As this blog has mentioned before, I am pretty good at resisting the charms of Hypnos and so spend a lot of time lying awake: though almost never with a dismal headache (well, hardly ever). Let me reassure any ladies or gents still carrying a torch for the author, my insomnia is not caused by love – neither unrequited nor hopeless – and it does not lie, nightmare-like, heavy on my chest.
Usually, there is no obvious physical cause for my sleeplessness, so I have always assumed it must be something mental. I used to blame work and “the man”, but my ability to sleep did not improve (or grow worse) during my recent sabbatical: so this accusation is starting to ring rather hollow.
This week just gone, sleep has been rather elusive once again – but, on two occasions there was a clear physical cause.
In the early hours of Friday morning, I was awoken in my bed at the Premier Inn in Belfast (normally my best hope for a good night’s rest: far more reliable than home) by rain being hurled into my bedroom window at 50mph (and the rest) as Northern Ireland was lashed by Gertrude (a phrase more commonly associated with a Tory minister). Fortunately, as I had travelled without a coat, the rain had ceased before I had to walk from my lodgings to my place of employment: the wind had retained much of its vigour but I am not so easily rendered airborne.
The previous night my speedy approach to unconsciousness was also delayed by noise. Not as you might imagine a thoughtless, partying neighbour nor the plangent cry of a car alarm being ignored (thus bringing the whole reason for its existence into question). No, nothing so mundane for yours truly. I was prevented from sleeping by the racket from amorous owls! Tawny owls to be specific: to-wit and to-wooing each other at considerable volume in close proximity to my city-centre boudoir. Given that we had 2wit and 2woo, both sexes were clearly implicated and with spring just around the corner (I hope) I am assuming that the cacophony was the prelude to some sweet, sweet lovin’. I assume that owls can indulge in a gene flow event in a number of physical configurations while still maintaining eye contact with the object of their affection. This must make for some interesting content in an owl jazz mag.
I would have to say that if I lived in splendid rural isolation, this owl courtship would have been easier to understand. People have grown used to urban foxes, but urban owls? I do recall TV series Futurama suggesting that owls in the 31st century were urban pests, in much the same way as rats and feral pigeons were in the 20th. I’m starting to wonder if Matt Groening and David X Cohen knew rather more about the future than I had previously assumed.