Sunday Tittle Tattle: Early Bird

Why is it that when I have an early wakeup call, I simply cannot get to sleep? And by the way, I’m talking early-early here, when the owls are still hooting and the foxes are still tearing open the bin bags and rooting for chicken bones. Witching hour early, 3.30am early, not your pedestrian kind of early. Not 6am early. Pah! I spit on 6am.

Before Christmas I had a hideously early wakeup time – 4am – and the night before I could not get to sleep no matter how hard I tried. It didn’t help that I started packing at 11pm and couldn’t decide what to wear to travel to Paris. (Luxury problems, I know.) It was a toss-up between two terrible options; the skinny jeans that garrotte my Pleasure Garden in half with their seam, or the dress that makes my underarms overheat. And the choice of travel attire of course affected all of my other packing, because one option needed a longer coat and the other required a shorter type of coat and the whole debacle sent me into a late-night, overtired tailspin of organisational hell.

Even when I finally got into bed and closed my eyes (the kids woke up twice between 11pm and 1am) I tossed and turned for hours, unable to get comfortable or stop my brain from whirring.

And then after all of the whirring and tossing, I was too hot. Far too hot. This phase lasted for an eternity, roasting my feet and legs even though my shoulders and chest were cold. Which was a worry in itself, as I had a chest infection and we all know you have to keep your chest and back warm! God, you might get pneumonia and die! I’d already tackled death and the depressing certainty of it in the first couple of anxious hours.

It’s that first era of sleeplessness that always kicks everything off, isn’t it? The anxiety era. It starts with the worry of missing the alarm going off, then it moves to the worry of travel in general – things that can go wrong on car journeys, on trains, definitely on planes. After twenty minutes you’ve played out at least eight horrific scenarios involving masked men, suspicious packages, air hostesses with exploding tea trolleys, pilots with a death wish. Then, once you’ve exhausted all possibilities and turned your pillow over to the cool side again, you move onto life in general and all of the things that can go wrong, compiling an almost exhaustive mental list and committing it to memory so that you can refer to it again and again in times when you really need to be getting to bloody sleep.

Anyway, I finally got to sleep at three, but it could have been later because three was the last number I saw on my phone and we all know how time flies when a wake-up call is looming! And then, my friends, guess who sauntered up to the front door HALF AN HOUR EARLY?

The taxi driver. He knocked on the door at four, waking up the dog and then the toddler and then the small child who had until then been peacefully, blissfully slumbering, no worries or hijack scenarios keeping them from their beauty sleep.

I imaginary-throttled the taxi driver. Had I been living in the Georgian times and not merely living in a house from that period, I would have thrown open the bedroom sash, upturned my chamberpot and doused the man with piss. Alas I live in 2020 and we have a toilet. Also, if anyone can “throw open” a Georgian sash window I’ll give them a medal, because it takes about eleven minutes of jostling and joggling just to get them open enough to poke a hand out, even if you’ve had the frames reconditioned and all of the sashes re-weighted. Just saying.

So the kids woke up when the taxi driver knocked and – bizarrely – one child puked and the other did a poo. They were like an effluent-emitting version of a cuckoo clock, pyjama’d kids instead of cuckoos. Cuck-koo-BLEUGH! Cuck-koo-pppppllllllllllop. (That’s the universally acknowledged sound of a poo happening.)

Why could the taxi driver have not just been on time? Why half an hour early? Why knock on the door? It’s not as though we’re short of places to stop and pull over, near us. Yes, it’s dark, yes it can be slightly sinister and the trees look like witches fingers and you might get a bat flying into your windscreen, but for the love of God it’s four o’ clock in the morning! Being early is worse than late, in some scenarios – any decent person knows that. It’s as bad as turning up half an hour early for a dinner at someone’s house – you just don’t do it. They might be shaving their legs, or they could be peeling potatoes; if it’s a couple then they’ll likely be stressed and shout-whispering hateful things at each other, things about divorce and who makes all of the social arrangements and whether chicken past the sell-by date should be thrown away if it smells faintly of cheese.

If you book a taxi for 4.30AM, who in their right mind turns up early? It’s not like 4pm, when the passanger-to-be will most likely be doing that pacing, hand-wringing thing whilst waiting for their chariot to arrive. Daytime passengers are always ready for their car approximately twenty minutes before it’s due: morning passengers are not. Nobody sane chops a full thirty minutes from an already truncated sleep just so that they’ll be ready for a taxi – if you have all of your faculties then you’ll time it to a tee. Wake up, brush teeth, slide into pre-laid-out clothes, quietly creep downstairs and let yourself out of the front door – taxi idling outside, but preferably engine should be off so that you don’t disturb half the world.

You’d think that these would be basic and obvious default settings in life. Mind you, you’d also think that knowing how to pack a suitcase would be, yet I fail each and every time I do it. On this particular trip I managed to pack four different moisturisers yet only one matching pair of shoes – the other pair were both made of the same beige leather but the left foot had a 6cm heel and the right foot was a whacking great 10cm! Oh how I hobbled.

Anyway, those anxiety-fuelled sleepless nights are a total bore, aren’t they? And there’s nothing worse than finally dropping into a deep slumber and then hearing the alarm go off. I should have had one of my Epsom Salt baths (I tip five large mugfuls into a warm tub) but I was too busy hunting my wardrobe for the jeans that would leave me permanently disfigured in the nether regions.

Why don’t they make jeans with a gusset?

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  1. Clare
    January 21, 2020 / 7:19 pm

    Oh you crack me up Ruth!!! So funny. One of my kids used to vomit and/or poo at the worst times. Honestly though – you are a tonic.

  2. Julia
    January 21, 2020 / 1:18 am

    God you’re funny! I sure missed your posts (though I’m glad you took a break). I can never sleep before an early curtain call because I’m dead certain I will oversleep the 2 alarms set to prevent it. It wasn’t that way when I was young (mid teens). I used to have a job requiring me to be present and functional by 5:30am. I swear I could stumble across broken glass, climb a roll of razor wire, hit the alarm’s off button, retrace the treacherous path back to bed and never know the horrible sound went off. Lucky I lived with my mom who played backup to that hateful clock. Thanks for the giggle!

  3. Lynn W
    January 20, 2020 / 10:29 pm

    I hear you Ruth! A few years ago my partner and I had to leave for the airport at 05:00am. A friend insisted on taking us. I have no idea why, a Taxi would have been fine. I hate starting a trip rushing, it makes me stressed. So I was up in good time, I was dressed and had my make up on and was all really organised, and I had more than half an hour left to blow dry my hair, check the passports, keys, money, switches, doors, windows etc and be waiting serenely ( ha ha) , ready for our friend to arrive. I have quite curly hair which I was blow drying smooth. I had half done and the other half clipped to the top of my head when my partner shouted ” that’s us Lynn, need to go, Ray’s here and he needs to set off so he can get to work”. I said are you serious? He is half an hour early, I can’t go right NOW. He said “Why? , you have been up for ages, you must be ready, and it’s really good of him to give us a lift”. Grrrr….aaaah. They sat outside in the car and waited. I joined them with my face and everywhere else sweating, my hair a total mess and my head in a bigger mess in case I’d left something switched on and the back door open. It’s no good is it?

    • January 21, 2020 / 10:13 pm

      Oh RAY! FFS Ray! That is not a favour. Sorry but no.
      Hahahah x

  4. Nicki
    January 20, 2020 / 2:03 pm

    Oh my god, I laughed out loud so many times at this I love your writing Ruth, I needed a giggle today .

  5. January 20, 2020 / 1:13 pm

    I rarely suffer from insomnia, but a taxi driver showing up 30 minutes early would throw me off any time of the day!

    Anne from Doctor Anne

  6. January 19, 2020 / 7:39 pm

    Oh my gosh I thought it was bad when you mentioned about only falling asleep at 3am, then to read that the taxi driver showed up early (how did that even happen?!?) – I really felt for you!

  7. January 19, 2020 / 4:53 pm

    Oh yes, I get the same with very early beginnings, for me, that’s around 5/6am. I now set 2 alarm clocks to make sure I get woken up. Just as well as this week, my normal alarm clock stopped around midnight, thank god for the landline alarm clock! I’ve only used my mobile phone alarm once. Phone alarms aren’t recommended as all technology should be outside the bedroom to avoid sleep problems. I’m far from being perfect in that area myself…Have you read ‘Why we sleep?’ ‘It’s an amazing book, I highly recommend. I drink even less alcohol since I read this book.

    • January 19, 2020 / 6:57 pm

      Oooh, I shall add that to my reading list! x

  8. Gillian Pidler
    January 19, 2020 / 1:59 pm

    You sound like my daughter, my youngest who is 20 next month, how the hell did that happen??! She often suffers insommnia and it always seems to tally with days she has to be up and out early. Uni days, days out with a friend or her brother in law and sister. She just can’t sleep and if she can’t sleep I can’t sleep as she comes into my room silently, stands beside me watching me sleep until I stir or she decides to touch my arm at which point I leap awake with sheer horror at someone standing watching me sleep!! Then I have to go and sleep in her bed which I have to say is so much better now it’s a double and not bunk beds! Weirdly this sometimes helps and she’ll fall asleep after a brief discussion about why she can’t sleep, ‘I don’t know mum it just be like that sometimes’!

    • January 19, 2020 / 6:58 pm

      The idea of someone watching me sleep horrifies me. It would absolutely scare the life out of me if I woke up to one of the kids beside the bed! I know it’s only a matter of time before it happens! x

  9. Nanaka
    January 19, 2020 / 9:37 am

    Oh how I missed your hilarious posts over the holidays!!! :-)
    Great that you’re back – and by the sound of it – full of energy, despite all the insomnia.

    I had some nights like this two weeks back, but I did it all to myself, no early taxi drivers or even dawning “early mornings” involved… I had a bad cold and couldn’t breathe through my nose, which led me to believe I might just suffocate in my sleep. This again led to angstily jerking up wide awake again every time I was about to pass out – SO annoying. As if the body cannot deal with sleep in those situations… Still I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Oh well. The mind boggles…

    Happy new year ;-)

    • January 19, 2020 / 6:59 pm

      We only appreciate being able to freely breathe through our nostrils when we can’t breathe freely through our nostrils. It’s something we massively take for granted! : )

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