It is four-fifteen a.m. Wednesday, first light, and the voices sound like they are in my bathroom.
A party of foreign persons from an alien time-zone has presumably rented next-door. Several individuals have spilled out into the garden and are laughing and crying and shouting at one another in an unidentifiable language. It might even be English.
I shut all the windows against the racket and crawl back to bed, wondering why it is that the more you drink, the louder you get.
And now it is five a.m., and the delivery lorries have started trundling through.
Please, please won’t somebody buy my little house? I promise to be good.
A hearing-impaired, narcoleptic shiftworker, maybe?
– Uncle Bogler
2 a.m. Thursday, and my car alarm goes off, for no obvious reason. Donning trousers, I stagger across the road barefoot and point the key to unlock it, thereby disabling the alarm, hoping faintly that the car can now be stolen and no longer be a worry or an expense.
There is an unholy racket coming from somewhere, like a mighty engine roaring, in the midst of which is a rhythmic metallic clanking sound that goes on and on. It seems to be getting closer.
I immediately surmise that it is some kind of automated maintenance unit attending to the nearby railway, perhaps one of those giant mechanical spot-welding machines. At 2 a.m.!
For the first time I sympathise with the car-fetishising, petit-bourgeoises on the estate, whose little boxes back onto the line. The track runs right through the actual living-rooms of the ones at the back of the new block of flats my ex-estate agent doesn’t seem able to sell, built there for some reason.
Double-glazing keeps the worst of it out. I fall back to sleep fitfully, soothed by the distant roar and clank, disturbed every fifteen minutes by Hunzi the dog trying in vain to rid himself of one of her fleas, until Scat the Cat wakes me at five a.m, imagining that I will be fooled into thinking it is breakfast time.
Am I never to get proper sleep here? I yearn for the peace and healing dark of the countryside, oblivious at this urban remove to the shrieks of the owls and the mating vixens, the screams of the bunnies being torn apart, the sudden whoosh! of roof-high RAF Tornado jets and the constant, distant thrumming of tractor engines.
1.30 a.m. Friday. I totter off to bed, having started to write another unfinished book in the hope that a really late one will help me to sleep. I am awake again by 5 a.m. with a damnable Brazilian song lyric running through my head, in which there is always one line or other that I cannot fully get without a struggle with my holey old memory.
I compose the rest of the book, but cannot find the physical courage anywhere to get up and write it down, so that too is gone. I doze through Today, to be awoken by ethereal music. For a moment I think it must be Saturday, or I am dead, but it is still Friday and the guest on Desert Island Discs has requested Puccini.
Hunzi noses me hopefully, but I will not get up just yet. Please not yet.