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  • Philip Bryer

How do you Sleep?

“I crawled off to sleep in the bath.”

Which is fair enough. John Lennon rounding the home turn there in the ever-splendid Norwegian Wood. It’s also something you see now and again in films or on the T.V., no room at the inn so chap seeks 40 winks in the tub. The scene is always, without exception, punctuated by someone firing up the shower on the unsuspecting snoozer. I think it’s an Equity ruling.

However, has the dear reader ever tried sleeping in a bath? I have, and I can report that even with the assistance of whatever I may have had on the night in question (a small sweet sherry, perhaps) it isn’t possible. For obvious reasons a bath is unforgivingly hard. If it was soft and giving, the water (and occupant) would slosh about, wouldn’t they? It is also too short and too narrow. By the way, after a sense test of the other Equity ruling, I can report that it is actually impossible to get one’s big toe stuck in a bath tap.

If the bath is the pit of last resort, what came before? And what’s to recommend it?

The inflatable bed. And not much.

I well remember the only rugby club dinner I have ever attended, well I remember bits of it, and the bit that sticks is the aftermath. A blow-up bed was provided downstairs by our hosts, it was a sultry summer evening and the French windows were open. Crashed into bed. But then, oh dear, every time my young lady moved, the motion transmitted itself to me as the pitching and rolling of a trawler in a Beaufort force 8. That, together with the contents of my stomach, which I couldn’t help but list (while I was listing) meant that I was hurtling towards the inevitable hurl. I crawled from the bed and, remaining on my hands and knees, arrived at an outside drain. At which point we shall draw a veil over these sordid proceedings.

Mrs B and I had another inflatable bed experience during a night’s stay at the son and daughter-in-law’s. No drinking to excess on this occasion (well, relative to a rugby club dinner) but the problem was more one of air intake into the bed rather than liquid into the occupants.

Firstly, the bed had been over-inflated so getting into it was less the sinking into a goose-feather mattress and more the climbing on top of a beach ball and trying to stay there. After a spell of rolling around on the top and clinging to the sides to prevent being deposited on the floor, I found the bung and let some air out. Which was fine. Until the morning.

Our granddaughter came in to wake us. She was 3 or 4, I guess, and as we’d sunk into a bed which now didn’t contain enough air because someone hadn’t put the bung back properly, we were now so enwrapped and shielded by the raised sides of this huge affair that she couldn’t see us. Having longer levers, I managed to clamber to freedom by reaching out, grabbing hold of the dressing table, and hauling myself free.

Indiana Jones Quicksand

The lovely Sandra had no such option, and try as she might to free herself of the shackles of the bed, whenever she looked like making progress and hauling herself over the barrier, she slid backwards and wallowed into bed central, like a turtle on its back.

“Again, Nanny, do it again,” cried Lily through tears of laughter every time she spied Sandra’s hopeful head and grasping hands for a moment before she sank back into the abyss. Until it was made clear by a gimlet-eye peering over the sheets that I was required to assist in Mrs B’s escape from what was looking increasingly like a pit of quicksand.

We were reminded of this incident by a T.V. ad this morning, for an inflatable bed with….wait for it…a headboard. Which I suppose might be handy for grabbing on to by way of escaping the thing, although you’d have to be careful not to bang your head on it when trying to get into bed with one eye shut.

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