I reach for my phone and it says 3am. Fuck. These are wretched hours when dangerous thoughts snuggle up to you under the duvet. I try to sleep but after fifteen minutes I give up. I reach for my phone again and read Twitter. Then my iPad and scroll through the reader. I switch on the reading lamp and pick up Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta. When I finish, I scroll through the reader again. Sign Avaaz’s latest campaign. And go back to Twitter. And tweet about Britain’s NHS, Eastwood’s new film, American Sniper, which I found deeply lacking in nuance, and retweet something from Guardian’s Owen Jones and a quote from Bukowski.
It’s still only 4am and I’m not expected in the waking world for another two hours. Then I think it’s just two hours why don’t I get up. But I’m tired and sleepy and the rest of the day will be fucked without sleep. So I shut off the lamp and try again. The thoughts crawl back into bed with me, lay on the crook of my shoulder, nudge my chin determined not to be ignored; you know those thoughts, the ones that tell you you’re either running out of time, money or relevance. Bastards. I practice mindful breathing, which usually helps, but the thoughts are heavy as a corpse and refuse to budge.
Finally I get up and scramble a post, which just as I am about to hit Publish I realise is completely incomprehensible. So I do what I always do. I delete. Then I edit, I cut, I delete published posts which no longer make sense. At some point I may very well end up deleting this blog. After all the heavy lifting I start feeling drowsy. It is almost time to get up. I am knackered so I shoot off an email to cancel my 8am appointment. I say I am sick. And I slide back under the covers, my body heavy with regret, but the thoughts have evaporated. They’re usually after a bit of skin– sometimes I picture them as Desire and Despair in Gaiman’s graphic novels– and they’re satisfied now having watched me go through my blog with a scalpel. At least it’s just my words this time. Just my words. And words are cheap.
Jellyfish hours, I call these nocturnal trysts because they sting, not enough to kill you, but enough to hurt, to keep you awake, enough to cause some damage.