So just to spice things up Christchurch decided to have a massive earthquake.  As you do.  So I thought I’d briefly break my absence from the internet.  Sometime around 04.30 on Saturday morning (4th September) at the tail end of  a bad dream I woke to feel the room starting to move and then about 5 seconds later all hell broke loose with violent shaking, a roar from outside and general freakiness.  It was pretty scary and the whole thing lasted about a minute though the initial aftershocks continued for a few more.

One of things that amused me coming to NZ a few years ago was the ‘disaster planning’ adverts on TV explaining how to create a plan and stock emergency supplies.  ‘But surely NZ is one of the most passive countries in the world?’ I scoffed before also mocking the section at the back of the yellow pages offering specific advice on a range of possible natural and man-made catastrophes (‘in the event of a volcano do not move towards the lava…’).  I never really put much belief into the local tales of small quakes every now and then.

Last year however, we actually did put together an emergency swine/bird flu kit/food cache just in case the two strains did cross and suddenly the end of the world came about.  When this didn’t actually happen we just ate it all.  Foolish.  So in the early hours of Saturday morning we finally had an occasion to utilise my well thought out (and patiently listened to repeatedly by K) ‘zombie apocalypse survival plan’.  Kind of.

How are you supposed to run and get under a door frame when the ground won’t keep still?  We got petrol and food in the morning and whipped out my camping stove and had tea.  Reaching 7.1 on the Richter scale it was pretty powerful stuff (stronger than in Haiti recently) with no deaths but a huge amount of property damage and destruction.  There was a curfew yesterday overnight in the very centre (we fall just outside) and a strange quietness to the place.  Lots of people were milling around yesterday, talking to strangers and neighbours and sharing stories.  We didn’t get power until late in the evening but water had been running since lunch and got to sleep in our own bed after spending the evening with friends.

Thankfully we got off pretty lightly with just a broken coffee jug and a minor crack by the stairs.  We’re still having ongoing aftershocks (one of the recent shocks was 5.1 on the scale) though the general queasy sea-sick feeling I had yesterday seems to have gone.  Very strange sensation.  The only previous quake I’ve had was in Nepal in 2006 (5.3) where the bed felt like it was vibrating.  I missed the one in Folkestone (my home town) a few years back, being in California (of all places) at the time.

Weirdness all round and my thoughts are all over the place.  Looks like it’s going to take a while for things to settle but it could have been a lot worse.  Amusingly I got a worried and urgent phone call from my mum this morning (almost 30 hours post event) informing me there’d been an earthquake and was I ok?  Ha ha.  She needs to watch the news more.  More photos are here or you can follow breaking events here.

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On a different but equally exciting note I met the Prime Minister last Friday at Burwood Hospital.  He wasn’t supposed to come to out ward but stopped off for a chat with the tea lady and then one of my patients stalked after him with her zimmer frame so he came back for a brief hello.  Opening gambit of, ‘yes I’m far shorter and less attractive in real life…’.  Nice.  Seemed extremely approachable and friendly with no airs or graces.  It should be one of those ‘thing to do in NZ’ eye spy tick boxes – meet the PM.

Right.  I’m off to sit quietly and try not to get too excited by the ground wobbling.

There have been many great things about moving to NZ but one of the biggest things that I miss is the music scene.  Or the lack of it.  Ok, so I’m going to say it: the music scene in NZ sucks.  What the fuck is up with the adoration of dub/reggae and piss poor European house?  Seriously.  Ok, it’s said.

So the other big issue is that not only do very few bands come and play here but if they do they invariably skip Christchurch (apparently crossing the Tasman is ridiculously expensive).  Then even if they do come here the chance of finding out about the gig is pretty small as promotion is often non-existent (when I found out I’d missed Dan Deacon last year I was not a happy bunny).

As time has passed I’ve realised it’s not quite as bad as I first thought (I really was spoiled living in Brighton before all this).  In months to come we have Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, The Pixies, Yo La Tengo, Camera Obscura, Pavement, Neko Case, Mono, Wilco.

And now they’ve announced Joanna Newsom with Jens Lekman no less.  In Christchurch.  While I’m on nights.  The same nights that cover my birthday none the less.

See, to go to any of these (as none of them bar the lovely Ms Newsom are playing CHCH) I have to try and book 2 days off work a few months in advance (a process which can take up to a month to confirm sometimes), get flights and accommodation in Wellington or Auckland and all the other little expenses that go along with it.  It makes it very difficult and expensive plus it’s eating into my annual leave.  I miss the day I could lean out of K’s window and listen to Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan playing across the road in St George’s church.

So I make my choices.  I chose Pavement over Pixies.  I’m losing the rest of the week to be in Auckland for Dirty Projectors 2 days later.  Mono I’ve seen before.  Neko Case I’m still deciding.  Wilco I will make happen.  I will also see JN even if I have to miss the end of her set (or be late for work which is more likely).  Tomorrow I’m off to see Jarvis Cocker in Wellington all by my lonesome.

A plea: if you are coming to New Zealand to play, please extend the tour to CHCH.  You’ve already spent all that money and time flying here in the first place so what’s a little bit more to come a bit further south.  I’ll come pick you up myself if it will help.

Now I just need to figure out how I’m ever going to see Mogwai ever again.  Fuji Rock 2010 anyone..?

I decided to check out the art museum at the weekend, thinking that after living here for 9 months I should probably do some touristy things.  To be honest the most entertaining aspect of the museum was/were the people wandering round.  An amusing mix of berets, BIG scarf’s (?scarves?), thumbs on chins and sheer pomposity.  All told there wasn’t much on offer art wise with half of the galleries being rehung.  After spending 5 minutes staring at video footage of a closed door projected onto a wall I thought it might be time to leave.

The Coco gallery down the road however, housed an interesting and more accessible selection of art.  Unfortunately I found a painting I really like.  I say unfortunately because it cost slightly over $2000.  And I really like it.  Which is a bad combination.  I’m going to take K to see it next weekend to see what she thinks.  Very different to what I would normally like, it’s a landscape but the way it’s painted is etheral and compelling.  We shall see.

As described:

How traditional!  Just like I remember as a kid.

I am indeed still alive.  Just been having fun.

Our trip around parts of the South Island a few weeks back was wonderful.  The scenery and landscape was great.  Photos are being sorted out as we speak and I will post them up here soon.

Started work last Monday and so far things are going well.  I’m on one of the respiratory teams and my consultant is about the nicest man you could ever meet.  It’s very quiet though which is a bit annoying.  Right now I’ve got 2 patients and nothing to do for most of the day, and that’s after being on call all of last week.  Acting as a house officer again is a bit weird too as I want to get a bit more involved.  However, with so few patients it’s not really possible.  I’m hoping things will improve on that front – I want to get stuck in and learn something.

I’ve been on call twice and those have been for the most part really quiet too – I cover respiratory, cardiology and renal.  And it’s quiet!  I’ve not known it like that before.  Well, I start nights this Friday so we shall see how that goes.

Good things include days which finish at 4, free meals every day, nice people, fast and efficient service and a nice walk home through the park in the sun.

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This weekend just past we went to the Coca Cola Christmas in the Park concert which was extremely cheesy but turned out to be quite good fun.  Picnic in the park, scorching sun, drinking wine, listening to Pop Idol wannabes singing christmas carols.  Plus we watched Santa arrive on his flying canoe.  It’s true.  See:

Funny night and they had a decent firework display to finish off the night.  The first photo takes you to the whole album.

Sunday I went to the beach with K and the girls while they all had a surfing lesson.  I stayed on the sand (it’s becoming increasingly common that I’m having to explain to people just why I don’t like being in the sea).  Weather wasn’t too nice though.

And tonight we went to see Ghost Town which I wasn’t fussed about seeing (just going as we were out for dinner and the girls wanted to see something).  However, it was really good; funny, Ricky Gervais is entertaining and easily carries the movie and for a RomCom (which it kind of is) it’s not too cliched.  Worth checking out while waiting for the release of the Spirit.

Anyway.  Later.

K left the country yesterday for New Zealand (via LA) which is sad but exciting.  Sad as we don’t get to see each other for the next 3 months but exciting as it’s the start of a new life.  Exciting also because I got my job in Christchurch so now can buy my plane ticket.  Add to my ticket to Nepal I bought last week and life is very exciting.  Well, apart from today which is just ok.

Paid in a check, bought some books, then fought a massive desire to just read my book rather than do anything ‘constructive’.  Meh.  Plus the weather is switching from baking sun to pounding rain and back again at the touch of a random button.

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An interesting video for the new Mogwai single Batcat has been released.  It’s an odd tune, very metal.  I need to hear this album as a whole as none of the recent tunes seem to fit together.  Watch it here.

We saw The Dark Knight again the other day at the IMAX – it really does look great on such a huge screen and is worth the journey.