Katherine Hayton | BLOG

After having continued to gain weight over the past two years, along with experiencing depression, dry skin, dry hair and general lethargy, I have been given an out. No, it’s not the evil clothing elves. And apparently it’s not me being lazy either, although that probably doesn’t help. No – it’s my thyroid gland instead.

All those long days spent trying to avoid food because if I look at it I’ll gain weight, and trying to work out why my entire skin sheds all over the floor, or why I either need to sleep for twelve hours or can’t sleep at all, I may finally be on the way to a diagnosis.

It will be so nice to know that when sitting bolt upright in the middle of the night completely exhausted but also completely unable to sleep and with a horrible checklist taking place in the back of my head ticking off every awful thing I’ve ever done and every mistake I’ve ever made it wasn’t really because I’m useless and deserve to die but because a little gland at the base of my throat can’t be bothered to do the one job that it’s been given to do.

At the moment I have bruises all down my right arm from where my doctor took a few vials of blood, and nothing will be confirmed until I undergo another round of bruising in four weeks time, but after that I might finally have the excuse diagnosis that I’ve been craving.

No more is it going to be down to my lack of willpower that I gain weight through overeating. No – it’s my thyroid. No more is it going to be down to my lack of willpower that I don’t go for that hour and a half of exercise that I promised myself I would. No – it’s my thyroid. No more is it going to be down to my horrible life choices that I sit bolt upright in contemplative horror in the long dark teatime of the soul. No – it’s my thyroid.

I’m keeping that text message from my doctor. I may even have it framed. Nice to have a genuine full-on diagnosis at the ready when life’s pitfalls loom.

I had a T-shirt made up a few weeks ago with my logo and my website on it. I’m now considering whether I should have another one made (one size larger) that reads – it’s not me it’s my under-active thyroid. Then I could whip it out when the occasion calls.

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I’m just watching the latest episode of the Brokenwood Mysteries from our hard drive. At one point they went into the house of a beekeeper and I thought ‘he’s got a lovely home.’ He had lovely chairs with wood and a fabric backing. It all seemed very comforting. Very homely.

I realised after a while its because we have those same chairs in our front room. They used to be part of our dining room set until the table gave up the ghost and we invested in some dark brown dining chairs instead. The old ones migrated to the front room so that I had something to sit on when I was sewing, and something to sit on when I needed to work at the desk.

I kept watching with a keen eye because there was something else about the place. He had lovely wallpaper. Comforting. A good choice. I could see the individual details on the selection of dried leaves and grasses that formed the pattern. Which was odd since the wallpaper was actually out of focus. Then I realised it was because we used to have the very same wallpaper in the kitchen, dining room and lounge of the house that I grew up in. A nice shading of light greens and browns on a lovely cream background.

The scene was restricted to one room, so I wasn’t able to see if the rest of the house matched, but in my imagination I can see it now.

It has the lounge-suite that sits in the front room, not used outside of being where my clothes pile up when I’ve once again overflowed the wardrobe. The one that’s curved gracefully so that it forms its own corner. His spare bedroom doesn’t house a single, or a double bed, it has what used to be called a princess-sized bed, just like the one that my sister had in her room at home.

He’s got a bathroom with the shower curtain from my young childhood home, and the bathmat that we had the time before the time before the one we have now. It’s a nice pattern to step on. The rubber patterning on the surface really grips your feet.

If I keep imagining much longer I’ll probably be able to see the chest of drawers that he keeps because it belonged to his dead wife. And the silver backed brush, mirror and comb set that she arranged in the middle of it. For display more than utility.

I wonder how many other people looked at the same scene and saw the tiny bits and pieces of kiwiana that formed part of their own childhood homes. I wonder if they’d turned the camera around if we would have been able to see the three ducks flying in perpetuity. A family heading south for the summer. Or north for the winter. Or the opposite if you live on the wrong side of the world.

Trips down memory lane can be lovely, can’t they?

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Today I arrived late at the #gamergate party. Apparently it’s been going on for a while, but I waited until it had fully metamorphosed into full-on abuse before I bothered to check it out.

And was rather disappointed to discover that the label I’ve been applying to myself I apparently can’t.


Suddenly I have to be a white male who only plays games with set structure and little exposition to qualify? Dicks.

Apparently Dear Esther and The Path don’t count as games. I haven’t bothered to find out what the community I’m suddenly excluded from thinks of Dinner Date or Thirty Flights of Loving.

You know I have my own criteria for what constitutes a game – something that can be downloaded from Steam or bought on disk from EB Games. That means everything I play or have ever played instantly constitutes a game and I’m happy. If you insist on breaking it down further then get some freaking self-respect and invent your own genres.

I didn’t become a bestseller in the genre of Kindle>Mystery, Thriller & Suspense>Crime>Kidnapping without steering my way through a few genres mind-bends you know. If you can’t be bothered to think of a genre like death killing ray guns – zombie so you can easily tell it apart from visual non-interactive novel then that’s your own look-out.

How about you get off Twitter and start sorting yourselves out? Perhaps if you wore yourselves out by putting in the effort to categorise every item you can purchase in the world that might be reasonably (or unreasonably) be referred to as a computer game you won’t have enough time to call members of my gender c***s and send them death threats when they threaten your white masculinity in some way. Perhaps you could get all inspired and at the end of your categorisation you will have made a contribution to society instead of being an endless drain.

Of course I have drawn and formed all of my opinions from one evening spent trawling with ever-increasing horror through a downwards spiral of twitter hashtag doom, so I could’ve got the wrong end of the stick. Perhaps I wasn’t looking at the dregs of humanity and instead missed the whole point due to the English language’s sad failure to provide us all with handy satire or sarcasm punctuation marks.

Perhaps not.

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There’s a bit of a kerfluffle going on outside tonight. When we arrived home there was a roadsign face-down on the street by our house. There were orange cones lined up on the footpath like they were on sentry duty. And this is Christchurch man, it’s not like they just toss those things around willy-nilly you know.

I did vaguely recall that there have been road-signs either way on Greers Road. For a week or so. But who has time to read those things when they’re a passenger in a bus or car with nothing else to do?

So I wandered down the road to find out that for the rest of the week the main road next to our house is undergoing something that requires all traffic to cease between the hours of 7.00pm to 7.00am.

That means it will screw us up in the morning, but at least will be over by the time I return home from work each day. Unless I’m running super-late and that would cause me more concern than whether there’s a road block between my bus-stop and the house.

However, there is an unforeseen side-effect that the traffic signs couldn’t warn us about. Extra traffic.

The road they’re currently hard at work on (or moderately at work on at a minimum) is a main one. Not an arterial road perhaps, but certainly a major vein. Like the big squishy one in the side of your wrist that’ll bleed a whole lot if you cut it but not really ever pose a risk to life (unless you’re Doctor Kelly.) Or the one in your inner arm that the blood vampires pop a needle in before they drain a pint (BTW blood donors are urgently needed in Christchurch at the moment so please don’t let my description put you off a wonderful contribution to society that has the added benefit of 600g instant weight-loss!)

This means that it has a constant flow of traffic through it. Or it would have if it were open. Since it’s not, we now have a constant flow of very concerned drivers wondering how the hell they’re meant to get to their destination. They come barreling along Greers Road and then there’s the squeal of rubber as they brake, followed by a slow progression into our street.

As we’re only a few houses from the corner, we also have a lovely light display as they pull into our driveway only to reverse out again and turn back to wherever the hell they came from.

We did have a moment of consternation, and both stopped what we were doing, as a police car siren heralded from further down the road. We waited to see what would happen. Would it continue forward and bowl through the repair work (as they did appear to have left one lane open for emergency entrance and egress) or would it skid to a halt as the bad guys got away? It turned off the siren and crept around onto our street, exactly the same as every other driver. The siren never went back on so I presume it wasn’t that important after all.

Bring on the 16th. Or the 17th if they’re not quite running to schedule. Or sometime next week maybe.

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I have been hard at work gaming today. Far harder than I wanted to be. There are a few glitches with Alien: Isolation causing varying degrees of annoyance.

I’m not an expert gamer. When it gets to the options menu I choose the easiest setting immediately (in the memorable choice name from Wolfenstein “Can I play Daddy?”) because I’m under no impression that my temper can cope with my inadequacy. In other words, I play for the storyline.

I’m also firmly in the camp that believes that just because I’m useless at shooting things, that should be no reason to stop me from playing through to the end of the game. I paid the same amount of money for it that dextrous people did – I should also have the privilege of finding out what happens at the end. No one kicks you out of a movie theatre because you weren’t paying attention in the second quarter so now have no idea of what’s happening. No. You’re allowed to sit there until the end with no sense of continuity but still grooving on the cinematography.

Sadly the gaming community seems to disagree with me. I never did get the chance to find out what happened at the end of Dead Space because I got stuck on one of the subway scenes. It was near the end, I could guess how it ended, but I wasn’t allowed to experience it because apparently you have to be better than I was to get to the final cut-scenes.

Thinking back there are a trail of littered games behind me. And I’m not talking about the ones that legitimately bored the **** out of me so that I voluntarily stopped playing. There are far more of those tossed in disgust on the track. But there are also a lot of levels of Manic Miner that I never got to see, and far more rooms that Jet Set Willy never stepped or leapt or jetted into.

I never made it through to the end of The Hobbit. I never got to see the wonders of that Tolkien expected me to see. I even sucked at Washing Windows, but to be fair I saw far more of those than I wanted to.

I have been blocked from enjoyment my whole life. I accept this as part and parcel of belonging to the lower strata of the gaming community. Unless I put in some serious years of time studying, designing, and working on my own game with my own rules then I’m not going to be in a position to change it.

But at least I know that thems the rules. Not being able to hit and kill all of the things that you need to in a reasonable amount of time even though you dedicate some serious time to it sucks hard, but can be explained.

But what the hell is the deal with making one choice that renders it impossible to move forward in a game? Yes, I’m looking at you Sega. What were you thinking?

It was perfectly reasonable for me to run out of the room when three people returned (and shot at me) after I picked up the hacker tool. I’d done exactly that the last time I walked in to find it populated with people who liked me for target practice. And that worked. Why would I do something different? It was also perfectly reasonable to save the game at that point because I had people on my tail and I’d just been through a cut-scene so I was guessing the tool was something important. Perfectly. Reasonable.

And more to the point, how was I to know that it rendered the room forever impossible to navigate through? Seriously, how was I meant to know? Was it spraypainted on the side of a locker that I slide quickly by with my arms flailing because even though I’m meant to be taken seriously as a space engineer I run like a girl? It’s like being back in the Jet Set mansion where one wrong move throws you all the way back to the start, but at least then I knew what I was signing up to. Where’s this in the fine print?

Not only is it cruel to regress someone to the previous level so they have to repeat all of the steps thus far taken to move them forward in the game, it’s also an opportunity for them to notice and grow increasingly annoyed by every little glitch which they’re now encountering for the second time.

Don’t know if companions blocking your exit is meant to be a fun feature, and I also don’t recall that on the ad Sega. I don’t recall you advertising their enoyable rotation of sayings either. You know, the one where you get told to be quiet when you’re not even capable of talking and you haven’t moved in half a minute. Or the one where the guy searching for you with his gun out says ‘Keep looking, she can’t have gone far,’ and then two seconds later says, ‘Maybe she’s gone – I haven’t found her yet.’ I’m serious. Two seconds – I haven’t found her yet. Does Sega also have the attention span of a teenager? Actually, wipe that – it’s an insult to teenagers. I’m sure most teenagers would hunt a woman with a gun for far longer than two seconds before deciding to throw in the towel. And I’m talking about New Zealand teenagers who don’t even view gunplay as a regular sporting activity.

I’m also fond of how when people run at you shooting and you stand in the corner because you haven’t got a weapon, you all become trapped together so you have to restart the game from the last save. Another sterling discover there in gameplay. Along with the way when you’re crouching at the level of the vent you have to stand up to climb back down into it. Or how your companions keep saying follow me and then stand still waiting for you to go ahead. Or how the enemy can stare you straight in the eye, and then decide to go and check the inventory because apparently the noise was nothing. And they don’t appear to be making the decision in a wink-wink got-your-back kind of way.

Don’t make me go back again Sega. You’ll make me angry. And trust me, you won’t like me when I’m angry.

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I’m sure I’ll wake up with more tomorrow morning, there are some muscles just starting to bunch into a deep-seated ache – but for the time being at least I have to be content with the far-more-obvious flesh wounds.

I always forget between bouts of gardening (possible something to do with them occurring a full year apart, but possibly not) that it usually involves a lot of physical pain on top of the actual energy required to do it in the first place.

To date, from one full half-hour of gardening duties, I have incurred light scratches on the inside of my right arm:

I also have a deep long scratch on the outside of said arm (which I’m unable to get a photograph of because I’m not a contortionist more’s the pity) and a collection of varying size scratches in a variety of patches on my left arm. I also removed a half-centimetre long splinter (or blackberry prickle) out of the knuckle of my left forefinger.

These are not life-threatening injuries by any stretch of the imagination, but that they occurred while I was wearing leather gloves and a long-sleeved top did surprise me. Those berries have tenacity. I’d admire them if I wasn’t still picking little bits of them out of my skin.

But at least that’s most of the back garden done. A quick tidy up around the half-dead orange and lemon plants and it’ll all be over for another year. Apart from picking the fruit, and I don’t consider that a gardening duty, I consider that dessert.

The front garden still needs to be weeded, hopefully at less risk of harm, and then I just need to dig a trench, pop in my pink fir seed potatoes, mound them up a couple of times and I’m done.

The peaches and nectarine trees take care of themselves, as does the quince tree and the Jerusalem artichokes. No doubt I’ll also end up with a courtesy crop of last year’s potatoes, as they seem to be the gift that keeps on giving.

Is there anything better than free food? My arms, hands and knees are bound to disagreed for the next couple of days, but then I’m sure they’ll be in agreement. It’s the bomb.

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About the 1st July (my birthday – why do I do these things to myself) I enthusiastically started writing the first draft of my latest novel. I was awesomely confident that I would have this finished by the end of July, or a few weeks after that at the latest.

After a few wrong turns and a lot of pauses to do things like design covers for the book I still haven’t written I’m pleased to announce that I’m almost pretty much nearly finished!

Wow. I thought this day would never almost very-close-to-being-here come.

A mere 10k to go-ish. Or 8-10 hours worth of full-on #1k1h sessions (which I always try to 1.2-1.5k because I’m competitive even when it’s just with me.) Unless something unexpected happens that elongates a few bits and pieces unexpectedly. Lord I hope that doesn’t happen, unless it’s in a sort of all enthusiastic get it all down before it disappears into the ether case of binge-writing. That’s okay because it takes about the same amount of time, give or take.

I’ve just got to get **** into the **** and cut off the **** so that the **** from **** can see the **** and make the connection with **** thereby tying up all the loose little strings into one large emotional **** of an ending.


So that old saying about everyone has one novel in them but few have two might soon almost nearly not apply to me.

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09 Oct / Aliens and sweat

Today my copy of Alien: Isolation arrived. Lovely, dovely. There wasn’t quite the perfect set-up as there would’ve been if it had arrived – oh I don’t know – yesterday maybe. But I still managed to get a nice dose of ten minutes play-time. Well, not play-time because the vast majority of that was intro and cut-scene, but a good two minutes of play-time.

I haven’t actually found an alien yet. In fact the only activities I’ve performed so far are to get dressed and then have a shower. Yes you read that right. I don’t understand why I didn’t realise the button in the closet operated a shower-head either. For some reason it looked more like a door.

There’s a lovely old-style vibe to the game. It’s like playing on the Spectrum again, except the graphics are interactive and don’t take four minutes to load per page. You have to plug your hard-disk into an emergency wall slot in order to save. I’m not sure how well that’s going to play when I have alien(s) hunting me down, but I don’t have much choice.

There’s just one thing I’m a bit confused about.

Obviously I haven’t played through very much of the game yet, so it may be explained at some point down the track and if so I apologise Sega, but WHAT’S UP WITH THE SWEATING?

Yeah, okay. It may be HOT in space. What do I know? I’ve never been (although there’s a boarding pass with my name on it going out on Orion courtesy of NASA – thanks guys) and perhaps sweating is the norm.

And that’s all good. I don’t mind sweat. I even partake myself if the weather complies. But I wipe it off my forehead if it gets thick enough to form a drop and roll down my face. I don’t just let it pool on the surface of my skin without brushing an arm across so that it doesn’t start to drip off me.

You may be out in space people, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise normal human standards.

Otherwise – all good. I’m looking forward to the weekend.

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