Every morning dawns with a series of tiny decisions. Sometimes my husband has already got up and gone to work, so the decision is easy: get up, make tea and come back to bed to write for half an hour. At other times, my husband is in bed but will get up at the same time as I do, even though he does not have to. He can be quite competitive like that. I don’t think he likes me being able to claim the ‘hardest done by in the developed world’ prize, so he struggles to get up as well. I move, his light is flicked on and he reaches for his iPad. I get up, make the tea and bring it back to bed.
This second option occasionally causes tension because the sound of amplified noise in the morning is like a cheese grater across my brain. I hate the TV on and can not stand video clips blaring out of a tablet. I have absolutely no idea what possesses people to listen to radio stations that feature either A Morning ‘Bunch’ or ‘Crew’, all of whom apparently have to broadcast ‘from a couch’. If I were forced to listen to their dreadful, forcibly upbeat party-type antics every day, I would probabaly end up driving into a tree.
I know, I am getting old and grumpy. I am pretty sure that at some point in my life I listened to Steve Wright and his hilarious bunch of characters, in the morning, but I am over it now. Whereas my husband enjoys a bit of broadcast entertainment before he goes to work. He always puts the TV on as he gets ready for work and is frequently itching to press play on a video as we lie in bed in the morning, knowing that I will grumble if he does.
The other morning, I woke up fifteeen minutes before the alarm. I sat up, found my slippers and jumper and slipped out of the bed followed by the dogs. For some reason my husband slept through this, but even as I tried not to disturb him, I knew it would not be long. Sure enough, ten minutes later as I sat in the gorgeous silence of the lounge writing my morning pages (my latest creative project which is driving my husband mad), he appeared and asked why I had not woken him up. I pointed to the mug of tea I had made him that was on the table beside mine.
‘I knew you would not be far behind me,’ I said.
Today, though, was different. The alarm woke me at six and my husband did not stir. I got up, grabbed my phones, iPad and notebook and headed to the kitchen. I sat in the lounge with the gas fire warming the room writing in my book with my mug of tea and one for my husband on the table beside me. He did not appear.
Half an hour later, I reheated his tea in the microwave (don’t tell him – he takes a lot of milk, anyway so it is probably OK) and went back to the bedroom to get my clothes. He was definitely alive, I could hear him breathing, but still unconscious. It is so rare for him to sleep in that I kept the dogs from the bedroom and put the mug of tea and a small cake on the table beside him, knowing that the noise of the garage door, which is not far from the bedroom window would wake him up as I drove out to take the dogs to the park.
When I got back he had still not been awake. I knew he was alive, but by now I was beginning to worry if he had perhaps suffered some sort of catastrophic brain incident and was actually in a persistent vegetative state. If garage doors and cake were unable to rouse him, then what actually would?
Lucy, as it happens is what would. She has no desire to allow any human she is bonded with to remain asleep while she is up and about and there is affection to be doled out. Before I could stop her, she jumped on the bed and tried to get back in beside him -where only 90 minutes before, I had been lying. As she did so, Archie made a bid to leap up on the bed from the floor – a manoeuvre almost guaranteed to end in an epic fail, especially while – as on this occasion – he was trying to make the jump with a shoe in his mouth.
Like the princess woken with a kiss – or rather like a man awoken by his two noisy dogs – my husband’s eyes opened and he sat up. It turned out that unlike me last night, he had taken hours to get to sleep and had lain awake for ages, no doubt listening to me snore quietly and if not me, then certainly Archie.
He had every intention of going back to bed after I left for work. The problem with shifts is that they catch up with you eventually – as the dogs will testify. Having raced me around the park and woken my husband up, I am sure that they, too were looking forward to when I finally took my quiet morning out of the house with me so that my husband could watch TV for a while and then they could all get on with the serious business of going back to sleep.