Staring through the Curtains – Sons and Insomnia


As a parent, you figure you will finish with the self-sacrifice once they achieve a certain age.  It used to be when they reached 18.  Then it was 25 and now I’ve stopped counting the birthdays.    My son Alex is a commendable and adorable human being.  But he has his paint and decorating needs and I as an ageing parent still strive to meet them.

Which is why I am sitting in a Brighton Bed and breakfast, light pouring through the blind, enduring my second sleepless night as I struggle to help renovate his nearby flat by day.

Why can’t I sleep?  Why can’t the British learn to cover their bloody windows so that the light which triggers my insomnia cannot penetrate?

In this Brighton bedroom there is a thin blind covering the window space.  It’s clean enough; the pattern is inoffensive enough.  But if it weighs as much as two grains of sand I will eat my shorts.  The material is cotton – or rather the substance is a few cottony threads woven through a larger air mass.

The blinds do nothing to trap any part of the light spectrum.  I have halogen orange, strip-light off-white, neon pub-sign green and ‘sexy’ red lights searing my retinas.

At home in Gloucestershire, my room sports full blackout curtains. No time-travelling Nazi bomber could ever pinpoint my address by a giveaway gleam through them.  But in Brighton my face is multicoloured like sick and if I switched on the bedside lamp the entire Luftwaffe could plot a course to kill me.

I make the simple point – human animals are intended to sleep with the dusk and rise with the dawn.  We are biologically light-controlled or ‘photo-tropic’ organisms.  But not in fucking Brighton.

I would try to sleep in the bath next door but there my hosts – excellent in all other ways – have only provided a 1960s roller blind that they didn’t know how to fit.

What is it about Brits and failing to cloak their windows?


Bring back compulsory shutters!

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