Quite by accident one time, or was it Fate? [bollocks! – Ed.] I came across a line in a text in Irish that completely changed my attitude to sleeping patterns. If I could find the original source, sure we’d all be laughing, but, unless Darzán can dig it up for me, you’ll just have to take my word on it. The throwaway line concerned some visitor turning up at a house in Winter at an importunate hour, namely after sunset but before the first sleep. (And no, Cambridge Dictionary, it is not that meaning of importune I have in mind – the cheek of you!) This apparently innocuous phrase was a revelation to me: it confirmed that my own sleeping pattern had not, in fact, just fallen off a tree but was, undeniably, backed by secure tradition and therefore an inevitable, albeit minor, expression of my intrinsic Ibero-Irishness. Maybe it was even one of my ‘inalienable and ancient rights’? For an insight into how going to the pub is one of these for British people who happen not be slaves, see previous post about Bluster Boris.
Do you get it yet? My thinking went along these lines: if there is a first sleep, there must then be, ipso facto, a second sleep, and maybe even a third and fourth one if you find out you have not had enough Zs when someone smacks you about the face and tells you it is time to go to work. How would they know whether I feel like working at that hour of the morning anyway? And what are they even doing in my master bedroom with walk-in wardrobe but no en-suite for hygiene reasons? Did I leave the front door open all night again? But I digress [seriously? – Ed.]. And sorry about the Latin up there, but, like that other classic language Old Irish, sometimes the tongue of the Italians is just more succinct than the mongrel English that my father delighted in calling ‘a bastard language’. He wasn’t usually allowed to curse, you see, but had heard the term used in some documentary or other he was watching. When he was alive.
So here I was, getting up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet and me thinking this was due to my Type 2 diabetes when really, and obviously, it was a case of briseann an dúchas trí shúile an chait, my underlying ancestral trends re-asserting themselves as some sort of counter-balance to the madness of the modern world and the tyranny of wristwatch and clock. I know, Rebel without a Clue, as my big brother aptly nick-named me one time. But still, my general idea once I was up to siphon the python anyway was that it would be remiss of me, while awake, to squander the opportunity to have a smoke and thus help me to reach my daily target of nicotine intake. So I would light up one of my selection of Benson & Hedges’ finest and, maybe, have a quick read of an article or two from the weekend’s newspaper still patiently waiting for my editing skills. Maybe have a sneaky chocolate biscuit or ten too, because nobody was looking at that hour of the morning, and accompany them with a cup of coffee if the newspaper article happened to be free of the phrasal blight that is ‘existential crisis’. Generally just messing around for an hour or so, letting the cat in or out depending on her whims, maybe even doing a drop of real work to facilitate the further consumption of nicotine. And thence to bed to enjoy the ineffable delight of falling asleep for the second time without having officially woken up yet.
Darzán informs me that this is exactly what the Irish used to do too: sleep for a bit just after nightfall (cos they had no electricity in those days, and no 24-hour TV either, for some reason), get up in the middle of the night, do a drop of work and then go back to sleep again until their circadian rhythm told them it was time to get out of the scratcher and head off for a day’s foraging for potatoes. Darzán, by the way, is one of the team of researchers who help to provide the facts that illumine this daily blog about the Kerfuffle [what facts? – Ed.]. Out of the kindness of my heart, I took them on after their respective universities had kicked them out and locked their ivory towers on them. We all have to do our bit. I pay them a pittance, of course, but they seem happy enough, beavering away there in the cellar in poor light, poring over the dusty volumes I have amassed over the years (mostly from libraries that are now closed, so no fines due) and, very occasionally, coming up with a nugget of information I can crowbar into the blog. They are also a handy receptacle for leftover food. Especially since the binmen did not come yesterday, the lazy bistros. Or maybe their second or third sleep just went on that bit too long? Who am I to judge?
So, if I happen to work for you, and if you were ever somewhat confused at receiving an email or a report from me at 3.17am, now you know why. Better that than trying to do it half-asleep during the prescribed 9-5 working pattern beloved of society PC.