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Kathryn White

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE


Things I Thought I Knew – i’ve been writing it for 2 years and now this! this!

My EB Sale Pile


Swearing as a Lady


I say the F-word. I say the F-word a lot. Not just in anger. I say the F-word for emphasis, for expression and for fun. I say it to make my car go faster, to greet a cheating ex, to whisper in an ear. I have been saying the F-word for 15 years.
I have tried to stop. Honest I have. It’s just that I started young.

It’s my mother’s fault really. Brother Andrew and I bought Dracula’s Bloody Sherbet and went home to gleefully repeat the word Bloody to my mom. She laughed at us. We tried out Sherbet. She ruffled our hair and laughed at us again. Brother Andrew and I were impressed – we had stumbled onto something good here, something that made mom happy.

Over the years I blossomed into a fine young lady. In Primary School I found out I could use the F-word in Accounting and then spend a relaxing 45 minutes in the shade of the K-word tree. As a teenager I discovered that swearing helped my pony go faster. As a young adult the F-word was well used when missing flights (often) and when I got my tongue pierced on a television show (once).

I have used the F-word for so long that it is now a casual part of my conversation. While newcomers use it for a stubbed toe or in the why did you cut my bank account off if you didn’t phone to ask me for my physical address details way, I like to say it in the same way you say pass the salt or oh look you have toilet paper hanging out of your pants.

Mothers are fine with this. Just last year I was standing in the underwear section at Woolies, which happens to be the kid’s section too, and while perusing the cover of the newspaper I said, “I can’t believe the ANC is fucking up so much”. I then turned to the Mom next to me and apologised, my hand over my dirty, dirty mouth. She calmly replied, “Oh, it’s okay, you didn’t say the word as if it is a bad thing”.

While this mom may have let me off, she is one of those liberal ones, those ones who make their own probiotic yoghurt and teach their kids the words to Graceland. It’s also likely that she is a feminist. A good feminist. I, apologetically, am a bad feminist. The fairer sex is supposed to be, well, fairer. We are supposed to be nicer and smell like roses and sweetness, not emit foul stenchy words from the gutter. The problem is there is no fun in saying F without the emphasis.

And so, I developed my own word. Crike. Yes, Crike. You can use it if you want. Crike: As in the shortened form of crikey. Crikey: an informal expression of surprise, or a mild oath originating from Britain in the 19th C, as a euphemism for Christ. See, not only do you get to swear but there’s a special place in hell for blasphemers as well. Double the fun.

By lobbing off that naff y the word Crike has some of the power that one needs in a swear word. The CR allows a good roll of the tongue, the AI becomes the open mouth of the necessary astonishment, anger or extreme-excitement and the K makes a satisfying smack at the back of the palette. How, you might ask, did I come up with such a clever word? I came up with Crike when a friend (read: part-time lover) and I went on a four-day, 1500 kilometre road trip, together, alone. Afterwards I realised it was a mistake. “Crike,” I said, “that was a mistake”.

I have used it on my blogs and in the office when deadlines change. I have tried it out my horse. When he did a post-jump buck I said, “Don’t you dare crike with me Toffee”. He listened well. In traffic I said, “Get out of my criking way” and the car miraculously moved. When an acquaintance bought a Hummer I commented “Crike, I am embarrassed for him” and everyone agreed.

And, most fun, when my girls and I are having a lunch at a fanciful Joburg café we no longer mutter, “Fuck, he’s hot.” Now it’s a good loud “Crike, that is a hot man”. Unless, of course, someone scores him and then it’s the F-word all the way.

Writers, Poets & Publishers Lazy Lunch: Portuguese + Beer

Anyone* who is in Joburg on:
10th July 2009
is invited to meet at
The Radium Beer Hall,
at 1pm,
for some good times, giggles, hot food, beer and a discussion on … er… ellipses.


This photo shows the latest Parisian trend: high-waisted, stone-washed denim jeans. they’re so hot right now you’ll only be able to wear them in SA in 2011. or 1983.

* Inclusion is the new Exclusion.

First paragraph, Last Chapter

The wind was an oft-repeated lament in the Eastern Cape. They stood on a hill, she crying up, torn free from the restraints of the water. A long beach stretched before them, golden in its extension but with a wreck like a rusted whale carcass, the yawning bow exposed. Clouds above were metal, so close now they scratched across the sky with a hissing noise.

The Year Begins

I was about to trash my entire MS, but decided to correlate all the pages and i have 75 000 words so i thought … well maybe i will just keep rewriting. i printed out the already-rewritten 30 and it was ok, not oh mi fuk awesome but ok.

what i am going to do now is rewrite as if i don’t care. because the second book thing-thing has a lot of care invested. and i am not usually a person who cares what other people think. this has got me in trouble and this has got me far. i don’t think writers can care. i think it drives you mad. wondering and worrying. and isn’t the act of writing so brave already that to care would be to miss the point of writing.

This afternoon i am meeting with Frederik and that in itself is more romantic than ever publishing. i don’t have romantic intentions towards my editor even if he does give the best hugs ever, but i have a serious case of writer’s romance when it comes to meeting my soon to be [insert v smart title here] at a restaurant and being dined. this is the idea i had in my head. the act of writing and the act of not caring is the compulsion. i am sure all of us writers have hundreds and thousands of words within our computers that are practise rounds and are as important as the words that are read by other people.

Helen – i am going to get all messy again – i have been so meticulous up until now and i am tired of it. i want to throw a whole bunch of love and gore and laughter and weight onto a page. i am going to let Desai keep to the breathy work and am heading for regte South African violence, madness and inappropriate affairs/ sex (with apologies to my parents).

I was going to start studying properly this year but i can’t seem to find a degree that really combines what i want to know. unfortunately these answers are often in creative writing courses and i have a strong aversion to anyone telling me how to write. i have my own inner voice (read: haranguer).

I had a holiday this year that was silly and enlightening. did u know that South Africa is rather huge? that there are 1000s of kilometres between cities. i had forgotten and set out in my car to sommer drive around. my parents used to put me in the back seat of the old Merc (wasn;t old then) and drive me around to pacify me. i like the feeling of the road, it has a gravity and i like going forward and i love South Africa to obsession. but crike (my 2009 word for fuck) i drove 4500 kms in under 3 weeks. not always just me but often just me.

this was elandsbaai. i/we also went to groot brak, east london, de hel – with obv thanks to andre brink for the inspiration, cape town a few times and through the karoo. i was exhausted when i got home. but i am so happy to be back. joburg is insanely beautiful. on my first day back there was a thunderstorm that turned the light bright bright bright yellow. then candy floss pink. then 2 rainbows. i want cape town and i to be friends but i find her so heavy. i can’t spend too much time with her. i think she is awesome for creativity but i think that creativity is weighty and i am still addicted to the insane (electric storms) energy of Joburg.i am just going to have to keep writing about joburg. it is my only home.

speaking of homes (while i am warbling away) i am going to see my mom, brother and uncle’s home this year. Antigua is bloody expensive and bloody far so i am going for a whole month and i can really experience their life. here’s part of Patsy’s email from this morning:

“giorgio my carpenter and i go down in the landrover, i believe the road is hell after omar. the swell just wont go down and every suggestion to change the venue to something easier to deal with has been ignored. on set,
there is a huge language gap [Italian] and the crew dont communicate with us – because they cant i suppose, so those who can speak english ask all of us for the same thing as the director plows on in an unplanned and unnegotiated area. the americans are getting very emotional, and mary j blighe is freeezing to death in a leotard”.

i am not surprised that she can’t spell blige but it all sounds rather fab doesn’t it. often i ask my mom to write but she never sits down to do it.

Thanks for listening to my Morning Meanderings. I am off to rewriting land.


my favourite picture at the moment


This is like so my favourite picture at the moment that I don;t actually know what to do. actually i want to close my laptop and become a drawer. BUt i shall keep my laptop open because the world needs Steers radio ads, and that is v important.

Official Book SA Ban’Quet Invite


Venue TBA

Please RSVP to with the Subject Line: BOOK SA Ban’Quet.

Kat(e) and Seb –

OOOO In reply to all writers’ kitties out there, here are me and Seb – he is alarming long and fluffy.


The BOOK SA Bloggers Banquet


DEAR: (highly intelligent and witty) Book SA Blogger

DIARY: The date for the first ever annual Book SA Bloggers Banquet has been set. 25 October 2008. Please diarise.

DRESS: It’s more of a dinner really, but that B thing is fun isn’t it. Dress will be smart so cash in that royalty cheque and get a nice rokkie or suit.

FLIGHTS: Unlike rock bands and rugby players, bloggers are not sponsored by budget airlines, so book cheap flights for Cape Town now.

VENUE: Cape Town. Table as yet undecided.

THERE’LL BE: eatin, laffin, awardin, drinkin, maudlin, more laffin.

TAXI: Will be organised.

RSVP: Not yet horsie.
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