This morning I left my bed for the last time. I have spent the better part of ten hours in my bed, from the earliest hours of last evening’s slumber to the dark just before dawn, and I can safely say that the atmosphere within it is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.
This realisation is made all the more sad by the poignant memories of those first moments when, my heart high with the first flush of youth, I girded up my loins with my nightgown and endeavoured between my bed’s crisply laundered coverings. In those innocent days, sleepers learned their craft “on the job”, as we said. Was it good form to untuck the sheets? Should I rest my head or my feet on the feather pillow? When I found myself pinned under the heavy thigh of a colleague, what was the most polite way to extricate myself in order to answer a call of nature? How amusing these early perplexities would seem from the vantage-point of maturity!
The bed in which I lay myself was a place of courtesy, of peaceful rest and contented snoozing. As I learned the ropes and mastered the refinements of sleeping, I came to a fuller understanding of the worth of this culture, and of how carefully maintained it had been by generations before me. This was not a bed of purloined quilts or braying snores but a warm and comforting haven in which all could enjoy the benison of Morpheus.
Imagine, then, my disappointment as I realised that the peaceful dreams of those early hours were, slowly but surely, turning into nightmares. My bed was racked by tossings and turnings; the taut fitted sheet of my youth had sprung loose, revealing the threadbare and soiled ticking of the mattress beneath. The bed where once all sleepers had rested in consideration of one another’s comfort was now the domain of selfishness, where long spells of bleak insomnia were only interrupted by unsettling outbursts of sleeptalking or the choking miasma of a stealthy fart.
With the weary grey light of dawn came the sobering realisation that the comforts and traditions of my bed had gone. Its once welcoming blankets were now tangled and filthy. My dry mouth and throbbing headache bore horrible testimony to the night’s excesses. Of my colleagues in slumber there was no sign, although I was later to find that in a final gesture of avarice, they had completely exhausted my dwelling’s hot-water supply.
I resolved, therefore, to leave my bed permanently: with what forlorn emotions, may well be imagined. The old adage may be raised against me, that I made my bed, and must therefore lie in it; to such critics, I can only respond with a regretful and shamefaced sigh, and with the sincere wish that my experience will serve as a warning to all those whose beds do not put the well-being of their sleepers above other considerations.