They say nothing good ever happens at 4:30 am, but that’s not true. The other morning around that time, I turned on the radio to learn the importance of towel drying between your toes.
Finally, I thought, someone has realised how crucial such information is. I wanted to spread the word, rather than a fungal disease, but most everyone else in the vicinity was asleep so I settled for the dog.
He was asleep too but because he’s the best dog in the world he always wakes up smiling, looking forward to doing something, anything, with his human. But toes, towels and cleaning and no treat had limited appeal even for him so he quickly burrowed off down under the bed searching for the bone he left there when Lassie was a pup.
When you don’t sleep much, you look for opportunities to remedy that – and towelling between one’s toes doesn’t always do it for you. Neither does listening to the radio.
You have to feel for those poor broadcasters who do the midnight to dawn shift on the radio, who spend most of their time, or at least their producers do, trying to convince potential talent that an interveiw at 3:45 am really will sell their book/fund their trip to save headless insects in Botswana/heal the world. But it turns out there are a frighteningly high number of people awake when they probably should be asleep and some stories that aren’t half bad. They’re not good, just not half bad.
Someone once told me that a good interviewer will find his/her best question from the last answer their interviewee gave. It’s true, but not everyone gets it. I remember once throwing a blunt object at the radio when the caller suddenly stopped telling the broadcaster what his music request was to say: “Oh my God, you won’t believe what I’ve just seen on the highway”.
“I don’t think that one’s on the playlist,” the broadcaster responded.
Also not on the go-to-sleep playlist are those calming tapes of water trickling down stuff, combined with dolphins splashing at you, unless you like getting in and out of bed – and your bathroom is not at the other end of the house.
It gets to the point sometimes that a frypan over the head might just do the trick and knock you out for an indefinite period, but apparently you have to have a headache with that.
Reading a bad book can help send you to sleep, unless it inspires you to write your own because it couldn’t be any worse – that will keep you up for most of the rest of your life.
My latest remedy to bring on sleep is to contemplate the meaning of life. Think of all the things you can do that will make the world a better place but remember that everything looks very different in the middle of the night. In the dim light, the dressing gown on the back of a door suddenly looks like a serial killer. The nearby shawl, its accomplice. You know it’s not so you can tell yourself how brave you are for not getting scared – once you’ve turned the light on.
Or you can just stick your head under the pillow again and think of England.