PHIL CALVERT: Good food, warm fire and ... snoring

Phil Calvert
Phil Calvert
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It is all part of my routine. I come in from work, often cold and wet, get the fires lit, the coal scuttle full, before getting washed and changed and sitting down for our evening meal.

On a perfect day, my senses will be assaulted by the aromas of something wonderful being created by Wifey in the kitchen as soon as I open the front door.

In fact eating our evening meal has the potential to be the highlght of our day. All four of us can cook, but more often than not, because of the practicalities of our various working days, it is Wifey (or Mother) who delivers the goods. What will it be tonight? Chicken in red wine sauce? Pot-roast brisket? (a rare offering but simply magnificent). Poached salmon steaks with asparagus? As each member of the family arrives home the sense of eager anticipation is palpable and if roast tatties or Yorkies are on the menu then we know it is going to be a good one.

So we sit down and tuck in and all the cares and tensions of the day seem to slide away. But the glory is fleeting. The work of art that is dinner is demolished. Total destruction is the ultimate accolade...and that is the usual fate!

At that point, we all drift away to our various zones of the house. My eldest upstairs to “work” on her computer, my youngest to drain every drop of hot water from our plumbing system as she spends an eternity in the shower. Generally, I make a brew for Wifey and myself and we slip through to the lounge to relax, perhaps watch a bit of telly, but centre-stage is a fire roaring and crackling in the grate. It is starting to warm up nicely.

The warmth from the fire, the subdued lighting and the ticking of the old clock, combine with the satisfaction of yet another excellent meal to create a sense of calm and relaxation. As the heat from the fire increases, Monty sometimes abandons his cushion in the dining room and crashes down in front of the blazing coals and, if the cat joins us, the effect is complete. Sipping on a nice hot cup of tea I start to feel the easy sensation of sleep sliding over me.

More often than not it starts with my head nodding forward. With a start I return to wakefulness, but almost immediately I can feel myself sliding away again. Resistance is futile. This is my prompt to lie in front of the fire to bake alongside Monty. The fire crackles, the clock ticks....I slip seemlessly into unconsciousness. Paradise!

At least it is from my perspective. Wifey tends to stay awake, watch the telly or read. Neither, however, is easy with your husband sprawled across the floor making the place look untidy and grunting and snoring away like some fat pig in a sty. But it is usually only for just over an hour, when I return to the land of the living, and, revitalised and with my second wind I set-to on the various chores of the evening, usually starting with clearing up the kitchen...indeed anything that does not involve decorating.

The remainder of the evening passes and in due course we retire to bed for more sleep. At least I do. Wifey usually nods off pretty quickly, often with a book draped over her face, me a little later. Now apparently I (very) occasionally snore. When I do, a sharply barked command from Wifey to “Shut up!” usually sorts the problem, followed if that fails with a sharp dig with the elbow in my ribs. Happy times!

This week, however, we had a new phenomenon. Although the garden centre is closed at the moment for refurbishment work, I have still been putting in the hours to be ready for our re-opening and physically it has been quite demanding. When not at work, I am out getting in as many walks as possible before the ground softens and the gardening year begins. Consequently, I am often tired and ready for bed, and Wifey has to endure the grunts and snores of my sleeping routine, and in turn I receive harsh disciplinary treatment to keep the collateral disturbance from my sleeping habits down to a minimum. This week was different. I wasn’t snoring at all. All was quiet. All was peaceful. No one was being disturbed by my erratic grunts, grones and snores.

Wifey was asleep too. In fact, completely undisturbed by me she was in deep sleep, happily dreaming the hours away....until in her dream she heard a voice, my voice mind, telling her to “Wake up!” which she promptly did. Almost silent I lay sleeping alongside her. In fact so quiet she couldn’t hear me breathing. Perhaps he’s dead? Paranoia grew and she couldn’t help herself. A swift jab in the ribs coaxed this happily sleeping form into life with a start. Content that her husband was in fact alive and she slipped back into contented sleep. If I sleep noisily I get rebuked. If I appear in one of her dreams and wake her up I am completely to blame, but worst of all is even when I sleep silently, I still get it in the neck. It might be an idea to give up on sleep altogether. Sometimes I just can’t win.