COLUMN: August 16, 2018

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A harmless-looking glass of water

EVERY night before I go to bed I lay an elaborate trap for myself as part of my bedtime admin routine.

Among other things, I brush my teeth, check all the things that are supposed to be unplugged are unplugged, look for the charger cable for my phone, check once again that all the things that are supposed to be unplugged are unplugged, and place a glass of water on my bedside table.

Often I go to bed before completing all of those tasks and then annoyedly have to get up again when I realise I haven’t ticked everything off the list, but the point is, by the time I close down for the evening, everything on that list is done, especially the last one.

And yet, despite the fact that every night I feel compelled to provide myself with a glass of water, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times in the past couple of years I have woken in the early hours desperate for a drop of tepid water.

Roughly 90% of the time I find that I am just replacing the full glass of water that is left on my bedside table from the night before with a new one.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Gary, you said you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times you’ve had a drink of water in the night in the past couple of years. That means you’ve had four drinks of water tops, or five if you’re including your thumb.

“Yet there have been 730 days in the past two years. Five is nowhere near 10% of 730. You’ve left a lot of glasses of water out of this story, haven’t you? What’s happened to the other glasses of water, Gary?”

The answer to that is partly down my trousers at the moment. I am a serial and inadvertent knocker-over of bedside glasses of water. I did it this morning, while fully dressed and watchless, while reaching for my watch. I now look as if I have had “an accident” instead of merely an accident, having worn precisely the wrong trousers in order to get away with a water spill.

I did it last week while reaching to turn off an alarm on my phone which I had set earlier that week but had forgotten I did not need any more. Honestly, you do not appreciate just how much water a tumbler contains until you find yourself on all fours on the carpet at 6am trying to mop it up with some tissues.

I did it the week before by dramatically pulling back my duvet in a huff because I had forgotten to do one of the things on my bedtime admin list. The corner of the duvet hit the glass, the glass hit the bedside lamp, and then ricocheted back. On this occasion, my relief that virtually none of the water had reached my carpet was overshadowed by the fact that virtually all of the water had reached my mattress.

The only time I spilled my water as a result of actually reaching for the tumbler was when, a couple of years ago, I woke with the sort of raging thirst that only a faintly stagnant room-temperature glass of water could slake.

I picked up my glass in the darkness – which could only have been a fluke – forgot that one has to be upright when drinking, collapsed back onto my pillow, and emptied the vessel all over my face, somehow waterboarding myself. In one move I had both demonstrated the reason why I had such a raging thirst AND provided a cure for that reason.

The point I am trying to make is that I have got myself a glass of water every night of my adult life, mostly with no benefit, and, when it does impact on my day, it overwhelmingly does so in the most negative way.

I can only assume that as a child I decided that what my adult life needed was more largely ineffectual practical jokes, and, in the absence of a regular target, I would have to do it to myself. And then I underwent some sort of self-hypnosis to ensure I did this every day.

No more. Tonight I am going to bed without a glass of water by my side. Like everybody else, I will just have to balance a bucket of water over the bedroom door.

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