Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Christchurch Literature Festival Cancelled

One of the reasons I'm here (apart from seeing my family) is to take part in the Christchurch Literature Festival and promote the new KM biography.  The city's annual litfest is a lovely event that draws writers from all over the world (Barbara Trapido is one of this year's guests) and I was really looking forward to it.  I presumed that it would be cancelled after the earthquake, but got a message last night to say that they were going to go ahead, with a slightly adapted programme. Unfortunately events during the night changed all that.
We had a series of 'cluster' quakes from about 10.30pm until about 5.00am.  There were about eight major shocks.   The smallest was 4.1 and the three largest were 5.2, 5.4 and 5.4.  In between there were almost constant tremors - 15 altogether.  It was quite frightening.  You hear the rumble and then the shaking begins and you don't know whether it's going to stop and die away or whether it's going to get worse.  None of us slept - all in a constant state of alert.  Someone described it  like trying to sleep in a washing machine! 
This morning, buildings that were only slightly damaged have suffered and sink holes have appeared in roads and gardens where the sub-structure of the ground has shifted. Cracks are getting wider.  They are still warning us that we might get an aftershock up to about 6.1.  Meanwhile, everyone is being extremely resilient and positive and there's a really caring attitude.    No panic.  Everyone looking out for everyone else.  Whereever you go people ask if you're all right and then they tell you their own stories.  The Indian owner of the papershop down the road told me that this is god's punishment on the greedy and then told me that his brother-in-law had built a $600,000 house just south of Christchurch last year, one corner of which had sunk in the quake.  He told the story with such relish I got the impression that his brother-in-law was one of those he'd had in mind for righteous revenge!


The damage is quite surreal.  In the centre of town, the side wall of a restaurant has been completely demolished, but inside you can see tables still in place, and set with cutlery and glasses - all perfectly intact.
Sorry to the Tuesday poets group - I have just been too tired to seek out a poem today.  But hope to post for next week.

6 comments:

  1. I'm sorry you're having such a tough time, Kathleen - first the earthquake, and now the cancellation. But, as Mary mentioned, that excellent Listener review should be some deserved recompense for all your troubles.

    I think the Tuesday Poets might be willing to let you off in the circumstances...

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  2. This is so tough, Kathleen - I've been glad to have your news and updates, but I know it must be very hard for you all, especially with the strong aftershocks. I've been through something a bit similar, and I remember how hard it was just to keep going for days afterwards. I hope you get soe rest soon. Belinda

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  3. How terrifying.
    I can only imagine.
    How hard you will find it to leave your loved ones behind.

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  4. More large aftershocks reported in our media.
    How are you going? It must be so nerve racking.

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  5. This is such a shame! You must be devastated - the festival would have been such a wonderful promotion for your book. I hope things aren't too terrible for you at the moment. Your family must be pleased to have you with them.

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  6. Thanks for all your support everyone - it is a bit nerve-wracking here, but hopefully will start to calm down soon. I'm glad to be here with my daughter - I would be frantic watching it all from the UK.

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