My bedtime continues for almost half a day, but takes place at night, it’s a long time from 9pm until just before 7am. It begins with a reading period, perhaps half an hour, enough for tired eyes. Then snuggling down, aching hands and knees on two hot water bottles. We sleep in separate beds, Marlene and I, in different rooms. We spend much of our time together and some of this is close together. But I need to be still before sleep can overtake me and Marlene needs to wriggle. When we did sleep in the same bed Marlene made the effort to stay immobile until I fell asleep. But I could not, kept awake by the tension in her determination not to disturb me. So we have given up on sleeping together (I haven’t forgotten the days when the desire to do this preoccupied me above all else) and we enjoy the luxury of stretching and turning and snoring and farting as and when we want to.
Sometimes the village clock strikes an apparently random number of times, especially on the half hour. There are long periods when it does not chime at all – waiting for repairs or adjustment – bamboozling the night. But most often the bell tolls, the sound muffled by window blinds and curtains, breaking the almost complete silence to mark the passage of the hours.
I am approaching that time when rest will be boundless, and so it seems aberrant to spend anytime asleep in bed (or waste the day when awake), yet it is the ruinous tiredness that drives me into the horizontal comfort zone. Half a day of normal activity is enough to make an early bed welcome. I enjoy the protection and privacy of a safe bed, a haven that relaxes mind and body. A place where no physical effort is required of me, to be at rest for a while – a rehearsal for the Great Adventure to be sure.