A few nights ago I had a weird dream. I was tied to the floor and a warm sticky substance was dripping relentlessly onto my exposed forehead. It was like Chinese water torture, only much worse; the dripping substance was slowly and inexorably drifting towards my mouth.
I can picture you reading this and I can almost sense the disgust in your mind but please bear with me - it's not as bad as you think (though it could have been).
As the drip approached my upper lip I started to panic; and as I panicked I began to hear an unearthly wailing sound.
And then I woke up.
Waking up for me is a traumatic experience sometimes because I am so short sighted that shapes take on a menacing significance. On this occasion, as my crusty eyes opened, I could see nothing. The room was dark and the feeble street light from the front window barely illuminated the room. And then I saw it; the blurred shadow directly above my head. My heart leapt; I almost screamed. And I’m glad I didn’t. If I had, a huge drop of cat saliva would have plopped right onto my tonsils.
Spike, our old, greedy, dribbling cat was perched on my chest, and howling for food. He was so hungry that he was salivating all over my head.
“URRGHHHH!!!” I screamed, and tried to turn over. Spike, thinking I was going to grant his wish for a tray of food promptly stepped onto my face before dropping to the floor, meowing incessantly. The racket was so loud that I decided to feed him. Because it was dark, I staggered out of bed, trod on Spike’s tail (causing him to screech in pain), bashed my knee on the bedside cabinet and hobbled downstairs. Spike, in revenge for the pain, tried his best to trip me up as I went. When I returned, Mrs PM was still fast asleep, oblivious to my trauma and pain. I was tempted to wake her up because it was her fault that Spike had woken me up in the first place. Why? Well, let me tell you a little bit of history.
When we moved into our new house we bought two black kittens called Jasper and Poppy and they were quite happy to sleep on our bed with us in it, in peace and harmony, moving only occasionally. However, when Spike, the cuckoo in our nest, arrived, he was so hungry all the time that he woke us up constantly at really anti-social hours. When I say “us” I mean “me". As you may have guessed, I am a very light sleeper and what annoys me most is that Mrs PM is the complete opposite.
I banned the cats from the bedroom and Mrs PM has struggled with this ever since I put my foot down. So to compromise, I foolishly allow them in the bedroom while we are reading, until it is time to turn off the light; then they are unceremoniously ejected from the room. On this night, however, Mrs PM had let the cats back in when I was asleep and, as usual, Spike had picked on me. Of course, he may have picked on Mrs PM first but waking her up is as difficult as trying to push a pea to London using just your nose.
Mrs PM can sleep through an earthquake – and indeed she has – twice! We don’t get earthquakes in England very often but Mother Nature decided to inflict one upon us last year. Being such a light sleeper, I was out of bed the nanosecond it struck. I was convinced that a burglar was trying to break down the bedroom door and in my confused semi-conscious state, I bellowed at the top of my voice, thinking that a burglar would flee if he thought that there was a maniac on the other side of the door. My screaming actually woke Mrs PM up on this occasion, as did the two hundred burglar alarms that immediately went off in the street when the tremor struck.
“What are you doing out of bed?” she asked in a bleary eyed state, before immediately falling to sleep again with a loud snore.
In these cold, dark winter months I can normally sleep quite well. It is dark when I retire for the night and stays dark until around eight in the morning. However, in the summer, in June in particular, it only begins to get dark at 10pm and by 4am it is light again and I find myself lying there in bed at 4:30 having been woken up by bright sunshine and the sound of the dawn chorus. I am so frustrated that I blame the cats for that as well. I’ve heard myself talking to Jasper:
“Call yourself a bloody cat? There are a hundred and forty two birds out there, making enough noise to wake the dead. Why don’t you round up the local moggy posse and sort the little buggers out?”
Jasper just sat there with that “Gimme food” look on his face.
When I complain to Mrs PM, she laughs and says “It’s not my fault you have transparent eyelids!”
Other things wake me up too, usually in the middle of a great dream. If a squirrel drops a nut in our front garden at 3am you can guarantee that I will be awake at 3am and one second wondering what’s making the racket outside.
I’ve tried wearing those blindfolds that they give you on aircraft. The problem is that I wake up with it still on and panic thinking that somebody has stolen my sight in the middle of the night, or find it missing and forget about it, only to rediscover it around my neck when I’m in the shower.
I’ve also tried earplugs with similar effects. Either I panic because I think I am deaf, or sleep through my alarm clock and end up at work two hours late.
Sometimes, Mrs PM can make matters much worse. She accuses me of being a duvet thief but the only person who wakes up on a cold winter’s night, shivering in the throes of early hypothermia is me.
Worse, she sometimes has a spontaneous, localised moment of being a light sleeper and suddenly screams out “What’s that noise?”. I get up, go downstairs, and usually find the cats having a party in the lounge, only to return to the bedroom to find Mrs PM snoring for England.
The worst thing about Mrs PM are her dreams.
Now I cannot read this woman’s mind but I certainly know when she is having a vivid and weird dream. Normally she cries out in her sleep, which immediately wakes me up. Sometimes, she wakes up, shakes me awake and asks a stupid question like “Why do the insects have to travel to Mars in a coffin? Surely the dentists will make them clean their paws first.” Then she falls unconscious again and starts snoring. I am such a light sleeper that her snoring keeps me awake for hours.
The worst episode involving Mrs PM and her dreams occurred the other week. There I was lying in bed in total bliss; I had caught the train to dreamland and was about to show my passport when suddenly Mrs PM kicked me. Furthermore, she kicked me so hard that I actually stumbled out of bed and landed on the floor. I was aghast. I woke her up and said “What the bloody hell are you doing? You’ve just bloody well kicked me!”
“Did I?” she replied. “I’m sorry. I was dreaming about a walking doll that wouldn’t stop chasing me; so I kicked it.”
And then she fell asleep and started snoring, keeping me awake for the rest of the night.
I need to take steps to combat my problem. How about ttaking these steps:
(1) Ban the cats from entering the room at all times when I am in bed.
(2) Buy a set of thick curtains that allow no light whatsoever to pass through.
(3) Soundproof the bedroom.
(4) Put Mrs PM in a straight-jacket.
Actually, I think one of those suggestions is a little extreme. I would cost a fortune to soundproof the bedroom.