Monday, 7 June 2010


Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I did not sleep last night, so am feeling most peculiar. I only get proper insomnia about once a month, but when it comes it comes in glorious technicolour.

My mother calls.

'Darling, your voice sounds strange,' she says.

'I did not sleep,' I say. 'I could not turn my brain off.'

'Oh,' she says, with a little sigh. 'Yes, your brain. I do worry about it.'

My sister calls.

'I was up all night worrying about the pelicans,' I say.

'Yes,' she says. 'There really is no limit to the things you worry about.'

I also had forty-seven brilliant ideas for the book in my night of sleeplessness, most of which have either fled, or seem very pedestrian and not at all funny or clever in the dull morning light.

In the end, I had to go back to bed and doze until eleven, which felt incredibly subversive, but was necessary for any kind of rational functioning.

Then, like a miracle, I got up, had a pot of coffee so thick you could stand a spoon in it, sharpened my wits, and bashed out 1600 words of the book, which is verging on the vulgar. Many of them will have to be cut or rewritten, but it satisfies my word count itch, which Sarah will tell you must be scratched.

Outside, the sky is bright white, and there is a low, persistent rain. A pair of oystercatchers are tripping about the lawn, singing wildly at each other. I wish I knew more about them. They have been silent for the last couple of weeks, but on Saturday they suddenly started up their song again. I think it might have something to do with their nesting cycle. Anyway, they look very bonny with their glossy black backs and their amber beaks, doing their little theatrical song and dance.

No pictures from my genius new camera today, on account of the weather, but here instead are two charming photographs from a new collection out of the British National Archives:

This is a shepherd with his dog on the Sussex Downs, taken some time between 1926 and 1942. I wish more people still wore hats like that.

This is the mouth of the River Dart, in Devon, from the same period. It's so beautiful, it's almost like abstract art. I love that there is not a human in it. It gives a timeless feeling of utter peace.

If you want to see the full collection, you can find it here.


  1. Hi Tania,
    I've had nights like the one you describe, when you can't switch your brain off. It makes for a very light-headed approach to life the following day - which I had, up til now, thought was neither positive nor productive. However, now I know that sleeplessness can inspire such wordsmithy creativity, I might try sticking pins in my arms or pinching myself to maximise my wakefulness....!

  2. Sleeplessness has been a constant companion since I turned the corner of 40. Last night, I too, just could not sleep. I ate chocolate nutmeg ice cream whilst going through my reader. With that finished (the ice cream/reader) I turned my engineering skills up full force and have now decided the only way to solve the oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico (my neighborhood)is to just nuke it. I mean, they can pinpoint bomb why not just blast it closed? Any thoughts on this, precious & brilliant Tania, my love? Or maybe you should just call up Sir Richard and ask him what he would do. He seems to be the only logical man alive. xx's


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