It is a testament to our enduring love for each other that Jason and I are able, nay willing to share a bed/room with each other. For we are very, very different when it comes to our sleeping habits.
He hates being too hot, for example. I hate being too cold. He hates that I fight him for the quilt and despite my smaller stature, am always able to wrestle him to the ground for it, apparently possessing the strength of ten men in my sleep. Hating being too hot does not mean that he is prepared to freeze to death on my behalf. We have solved this problem by indulging in two duvets. I have a winter weight one, he has a summer weight one. They are both super king size so that even I, queen of the quilt stealers, am satiated before I get round to stealing his quilt.
Despite the fact that he hates being too hot, he also hates fresh air in the bedroom, preferring the windows closed to block out the dawn chorus/ambulances/drunkards etc. If he wants air he puts on an electric fan. The white noise soothes him.
I, on the other hand, cannot sleep without the window open and can’t abide the noise of electrical equipment (persistent whirring/beeping etc). The stuffiness of a room with closed windows sets off my sinusitis. I am a martyr to my sinusitis. We compromise. We have the windows open, and if it is too noisy he indulges in ear plugs, and if it is still too hot we have the fan on as well, and I have learned to live with the white noise.
I find it difficult to get to sleep, no matter how tired I am. He does not. He merely has to see a picture of a pillow to be asleep.
He has pillows that over the years he has trained to fit his contours perfectly. He even takes them on holiday. I don’t care about pillows at all.
He is incredibly fussy about mattresses. We have a Tempur memory foam mattress that he has dragged from house to house over the years. It is enormously heavy. If he gets run over by a bus I will either have to never move, or cut it into small pieces to get it into the removal van as I am unable to lift it on my own. Even with two people it can strain you to the point of herniation. I have never really cared about mattress comfort. It never occurred to me that I could choose. I have always been blithely accepting of mattresses. It seems that this is wrong, wrong, wrong.
When we go on holiday, choosing houses with good mattresses/beds is now critical. It worries me a lot. It never used to. Jason has passed this first world trauma on to me. I feel quite resentful about this.
I have a weird ritual which I have to do before I go to sleep, or I can’t sleep. I have to start on my right side as I attempt to get to sleep, and then turn to my left side to actually sleep. If I try to bypass this, I am driven insane by mental, interior ramblings that urge me to turn again Wheatley, etc, or I will never be Lord Mayor of London. Eventually I snap and give in. Always. This procedure drives Jason mad, as he claims I wallow about like a hippo, causing drafts and generally being too rustly.
We do agree on the fact that neither of us likes to touch each other when we are sleeping, which is why we have such a bloody large bed. We meet up in the middle, say our farewells and then depart for opposite ends of the bed every night. It is most satisfactory…
Until the night you get the willies up you, and need someone to shout ‘arrgh’ at and bash them awake in a quiet but persistent way.
Which is exactly what happened last night…
Jason was already asleep.
I was flirting with insomnia, which is better than the week before last when I couldn’t wake up for more than five minutes at a time. I am reading Zorba the Greek. It is very good for incipient insomnia due to the fact that I am finding it as boring as hell. Three pages in and I was beginning to nod over the book.
I put it down, turned out the light and turned to the right to start the nightly ritual.
That’s when I caught the flash in the corner of the room.
I thought it was lightning. It was that sort of white, dazzling light.
The wind had picked up earlier in the evening, and given the apocalyptic weather we have had recently I didn’t think a storm was an unreasonable expectation.
A few moments later the flash came again.
I waited, straining to hear the thunder.
Then the flash happened again and I figured it couldn’t be a storm due to lack of rain and thunder, and also the fact that the flash was coming from what looked like the back of the wardrobe by the corner of the chest of drawers. Unless there was a freak weather front down there, it must be something else.
By now I was beginning to feel quite weirded out.
When the flash came again, I started staring around the bedroom, peering into the dark. I daren’t put the light on, in case of…well…I’m not really sure. But I daren’t.
I wondered if there might be a burglar on the landing, quietly taking photographs of all the things he wanted to come back and steal.
I lay, sweating in the dark, thinking about this burglar for quite some time. I then dismissed the idea of a burglar who had already broken into the house taking photos so that he could burgle the house later as being too weird, even for things that happen to me. I upgraded the freaky burglar to a pervert who might be taking pictures of Derek on the landing.
Eventually I dismissed this too. Derek would never be amenable to that sort of thing.
It seemed like several hours had gone by. The flashing was still occurring.
Briefly I wondered if I were having a stroke – and one of my eyeballs might be imploding.
I checked myself all over mentally. Apart from the fact I was sweating like a pig and my heart was racing slightly, there were no other symptoms.
The flashing flashed and flashed.
I wondered if I might be having a religious epiphany.
I waited with baited breath for Our Lady to rise out of Jason’s sock drawer, take my hand and tell me some marvellous news about my new mission in life.
The flashing flashed.
My final thought, and the one that made me clutch Jason fervently, was that maybe I was seeing some kind of paranormal phenomena.
I have watched Most Haunted. I have seen Yvette Fielding, screaming and screaming with her huge, bush baby eyes popping while little balls of paranormal light whizzed around a 12th Century coaching inn. Why not large flashes in the corner of a thirties semi in Knighton? eh?
I reached across the chasm of the bed and jabbed Jason viciously in the arm.
He mumbled and rolled over.
I kicked him.
Nothing but more mumbling and a slight snarling noise.
I did that late night loud whispering thing that is a substitute for just screaming your face off and hiding under the duvet until it all goes away: ‘Jason…JaSON…Jaaasooon’.
‘There’s a flashing light in the corner of the room.’
‘A flashing light.’
If it had been a pervert or a burglar, by now they would have been alerted to the fact that I was aware of their presence. This whispering was really, really noisy.
‘Well, we don’t usually have a flashing light in the bedroom.’
A pause while he rustles about the bed trying to avoid my prodding and whispering.
‘No. Look. It’s…the thing…’
There is a massive sigh of irritation from his side of the bed.
‘You know. The thing. The thing. The thing.’
‘I still don’t know what you’re talking about.’
‘Well, it’s the thing. I can’t remember the name of it. The thingy thing.’
‘It’s not helping that you’re saying the thing.’
‘Bloody hell. Is it bothering you?’
Me – utterly incredulous:
‘Of course it’s bothering me!’
‘God! Look it’s just the thing, in the corner of the room.’
I am now more pissed off than frightened. If it were going to kill me in a swoosh of ectoplasm, it would have happened by now, and I am seriously fed up that he just keeps repeating the word thing and trying to go back to sleep while I am having a paranormal CRISIS. What sort of a marriage is this?
I refuse to take ‘thing’ for an answer.
Jason gets up irritably, swirling back the covers and melodramatically shuffling off to the bathroom, mumbling ‘thing’ and ‘wife’ and ‘grrrr’.
He comes back. He grabs something from the corner of the room and waves it in my general direction. This does not help. It is still dark and I have no glasses on. Everything is degrees of grey lumpiness.
‘This is the THING. It is the carbon monoxide detector thing. It needs a new battery. OK?’
He shoves it onto the landing.
‘It’s been doing that for about a fortnight. Haven’t you noticed it before?’
He turns round and falls instantly asleep.
I turn to the right. I turn to the left.
I am quite sad I didn’t get a visit from Mary. I am not sad that it isn’t a visitation from the bowels of hell.
Or a cat bothering pervert.