Blogger Mike Dickison on Christchurch's week of the shakes, in which he found out Eva Longoria was praying for him.


Kim Hill is telling us to sprinkle vacuum cleaner dust over our poo.

In a morning full of surreal experiences, this somehow takes the cake.

Friends tell me they're peeing in buckets, or digging latrines in the


yard. This being Christchurch, talk turns to fertilising lemon tree.

Our city's message to the world is a stoic, "Thanks, but we'll cope."

A surprising number of businesses open as best they can, before

realising we've technically had a natural disaster and you're supposed

to be traumatised. It's the spirit of the Blitz, except the weather is

lovely and sunny, and John Key all the gravitas of Churchill's stunt



My seismometer is a small plastic Big Bird, which reliably topples

over on about a 5.2. I've had to stand him up a couple of times today.

He's calibrated against readings from the New Zealand Earthquake Bot,

which tweets

(it has three times as many followers as the Christchurch Press). Because the Bot takes ten minutes to report, people have been playing the guess-the-magnitude

game on Twitter. They tend to overestimate.

Some people are completely freaked out. Some are just angry, and

loudly rain curses on the aftershocks-I don't tell them these will go

on for weeks. Some, like me, are sleeping through everything but a

5.0. Everybody's waiting for the 6.0, which like Godot is supposed to

be coming, if not today, then definitely tomorrow. We're oscillating

like Vladimir and Estragon between boredom and despair.


I visited the earthquake shelter at Burnside High, hearing that they

might need water containers. Exhausted volunteers have been deluged

with donations and are well-supplied with bedding, food, and

everything else. Someone donated a game of Twister, especially

challenging in an earthquake. Donated books include

The Da Vinci Code

(a perfect opportunity to get rid of one's copy, I suspect), and

Angela's Ashes

, in case evacuees need reminding things could be worse.

Good news! Eva Longoria, from the Television, is praying for us. All I

can think is that it's a bit late: Eva, if only you had used your

celebrity powers and intervened with God before He smote us with His

wobbly wrath. Perhaps God only works the cleanup crew.

Huge diffuse disasters are hard to take in, but little ones hit home.

Canterbury Cheesemongers - the best cheese shop in Christchurch - may have to be demolished, and there's nothing we can do about it. This, curiously, affects me more than damage to historic homesteads or

friends' houses: a bit of the Christchurch I know is going away, as

will many other bits, all special to somebody.


More aftershocks. The Burnside High shelter has been hit hard, and

it's been evacuated of its evacuees. I spontaneously decide to spend

the night out of town. Kaikoura is supposed to be quite tolerable at

this time of year. Heading North through Woodend, the only things

damaged seem to be the churches.


Frustration with the aftershocks is boiling up. Two different people

told me this morning's 5.1 caught them on the loo, which rather ruins

your equilibrium for the day. Megan comes up with a

for an organised anti-earthquake protest:

We wake!

We shake!

We don't want any more quakes!

I'm helping my friend pack up her house for evacuation: cracks in the

cinderblock walls, the laundry turned into a water feature by a broken

pipe, and a hole I can see the outside through. That could be handy

for summer ventilation, I suggest. She is not swayed. We both join the

to save Canterbury Cheesemongers, knowing it probably won't help.

Somebody comments in my blog that the lack of fatalities reveals

divine intervention. Presumably God didn't like Haiti as much as

Christchurch. Perhaps it's our pious name. Wellington, there's still

time to rename yourself: forget Wellywood, go with something more

devotional. Suggestions in the comments.

Twitter has been an indispensable information source, but it's also

fertile ground for rumours. Within a few hours of the quake, there

were fake damage photos and denunciation of the fakes. Now the petrol

storage tanks at Lyttelton are supposedly on fire, and there's a

petrol shortage, both also quashed before they're too widely

retweeted. The best news for a while is that we can drink the water

again: tweeted within half an hour of the press release. I've been

brushing my teeth from a mug for days, and am happy to dump the

stockpot of boiled water sitting the laundry tub. It feels like I'm

flushing away the unreality of the last few days. Now to see what

reality has in store.

Mike Dickison (@adzebill) blogs in Christchurch on Statistically Improbable Phrases.

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