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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where am I, exactly?

Today, I have to admit, the most disturbing thing that happened to me was a few moments after waking up.

  The room is curtained fairly heavily, so the light was dim. I listened for the sounds that usually indicate what’s been going on outside while I’ve been dead to the world. When I have a sleep in the daytime I struggle, on waking up, to work out whether it’s today or tomorrow, day or night.

  I know, that’s not an unusual experience for anyone who's slept heavily, but this time it was different.

  I tried to work out what the time was. I looked at the analog clock (you know, a real clock!) but with blurry eyes in the half-darkness, I couldn’t make out the time. I knew this much: it was either 7 am or 11.35 am.

  I lay back and thought about it. The birds and other noises were non-committal, surprisingly. No sound gave it away. The house itself was silent. That’s not unusual at any time, especially when Tracey and Christian don’t want to disturb my sleep.

  When I awaken, confused about the time, it’s always after a daytime sleep. It must be getting on towards midday then, but I have no memory or being awake earlier and reading news or writing to anyone.

  If I’d have been in a hospital, and they’d have asked, as they often do, what day is it today, this time I’d have been stumped. Thursday or Friday? I’m not sure.

  Slowly it dawns on me. It must be 7 am, not getting on towards midday. I remember going to bed last night. I remember nothing beyond that. But this is the first time I’ve woken in the early morning and not known it was morning.

  It’s a beautiful sunny day, actually. But my confidence has just had another little jolt to add to the others. Oh, don’t worry, I’m wide awake now and I feel pretty good, and I could have told you everything newsworthy that’s gone on around the world in the hours before I lay down. I probably know that better than you do. Or at least as well.

  But in my head I have this hospital image of an old man I saw not that long ago.

  ‘What day is it today, Bill?’ says the nurse brightly.

  He looks up at her, thinks for a long time, and says hesitatingly, ‘Friday? Is it?’

  It’s more a plea with her to make it be Friday rather than a question. It’s for reassurance that he’s not going to get.

  She smiles at him and walks out.

  It’s any day but Friday, Bill.

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