Cantabrians are a wry lot. It's been 21 months since the 7.0 earthquake and 16 months since its hitman aftershock that flattened much of the city. And yet Christhchurch is still very much in the deconstruction mode.
For the tens of thousands of people who are still living in damaged homes, the frustrations are palpable: waiting for insurance companies to pay up, being given the OK to rebuild, finding contractors to do the patch-ups. It's all moving at a snail's pace. (Every time there is an aftershock above 5.0 the insurance clock resets.) And while these frustrations have mutated into anger or even depression, there is a sort of gallows humor that has developed as an antidote.
I was visiting an elderly couple today. I noticed a sledgehammer in their entranceway. The woman, seeing my quizzical look, said, "Please excuse the mallet. It's not for decorative purposes, you understand. It's so we can smash our way out if there's another big one."
She then proceeded to give me a tour of the cracks and warped beams in their home, ending by saying, "Of course we've got it a lot better than most." They have no choice, with their financial situation, but to wait until things can be put back together.
I asked another guy if his house had been damaged. "Oh yeah, lots of cracks, mate," he said." But with a bit of duct tape the snow doesn't get in. It's all good."
Stiff upper lip.