Katherine Hayton | BLOG
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Since I’m now at home all the time (apart from dangerous excursions to the supermarket) my darling has finally clicked that he can take advantage of this in more ways than just me opening the garage door for him before he gets home.

First of all, he demanded this week that I bake him a bacon and egg pie. Demanded! There we were, going around the supermarket for our weekly shop, and he suggested that we buy some bacon, and maybe some eggs, and then I said, maybe I could make you a pie, and he said yes, and we bought the stuff to make the pie.

The level of manipulation was terrible. So terrible that I completely forgot to actually make the damn thing on Saturday or Sunday and I didn’t want to do it Monday because that’s when he has his “healthy meal” even though we actually had pizza, so I had to make it today.

This was made slightly harder as I use a recipe by Jo Seagar and found out today that part of her business going belly-up a few months ago is that nobody is paying her hosting fees any longer and instead of the recipe I had an offer to “buy this domain name.” Because it’s been so successful so far, right?

Luckily I found a cached version of it hidden away, and took the time to write out the information this time, because chances are it won’t be there when I need it next. I know people say that once you’ve put something up on the Internet it’s out there forever, but I’ve searched for the first website that the first company I worked for once had, and it ain’t true folks. Only public embarrassment never fades.

So I was halfway between feeling used and feeling pleased with myself, when the phone rang and my darling announced that he’d called the plumber.

As if I didn’t have enough stuff to be dealing with, I now had to supervise a man while he disabled and enabled our toilet.

My darling went on to say that he’d told them it wasn’t urgent so they’d probably come close to the end of the week, and that they’d give me a call before they came around to make sure someone was home, so that was alright then.

Um. No. It wasn’t.

When I’ve mentioned in the past that I no longer like leaving the house because outside is where they store people, it wasn’t a blanket invitation to turn around and invite people into my home. I have to live here too, okay?

It would be a different story (well no it wouldn’t but lets pretend for a minute) if the toilet was actually in dire need of repair, but all that happens is the overflow pipe tends to overflow more often than it should.

So what? It’s probably making the overflow pipe feel really special that it has a whole lot of work to do when all the other houses overflow pipes are lazing around, sleeping away their days. Our overflow pipe keeps itself nicely moistened, while all the other overflow pipes are bone dry.

What plumber wants to come into a home where the lady of the manor hallucinates the imaginary life of her overflow pipe? It’s a no win situation.

The only good thing I can say is that the plumber unexpectedly called this afternoon, and after a brief game of her asking for the wrong person and me trying to hang up saying you’ve got the wrong number, the mobile plumbing man was dispatched.

I survived. The toilet now has a new something rude beginning with B and something rude beginning with C which should keep things running nicely for the next few years. The plumber even replaced a part that he insisted would mean that next time we could repair it more easily ourselves.

Hah! It’s obvious he’s never met us before. And hopefully never again. The next time something is arranged that entails a home visit I may just stop answering the phone, and the doorbell.

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11 Oct / Sick Leave

One of the best things about being sick and in pain is that you get to take the day off work and stay home.

Binge-watching Netflix is the most obvious way to heal thyself, but a good book and a lie in don’t hurt. The main thing is that you’re away from the workplace and can relax.

Last week I started to get a stabbing pain in my side. It felt like a stitch, but rest assured I had done no exercise.

As it continued it grew larger and also more focused. The pain was worst when I took deep breaths, it felt like I was being stabbed with a butcher’s knife, but it wasn’t much better when I breathed normally, a boning knife maybe.

Pleurisy.

Since my first bout back in 2010 it has dropped by intermittently to remind me of how lovely it is to breath without a blade in your ribcage. Although the first time I rushed to the hospital sure that I was about to die, since then it’s become a bit more hum-ho.

It hurts though, and it makes me tired. A side-effect from not wanting to take deep breaths and therefore not really getting enough oxygen until I drop unconscious at night.

So, I get a day off work.

Except now I’m working from home, so I don’t.

Thursday and Friday were my least fun sick days ever. I woke up in the office, I coughed myself into a pain spasm in the office, I half-heartedly worked on my current manuscript in the office. And then it was finally the end of the day, so I went to bed in the office.

I wonder if I could have my genuine sick days added onto the end of my career break so I can consider them the painful holidays they usually are.

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08 Oct / Bras

I was doing some research on the weekend. It was about the type of clothing worn by people in the 1850s so that I could accurately represent it in a story I’m working on.

Naturally, this led me straight into the world of bras.

Yes, I’m well aware that these tortuous garments weren’t all the rage back in the day, but I still managed to find myself reading about them.

There were the well-known facts, such as the most comfortable moment of a woman’s day is when she hurls this dreaded contraption across the room, and lesser known facts such as the optimum wash to wear ratio is 1:3.

What?

I don’t know about anybody else, but I’ve always considered my bra to be underwear. Possibly because when I shop for new bras they’re kept in a section commonly known as underwear, or less commonly as lingerie.

A lot of the personal hygiene knowledge that my parents instilled in me over the years may have left in the wake of disinterest and non-retentive brain conditions, but there’s one thing I know.

You wash your underwear every day.

But now Google was telling me otherwise, and I trust Google to feed me correct information. Kind of. Not really.

Luckily my darling volunteered enthusiastically and immediately started to harangue the women around his workplace as to their habits in regards to brassieres. Rather to my surprise some of them even volunteered information.

The evidence thus gathered, and the original Googling done, seem to confirm the position that as a garment of underwear bras are in fact some sort of second tier that don’t require the same level of cleanliness that the first tier underwear demands.

Hmmmm. Very hard to overturn habits that have been fine-tuned over thirty years, but…

Less washing, and apparently the bras last longer and stay in better shape while they last. So it works out well for everybody.

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06 Oct / Going out

Some people, who have far too much influence in my life with no reason, will be happy to know that I went outside the house today. I even walked through a mall. *gasp*

What a palaver.

Previously, when I’ve wanted to walk to a shop during my lunchbreak at work (that’s work as a physical place rather than the work I’m doing at home) I just used to walk out of the building and make my way there at a nice amble.

Today I had to change my clothing because I dress for the conditions, and the conditions at home are very, very slack. I had to put decent people clothing on, and I may even have overdone it. Certainly there were ‘those looks’ from all the people who’d gone out this morning in only jeans and a T-shirt, but that may also have been something to do with paranoia from slowly growing agoraphobia.

After changing outfits, I then had to go through my bag and make sure that my keys and my wallet were in there. Since I haven’t touched it for weeks, I couldn’t rely on my memory to assure me they’d have remained intact.

Then (gosh I’m tired just thinking about it) I had to fit the bag for grocery shopping into my handbag in such a way that the contents of my handbag wouldn’t spill onto the floor of the supermarket when I pulled one from the other.

Last of all, I had to put my mobile phone into my handbag. When I’m at my physical workplace my mobile phone lives in my handbag. It only comes out for recharging or secretive usage. At home it sits, wherever.

I must say I feel a sense of accomplishment that I managed to do all of that. Half an hour of solid work just so I could leave the house and walk to the supermarket. Go me.

Once I’d left the house and was walking I did discover that I’d left my earphones at home so I couldn’t even listen to a podcast while I walked to and from, but that’s now made it onto the to-do list of pre-planning for outings.

Or, I could log-in to the Countdown website and order my shopping to be delivered. Now, why didn’t I think of that before?

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05 Oct / Not going out

The other day my darling observed that since beginning my career break, I have seldom left the house.

The use of the word seldom is generous.

I would like to take this chance to defend myself. After all, if my own blog isn’t a place to do that, where is?

If I were still doing my normal job, I wouldn’t leave work during the day. I stayed glued to my desk from when I arrived at 6.30am in the morning, until I left at 3.30pm at night. Obviously that’s a lie because I’d have lunch in the breakout area – I wasn’t completely antisocial – but otherwise, glued.

Therefore, when I’m working from home I don’t leave work either.

The failure of outside folks to realise that working from home doesn’t mean I’ll drop everything just to head out to do a spot of shopping, should not be visited on me by trying to make me feel guilty and inadequate.

Fools should also realise that shopping doesn’t need to be done outside anymore, that’s why there’s the Internet.

And yes, my social interaction has greatly reduced since becoming homebound, but is there really anything wrong with that? I have to ask myself these rhetorical questions because there’s no one else around to talk to.

The one day I did go out last week it was to find that the neighbourhood was under enemy control, so you can see my dilemma. Inside my house all the portals are under friendly control.

Nevertheless, bowing to the whims and demands of a group of people that I don’t know and have forgotten if I’ve ever met, I shall go out of the house tomorrow.

I’ll go for a nice long walk, and indulge in a bit of grocery shopping – my favourite type – before heading home, locking the door behind me, taking time to recover, and finding refuge in the virtual relationships that I fail to nurture on the Internet.

My virtual relationships mimic my real ones, you see.

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I think that there must be a strange creature that lives in my voicebox which crawls out when it sees a recording device. It briefly distorts my hearing so that everything I say sounds the way it usually does, right up until the moment when the recording is played back, then its weirdly pitched, oddly intonated voice comes out of the speakers.

It’s the only explanation.

My latest grand venture into the world of self-publishing is an audiobook. In the worldview of Amazon I live out the arse-back of beyond, and so I can’t go through the normal channels that other self-publishers go. My country name doesn’t begin with the word United and therefore doesn’t count.

Therefore, instead of being able to hook up with a narrator who would work with me to produce an audiobook and split commissions 50/50 I either have the option of paying (coughs to disguise the enormous sum of money) for an unknown narrator, or I can produce the book myself.

I’m not cheating the listening public by going it alone. According to a training review the only good thing I possessed as a trainer was a lovely speaking voice. Thanks to the mistaken belief of my mother that speech class would somehow cure shyness, I have also had the art of speaking aloud drilled into my head.

Not to mention the year of pursuing a career as an actress. An ambition that was alive and well in First Form and had died a sad death by Second Form, leaving me with nothing except the ability to recite the lines for the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz verbatim.

When I recorded the first chapter I did have to go back and record a few other takes however, because as an introvert I firmly believe that expression is something best left to those crazy people who like to interact with human beings. Having spent the best part of three weeks at home by myself talking to no one, I’d forgotten how to work that into sound.

One of the rules of recording your own narration, apart from having a decent dual-diaphragm condenser microphone and a microphone preamp able to supply phantom power, is to get used to the sound of your own voice.

Yes, I’ve had to come to terms with the sound that the strange creature living in my voicebox produces when I think I’m speaking.

In only nine more chapters, and a lot of mixing and producing, you’ll be able to hear it too.

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01 Oct / Spies like us

There I was, walking innocently through Bishopdale Park, minding my own business, when a group of youths opened fire on me.

At least, I think it was the youths. It could have been the Mum with the stroller, carefully hiding a mobile phone on top of her baby, or the old couple sitting on the bench looking like butter wouldn’t melt.

It’s hard to be sure these days. I’ve chosen the minority team on Ingress, so the enemy spies are all about me. Opening fire just because I’m trying to hack their portal. Opening fire just because I opened fire on them first.

The only one I think I’m sure of is the young man who was walking toward me as I gave up and walked away. At least, I think I’m sure. He had a mobile phone in his hand and a blank expression on his face so it seems most likely. On second thoughts that could describe half of the teenagers hanging around the mall on their school holidays so that could be a bit harsh.

OMG. If I described half of the teenagers hanging around Bishopdale Mall maybe they’re all at it. Maybe I escaped only through sheer good luck and a canny ability to not notice people on account of pets, plants, and rocks are far more interesting.

This was my first time playing Ingress. I didn’t do very well. All of my hacks were unsuccessful, and although I picked up a lot of objects my inventory description assures me that they’re all very common.

Still, at least it got me out of the house.

Not that I’m making that mistake again. Out of the house is how they get you. I’m staying indoors, and maybe applying for a portal on my clothes line out back so I can play happily by myself as all the best children adults do.

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28 Sep / Spam

After waiting this afternoon for three hours for an email confirmation to turn up in my inbox to no avail, I remembered that I have a spam folder on gmail which I rarely visit.

I quickly located my lost email, and the second one that had been sent when I clicked on the ‘If an email hasn’t turned up press this button to send it again,’ button, and the third and fourth which had been sent similarly before I became distracted by a ‘dogs getting themselves into situations they immediately regret’ montage.

It having been a while, I had quite a good nosy around my spam folder. I must say, at the end of my investigation I think I like it rather better than my inbox.

My inbox regularly receives invoices and bills to be paid. My spam folder, on the other hand, seems to cultivate a class of sender who is determined to send me money. There was an offer from a lovely man who works at a bank in China, and another from a Russian who I presume wants the same but I can’t translate well enough to be entirely sure.

My inbox regularly receives notifications that the opportunities I’ve applied for have been graciously turned down. Even the ones when I offer to pay large sums of money.

To the contrary, in my spam folder the opportunities are flooding in. All that’s required is for me to confirm that my email address is still valid and the opportunities will be tremendous and nett me a sweet profit for no effort at all.

Someone called me a dear friend, and wanted to know if I wanted to become fashion. Another person told me I’d won a Euro lottery which I hadn’t even entered simply by virtue of owning an email address.

Somebody was even soliciting for a representative for their lumber company based in Vinh Niem and thought I might like the job. I don’t even work with lumber. It’s too sweet really.

My life would be so different if my spam folder was everything I received in the way of email. I’d grow close to random Nigerian princes as I fleeced their government of billions of dollars. I would rule the lumber industry, and I would win so many lotteries that I wouldn’t even bother to claim them if they were worth less than 10 million.

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27 Sep / Sunday Sadness

A few weeks into my experiment with career breaking, and I’ve started to notice a strange thing.

On Sunday evening, previously, I would start to feel a little bit sad. The working week meant I had to get up early in the morning which I don’t enjoy, and although I enjoyed my job, working is just a hard thing to do.

So there’d be the sadness that it was coming along again, and there’d also be the sadness that I hadn’t done enough with my weekend, or I’d done too much so hadn’t really relaxed the way I wanted to.

But then last Sunday I noticed, nothing.

I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the working week, but I wasn’t sad about it either. I didn’t find it took another hour to fall asleep, and I didn’t add a new worry onto my thought list a moment before I was about to drop off.

So another week has passed. I have continued to force myself to work during work hours, and take advantage of the ‘no commute required’ to surf the internet before I do so.

I have safely managed to accomplish things that I needed to, wanted to, and even things I thought I wouldn’t get around to for a while yet.

Then I had a weekend off, doing barely anything, because how else would I delineate my week if not for that?

Tonight is Sunday night again. Once again I’m pleased to announce that I don’t have that Sunday feeling.

I also have maintained that I enjoyed my job out in the real world, but I’m starting to wonder if that enjoyment was perhaps a smokescreen for not really enjoying it but having to do it anyway.

If seeing no mood changes on a Sunday night is a true predictor of enjoying a job, then I think I’ve finally managed it.

Now, if only there was some way I could make this one pay…

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