Sleepless in SE16.
"Talking in bed ought to be easiest," wrote Philip Larkin. "Yet more and more time passes silently..."
Well, I know something else that's supposed to be easiest in bed: sleeping. (Stop sniggering at the back.) But if you don't get home from work until after well after midnight (sometimes 4am) and your bedfellow starts the day at seven in the morning, you've got problems.
As previously discussed, my dear boyfriend moved into a new flat which only an estate agent would describe as having two double bedrooms. In fact it has one, and a cell. Also, since his housemate, The Gripper, bought two kittens it also smells quite strongly of wee and there is quite a high chance of being gored by a Bengal if you move your toe too quickly. To cap it all, his computer's power supply has burned (possibly after coming into contact with cat wee) so he's pretty much moved into my bedroom.
This has its advantages, of course: shoulder massages on tap and regular deposits of Green & Black's chocolate on the bedside table. But the downside is that I now have a bedtime. And so I lie awake at night listening to his gentle snores, and then hours later he inevitably wakes me up getting ready to work and I'm incredibly mean to him because I'm nasty when I'm semi-conscious.
It seems like such a trivial subject, but I think sleep is the natural function that's most been disturbed by modern life. We spend the day dosing ourselves with caffeine, before crawling into bed for six or so hours of interrupted, restless slumber. Then trying to catch up with missed sleep whenever we get a chance and waking up groggy, knowing we've gone too far.
And living in London just makes things worse: my bedroom actually shakes a little when buses go over the speed bumps outside, and it's never fully dark. I'm sure I read somewhere that sleeping with the light on gives you breast cancer.
So, I've become convinced that none of this can be good for me - but what can I do? Give up a job I love so I can sleep at the same time as everyone else? No. Insist on separate bedrooms? No. Start drinking heavily in the evenings? Er, maybe.
All I want is a good night's sleep. It ought to be easy.