I’m entering a new phase of sleeplessness.
Last night was the first night that I didn’t sleep until after 6am this morning. I’m getting close to a moment where I might start having nights with no sleep whatsoever. I think this would be unmanageable, not in how tired or slow I would feel the next day but, even worse, the crushing sense of defeat I would have to endure.
The physical effects of adrenaline production seem to be getting more intense and the intensity increases with time as the night progresses. There was a point this morning where I felt like I was having spasms. My heartbeat was a repetitive, voluble presence not just in my chest but my ears, my head and my wrists, overworked and unwanted. It’s hideous at the time but, again, I’m always surprised by the transformative effect of daylight, especially sunlight. The night time feels so foreign, an alien world when remembered in the consoling light of day.
Looking out across Pembroke Road I wonder who out there is experiencing far worse. The room opposite where the hunched man moves about from time to time has one curtain drawn and one open. Through the open window the small, orange lampshade of the wall light emits a weak retro light, barely enough to see by. Does he sleep? Is he in pain? I expect I’ll never know.
The upside (or is it?) of lack of sleep is an increased libido, not that I need more desirous urges. Wandering down to get a sandwich at lunchtime from the Triangle I find myself feeling drowsy and drawn to observing members of the opposite sex, surprised by how affected I am by the beauty of hair or skin or eyes or a carefully constructed look but careful to look away before we get too close to each other. Of course they’re half my age – what comes from living in a student area. I’ve only talked about this connection between fatigue and desire once with one other person which is strange considering the amount my friends and family talk about this sort of thing. I’m sure there must be some link or maybe only certain people get it. I remember one of my many random freelance TV jobs was driving a cameraman / director around London following a pair of bailiffs as they evicted people from their houses. He brought it up on the umpteenth day of a shoot which involved a lot of early starts and late finishes, dreamily looking out of the window at girls passing us in Fulham.
It was in the same crappy car around about the same time that I also used to drive actors from a terrible Brit gangster flick I was working on. It was pretty much my first job in film as the whooping heady days of the nineties faded into the millenium. Brit pop. Swinging London. And all the razzle dazzle that went along with it.
It was the first day of the shoot and strangely the same day that Jill Dando, the news presenter, was shot and killed in her home, just a couple of streets away from where sisR and I were living at the time. That was how the day started. Me driving past a police cordon to go to work at Three Mills Studios over on the East side of London. We were shooting in houses around East London with a lot of the Brit pack of young actors who were in vogue at the time. I was a runner which, as far as I could tell, was the most inaccurate job title to describe my role which seemed to comprise of standing in one spot with a walkie talkie and stop anyone from walking into shot.
After about 8 hours of this someone shouted at me “Hey you, can you drive Jude home, mate?” Jude had just got back from filming ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ in Italy. He was charming, polite and interested, which I was impressed by, especially as he was just becoming a major star. I drove us down to Marylebone Road while we shared a spliff and then him falling asleep, his face – that face – pressed against the window of my crumby old Peugeot 106.