sleeping together

Not me.

I’m told I snore.

Now as a fine lady, I deny this allegation completely and submit that should I emit any nocturnal sound at all, it is a mere gentle purring, not the bear-like grunts I stand accused of (despite the evidence on my husbands bedside table: a pack of bright orange ear plugs).

My poor partner suffers from insomnia rather badly though and is often prowling around the house at 03:28, (Why is it that insomniacs always waken at the same time?) having woken up and not been able to fall back asleep. He is also mosquito averse and will always be the one to be bitten, and I do sometimes get pulled out of my dream where I am meeting Brad Pitt in a Cadbury’s factory, to find my beloved balancing on the bed with a T-shirt in hand as he bounces around trying to swipe at the kamikazi insects, who leave little bloodstained epitaphs on our ceiling as they gasp their final farewell whines.

I confess that I have no such problems and if I do get disturbed, I can easily drift off again after responding to the inner calling of an abdomen that has survived five children pounding on its bladder with their little Irish Dancing womb-booties. But I can empathize with his nightly struggles.

Ironically, it is the Maestro in fact who introduced me to the habit of listening to YouTube as I fall asleep. We used to have QI on and enjoyed both the knowledge and humour of it before dozing off. Now, I just hear that music anytime of the night and I’m Pavlovian asleep again. It no longer helps him though, so being disturbed by my soft snuffling must be really difficult for him.

When I was a newly separated young single parent (before the Maestro had the joy of my gentle murmurs beside him) I played the radio all night as company – it made me feel less afraid. So I am comfortable with voices as a soporific aid. I do not need to be a sheep accountant. He has that kind of brain though that once he is awake, he starts to obsess about the next teaching day’s challenges… and… and… and…

The Maestro is tolerant of my musical mouth-breathing up to a point. I know he has reached the moment of considering a migration to the spare room when he sits up and demands I roll over onto my side, insisting, ‘That’s enough now!’ But I have done several things to make it better, like puffing on Vicks inhalers before bed, sleeping on my side, and even using hideous tasting drops; I don’t smoke or drink. To no avail: I continue to saw logs with the artistry of a seasoned lumberjack. They say one should lose weight as well.

So, I may have to give up chocolates.

But that would be admitting I snore.

As soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul. — A Jewish Proverb

Soap and laughter – that’s how we beat this virus!

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I want to laugh. I want to be amused. I want to be entertained, amused, delighted, distracted and diverted… so I can escape the oppressive weight of lockdown problems.

I have a good book to read – Bill Bryson’s eminently readable Shakespeare, but yesterday I really wanted live actors. Last night  I made a quick circuit of the house to see whether there were any talented comics willing to be my fool, but they’re all just boring in the evenings. Liam’s light was out already; Andrew was running an airport; Caitlin was re-watching Grey’s Anatomy, and Shannon just played possum when I entered her room – I think she tought I was calling her to do dishes! Even the Mad Lab had lost the will to play, listlessly stirring her tail as I passed. I dared not go near the Cat. All just boring, boring.

So I fell asleep to Joan Rivers’ stand up. I mean I was that desperate for comedy that was not about lockdown. The sad thing is that all my usual comedy shows are not really running now. I mean QI has just stopped and Graham Norton without his couch is like Elton John without glitter. Trevor Noah is funny, but all about the US so…lockdown.

What is a girl to do?

“I’ve tidied my cupboards already, given myself a foot spa, re-done my nails, called my sister for all the minutes left on my airtime, and I have even hefted my weight atop my exercise bike, formally known as The Clothes Rack, for some daily cardio. But not even the foot spa evoked the slightest giggle or sigh of contentment.

Why am I so desperate for comedy? Well laughing at humour whether it’s dark and twisted, witty or gutter makes us feel better about the problems of life which it is poking fun at. In a perfect world there’d be no jokes, because we’d have no difficulties to make light of.

But I’m sick of lockdown – nothing’s funny anymore about being stuck in a nice enough house with a bunch of clever people who aren’t bored in the evenings and have no desire to cheer me up.

And then I watched the Education Minister’s address. And as her dulcet voice slipped seamlessly into her mother tongues from English, the auto-subtitles, clearly not South African programmed, ran amok, throwing in any and all most recent words in the global English lexicon in a hilarious potpourri of vocabulary, trying to transcribe her Setswana and isiZulu as English words. This linguistic muddle, while it may have been annoying for those who couldn’t understand the audio, proved a salutary lesson to all those who pooh- pooh folk who are not fluent in English. Now they know how it feels for learners who are second or third language speakers of English. Serious technology  fail though! It may not have been amusing, but irony is comedy too.

A girl’s got to get her laughs where she can.

Tomorrow I am sitting at my window to watch everyone waddle past on their lightened-up-Level-4 exercising excursions between 6 am and rushing to get indoors again by 9 am. That should be worth a gander. (Slapstick is not my comedy of choice, but I’m hoping to identify with the COVID-comfy bodies on display). Personally, I’ll stick to the Clothes Rack Tour – I can earn a yellow jersey in that, even if sunny is not my colour.

Liam is having the last laugh though – he put a mirror in front of my bike. It has given home entertainment a macabre turn.

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Of Trolls and Rolls

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My husband is a clever man. I mean really clever. He has a Master’s degree in Musicology and half a PhD. But for fun he has been known to sit in his Man Cave, playing GTA and cackling to the Red Neck humour of The Cable Guy, having the cheek to tell me he looks like my game ranger cousin. Of course he also loves more edifying humour like QI and laughs at The Trump and Clinton Comedy Show, despite the chilling consequences of the election of either to the presidency of the USA. He relishes the debates of Mehdi Hasan and delights in provoking conservatives. Bigots who don’t enjoy his stirring the pot call him a troll.

Andrew’s Music pupils adore him because he is cool. In fact he has a ‘Cool/Uncool’ Wall in his office. He is on Snapchat and rocks it. He is in with the gamers in the house and up to date on urban slang.

But he has a thing about his age, which is really funny, because besides …um… having an ‘extended crown’… he doesn’t look old. But he keeps on pretending to be younger than he is. And people believe it. If you present the evidence of his passport or ID document, he will tell you there were administrative errors when they were issued. If you plead with his mother to indicate when he was born, she confirms his actual age, but he blandly says you can’t ask her because she has Alzheimer’s (which is true, God bless her). So that is his secret: denial; denial; denial.

In a world where women complain that men don’t have issues about ballooning beer boeps, grey hair or sagging ‘stuff,’ it’s quite refreshing to see that actually they do care/ have insecurities/ feelings/ issues.

As a woman, for example, I have never had to worry that I might go bald (well – until I realised I might – if I keep pulling out the silver strands from my fringe); we can skip over the articles on prostate cancer and console ourselves that in general we outlive our spouses. (Hence my devilishly clever move to cougardom (only just though, hey.) We don’t need knee surgery from our days on the rugby field or feel the need to pretend we’re not aging and make a down payment on a fancy car and keep pulling in our stomachs when the new secretary sashays in (hell, we have girdles and full body stockings to slow down our undulating Sunday lunch excesses. And even Kim wears one – I read it on the internet so it must be true.)

In fact, if anything, women are opting for less hair – some even go all the way to Brazil to ensure that they are smooth (not me of course, but I do know someone who does); our surgeries include popping out the uterus and goodbye monthly worries. And we: Just. Do. Not. Care. We can laugh until our mascara runs; we no longer worry about embarrassing ourselves and in fact have perfected the art of mortifying image-conscious teenagers. We laugh loudly and heartily in restaurants without worrying that our double chins are showing. We have learnt to stand up for ourselves and not buy into society’s nonsense.

Sure I wear make-up to fill in the odd crinkle or cover the sunspots. It is depressing that I’m not thin after starving myself of chocolate for three days, but I am really not too phased.

However we have survived tight skinny jeans before there was stretch denim (and still managed to go on and have babies!); we were raised on Queen and Journey (with Freddie and Steve Perry); we had to actually break up in person, not on Whatsapp or Skype. We grieved with Demi in Ghost and watched American shows dubbed into Afrikaans. We have earned the accolades of the youth.

Besides which, I have an ageless man and we all know what they say about how old you are…

He is not the only clever one.