No sun was able to squeeze through the chinks of the rain clouds hanging dolefully over Cambridge today. Even Dennis the squirrel is depressed. He crouched miserably on the bird table this morning looking up at the dripping sky and allowed the turtle doves to get away with all the sunflower seeds. (for the doves it was a bit of a coo….)
It gets to me too. The surge of energy I had at the weekend is draining away and I have embarked on a few nights of insomnia.
My insomnia is the rat in the kitchen, the mosquito in the bedroom and the cold sweat under one’s armpits after a terrible fright. My insomnia is that moment as you reach for the light in the darkest, stillest, strangest time of the night, when you think you feel a presence, see a form by the bed and even the light and the empty room doesn’t reassure you.
My insomnia is not creative. It hits when I am overtired and anxious and it refuses to allow me to tumble into deep sleep but doesn’t leave me awake enough to get up and go and do something useful. I want to get up and write but I can’t focus. I toss and turn and sigh and cry and deep breathe and visualise sheep and blue velvet (apparently this works for some people..you imagine a soft velvet wall of a cool colour and use your hands to write your name in huge letters on it. One is supposed to be asleep by the time you get to your surname. Do try it and let me know if it works will you.. ) I visualize deserted beaches and beautiful landscapes to wander in and stay ..awake …my heart racing, my brain slopping over with bad thoughts and bizarre memories and my neck and shoulders stiff and sore.
My bouts of insomnia started when I was little in the suffocatingly hot nights of Zambia without air conditioning and were further compounded by endless nights at the ridiculously gothic girl’s boarding school I was sent to as a 10 years old. ‘Lights out’ at 8:00pm, horsehair mattresses, echoing dormitories either freezing cold or stuffy and hot, dreadful homesickness, rumours of ghosts, terror of double maths and French class ensured that sleep was extremely hard to come by.
When I can’t sleep now I am immediately that miserable child again. It is hard to keep perspective with a sudden pathological fear of French adverbs.
At five this morning I got up and did some stretches and remade my bed and then lay in it again for a couple of hours listening to the rain.