When I was 11 years old, I had tonsillitis and was off school eating KFC potato and gravy when the news announced Princess Diana had died.
I was 15 when I woke up to the news that the twin towers had been struck and spent the entire day in the media room at Linwood with my mates watching the constant stream of news.
I was 25 with one kid at school and the other at preschool while I was at work on Tuesday the 22nd February at 12:51pm selling a lady elastic when the Big Earthquake hit Ōtautahi.
We stood outside watching the water and liquefaction bubbling up from the broken ground while a man, wearing bakers blue gingham pants and matching hat ran down the street screaming that the carpark had collapsed while a cloud of smoke billowed behind him.
It took me over 4 hours to get to the kids and then home, it should have taken 30mins. I ran past collapsed buildings on fire, people running in all directions as police were blocking roads and streets hoping that Bobby managed to get out of his building and instinctively run the same path.
The night before, we had made a massive pot of pumpkin soup that fell out of the fridge and all over the kitchen on top of the soy sauce, honey, oats and lentils, but we couldn’t clean up, cause there was no running water. The electricity was down too, so we couldn’t vacuum up the broken glass and crockery. And I kid you not, shitting in a hole in the garden next to the chickens was the highlight
We slept under the dining table that night as a family. The earth grumbled all fucking night. No words can describe the sound of the earth cracking and rumbling underneath you while your house twists and shakes trying to stay standing on its final few piles while the chimney continues to fall.
Sometimes you could hear the Earthquakes coming. They reckoned you could sense it in the air, by listening to the birds, by watching the sky change colour. It was surreal and in a few short days we were all fucking Earthquake Experts.
We would take bets with those around us. How many seconds ya reckon that one lasted? Is it getting worse, should we run to doorframe? Shit, that one felt like a biggie, how big was it? Surely that one is the Alpine fault line yeah? Oooh thats defo a shallow one. You reckon we are safe now?
I cannot really believe its been ten years already. The inner city is still munted, but it’s getting better every year. As a city that is, I Imagine not so easily for those who lost loved ones. An Earthquake is a bullshit thing to experience, and it wasn’t made easier by the people in charge at the time. Kinda like this Covid thing we are experiencing right now.
We are exhausted in the UK after a year of various lockdowns and restrictions aye? But I promise you, as someone who has witnessed a broken city physically rebuild itself, that the next ten years will eventually become a blur and things will change for the better.
I found little slices of joy during the quakes. Like watching the people come alive with street BBQ’s as everyone cooked up all of their food from their fridge before it spoiled, or watching with pride the Student Volunteer Army shovel liquefaction out of peoples homes all day every day for weeks. But my favourite memory is playing a game of Jenga in the middle of a series of serious aftershocks adding that extra layer of excitement to the game.
I reckon I have found a few gold nuggets for this once in a lifetime global pandemic too. I’m gonna remember that Boris paid for me to eat out with my family for all of August! I’m going to look back fondly on the fuck tonne of scrubs I made that helped my local community and I am actually really enjoying my family as we become a closer unit while we hunker down indoors playing boardgames, although I feel this could turn at any moment now.
I hope you doing ok though and that the light at the end of this Covid tunnel gets brighter and closer everyday. Stay safe out there homies x
Peace Out! Tumeke x