Last week I had a terrible fright reading on the BBC website about a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that rocked Christchurch and the surrounding area. Obviously not remotely in the league of those who were actually present, but it was a terrible couple of hours trying to contact friends who I knew would have been near the epicenter. Thankfully, all the people that I know and love were OK, although the terrible loss that Christchurch endured was still a devastating blow. Lyttelton, the tiny and glorious town I called home for close to two years has been damaged in some cases, beyond recognition. The Volcano Cafe, my main employer and scenes of such amazing lock-ins, stunning arguments, wonderful banter and great whisky is no more. The Monster Bar, my best friends bar, a bar that allowed me to drink to my hearts content and pay off the tab through hard labour over money, is no more. The Lyttelton Coffee Company, preeminently the beating heart of the whole community, a meeting place, a spot to relax and watch the weird and wonderful people of Lyttelton meander by, is no more. The list goes on.
However, I’ve also been reading about the community spirit that so often arises in times of crisis. Free coffee, free beds, free sing-songs have all appeared magically, just to get the people of the place back and functioning. The thing is, unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been , Lyttelton didn’t need a disaster to ignite the flames of community spirit because it was already there in spades. I’ve never known of a single place where people seemed to have such a sense of belonging, and consequently were willing to contribute so much. Maybe it’s the isolated nature of the place (now even more so with the closing of the tunnel) but I just found the unique mix of people the overwhelming sensation that Lyttleton seems to have always had. It’s with with these people that I am in on doubt the town will rise again, and the people will replace what has been broken with something better, something weirder and something more wonderful than what was around before the ground shook it all to dust.
Apologies if all that seemed dreadfully cheesy, but there’s not many places that can have that effect on me. Long Live Lyttelton!