Virginia Barton

8 January 2015: Nodding off


8 January 2015


How do you find your way to the Land of Nod?

BH is one of those lucky ones who puts his head on the pillow and is off pronto; at pretty well any time of day what’s more, like Churchill and Mrs T.

Perhaps you puff at imaginary dandelion seed heads? Or count sheep? Or say your prayers? Or recite Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott”, very slowly? None of these wheezes amuse or work for me. Specially not those white woollies – well honestly, did you ever see a single one clearing a fence? Scrambling over a low wall possibly.


Personally, I favour a Route March. Select a destination and set off (in your head of course) from your front door.

“Tonight I am going to the museum on foot. On the way back I shall drop in at the chemist and the patisserie.”

First select your weather. Of course it’s sunny! Whoever deliberately picked persistent rain or clingy fog? And then very fastidiously, choose your outfit. Trousers and a tee shirt, I think. Pink checked, teamed with navy. Oh gosh I hate those shoes, why didn’t I bin them ages ago? I will wear my red sandals, the ones BH refers to as naff. A five pound note folded into a back pocket, leave the mobile phone pleaseand hide the key under the pot of pansies.

Be aware of what you can hear: birds, distant traffic, a dog barking? Any scents or smells? Possibly a whiff of honeysuckle? Coffee? Now feel the air, warm, gently stroking your skin or as still as midday in high summer?


High time to set off – if you haven’t already fallen asleep. Take your usual route, it’s too taxing to go a different way. Such energy could well wake rather than lull you. Hurray, you forgot your walking stick and it doesn’t matter a hoot!

Go out through the squeaky iron gate and turn left along the wall towards the bridge. At the foot of the wall there are little clumps of rue, or is it that plant that cures headaches? And there is shepherd’s purse; weeds that someone will scrub out in the interests of tidiness. A pear tree in full blossom grows on the other side of the wall on the high river bank; and look! In the river below a swan has made a haystack of a nest, almost floating, but caught in the flotsam the river abounds in hereabouts: once a poor drunken lad got caught up in it having fallen in upstream. Pause to say a prayer for him.

Now continue to the old Toll Gate, transmogrified into a grubby little shop that sells fishing nets in summer and Coca Cola all the year round.


For goodness’ sake, don’t tell me you’re hungry? You’ll have to start all over again. Just when it was getting interesting. Or we could imagine the larder…






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