas shopping. Had bought a little pair of boots at Pumpkin Patch for Bubbles, and was trying on a dress in City Chic. Shake, shake, lights out. I scrambled to get dressed and out. The staff were incredibly kind and calm, directed us to the exit. Everyone behaved well, and in an orderly way we left the building, outside into the sun. The streets were busy with people, many couldn’t get their cars – including a friend who I discovered later was also in The Palms. I walked home, chatting to people on the way, trying to text family. One woman and her daughter walking with me had been at the movies for the quake.

I got home and our new neighbours’ daughter was at our place. They were shifting in and everything in their old place had fallen over as the cupboards were open for moving. We got to know each other, and were in their empty house for the next shake. The wee girl was playing inside, and we scooped her in our arms to hold on to door frame.

It turns out being in an empty house is one of the less unpleasant places to be for a shake – nothing falling over or down.

And it is a great way to become quickly acquainted with new neighbours.

December2011 706

Doublet earthquake Wikipedia
Monday 13 June 2011 2:20pm (NZ time), magnitude 6.3. Centred 10km south-east of Christchurch at a depth of 6km. It was preceded at 1pm by a magnitude 5.6 10km east of Christchurch at a depth of 9km. Further building and land damage from lliquefaction and major rockfalls around the Port Hills.

Friday 23 December 2011
1.58pm (NZ time) there was a magnitude 5.8 earthquake, followed by a 5.3 at 2:06pm and a 6.0 at 3:18pm.