Tim Key: 'In spite of sleeping with each other for many years, our relationship was cold'

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The Independent Online

I bought a bed this week. I went to a showroom, I spent time questioning the shit out of the staff and trying on various mattresses, and I, heroically, bought a bed.

I famously love sleeping – I once slept for 30 hours in a row, only breaking for food and to go to work twice. I love it! So how the hell did I lose focus and allow my sleeping to be compromised by shoddy equipment? I don't even want to think about my old bed now that I've got rid of it, but I will do for the sake of eating up some words for this column. Putting it bluntly, my old bed was an uncomfortable sod. It was a lumpy, lifeless, squeaking slab and, amazingly, for a bed, it was genuinely painful. I read recently some amazing statistic about how much time we spend in our beds. I think we're either in them, or wishing we were in them, for about 50 per cent of our lives, so it's a scandal that I put up with my dud for as long as I did. I must be some kind of mug.

I told the leggy shop assistant my plight and he vomited out some guff about beds and asked me what I was after. I explained that I've had a large springmark in my flank for the past six to eight months so anything would be an improvement. His colleagues examined the welt as I went on to describe the way my mattress would bow quite deeply in the middle under the weight of my hips, causing my body to fold up on itself like a taco, with my toes pressing against my eyelids. I'd like a bed, I explained, which keeps me flat. He said they had a number of beds that he was confident would deliver on this, and he winked in the direction of the showroom.

I lay on a bed and immediately dropped off, beguiled by the comfort of it all. After some time I awoke, breakfasted, and tried another. Again, the softness carried me off. I came to, put my T-shirt back on and asked an assistant over. I was interested to see how the bed reacted to a guest, and she was a good size so would represent a stern test. The bed was kingsize and accommodated us both effortlessly. I hailed the leggy gentleman and he climbed in, too. Again the bed was unimpeachable. A couple more climbed in and we got under the covers and giggled and discussed which mattress I should buy.

There was a lot of support from the showroom staff for something called a Memory Mattress. This immediately appealed to me. If I had one criticism of my old mattress, it was its memory. Basically, my old mattress was a forgetful son-of-a-bitch so had no way of giving me comfort and then of remembering how it had done it for next time. Each night, when I entered my bedroom, it was as if my mattress and I were perfect strangers. In spite of sleeping with one another for years, our relationship was cold. I know I probably wasn't doing my bit either, but it was difficult to when I was getting zero back from her. I lay down on a Memory Mattress and the experience was life-changing. She enveloped me in her foam technology. I sleep-walked to the counter to pay.

My first night with the new bed filled me with a sadness. A sadness that I had spent so many nights settling for second best. Catching moments of poor quality sleep here and there in among the broken springs and fractured dreams of my old set up. I was so happy, so excited, I didn't want to go to sleep. I wanted the moment to last forever. I took a couple of Pro Pluses and slithered about, exploring the bed, probing its corners, then I rested in the middle, stock still waiting to drift off, the Memory Mattress holding me in her bosom. Eyes closed, smiling. I didn't drop off immediately so read for a bit, then had another go. Still not really happening. I counted sheep, camels, radio presenters, anything. I'd never really had this before. I got up and made myself a cup of tea. I sat down at my kitchen table, tired and frustrated. I wrote my column.