Katherine Hayton | BLOG
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08 Nov / Cup Day Dress-up

It’s only a couple more days until Cup Day. I’m not foolish enough to actually go to the races and be thrown up on by young girls who are wearing little more than belts and high heels, but I always reserve the right to dress up as though I am.

Saves a lot on the dry-cleaning.

Evil clothing elves have even afforded me a genuine reason to purchase a brand new dress for the occasion rather than just making do. There’s been a little bit of that going on lately – it’s far more difficult to get inspired to try to lose my sudden-change-of-medication weight pile-on when I’m getting a new wardrobe out of the deal.

A talented woman at work has even fashioned a fascinator for me. It matches beautifully to my shoes and my handbag, which is lucky because my dress came from a completely different colour spectrum. Can’t have everything going together though, can you? Or is that in this season? Who can keep track?

There’ll be strawberries and bubbles for breakfast on Tuesday. The bubbles in question will be of the non-alcoholic variety, but the strawberries will be the real thing. And then I believe later on in the day there might be something else happening. Aside from the best-dressed competitions I mean. What is that again..?

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07 Nov / Expired food

Our office held an expired food party today. Yeah we’re cheap, what’s it to ya?

I happily poured out some Coke Zero safe in the knowledge that nothing can ever make Coke taste bad. I’ve seen You-tube videos where it melts coins. Time isn’t any match to that power.

It turns out that my knowledge was belief, and faulty at that. It was flat. I can handle that – sometimes I even prefer it. It wasn’t sweet. Say what?

Yeah, you heard me right. The Coke Zero wasn’t sweet any longer. The vast array of chemical symbols that adorn the fine print of the ingredient list have no staying power. A mere year after the best before date and it was almost undrinkable. I could only manage three glasses. Ugh.

The chips fared a lot better. I thought at first the Doritos had gone off as well, but it turned out they were Salsa flavoured and were meant to taste like that. Why would anyone buy Salsa when they could buy cheese? I didn’t even know you could buy a flavour of Dorito that didn’t include cheese. Maybe they were a limited edition?

I only realised when I reached home that I’d forgotten my cans of cream. Again. They only expired in July and September respectively so I’m confident that they’re still good to go. I sprayed a couple of handfuls into my mouth the other day and I haven’t died so I’m backing myself here.

There is a weird sense of urgency to consume it as soon as possible. But I hope it can last the weekend. It’s made it this far.

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The night before last there was a very large explosion from somewhere deep in our suburb. Louder than a car backfire, louder than a shotgun blast. I cringed on the sofa and thought it may be a good time to go to bed early. My darling bounced outside with joy to see what the hell had caused it.

I’m not taking him to live in a war zone.

He met a fair share of the neighbourhood while he was out there. They formed in small gaggles and had a good sniff of the night air to try to work out what had happened. Some of them, two women, set off further up the street to see if they could work out something more from the next corner.

I continued to tremble on the sofa.

He continued to talk outside for a half hour. He was invited to a party on Saturday night. My darling hasn’t been invited to a party he wants to attend for at least ten years. He still hasn’t. Saturday night we have a burning appointment with the TV.

Meanwhile, I got over my fright enough to sit up straight and start to search for information on the internet. There’s a surprising lack of information on the internet about explosions in Christchurch. Surprising lack.

When he came back inside the neighbours had jointly agreed that the noise was probably down to a kid setting off a firecracker in a drum.

Fireworks. Building Better Communities Together.

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The phone is ringing off the hook tonight. Three not interesteds so far, and a hang-up before the long-distance connection to India could fully traverse the distance.

If our phone was any smarter or younger we could always just set it to mute in the evenings because it’s never going to be anyone we want to talk to. I don’t want to buy life insurance, sell my home, donate to dying kiddies, or change my electricity company. Believe me folks, if I wanted to do any of these things I would phone you.

Or, more likely, I would find a webpage and sort it out for myself. I’m not entrusting anything to the sorts of people who think that my evenings recovering from the day by lolling on the sofa are a fine opportunity for them to practice sales techniques.

If I hadn’t been raised any better I would tell all you telephony people to go away.

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04 Nov / Go Away.

Once, when I was in standard two, I was severely remonstrated by a teacher for telling another girl to go away. It hadn’t seemed like such a bad thing at the time. I was eight years old, I was planning a secret surprise with my friend, and we didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag.

I was called out in front of the class, and had to stand there while my teacher listed to all of my peers my many flaws. I also wasn’t allowed to talk to my friend for the rest of the week. I got the message; this was the worst thing that you could say to another human being.

Worse than a b***h, worse than a b*****d, worse than calling the slow kid in the class a r****d.

For skipping school you got the strap; for pushing someone into the sharp edge of the jungle gym you got a talking to, and then the strap. Quick and easy and over in less than a minute. But for daring to tell someone else in the school yard to go away when you didn’t want to play with them – that earned you a week long punishment.

Corporal punishment has faded into the past since then; for all I know everything now involves week long psychological torture rather than a short, sharp assault by a full-grown adult on a small child. Or you get a “time-out” whatever that new-age stuff means.

Never mind. Back to the point.

I still have days where I’m busy or I’m grumpy or I just don’t want to be dealing with you lot of humans today thank you very much. I still have days where I want to tell everybody on earth to sod off to another piece of the planet and don’t make any noise while you’re at it.

And yet I would still rather bite through my lower lip rather than just tell you politely to GO AWAY.

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03 Nov / Going out

We’re going out tonight. Bill Bailey’s Limboland is on in Christchurch, and we intend to be there seated when he walks out on stage.

It’s very stressful. I haven’t been able to change out of my work clothes into my home clothes. My home clothes being the comfy ones with all the food stains on them. It would be irresponsible to change clothing when I’d just have to change back in a few hours. It would be a waste, and we don’t put no truck with waste in these here parts.

There’s also a level of stress about the timing of the car-ride there. It’s a difficult route to work out, you know. The venue is next door to where we both work. Next door. There’s a gate we have to go through. Or, even more stressful, rather than parking at the office we could park at the venue and not walk through the gate.

Geez. Bill better be on good form tonight to make up for all this worry. And he’d better not go on too late. Don’t get me started on our plans if goes on too late.

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This morning I once again climbed a hill. I know, will I ever learn?

Once again I piked out before completing half of our old trail. On the bright side my heart rate got really high and my breathing got really laboured. Why’s that the bright side, you ask? Because someone in a gym once told me it was, that’s why.

Yeah, okay you caught me. That’s a total lie. I’ve never stepped inside a gym! Someone who enters gyms came out of one once and told me that.

It got me thinking of an article I’d read years ago. It was about a woman who was stabbed as she was jogging around Nunweek Park. Nasty bit of business. The police said you should never exercise so much that you couldn’t run away.

That’s stayed with me, that has. Often, when I’m walking down Condell Avenue I think of it. I think of it then because that’s when I’m so knackered from walking home that I probably couldn’t run away.

And, out of breath on what’s meant to be a nice morning walk, it buzzed around in the back of my mind like an Aussie fly.

The bright side these days is that I no longer need to worry about this piece of advice. I tried to run for the bus a few weeks back. I hadn’t exercised at all prior to it. Not at all. That’s also a fair description of how my attempt to run worked out. Not at all. Unless the point was to entertain and amuse the bus driver that is, in which case it worked a treat.

It turned out in the end that the woman in Nunweek park stabbed herself. Not a random “truck driver” at all. That’s also a bit of comfort to my strained and aching heart.

No matter how fast you can run, you can’t outrun yourself.

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01 Nov / Kirkus Review

I don’t usually reprint my reviews (if you wanted to see them you could look them up yourself!) but this one is truly the most wonderful thing I’ve ever seen so I’m taking a liberty.

KIRKUS REVIEW

In this novel, a victim-support counselor in New Zealand finds that the case of a missing girl takes a bizarre turn when a self-proclaimed psychic gets involved.

Christine Emmett, who was once a psychiatrist until she “realized how futile the entire field was,” is close to burning out in her volunteer work as a victim-support counselor for the North Christchurch region working (uneasily) with police. She also runs a support group for mothers with sick, missing or dead children; her own young daughter died, though readers don’t learn exactly how until the end. She’s increasingly distant from her husband, Gary, who drinks heavily.

Christine drags herself to her next patient, Rena Sutherland, who woke from a coma to find her young daughter missing. Amid the media glare, a woman, claiming to be a psychic, provides police with valuable information. Meanwhile, one support-group member is falling apart because her daughter’s killer has been released. Could he have taken Rena’s child?

As old crimes and tragedies surface, Christine must confront her own past. In her debut novel, Hayton wisely stays away from exploiting her subject for shock value. Rather than describing the disgusting details of crimes against children, she focuses on her characters and how they cope. Her characters are well-drawn, with believable and often heartbreaking histories, warts and all. The portrayals are multilayered. Christine’s cynicism, for example, is clearly a thin mask for her depression, self-hatred and grief but is also bracingly unsentimental, with a side of gallows humor.

Hayton draws subtle, interesting and fruitful parallels between the Christchurch earthquake of 2011 and emotional recovery as her broken characters work to navigate the twisted streets of their broken city. It’s a study in surviving disaster as much as it is a mystery novel. One episode perhaps parallels too closely a scene in Tom Perotta’s Little Children, but it’s a minor fault.

Taut and engrossing, with a tough humanity.

Isn’t it beautiful? Or is that just me?

BTW I would like to state for the record that although I have seen the movie of Little Children (more than once – it does hold up well to re-watching) I didn’t actually remember the scene referenced even after reading this review. I had to trawl through a synopsis on Wikipedia to pinpoint which scene it was.

However, if you’d like to judge for yourself please avail yourself of this fine opportunity to purchase Found, Near Water on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Fishpond or iBooks.

It’s a great book – if you don’t believe me then read the above!

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The hard caress of a hand on my shoulder. The warm touch of a cheek against mine. An excited voice in my ear ‘What do you have there?

I turned to see the overly animated face of a flight attendant. A flight attendant I’d only ever seen on my current flight. Or, as I prefer her to be known, a complete stranger.

I muttered something about Pet Rescue and hoped it would be enough to thwart her unwanted advances.

It wasn’t.

Further one-sided conversation ensued. The merits of Candy Crunch were extolled. I turned my phone off, turned it upside-down in my lap, and stared fixedly ahead waiting for it to be over. In time it was. Except for the play-by-play happening on a loop inside my head.

Meanwhile, my darling was dealing with his own terrors. The campervan with the pop-up roof in front of him discovered a few metres too late that it was taller than the height restriction on the carpark ramp. So my darling and the car behind him had to reverse back down and park in the 15 minute slots because the remainder of the park was now blocked off.

The van driver did also manage to extricate his vehicle from its concrete sandwich. By the time I emerged from the terminal he was busily explaining to the parking attendant that he needed to exit from the carpark, and the attendant was busy explaining that he couldn’t because the exit was one floor up and that would entail him removing the top deck of his vehicle.

I imagine that later that night, when the steady flow of commuters dried to a trickle, they may be able to accommodate him driving out the in ramp. But, given there’s a very large sign advertising the height restrictions and a free turn to exit if your vehicle exceeds them on the way into the carpark, I don’t think the parking attendant viewed this as a priority. Certainly not the priority the driver thought it was.

Or he’s still there, arguing.

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