Thursday, September 25, 2014


In the last four years, since that first earthquake on 4th September, 2010, I have become accustomed to seeing many people wearing hi-viz vests and hard hats appear at the door clutching clipboards and assorted instruments and telling me that they have come to measure this or inspect that.

Once or twice I’ve wondered. There was a young pair who appeared without notice and asked permission to make an inspection. They would not need to come inside, they said. I watched as they walked around outside but they made no notes and took no measurements. Since then I’ve taken mental notes, checked IDs, collected dozens of business cards, looked carefully into many pairs of eyes – just in case. 

Yesterday a young man, who had made an appointment, was due at eleven. He was to check for the dreaded asbestos, commonly found in older houses but now of course outlawed. Whatever he had to do had to be done alone – I was required to go out and leave him to it.  Alarm bells clanged. Leave a stranger in the house alone? It might all be a hoax, designed to get me out of the house while villains backed up a truck and cleared the place out. My pictures! My Collected Works! My Jools! My Notes! My Autographed Books! My Work in Progress! My Laptop! My Kindle!

That was all really, no one was going to get rich on what they found here. However, I spent time trying to find the strange Chinese key for the strange Chinese padlock for the Chinese chest so that I could hide small treasures in there. Then I looked for the ordinary key to the Chinese desk so I could lock the Chinese key and the Japanese camera in the desk. But wait! I couldn’t put the Japanese camera in the Chinese chest because I had decided to take a photo of the young man. Why? In case he turned out to be a gang, of course, and I would later be able to show the Police a photo.

He was charming. How could I mistrust this open faced fellow? I took his picture, babbling about how I was recording all the quake experiences, and he stood there and grinned happily. I explained that he shouldn’t try to go out the back door because it was stuck fast and the glass would break. I told him where the manholes were. I gave him a key and told him to lock up and – such creative thinking – hide the key under the doormat when he was done. Then, fingers crossed, I left him to it.

My trust was not misplaced - this time.



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