Rude awakenings

The last numbers I saw last night, glaring demonic red in my clock-radio display after I put down my book and switched off the light for the final time, were four, three, and nine. The Sandman, when he's tardy about the nocturnal appointment, is never just fashionably half an hour late to my place. If I can't get to sleep, I can't get to sleep for hours. I have discussed this before.

The last numbers I thought of were crude calculations; I had to be at work at 12:45pm, therefore I had to leave a bit before noon, therefore I had to be awake by 11. However, I had to write a few emails, so let's make 10:30am rise and shine. Five hours and fifty-one minutes, less the time it takes to nod off. Okay.

At 8:13am (3hrs 34mins, for those keeping score), my room filled with sound. This was raw blasted noise, of the trilling chanteuse over cloying lollypop beats variety. Deltra or somebody; don't look at me, I'm not an expert. I tried and could not identify a directional source; it penetrated the room from all sides. It sounded... for a moment it sounded like it was being pumped from my pillows.

You could find me by triangulating Startled, Bewildered and Incredulous. I was stumbling towards Fury. When a voice rang out from directly beneath my bed, sharp and nasal and full of self-importance, I turned around and headed back towards Stupefied.

"Here he is, come out and give him a hand, manager of a successful paper business [or something], Mr Hugh Whatzis! Grab your Australian flags, come on, wave them for him!!"

There was a street parade, okay, in honour of some random guy, under my bed. I had consumed three wholly insufficient hours of sleep, and had only two remaining... and there was a tickertape parade under my bed.

"C'mon people," squeaked the little man with the extraordinary loudspeaker, "come out and see the Olympic torch!"

Realising at this juncture that the impromptu event actually wasn't taking place under my bed, I resignedly crawled to my knees, and pushed open the curtain an inch. Sure enough, there was a middle aged, slightly podgy bloke in a tracksuit jogging slowly down a deserted Elgin St, with a bug-eyed grin on his gob and a flaming torch in his hand. Surrounded by a dozen motorbike-mounted police, a flock of camera men, and... no-one else. It was so ridiculously absurd—to invade an innercity street at 8am on a Saturday just to show off a torch—that I didn't even open the window and hurl epithets: I just belly-laughed and buried my head in the pillows.

Why? Why not do it out in the suburbs? I reckon they'd love it out there, and I've heard that many of them are even awake by 8am on a Saturday morning.

Joseph | 5 Jun 2004

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