Christchurch Earthquake 2011 – Day 24

Thursday 17th March 2011 – Day 24.

A golden beginning to St Pats Day

So much for rumour. The cordon is still in place, exactly where it was yesterday. The armoured car is still across the road, and the police and soldiers are still lounging around their check-point on the bridge. On the other hand, it was a gorgeous daybreak; as often happens when we have low cloud, the light of the sun breaking through above the eastern horizon is reflected across, suffusing everything with a soft golden light. The trees in particular are washed with a lustrous glow, reflecting out from countless moist leaves. The effect is but brief, and it fades swiftly into gloom again, yet it is a harbinger of hope, an omen of what may come.

And this dawn breaks upon no ordinary day but upon that of the blesséd St. Patrick, a day of especial importance in Christchurch, a day that is normally marked by a celebration of all things Hibernian.

For many years past Bailies Bar in Warner’s Hotel has been the focus of St Pat’s celebrations, beginning with a breakfast hosted by Stan and Lynne O’Keefe. There is much conviviality, a gathering of old friends who chat and discuss the world and its problems. Dancers kick up their legs to a clattering of hard shoes and the singing of the fiddle, Irish Stew and soda bread are served all day, and the Guinness flows freely. For more than a quarter of a century now, St Pat has been honoured at Bailies behind the Cathedral. Others have taken up the festivities, and it has become a City-wide event, but Bailies has always been it heart and its home.

Not today. There would no doubt be something happening at the Speight’s

St Pats Day breakfast

 Ale House up the road, but it would not be the same. Just an excuse to drink a lot of Guinness – and I do not need an excuse for that. I can do that any time. Instead I had a Guinness by myself on my back patio. I cooked myself a nice breakfast and had another Guinness, and sat and looked back on happier times and forward to St Pats Day 2012. Then I got on with the business of the day, the primary event of which was the arrival of a refugee.

We have taken in Bentley, a large brown cat whose home on Mt Pleasant is abandoned and in a poor state. Our friend Denny has been travelling up to an hour each way every day to feed him and keep him company for a while, which is a severe burden for her, so we offered to take Bentley in for the duration, and he arrived in the afternoon. He was not very happy about the transition, but we will make him very welcome, and he shall have lots of company from now on.

To be continued….

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