Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sleep Is For Tortoises

I don't sleep very much. There's no deep, psychological reason for this, it's simply a matter of there being too many external influences combining to keep me awake. There's my son, who wakes up three or four times a night; there's my daughter, who regularly climbs into bed with us and loudly grinds her teeth in her sleep (I get up and put her back in her own bed. A couple of hours later, there she is again. Grinding.); and there's my wife, who has been known to sleepwalk. Even the dog seeks me out personally if she needs letting out in the night, presumably because she can be reasonably sure I'll be awake.

So my night is usually broken up into several one or two-hour naps rather than a solid seven or eight-hour sleep. It's not very restful and on the mornings after bad nights I'm immensely grumpy and caffeine-dependant.

That's why I've not been all that impressed with the 1am phone calls.

Staggering to the phone a couple of nights ago (cordless, not where it should have been) I failed to get there before the caller rang off. All sorts of things run through your mind when the phone rings in the dead of night, especially when you have family in a different hemisphere. Your automatic reaction is that something's happened up there that warrants waking everyone up down here. And good news can usually wait.

But there was no message, and no attempt to call back, so my tired brain filed it under 'Couldn't have been that important' and I went back to bed.

Last night, at 1am again, on the dot, the phone rings. Again, I don't get there in time. No message, so back to bed.

2am, chirping phone. This time I knew where the receiver was from my previous attempt to locate it ...

'Hello. Can I speak to Carmen?'
'No Carmen here.'
'Is this Perth?'
'You do know it's two in the morning?'
'I'm from South Africa.'
'It's still two in the morning.'
'Is Carmen there?'
'No. You've got a wrong number.'
'[Gives number]'
'Yup, but there's no Carmen here.'
'Who am I speaking to?'
'Someone who doesn't want to be having a discussion at two in the morning about someone who's not here.'
'My mother lives in Australia.'
'Then she's probably asleep. Like I want to be.' (Hangs up)

This morning I banged on about the call to my wife. She looked at me blankly: 'Did someone call last night? I didn't hear anything.'

So apologies to anyone who's tried to get sense out of me today and been greeted by with a bleary-eyed, possibly snarling response. Even though no one else seemed to hear the call, I wasn't making it up when I said it was a South African's fault, and it definitely wasn't a dream.

I'd have had to have been asleep for that.


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