3 Sep

It’s something to do with age. Middle of the night and I’m more wide awake than a double expresso. I didn’t have cheese for supper and no coffee after Pointless. No alcohol either. I toddled off to bed at a reasonable 11.30pm. After two fitful hours of kip I was as lively as Nicola Adams on speed. Now why did she jump into my mind as a useful simile? I’ll work that one out later.

Downstairs I trotted and pottered about – a bit of tidying here and washing up there. Oh, I’ll get the washing machine going. Save time tomorrow. Merely putting off the inevitable. Nightime TV. I checked the channels but thought it fair to the Beeb to start with their all-night coverage. The news presenters are clearly the ones who haven’t got the daytime X factor. Depending on how you look at it there’s a fair amount of political incorrectness going on too. I won’t explain. The news items from a few hours earlier were being regurgitated but there was a bleary-eyed female doctor doing a live Jezza Hunt-bashing interview. I suppose she’s used to nights. There’ll be a lot more inconvenient shifts if the rhyming slanger gets his way. The consultants and other NHS smoothies who are higher up the food chain that junior docs had sensibly chosen to be interviewed during office hours. Clearly distressed that they might have to postpone golf matches or cut back on private work, they have started behaving like Sir Humphrey and agreeing with the minister.

Just as I was going to switch to another Escape to the Country repeat, Newswatch came on. This is Points of View for insomniacs. An attractive presenter who I have only ever seen at 3am on the news channel was refereeing a discussion between two articulate member of the public and some bloke in charge of News coverage during August. The gist was: why after endless hours of self-GB-indulgent Olympics coverage was every news programme full of the same Rio-obsessed agenda? Aleppo on the back burner while Jason Kenny whizzed round a velodrome. Fair points made. The oily Beeb-man refuted until he could refute no more. If only he had managed  “You could have a point there”, we insomniacs would have gone to sleep happy. In a surge of indignation I flicked around the channels and Really or Dave + 1 gave me Escape to the Country, circa 2010. Aled Jones, yes Aled Jones was showing an Indian couple around a million pound property in Devon. It had a swimming pool. Aled, it’s hardly Walking in the Air is it?

I quickly fumbled with the remote. BBC 4. Bound to be something to make me feel better about myself. Ah! Girl Bands at the BBC. I was close to excitement before Belinda Carlisle’s  early punk incarnation in the Go-Gos filled my lounge. I won’t go through the execrable list of shouty, talentless mime-artists that I suffered before Chrissie Hynde and Florence rescued me from suicide. I congratulated myself for sticking it out for half an hour before switching to Rory Bremner rowing with Olympians on the Cherwell. Enough.

My Kindle beckoned. I am near the end of a dispiriting novel. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Her name is one letter away from humour but the book has much further to go. It has a clever idea – a series of short stories which are both linked and discrete. The lives of people in a small town in Maine. Olive Kitteridge features in all and provides the thread. Dispiriting I said, because it’s all about loneliness and the essential tragedy of all our lives. Death is a release from universal unfulfilment. Peyton Place meets East Enders. A tad more subtle than both, Olive Kitteridge was still a bad choice for entertainment in the wee small hours.

Annoyingly I found that I had left two items out of the washing machine, which is now whirring away unhappily, wondering why it has been called into action at this ridiculous hour. And two coffee cups that didn’t make the washing up bowl before I emptied the sudsy water out. Bugger. The annoyance prompts me to think about writing. I have watched a lot of inconsequential claptrap, I have read a depressing morality tale, so what else is there but to write about my wakefulness?

Nicola Adams jumps back into my mind. Why? That smile? That joie de vivre? Silly haircut? Boundless energy? I can’t work it out. I’ll never get to sleep now.

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