In the midst of tragedy…

The phone rings. It is my sister, to tell me not to worry.

Worry? Why should i worry? I WAS in the middle of a most bizarre dream (the dream analysts readinhg this will have a field day) in which i was moving furniture. I had just shifted all my bedding – and now i wouldn’t be able to move the rest of the bedroom furniture.

What an odd time to call.

But it is one of THOSE calls. Serious stuff. Our brother moved out to New Zealand – ChristChurch, no less – many years back. He is naturalised, so i guess he has committed to stay. Has a house he shares with his partner.

He was even – carrying on the family tradition for slightly queer politics – one of NZ’s first two gay parliamentary candidates, standing for Labour in the General Election of 1996 or thereabouts. Ah: the magic of the internet. I’d guessed, but hadn’t quite KNOWN before then: but if it said it on the net, it had to be true.

Anyway, they’ve survived the last couple of quakes: but this one is rather nastier. Oh. They’ve survived this too. That was the point of the early morning call.

But, as my sister rather inadvertently put it: “he’s a little shaken”. Well, he would be, wouldn’t he?

Sorry. That really isn’t to make light of what’s just happened. Merely to observe that even in the midst of such situations, the humour bubbles upward.

On the minus side, he has but three bottles of water to his name, and therefore finding something to drink over the next few hours/days is, i imagine, going to be his first and central pre-occupation. He also has noted cracks in his house, which sounds serious. I hope not, but time will tell.

Showing my ignorance: but i had never thought of NZ as being prone to quakes. Obviously i was wrong on that count.

Going forward, I hope he is OK. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like waking to such an event – or, as in this case, to be going about one’s daily grind and having the ground literally cut from under your feet. I think the most worrisome thing is that once the thing happens, you are always looking for the next one.

Very sad. For some, i guess, this would be the start of lifelong neurosis. Others will just get over it. We’ll see.

Anyone know whether this means they are likely to have MORE quakes? Or that with one of this magnitude, they have had the worst? Or is it utterly unpredictable?



3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Liz Church said,

    I’m glad to hear your brother is OK. When you have those things taken away from you which you take for granted, you get on with life on a more minimal level. It’s actually a lot easier as the things that you thought you “owned” actually owned you. One’s survival instincts will prevail and it can be a breath of fresh air.

    New Zealand is on a major fault line where a new continent is forming, I believe, so earthquakes are going to be regular occurrence and sometimes they will be powerful.

  2. 2

    spirifer said,

    We’ve just spoken to our rellies in NZ – my cousin lives in Christchurch too. He’s a househusband, so was at home with his baby daughter. He grabbed her, made sure that the house didn’t look as if it was cracked or about to collapse, and rushed to the school where his other kids were.

    Children in NZ are trained in what to do in these situations – they had all gone out into the playground away from the school buildings. As Liz Church said above, NZ is always expecting a major earthquake. Strangely enough, we were talking about this last night – at a mining museum on the west coast near Greymouth, we saw a film about NZ and earthquakes – the commentary was something along the lines of, “No-one knows when the big one will strike”.

  3. 3

    Phoebe said,

    When I was a kid in Wellington we had more quake drills than fire drills at school, and a fair number of scary-as-a-kid quakes.

    Don’t know if any of my folks over in NZ were in the vicinity of Christchurch yet. Most of my close family live around Nelson so they’re fine but I’ve got cousins spread around a bit.

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