One night last week I was snoozing soundly in bed, all curled up and cosy, when I heard our dog barking. My eyes flew open; he never barks during the night. Or if he does, I never hear him.
You know, by now, how my minds works: ohmygod, we’ve got burglars! There’s a fire! Somebody’s stealing my car! Or the burglar’s trapped in a fire while trying to find my keys so he can steal my car…
And then I realised something – it wasn’t our dog barking, it was next door’s. Phew! Not my problem, so I was safe to carry on snoozing.
Wrong! I heard the bounce of bed springs and the creak of floorboards creaking (I’m sure our walls were built from Cornflakes packets; you can hear everything going on next-door, and yes, I mean everything, even the noises when he’s umm… entertaining – boing, boing, bounce, bounce, squeal, bang, bash, ahhhh!)
But where was I? Oh yeah, awake. And the neighbour hadn’t just thrown a shoe at the dog or politely asked for quiet, but he’d actually got up, therefore, by my reasoning, something was wrong!
So I asked myself the question a completely neurotic person should never, ever ask herself at 4 o’clock in the morning: Should I be worried? I mean, what could possibly be wrong next-door that might affect us?
Was there a fire? Should we evacuate? A burglar? An outside prowler? A rampant sexual predator? Was he heading for us? Our home? Our Car? Our oil tank? Was there a gas leak? Were we about to explode in our beds? (Thank God I don’t sleep naked!!) Subsidence? Were our semi-detached houses slipping down a mine shaft? Was there a flood? Was somebody ill? Passed out on the floor? Should I ring an ambulance? The police? The Army? What about George, Mildred and Penny on the other side? Were they in trouble? Had the dog heard a commotion from their side? Did they need help? A blanket? A cup of tea? Was it an earthquake? A thunderstorm? Lightning? Should I unplug the computers? Were we at war? Being bombed? About to be gassed? Was it nuclear? Did I have time for a wee?
It was no good; I had to get up and investigate. There was no sign of natural disaster or mass destruction downstairs, but Eldest son was sitting on the sofa watching TV.
‘What you doing, Nigel? It’s like half-four in the morning!’
‘Couldn’t sleep,’ he replied. ‘It was too noisy.’
See! I knew something monumentally awful was going down. There’s nothing more rewarding for a neurotic than having her worst fears realised! Was it aliens landing their spaceship in the garden?
‘Nah, it was Youngest Brother. I can’t share a room with him anymore, Mum, he’s so bloody noisy when he farts and snores in his sleep. It’s a wonder they didn’t hear him next-door!’