Is that my Chin?

Selfie. Snapchat.

Even the names are young and confident and smack of immediacy.

There’s nothing immediate about my selfie snapchats as I snap, delete, snap, delete….. and there’s nothing young about them either.

Snapchats work for me if I’m taking a picture of someone else but the concept of a snapchat conversation fills me with horror. The whole notion of it, is to be quick; a volley of faces with witticisms written across the screen. The concept is so snappy, that it doesn’t allow for vanity — and anyway, what twenty one year old really needs to be vain?

My mother in law once told me that she had a technique for ensuring a good photograph of herself —obviously she wouldn’t have said selfie — and it involved opening her eyes wide and blowing out gently. I’ve looked back on her old photographs and slides and I can see her using that crafty trick, although she had great cheek bones anyway. I think someone gave similar advice to Victoria Beckham but she’s forgotten to look as if she’s happy to be alive.

My mother in law also laughed about the time she was trying to master her cellphone and accidentally face timed one of my sons. She was aghast when she looked at the screen and saw her eighty-five year old chin. This is sobering on many levels but I understand exactly. It’s a surprise/shock to get really close to a part of your body that you usually can’t see.

If I send a snap chat to my boys, of say, the dog being cute, (a rare thing these days) then they usually reply with a close up of their faces as they say, ‘oh I miss her,’ or ‘gross,’ depending on the child.

I know the rules. I’m supposed to put the phone up to my face and reply ‘you’ll be home soon..….’ but who wants to see that?

The same problem arises when they proudly flick me their latest culinary creations. I can’t reply with a picture of myself saying ‘yummy dinner, well done,’ because who wants to see me just before they tuck into Caesar Salad?

I’m a child of the twelve photos per roll era and the copiousness of self- images amazes me. We were lucky if we had one photo of ourselves per year and we certainly didn’t take ugly ones just for the hell of it.

No it’s all very aging.

There’s more trouble though, if I want to get an image off the computer or my phone and into my hand, the technology involved is akin to learning a musical instrument or a second language. I swear the sales people at Harvey Norman run for cover when they see me march towards the photo booths. Just one hold-in-your-hand photo — is that too much to ask?

Here’s the thing, as Graeme Norton says, technology has advanced to make our lives easier but I suspect it’s made the majority of our lives harder; we’re just too proud to admit it.

In the meantime, it’s chin up and soldier on.

Songs about Books

(Or Literary Matters).

Sitting on my music stand, waiting to be learned…….

I love it when someone tells me they’ve just heard a great song that I should learn. Nothing is more tempting than a peep at another person’s musical tastes or else a peep at what they believe are my musical tastes.

Recently two of my sisters went to a jazz concert where they listened to a rendition of a Rupert Holmes song.

That name ring a bell? It didn’t for me either.

The song was the people that you never get to love. I checked it out and found that Rupert Holmes was most famous for his song, Escape, (the Pina Colada song).

Then, I checked out Rupert Holmes and found he was a musician, a playwright, a novelist, a scriptwriter for TV as well as being an accomplished lyricist. The lyrics for the people that you never get to love are teased out, clever and make you concentrate on the words. It’s lazy, smoky back-bar and jazzy.

The chords (and the actual playing of the piece) is proving to be trickier, but hey, that’s why it’s on my music stand.

I’ve included a link of Alix Paige singing it. Click here to see the video.

And speaking of literary songs I stumbled across Mrs Hemingway by Mary Chapin-Carpenter and I love that as well.

I’ve had a fascination with Hadley and all that happened to her and it was intensified when I read Paula McLean’s book, The Paris Wife a couple of years ago.

Mrs Hemingway is easier to play in Eb maj rather than Rupert Holmes’s song with its complicated jazz key, but it has its surprises too. Neither song is listed on any of the chord cheat sites so it’s a matter of the good old fashioned, figuring it out (or ringing a family member).

This is the link: 

Mary CC is another talented musician with five grammy awards to her name. I read that she’s a columnist, a spokesperson for human rights issues and she doesn’t want to be pigeon holed for her musical taste. Hmmm



You know that all is well with the world when a man comes to clean your oven.

I found my oven cleaning man in one of those ‘daily deals,’ although if the truth be told, it was actually my Husband who found him.

My Husband has tackled the cleaning of our oven several times in the past, and made a Saturday morning saga out of the job. He always used a very smelly spray that took hours of cooking to burn off, plenty of elbow grease that was accompanied by deep ‘poor me,’ sighs and when he finished, the considerable mess on the floor (and in the sink and on the walls around the stove top,) made the delight in a clean oven seem hardly worth it. So, it was unsurprising that my Husband was keen to try a fresh tactic.

We paid online and printed out our payment form and rang the man to make a time. He sounded pleasant and yes, he would come that very afternoon.

I arrived home from my few chores just after midday to find a stylish, silver Hyundai parked by my front door and a gentleman with matching silver hair waiting for me. He looked like the sort of guy who was a friend of my father-in-law, so it couldn’t be the oven cleaner. Could it?

‘Are you here to clean the oven?’ I asked from my car window. I could hardly keep the disbelief out of my voice.

‘Yes, I am. When you’re ready; no hurry.’

I couldn’t let him in fast enough.

Mike swept in with a baby bath full of cloths, spray bottles and chemicals of various colours. He set his things down and we both looked at my oven.

I felt ashamed.

As he began to work, I couldn’t help stealing glances at him — crisp cream shorts? A navy polo? Were they brogues? I wondered if I was being scammed. Perhaps he was a serial murderer and he posed as an oven cleaner to get in the door.

While I was letting my imagination run away on me, things were progressing with the oven cleaning. Mike spread a quality pink and blue beach towel on the floor. Did his wife know about this? Did he have a wife? I then found myself running through my catalogue of single older women friends because it is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good cleaning ability must be in need of a wife?

Here the story veers off piste for a while, as my oven was dirtier and more clapped out than most ovens he usually deals with. But still, he soldiered on and instructed me to get the seals replaced, washers on the screws and did I know my light bulbs weren’t working?

The light was working in my brain and I could see with great clarity that I’d stumbled upon a rare gem.

It took Mike nearly two hours instead of one. The house didn’t smell like a pharmaceutical company by the time he’d finished and he gave me some useful advice as regards putting the filters on my x pelair into the dishwasher.

He wiped over the floor, cleaned every last fingerprint off the surfaces around my now sparkling oven and left.

I half expected him to waggle his nose, or exit like a wizard, or do something extra-ordinary but this gentleman put his card on the bench, bade me farewell and said he would call again in a year.

I wonder if he does vacuuming?


Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man

There’s only one thing I can write about this week, and that’s my father, Kevin Hayes Watson. He died just recently and although it wasn’t a shock, it’s always a shock.

Trilemma by Jennifer Mortimer

Trilemma, a novel by Jennifer Mortimer is the first book I’d like to comment on and it’s Jennifer’s first novel. It has been published by an American publishing firm, Oceanview Publishing, and is on the long list for the Ngaio Marsh Crime Awards at the moment — a great achievement for a first book.


I need to say in the first instance that I know Jennifer; we were both in the Whitireia Novel writing class the same year, and I always enjoyed critiquing her work. Even in our class exercises, she shone as someone with a dry wit, a point of difference and an honest approach to life’s problems.

Jennifer describes her genre as Executive Chick Lit, but after reading her novel, I think the book has wider appeal than that and that men would enjoy this book equally as much as women.


It’s a slow-boil suspense and as a reader I was lulled into a false sense of security about the danger Lin (the protagonist) was in. Lin is aware of the threats to her in the business world and meets those threats head-on, but she is naive as to the danger that is stalking her in her private life.

Jennifer Mortimer has been in several executive business positions herself, both here in New Zealand and also in America. She knows the cut and thrust of the boardroom and is as comfortable in that world as she is in a bar or a bedroom. Having said that, there’s plenty written about bars and bedrooms, but the insight I had into corporate life, especially from a woman’s perspective was fascinating.

It seems a lonely post running a company and it was made more difficult for Lin who had to defend her corner in a male-dominated world. There were some great touches as we saw New Zealand through the eyes of Lin, the American.

Trilemma is a very good, intriguing read, a beautiful cover and hopefully the first of many books from this talented writer.


Short and Sweet: Flash Fiction

The short short fiction known as flash is being judged on the 22 June 2015. My story, The Last Syrah is in the shortlist and I’m holding my breath….

Mary-anne Scott, short listed for NFFD

New Year Intolerance

There’s always plenty of lenience for New Year hijinks…