Curiosity killed the catnap


I confess that when the idea of lockdowns first arose I felt a frisson of excitement. In my mind’s eye, I saw mornings spent diligently tapping away at my computer, writing astonishing works of marvellous imagining, and afternoons sprawled on the sofa catching up on films I’d always meant to watch. I thought of all those delicious snoozes I would have, too. Snoozing with impunity. Which sounds like an organisation – Doctors without Borders, Snoozing with Impunity, please donate now. Frankly, if you can’t snooze during a pandemic then when can you?

Except the snoozes haven’t eventuated. Neither have the mammoth film sessions. I do, however, pitch up at my desk most days because that’s what I do. Thing is, I thought that snoozes were also what I did. I love snoozes. They’re the stuff of holidays, lolling on a beach or beside a pool, digesting a big lunch yet looking forward to dinner, a fat novel in your hand, knowing it’s simply the preamble to the first of forty wonderful winks. Snoozing is about the luxury of time, of tomorrow-is-another-day, of being so relaxed that it’d be morally wrong not to close your eyes, just for a moment, what’s the harm?

I haven’t actually had that kind of poolside holiday for decades. My holidays are always so active that I’m lucky if I manage to stuff breakfast down my gullet before we’re off and out. No time to waste! There’s always another mountain to climb, another city to explore, another plane to catch. The languid beach holidays of my youth are just that, long ago, far behind me.

Comfy sofa + quiet room + log fire = snoozing heaven

There was a time when I snoozed regularly. I don’t mean snoozing after a big night out because otherwise I wouldn’t get through the day. I mean in winter, when the sun was slanting through the window on to the bed, and there was simply no way to resist curling up like a cat in sunbeam. And in simmering summer heat, well, that was a siesta, ever-so Continental, and really, so much healthier than sweating through some task that could be put off. The difference between then and now was that I was working full time. Basically, I was knackered, and on days I wasn’t working I felt I deserved an hour of drowsing because you can’t do that when you’re in an office or telling someone where to put their furniture or teaching a class.

I’m not full time now. What I do with my working time is up to me. I’m freelance and some days I’m really busy and other days – fair cop – I might take things a bit easier. But even though I’m in charge of the day’s timetable, I don’t pencil in time to snooze. Why would I? It’s no longer a reward for the breathless week I’ve just endured. Now it feels like a waste of time to loll when I could be doing something else.

Maybe that’s my Calvinist background whispering in my ear, that it’s wrong to waste a second of this precious life. Although it’s a mystery why I should start thinking like this when I managed to ignore it so successfully for years. But maybe that’s it. Age, it’s all about age. Time’s winged chariot and all that. I’d hate for my epitaph to be:  Good bloke but snoozed too much and wished he hadn’t.

So it’s all about fear, that in wasting time dozing, I’ll regret not doing all the things I might have done. Or maybe it’s even worse than that, a fear that I won’t ever wake up again or that I’ll malinger in bed forever (though saying that, I’m immediately thinking a nice Eileen Gray bed table would set off the scene rather nicely, and being brought tea on a tray is always nice).

So no snoozing it is, just carpe diem. Shame, though, because I often write the most incredible books in my dreams.

Are you a snoozer?

Categories: memoir, WritingTags: , , , , , , ,

12 comments

  1. I so loved reading this Colin. I want to donate AND buy a subscription to Snoozers with Impunity. And read all those wonderful stories you write while snoozing.

  2. Hey Colin, forget Carpe Diem, I say “Choose to Snooze”

  3. I do enjoy your articles. I’m definitely a snoozer, or rather, a Napper. Tiredness and fatigue is much more a waste of a good life than a pleasant nap that leaves you feeling better than before. I only wish I’d realised this years ago. But I nap selectively, only if I’m a bit tired, or stricken by an after lunch energy slump. The trick is short naps only, or ‘napettes’, and only if you need them. I use the stop watch on my phone 20-25 minutes max. I awaken revived and ready for the rest of the day.
    (The Coffee Nap is even better. Have coffee, nap immediately, wake doubly refreshed.)

    • Love the idea of a napette – sounds like something you can buy in packs of ten. And you’ve got me intrigued by the Coffee Nap – perfect balance of stimulant and sedative – what a tonic!

  4. Snoozing with impunity? Where do I sign up? I adore that short but sweet siesta you mention, either lazily drifting off in the afternoon heat or even better in that dust-moted sunbeam you describe in winter But never a full sleep: just a short slide down the ladder to dreamland. 20 minutes or so is usually enough. Thanks for sharing your fantasies of lockdown life which I also share. But somehow the ‘astonishing works of imagination’ are never as good as in my dreams! 😂

    • Winter is definitely prime snooze time, and you’re right, just twenty minutes and you feel so refreshed. The worst thing is when you waken and then think ‘oh, that was so delicious, what about another five minutes’ and fall back into a longer, deeper sleep, and wake again feeling utterly wrecked… Which is probably how we would feel about the great works of literature we’ve written in our sleep if we actually got to read them…

  5. I think you know my answer to that question(!) I often think that my ability to nap has saved my life. Others in my family feel really ill if they have a snooze mid afternoon. It’s a good question though. I think so much of the world has had to adapt to this extreme situation and find new ways through. It’s a brave new world.

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