Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Absence in the Arcades

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  • Isabel Hitchings,

    We went into Cashel Mall late on Saturday afternoon. Being there in the sunshine, surrounded by people didn't quite feel like coming home but it was the closest analogue I've had in a very, very long time. Walking in and feeling that surge of hope for my city reminded me how long it's been since I've felt much in the way of hope at all.

    My younger son's class are spending a day a week, this term, in the botanic gardens and we will take them "into town" a time or two. One of the reasons we chose their school was because of its place in the city and reclaiming even a tiny part of that is really important. Standing in Cashel Mall and looking up at their school was very moving for my kids.

    I feel like I've spent the time since February camping out in my own life. Everything is impermanent, in convenient and the novelty has long since worn off.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    It always heartens me to hear that things are - not getting back to normal, in Christchurch, but shifting towards the future, if you will, changing in ways that are not entirely dictated by the exigencies of the earthquake and its aftermath. That people want to reclaim the city. Whatever else happens, it needs to be somewhere people can live everyday lives again, where people want to live. In some ways it's the only thing that really matters.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    I wish I had something to say, besides *hugs*.

    But I don’t. I have been avoiding chch, not because I don’t want to see y’all, nor particularly cos I am scared or dreading it. More because it feels so hard and I don’t want to come down and be all “earthquake tourist”, and end up making it worse for you guys. Plus, Christchurch hasn’t felt like home to me for years, even though it’s “my city”. I don’t know if I can take it feeling even less like home than it did when I came down in February.

    Plus, I really don’t know if I can bear a Christchurch without the Dux.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Thanks, Emma. Achingly beautiful. I fear how upset I'm bound to feel when I see any of this for myself again.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    More because it feels so hard and I don’t want to come down and be all “earthquake tourist”, and end up making it worse for you guys.

    One thing that struck me as really odd yesterday: there were actual tourists all over the place. Dutch/German (they all sound the same to me, sorry), Japanese, French, all maps and backpacks. And I can understand it when I think about it, but initially it really surprises me.

    not because I don’t want to see y’all

    Fortunately, I will be taking my Preferred Show Week Option, and leaving the city. Drinks. Wellington. Next Thursday. When Megan and I stop arguing about bars yous all should come by.

    I fear how upset I’m bound to feel when I see any of this for myself again.

    There was a moment... The retention of part of the Ballantynes building lets you anchor yourself in the sea of demolished emptiness. Which in a way is good, but also... led to a moment of realising I was standing right where Guthries Arcade used to be, before it utterly vanished without trace. And I was hit by the memory of eating souvlaki in the food court there... twenty years ago? When it still had a functioning food court. Likewise, the view across Colombo St reminded me of the Puzzled Dragon, which was Big in 1990. Interesting to see memory already starting to play these tricks and erase the time in between.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    When I worked at Ballantynes, the Chinese place in that food court sold fried rice for $2. Still the best hangover breakfast.

    And I was not arguing!

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    And I was not arguing!

    It's true. We were exploring our options in a constructive manner.

    So. Fork and Brewer. Not at all chosen on any kind of "how far can I walk back to my hotel drunk and wearing heels" calculus. Next Thursday. From five. Come and help me relax, Wellington.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    That people want to reclaim the city.

    For sure. I was struck when we visited last week by how important the agency of people is, especially when the official wheels seem to grind so slow.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    the memory of eating souvlaki

    one of the things I loved about Christchurch, which Auckland doesn't have. Fave was little place over the road from Cathedral Square, near Chancery Lane. Probably where that vacant lot is on Google Maps..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Sacha,

    Fave was little place over the road from Cathedral Square, near Chancery Lane. Probably where that vacant lot is on Google Maps..

    In the Westend cinema building. That was a pre-earthquake demolition

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    it was on the other side over the road from the square. Wasn't the cinema alongside the post office?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Sacha,

    Different cinema. When I arrived in Christchurch, the square was basically completely surrounded by movie theatres. The one by the post office became the aquarium. The Westend did the Midnight Movie showings. Rocky Horror, Betty Blue, Clockwork Orange. We used to stand for God Save the Queen.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Houses of illusion…

    When I arrived in Christchurch, the square was basically completely surrounded by movie theatres.

    A handy historical (and chronological) list of Chchch cinemas
    so you’ll find the Westend under Everybodys Theatre
    roll dem jaffas n snifters and sniff back the tears…

    (h/t to Canterbury Film Society )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    A handy historical (and chronological) list of Chchch cinemas

    Cheers, Ian.

    My favourite memories are of the Westend, but architecturally the one I miss the most is The Savoy. It was so ridiculously beautiful. (North-east corner, by Warners and the Press building.) Had it been preserved, we could have had our own Roxy or Civic.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Everybodys Theatre

    that's the shop. cool.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I loved the Savoy! Knew it before its second-makeover (I went to the Coast in 1970)
    and still retain good memories of how it was...went back to it in the mid-1980s (I had a half-year writing fellowship at Canterbury) and was a bit horrified by what it had become.

    I still have the occaisional dream of being late for an important event there, and running up endless flights of stairs (which didnt exist in reality-)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    I don’t want to come down and be all “earthquake tourist”, and end up making it worse for you guys.

    I'm going to Christchurch in early December for a few days, and I guess I'm going as an earthquake tourist. Or rather, it feels like I'm visiting a friend in hospital recovering from an accident. I miss Christchurch.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I so miss the time when Cathedral Square was full of (local!) people. Weekdays it was thronged with commuters changing buses, and Friday and Saturday nights everyone was arriving for movies at the Regent or the Savoy or the Westend or the Midcity.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    For those who can't go on the tour, CERA has uploaded a video of it. There's also an MP3 of the commentary (from Warwick Isaacs) for people going on the bus who want to listen to it.

    I should point out, I managed to make it through to Colombo St before deciding i could probably watch the whole thing later.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Gee, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    The $2 fried rice at Dumplings was *still* $2 in February. They've opened a new store now -- I think it's in Riccarton? Anyway, they missed their regulars so were pleased to be open again.

    Canada, eh • Since May 2011 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Thanks for the link, Ian. I am proposing to revisit the SI next year, to add cinemas to my www.cinemasofnz.info site and will need to compile a list of what cinemas are still operating in Canterbury (eg is the Academy/Cloisters still out of action?). I should be able to ‘do’ the NI this year. Just been around Northland (Matakana to Kaitaia) and planning a trip around Taranaki and Manawatu. There is still a heap of stuff to add but the site is starting to look quite good.
    Apparently Alice in Videoland is planning to open again.
    What was the Chch cinema which had little balconies with cafe chairs and sun umbrellas?

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2539 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    What did you make of Matakana?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Loved the paper rose ceiling! It seems to serve its patrons very well and demonstrates that retail developments don't have to be ghastly (like the Te Awa/Hoyts abomination at Te Rapa).
    Met some great, enthusiastic movie-lovers up north, such as the group who are raising funds to construct a cinema in the Dargaville Town Hall (which is huge).

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2539 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Ta. Haven't been yet myself.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Jane Pearson, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Alice in Videoland is already operating through the website, albeit in a different way. Order online and have it posted as before or pick up from a location outside the red zone. It's not quite the same as browsing the shelves but a start in the right direction.

    Since Feb 2010 • 28 posts Report Reply

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