Ah sleep. Beautiful, wonderful, blessed sleep.
Drifting into the arms of Morpheus - there is nothing like it. Sleep is the true nectar and ambrosia of the gods. I remember it.
There were nights, oh those nights, when my heavy head hit the pillow and I went out like a person koshed. It didn’t matter what sort of pillow, what temperature of room; it didn’t matter what tog of duvet, what texture of cover.
My supple back could cope with falling into the deepest of hollows in the oldest of manky mattresses. Why, I could have fallen through the earth’s crust and not noticed.
My young mind could ignore any noise, any amount of light. Cries, bellows, lights, explosions, they were all as nothing to me. I slept on.
Once, while in hospital with my first-born, a neighbouring mum had to shake me, shake me, into consciousness to tell me my baby was shrieking the ward down - and he was on the bed beside me at the time. Those were the days.
Yeah, it’s different now. Now I stalk sleep, I tiptoe after it, I try to creep up on it, take it unawares. Sleep is my wild horse and I am trying to tame it.
But I am not alone, hurrah! I am part of a global phenomenon. The world is in sleep crisis. A study has found that across fully 100 countries we are stumbling about delirious and daft through lack of rest.
Even half an hour less than the seven or eight hours most of us need can really wallop us, so imagine how we feel after nights of sleepless torture.
Our internal clock is all over the place and it’s making us fatter and sicker. We have diabetes, heart disease, and really nasty eye bags.
The detail is interesting. On average, the Japanese sleep the least, those from the Netherlands the most. Middle-aged men suffer more than women - allegedly.
But why this general sleeplessness? Why? Why? Why? No, you don’t understand, I’m actually asking you.
This study takes a simple enough view, saying we are all going to bed later. The parental whirligig, the telly, the social media, the desire to carve out some time for ourselves between work and bed, all conspiring to keep us conscious.
We’re not listening to digital queen Arianna Huffington, who says to leave the technology at the bedroom door. Read a book she says, use a Mickey Mouse alarm clock, she says. But we’re not doing that. We are setting the alarm on our phones, and from there it is but a tiny tap of the finger into aimless, pointless surfing and the evil of the blue screen light, tricking our brains into wakefulness.
Well that’s part of the story, but not the whole story. I love bedtime, I luxuriate in bedtime - but then the struggle begins.
That pillow, so difficult to prise my head from in the morning, turns into a bag of rock. Hot rock, when I need it to be cool. The window is open, but not enough; the duvet is...strangely heavy. You know how it goes.
And my head! All life and death is whirling around in there. I struggle with the major issues: the demise of all my loved ones, the horrible colour of my sofa.
My mind conjures up people I had forgotten I ever knew. I revisit humiliations long past. I worry about foxgloves: on the one hand I love them, on the other hand they are poisonous, and who knows when a giddy grandchild might decide to scoff one. I suffer.
Here’s my own theory. - it’s all about FOMO isn’t it? The fear of missing out. The older we get, the less we want to miss. Not the parties, not the restaurants - but life itself.
It’s okay for those newborns, those youngsters, they are immortal. They can sleep the sleep of the dead, because they are very much alive. For those of us further down the path, it’s trickier. We want to take it all in before the, you know, Big Sleep.
Maybe I should tell the scientists: it’s not technology’s fault, it’s Father Time.
A tale of the very posh
I’m imagining a scene at Beckham Towers.
Outside the sun blazes, inside the blinds are drawn. Victoria is practising doing everything in the dark, so that soon she will be able to wear her sunglasses range 24/7.
Two servants enter, one is good with children, the other is good with money.
The money one speaks. “Ma’am, the family division of the Beckham brand needs refreshing. It’s been a while since you posted that picture of the pork pies. We know how brave you were to touch them given your issues around calorie contamination, but it’s time to be brave again.”
Victoria curses. She has just perfected the art of pouting in her sleep, now this fresh hell.
But Dave is getting a tattoo and Brooklyn is being given extra tuition in the Beckham signature move of holding hands.
The other servant speaks: “There are these things, paddling pools. There’s no need to be scared and anyway, remember the technique: nothing is frightening, everything is just a new style of handbag.”
And so that’s how Posh Spice came to treat the world to an Instagram pic of her filling a paddling pool with a hosepipe.The hair was gorgeous, the shades were on. The extended arm was toned, the outfit was next season VB and the shoes were post-Wag flats. It was a triumph. Was she doing it for the kids? Well you know what I think.
I’m going to miss those jumpers
How could this be allowed to happen? Home Fires has ended on a bombshell, literally.
The doctor’s house - I think - has been blown up and apart from the newborn, definitely heard yelling, we have no idea who has survived the blast.
That’s guerrilla tactics. That’s unnecessary.
But I like Home Fires. I’m not saying it’s great, I’m just saying I like it. When it began it was about the Women’s Institute in wartime, but this second series seems to have abandoned all that in favour of general village drama.
Here’s what I like the most. The jumpers, and the coats.
Rarely has the 1940s jumper and the 1940s coat been so stylishly interpreted and so generously sprinkled about on screen. I bet those actresses are plotting all ways to hang on to those garments when Homes Fires is finally extinguished. It wouldn’t be a wartime victory otherwise.