Seb’s In The City

I grew up a country lad. Nothing was more exciting than school holiday time when I was put on a train and sent to stay with my Nanna in the city for a couple of weeks. I’d have my View Master, a new ‘Hardy Boys′ book and a box of Ripe Raspberries to keep me occupied during the three hour journey and the train hosties would have been given $20 by my Mum to keep an eye on me.

Once a rib-crushing hug had been received as Nanna collected me from East Perth train station, we’d catch a taxi back to her house for a big glass of dry ginger ale and without fail there was always a new meticulously wrapped Star Wars figure on the coffee table.

My Grandmother had the magical ability that all Grandparents have – in that she always knew which toys I already owned – so there were never any double ups, just the pure excitement of unwrapping a Stormtrooper or Greedo or Lando Calrissian and the joy of having a whole fortnight in the city ahead of me.

Nanna’s house was on a property close to the city centre and was directly opposite the Perth Catholic Cathedral. Next to her house was the Catholic priest’s living quarters, where she worked full time managing the housekeeping and kitchen. When I got to visit there, all the staff were excited to see me and would spoil me rotten.

My favourite priest was Father O’Donnell, an Irishman as his name would suggest. He’d pop in to say hello whenever he heard I was about. He would walk in and pretend to go to shake my hand, then stop dead in his tracks and exclaim he could see so much dirt behind my ears I was about to sprout potatoes.

He and Nanna would then grab my arms and legs and pretend to to be about to throw me in the huge stainless steel sink with the dishes, yelling to one of the kitchen staff to grab the special ‘grubby kid’ detergent. They did this every visit until I was too big for them to pick me up. Or perhaps I just got better at behind-the-ear-hygiene. I doubt this was the case though.

Father O’Donnell also measured my height every year by making a mark against the door frame between the kitchen and the main dining room. This was one of my favourite things, having my name and height written in such an important building in the city made me feel very proud.

While Nanna worked I spent most of the day glued to the TV.  Being that we only had one channel in the country town I lived in, the sudden chance to watch Wacky Races, Captain Caveman and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters was so exciting. I’m pretty sure I came close to developing an actual case of the often-threatened ‘square eyes’, an affliction made up by parents to deter their offspring from spending too much time in front of the idiot box.

There would be Cartoons on every morning from 6am and I remember sneaking out of bed to sit in front of the TV in my pyjamas at 5.30 am, eyes glued to the test pattern, willing time to hurry up and present me with some Scooby-Doo or Pink Panther.

After a couple of hours I’d have a bowl of cornflakes that I was allowed to eat in the lounge room. Then the TV would be switched off and I’d have a break to play with my Star Wars toys, or even better dress up and create my own adventures as Han Solo or with some surprising support from my Grandmother, Princess Leia.

One day Nanna watched me change out of the gumboots, pants and white turtleneck with black waistcoat that formed the Han Solo outfit that Mum had made at home.

Being a creative young man I then proceeded to pull one of the white linen sheets off my bed and fashioned it into a somewhat clumsy replica of Princess Leia’s white dress from the original Star Wars and ran outside to tell a metal rubbish bin to take my message to Obi-Wan.  Then flat out refuse to tell a large potted ficus tree where the Rebel base was.

A couple of days later she presented me with a home-sewn Leia costume complete with a black fabric belt with a little holder for my gun (a wooden spoon that we coloured black with a marker). We then used pantyhose to make her famous ‘star puffs’ hairdo by making a spiral pattern with the legs and holding them in place with tape.

Nanna for the win.

Frequently during my stays there would be a ‘special occasion’ lunch at the priest’s quarters in the elegant formal dining room when the Perth Archbishop or an overseas guest would visit.

It still makes me laugh to think with all those Church officials sitting there, that during the soup course a seven year old boy in a white dress with a pair of pantyhose on his head would run past the windows holding a wooden spoon, dragging a metal bin and screaming “Run, Chewie!!”.

Then Father O’Donnell would say “Oh that’s just Kath’s grandson. Lovely lad. More butter, your Grace?”.

What I Did On My Holigays

How I spent my holidays. Well, the first day of them, anyway.

– Slept a ridiculous amount.

– Started a one hour walk around the river, thought better of it five minutes in and went to buy a chocolate bar from the shop instead.

– Made good on a promise to myself to allot some time each day for reading. Decided that ‘Confessions of a Sociopath’ by M.E. Thomas is a boring load of wanky twaddle and abandoned it 125 pages in. That’s really saying something seeing as I’ve read the Twilight saga. Twice.

– Watched a German film called Free Fall on Netflix this morning und schpent der rescht uf mein day talkink to meinself viz a German accent.

– Dusted one of the 700 wooden blinds that this three storey retirement village for dust particles house has on its doors and windows. It took me 30 freaking minutes because it appears the previous tenants last dusted them never fucking ever years ago and somehow sprayed every window with a thoughtful spritz of cooking oil.

– Spent two hours this morning editing together a 90’s club mix. Listened back to it this afternoon, cringed so hard I burst a blood vessel in my eye and promptly deleted it.

Achieving. I’m… kinda doing it.

Can’t Eat? Repeat.

It’s 7.30 am and I’m on day one of my Optifast pre-surgery hellish demonic torture diet. I thought it might be useful to share some of the things I’ve discovered that help pass the time when you can’t eat in the manner you’ve grown accustomed to.

1. Cry.

2. Be horrifically short tempered with your co-workers. Now they’re crying too. You’re all in this together.

3. Drink gigalitres of water. Sprinting to the toilet every four minutes counts toward your cardio quota.

4. Walk past the fresh fruit bowl at work and marvel at the overwhelming urge to unhinge your jaw and eat 26 oranges, 9 bananas and a slightly suspect looking kiwi fruit in one go. Then realise that you apparently do know the names of some fruits and call your mother to tell her she was wrong.

5. Browse your favourite cooking blogs. Sigh deeply. Find an appetising picture and lick the screen. This also doubles as a nice way to get all that pesky dust off your monitor. (Dust is low in carbs)

6. Stand near the exhaust vents of the KFC across the road. Inhale deeply. Cry.

7. On the way home from work stop in at your favourite Chinese takeaway. Wait at the counter. When it’s your turn, step forward and say ‘Nothing, thanks’. Run out of store crying with arms flailing.

8. Set up a slow cooker. Fill it with water and set it to slow cook over 8 hours. Tomorrow you’ll have a delicious meal of warm water to wake up to. This is your life now.

9. Spend time researching interesting topics on the internet, like ‘Why do meal replacement shakes taste like devil farts?’ for example.

10. Look into becoming a bank robber. Food banks only.

A Day In The Life

5:20 am – Alarm goes off. Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen. Pour myself a cup of ambition, yawn and stretch and try to come to life. (Just kidding. Alarm goes off, open one eye, swear under my breath, hit snooze)

5:30 am – As above.

5:40 am – You guessed it. Snoozy snoozerson.

5:53 am – Bolt out of bed in a blind panic, fling self in direction of shower.

6:00 am – Toothbrush engaged! Minty freshness achieved!

6:10 am – Make bed. Hospital corners and all. Get a bit obsessive with the sheet smoothing/pillow arranging. Try to talk self out of it but I’m ignoring me today, apparently.

6:20 am – Take blood sugar levels and adjust with insulin injection. Take meds with giant glass of water. Get dressed for work.

6:30 am – In car.  Yawn so hard that water fills my eyes and runs down my cheeks. Decide this is an awesome time to engage early morning Perth traffic.

6:32 am – In traffic. Begin to regret giant glass of water at 6:20 am. Bladder is really, really mad at me. Decide my drag name would be Anita Peenow.

6:47 am – Park in seekrit location. It’s a few minutes walk to work and it’s free. I will never tell you where it is so don’t ask.

6:49 am – Very narrowly avoid slipping on actual banana peel that actual person dropped on actual road no doubt expecting actual comedy hijinks.

6:50 am – Nearly mowed down by angry cyclist as I wasn’t really looking where I was walking as I typed the above sentence into my phone.

6:53 am – Arrive at work. Coffeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

coffee

7:00am – Caffeine begins to work. Start feeling alive. Consider being friendly to co-worker. Decide to give it another 20 minutes just to be safe.

7:01am – Checking my emails. Nothing too serious in the old inbox. Nice.  Celebrate by selecting new wallpaper.

7:31am – Start work.

8:01 am – Working

8:12 am – More working.

9:25 am – A manager walks by, showing some new staff around our floor. He points at me and tells them I’m a hub of knowledge and can help with most anything.  Quickly close the Bananarama fan page website I was looking at and try to look wise yet approachable. End up looking like I have gas. The newbies scurry away quickly.

10:00 am – Morning break. Fifteen minutes of freedom. Cram packet of crisps in gob. Follow it with giant glass of water so that they drown before they reach my stomach and can do no harm. Get excited because I’m so smart. Pretty sure abs will appear any day now.

10:15 am – More working.

10:57 am – Even more working.

11:30 am – Start lunch discussion with best pal via email. It has been decided that I shall purchase sushi and that he will probably have the ham and cheese roll he brought in for lunch because he likes ham and cheese rolls and he went to the effort of making it and bringing it in so may as well etc etc.

11:55 am – Check blood sugars, take insulin.

12:00 pm – LUNCHTIME! Sprint to local Japanese Takeaway (Nippon Fare) and obtain delicious sushi.

12:06 pm – Sitting in lunchroom taking obligatory food photo for uploading to Instagram. Get sprung by one of the engineers who ribs me mercilessly for doing so. Make mental note to break whatever he’s in charge of maintaining when I return to my desk.

Sorry that it isn't filtered a la Instagram

12:07 pm – 12:28pm – Lunch with best pal.

12:30 pm – Back at desk. Today has more work than lunch, which doesn’t seem right.

01:30 pm – I started the day with 35 emails in my inbox. Answered 30. There are now 38. Help.

01:45 pm – New co-worker walks past, he is heavily tattooed, with glasses and a shaved head. He smiles at me.

01:46 pm – Google ‘gay wedding planners’. Decide on an October ceremony. Hopefully I find out his name before then, vows could be awkward.

02:20 pm – Afternoon break. Go into staff room – something smells really bad. I vividly describe what combination of events could cause such an odour. Turn to see co-worker looking revolted as he puts his delicious sandwich down and pushes it away. Apologise as he dry-heaves.

02:52 pm – Best pal emails me asking if I’ve had any experience with “Google Analtics”. Am slightly intrigued but decide not to Google this with safe search off.  Turns out he meant Google Analytics but you can’t be too careful these days.

03:11 pm – Tattoo man hasn’t walked past again. Or called. Or proposed. Am devastated.

03:40 pm – More working.

03:50 pm – Computer crashes three times.  Maybe I should have looked up Google Analtics after all?

04:00 pm – Home Time!

04:24 pm – In car, 80′s soundtrack loaded for the drive home. Arrive home 30 minutes later. Bring in bins for all three apartments because I’m nice like that.

04:40 pm – Sit in front of computer, just for something different. Listen to some music. Song reminds me of an ex. Haven’t seen him since messy breakup in ’96. Decide to Google ex. Find a video of ex giving a lecture at Sydney University. Watch video against better judgement.

04:45 pm – Shouldn’t have watched video. Eat feelings. Delicious, delicious feelings.

05:48 pm – Am hungry again already. Waiting for Coles home delivery. Vow not to eat anything until I have groceries and I can make something healthy. Three seconds later am eating peanut butter out of a jar with a tablespoon.

06:10 pm – Coles delivery arrives! Much happiness! Freak out delivery guy by saying ‘thank you’ with too much enthusiasm too many times in a row. After he leaves I find out I have peanut butter hanging off my chin. I’m so classy.

06:31 pm – Cooking salmon for the first time. Am rather good at it for someone who once accidentally made a ham and asparagus spongecake. Trying to eat better food to help with depression and overall life-livingness so am also having asparagus.

Victory is mine! Muahahahah!

06:35 pm – Check blood sugars, inject insulin.

06:42 pm – Deliciousness abounds. I’m like that chef bloke off the telly that swears at people. Without the chef or telly part though.

Dinner is served!

06:48 pm – Find self thinking that Cameron Daddo looks well rough in this ad until I discover it’s not actually him.

notcamerondaddo

07:00 pm – Tempt fate by cooking chicken breast for lunch tomorrow. Begin to wonder if I’ve stumbled in to alternate universe when nothing burns, bursts into flames or turns into a spongecake.

07:20 pm – Cleaning the kitchen. Washing the dishes. Will this devil-may-care existence ever end?

07:38 pm – Pyjamas on, collapsed on couch. Doctor Who time – ‘Cold War’

07:55 pm – SQUEEEEEEEEEE!

08:09 pm – OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG

08:17 pm – Meh.

08:20 pm – Ooookay then.

08:26 pm – Not bad in the end. See preview for next episode. It looks scary and awesome. Bounce up and down on couch excitedly until it makes odd “SPUNNNGGGG” noise.

08:40 pm – Time to write out this blog!

10:00 pm – Done!

10:30 pm – Check blood sugars, inject insulin (basal dose for overnight maintenance), take night meds.

*thud*

*snore*

 

Dastardly Disco

I hate fancy dress parties. HATE.

I was once beaten up by a pretty spot on Prince and and very unconvincing Bob Marley at a ‘Pop Stars’ fancy dress school disco. I ended up being rescued by Madonna and 2/3 of Bananarama when they went and got Bruce Springsteen, who was moonlighting as a P.E. teacher.

Years later I repeated this fact when doing a radio interview with Sarah Dallin from Bananarama.

Sarah: “Did they look much like us?”

Me: “Sort of. One of them was really overweight and had one leg two inches shorter than the other.”

Sarah: “Ah, so she was Siobhan..”

(Siobhan had famously left the group in 1988 after rumours of fights with Sarah and Keren, the other two members)

I’ll be laughing at that forever…

 

Week 9 – Coffee

Week Nine

“coffee”

I worked in one of the first coffee houses in Mount Lawley in the early to mid 90′s. It was one of those dark wood, marble and brass styled cafes with counter service only that would soon be popping up everywhere toward the end of the decade.

The shifts were impossibly long and everything I owned reeked of coffee grinds including my house and car. I was also expected to work a 65 hour week for a $330 salary after tax.  Despite this I pretty much loved every second of it because of the fast pace and the brilliant people who worked there.

Having never gone through the official training to become a certified barista I don’t feel qualified to wax lyrical about the beauty of the Kenyan versus the Guatemalan roasted bean or write a four thousand word essay extolling the virtues of letting the first dark stream of coffee turn golden before placing the cup under the filter basket. Instead, let me tell you about the best damn cup of coffee I ever made.

Not Hot Enough

There were 20 staff in our coffee house and there wasn’t one of us who didn’t sigh when we saw this woman walk in.

The correct temperature to heat milk to for the coffee has been the source of furious debate in Western Australia for decades. In the nineties we didn’t use the temperature gauge you sometimes see your barista placing in the milk (we also wore onions on our belts) instead we went on sound, touch and feel of the metal jug.

It was important to pay attention or you risked one of the two deadly coffee sins – giving the customer lukewarm or burnt milk. Having been trained by a qualified barista who had just returned from a summer making coffee in Europe, our staff were known to make some of the best coffee in the area and we constantly received praise from our clientele.

With the notable exception of one person who, astonishingly, visited daily.

Not Hot Enough was American, loud, rude and had no concept of queuing. She would walk to the front of the line and interrupt any transaction that was in progress. If you asked her to wait she’d phone the owner that afternoon to complain about your rudeness.

“Flat white, HOT – if you could possibly manage it this time.”

Then she’d throw – never hand it to you or place – the exact change on the counter and proceed to stare at the person making the coffee with her arms folded. You’d start the coffee pour and then lift the jug of fresh milk to the steam wand.

“Hurry up. The coffee will be cold before you heat the milk.”

We’d heat the milk to boiling, past the point any other customer would deem acceptable (this action would make our trainer’s head explode) while simultaneously risking the skin on our hand as the milk began to bubble up and over the rim of the metal jug.

We’d pour the milk and place the cup on a saucer.

Not Hot Enough wouldn’t touch it or even look at it. She’d smirk and stare you right in the eye.

“Make it again. You do know how to make coffee, I assume? It’s supposed to be hot.”

Because the owner of the had trained us to never refute anything a customer said about their coffee we’d start again, making it in exactly the same manner.

Only then would she deem it acceptable. She didn’t care about the temperature, she just loved the power trip.

She developed a pathological hatred of one of the staff and forced the poor guy to remake the same coffee five times before he quit on the spot, storming off and leaving us one person down for the rest of the shift.

When she deemed your offering acceptable she’d take the cup and sit at a small table directly opposite the coffee machine, drinking it while staring at you, tutting and shaking her head while she pointed at the cup if you looked at her.

One day I’d had enough and made plans for the next morning.

Knowing that she would be in just after ten, I placed a cup in the oven at half past nine with a teaspoon in it and set it to 200 degrees. Then we removed all napkins from the counter and placed them on a shelf underneath.

She came in and threw the change at the counter. Someone brought the now almost molten cup and spoon up to me as I was re-making the coffee after she had refused my first attempt. I boiled the hell out of the milk, used a napkin to place the cup and spoon on the cold saucer behind the machine and handed it to her.

She sat down and my coworker and I continued taking orders from the other customers in the line.

“Fuck!”

The sound of a teaspoon being dropped on the floor.

Not Hot Enough suddenly appeared in front of the coffee machine.

“Get me a napkin!”

“I’m so terribly sorry, Madam.” 

My coworker Jane, the university lecturer’s daughter with the world’s most stunningly condescending nasal tone worked her magic. “This lovely client needs our last napkin for her delicious cake. We don’t have any more.” Jane cocked her head and smiled “Have you made a mess?”

Not Hot Enough looked like she was going to implode.

“The cup is too hot to pick up”

“Would that not be as Madam requested it? Heating the milk to make the hottest possible coffee will cause a process known as conduction to occur, when the hot liquid heats it’s receptacle. My supervisor will be more than happy to make a coffee at a cooler temperature though, unless this kind lady would like to give you her napkin?”

Not Hot Enough had, minutes before, pushed in front of This Kind Lady. This Kind Lady picked up her piece of choc-cardamom cheesecake and walked off without saying a word. I could have kissed her.

Not Hot Enough was far too arrogant to admit defeat so she sat back down at her table and waited the ten minutes it took for her cup to cool before drinking the coffee and walking out. There followed a tense 48 hours as we waited for a call from the owner saying she had complained about us but there was nothing.

I didn’t see Not Hot Enough until years later in a gourmet deli where she was loudly berating a counter hand over the amount of olives in a small tub that had been handed to her. Some people never change.

I wonder if she still likes her coffee hot?

special

Week Five

“special”

This week’s topic was suggested by @the_helen. What does ‘special’ mean to you? What do you find special about the people and things around you? What makes you special? Whatever happened to politically motivated ska revival band The Specials?

“So…have you met a special friend yet?” asks my Mum innocently, toward the end of our phone call. As always she’s unable to hide of the amount of hopefulness in her voice.

“No Mum”.

“Oh…. Never mind darling…” Her tone has now changed to the one she reserves for having heard devastating news. A news headline screaming “PUPPY ACCIDENTALLY DRIVES CAR FILLED WITH ORPHANED KITTENS OVER CLIFF” would elicit a similar response.

Mum isn’t, of course, meaning ‘special friend’ as a way of enquiring if any of my pals have the ability to shoot laser beams from their armpits or can shape-shift into Debbie Gibson and perform the entire dance routine from ‘Electric Youth’ while hovering two meters above the ground. As a gay man I do encounter more than the usual amount of people wearing lycra and spandex but none have any super powers.

She means: have I met a man I’m interested in? Or more plainly: do I have a boyfriend yet? She just feels awkward saying it. Not that this bothers me.  She’s not aware that when you break it down, ‘special’ friend implies a friend that you share things with that you don’t with your ‘regular’ friends. And of course by ‘share things’ I mean ‘bang the hell out of each other forty ways from Sunday’.

A friendship is an integral part of but isn’t the equivalent of a romantic relationship so by not saying ‘partner’ or ‘boyfriend’ Mum is therefore asking me once a week if I’ve found a fuck buddy yet. Bless her. 64 years old and progressive as all get out, albeit with no awareness of it.

The truth is that I haven’t met anyone or been on a date for well over ten years. No movies, dinners, hugs, hand holding or even a peck on the cheek.

I said PECK, you filthy minded individuals.

My mental health issues are a part of this but back in the early 2000’s when I did go on dates I didn’t exactly have a great track record. I wasn’t so good at filtering out the duds. Let me share with you some choice quotes – all from different men, all uttered on a first date.

“I have to confess – I was due to move interstate the day after I was introduced to you, but I cancelled all of my plans just in case this works out..”

“Um…do you want to go to the movies after dinner? My boyfriend locked me out of the house when I told him I was seeing you.”

(Leans in and whispers)”The waiter knows my wife. Tell him you’re my cousin”

“So, do you have a credit card? What’s your limit on it? Do you always carry it?” – He then drugged me and stole it.  

(sighs) “I would have to be the world’s unluckiest man. I just can’t believe that all this shit keeps happening to me and..” (chokes on food, turns blue)

“I just think that dating will help me get over him. To be honest you’re not my type but I need to try… and… I don’t know. Look, you need to know that I’d do anything to get back with him”

“I only own three cd’s actually. I don’t like music much. I’m into tabletop gaming.”

“I’ve had my eye on you for a while. So you saw (name of an ex) for two years, and then you got snapped up by (another ex), but that didn’t last long. And then you had a one night stand with (one night stand’s name)…. Do you still live on (street name)??”

So can nightclub DJs get peoples names put on the door list permanently?”

(In a Thai restaurant) “The only good thing about (racist slur) is their food.”

“Your cousin is a very good looking guy. I’ve always had a crush on him. Is HE single?”

And of course the chart topper on the bad date hit parade – this guy asked me out for dinner on a Saturday night, which just happened to be the night before my birthday. When I told him this, he turned up in a limousine and took me to C Restaurant. When the bill arrived at the end of the meal he called the driver to come and pick us up, then said:

“Oh… would you mind paying for the limo and dinner? I forgot my wallet. Make sure you give a tip.” And no, he didn’t offer to reimburse me.  He did, however, disappear.

To my credit despite hearing all of the above, I never once choked on my dinner. No matter how hard I tried.

I might start dating again, who knows what the future may bring. I just need some subtle guidance and to have my choices vetted by someone.

Someone like the Police. Or INTERPOL.

bed time

Week Four

“bed time”

This week’s topic is something a little easier: we all go to bed after all. What does bed time mean to you? Is it a relief or a challenge? And end or a beginning? A time for stories, for thoughts, for shutting down? Does ‘bed time’ mean something different entirely to you?

Bed time. Harder to get right than the answer to the time-honoured question ‘Do these sheer micro mini hot pants with split crotch and diamante butterflies make my butt look big?’ (The correct answer, for those who may encounter this is of course: ‘No Greg, you look awesome’).

When I was a wee lad my bed time was strictly 7.30pm. Any later would lead to accusations of being overtired from my parents the next day, regardless of the scenario. It wasn’t quite as bad as the examples below but I seem to recall them using it as an excuse for pretty much anything out of the ordinary that happened.

Example #1: Dad slams car door shut on Seb’s fingers.

Seb: “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!”

Dad (carefully placing severed pinkie in a lunchbox filled with ice): “Stop it. You’re just overtired.”

Example #2: Seb runs past with head on fire, trail of smoke billowing behind him.

Seb: “MuuuuuuuuUUUUUUUuuuuuum!!!”

Mum (without looking up from Mills and Boon novel):“Overtired. 6 o’clock bedtime for you tonight!”

Example #3: A Boeing 747 falls out of the sky and lands directly on Seb.

Seb: (bone crunching squishy sounds)

Parents (in unison): “You’re just overtired and showing off. It’s a nap for you this afternoon, mister!”

After countless years of begging to be allowed to stay up to watch Hart to Hart and Knight Rider my parents finally extended bed time to 8.30pm shortly after my twelfth birthday. This triumph only elevated my status among my friends to ‘second lamest’ in our group, narrowly ahead of Julia Mcgonfrey who had a 9pm bedtime but had a serious social disadvantage in that her parents didn’t own a television. Plus she said ‘Ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaa’ in a loud voice instead of laughing when something amused her.  Kid was weird.

When I moved out of home I cautiously extended my bedtime to 9.30pm which I hoped managed to reflect my new found independence while still affording me the protection a good night’s sleep offered from the car doors, fireballs and rogue aircraft that I feared being overtired would attract.

The following year I discovered nightclubs, shift work, drinking until 2 Unlimited’s lyrics became deeply meaningful and a rather handy trick –  completely blocking sunlight out of your bedroom by lining the inside of a window with foil.

Bed time then became whenever I collapsed in a twitching heap, if not directly on a mattress then at least in a park within three minute’s walk of my house.

Sleep lasted anything from four hours to twenty, dependent on my ability to grab and set the alarm clock as it spun around the room after a night of drinking my body weight in vodka doing volunteer work at the local cat shelter.

After decades of sleeping patterns that would test the mettle of the most hardened late night infomercial enthusiast, I returned to a day job with early morning starts and a requirement to be pleasant to the people I encountered from the moment I set foot in the workplace.

In theory this doesn’t sound very difficult but the reality of only having half your brain wake up after the alarm blasts the song of it’s people at 5am means you have to lumber sideways like a crab as you attempt to bathe then dress, using your (then) only functioning arm. The other half wakes up when you pass out momentarily getting into your car and your forehead hits the horn at full blast in your remarkably acoustic garage.

Once entering the office any attempt at communication – pleasant or otherwise – results in you emitting a strangled croak as a lone cornflake falls from your cheek and lands elegantly between two keys on your manager’s keyboard.

Not only did I have to battle this, I constantly have to factor in that depression and anxiety would also be along for the ride.  After an increased incidence of swearing at my screen, frustrated man-tears and the sudden onset of flailing Muppet arms at work recently I resolved to try setting a bed time for myself in 2013.

Of course, weekends are still for sitting up until bitch, is you crazy? o’clock. There’s no better time for arguing with people on the internet and searching new YouTube videos of people scaring the shit out of Taylor Swift.

My weeknights however now have a strict 10.30pm lights out followed by a 6am wake-up. Seven and a half hours of blissful slumber.

This is interrupted only by my diabetes’ insistence that my body make the equivalent a 44-gallon drum of urine every four hours which then requires a one-eye-open zombie stumble to the bathroom. It’s incredibly annoying but it does finally allow me to rid myself of the recurring dream that I’m being being soaked by a giant purple chicken holding a garden hose. My subconscious early-warning piss-the-bed system is fucking insane.

I’m happy to report that the early bedtime is working for me – better than I could have imagined in fact. Mentally I feel better prepared for the day ahead and I haven’t arrived at work sporting a steering wheel mark across my forehead since late December.

I even tested the effectiveness of my new routine by staying up until 12am one Thursday night and the following day had my worst panic attack in over a year. I couldn’t breathe properly and was shaking so badly that my chair threatened to shuffle across the call centre with the momentum of an off-kilter washing machine.

That was the only time I broke my self enforced ‘rule’ and I’m not going to be testing it out again in a hurry. (And no, I won’t do your laundry)

Yes, I may have to finally concede that my parents were right and Julia Mcgonfrey probably out-ranks me in the coolness stakes but a set bed time that allows me a little more mental breathing space coupled with a notable reduction in unexpected Muppet arms makes it more than worth it to me.

Goodnight, all.

(*thud* *snore*)