My days, of late, include an afternoon nap. I hate it when this happens. It breaks up my day, isn’t optional (it just happens. Suddenly I find I’m waking up), it comes when it comes, and it lasts as long as it lasts.
When I’m doing really quite well, I don’t do this at all. When I’m slightly less ok, I might have to have a quasi-optional half hour. When I’m bad, it’s two or more solid hours of being utterly poleaxed. That’s what’s happening at the moment. So I’m not doing ok.
What IS quite sweet about it is that when I go to sleep, all the cats come and collect on me, like aphids on a rose-stem. One by one they creep on. Then they go to sleep. Not in that windowsill-dozing way cats have, where they have their eyes closed but in fact are completely alert, waiting for prey. No, this is full kittenish-abandoned sleep, where their legs stick out at all sorts of angles and, because there are four of them, they tangle up.
When Bagpuss wakes, all the mice on the mouse organ wake up too.
When I wake up, this lot does. I can’t move when I wake up. Not because of them. I mean my body doesn’t work, the muscles won’t fire. I can’t move. It lasts for anything from a minute or two, to 20 minutes. But they feel that my breathing has changed, and they wake. All over me, a carpet of reaching, spindly limbs ending in spread toes springs up, and flicking Atlas-moth ears, and the pink, fang-fringed parallelograms of a cat yawn, repeated four times, then another round for good luck. Some of them start purring because they can see I’m awake. Each one comes up to my face to say “hello”. They stretch their backs, first upwards arch, then downwards bow with the hind legs stuck out. The dynamism of their muscles makes the whole sofa vibrate. Then they get off me, one by one, and finish their stretches. At some point after that my body switches back on again and I find I can move. I make tea. They all come with me, like a wolf-pack, plaiting their way across the hall to perch on the kitchen chairs and blink at me.
I ought to get lonely, since I’m here on my own almost all the time, almost every day. But whatever I do, they do.
I couldn’t ask for more charming companions.