Five Beds

I took a tour of the United Kingdom over the Christmas period, and was offered no fewer than five different beds to sleep in. Here’s a little about each of them:

Robin’s Bed

The first bed belonged to Robin, (Ruth‘s little brother) at their mother’s house. Robin wasn’t with us for the entire period that Ruth, JTA and I spent visiting Ruth’s mother, so I was able to annex his bed for much of the time.

Robin, his boss, and his boss's dog turned up in a rental van: "The only vehicle they could get hold of at short notice on Christmas Eve."

While at first it appeared to be just a regular single bed, closer investigation revealed that the entire headboard was hinged, with radial bolts to hold it upright during normal use. Opening these bolts allowed the headboard to tilt forward and lie down on the bed. I have no idea what purpose this mechanism was supposed to serve, but it was very useful for getting my hand down the back to plug my mobile phone charger in to the otherwise-inaccessible sockets behind.

Owen’s Folding Mattress

While Robin and his boss were around, though, I was relegated to the living room floor, and given a folding mattress that Owen (Ruth’s older brother) used to keep in his van as a crash-space. Unfolded and then wrapped in a blanket and sheet for comfort, it didn’t look like much except a quick way to consume floor space.

But damned if it wasn’t the most comfortable thing I slept on all week. I’d jarred my back in some awkward way (probably lugging my enormous suitcase and a stack of presents around the country!), and a low, firm mattress on a hard floor turns out to have been exactly what it needed to speed my recovery.

If this kind of futon looks familiar, then like me you probably used to volunteer somewhere that owned one. This one's a single, which is significantly less-awkward to fold and unfold.

My Mother’s Futon

My next overnight stop was in Preston, visiting my family. My mother keeps a futon in her study, a room barely bigger than the bed when fully deployed, which made getting into and out of the room more than a little challenging, but only marginally less-difficult than re-folding it back into a chair every time.

The futon itself was comfortable enough, but the room was extremely nippy. After a particular cold snap one day, I began taking not one but two hot water bottles to bed, and running an electric heater for an hour or so beforehand. I suppose the main problem was the tiny 4.5-tog “summer” duvet I was using, which I’m sure would have delightful if I were in, say, Egypt. Still: I got to rediscover quite how delightfully opulent it is to get into a bed that’s been freshly warmed by a pair of hot water bottles, which was nice (albeit also necessary).

My Dad’s Bed

When he left Preston to go and finish his final few days with Go North East, he offered me the use of his bed, which – given the temperatures on my mother’s futon – I should have taken.

But I didn’t, so this bed is the bed that wasn’t. Five just seemed like a better number than four for the article title. And no, “five beds” isn’t a metaphor for something (which I feel the need to say after some of the feedback I got to my apparently-too-mysterious earlier post, “Marmite“).

The beds might be cold, but this photo shows a few dozen great things about Christmas at my mother's. When drinking, stop before you get as far back as the cooking oil.

Liz & Simon’s Massage Mattress

I saw the New Year in at Liz and Simon‘s house in Macclesfield, where I was given the choice between the couch and a “massage mattress”. Naturally, I opted for the latter – one doesn’t turn down a strange-looking, vibrating sleeping partner without good cause!

Unfortunately, I never got to try it out! After a copious quantity of alcohol and a handful of other substances, my one-day-only roommate Alex collapsed onto the sofa and fell asleep within seconds. Not wanting to wake him, I left the mattress off and just, y’know, slept on it (how old-fashioned). It was still a great night’s rest after a fantastic party, though.

So there we are – a round-up review of my sleeping arrangements. Apparently I’m in a slightly off-the-wall blogging mood so far this year. Because sleeping on-the-wall… would be weird.

A Plague Of Seagulls

This summer, I’ve been tormented by three beasts, who I’ll call Mr. Pecky and Mr. & Mrs. Squawky.

Mr. Pecky is a herring gull. Two or three mornings a week, between about 5:30am and about 6:15am, he’ll land on the flat roof of the utility room, outside my bedroom window, and repeatedly peck at his own reflection. Double-glazing isn’t enough to keep the noise out, particularly as the window is often left ajar at night to prevent me from cooking in Aber’s recent heatwave. I’ve no idea why he does this.

Mr. & Mrs. Squawky are also herring gulls. Two or three mornings a week, between about 6:30am and 7:15am – although almost never the same days as Mr. Pecky – they sit outside my bedroom window and argue in loud, high-pitched, seagull voices.

They go away, eventually, but by then I’m awake earlier than I’d like, so I’ve been trying to find ways to discourage them. My preferred technique thus far has been to keep a Super Soaker by the window and getting up to blast the buggers with a stream of cold water, but this hasn’t worked: firstly, they manage to escape about half the time, before I’ve managed to get them into my sights (and by this point I’m already out of bed, and I’ve never been good at going back to bed once I’m up and moving), and secondly, it doesn’t seem to be acting as a deterrent: Pecky and the Squawkies are back later in the week with more pecking or squawking*.

I’m thinking that I need to construct some kind of mechanism on the roof to limit their landing options. At the very least, a well-positioned clothes horse or two should prevent Mr. Pecky from getting close to the window. Any other suggestions (I’d be tempted to build one of these if it wouldn’t be liable to kill the neighbourhood cats) are welcome, before I go completely mad.

Peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck. Squawk! Squawk! Squawk!

Too late.

* Yes, I’m aware of the possibility that I’m not seeing the same three seagulls each time – and I’ll confess that they all look the same to me – but it’s easier for me to come to terms with the possibility that there are three particular seagulls who hate me and don’t like me to get a lie-in past a quarter past seven than it is for me to accept that maybe all seagulls want me to suffer and are working to some kind of rota: “Seagull number #1036675; you’re up!”

Fucking Car Alarm

Somebody’s parked a car opposite our house and left it there, last night. It keeps on setting off it’s own alarm (a noisy horn-and-siren affair) – about once ever two hours, for about a quarter of an hour during the night. This morning, it’s been consistently going off for the last half hour: it keeps being deactivated, but then coming back on again. Does anybody know how to break in to and deactivate one of these things?

In other news, I bumped into Matt a last week, who some of you may remember as going out with Ceris (the scary) and having lived in Ty Isa with folks like Kit and, briefly, Paul. Anyway, we were catching up, and he revealed that shortly after Kit left (Matt didn’t know that I knew Paul), somebody tipped off Enviromental Services about the state of the house, and they’ve since all evicted by the council. It’s fun to know things.

Mood Swings

[this post has been partially damaged during a server failure on Sunday 11th July 2004, and it has been possible to recover only a part of it]

Fucking hell; this stuff is weird.

For those who might think to the contrary; no, it’s not usual for me to snap at something which wouldn’t usually have bothered me, and march myself out of Aber. Several miles (and two hills) later, came to a halt and wondered what had set me off.

Later, I completely broke down into tears and collapsed into a blubbering mess, for no reason at all.

Last night, I slept for the best part of two hours. Just couldn’t get settled. Which is insane, because after my little marching exercise earlier, I was completely exhausted and could have quite happily just lay on the grass on the banks of the Ystwyth and fallen asleep.

Still got a killer headache and occasional nausea. It’s hard to comprehend that, despite the fact that all I did was eat a tiny (well, actually – quite chunky, but you know what I mean) tablet, two days ago, and I’m still feeling the effects. Weird shit.

Can anybody else out there who’s taken Lariam tell me: does it get better than this? If not, I think I ought to speak to my doctor before I start really …

The Software Engineers Behind My Alarm Clock

[this post was lost during a server failure on Sunday 11th July 2004; it was partially recovered on 21st March 2012]

They must die.

My alarm clock has an interesting featurette. The design is, on the hole, like many similar mains-powered radio alarm clocks. It has a button for “Time Set”, and one for “Alarm Set”, and buttons for “Hour” and “Minute”, respectively. To set the time, you hold down the “Time Set” button – which is deliberately small and well-concealed to make sure you don’t press it by accident – and use the “Hour” and “Minute” buttons. To set the alarm, you hold down the “Alarm Set” button and use the “Hour” and “Minute” buttons.

Anyway; the featurette I mentioned is that if you are setting the alarm, say, and you release the “Alarm Set” button before you release the “Hour” or “Minute” buttons, the clock immediately adds an hour or a minute to it’s time, respectively.

So, when I – tired and using only one hand and the least effort I could manage – set my alarm last night, I didn’t even notice that I’d managed to put forward the time on the clock face by two hours. When my alarm woke me this morning at what I thought was 8:15am (but was actually 6:15am), I was completely exhausted. So I reset the alarm to 8:45 (actually 6:45) and … [the rest of this post is lost]

Helpless – Post Script

Yawny morning.

Got to sleep eventually. Basically, my friend’s problems can’t be solved by anybody but themselves. I’m going to offer to be there, be supportive, and to help them in any way they can, but in the end, what’s troubling them can’t be solved by anybody else. Will try to get a chance to speak to them later today.

For now, however, I have a deadline to wage war with.


I can’t sleep.

For the last week or so, I’ve talked a little every day or two with a really good friend of mine who is, unfortunately, going through some problems at the moment. They’d been quite understating and evasive about talking about them at length until yesterday, when they suddenly revealed to me quite how difficult they’re finding their life, of late.

What scared me more than how bad their situation is is that I honestly don’t know what I can do or say to help them. I’ve tried everything I can think of and it’s beginning to upset me that I don’t know what else to try.

I still can’t sleep.

A Violent Evening In

Spent yesterday evening drinking and playing Cel Damage with Bryn, Kit and Claire. Cel Damage is a stupidly fun game on the Nintendo GameCube in which up to four players drive cartoon cars around a zany landscape attempting to kill one another in bizzare ways, such as chopping with axes, harpooning, tricking into falling down Acme Portable Holes, burning, shredding, chainsawing, flattening, chaingunning… It’s a lot of fun. Like MarioKart, but with an attitude problem.

Stayed up too late and, as a result, woke up late this morning. Will get into the office yet. But first I oughtta dig up some clothes from the heaps I still haven’t unpacked since laundry day.

In other news: Bryn managed to find a place to live in Aber for his industry year, and Paul – another friend, this time a hat-wearing Troma-freak – may also have found somewhere here. Updates to follow.

Cool Thing Of The Day

Cool And Interesting Thing Of The Day To Do At The University Of Wales, Aberystwyth, #51:

Spend all night playing e-mail tennis with somebody cross-campus, simply because it’s 2:40am and you haven’t got anything you’d rather be doing (except sleeping, but I’m not sleepy, soo…).

The ‘cool and interesting things’ were originally published to a location at which my “friends back home” could read them, during the first few months of my time at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, which I started in September 1999. It proved to be particularly popular, and so now it is immortalised through the medium of my weblog.

Cool Thing Of The Day

Cool And Interesting Thing Of The Day To Do At The University Of Wales, Aberystwyth, #46:

Go for two days on minimal sleep (a catnap on the train) and maximum alcohol (the secret joy of the London nightlife)… Well? It’s two of my friends birthdays!

The ‘cool and interesting things’ were originally published to a location at which my “friends back home” could read them, during the first few months of my time at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, which I started in September 1999. It proved to be particularly popular, and so now it is immortalised through the medium of my weblog.

This Cool Thing Of The Day was later featured as an On This Day article that I published in 2010.