Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Simon Hoggart has said in a recent Grauniad column that he's managed to beat sleeplessness.

The thing to do when you wake up during the night is to keep your eyes open. If your eyes are closed, you're more likely to start worrying about all your problems and stay awake for a couple of hours (something that has happened to me at least a couple of times a week, every week, for as long as I can remember, regardless of personal circumstances).

If you keep your eyes open, though, you'll soon feel your eyelids drooping and will be off back to the land of nod and lovely dreams about having your earlobes nibbled by somebody you fancy on the telly.

Or, in Simon's case, dreaming about the long queues and admiring glances of people attending a book signing at the launch of his grate new compilation of the crazy but pompous round robin letters that readers have sent him over the years. The ideal stocking filler and only £7.99 at all good retailers, folks.

Simon reckons that the "eyes open" method has worked like a treat for him.

I've tried to follow his advice, and, inevitably, it doesn't work. I still lie there worrying about all the problems that I try to avoid thinking about during the day.

The next couple of hours are still full of panicking about my future, getting old, what I could have done with my life, what I'll be unable to do with my life, whether I'll end up homeless, whether or not the Sky Plus box is on the blink again, whether or not my troublesome cough is a deep seated and incurable lung disease, what I'll be doing at Christmas, why my fucking hair is taking so long to grow, exactly how many journeys I'll have to take to the Midlands in the next few months, family problems, whether I'll have to get a new dentist, how bad the menopause will be and when it will start, why it is I can't lead a quiet life which is all I really want, whether I drink too much, whether or not I could live in reduced circumstances, whether that stuff will ever turn up from Amazon or not, whether or not that woman who lives in the flat upstairs next door will turn REALLY weird in the head and attack me in the street, whether or not the other neighbours' attempt to install gas central heating will lead to our house being blown up, whether or not I'll get REALLY FAT when I go through the menopause, whether or not I'll get the same horrible debilitating illnesses as my parents, what that unearthly wailing noise is outside, if, whether I'll get terrible arthritis in my hands and be unable to use tweezers, so I won't be able to get rid of the horrible black bristles that occasionally sprout on my chin. Indeed, will I suddenly grow loads of disgusting facial hair when I get old ?

Except that I now go through this process while keeping my eyes open, which means they end up dry and sore.

The reason that Simon Hoggart found it so easy to fall asleep again is that, judging by the frequent reports in his column, he has been staying in the South of France. After indulging in a nice bottle of claret, he later had a six course meal at a little restaurant, washed down with huge quantities of vintage wine.

Fuck me, I'm surprised that he can actually find the energy to wake up in the first place after all that consumption.

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My cure for insomnia - read a book. If you can't get to sleep it's probably because you need to unwind. Choose a really boring book.
Choose something by Simon Hoggart!! That would enough to send anyone to sleep (just a personal opinion, you understand).
YOU worry ME, Elizabeth. What's this about growing a beard??!!?? That's another illusion shattered. I always pictured you lying on a satin couch, typing languidly while Geoff competes manfully with a gaggle of 18-year-old Adonis-like-types to pop peeled grapes into your mouth, all the while marvelling at your goddess-like beauty. The "Rolf" does not feature in my imaginings. Please tell me t'is not thus?
So who do you fancy on telly, nibbling at your earlobes?
"whether or not I'll get REALLY FAT when I go through the menopause.."

Sorry Bettsters; I misread this as "whether or not I'll get REALLY FIT when I go through the menopause.." and was about to reply that you have always been and always will be REALLY FIT as far as I'm concerned. But then, I've never met you and have been labouring under the (no doubt mistaken) idea that you look like Amanda Donohoe, which just goes to show that not only do I have an overactive imagination but I'm also not very good at reading...

It can't really get any worse than this, can it??

Thanks for the heads up regarding the fear of arthritis preventing you from applying tweezers to the chin.
I can now add this one to my list of "what if" fears which long ago ceased being a list and is actually an atonal dirge in the manner of a Russian orthodox liturgical accompaniment.
I think the answer to your insomnia might be genre fiction. I've found that reading the non-gory kind of mystery novel helps; well written, it can meet the conservative need in most of us for a bit of certainty and a sense of comfort - because life is basically bonkers.
Will gladly send along a list of authors, if needed.
HAHAHA! Sweet Dreams are made of these.

Unfortunately I have on occasion spoken to the "woman who lives in the flat upstairs next door" and I have no doubt whatsoever that she is a ticking Time Bomb and will inevitably "turn REALLY weird in the head and attack you in the street".

Are you aware that her flatmate is a table-sized Blancmange from planet Skyron?

Just thought that I would give you that little 'Heads-Up'.
I was going to write something apposite, amusing and informative, but I dropped off and can't remember what it was.
llewtrah and arabella have the top tip of the day. choose a very, very boring book, though. my remedy is 'Plate Geology'. 'Five Stages of Greek Religion' turned out to be kind of interesting so that was out...and the altogether too profusely illustrated 'An Atlas of Regional Dermatology' was completely inappropriate.
Perhaps he developed this technique when he was shagging Kimberley Quin and had to keep an eye open for Blunkett sneaking out of the wardrobe....
Llewtrah - thing is, I don't have problems getting off to sleep, but I wake up a few hours later. Mind you, the other night I did come downstairs at around three o'clock because I was so awake, and did some reading, but it didn't help. I'm reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein at the moment (er, goes with the season), so that might be the reason I couldn't relax ...

Reg - yeah, I'm half East-European, so the excessive facial hair in middle age is just around the corner. I've got it under control with tweezers at the moment, but in a couple of years I'll probably look like a Mother Theresa, but with sprouting warts and a goatee. Yummers. As for the eighteen year old Adonises (Adonisiiii?), well, how would I manage to blog if all that was going on?

MJ - a few people. Mind you, as I've said elsewhere, they're all over thirty, so I'm not *too* seedy. Heh heh.

Bob - getting really fit when I go through the menopause? Sigh ... if only. The Amanda Donahoe thing is also wide of the mark. Some bloke who was chatting me up once assured me that I looked like Kely Le Brock who starred in Woman In Red, but then (a) he had got a bit of a squint and (b) it was probably around the time Woman In Red was on release (mid 1980's). No doubt I look more like Mother Kelly, from On Mother Kelly's Doorstep, now. Or Matthew Kelly.

Arabella - "Life is basically bonkers". Honestly, that is completely appropriate considering what I'm going through at the moment, which means that blogging has been/is going to be a bit sporadic by the look of things. The world is maaad, I tell you, maaaad. The Orthodox thing is something that is a part of my heritage, although I wasn't bought up in the faith, fortunately. Perhaps it's still part of my genetic make up though - all that woe and misery! No wonder I can't sleep!

HE - argg! The woman next door! If you encounter her again, remember not to park in the bay opposite, which *belongs* to her. The minute she sees anyone in that parking bay, she's out there telling them to move, because it's HER parking space. Not that anyone ever visits her and uses the parking space anyway ... I could cope with the table size blancmange alien quite easily though.

Vicus - a good job. Apposite, amusing and informative doesn't really fit in with the tone of this blog somehow.

FN - An Atlas Of Regional Dermatology certainly sounds like the sort of thing you'd avoid if you were suffering from the 'flu or a virus and were having really feverish dreams. Shudder. Local free newspapers used to be a good source of tedious reading until they replaced all the stories about couples celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary and a businessman donating a cheque to a local charity with shock horror headlines about LOCAL MURDERS and GANGS OF YOBS TERRORISING HOUSING ESTATES.
Murph - LOL! as they say on the internet. Now appearing in a Brian Rix farce at Great Yarmouth.
insomnia is the first sign of being peri-menopausal - (I think it starts when you're about 18). So that's one less thing to worry about then cos you're already showing symptoms.
Reassuringly, if your eyes are dry and sore at least it's not reducing you to tears!
Ziggi - on the contrary, time to start worrying about hot flushes and mood swings and even more black bristley hair! In fact, I'm about to start crying for no apparent reason, and, and, is it just me or is it hot in here?

Doris - yes, but I'm having to spend a fortune on Optrex ...
I always fall asleep with the light on. Very annoying, but that's the price you pay for being in a drunken stupor.
Oh Betty,
how did you manage to voice my deep dread - getting old and incompetent so you can't do the tweezers for eyebrows or stray hairs, can't shave underarms or legs, can't squeeze blackheads (I still get them, most annoyingly), can't do nails, can't blow dry hair etc ... omigod, I'm just going to look like a witch!
.. and there's something else, I'm more or less out the other side of the menopausal hell and, yes, I got fat and, no, it isn't falling off me now. It is really HARD WORK to lose just a gramme - I don't recall that being part of the deal ...
Oh well, it's a fat witch, then!
(you might get this twice as the first disappeared!)
Billy - same happens to me when I'm drunk, then I wake up a few hours later and can't get back to sleep again.

Belle - fat witch? I bet that's not true. Hopefully, by the time I'm too ill to tweeze my eyebrows, blow dry my hair, etc., I'll be so far gone that I won't care what I look like. I've never been naturally skinny and keeping the weight off has been even more difficult since I got to my late thirties. Don't you just hate those women who say they've never had to worry about what they eat?
Hairs on your chin?
Is that what happens when we reach puberty?

Any book by Robert Ludlum sends me to sleep without fail.
Haha Ivstanski!
He has a point about the Ludlum though. Especially the Bourne books - completely without mobile phones, computers, wizzy cameras etc. It's like reading Dickens but without the long sentences.
Apparently there has been an upsurge in naked sleepwalking in Travelodges of late. Staff are being specially trained in how to deal with them (bucket of water?).

Perhaps their subconcious minds are telling them to get out of the dumps clothed or no.
Istvanski - I've had to look him up on Wikipedia, where there's an excellent picture of him looking pompous while dressed as Inch High Private Eye.

Arabella - Dickens with mobile phones, computers, wizzy cameras. Now I've got that idea in my head, it's disturbing me.

Garfer - staying in a Travelodge is quite a disturbing experience though, isn't it? They all look exactly the same and you probably go to sleep not being quite sure where you are in the world ... sort of disembodied. Plus, if they've eaten a meal in the adjacent Little Chef, they really will have nightmares.
I (sort of) sleepwalked on Monday night.

I got up (naked) and put a paid or pyjamas on, but I only actually woke up as I was putting them on. I remember feeling quite panicked.
I met Kimberly Quinn at a party once, some time before all the unpleasantness blew up. She said she had to nip off early, to relieve the babysitter. It was only afterwards that I realised she was probably going to do unmentionable things to Simon Hoggart and/or David Blunkett. Maybe "relieve the babysitter" is a euphemism.

Boris Johnson was there as well. He stayed till the bitter end. More self-restraint, you see. That's what Eton does for a chap.
C'mon Betty - you're not even trying.

You should be worrying about how we'll cope when Camilla becomes Queen, is Keira Knightly too thin, did Madeleine's mum have her hair highlighted ... and what will we do without Jose?

Stop reading that Guardian rag and try the tabloids.
Spinsterella - I take it you weren't staying in a Travelodge at the time?

Tim - then again, Boris was probably knobbing a couple of other women on the side and was too "tired" to *spend time* with Kimberly. Eton? Self restraint? My arse. "Doing unmentionable things to Simon Hoggart" ... just thinking about that has quite put me off my lunch.

Kaz - should I be worried that Madeleine's mum has had her hair highlighted because it means that she isn't spending enough time thinking about Madeleine, or because it will ruin the condition of her hair? The stuff in the tabloid gossip pages confuses me too much and I've got enough worries of my own to occupy me. If I start worrying about people I don't even know then I'll have a complete breakdown!
On the subject of Madeleine...

Did anyone else see that headline in one of the freebie papers?:

"Madeleine lookalike was kidnapped by gang..."

I mean, I know there's bound to be a lot of demand - especially with the panto season so nearly upon us, but *really*...

Why can't these out of work actors and actresses stick to posing as other celebrities - Posh and Becks, the one with the patch from Dr. Hook or that horrendous woman with the mauve hair on The X Factor for instance - instead of pretending to be a poor young girl who's been missing for six months?

I mean, imagine how awful it would be if her poor parents were to bump into this impersonator while he/she was opening a supermarket or handing out leaflets for 'Starlight Express or something? Just think how awful the disappointment would be when they found out it wasn't their long estranged daughter but some two bit jobbing chancer who just happened to bear a slight resemblance to their offspring??

Honestly, I don't know what the world's coming to sometimes...


p.s. Is it just me or does the idea of Macca hiding Heather Mills McCartney's prosthetic limb not cause the beknighted ex-Beatle rise considerably in one's estimation? Before you know it, he'll be doing spastic impressions like his former writing partner...

p.p.s. Great forgotten gag from 'Help'

Sound engineer: Is anyone buzzing?

Lennon: sorry, I'm in the car...

p.p.p.s - wrod vrecififififificatoin: cozywpc...

Boy, could I do with one of those!!
Bob - Madeleine McCann lookalikes? Some parents will do anything to get their kiddies into showbiz.

I'm not sure there would be much call for a lookalike of that bloke out of Dr Hook round our way. Hasn't he been dead for a few years? I'm sure the bearded bloke from Dr Hook has played at the Dartford Orchard, but don't know
if he's available for the panto season (will have to consult their site again. I wonder if the East Meets West Wurzels/Chas 'n' Dave soundclash is hitting The Orchard (see Kid Shirt for details)? I'll certainly be down the front, getting into a ruck with some tractor boys.

Er, if Paul's still got Heather's leg, no wonder she is hopping mad at the moment ... arf arf.
*east meets west = Chas 'n' Dave v Wurzels, of course*
now you have to worry about eating too much bacon too, according to the times today.
apparently i sleep with my eyes open. how creepy is that? thank god i can't see it.
midlands? come and see me
(i know you won't)
Have you tried tranquillizers? Why not give ketamine a go? Works for horses, and you'll give Geoff a bit of entertainment before you actually zonk out at night.
Rivergirlie - oh, and apparently you have to be the lowest weight in your acceptable weight range to be healthy. So, if you go a couple of pounds under that, or a couple of pounds over, you're suddenly heightened risk of getting cancer? You could get so stressed out about it that you'd end up becoming ill anyway. As for the other stuff, you really wouldn't want to meet me, honestly.

Ben - ketamine? Been there, done that - it's the only way to get through an evening at the B'heath Rat And Parrot's Goth Night. I may try shooting myself with one of those tranquiliser darts they use on animals in wildlife parks though, or failing that, beating myself over the head with a cricket bat.
I think what used to keep me awake was worrying about having to get up and not being rested. Since moving to Hungary and living a life less routine - I simply don't care when I happen to get up. So if I wake at 2 - the TV goes on, coffee is made, the mail is checked on the web. If the movie is good I'll watch it and slide lower and lower until I fall asleep. If it is not worth watching - I'll simply find something else to do and the cats follow me like a charm :) Worry? what for - then you'll stay away for sure.
I too apparently sleep with my eyes open which doesn't somehow seem to stop me really worrying at night - quite alot of late.
Isadora - "worry - what for?" Eh?? My whole life is based on worrying and thinking "what if" ... take that away and I'm just a husk of a human being! I'm not going to let something like logic stand in my way!

Rockmother - I don't understand the sleeping with your eyes open thing at all. Thing is, if people are sleeping in the dark, how can you tell if they've got their eyes open? Worrying at night though - same here at the moment. Honestly, I'd do anything for a quiet life (moan, bloody moan).
Hi Betty - it was supposed to be 'stay awake for sure' not stay away. :)

Anyway. You would get along well with my Mother - she lived her life worrying about 'what if'. Generally, people will bring on whatever they are afraid of - actually, speaking it into existence. Think about it - why would you want to?
Ha ha, well, if you put it like that ... maybe I should start worrying about things that I want to happen, so that they come true! For instance, *worrying* that I've got five million quid burning a hole in my bank account, or *worrying* that I'm living in the Seychelles, or *worrying* that I'm lying next to that piece with the black hair who runs the factory on Corrie. Hmmm ... might give it a try.
Betty - NOW you are heading in the right direction but that is called visualization. Do, by all means, begin to visualize yourself having the things you would like. It is the positive habit rather than worrying which will bring negative results. :) Good luck.
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