IMG_0063Do birds get insomnia?  They’re awake with the dawn and singing in the trees in my garden as if they’ve just risen from unbroken sleep.  I’ve been awake since three in the morning, and am feeling it badly as I crawl towards midday.  Sensing I was awake, the indoor cat responded in the distant kitchen by flinging herself at the door mewing piteously to be allowed to join me, convinced it must be breakfast time, so she missed out on sleep too. Somehow she has managed to catch up and shows no sign of stress.

Are human beings the only creatures to lie awake in the night?  I’m pretty sure we’re the only ones to lie awake worrying.  I’ve lately extended the scope of my worrying, moving rapidly from work stuff to my daughter’s impending wedding (how can I make sure everyone likes the arrangements and she has a happy day?); my son’s latest plane-leap, this time to Australia, as he searches for something he doesn’t know the name of yet; the house extension (what if it all goes wrong and I have dry rot or worse?); whether I did the right thing in deciding to change the car; and eventually, what has been niggling away all through this pointless fretting – the funny pins and needles stinging on the ball of my left foot.  Possibly it’s the first sign of a terminal disease.  As the night hours drag on, this seems increasingly likely.

This way madness lies.  Or at any rate snivelling self-pity.

Some years ago, through a very difficult time, I got used to being awake in the night.  If the clock said four or five o’clock, that was bearable, but if it said half past one or two, that was utter dismay.  Hours to get through. Still, I was on my own then, and able to put the lamp on and read, or listen to the World Service or – oh joy, when it began – BBC Radio Seven, now mysteriously renamed BBC Radio 4 Extra. I was wrecked during the day, but I felt wrecked then anyway, and there was an other-worldliness about the night hours which made them private and special and somehow liveable with.

When there’s someone else in the bed, you have to lie awake wondering if it’s worth getting up or if that will disturb him just as much as putting a light on to read.  Then you start drifting off anyway, nice and warm, till the next Worrying Thought presents itself and the whole cycle starts again.  It’s so boring.  I have a friend who whiled away Menopausal Sleeplessness by getting up and doing the ironing, but I have to say that would be the Very Last Resort.

Back to the Yoga DVD, that will sort it.  No, I can’t start on that now – much though there is to say about it.  Saved for the next blog post!

And yet, and yet, while I was still writing the new novel, the wakeful hours were full of my characters talking to each other, and I managed to work out several plot puzzles.  For writers, maybe no hour awake is wasted, after all.

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