Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The Joy of Single Beds

I am running away to the National Library to read one of my MSS, so today's post will be short. And it is a paeon to the Single Bed, which is not terrifically original, as there is one in my book, as you will see.

When you are Single it is very, very important to have a nice, comfortable bed. Since you don't get to share it with anyone, it can get a bit lonely unless you make it just perfect for your own sleeping needs. When as a Single woman I had a bed that was too big, too cold and too clammy, it made the loneliness seem all the more acute.

Therefore, the bed I loved best was a single bed, meaning a nice narrow bed with a semi-firm mattress. Single beds are no-nonsense. They are made for Single people. They don't expect you to have a bedmate. They expect you to snuggle in, switch on a lamp, and have a cozy read before saying your prayers and drifting off into chaste slumber. Their mattresses say, "Never mind futons. They're for crazy college kids. You're beyond all that now."

My ideal single bed has clean, lavender-smelling sheets, wool blankets and a comfy comforter. I write in my book about the potential horrors of having to give up sheets and blankets for a European spouse's duvet. It's all true. I'm condemned to duvets for the duration of my marriage, except when home in Canada where my mother doesn't put up with such nonsense.

If a single bed isn't warm enough on its own, I absolutely require either a hot water bottle or woolly socks. The problem with hot water bottles is that after awhile, the joins weaken and they begin to leak. So I recommend buying only the finest quality water bottle. If your feet are cold, you begin to think about other people's legs and how nice it would be to warm your feet on them. And this leads to either impure thoughts, gnawing the blankets in frustration, or both. In the absence of a hot water bottle, bed socks are an aid to chastity

My ideal single bed also features pillows both firm and squish and perhaps a totemistic stuffed animal. The most important stuffed animal of my Single life was a brown teddy bear named Edward Sebastian, christened after the two most influential crush objects of my childhood: H.R.H. The Prince Edward and Anthony Andrews as Sebastian in Brideshead Revisited. There was also a giant blue whale until he sagged and leaked beans. Dear me, how I loved that whale. Anyway, although I enjoyed having a whole regiment of woolly toys on my bed when I was a child, as a teenager I got tired of them hogging all the room.

The ideal single bed also has a lamp and a bookshelf within easy reach. The bookshelf should have room for a tissue box, for there are few ordinary evening things worse than having to get out of bed to blow one's nose.

Then there should be a crucifix or holy picture over the bed. This is in case one dies in the night. If one is found, one wants to be found picturesquely under a crucifix or holy picture, hands folded peacefully on one's bosom. I imagine there are other reasons for wanting to sleep under a crucifix or holy picture. Possibly it is because when we are asleep we are vulnerable, and we hope the crucifix or holy picture will scare away evil influences. And then there is the symbolism (and therefore psychology) of prostrating oneself at the foot of the cross for at least 8 hours a night.

Now, what does your ideal Single person bed look like? What do you need to get a good night's refreshing sleep?


Girl from the cold UK said...

As long as the bed is comfortable, the one other essential for me would be my hot water bottles. I always take two to bed with me. I hear what you say about leaks though; one of my trusty old bottles sprung a leak only last week. Why does this always happen in bed in the early hours of the morning and never over the sink when you're filling them? In this case the rubber had perished and the bottle has now sadly been "laid to rest". Thankfully, I always have a couple of spare ones stashed away!

Seraphic said...

Girl from the UK, my water bottles were like that, too! Always in the middle of the night. So frustrating!

I wonder what water bottles were made out of before the invention of rubber. I know servants used to warm up hot plates in the fire and put them in the beds before people got in. That would make a nice study: bedwarming through the ages.

Maybe if you got a very, very clean stomach from a very, very big animal and used it as a hot water bottle it wouldn't burst? (No seams!) I hope that doesn't sound gross; haggis is served in a sheep's stomach so I am used to the concept. But I guess you could only use this clean stomach once. Hmm... I wonder if anyone has invented a metal hot water bottle?

Alephine said...

I think they used to use actual bottles, big heavy ones made of stoneware or some other heatproof material. Then of course there were warming pans with embers inside to warm the bed before getting in--maybe more a necessity than a luxury in a cold, damp house.

Alex said...

Hot water bottles? I've never heard of that. Is that a girl thing, or a "poorly insulated house" thing? Or a little of both? I guess in the UK, a much lower percentage of the housing would be built after 1980 with excellent insulation.

I often wake up really hot during the middle of the night, even without the aid of anything but a couple blankets.

I also roll around and swing my elbows in my sleep quite a bit. I'm also about 1.93 meters tall (6-4 for all my fellow Americans), so feeling squished is much more of a concern. Of all the good things about marriage, sharing a bed with someone would actually not be something I would look forward to.

Girl from the Cold UK said...

Hi again Seraphic
An animal's stomach?? Now there's a thought; but no thanks! I've slept with an animal before - an ex-boyfriend! I imagine Haggis may be quite tasty but I doubt if it's cuddly! Sorry, but I think I'll stick to rubber (not literally!) and put up with the occasional wet bed.
I like your idea of "bed warming through the ages". "History of the Humble Hottie" would make a good book title. I remember my grandparents having an old stone hot water bottle but this was only used as an ornament. Despite all the modern alternatives, rubber bottles have stood the test of time and for me are the only ones with the cuddle factor.

Anonymous said...

Hah! I brought bedsheets with me, as I can't stand perpetually washing the duvet cover. Sheets are much easier to wash & dry- I hated washing the duvet cover once a week. You have my sympathies!


Elisabeth said...

I have to re-read this post occasionally because it makes me laugh out loud. Bedsocks as an aid to chastity is too marvelous a concept not to embrace, as is your apt description of "gnawing the blankets in frustration." One of the great things about virginity and something that highly recommends it, if I may be so bold, is exactly the fact that you cannot miss something that you have been correctly avoiding. You can certainly wonder about it, just as I can wonder about heroin, for instance, but never having indulged, I don't wake up in the middle of the night craving it. This is a simplistic analogy, of course, as heroin can be indulged in alone, while inappropriate longings in other spheres can be complicated by loneliness, but wouldn't it be lovely if young women and men could see it this way?