Katherine Hayton | 2015 March

March 2015

31 Mar / Back to work

After having the day off sick yesterday, today I made the valiant sacrifice of going into work.

First of all I had to get out of bed. This required a few stops for coughing fits, but done.

Next, I had to get showered. Luckily the cleaning happened while I was leaning against the side of the shower wall coughing. There was soap involved somewhere.

Then I dried myself off, something that being doubled over coughing actually contributed helpfully to, and then I had to get dressed.

I performed that while sitting on the bed and lifting one limb and then one cheek at a time.

By the time I got to the couch I felt certain that I’d earned a medal, but it turns out all I earned was a ride to work.

Coffee helped. Morning tea helped more. I made it through the day.

And then on the ride home it started. The tickle that you get which means you have to cough loudly and inappropriately. The sort of cough that you really don’t want to get on public transport.

Especially not when the double seat you scored on the bus was immediately filled by a little old lady. A little old lady who looked first alarmed and then horrified when I exploded into fits of suppressed coughing.

The problem is that no matter what you do, you can’t stop a cough forever. You may twist into paroxysms of suppression until your face is bright red and your eyes are streaming tears, but that sucker is still there. Waiting.

And the longer you try not to cough, the more you have to, and the more you have to, the less relief you get when you finally succumb, and the less relief you get the quicker you need to again.

Until finally you get off the bus and all urges to cough go away. But they’re waiting. They know I’ve got an Orbiter to catch tomorrow, and they’re lining up right now.

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30 Mar / Insult to injury

In order to take my mind off the horrendous pain swamp that my throat and chest have become, I spent a nice quarter hour today googling my books.

This is an excellent pastime, and I highly recommend everyone immediately undertakes it. Found, near water and Skeletal BTW.

While happily strolling around the lanes of the internet I came across a curious note that I hadn’t seen before. It went something like this:

Want to download Found near water. Does anyone know where I could find it?

Well. I’m quite excited. First of all, someone has heard of my book. Second of all, they’re wanting to read it enough to put in a little bit of effort. Not the effort of spending money and all, but some effort.

I don’t really mind. I grew up taking books out of the library for exactly nada, so if someone wants to spend the same discovering my work they’re welcome. After all, I grew up to be a person who quite happily buys books by her favourite authors as soon as they release them. I can only presume the freeloader of today will be the fan of tomorrow.

My not really minding came to a halt at the next comment however.

Too long and a bit boring.

WTF??? My book??? The short and interesting one???

How rude! I take back everything about not minding the poverty stricken freeloaders, and replace it immediately with hate and lawsuits.

Copyright infringement is one thing, tasteless reviews are quite another.

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29 Mar / Breakfast

We went out for a cooked breakfast this morning. Some family reason, I don’t really know because I wasn’t concentrating. I was too busy trying not to cough up phlegm in the middle of a restaurant.

To show it was a really bad idea to go out to breakfast the rain absolutely poured down. This is something Christchurch rain seldom gets itself worked up enough to do. When it does go to the trouble, you should respect it and stay indoors. Instead, we drove to the Casino.

Perhaps I should insert here that if you go out for a meal that involves my darling’s mother it will be at the Casino. This is the only place in Christchurch that she knows how to get to, and get to she does, quite often.

The breakfast is a buffet, and while others at the table started off with a quite reasonable spread of yoghurt and fruit, I headed straight for the eggs and bacon.

Eggs Benedict, sausages, bacon, pancakes. My meal was almost complete. And then I lifted the stainless steel lid on the hash browns to reveal… nothing.

Two trays of bacon there were. Two trays of eggs. One tray of sausages, but that’s about right. One double tray of pancakes. And what size was the tray set aside for the hash browns? One tray. ONE TRAY.

I mean, I ask you. If you had the choice of making sure there were hash browns available, or holding aside extra trays for mushrooms, and tomatoes, and baked beans, what would you do?

Exactly. But no. The buffet adjudicators have decided in their wisdom that the diners of Christchurch would rather have variety than an ample supply of the necessities.

This created a slight controversy when the next load of hash browns were served up, and I cut the line to select a plateful, leaving almost none behind for the people still waiting in line.

Not my fault, queuing breakfast people. Get over it.

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28 Mar / Invaded

This morning when I woke up, the first thing I did – even before complaining about how 7.30am isn’t really a sleep in – was to cough.

This was because there was an extra helping of mucus coating my throat and filming over the passage into my lungs.

Not for long though. I coughed and coughed and did that thing where you seal off your nostrils then suck air through them anyway because it dislodges that lump of stuff between the back of your nose and the back of your throat. And then coughed that up.

On the bright side, this left me with such a sense of nausea that it was easy to go supermarket shopping and not give in to any cravings. On the non-bright side, ugh. A cold.

I’ve tried to temporarily up my vitamin C levels by adding actual lemon juice to my lemonade, and I’ve rested myself as much as humanly possible, but so far there’s just no improvement whatsoever.

I don’t really know what I’m surprised, colds typically do last a lot longer than one day, but each time I keep hoping that this time… this time…

Thinking of the tiny little invaders causing such reactive misery is the only thing that makes me feel any better. When I cough I think gleefully of little viral babies being thrown across the room with the force. When I sneeze and blow my nose I smirk at the thought of little viral babies being trapped in my snot.

But it’s not looking good for me. If I don’t make it, then I hope my darling finds my terminal-illness-wish-list and ticks off all the names on it.

What’s a terminal-illness-wish-list you ask? It’s like a bucket list, but when I’m diagnosed with a terminal illness you really don’t want your name to have made it on their. Prosecutions take way too long to organise when the culprit has an expiry date.

And for anyone asking, I am not a cricket fan and there is no way on god’s green earth I am planning on staying up late to watch the final of the cricket on Sunday night.

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27 Mar / Missed calls

My phone can go for a week at a time without receiving a single call.

This is good. I find it difficult enough to communicate with people face to face and know how to react, let alone over a thin wire covering vast distances.

Add to this the fact that whenever my phone rings it inevitably brings me more work. Piles of the stuff. To add to the piles I’m already surrounded with.

My darling used to call me every day at work. That was a phonecall I didn’t mind taking. And if he skipped a day it was just because I’d called him instead.

That hasn’t happened for a long time. Oh sure, we still call each other at work – we’re not estranged or anything – but not every day. Sometimes not even every week.

So today when I returned from a morning in the training room – built for twenty, occupied by two – and found a series of missed calls from my beloved I immediately jumped to the most logical conclusion.

Someone had died.

In retrospect I can’t think of anyone’s death that would have simultaneously necessitated the repeated phonecalls while also requiring my darling to continue to stay at work, but panic doesn’t have time for logic.

I phoned his office number. I phoned home in case he’d left. I tried his cellphone, the one he never turns on unless he needs to make an emergency call out. I tried his work number again.

Electronic recordings mocked me at every turn.

Then I had another meeting so went off to that instead. When I returned to my desk I’d missed another phonecall, and I finally reached him at home.

He’d forgotten what he was calling about, but assured me that it wasn’t anything important.

I hate the phone.

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26 Mar / Meetings

I remember a time, long ago now, when a meeting was something you held when you wanted to get something done.

There was a problem that needed to be fixed? Hold a meeting.

There was a decision that needed to be made? Hold a meeting.

There was a new staff member you wanted to tear to shreds behind his back? Have a girl’s night out.

The remnants from this time live on in my memory, and whenever I’m invited to a meeting (or just when I see one naturally forming) I feel a little frisson of excitement that something effective is about to happen.

Rest assured, it’s not.

Nowadays the meetings being held tend to involve looking at a problem from all sides before disbanding with a promise to get together again later to consider it further. And don’t worry, if perchance we make a decision, we can always meet again to backtrack out of it without any cause for concern that events may progress in the meantime.

I had four meetings on Wednesday. What did I get out of them you ask? A familial acquaintance with a cupboard. No more.

But not to worry, I had another meeting today. I’ll have another two tomorrow. I also have a lunch date and I think I’ll get more out of that hour than any of the ones taken up in meeting rooms.

Not that I’m entirely complaining. After all, if I wasn’t in a meeting room I’d be staring at a Sharepoint site or an Excel spreadsheet.

They can almost make people look good.

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25 Mar / The cupboard

Before I start I’d just like to say, what happens in the cupboard stays in the cupboard. My cupboard buddies will know what I’m talking about.

I played a part in today’s unit presentation. We call it a quarterly presentation because it happens two or three times a year. Everybody gets a section, apart from that time when somebody had “car trouble” and somebody else “slept in” and we ended up with one person doing three of the sections while the rest of us who’d bothered to turn up did one.

Traditionally we’ve booked out the really large room at work for this so we only have to do one presentation. However, for the last two presentations it’s been booked out earlier by some far more organised business unit, and we’ve therefore had to make do with a smaller room and tag-team presentations to get everyone through.

Prior to the refurbishments the room was just a room, but now it has a secret. Hidden in the corner of the room is a secret cupboard. It looks small from the outside, but as any Doctor Who fan could guess it’s bigger on the inside.

Not having enough chairs for everyone to sit down the Team Leaders chose to wait out the presentation in the cupboard, only emerging as their section was ready, and then popping away again neat and clean.

The first time around we were remarkably controlled. We paid attention to each other’s segments, and supported our increasingly hot selves against the door leading out of the cupboard.

The second time around we had less patience and more ease. Lacking chairs in the cupboard, we knelt and then lay down on the floor. This was a bit of a worry because apart from one member most of us had waved goodbye to forty and knees just don’t cooperate the same as they used to.

I can’t say too much, but some stuff happened, and if you weren’t there you might take it the wrong way. Needless to say all the Team Leaders are now fully bonded thank you very much.

Oh, and if anyone’s still on the floor could you let us out now? A joke’s a joke, guys.

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24 Mar / Air conditioning

It’s simple in theory, right?

You mount sensors throughout the floor in various high-traffic locations. They take the temperature and relay that information to a central unit which then pumps out the required air to raise or lower the temperature as needed.

This keeps the room at a nice even temperature within the bounds set by the operator.

This is the reward. This is the reward that all white collar workers reap in exchange for forsaking the sky and the sun and the grass and the earth to work in little pods with other people. Other people! Within arm’s length.

It all sounds so good. It all sounds so easy. It sounds like the kind of system that might keep an office building at a steady temperature of 18-22 degrees celsius.

Certainly what it doesn’t sound like is a recipe for meeting rooms to alternate from freezing cold to boiling hot, and the open plan floor to vary by eight degrees from one end to the other.

Eight degrees. Air temperatures outside vary by less than this from full sun to deep shade. It’s not natural to put a human body through this.

Even worse is the claims made to have the unit installed in the first place, which use words like ambient and controlled, when they mean aggressive and erratic.

When did air conditioning go from being a caring way for a company to ensure that staff were in comfortable working surrounds to a war that the blue collars are stealthily inflicting on the white collars?

Well I watch Game of Thrones dudes so I’m up for this, bring it on.

All air-conditioning men must die.

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22 Mar / Printouts

No matter how many years I do accounts solely on a computer, whenever something goes wrong (and usually horribly wrong) I have to print it out and tick it off, item by item.

When I started work back in the 80s there was still the dream of the paperless office floating around.

At work we currently have two screens just so we can look at the “paperwork” on one, and the entry screen on the other.

And if something goes wrong with the processing? We print it out.

When I’m doing my final proofread, do I perform it on a Kindle, which is the library which I read most of my books from?


I order a physical copy of the book, and sit down with a ballpoint and a highlighter to pick up all of the errors that myself and my editor had no hope of seeing in an online copy.

Damn if there isn’t some strange substance in paper that makes errors spring out from the page and yell “here I am.”

And that paperless office is still a pipe dream that our physical storage company is hoping will never come to pass.

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