I live in a pretty conservative little neighbourhood. There are picket fences. Birds chirp pleasantly, dogs are sniffy and friendly on approach. But today I ran into a neighbour and, well, she wasn’t wearing any pants. That’s right. Top? Check. Undies, beige and satiny? Check. Trousers? Pffff. Hell no. It was….shall we say…a *brief* greeting (ho ho!) and quick chat as she got a few things out of the car. We made small (s?!) talk and then went our separate ways. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. I did the most mature thing. I acted like sans-pantaloons was completely normal and then, as I walked out of earshot, starting giggling uncontrollably. It was Awesome. I am really hoping she is not wearing pants next time I see her as I think I will give her a high-five.

Neighbourhoods are funny things, aren’t they? We’ve not really been part of a neighbourhood, a regular one, for a long time. We’ve been nomads for so long I am finding it really fascinating to finally settle down into a place. A nice, normal neighbourhood with good schools and a low crime rate and where the locals sometimes strut about in just their knickers. Meh. Shrug.

{To be honest I’m relieved and buoyed to encounter a little crazy. I was just saying to a friend recently that I feel a bit uncomfortable and find it hard to trust people who keep all their crazy on the inside. Everything’s fine! I’m fine! Life’s fine! C’mon now, show us a little no-trousers calamity.}


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I love the parts of our neighbourhood where things fall either side of the “normal” tightrope. The pole on the main street that is covered in bright red knitted lips, the earnest graffiti on a shop window. I love where the kids have been – chalked up hopscotches that stretch on for about fifty metres, ever decreasing scotches to hop in. An ‘evil apple’. I love the big house that looks like a ship; porthole windows and shingles shaped like scales and all. A very pink house with a tiny replica very pink house as its birdhouse. I love that I saw a guy riding his bike, practically in the dark, while eating an enormous three scoop ice-cream. Because he clearly needed to be somewhere but he really needed that huge ice-cream too. Cat with leopard spots. Grandma with fire-engine-red hair, 1950’s sunglasses and high-top trainers.


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People are extraordinary and baffling and strange and no less so when in the company of other people. Communities are weird. People do bizarre things. Especially when they are trying to be completely normal. I’m currently neck deep in Adam Johnson‘s The Orphan Master’s Son which I have to read slowly because it is set in a society in a completely different universe. The Universe of North Korea. Setting and characters are mesmerizing and dumbfounding. He says, in the Q&A in the back (I didn’t skip pages! okay, yes I did) that he had to dull down some of the information he discovered during his research because it was too extreme and would seem too fantastical. A reader simply wouldn’t believe it.


I’m happy to be reading The Orphan Master’s Son because next month Adam Johnson is going to be at the Auckland Writer’s Festival. He’s gonna be there and I’m booked in to do a couple of workshops including one with Lawrence Hill who wrote the phenomenal Book of Negroes / Someone knows my Name. I’m a bit terrified because he, ummm, won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. Hello. The workshop is called “Faction” and it’s about making your fictional characters and fictional settings more believable. Then another workshop with Elizabeth Knox, legendary author of The Vintner’s Luck and Wake amongst other titles, called ‘World Building’ in which we will : “explore strategies for the creation of fictional worlds that display texture, depth and logic, making it easier for budding writers to inhabit their characters; to be their characters rather than make them”. Eeeeek. I’m so excited and nervous to learn more about creating believable neighbourhoods for my characters to inhabit I just know I am going to have that recurring dream. You know the one…where you go to school / work and everything is a-ok until….you realise you aren’t wearing any pants?



What goes on in your neighbourhood? I’m curious; do your people wear bottom halves??


HUGS, Hannah x