GORDON SANITAIRE by Gordon Urquhart (XXII)

Like A Dream

Sleep has always held a somewhat elusive fascination for me. I recall a mate of mine talking about sleep once, saying how much he looked forward to going to bed, and how much he enjoyed the moment when you ease yourself between the sheets. He went on about this at some length. He said it was a positive pleasure to know that sleep was about to creep over you as soon as you closed your eyes, and that it made him feel good to know that the reviving effects would be felt hours later, when he awoke, fresh, and ready to go, with happy memories of the pleasant dreams he had had. We must have been about seven or eight years old when we had this conversation, and if I already thought that Tommy Treloar was a little strange before he told me his sleep ideas then I definitely thought he was decidedly weird, eccentric even, afterwards. I could recall what he had described happening every night to him happening to me just once. Once. It sounded made up.

As an older boy and then a young man I attempted to turn insomnia to my advantage by thinking of it as granting me extra time to do things. It was time to read and study and prepare for my adult life as a lawyer and business figure. And it was extra time to read and study when I’d spent most of the rest of my time out drinking and chasing women from St. Matilda’s College.

I became productive after midnight, and this served me well when presentations needed work and I spent such a lot of time in the air between engagements. It was an advantage to not sleep much. When I knew an opponent had a normal sleeping life I saw it as a weakness, and ruthlessly pressed home my advantage by demanding early morning meetings in various locations around the country[1]. Gaining a seat on the board of Imperial Minerals can be completely attributed to tiring out my opponents, and what fun it all was at the time.

Now, however, it’s not so much fun. Now I’m older. Now I need my sleep, and that should work out just fine, since I rarely travel for work and don’t have to work every day any more. But sleep still won’t come. At 3am most nights I have to slide out from under the plump down feather-filled duvet and leave the thousand thread count Egyptian cotton sheets behind, all cosy, warm and inviting, taking care not to wake Nancy, lying there invitingly in her inviting pink Peter Alexander silk pyjamas. I slide on my Urquhart tartan slippers, monogrammed GU, a present from her, and shuffle quietly away to my study.

When I get there I sink into my shiny green leather chair and wonder what to do next. It’s 3am. There’s nothing to do.

Eventually I go to my bookshelves and take down a volume: something to read until I begin to doze and it’s time to go back to bed. It’s always the same book: It Doesn’t Take a Hero, the autobiography of General Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf. I often fall asleep looking at pictures of the first Gulf War and wake up at my desk with a sore back.


[1] I would also spread vicious rumours about my opponents, or allow them to be spread. This has nothing to do with sleeping, but it is effective.

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Published in: on June 25, 2012 at 8:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

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