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Just dreaming of a good night's sleep?; PASSING THOUGHTS.

Byline: David Charters

ONE of the strange truths of life is that the habitual snorer is never awoken by his own snoring.

Even the chap, whose ears are normally sensitive to the slippered approach of a daddy longlegs, can lie there on plumped pillows, blissfully unaware that with every exhalation his lips blubber and wobble with the zeal of a newly-released balloon.

If he had a diplomatic spouse, it would be quite possible for the snorer to run the marital course from the honeymoon hotel to final rest in the satin-lined box, without being told his oral eruptions could be measured on the Richter scale.

Soon after his going, however, people would observe that the dark bags beneath his wife's eyes were lifting as if by magic. For 39 years and three months the poor soul lay awake on her bed next to the human equivalent of a concrete mixer, her ears vainly muffled. But she was too polite to complain. Now, her ordeal is at an end.

In this way, snoring is rather like the tramp on a packed train, long accustomed to the warmth of his own smell, who is surprised by the anguished faces on his fellow passengers when he releases the green vapours from a bothersome boot.

They may poke their nostrils through the window, but they'll never tell him why.

Some things are not said.

Of course, I can tell you without fear of contradiction that a snore has never journeyed up my tubes. I am the quietest of sleepers, whose gentle rhythmic breathing has been compared to the sighs of angels.

But on Valentine's Day, which is also my wife's birthday, I noticed a certain weariness in her manner, as I cantered into the bedroom in a string vest, with the breakfast tray on my hands, a romantic smile on my face and the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves humming in my brain.

Worringly, her energy was not fully restored by the sheaf of heartshaped cards before her and the new topaz earrings, which sparkled in the pale sunlight spreading across her pillow.

I put this down to the pressures of life, always heightened at this time of year, when, on top of the daily grind, we add the double Valentine's celebration and our son's birthday.

He is six tomorrow and we are in the midst of organising a party for 15 of his friends, an endeavour to shred the nerves of a stoic.

Anyway, while mumbling something about sleepless nights, she suggested that I should take him into town on my own to choose a present.

I grabbed my coat with a zip-up pocket located on the left arm between the elbow and the shoulder.

This pocket puzzles me. What is it for? Now, if I was a pirate, I could find an immediate use for it as a handy place for my parrot to store his seed. But I am not a pirate.

I have to conclude that the pocket is a gimmick. The coat is equipped with perfectly adequate hip and breast pockets in which I can keep my sandwiches, cigarettes, lighter, pens, notebook, hankies, pennies, photos, identity pass, teabags, bus tickets, lozenges, shopping lists, pocket dictionary, aspirins and embrocation, deodorant squirter, sherbert dip, volume of short stories, scarf, cap and gloves.

Although it is otherwise a conventional coat, I suppose the manufacturer felt he had to make some gesture to fashion.

Most modern coats have so many toggles, hooks and zips that you need a map to find a route in.

This is the style of our age. Everything has to be vibrant;

seen to be busy, purposeful, ready for action. So it is with toys. The batteries drain as they leap, shoot, dance and roar, just like real people.

And we looked at them all in the big shops, my heart pounding as he hovered near the price tags. But nothing excited the boy's eyes until we were passing a smaller shop where, behind the window, there stood a row of soldiers in grey uniforms in front of a cannon.

This was more our line; men of lead, polished and proud, who moved only in the imagination. But that's the best place for battles, and such battles they would be; waged to the beating of the drums and the blowing of the fifes, when Johnny came marching home again. This time as the tin ghost of brave men.

They were, of course, secondhand, belonging to another age. But they were so beautifully made, eight little figures on their stands.

BY God, he's a chip off the old block, I thought. My boy has chosen the Confederates, just like his old dad. With an unerring faith in lost causes, I supported the boys in grey, just as I had ridden with the Cavaliers in our Civil War.

The man in the shop wrapped each soldier in tissue paper and laid them lovingly in the box, which must have been opened by another little boy on his birthday many years ago. At home, we put them in a cupboard, ready for the day.

But I noticed my wife still looked a little tired. "Do you ever hear anything in your sleep?" she asked, "a kind of grunting sound."

"Don't worry, " I replied, reassuringly. "You don't snore."
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 21, 2002
Words:885
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