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Martyrdom for amateurs

As far as sleeping is concerned - babies, dogs and the Spanish have the right idea.

When babies are tired they go to sleep without hesitation and regardless of their surroundings. When dogs are dozy they find a comfortable spot to curl up and snooze. In Spain they sensibly break up their day with a sleep around lunchtime.

Yet, because I am neither an infant, a canine or a Spaniard, I am required to stay awake from the crack of dawn until the chimes of midnight even if it means resorting to Pro-Plus and matchsticks.

While babies, dogs and the Spanish enjoy all the spoils of excess slumber, it’s the rest of us who have to take up the slack.

As a grown-up, non-Hispanic, two-legged citizen of the 21st century I’m expected to be tired, I’m expected to moan about it constantly, but under no circumstances am I expected to do anything about it.

For example, as I write this, I’m rubbing my eyes and suppressing a yawn, but were I to consider climbing under my desk for forty winks I could safely kiss my job goodbye. I could try claiming I was of Spanish heritage and was legally entitled to a siesta, but I doubt I’d win an industrial tribunal.

Alternatively if I was at a house party and feeling the effects of a few libations I might think about catching a little power nap in a quiet corner of the room while no one was watching. Of course, if I was spotted, I’d be the source of ridicule.

These are just two of the ways in which sleeping, one of the most natural acts in the world, is viewed as a flaw.

Or maybe it’s just me who is paranoid about falling asleep in non-sleeping company. It could stem from when I was a youth on trips away. A weekend with my peers became an endurance test by which the first person to fall asleep was likely to have their eyebrows shaved off.

Just as sleeping is viewed as a sign of weakness, tiredness is worn as a badge of honour.

If you’re depriving yourself of sleep you must be a very important person with so many essential things to do that you simply haven’t time to activate a forced shut down.

Red-ringed eyelids are a sign that you’re burning the candle at both ends to ensure you are an indispensable cog in your company’s machine.

Bags under your eyes mean you’re stretching yourself to the limit to provide for your family.

Regular yawns are evidence that you’re an individual who still finds time to have a social life.

In short, deliberate sleep-deprivation has become a form of martyrdom for amateurs.

Personally, when it comes to cheating myself of sleep, I wouldn’t dream of it.

Clock watching

I was tasked with putting all the clocks back before going to bed on Saturday night.

The only clock I couldn’t adjust was Lucy’s internal body clock. Despite an extensive learn and play session on DST (Daylight Saving Time) she still woke up on Sunday morning at what she understood to be her regular 6.20am slot, but which in reality had become 5.20am.

She did the same on Monday and on Tuesday she went one better and woke at 4.20am.

The result is I’m very tired and it’s no doubt apparent where the inspiration for the first part of this column has come from.

But rather than accept my status as a sleep-deprived martyr I’ve decided to tackle head-on the problem of the clocks going back.

After much head-scratching, soul-searching, number-crunching and lateral-thinking, I’ve come up with a solution:

After adjusting your clocks for DST -1, tune your television to Living +1 and wait a few hours until equilibrium restores itself naturally.

Weekly teaser

The answer to last week’s teaser was: The sheikh has promised his fortune to whichever of his sons owns the slower camel. The wise man tells the sons to swap their camels at which point they start to race as fast as they can back to the city, knowing that whoever finishes second will be riding the slower camel which belongs to the other brother who will therefore inherit the fortune.

Here’s this week’s teaser: You are a cook in a remote area with no clocks or other way of keeping time other than a four-minute and a seven-minute hourglass. On the stove is a pot of boiling water. Your wife asks you to cook a boiled egg in exactly nine minutes. You know she is a perfectionist and can tell if you undercook or overcook the egg even by just a few seconds. How can you cook the egg for exactly nine minutes to your wife’s satisfaction?