Sunday, September 5, 2010

Earthquakes during 11th C Scotland?

Just wondering. Will have to go researching this. Why? Well, to those not in NZ, the place where I was born and spent some important years of my teenage hood has been devastated by an earthquake measuring 7.4 (only 10kms deep, centred in the sleepy town of Darfield where good friends reside).

Like many New Zealanders, we in our house have spent the day with the telly and radio on, listening to the stories and viewing the pics. Earlier in the morning, I was on the phone to many family and friends checking everyone was okay.
Praise God no one has been killed because of the quake although, sadly, a gentleman has died after suffering a heart attack and a number of people are in hospital with serious injuries.

Did we, as a family, feel it? HELL YES! My eldest and hubby awoke to the house rocking like it was being jiggled on the knee of some giant. And, the noise! And, like many in Chch remarked, it went on and on and on.
We have some damage to our 100 year old house which pales into insignificance to those who have had a monstrous day cleaning up broken plates and glass and bottles and jars of food and precious things....

But, what struck me was, how dependent we are on the simplest of things: water, warmth, power (which usually keeps the phones up and running) and sanitation. Presently, all these things are not working properly in one of New Zealand's cities – water-mains are burst and flooding streets and houses; sewage pipes, ditto.
While I was writing, the tv was on and there was bulletin after bulletin of officials warning the citizens about hygiene and potential problems. And, I was thinking: well, in Glamis right now there is no electricity, phones, cell phone, internet. Yet, the sewerage system is working. Even back then (and, I guess it’s always been) the people understood the importance of ensuring waste was managed. Thanks to the Romans, such systems (which included waterways) were all good to go in Britain.

I know this post is not so much about the writing of the trilogy but the earthquake has made me aware again of how dependent I am on the mod-cons. I went to the supermarket last night to get some food for dinner and was struck by the number of shoppers who had bottles of water and tins of staple foods in their trolley. A couple of years ago, Dunedin was shut down after a snow storm so that planes and trucks could not get in which meant bread and milk and petrol supplies were quickly depleted.

How is it that our society is so expectant of its needs being met. My eldest said to me: what if this was during the exams? (meaning the national examinations which occur each year in early Nov). What if this was us? She asked. Because, many of the schools in chch will probably not open this week because of the damage to their buildings. She has friends in this possible situation and of course they have been facebooking and texting everyone…
Yet, not so who live in the world of my story. Like the main roads in and out of Chch, there are obstacles; like the basic needs of my fellow Cantabrians – warmth, water, toilet – these are precious parts of a comfortable life. But, unlike our 21st C selves, they are less dependent on the others providing the basics.

We don’t have a king but our Prime Minister has been walking the streets. The people need their leader to come see their suffering and offer practical support and rousing words of encouragement (note to self).

In the end, I’m just glad that I have not had to contend with walls falling down on me or my kids.


Katarina said...

while it felt like being jiggled on the knee of some giant to you in Dunedin, here in Timaru it was more like the house was being rocked side to side by multiple giants. Not fun at all. We, luckly didn't have any damage, a couple of minor things fell off wall and chairs. But the walls are still up, and we are thanksful for that.

Anonymous said...

"You know, of course, Tania" that the much-vaunted Roman water-courses were mostly only available to the Romans and those who lived in their houses/settlements. the vast majority of Britons before, during and after the Roman invasion(and certainly all those living north of the Border, since the Romans didn't really go much further than Hadrian's Wall) - relied on the low tech, fail-safe, earthquake-proof systems: bucket, long-drop, night soil men, until the early 20th C.
EQs also extremely uncommon anywhere in Britain - long been geologically stable, relatively speaking.