Tim Key: My tongue is lolling out of my mouth as I survey the room. Nothing makes sense'


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The Independent Online

There is nothing more disorientating or more demeaning than finding you've fallen asleep on a sofa. And no more dismal age to do it at than 37. But, stiff-necked and gummy-eyed, that's the situation I find myself trying to adjust to right now. Contorted, sprawling and unclear what the time is, I am squinting like a mole. There's sailing on the telly.

Everything is confusing. Like the chap from Memento, I'm all over the place. Where am I? Am I married? Why do I have a VHS player? Why are my plants dead? I pull myself up into a more dignified position – one that hurts my neck less – and I begin some detective work. A typewriter sits on the table, and next to it an ashtray, full of butts and ash. I'm a columnist then, or an author. Nothing particularly goes with anything and there are no cushions on the sofas. Maybe I'm single. There are lots of copies of the book I wrote three years ago. I'm Tim Key, then. I frown.

I am a victim of my lifestyle, of course.

The life of a columnist is unrelenting. When you imagine I have to do one of these every week, you'll understand that at times it can be difficult not to succumb to its demands. Of course you are given advice in your orientation week on how to deal with it. The importance of eating the right things, getting plenty of fresh air, taking some exercise and having a life outside of the column. But it's difficult. You get dragged in; it becomes an obsession. And, occasionally, situations like this occur. Brows knitted, eyes blinking. Befuddled. Broken. My tongue is lolling out of my mouth as I survey the room. Nothing makes sense.

Sky Sports is still whirring away. I can't have been watching sailing before I succumbed to sleep. I must have been watching something else, which then became sailing as I snored. Maybe the tennis. I have a vague recollection of someone serving, so, yes, I think it was tennis. Now these boats are trying to outwit each other on the open seas. I wonder who else is watching them. Sometimes the camera zooms right in on them. They are all wearing Gore-Tex and the ocean is spraying their faces, which are red and stressed. There are no easy jobs, I guess.

On the sofa next to me, where there should be a wife – cajoling me, helping with my column, doing her own thing – there is instead a half-finished plate of spaghetti bolognese. I remember cooking it. I remember cutting the carrots, crushing garlic, peeling tomatoes, emptying a large jar of Loyd Grossman Bolognese Sauce into it. The spaghetti bolognese also explains my clothes. Wary of the challenge this dish poses, I must have changed into my eating T-shirt before I got going. My front is splattered with dark orange streaks. A can of Holsten Pils balances on the arm of the sofa. I lift it; it is two-thirds full.

I stir into action.

The crucial thing to do in these situations is to get into bed with as little fuss as possible, while staying as sleepy as you can. The last thing you want to do is rejuvenate during this period. You don't want to be the guy who's asleep on his sofa one minute, wide awake on his memory-foam mattress the next. To this end, I try to keep my breathing as slow and dull as possible, so as not to excite myself. I operate, in fact, exactly like a mole. Nuzzling my plate into the kitchen, teasing my trainers off with my little paws and padding ever so slowly over to the typewriter to finish my column.

It is about Alex Salmond this week, but as I read it back it doesn't make much sense. It doesn't add anything to the debate so I haul out the paper, rip it very slowly to shreds and start afresh. I'll quickly roll something else– without waking up too much – and then bed. Mmmm. Bed. I cannot wait.