Every so often my eyelids would droop and I’d gratefully turn off the light and turn over. Squash the pillow and snuggle down. Then turn the other way. No, it wasn’t going to work. On went the light again and back to the ghosts (who did very unghostly things like snogging and digging, poking red rose petals in people’s pockets and misdirecting phone calls). I have the strong suspicion that JP has read some Alice Hoffman and decided she could do with a bit of magic. Wrong, JP, wrong. Leave it to Alice, love.
Down drooped the eyelids, off went the light again. Turned over and…
‘Aaaaghhhhh!’ A shriek broke out next to me.
‘Aaaaghhhh!’ I shrieked in reply.
On went the light and James and I both sat bolt upright staring at one another in terror. At this point I have to explain that James has been sleeping in with me for the last fortnight because his arm has been in a cast (following the day when five boys went to play at one boy’s house and two ended up in casualty while another went home with a bloody nose.) What can you say? Shit happens.
‘It’s not right, you know,’ muttered Adrian (about being cast into the desolate wastes of the spare room, not about the War of C*** Cottage). ‘He’s nearly ten.’
But, to be honest, I’d rather have James (snores; grinds teeth; hogs bed but is reasonably small) than Adrian (snores loudly; thrashes; hogs bed; talks total utter nonsense and is unfeasibly large).
‘What are you doing, Mummy?’
‘I was reading.’
‘But it’s four in the morning.’
‘Why are you reading when it’s so late?’
‘Because I can’t sleep.’
‘Poor you. Why?’
Why indeed? Is it because I’ve been well and truly credit-crunched? Is it because, for the first time in my life, I don’t have a zillion things to cram into a day? Is it because we have spent our way through an extraordinary amount of money renovating the house – and yet still have walls with huge holes in them, ceilings balancing on rotten rafters and something unspeakably nasty in the cellar? Could it be acute anxiety over a whole phalanx of friends going through hell right now? Or simply that I had one too many cups of coffee or one too many glasses of wine? Or both?
‘I dunno. Sometimes it just happens.’
‘Rotten luck. Can I read for a bit too?’
So we lie there, like an old married couple, me harumphing over JP, him reading The Ashes.
‘I’m tired now, Mum. Hope you get to sleep soon.’
So do I.
‘I will. Night, hon..’
I’ll fall asleep at 4.30am. I nearly always do. I know my insomnia like an old enemy – we go way back. I started not sleeping when I was pregnant with James and never really regained the knack of peaceful slumber. At its worst, I would go for weeks, and sometimes months, without more than two or three hours sleep a night. But for the last year or so, it’s been better and I’ve forgotten just how truly miserable it is when the hours tick by and the hopes of a reasonable next day to follow start to vanish.
I remember once staying at the Lowri Hotel in Manchester in readiness for a live TV interview the next morning. My alarm call was booked for 6.30am and I was tucked up in bed by 10pm. At 1am I remember thinking, ‘Well, it’s fine – five and a half hours would be OK.’ Ever the optimist, a couple of hours later, I was reasoning that I could get by with three hours. My magic witching hour of 4.30 came and went. When it was down to ‘Well, an hour would help,’ I knew I was clutching at straws.
Insomnia sucks the joy out of life. It wrecks your immune system, destroys your sense of humour and turns you into a paranoid, grumpy, spotty haggard old crone. So forgive me if I am not witty and sparkling and amusing today. I have missed blogging and felt that, if I didn’t write something, anything, I would lose the knack forever. What seems funny in the moment loses its lustre if you don’t catch it pretty darn quick and all the curious little incidents of the last month I had been squirreling in readiness of a blog or two have grown boring and tarnished.
So, a sorry little blog today. Will try harder next time.