Sleepless incognito …

            Well, I can just lie here all night with my eyes closed or I can check out the ceiling and note that the crack which looked like a teensy little dinosaur last week now looks like the Gates of Mordor and is probably going to open up and swallow me whole. Note also that the dinky little spiderwebs which were softly fluttering in the breeze this morning have now taken on a more menacing appearance altogether and might just fall on my face and suffocate me. I can check out the night sky for the millionth thrilling time. Full moon, no moon, Swiss cheese, green cheese … la de da de dum.

            Wriggle the toes, the knees, the elbows. Think about maybe one day cooking something from scratch. Or climbing Everest and bungeeing off it. In the nude. Because let’s face it – some nights are just plain boring.

            I never had insomnia when I used to read in bed. What is it about men that they can’t stand one weeny little bedside lamp with a five watt bulb? People have been reading in bed for centuries and no-one ever died. Not that the HG ever actually SAYS anything. He just shifts position and grunts a lot. Every time he grunts there’s a little aura of ‘quelle inconvenient’ wafting around the room. Sometimes it’s ignorable. Sometimes I just turn the light off and hope he has nightmares of being squashed under a falling library.

            One night, salvation came – with the extraordinary discovery there’s a whole world out there in the airwaves. While you are sleeping, life is going on. And going off. There are thousands of other insomniacs out there; calling chat shows, quiz shows, talk shows  – and they’re all barking mad!

            Yessiree folks – plug in those earphones and mentally head for the hills! With all the other nightcritters whose husbands and wives get pissed off about a little old lamp glowing on the outsides of their closed eyelids while they’re trying to snore.  Because that’s the great thing – the other nightcritters are mostly certified nutters – and the later the hour, the stranger they get. They hang around on the other end of a phone line for hours and hours, just to tell a perfectly strange radio jock stuff you wouldn’t tell your gynaecologist if he was blind, deaf and you were in a darkened confessional box. They say bizarre things in a conspirational voice like; ‘I’m in the NUDE, you know …’ As if we all care. Most of us are probably in the nude – given we’re in bed.

            Being a genuinely interested person (a sticky beak) – I find all this totally fascinating. With a really small radio, two AAA batteries will last you at least a fortnight. Going all night. This is good value, considering all the stuff you are soaking up whilst you’re out of it. Yep – it’s the subliminal learning thing. Remember those tapes which promised you’d wake up being able to speak fluent Yiddish if you listened to them during your sleep? It’s quite amazing. I was astounded at myself when I found I could do that!

            ‘What does she want?’ asked one of the Right Hons at the breakfast table, puzzled at the rubbish spouting forth. ‘Kosher cornflakes, I think,’ I told them proudly. ‘In a bagel.’

            Because the scary thing is, the brain is taking in all this crap whilst you’re asleep. You don’t even know that you know what you know. You hear yourself butting into people’s conversations with snippets of useless trivia, and you think , ‘Woo – how ‘bout that? How very good am I?’ Some mornings after a night absorbing medical advice, I’m convinced I could pick up a scalpel and have a go at Uncle Mort’s gall bladder. And maybe it’s not beyond the realms of possibility I might be able to actually boil an egg one day!

            It’s like having a Pandora’s box in your head, full of stuff you don’t know is there. If you could run a printout, you’d be absolutely stunned to find you could speak five languages, understand quantum physics and know exactly what to do with that random collection of 70s Tupperware which is breeding in the back of the kitchen cupboards. (Or maybe that last part’s a little fanciful.)

            There is, as ever, a downside. As you doze in and out of consciousness, you catch discombobulated bits of conversations which have no meaning. And the beginning of book readings and bits of terrific poetry you’d love to know the author of – except you snoozed off in the middle of the third verse. And one night, I woke to hear the shock jock say in a trembling voice, ‘… and THAT’S the most frightening thing I’ve ever heard in my life …’ WHAT WAS? Can you run that by us again, dammit?! It’s a bit disconcerting to realise there’s something really horrible inside my head. Something scary and awful festering away in there, just waiting for an opportunity to go BOO.

            It got quite bad the other morning, and I actually woke in a state of total panic and thought I had died. Well, there’s nothing quite like getting your earphones tangled around your neck …



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