Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Monday, 15 February 2010

A must for those who share beds

Routine aids retirement – not just because imagination is at a low ebb (though it is) but because it reduces the quotidian burden: putting on socks, cleaning teeth, checking for vital signs, deciding what to do if vital signs aren’t apparent. Routine is vital in moving from the temptations of the grave to an upright state, underpants in place, ready to face another day. Getting up, in fact.

Technology also plays a part. I rise first and enter the en suite to perform what passes for my ablutions during which I tell myself that old age justifies diminishing standards of hygiene. I note from the dictionary ablution includes the washing of sacred vessels but here this practice has fallen into desuetude. When I re-emerge Mrs BB leaves her place beneath the phospherescent glare of the digital clock that so discombobulated Lucy and we immediately make the bed.

Any spouse who fails to share this ritual is a logistical heretic. Making the bed as a couple takes about 38 seconds, as a singleton it can take five minutes and generates much irritation. Technology contributes in the form of a fitted bottom sheet. Does anyone use unfitted ones? Pure whimsy is the only possible reason. I calculate we have made the bed as a couple 18,185 times and can be considered experts

A duvet would speed things up and we have often used one in hotels. But if we became used to a duvet would we fight for covering? As it is sheets, cellular blankets and coverlet are so generously proportioned this is not necessary. The upholstered bed-head was custom made since furniture shops seem to favour wrought-iron structures similar to farm gates.

Novel progress 18/2/10. Ch. 15: 2346 words. Chs. 1 - 14: 63,137 words. Comments: Hatch dines out but there's more on the menu than he expected.


Relucent Reader said...

The Missus and I are currently seeking a new bed for the guest bedroom, and would like an upholstered headboard as well. Same deal: we have to go custom made to get it, as they are nonexistent in stores, or are too tall etc.

Plutarch said...

Your routine interests me as much for what it includes as for what it leaves out. We, too, fall into a daily routine. And I find its ryhthms, its high points and low points, comforting. But I wonder sometimes if routine is too much of an addiction, a barrier against the sharp edges of being alive. When on holiday, we quickly adopt a routine tailored to our new surroundings. In either case I find (perhaps it is a sign of ageing) that I become irrascible if the routine is too sharply interrupted. People of a younger generation are, as I think I used to be, more free and easy and readily adaptable to the unexpected. Something makes me want to retain a little of that freedom, though it isn't easy. However I tell myself, on the positive side, that routine provides a framework in which a mind still capable of expanding and being creative, has time and space to function freely.

Avus said...

Duvets?...I hate them. Even on single beds. With no weighted "low centre of gravity" over each side of the bed they move with you. Couples fight for their bit, singles often wake to find themselves uncovered and freezing.
Morning routine for us is: I get up and dress in my room. Go down and make tea. Serve it to Mrs Avus in her room.
Blissful, snore free nights for both and if one wants to read in the night the other is not disturbed. (I guess that's how we have managed to reach our Golden Wedding!)

Rouchswalwe said...

The bed-head here is wood and rattan. If I had my way, there would be a futon on the floor instead of this bulky bed that makes me late for work on the mornings when I actually make it up. Breakfast is what I drag myself out of bed for; the cat insists on a 5:15 feeding. There is no routine; each morning is different. Keeps me on my toes.

The Crow said...

Since it was time to change the linens on my sick bed, I decided to try two flat sheets, to see if I could still make hospital corners like I used to when in the Navy.

I can, and the well-made flat bottom sheet doesn't pull loose when I toss and turn like the elastic corners do on the fitted sheet.

Still can't bounce a quarter off it, though; never could. Used to get one of my roommates to make it nice and tight for me so I could pass bunk inspection.

Mrs. BB has a very nice lamp. I like its green shade.

Hattie said...

I would love to share a bed, but I am married to a world class snorer. It started when he got into his mid 40's. My daughters both have managed to partner up with heavy snorers, too, only these ones started in their 30's. No remedies work with this crowd!
Since he's otherwise a sterling character, I don't want to hate my husband for his nightly serenade, so we sleep in separate rooms but share space other times.
And he brings me my morning coffee.

Barrett Bonden said...

RR: Both Mrs BB and I each read a dozen pages or so before we turn out the light. Hence the need to lean against something reasonably soft. I assume the people who make beds don't do this; leaning against some of their structures would be a modern-day equivalent of a visit to the Iron Maiden.

Plutarch: Sometimes my routine shames me. I read about you, Lucy and others taking improving walks, observing nature and mankind, coming to conclusions on the basis of new evidence whereas I spend far too much time as at this moment, in front of the screen. I help with certain domestic tasks but I'm itching to be up here. I offer the feeble excuse that the novel requires me to be here as does verse writing, but these are new developments and there was no such excuse a year ago. I'm not sure it is a routine. Wanting to write - or rather, wanting to write better - is the impulse and 74 is not the age to adopt an interest in fretwork. I read too about your inventive meals and reflect on my own brunch which always has the same pattern: muesli with slices of canned peach, two slices of toast with corned beef, paté or egg mayo, and an apple. Plus two mugs of self-made coffee. I take heart from your final sentence: however humdrum and unimaginative my day must look to an outsider the writing - which I'm doing at this very moment and enjoying - is not routine.

Avus: Neither of us has drunk a cup of tea for decades and in any case our ingestions do not begin until midday. As to snoring, see below. As you know we are within spitting distance of a Golden (1/10/10) and in our case the glue that has held us together is our joint bank account.

RW(zS): It's the physical events that follow a routine and after cleaning my teeth for the 25,915th time I find it hard to discover anything new in that. However, once awake my thoughts are free to rove; I am, to quote Falstaff, "forgetive" (unexpected pronunciation: forje-etive), conscious that life is short, keen to entertain and - most of all - keen to run a garden rake through my cerebellum and find out what new associations are available. Boredom is a crime and the punishment is reality TV.

The Crow: Hospital corners - an early rift in our married life. Fresh from rigorous training at "one of London's greatest teaching hospitals" Mrs BB imposed them on our bed and I protested. This was in the pre-fitted-sheet days and they didn't support life. When I lay on my back my size 10½ feet were compressed banana-fashion by the enormous force exerted by the sheets. If your fitted sheets pulled away at the corners it may have been because there wasn't enough turnover. Try John Lewis, though the delivery charges may be prohibitive. Interesting that you knew which side of the bed Mrs BB sleeps on, or is there some international law?

Hattie: We both snore and so it's a race to see whose mind closes down first. Nine times out of ten Mrs BB wins. In fact I'm now down to about four hours a night, none of it consecutive. This wakeful time isn't wasted and I have more than once achieved the first quatrain of a sonnet by memory alone, tapping out the beat with a finger on the thigh. Your use of "sterling" interests me since it's my impression it's not an adjective favoured by Americans. Possibly because of its monarchist associations.

The Crow said...

Re: hospital corners - only on the bottom sheet, and only because your post reminded me of when I had no choice. I always fold a kick pleat in the top sheet so that I don't end up with squashed toes.

Re: Mrs. BB's side of the bed - Elementary, my dear BB. The lamps told the story. One lamp represents the esthetics of utility; the other, utility and beauty. I simply "deduced" which of the two of you would be more likely to dismiss form in favor of function (from reading your blog for over a year now) and had my answer.

Not that it matters a hill of beans...

Avus said...

1/10/10 - my daughter's birthday! Another instance of our "parallel lives"!

Julia said...

Over here in CE we use a duvet, the biggest we can find, to cover the bed and allow enough counter balanced weight on either side to keep it from slipping. Making the bed in the morning takes seconds, but I do occasionally miss the neat lines of a well made up bed with sheets and a coverlet. I'm just back from Spain and discovered that they are also a sheets/blanket/cover rather than duvet country. Where does this divide start, and do the duvet and the Maginot line parallel?

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: despite the fact that it's a French word the logis, auberges and smaller hotels rarely if ever seem to have duvets, so I'm not sure where the Duvet Line runs. The Swedes are the most enthusiastic duvet-istes I know of, very thick, very three-dimensional. One problem: a certain kind of movement by the sleeper can lift the duvet, causing it to reverse-pump cold air into the sleeping capacity. OK if you sleep like Tutankhamun.

Lucy said...

A French word, yes, but not used in that application, it simply means 'duck down', they say 'couette'. They are used here, though often in combination with flat topsheets and thick quilty bedspreads or top blankets. This is the option we have taken. The top fleece blanket comes off in the summer for a wash, the flat sheet between duvet and people means the duvet cover needs washing half as often, which also means less wrestling with changing it, another downside of duvets (no pun intended).

We have also taken to square French pillows, and find the oblong British ones rather pinched now, though we don't use a bolster, or traversin. I wonder if adopting the bedding habits of the host country is a sign of going native?

Do you not air your bed before making it?

People love to examine and compare routines, don't they? I think some of it is down to personality, upbringing etc. I was happy to have more order and routine brought into my life with Tom, but I do rebel sometimes, if only by accident or absent-mindedness. My sudden aberrant departures from and forgetting of long-established ones are a constant source of exasperation to him. I think it is important sometimes to break away from them if they aren't serving you well, if only to establish other ones.

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: I assumed that French civilians do use duvets from evidence in shops, etc. Their absence in logis and modest hotels must surely be to do with the problem you cite, that of wrestling the cover onto an entity that seems intent on not wearing it. I'm glad to see you haven't gone completely native; adoption of the oreiller would indicate a completely alien attitude towards bed usage.

My references to routine are only the tip of the iceberg. The novel is 50% concerned with the life of an out-of-work engineer and this has required me examine routine as a character trait quite closely.

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: Airing the bed? Oh Gawd, no. Now it's too late to start, surely?