Posted in Books, Writing

Sleepless in AnΓ³rien


The Great Diary Project asked about New Year’s Day entries, so I looked up mine. Of course, I’d missed it this year, so couldn’t tell them! Typical. I do have an entry for January 2nd:

Watching Jane Eyre. The Christmas tree is lit, the room getting dark, Jane Eyre is full of creaking floorboards and howling winds. Jane is mystified. I’m hungry… will have something at tea-time when M gets up. Nibbles and shortbread with tea. I got my Evernote app working again. A while ago I forgot my password but sorted it before Jane Eyre came on. I can use two devices without upgrading from the free version. For some reason it had me down for three devices: iPad, iPhone/iPad and Mac! That made no sense to me, but I deactivated the ‘iPhone/iPad’ device and now it works. It annoys me how computers, more and more, do things you don’t understand.

The rest is unquotable! I went back to keeping a handwritten diary — currently using an old Woolworths spiral-bound jotter, purple with spots. My daily entries in it are shorter than typed ones because…

[7 Jan]: …”I’m struggling with my hand-writing. One reason I make so many mistakes is that I leap too far ahead in thought. The form of my words drops away like loose string, and the wrong letters appear too early. I am deliberately writing more carefully at the moment, and it’s slow and frustrating. It feels strange to be carefully spelling out each word when my whole thought is waiting to be expressed, as though jammed in a bottleneck and at risk of vanishing altogether in the next second. Perhaps there’s something wrong with my ability to focus — perhaps the internet really has changed our brains.”

A while ago I started a blog post about the impact the internet has on people’s ability to concentrate, but never finished it. (!) I should look it out.

I’ve been unable to sleep, often waking around 4. I’ll put the light on and read, eventually dropping off again around 5 or 6. Then I’m useless for anything the next day, even falling asleep on the sofa when I should be up and doing. As I said in my diary on the 7th, “if only I could switch the sleeping with the ‘not sleeping’ — that would work out a lot better!”

I started to wonder if it was ‘house noises’ again. Being profoundly deaf, I shouldn’t hear anything at all, but it’s more like ‘feel’. At times the whole room seems to buzz, and I can’t work out why. Mum is absolutely clear that there’s no ‘buzzing’ whatsoever, and I’m equally clear there is! I reckon I’m onto something, because I was very nearly asleep when something in the air suddenly changed, as though we’d switched up a gear. My bed started to rumble, and I thought, “oh NO!” and woke up completely.


I put the light on and reached for my copy of The Lord of the Rings. The first words out of it were:

It was dark and Merry could see nothing as he lay on the ground rolled in his blanket; yet though the night was airless and windless, all about him hidden trees were sighing softly. He lifted his head. Then he heard it again: a sound like faint drums in the wooded hills and mountain-steps. The throb would cease suddenly and then be taken up again at some other point, now nearer, now further off.

~ The Return of the King, Book 5, Tolkien; p862, Chapter V: The Ride of the Rohirrim

That must have been annoying. Do orcs never sleep??

My energy has gone. Life is full of interruptions, and it can take ages to return to whatever I was doing, especially if motivation has vanished in the meantime. I don’t know why it should, but suspect there’s little or no value attached to my personal projects. There’s no real purpose. The most important thing I do right now is ‘keep house’, and my hobbies are as hollow baubles… they don’t hold my interest for long. When younger, I was convinced these things (writing, art and photography) would have their own intrinsic value and not just for me, but I no longer believe that! Life shows you that you are nothing out of the ordinary, and very little survives the passing ages. I still wish I had enough drive to make the most of my spare time. How much more we could achieve if we didn’t tire out, lose focus or lose heart — but perhaps that’s unrealistic. πŸ™‚

I’ll look for that blog draft on internet reading, and see if I still agree with any of it…

P.S. About those orcs I blamed for keeping Merry awake, I’ve been corrected by Marshal Elfhelm in the book:

“Nay, nay'”, said Elfhelm, “the enemy is on the road not in the hills. You hear the Woses, the Wild Men of the Woods: thus they talk together from afar. They still haunt Druadan Forest, it is said…. they are troubled by the darkness and the coming of the orcs: they fear lest the Dark Years be returning, as seems likely enough.”

~ The Return of the King, Book 5, Tolkien; p863, Chapter V: The Ride of the Rohirrim

Ah, we are doomed…

Posted in Art, Health Issues

Badly Painted Germ

Evil looking and shapeless creature.Sitting up in the middle of the night with a hot forehead. Must have caught something in town.

 You ask yourself, “What did I touch?!” but of course if could have been anything. Shop doors, clothes-hangers, the edge of the coffee shop table… who knows?

I should email a friend while I have the light on. She sent a photo at 5:30 yesterday morning, so I should return the favour. It’s fortunate that digital photos don’t arrive at the other end with germs on them.

If I were a speed painter, I could paint her a picture. Unfortunately I know I would still be labouring over it by Christmas, so I better not even start.

Have just checked the headlines. “Jeremy Clarkson in hospital with pneumonia”. (Panics slightly)… no, that’s not what I have. Surely.

Looking at other news, I have nothing to complain about, really.

Will send her a badly painted germ… yes, I painted it anyway, despite my doubts. So it can be done.

Posted in Dreams and Nightmares, Health Issues

Computers and Insomnia

Catching Mum playing a computer game of solitaire before bed, I told her I had just read that if we use computers too late at night, we will have trouble sleeping. The brain interprets the bright light from the screen as being daylight, and is confused.

“WHAT brain?!” said Mum.

Anyway, it hasn’t stopped us. We still play cards, type out our journals and look up random things on eBay, Amazon or Google, then lie wide awake in our beds and stare at the ceiling. When we finally fall asleep, we dream we’re living in caves with oil lamps lighting our books.

Which reminds me, I forgot to finish my chocolate chip cheese… but who needs it? I have weird dreams anyway.

Posted in Hearing Loss, Music I Like, Perfumes

Sleeping Fitfully

Last night I went early to bed and woke suddenly… realized Mum was having a bath. I don’t quite hear or see her but the bathroom wall booms hollowly at the head of my bed. After that she went to bed and I fell asleep again.

Much later I woke again, and thought “well, probably it’s early in the morning now, about 6 or 6.30, and I can get up and catch up on computer stuff.” Checked my watch, which said it was only 2.55 in the morning. Gah.

I hate lying awake at that sort of time… it’s too early to get up and you start worrying about stuff. The more you worry, the less sleepy you feel. You feel as though there’s nobody else in the whole wide world, just you. It’s you everything will happen to. Your tooth aches and you try not to think about it.

In the end I put on the light and sprayed myself with Euphoria (I love sleeping in a warm nest of that kind of fragrance just after a shower, though Mum says she doesn’t like going to bed wearing perfume. People are so different). Then I stared blankly at the room, lit up in a dull yellow glow, and thought, “if I turn out the light, I’m back to square one… just lying awake and getting depressed. The thing to do is distract myself.”

Although I couldn’t sleep, I was too tired to read a book or write novels, so I picked up a notepad that happened to be lying there, and made notes. It was just a list, and I ticked some of them off, and then turned out the light. Funny… but that worked! I was asleep within minutes.

Today I was no brighter, but started playing a CD I bought for 50p in The Shelter. It’s ‘Up’ by Right Said Fred. I have the album, but it’s so convenient to have it playing here on CD! I found it cheered me up, especially the song Do Ya Feel.

Fight it all you want, it’s a love machine… fight it all you want, it’s a love machine.

There doesn’t seem to be a YouTube clip of it, but it has such a great beat. Doom-dacky, doom-dacky, doom-dacky, doom-dacky… “Joan speaks French, not a word is said…”

Those Simple Things (the final track) is one I always liked. That YouTube video is rather good… I think the snail is me.

Deeply Dippy is a favourite too, of course.

I like what I like — especially when it cheers me up and only cost 50p!

Posted in Fantasy and Science Fiction, TV and Films

All the Really Cool Dead People

One of my favourite Frasier episodes was on recently.

(Spoiler alert).

Eddie the dog was depressed, so they called in a pet psychiatrist, (“a charlatan,” said Frasier), who suggested that dogs are very sensitive and Eddie had probably picked up the mood of one of the humans. At first the people in the house laughed scornfully, then they gathered together and admitted they had their individual reasons for being down in the mouth. Martin said he lay awake at night and brooded about death and loneliness, and the loss of everyone he loved. Frasier said “we all have those thoughts, Dad.”
His dad said, “do you also lie very still and pretend you’re already in the ground?” and Frasier said “nope, that’s just you.”

The subject of the afterlife came up, and Niles said he just knew that all the really cool dead people would refuse to hang out with him. “Mozart would say he’s too busy, then I’d see him out with Shakespeare.”

Somebody found an old doll down the back of the sofa, and realized it was Eddie’s dog toy, so they cast it aside… of course Eddie came to life and tossed it about delightedly. “Oh,” they said, “so that’s why he was depressed!”
“How shallow,” they said. “Dogs are not like us. WE know for whom the bell tolls.”
A bell rang and Daphne disappeared into the kitchen, then came back and said the cookies were ready. Everybody jumped up and hurried to the kitchen, their glum mood cast aside.

The bit that made me laugh the loudest was Niles and his gloomy prediction that he would be spurned by cool people even in the afterlife. I always rather wanted the future to be something like Star Trek, but I just know if I was one of the members on the Starship Enterprise or the Starship Voyager, the crew would treat me how they treated Lieutenant Barclay… times 20.

I’ve just found this: Death and the Dog. It’s interesting that the quotation given there is: “Mozart’ll tell me he’s busy but then later I’ll see him out with Shakespeare and Lincoln!” I might just have misremembered, but I don’t think ‘and Lincoln’ showed up in the subtitles. Maybe I did forget, though.

No, they would never have let me anywhere near the Starship Enterprise.

Available as wallpaper here.

Posted in Life and Family

Up Bright and Early

It’s 4 a.m. and I can’t sleep. that’s nothing new. I think the house is keeping me awake… plus, I’m hot.

The last couple of nights there have been some power vibrations (there’s a cubby hole next to the room containing a tank, which is right alongside my bed. Lots of pipes and so on). I was dropping off to sleep, warm and fuzzy, and jerked awake for no obvious reason. You know – wide awake and staring. why? Didn’t sense anything really, but I knew there’d been something. Some low, low buzz or shudder running through the house.

There’s no point complaining – there’s nowhere else to sleep. I wasn’t able to sleep in my old house: same problem. Buzz buzz clank clank. It wasn’t much better on holiday in England. I doubt if I can sleep in any modern building… too full of cranky plumbing and wiring. Cheap throwaway housing for a burgeoning population. Time I moved to a cave…

Posted in Hearing Loss, Music I Like

When the Wind Blows, the Cradle will Rock

Tinnitus can keep people awake and drive them to distraction. I’ve never been that troubled by it – a lot of the time it sounds to me like music.

  • orchestra
  • choir
  • Shirley Bassey

It doesn’t trouble me much, except that there are times when you feel that all that exists is you, the ghostly music, and the mutterings of the house. I suspect the house dictates which music it will be – there does seem to be a link. You think it’s settled in for the night with a choir of angels singing you endlessly to your rest, and then suddenly it shuts off. Just like that.

Somebody closed the pearly gates?

The house has been responsible for years of restless nights, interrupted sleep and bad dreams. There are ‘noises’ which I feel rather than hear. I was never able to work out if there’s a fixable problem and what exactly it is.

Grumble, mumble, bags under eyeses, nightmareses, scream…

Then, one night recently, I was lying wide awake. I really needed rest, but couldn’t get any because my thoughts were going round and round.

Toss, turn, moan, twitch.

Suddenly, the house launched into one of its deep rumblings, causing my bed to shudder like a train. All the tension flowed out of me with a whoosh. I dropped off to sleep on the spot, and the last thought I remember was, “all those years of blaming the house for keeping me awake, and at least some of the time it was rocking me to sleep.”

I’m not sure now that I would ‘cure’ it even if I could.

The note of the house has subtly changed – time to turn off the light.

Posted in Blogging, Dreams and Nightmares, Rants

The Anti-Muse

I hate that feeling when I’ve written something I thought was OK and then when I re-read it a few hours later, it has somehow turned into a heap of drivel. There must be a special gremlin who delights in this – he’s the literary version of the brownie who sours your milk.

And so another blog post bites the dust.

Recently I was lying awake at 3 in the morning, healthy, happy and not particularly sleepy. I had a careful look around to see if I could see any grasping shadows or purple wormholes. None at all – my room was dark, quiet and boringly normal. There weren’t even plumbing noises this time.

I’m convinced my adventures the other night were because I was exhausted by repeatedly falling asleep only to be woken again. It would take its toll on anybody – isn’t it used as a form of torture?

The blog post I jettisoned yesterday was about Feng Shui – my book informs me that everything is about vibrations (including colour and taste). There are good vibrations and bad vibrations – too many of the latter can eventually affect your health.

So who built this house? I often feel like going after them with a shovel… better still, I’ll make them live here.

Posted in Dreams and Nightmares, Hearing Loss, TV and Films

Yesterday All My Troubles…

…were hanging over me. The opposite of what happened to the Beatles in their song. And I was absolutely depressed the night before. Why, is not important but it was like sinking in quicksand – the more of you that went under, the faster the rest of you got sucked down.

My feet swelled alarmingly – the ‘good’ foot was just mildly puffy, but the ‘weak’ foot (injured in November) blew up more than it did when it was broken. Even the ankle got puffy, and the cats were staring at it. I huddled up on the sofa and tried to pretend nothing was wrong. We were watching Lost and it seemed a particularly sad episode. Charlie was having odd dreams and running off into the sea in his sleep with Claire’s baby. Everybody turned against him, thinking he was taking drugs – Locke knocked him down, and Charlie lay there in the water looking lost.

I always had a soft spot for Charlie, a gentle and gregarious soul with very low self-esteem, and everything that happened to him felt as though it was happening to me. It was probably helpful rather than depressing, though I found myself getting angry with Locke – “how DARE you look at him like that?! Back off!”

When I finally trailed off to bed I was all too ready to fall asleep and forget everything. Several times my eyes closed. Several times the house shook me awake. It was a frightening, formless experience.

There was a sound like a rising whine in my ears while the house’s rumbling increased. That was tinnitus, or my brain filling in sound where none was. Knowing what it was didn’t make it go away. Shadows moved in on the bed. No I wasn’t imagining things – they were moving. A shape lurched past, like a figure in the daylight walking past a window – it looked like Mr Guppy from Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. He had his hat on and was strolling up and down with his hands behind his back. Over there beside the beanies was a purple wormhole. It opened out like a whirlpool when I looked at it, then disappeared on itself with a silent ‘shloop’.

Stop getting frightened. Ghosts do not exist. It’s probably time I had my eyes checked – they’re old, tired, myopic things now. Anyway, I’ve lived with the shuddering house for years. Nothing bad has ever got me. Actually it’s just hallucinations – it’s happened before when you were overtired. The dreaming part of your brain thinks you’re still asleep.

To distract myself, I started thinking about Lost. Charlie standing in the breakers at night, holding the baby. Charlie swimming after the baby’s cot in his dream, bringing it back to safety. Suddenly I sat up, remembering a dream I had the night before. We were all being swamped by the tide, which was streaming up the beach. Our clothes were swirling away in the sea and I was shouting to everybody to grab the stuff and move it up towards the trees. Nothing must be lost. It didn’t make sense to me at the time, but I realized now it was a dream about Lost. Like Charlie, I was standing in the waves, looking up at the shore. Like Charlie, I was going off my chump with daft dreams and things that weren’t there. It was like a jigsaw piece clicking into place.

My hand lay just in front of my face, pale in the light that filtered through the curtains. Every time I breathed out, a dark shadow slid across it. I got scared again. How could I see my breath? And how could my breath be black? I would have said it would be a warm pink, or rainbow-coloured, like drops of water catching the light. I stopped breathing, and the shadow slipped across my hand anyway.

At that point enough was enough. I abruptly sat up and put the light on. I looked around. Dark shadows? No. Purple wormholes? No. Mr Guppy? No. Everything looked normal. My bears over there, my beanies over here, my books on the bedside table, a crumpled blog post on the floor. Nothing was moving. With a relieved sigh, I lay back and decided to try and sleep with the light on. That was admitting defeat, but the thought of returning to Mr Guppy and co was more than I could stand.

When I got sleepy I turned off the light. And kept my eyes CLOSED.