Dark Skies and Serenity

As we’re semi-rural there are no street lights, however, occupied houses do have an outside light provided by the council. Ours is about 6 metres away from our front door, it gives just enough light to stop you tripping over in the lane, other than that we have very little light pollution, so we almost get what astronomers call, Dark Skies. Now I know very little about astronomy, I can just about pick out the Plough and hazard a guess that the very bright star is Sirius. In truth I’ve never really given much thought to what’s up there in the night sky. I did once find it odd looking up at a different layout of stars while I was working in New Zealand, but that’s about the sum total of my interest in the sky at night.

Tonight the sky is clear, no clouds obscure the stars and as Fond Affections from, This Mortal Coil’s debut album, It’ll End in Tears plays, I sit outside. Maybe it’s the majesty of the heavens or the wine, but tonight I’m finding it quite relaxing to just look up. There are no shooting stars or unidentified objects up there, just little blobs of light that scientists tell us have travelled far too many years to comprehend to get here. What happens when the light has no where else to go, is it snuffed out? I put the question out of my head and as if planned Antony and the Johnsons start to play, Soft Black Stars, their cover of the song originally recorded by Current’ 93. Antony Hegarty’s plaintive voice  spills outside, his trembling vibrato complimenting the stillness of the evening.

I could go on about how this feeling of contentment could only have happened here in Italy, but I wont, as that would just be nonsense. It’s just a classic case of time and place creating an emotional response. Would I have looked up and felt this serene had the iPod shuffled and Professor Green or Fall Out Boy played, probably not, so I let the song wash over me, sip my wine and watch the twinkling up above me.

It’s Just You and Me

I feel like crap. It’s 03.45 and I should be asleep. I’ve had a couple of nights of sleeplessness lately. It has nothing to do with weather or alcohol or even too much sleep the previous day, it’s just happened of its own accord. Usually I’ve lain awake looking at the blue light on the light switch; designed to show a somnolent sleepwalker where the switch is and eventually dropped off. Tonight however is different, I’m dog-tired. Normally I’d apologise for the cliché, but I’m too tired to care. I’m desperate to sleep but it evades me.

I get up and wander about in the kitchen, I open and close the fridge looking for something: What that something is I don’t know. I stand outside and look up at the stars, the sky is different here than back in the UK, there are sparkles in the darkness that I cannot name. It’s not like when I was in New Zealand, and every star in the hemisphere was new to me, occasionally I’ll see something I recognise, but tonight I see nothing.

The sounds of the night are all around me, the clacking of bugs in the grass is getting more constant as the summer progresses, back in April there was hardly a click in the dark, but with the warmth comes the volume. A late firefly flashes and I despair for him, the season has passed so his chance of finding a mate now has seriously diminished. There’s the almost silent sound of a bat as it circles Domenico’s ruin and something scurries across my bare foot. In the light cast from the kitchen door I see a scorpion on my foot, my first reaction is to shake my foot, but I’m too tired, so watch it as it crawls off me. “It’s just you and me,” i say as it waggles its pincers in the air and scuttles away for the safety of the dark spaces.

I return to the kitchen and spend a few minutes checking emails and deleting spam, there’s no new notifications on Facebook; why would there be, with the exception of a few people in Australia, all my FB friends will be tucked up in bed. Nocturnal envy is not a good thing. I try to read, but my eyes hurt and my brain cannot process the words, so there’s nothing for it but to write this blog entry. Obviously heavily edited once my faculties kick in again. Will writing help me to sleep?100_6468-crop

Not a chance, as the words spill from my fingers I start to think about a feature I need to complete, an idea for my novel pops up and some new article ideas bounce around between my ears. This writing during my insomniac moment is not a good idea, as now my brain is whirring; clicking like the bugs in the long grass, all I need is an old fashioned typewriter bell to ping every sixteen or so words. I put the laptop away and crawl back into bed where the OH makes those noises of contented slumber, Should I aim a dig to the ribs in one of those selfish, ‘if I’m awake you should be’ moments? I decide not to and lie looking at the blue light again, waiting.

06.06, and I can bear it no more so I climb out of bed and put the kettle on and open the front door, the pizza eating cat is already here waiting for the off chance some human will toss it a morsel. I give it the bones from last nights lamb chops and it noisily crunches at them as the kettle boils and the OH stumbles into the room saying, “I had such a good sleep last night.” Inside my head I’m screaming, “You did did you. Well guess what!”

The only plus to this tale of an Englishman in Italy who was unable to sleep, is the welcoming clouds the following day.