Good thick porridge.

Cup of tea.

It’s four in the morning.

Don’t worry.  If I keep my cool, I’ll get through this.  The idea is to slow down to get to a point as close to standstill as is consistent with – living itself.

I mean, generally, at this time, not just over this night.

I have the practicalities – the shopping, the housework – those things you must do to keep on eating – and be able to continue making your way through the mire, to your back doorstep, and your garden – careful does it there – watch your bones.

And – most importantly – so you can make it upstairs to where your computer is – your work station, in effect, where you chip away, chip away, hoping that not too many trains come through.  (I have had nightmares about trains.)

There has been plenty of bright sunshine, showing up old cobwebs.

But – do a bit here, a bit there – piece things together – start at one end, but don’t stay there – as it suits you – as you can – as you must –

Mmm.

‘The Dave Clarke Five’ – ‘bits and pieces . . . bits and pieces’ – how did it go?

And I had the ‘pieces’ thing.

And the ‘bit’ thing.

I must have been thirteen when that came out – some age like that – my Maths isn’t so good – I was born in 1951.  Maybe I was fourteen.

Mam used to say ‘fourteen’ was a funny age.  I don’t know about that, myself, and I knew I was a kid, and yet I loved Dave Clarke.

Having thought of this, and put this together, in my mind, with other ‘bits and pieces’ discourses that I’ve been telling myself – it does matter –

It is another brick in that brick wall my therapist said I’d build.

No, no – I’ve got that wrong.  She said I would knock one down.

I’m pretty much not sure what to write next, so disrupted do I feel.

The insomnia, yes – but that was a three-pronged point of culmination.  I had a cold.  It was a worse cold than I’d had for some time.  Colds were doing the rounds.  It was a knock-out one where I’d go for a ‘little lie-down’ and – bang – I’d be away, sleeping for hours.  And then again – I’d go and lie down and – bang –

My lack of consciousness over this was weird – I didn’t seem to learn from past – recent – experience.  It was as though the cold itself took over – if I’d been out in the street I’d have dropped down –

No.  I exaggerate.

But it was a strong cold.

And I couldn’t eat!

I ‘made myself’ eat, but the spoonful of cauliflower cheese in the middle of a vast plate – it looked alien, as though it could never belong to me, never become a part of me.

Oh – all this only lasted in its ferocity for a few days – but it did put me out – and then there was a long recovery of a few weeks where a sore breathing tube extended its distress to my chest from which . . .

Sorry.  (Got to apologise.)  You probably feel sick with all this detail.

Maybe that was why, with all that sleeping over two or three days – yes, that, I see, saved to the other extreme – insomnia, full blown, for three nights running –

I’m making this up as I go along but I think it sounds plausible – maybe that was it.

I’m in the process of filling in my old pond in the garden.

There is a lack of soil but the two pot-ponds are almost in, and I have discovered, at the other end, a lined sunken bit that was going to be, I remember now, my bog garden.

That didn’t exactly work out all those years ago – which reminds me – I did have a candleabra-whatsit-whatsit there – looks like I’ve lost it.

You can’t harbour them all.

Anyway – there was compacted soil in that dread spot, which I have dug out, and put in some of the old-pond space.

I have many and varied pebbles from a (nearby) sands, which should not have been taken, but there was the cat then, and the fish in the water, and something of a barrier had to be made between the two – but I am getting into my history too much – that is already written – somewhere.  I need large coffers – no, that’s not quite it – chests – to keep my writing pages in – yes – I have it all on paper as well as on USB sticks and on the computer-proper – no, it’s a desktop –

 

Insomnia.  There is medication that I take for it (herbal) over there in that drawer.

I was going to say that I’m not going to take it, but I just have.  I’m sick of medicating myself, but that seems preferable to seeking anything stronger – oh, I am being so – ordinarily – sensible? – even thinking of that – look, words fail me because I am so tired.

No.  I’ve been through the whole gamut of sleeping tablets from the doctor – they give you those – ‘just-to-make-you-drowsy’ (they say it in a ‘comforting’ voice – there, there – you’ll be all better again soon . . .)

But this has been years that – I can’t think straight – I am so tired –

Doctors haven’t done so well with me with the sleeping-thing – and I prefer to find what I can elsewhere now – bricolage – an art of – what was it? – things found – herbal tablets found, as it were – in a health shop – in that – there’s a sense that – there is no guarantee with them, you see – there is something of a guarantee with the doctor-medication – it is officially endorsed – except that is worthless, that guarantee, as guarantees often are – with me, in this case – I don’t want to give my entire medical history, but I had that exquisite sense of misery – was it yesterday?

Which I batted aside – I can’t afford to let that linger.

I’m supposed to be looking after myself here – don’t you worry; I can do it – just need to empty anxieties on to this page.

But it changes everything, insomnia, you know.  This may be the third night running I have been awake – and if I wake enough to go downstairs and get the cup of tea (already done that), then it’s a couple of hours up.

Hello, birdies!  Yes.  Dawn chorus now – oh the wonders of nature – I’m too hot – window is open, but the birds sing so nicely just outside it.

Yes.  You don’t function the same if you have insomnia.  You can be going along in a certain direction.  Insomnia changes it.

I haven’t been troubled by it for ages – assurances now – I’m okay – I am – but you get that panicky feeling if you think you’re going to become stuck with this insomnia-thing again.

No.  I don’t want to tell you everything about it – I want some shreds of privacy.

There’s nothing else for it.  I’m aching – yes, I get the proverbial aches and pains.

Painkillers.  Whatever will knock me out.  Must sleep.

That’s another thing – I don’t give the whys and wherefores.  This is off the top of my head.

I have the feeling that it applies (not giving the whys and wherefores) to instances of my past, and that it has become, at least in relatively recent years (say the last twenty or so, particularly) something I can’t help doing, so keen have I become to express that past.

Recently (over the past couple of weeks, say – it is surprising how this ‘recent’ can expand and contract), I have developed a desire to show by example.  But I do believe I have been doing that all along, as my position of default.  I can try other ways, but they fall flat.

 

Another thing – all that wittering on I’ve done (I’ve been looking at ‘October 2014’) about not ‘fitting in’ to – preconceived boxes, basically.

It always comes about through my writing, this – and, at the time, I think there must be something wrong with me.

You have to fit with certain criteria or you don’t get on in the world (or in work).

But my writing is a special case.  No, I can’t fit it into what tutors on courses (some courses – most courses) would have me fit into.

They have no idea what they are asking of me.

They have not one clue.

 

But you see, I didn’t conform, Dad.

“You’ll conform,” Dad said.

But I didn’t conform.

 

. . . at least one frog – I have to cater for it as I can.

And so the pot-ponds are going to have to be buried, not put on top of the ground with water-plants in them, as I have envisaged.

And I’m considering getting another shed the same size as the one I’ve been stuck with (it is collapsing).  For absolute years I have been wanting a smaller shed, but I won’t be able to get everything in a smaller shed.

And the garden is as it is.

There is still nowhere to sit in the garden – I need to work in a bench somewhere . . .

 

I’m very suspicious.

If anyone had said I was very suspicious, I would have thought that was ridiculous.

And it probably would have been.  I think I have got more and more suspicious as I’ve got older.

I particularly don’t trust systems, and therefore people who go by them – work in them.

I can’t say, you see, that health-systems are not reliable – but I have come a cropper on more than one occasion with them.

But I gave that merely as an example.

 

Up in the night – ten past one – tea brewing – this is not unusual.  No, I have no idea how I’ll get up in the morning – yes, the times matter – bin day tomorrow – the bin-persons (mostly men) will arrive early, clattering bins about – not recycling day tomorrow – oh, first green bin day and I didn’t put it out and it is full – you never know – I might be awake in time to – put it out now?  Bit late, isn’t it?  No one minds you being out there in your dressing gown and night-gear – ever since there was an out-and-out fashion for it – oh, some years ago now – but people took their kids to school still in their pyjamas – not the kids, the mothers – shows what a state fashion was in when your inner-wear is more exciting than your outer – no, I’m not talking about sex and low-slung bodices – though there will have been some of those, I bet – I’m talking about good, thick (ish) sturdy pyjamas and fluffy, often hooded, jackets (as it were) on top – dressing gowns.

Silly sausage of a fashion if you ask me.

Anyway, I wouldn’t be stared at by – night-prowlers – if I went out there – they’d be used to it – a fashion like that – shame to miss the first green bin day of the year – mine is full of prunings – but my neighbour has her huge hunk of her car in our driveway now – and would I get it down that small space she has left for me this time?  She does try, but – big car – narrow driveway built for when cars were so – narrow – you’d be able to fit two cars up there in the old days – hers and mine – honest – there used to be a garage at the end of each side, a fence of sorts in the middle to separate the two properties – but we share the driveway now, and it is written in legal jargon, and at least you can get one car up there these days – and I don’t mind – and she wants to put my bins out week by week as a thank you to me – for not minding her taking over the drive with her car –

But I would rather take care of my own bins, thank you very much, and then I know what I’m doing.

I’m talking about diddy British cars here – they are bigger these days, but in the old days, they were plenty small.  If this was the US, I imagine, cars of that age – huge winged things that you (we) used to see in films – would continually be scraped up against both sides of our driveway – wave, we can, to each other from our opposite kitchen windows – haven’t bothered trying to get a blind up there – she has one, and she pulls it shut – more often than not – otherwise we’d neither of us get our dinners made for practising our semaphore.

Ah!  Tea!  (Gulp.)

I had another neighbour once, who used to live over the road (along just a bit) – and he couldn’t sleep, either – he’d go for midnight rambles – not in his pyjamas, so far as I know – I’d never see him – but I’d see him the next day, perhaps, bundling up or down the road – “You can see straight in your kitchen on a night when the light’s on!”

“So?”

I couldn’t be worrying about it.  I caused some curtain-tracks to be put up, once, (asked someone), but that was as far as I got – well, I was pushed into getting curtain material, but I never really wanted it and so I never made it up – I’m going back years to when people used to make their own curtains, or cause them (ask someone) to be made.

But I’m getting off my beaten track here, though I often write in this way, jotting along to find out where I am, and therefore find somewhere I can start.

It’s the nuts and bolts I have always been interested in – of myself, and of the writing . . .

 

Sorry, this is as much as I can give of this – I did go to the front door, in my night-attire, my feet slipped into size 9 crocs (it’s the next day) – and I’d already put out one bin – the ordinary one – and –

I was stunned.  It was gone.

She has taken my bin back in! I thought.  (She is so keen not to have them put out until early on bin-day itself – well, what would you do?  Sometimes they get here 7 a.m.!  What sort of a council is that, that begins earlier than a builder would begin?)

I don’t always sleep.  I am not always up that early . . .

But something must have happened.

I feel as though this isn’t a very interesting story – but I am trying to get on with this (new) neighbour of mine, and I think I had just better let her put my bins out for me – as she wants to do – if she is compelled to take it back in once I’ve put it out, it must be important to her – she gets up 6 a.m. every morning, to go to the gym.

Oh, time to give a bit – try not to get anxious as to what might be happening to my bin when I’m not in charge of it.

This is important – to me, it is.

And so I’ll put it here, regardless, this account – there may come a time when I can see what all this is really about.

There was a time when I felt compelled to keep an eye on what I read from a point of view of what might be socially desirable.

There – that’s a mouthful.

There was the possibility, at one time, that I might have an academic career, and I think I thought I had better read what would be considered ‘interesting’.

I got good marks for my essays.  I had got to a point where I thought I had to leave the course, or throw everything I had at it – embrace what was there on the table for the picking-up, if I dared.

The table, by that time, had lost its fourth leg.

Over the space of a year and a half-term, everything I had held dear had been knocked out from under me.

I decided to take hold of the broken table, never mind what might have been on it.

I wrote my essays using popular fiction techniques.

And started reading more literary-style fiction.

These days, I don’t keep on my shelves anything that I don’t like, or think I won’t read again.

It is the writer who makes the text, although that writer cannot be found there.

 

If you ate crystals, wouldn’t they cut your insides – as powdered glass that murderers sometimes use?

Would it be necessary to get God’s blessing before partaking of it?

 

 

 

I got off the bus at the stop that isn’t usual for me – except that it could become so (I was on my way to the library), and what I heard – ‘Amazing Grace’, tin-whistle style.

My glasses are not very good (I must get my eyes tested when I have time) but I could see him when I looked behind me.  He was sitting the other side of one of those stand-up signs that you find outside shops.

Out of the wind.  He was out of the wind.  The wind was ferocious.  (The sign must have been planted deep – or anchored with weight – or he must have been anchoring it in some way, stopping it, at least, from swinging in that wind.)

I was sure it was him.

I suspect he knows only that one tune.

If you, dear reader, expect a continuation (now that he has been mentioned twice) of the appearance of this guy into this plot – forget it.  That doesn’t necessarily happen – not in real life.

I didn’t approach him.  I left him behind.

I turned my face into the wind.

It blew even more strongly – honestly, I was nearly blown off my feet – but I managed to pull myself (with superhuman effort) into a bus stop, one of those with perspex-wraparound, and held on there until I thought the worst of that blast was done.

But I was gauging the distance to the main road ahead, and the lights there – would I be safe to cross?

I trusted my own judgement, got to the lights (almost blown off-course), got over the crossing, and into a widely-paved area that had a park on one side, and a law court on the other.

 

When I was in my cave, before, and there were wild animals outside that I wanted to avoid, and skins at the back where I retreated (wanting to wrap myself in those, probably, wanting to keep warm) – does this mean that I’d already killed, and skinned, some wild animals that roamed out there?

Do I fish in the rivers?