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Come Winter, Rebuilding and Rugby.

Early in May I sent my Trouble In Mind manuscript to my editor, receiving it back with glowing praise and no edits other than a small number of words where I forgot to change my NZ-British spelling to the American spelling. I have been overcome with the generosity of many well-known writers, neuroscientists and novelists) who have agreed to read a pre-publication copy and endorse the book if they like it.

We’ve had record warm temperatures in NZ this May (early winter), with the sea still warm enough to swim in and the nights sometimes too hot for more than one blanket. But in the last week the duvet has gone on the bed and we enjoy fires most nights and mornings. Even so, the night temperatures here in the north of NZ rarely go lower than10 degrees centigrade (50 deg F) and in the middle of the day temperatures are commonly around 18 degrees (64.4 deg F). It is much colder in the South Island with temperatures dropping below zero centigrade some nights. For the thousands of people in Christchurch still living in sub-standard accommodation – caravans and tents in some cases -- after their homes were destroyed in the March earthquake, the cold can only add to their stress. Christchurch has had over five thousand aftershocks since the first big earthquake in September last year, some of which are quite significant. The centre of the CBD is still cordoned off and many businesses have yet to be allowed in to assess the damage to their property and stock. The World Rugby Cup, the largest event ever to be staged in NZ, takes place in September and October, and poor Christchurch has had the games that were to be played there taken away as their stadium is too badly damaged and the Christchurch infrastructure couldn’t cope with the influx of visitors. As Cantabrians (Canterbury is the Christchurch province) are probably the most rugby-mad population in a rugby-mad nation, this is a major blow, not only to their economy but to their psyche. Even I, not a rugby lover by any stretch of the imagination, have my fingers crossed that our All Blacks will win the Cup this time. Somehow, in spite of being viewed as the best rugby team in the world and winning every other international rugby competition, when it comes to this biggest prize, they seem to have the worst luck. NZ could surely use some happy news, and if we are defeated again, especially on home ground, the nation will go into a deep depression for a time. In two weeks John and I will go to Christchurch for the first time since the March earthquake to see our daughter and her family, and experiencing the destruction from the ground is apparently much worse than even the tragic images on TV can convey. An earthquake expert from San Francisco here to advise on rebuilding Christchurch said that the damage and its extent was many times worse than the damage caused by the 1989 San Francisco earthquake.
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