This seems to be the year for new purchases. Earlier in the year our washing machine died and now, after talking about the possibility for at least a year, we’re buying a new bed. This decision prompted childhood memories of the bed I grew up in, back in the 1950s.
That bed was a far cry from the one we’ve just purchased. The base was an old wire wove one, the wires so stretched they sank in the middle. On top of this lay a lumpy old kapok mattress. In spite of this, I still found my bed comfortable. The mattress caved in the middle, meaning this was the only place to sleep. I’d snuggle down, pulling the sheet and thin, worn blankets right up to my chin.
On winter nights the thin blankets provided little warmth when I first got into bed, and my feet usually took time to warm up. When the nights became really cold I filled a hot water bottle from the tap to warm the bed before I climbed in.
For many years, until I could read for myself, either Mum or Dad would come and read a story, helping me to drift off to sleep before they turned off the light.
My bed nestled in one corner against the wall, from where I watched the shadows cast by the street lights as they found their way through the tear in the old blind. My imagination danced, making up stories about the strange shapes flung against the far wall, until I eventually fell asleep. Or I listened to the rain falling on the old tin roof. Sometimes my parents’ voices drifted through the door, not loud enough to make out the conversation, but close enough to give a sense of security.
I always felt snug and secure in my bed. My childhood bed-time was special. Now, I look forward to the new bed’s arrival. Its base and firm mattress will support my back, unlike the sagging wire and lumpy mattress once beneath me. The electric blanket will warm the bed during winter months. The soft, light duvet gives plenty of warmth, though I still retain my childhood habit of pulling the cover up round my ears.
Two other things haven’t changed. I still read most nights, turning off the events of the day. Once the lights are out I’ll lay awake in my new bed, waiting for sleep to come, making stories of the shadowy shapes that sometimes flit across the room. Bed-time still causes my imagination to come alive for a short time at least. Unlike in childhood, when I eventually fell asleep, I now need to make a decision – will I let the ideas be and hope I remember them in the morning? Or will I turn the light back on and scribble the ideas down before they dance away into the night?