Goodnight, all

Tuesday November 14, 2006

I’m pretty good when it comes to sleep. If it’s not time to get up I can generally stay where I am, seek a comfortable position, empty my mind and drift happily along until daylight shows or the alarm rings. These long, long nights are a trial, though, I admit it. When the evening starts somewhere around five o’clock, earlier on a dark and dismal day like this, I run out of steam far too early. Come ten I’m yawning. Come eleven I’m close to dead. If I try to stretch it out till midnight, to watch a decent movie, perhaps, I’m in severe danger of dropping off where I sit.

And yet I can seldom sleep for longer than six hours at a time before bone ache forces me up, to wander the still dark hours before the world wakes. Even the birds don’t get up that early in November.

Somehow, November seems the worst of the winter months for peaceful sleep. It could be that memories of Summer are too fresh. It might be that the winter to come, when the nights will be even longer, is a burden of anticipation that’s hard to bear. It’s certain that the firework nights of late October and early November, when I count the days and wish them away, plays odd tricks with my perception of time for the rest of the month.

Whatever the cause, I shall be pleased to see November fold its gloomy dampened tents and silently steal away. Once it’s gone I shall be able to focus on the big end-of-year feasts and celebrations, sing Christmas carols at intervals, and dance a merry jig on the bones of the worst month of the year.

For now, though, it’s November and I shall have to get through the rest of it as best I can. I pick up my book and read of a lovely, langourous Mediterranean summer night:


The sea striped with moonlight gleamed through the olives. Down by the well the tree-frogs croaked excitedly to each other. Two owls were having a contest in the tree below the veranda. In the grape-vine above our heads the geckos crept along the gnarled branches, eagerly watching the drifts of insects that were drawn, like a tide, by the lamplight.
–Gerald Durrell:  ‘My Family and Other Animals’


“Come on chicken. Get yourself to bed before you yawn your head off. We have a long day tomorrow and an even longer day the day after.”

“Yup. You’re right. Goodnight, all.”

Today’s poem is by way of being an anti-November mini-rant. You’ll have to forgive the slightly strong language, I’m afraid.


Slow days
You can’t always have what you want
and Summer heat seems desirable
now that November’s here. Even Winter
when it comes must be better than this.
A long dreary passage of ill defined days,
none more remarkable than the last,
November’s nights start too early, last
for ever, and its days are far too short.
November’s dreadful, it lasts too bloody long,
its song’s too slow to hear with mortal bloody ear.
John Bailey
Somerset, November 2006



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