Quantity Theory of Insomnia

Since moving out to Witney my sleep patterns have settled down somewhat. Much as I loved living near the railway, the steady chuckle and rumble of roosting trains was clearly a factor in my inability to indulge in the eight hours that make me feel and act like a human. And the machine that repaired the tracks might be rated as an order of magnitude greater, on some fictional scale of skreck that I’ve just invented in my head.

Here, on the other hand, once the good Christians of Witney stop stupiding their way down the Burford Road at crazy speeds, there’s barely any night noise. Except, recently in fact, the two chaps having a conversation about cars outside our window in the middle of the night.

Me: “Can you keep it down a bit?”

Bloke: “We were keeping it down.”

Me: “Well, I wasn’t awake at 3am waiting to complain, was I?”

Staying awake till the wee small hours just to bark at anyone coughing within five hundred yards has a faint flavour to it that I find attractive, but when I was younger than I am now that I’m older I was capable of all-nightering, and can remember the havoc it plays with everything: one’s sense of time of day and time passing, ability to converse and indeed to stay awake. I can sympathise with poor j4, seeing darknesses she shouldn’t have to see, and hearing the clock tick through hours she oughtn’t be aware of.

Wait, then: why am I still moving around at, well, nearly twenty-past twelve at the time of typing? A night out? Late drinking? An irresistible urge to listen to Today in Parliament? No: in two hours I will be picked up by a co-worker; in three I will be on the way to the optimistically-named London Luton; in six I fly to Geneva to spend four nights in a luxury chalet near Chamonix.

I volunteer all this in a spirit of autobiography, not boastfulness. I still boggle at the good fortune I seem to have found these days, and see no explicit way of attaching it to myself, or to my own talents or achievements, that might make me proud of it: excessively, obnoxiously or otherwisedly. Instead I hope, as the house clicks and clunks its way to sharing the chill that the Cotswolds pour towards it, that whereas j4 might well have found that insomnia is to be passed around or divvied out, and that she now has what once was mine, that good luck is by comparison contagious, multiplicative, viral, that it might spread among you all. At the same time, I hope to retain what luck I have, and not fall on my arse while out on the piste.

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