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Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life
I emerge from a dream where an animal with more than a passing resemblance to a tyrannosaurus rex has been biting my head off.
Happily for me, he didn’t have any teeth, an unfortunate evolutionary development on his part, so the attempted decapitation has been pretty unsuccessful, if rather uncomfortable for me.
I lie with my eyes still closed, and wonder why just a few seconds ago it didn’t occur to me that if a prehistoric creature appears out of nowhere and tries to wrap its jaws around your head, you’re probably dreaming. But instead I stood there like it was the most natural thing in the world, without so much as a wave of indignation, let alone a feeling of abject terror or a sense of the ridiculous.
I lie there with my eyes closed. If I can avoid waking up any more brain cells I can hang around in this unworldly state a little longer. The place where there is no time, no timetable, no list of things to do, but even as I’m thinking about not thinking, I realise that today is Saturday, and my list of jobs for the weekend starts to line up in front of me.
Taking stuff to the charity shop, paying the car tax, writing a letter of complaint, throwing out all tights with more than three holes in, going to the supermarket, shredding old bills, shaving my legs, ironing shirts. I still don’t open my eyes. Well, after all, why would I? There’s not a single item on that list – apart from maybe writing the angry letter – that looks worth getting out of bed for. No, life is far more comfortable viewed from under the duvet. I drift in and out of sleep a bit. The dinosaur has disappeared completely. Probably starved to death. There’s a brief cameo appearance by my mother, who is knitting the longest scarf in the world, and wonders if I’d like it? She makes as if I wrap it round me, and I move my head to help her, and a pain shoots across my shoulder and up my neck as if I’ve been hit with a cane.
I wake up, and the pain is still there, and I can’t move my head because when I try it feels as if it’s being ripped off. My husband is lying next to me, fast asleep. We have an unspoken rule that there’s no waking each other up on weekend mornings. Not unless there’s an absolute emergency. Weekends are for waking naturally, when you’ve had all the sleep your body needs.
Bearing this in mind, I give him a good shake. He emerges sharply from his own personal dream landscape, and moves into fully conscious vociferous complaint mode with admirable speed. I stop him in his tracks with an impressive howl.
I can’t move, I wail. My neck is killing me. My shoulder blade is in agony. Then I go quiet, which will disturb him. While I’m being noisy, I’m generally okay. When I’m silent, I’m almost certainly not very well.
He slips out of bed and begins a forensic search of the room for ibuprofen, but fails to locate any. A further search for a hot water bottle renders similarly negative results. Even a trek to the freezer for ice affords nothing better than an almost empty bag of chicken nuggets and some curly fries. I press the processed potato to my upper back in silence. The silence isn’t a nice empty one, but is loaded. Within half an hour I’ve unloaded it a bit, to reveal the list of jobs that someone has to get through this weekend. And it isn’t going to be me.
By Saturday evening he has been to Sainsbury’s, saved us seven pounds by spending 120, ironed ten shirts and is sitting with a glass of wine at the end of the bed. I look up from my book and hold out my glass for some more wine.
So you can move your arm now, he says with a trace of hope in his voice.
(I can really recommend curly fries for a bad back, by the way. Just between you and me. I’ve had the most restful Saturday in a long time.) Only so far, I say, flexing my fingers a little.
Now, would you rather get out the shredder or take a little dictation?