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.
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.