Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dr Foster

Doctor Foster 
Went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain
He stepped in a puddle
Right up to his middle
And never went there again!

We've had a few 'Dr Foster' moments recently... some of those wheel ruts on the building site are deceptively deep, and there's been more than one person cursing & swearing after stepping in the wrong place!

In honour of Dr Foster, we decided to head into town and wander down the newly re-opened Gloucester Street. First we stopped in at the Re:Start mall to check out the recent changes in the area. Our first sight was this massive crane working on the Clarendon Towers demolition.
Still life with Bridge of Remembrance (side view) & crane

Up close, it looked even more impressive...

Equally large are the many gaps that are increasing in size as more and more buildings get demolished. This gap is all that's left of the Triangle Centre, and the Hallenstein's building, where our teens attended Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti.

In some places, single buildings have been left standing as a kind of silent sentinel, watching the surrounding buildings being reduced to rubble.

If buildings could ever be said to look nervous, this one is a prime candidate.
Hang in there, Shands Emporium!

Then it was on to Gloucester Street, to see what newly altered vistas were now available in this part of town. First touchpoint - the art deco facades of New Regent Street, still looking pretty good. Better than the PWC building in the background, anyway!

Just up the street, it becomes obvious how precarious some of these remaining buildings are...

Work continues to save the grand old Theatre Royal. Huge props, by the way, to Sir Ian McKellen, who performed his stage show around New Zealand to raise funds for the repair and restoration of this much-loved theatre.
Funny story... some years ago, hubby & I attended a performance of Les Miserables at the Theatre Royal. We went to the matinee, in order to see a friend of ours play the lead role (Jean Valjean), and got the added bonus of a reasonably-sized earthquake as well. A quick search of notable earthquakes tells me it was 18 June 1994 - a 6.7M quake in Arthur's Pass. It was more than enough to make the theatre shake, and the chandelier got a huge swing going. We were sitting up in the circle, so the massive crystal chandelier was swaying right in front of us, as plaster dust rained down from the ceiling.

As we waited on the street outside, we got chatting to some of the performers that we knew. One said he thought it was people playing silly-buggers, and shaking the revolving stage for a joke. As it kept going, he quickly realised it was a little more than that.

Back outside for the scheduled intermission about 15 minutes afterwards, the camera crews were waiting. Someone later told me they saw me on the news, describing what it felt like, and demonstrating the chandelier's side-to-side movements.

And that was our most recent memorable experience of earthquakes. A big jolt, and then things settle down again. I remember there was a sizeable aftershock (6.1M) the next day - I was working at Ballantynes back then - but that was it. Not what we have now - seemingly unending aftershocks from multiple fault lines that keep setting each other off, right under our feet.

The Old Government Buildings are looking reasonably intact. Ten years ago, hubby and I stayed in a suite here (the OGB is part of the Millenium Hotel) for our 10th wedding anniversary. Things are a little different now than we would have ever imagined back then.

Where once were buildings, now lie empty spaces.
I'm sure it'll sprout a Wilsons sign soon enough...

Of the buildings that are still standing, many of them are on their last legs, being slowly but surely reduced to rubble.

There were plenty of sombre moments in town today. It's easy to get wrapped up in your own little bubble, getting on with your day-to-day life, forgetting all the crash-bang-demo that's going on right in the middle of our little donut city.

We all have our inner city memories from places that no longer exist, or will never be the same.
I was remembering this little arcade just last week... Chancery Lane, home to the Chancery nightclub - karaoke bar par excellence. It was here that classes of eager NZBS radio students would follow JD & the Cowboy, of the Stooges production studio, for the compulsory post-class karaoke session. Neil Jenkins (Cowboy) was eloquent and generous in the classroom, passing on nuggety words of wisdom gathered over years of producing award-winning, engaging radio commercials. He was equally legendary at the Chancery, belting out his signature tune year after year. Much to his dismay, this was just about all the students ever remembered from year 1 to year 2.

Rangiora Toyota ads will never be quite the same. RIP Cowboy, this one's for you.

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