Alarming fact: Quakes produce paper

My wife and I spent several hours this week sifting through a 50cm-tall pile of paper that we'd allowed to grow on a side table in our kitchen.

Most of the paper was earthquake related. Who knew that quakes produce rubble, liquefaction - and paper?

Among the stack were handwritten notes of every conversation we’ve had with EQC call centres since September 2010. Date, time, phone-answerer's name - "Pierre", "Manu", "Kate" or whoever - and then details of whatever scraps of information and disinformation ladled out in that call.

I'm a journalist and always make notes of non-social phone calls. My wife long ago learned to keep notes or face my exasperation. And so we've got records - reams of them - and most not worth much.

Meanwhile, we've anticipated the day when our home will get repaired and readied answers to questions like: What colour should we paint your interior walls?

We tried solving this conundrum ourselves and brought home paint cards by the dozen. They too were abandoned to the pile, misunderstood.

Eventually we called in a colour consultant, who soon sussed that we were useless about colour and supplied a single solution: Double Tea.

Hold on, maybe it's three-quarters tea. Whatever, it's in the paper pile.

An alarming number of centimetres was taken up by cladding. The red brick on our two-storey Mount Pleasant home has to come off and be replaced with ... what? If there's a cladding in NZ we haven't investigated - and collected literature on and added to the pile - then I don't want to know about it.

We're leaning towards the aerated-concrete system, Hebel, but if readers feel that’s unwise we'll listen.

Anyway, I suspect many in Christchurch have built their own towering piles of quake papers.

We've decided that the best way to stop building a new pile is ... wait for it ... remove the side table from the kitchen.

No, that won't do it.

I know, we'll get our home repaired lickedty-split.

No, we don't control timing.

OK, we'll learn to dilgently file documents into the correct folders, in the correct places. HA!

The Press