I am sleeping on the living room floor at my olde dad’s again this year. The house is full, so there is no option but that’s fine. I have an idea it’s good for my back. I fold the double quilt in two, sleep on one half and cover myself with the other half. The house is heated like a sauna. Eventually I get to sleep. Then my olde dad starts his night-wanderings through the house. The first time he comes into the living room is about two in the morning. I have just dropped off. The light goes on with a loud clock of the switch. I am stirring. He pushes me. Are you all right? he says. I am now awake. Yes.Why wouldn’t I be all right? Are you cold? No. What did you wake me up for? He mutters and sits in his armchair under the full glare of the overhead light. I clench my eyes and try and get back to sleep. After ten minutes the light goes off. He’s gone back upstairs. I am just getting to sleep when he’s down again. Clock! goes the heavy light switch. I stir. I need a drink, he says. He’s sits in the archair above me and I hear him do one small gulp of a glass of water. Ten minutes later he’s back up. This is now the middle of the night. He’s back down again an hour or so later for a little walk round the living room. It’s maybe four in the morning. Clock! goes the light again. At six in the morning the wall clock starts its hourly chimes. It is a novel chime which has a different bird call on every hour. Six o’clock is the barn owl, seven is the wren and eight is the blackbird. Most instructive, but not necessarily what I’m waning after a sleepless night. But by eight my olde dad’s up again, this time definitively, sitting in his archair in his day clothes muttering information about the day.
When Helen comes down I hear him say; he can sleep, that lad. I look up through red raw eyelids to where he is sitting above me on his armchair like the victor ludorum. I’ve been here twelve hours, I’m exhausted. First blood to my olde dad!