• neil

Day 35 (21 April): Completely Foxed

At 04:01 a fox woke me. To be precise, I was woken by the barking of a fox.

Obviously, a fox didn’t tap me on the shoulder and say “Wake up, I brought you a cup of tea”.

I’m now wondering in which language he would have said it had he done so.

My house is close to the Belgian linguistic border so it could equally have been French or Dutch. A polite fox might even have addressed me in my native language.

In any event, it was impossible to sink back into sleep and instead of counting sheep, of which I have none, my busy mind picked up on the idea of

fridge magnets.

I don’t know why; they are not something it has much time for in the normal run of things.

At 4.15 a.m., when other insomniacs are googling "wife swap" in the vain hope of getting a piano I found myself googling “fridge magnets”.

I now know quite bit about fridge magnets and I promise never to share it with you.

Suffice it to say, I am a tad concerned that I must have spent a happy half hour debating with myself the possible impact on the value of Megan and Harry fridge magnets now that they have left the family firm. And if they ever divorce, should they all be sawn in half?

Having returned from that bizarre line of musing I turned to the practicality of fridge magnets in an era of post-its and iPhones. Especially in my house where the fridge is covered in wood panelling and the happy, happy Pope my daughter bought me (Thanks Sugarplum!) is stuck to a biscuit tin. It dawned on me (it was almost that time of day) that a large number of things cluttering my house are without any practical use.

TV controllers. I have four of them. One for the set top box, one for the sound bar, one for the TV itself and one for Apple TV. Each controller has an average of 24 buttons. I use a maximum of two buttons on each controller.

I have a souvenir boomerang which doesn’t come back. Really. Which as any boomerang expert will tell you means what I do have is a stick.

I have non-working Christmas lights; broken torches, devices without batteries and batteries without devices; I have cutlery from my grandparents and great grandparents which doesn’t even get taken out at Christmas and I have a grandfather clock which I never wind up because it makes more noise than that fox.

When you can’t get back to sleep your mind finds the most mysterious pathways. I remembered being at infant school when Miss Needham (her again) asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. Or in my case if.

No surprises there; train driver, teacher, astronaut and surgeon. And of course, most of the kids never do any of those things. Which is fine. Nobody wants to be operated on by a six year old. But why does nobody aspire to designing fridge magnets or all purpose TV controllers.

I never did get back to sleep. But I did at least giggle. I remembered the individual letter magnets in the form of Portuguese tiles which my brother and I bought for my sister in Lisbon. She was quite happy until she unwrapped the final one and realised what they spelled.

If you have trouble getting to sleep, spare a thought for the person who spent his night putting this together - with a little help from some kids who lived their dreams.

You are really mastering this confinement business. Give yourself a pat on the back. And a big hug from me!



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