A COLLECTION OF STORIES BY LUKE TAGG
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SMOKE: I Can't Get No Sleep

Originally published: 13 December 2004

I'm tired. It's the sort of tiredness that no matter how often nor how long I slumber I only ever wake up feeling as exhausted as when I went to sleep.

It's not very pleasant.

The omnipresent dark rings under my eyes - which I've always had - have become pronounced to the extent that I look like a myopic owl. It's like someone took a bucket filled with litres and litres of satan-black paint and slapped it under my eyes in huge dollops.

It comes complete with a sickly yellow and green tint around the fringes, while my eyes are bloodshot and my heart filled with murder.

I just never seem to get natural sleep anymore, and by natural I mean going to sleep and waking up when my body tells me it's had enough sleep.

Something always seems to be waking me up - if it's not the alarm then it's the dog two houses down, or Monkey Boy behaving like a walking Jungle Jukebox, or helicopters flying overhead, or okes hitting things in their garages.

Why must okes always hit, hack or saw things? For just a day or two I'd really, really like okes to stop hitting things.

I've also found it difficult to get to sleep recently - I've always had my stock Tennis Theory, as described in Q&A:

I once went through a phase of not being able to sleep. I developed a method to sleep which I still use every night and which knocks me out cold within two minutes.

I close my eyes and imagine I am playing in the Wimbledon final, against an unspecified opponent. The idea is that I have never played tennis in my life, but I work out how to hit the perfect angles somehow and make my way right through to the final. I can choose exactly where I want to hit a ball, and can make any return I like.

I start the fantasy at 6-0, 6-0, 5-0, 40-0 down, on my opponent's serve, and as I start fighting back to win the match from that impossible position, becoming the first person in history to do it, I fall asleep.

Works every time.

No longer, I'm afraid. My head is too full of thoughts to concentrate on playing tennis, and it takes me at least 40 minutes to fall asleep. Which would be OK, if 40 minutes didn't represent 13.33 percent of my total sleep each night.

My nights have been filled with nightmares for a long time now and I know that even when I do sleep it's not a peaceful, rested sleep. Yours wouldn't be either if a persistent theme running through every single dream you have is one of being chased, and running away.

I can never remember my dreams properly, but I always wake up covered in an ocean of sweat. Occasionally I get glimpses of my nightmares and they're not pleasant: dark, misty country roads; babies crying; severed limbs; mad old women with pitchforks in the moonlight; villagers gone bad chasing me with shotguns; and of course just the general sounds and strains of people screaming in agony as The Madman butchers them out back in that ol' shed.

So I really haven't been sleeping much, and this has gone on for at least six months now. I've got a holiday coming up but the sleep I require cannot be made up in a holiday - there are always things to do, places to go, cricket to watch and late nights to be had, and I know from experience that I usually get less sleep on holiday than I do during the rest of the year.

But I know what I need, because I thought it up yesterday. I need a Sleep Room.


I know you get sleep therapy in which you are suspended in coffins for a few hours, but my Sleep Room is designed for those - like me - who need to sleep for a month without interruption.

Firstly - it must be soundproof and pitch dark. I must not be able to hear a single sound other than my own breathing, and I must not be able to see a single thing.

It has to have Perma-Cool and Perma-Fluff pillows. To this day I can't understand why they haven't been invented, but I really need someone to invent them - my pillows are the worst in the history of humankind.

They are flat as pancakes, but only just flat enough so that one pillow is too low for my head while two pillows is too high. Both are hard as rocks as well. It's an appalling situation.

I need a pillow that stays fluffed up to just the right height and comfiness, but which stays cool as well. I'll resort to my favourite old adage here: if they can send a man to the moon, surely they can make a bloody pillow that stays cool?

The Sleep Room also needs to be maintained at a steady, pleasant temperature, and nobody must be able to enter. There will be a unique yet compelling Do Not Disturb sign on the door:

"Sure. Go on. Enter, friend. Disturb me. Disturbed, me. Very Disturbed, me. Honestly. No really. Very, very strangely Disturbed. Very oddly Disturbed. Disturbed in peculiar ways. Me. Gottit?"

Hopefully that will keep them out.

And then I want to go in there, bolt the vacuum-sealed doors shut, and sleep. When I wake up I can go out and do anything I like, but whenever I'm tired I go back in there and sleep. And sleep. Never waking up for any reason other than my body telling me it's had enough sleep.

I want to do that for a month.

Of course - I can't. So I'll just have to accept that I am doomed to a life of always wanting sleep, but never getting it. What's that thing they say? Oh yes:

Sleep when you're dead.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
Spending time online does bad things to a person, but I'm OK.

Look at me now - all the way from Uitenhage to the bright lights of the big internet.

Find out more using the handy links provided.



Copyright © Luke Tagg. All rights reserved. A few lefts as well.

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