. . . makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”
So went the saying in one of the earliest books I can remember reading. I honestly cannot remember if I went to bed early last Thursday night but given the pattern of recent days it would be surprising if I hadn’t. It would also have been one of the really rare evenings I took a sleeping tablet, which accounted for being wide awake at 3am ; they do that : knock me out like a light and leave me stranded a few hours later at an hour that is of no earthly use to most people in my time zone.
After having tossed and turned for a while, gone onto Twitter and chirped about my lack of sleep-lus, 5am seemed an excellent time to take Daisy for a walk. No birds were up, my thought frenzy had set off an alarm up the road and made one dog bark, and I’d awoken with a very logical solution to a work-related problem. Being early autumn it was still darkish but light enough not to alarm the patrolling security guards. Having made the decision but being on the experienced side of 40, it took a minute or two for my body to actually move itself out of bed. This accomplished, the hard work began.
Firstly the cat recognised a deviation from his normal routine and embraced it. While I was dressing, he bounced round and round the little hallway on all fours, “pick me, pick me”. This wasn’t actually presumptuous or unrealistic in view of the disbelieving and sustained silence that came from under my bed. As a very final last ultimate non-negotiable serious warning, I wafted Daisy’s harness and lead in the general direction of somewhere below the bed. This finally had the desired effect and the nostrils drew the rest of her from her lair.
By then all the disturbance from the animals and none at all from me had awoken the cat’s erstwhile sleeping partner, the (teenage) Sleeping Bruce. An Eyeball that managed to be belligerent and not much awake at the same time came out from under the pillow and informed me that its door was to be closed immediately as it wished to continue sleeping. Coming upon such an articulate and communicative bodypart at that time of morning was more than I’d hoped for so I took the gap to explain that there was no point in closing the door as it would be needed to restrain the cat if he decided to accompany us as he often does. The Eyeball was in no mood to take prisoners so I closed the door hurriedly and escorted Daisy out of the front door. Long before we even reached the gate, the four-legged pogo-cat was ahead of us emitting delighted signals. Not having any reason to fear an Eyeball through a glass window, I banged on it (the window) and conveyed the news that he would have to be restrained, be it by door or window. The Eyeball stayed under the pillow this time but must have taken some cognisance of the one-sided conversation as an arm was dispatched to open the window. Kirby is a very big cat. Well, Kirby is a reasonably-sized cat with very big feet. The burglar-bars are average. Kirby didn’t fit immediately or easily through these. Having undeliberately been accompanied by the cat on a few walks there was no choice but to turn him sideways and post all the bodyparts that remained on the outside of the burglar-bars through to the inside in whatever order came about. Had the Eyeball deigned to join in the activity, it would undoubtedly have witnessed an apparition with some semblance to a tortured and distorted child at a sweetshop window as he was contorted through the available space and into Eyeball territory.
Cat posted, Daisy and I set off to walk on the other side of the gate. We had hardly reached the next property when two guys somewhere around my age (in their prime, no need to say more) came striding along (phhhhht, not jogging – cover blown), arms swinging energetically and bobbing up and down in synchronised fraudulent rhythm. Fortunately I used to be a morning person when I was still young and caught on immediately. My arms picked up the rhythm like two bemused pendulums and I hissed at Daisy to get into routine so we would look like we’d also been at it for hours and not just one property-length. They managed to greet me audibly and it was extremely satisfying to return the salutation without sounding one bit out of breath.
By then of course, there were equal numbers of joggers/walkers and dogs starting to wake up. It was quite interesting exposure to a sector of our community I don’t normally meet. Interesting too that others think like me – rarely, so it’s of no immediate concern. On the return trip a guy slowly caught up with me followed closely by a wheezing little dog that would have been overshadowed by the cat if he had come along. This was so easy to deal with that I came close to snorting into my armpit – slow Daisy down so she could inspect the plants/lampposts/fire hydrants and pretend to wait patiently. Obviously the man-and-beast soon overtook us and we consoled each other on the trials of having to exercise elderly animals at a slower pace.
I don’t know if there are enough bones in Africa to pay Daisy off and keep her in bed at 5am now. Hell hath no fury like an indignant Staffie . . .
That wasn’t enough to make me particularly healthy, I am most assuredly none the wealthier for my walk ; I am however infinitely wiser. We all know where I am now to be found at 5am.