On Night Time Noises

Today it is Father’s Day, and Mark is slumbering on our bed loudly. I usually get the morning sleep-in on a Sunday but the best present I can give that man is EVEN MORE sleep, and so, in lieu of a pair of socks (Paul Smith from the clearance shop, natch), or a CD he will never open past the plastic covering, he got my sleep-in. I think this was big of me, and maybe utterly pointless, because still he seeks sleep like a greedy little sleepy gnome whenever he can get away with it.

Last weekend, I went to two parties one after the other and hadn’t eaten much because of the upper arm situation, and it was very sunny and there was a lot of champagne and rose flowing and suddenly, at 7pm, while lying down on the grass in our communal garden, the trees started to spin quite alarmingly with the blue sky and I staggered back home and Mark said “Let’s put mum to bed, shall we?” and I lay down, shoes on, contacts in, and slept until 11pm when I woke up and asked for dinner.

This is what it feels like to abdicate your responsibilities and just go to bed. It was marvellous and soul-enriching and perhaps it taught me a few things – drink more water, eat the lamb chops and cake when people offer them to you instead of fretting over your arm girth, and go to sleep in the daytime more.

But, you know and I know that I never will do that because I am a hardened cusk of a person, all narrow-eyed and resentful of the freedoms other people take and tired martyrdom suits me.

And oh, the snoring! He came back from New Zealand about a month ago and he was in good humour, and I was pleased to see him, and the first night he slept quietly and I thought perhaps New Zealand had fixed his soft palate/sinus/heavy breathing issues somehow. Perhaps Saint Jacinda had passed his managed isolation hotel on the way to open up an Arts Centre somewhere and her magical powers had escaped through her shedding skin particles and blown out of her Prime Ministerial car door window and had somehow landed on Mark, passing through his plastic-covered exercise area and coursing through his mandatory mask like a modern-day MIRACLE taking away the burden of his nightly purring/humming/snorting sounds, but no.

The snoring lull was all a mirage – a false hope, a dream that was destined to die. He kicked off on about night three and within a week I had become reacquainted with our living room couch.

The living room couch is not a place people should be eating on – it’s in the house rules – but each time I sleep there I have to spend a lot of time fielding popcorn and little bits of scratchy toast crusts first. This is because people do not pay heed to the house rules.

Anyway. He’s asleep now. I wish that his snoring had a limit – like, God gave him a daily limit of horrible throat/nose/flapping mouth noises to use up for each 24 hour period. If that were true, then I would really encourage him to take naps for hours throughout the day. Instead of me finding him furtively reading his Kindle in the weekday when he should be writing up a quote or dropping off some paint, I would say ‘Go to sleep now, my precious sleepyhead’ in a pleasant (not sarcastic and worn-down) kind of way, and by the time it got to 11pm he would be silent. That’s my dream right there – to sleep with someone who is silent. I know I am silent, and I sleep with myself every night, so…there’s just one person stopping me from making my dreams come true, am I right?

My friend Bone, the most loyal and wise friend, felt sorry about the snoring/couch/popcorn situation and so gifted me a pair of her very special, super soundproof heavy duty blue silicon earplugs. I am an earplug wearer from way back, but only of the Boots kind, so getting a whole box Amazon-delivered blue ones was quite exciting. I thought they might well work, and so shoved them in very hard one night a few weeks ago. I am happy to report that they are better than the Boots kind – perhaps 25% better, but there is a cost. They make me deaf in one ear until about 10am the next morning.

It’s a trade-off, right? Sleep better with the vaguest sense of an incoming ear infection brewing and the resulting partial deafness of someone who has been swimming too long under water, or another night poking Mark and whisper-swearing at him and recording his worst bits to prove it to him in the morning and finally communing again with the snack-speckled couch?

When I am able, I will have my own bloody wing like Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright had in House of Cards. My room, off the tastefully decorated landing, will be filled with vintage dresses hung up on the walls like art works, and antique dressers and a Hollywood Regency vanity table with floor lamps and tasselled shades and chandeliers and a massive wardrobe so that I can hang my long frocks and actually see what I own. Another of my pathetic dreams right there.

I think I’ve digressed, though there isn’t much to say. Work has settled down into a 80/20 fun/terrifying ratio. I have forgotten how to cook. I had a fight with Mark over filling out a tax form, a yoga retreat and watching the news on the telly. I had another hair cut and half head of highlights which took four hours (I mean…why does it take that long?) but they did offer me two glasses of prosseco with a peach schnapps addition (see the photo above). It was lovely to be there but because of the Covid there weren’t any magazines because obviously touching magazines might kill your or someone’s grandmother and so I had to try to download Vanity Fair but the wifi was patchy and my battery ran out.

Let me tell you – four hours in the hair salon without magazines or your phone is quite the thing. I thought yogic thoughts, and about the power of silence and meditative stillness and about how good it is to get bored and be with myself in a mindful undistracted way, and then my eye got sticky with a dry contact lens and I thought I might just lie down on the foils and have a nap. I didn’t though, because daytime naps are for babies and noisy men.

I also had an excruciatingly difficult, stupid fight with a teenager over Instagram which seems like it might be the end of our formerly beautiful relationship. I am still amazed that your kids can really seek to hurt you. It still feels new. I am trying to ignore it, but I have a heavy, bruised heart and moving around my flat this weekend feels like I am living with the enemy. I suppose this is entirely normal -otherwise, they would never move out, right?

Here’s a child who is kind and sweet and lovely except when he spits at us. This is not frequent, thought he did do it in the posh mattress shop we went to today, because, you know, the old fella needs a new mattress, according to his new private doctor. I just wiped the spit back into my t-shirt and hoped the mattress shop assistant didn’t notice.

The dog. He stole half a cherry and almond cake that I made last night. I honestly think he regrets some of his choices sometimes:

The neighbour’s flat which is no longer the neighbour’s – photos of the wall below. He was a sitting tenant and lived in the massive flat since the ’60s with a New Zealander friend of ours. He died two years ago and our friend has just been evicted. The flat hasn’t been touched since the ’30s. We went in to see what the wallpaper layers looked like when the developers began stripping it and there were these three in one of the bedrooms. The whole peeling, damp, decrepit 3000square foot flat is 3 million if any of you fancy a project:

Lastly, there is a very exciting thing happening on Tuesday. A great big painting by Harriet White that I’ve been paying off for about a year and a half arrives to be admired and then fretted over because it might not fit and it might get damaged by those children of mine and their nerf gun bullets/swords/darts, etc. But it is a glorious thing and it shall make my nighttime excursions to the living room much more enticing. Photos of this masterful wonder to follow….

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3 Responses to On Night Time Noises

  1. Sara Carr says:

    Wondered if Mark has been tested for sleep apnoea? CPAP machines are not silent, but not as loud as the snoring!

    • theharridan says:

      He has. He hasn’t got it..tried that one! In his defence, I think I am a pretty bad sleeper. I didn’t share a room as a kid and so got very used to silence. Now I’m a bit…er, crankier and less tolerant than I used to be. Sometime I just go mad at the sound of his breathing.

  2. rose says:

    White noise machines help some people. Glad it isn’t apnea and that you checked for it. SO glad to hear from you. I wasn’t sleeping tonight and now I shall think of you all doing well and hopefully sleep will arrive before morning. THANK YOU for updates and normalizing and joy!

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