Monday, January 19, 2009

Bite me

I didn't sleep well Saturday night. I'll put this down to two reasons; the first being that I was clearly in the midst of an epic sugar rush courtesy of drinking a big mug of Milo into which I had melted two candy canes left over from Christmas while watching an eight episode Gilmore Girls marathon, and the second being that someone was texting me through to about three in the morning so every time I did start dropping off some loud-ass vibro-phone action shocked me awake. I was totally doing that dozy "uh! Oh, phone…!" thing that people do in movies.

This got me thinking, though, about how much I generally take a good night's sleep for granted these days. My bed is awesomely comfortable to the point that if I sit on it to read (for some reason I rarely read downstairs on the sofa) I inevitably start dropping off after about 15 minutes or so. I think the worst night's sleep I've had at Sparky Towers was a couple of years back when I read the book Zodiac and, massively freaked out, I woke up at about two in the morning literally frozen in place because the book had scared the tits off me and I thought Zodiac was in my house. Seriously, I could not move for several minutes, which was a bit disconcerting because my face was snuggled in the pillow so much that I feared I might suffocate. 

I digress. 

Back when I lived with Sparky Ma and Pa, however, things were a different matter entirely (Zodiac aside). My bed there (a single - *however* did I sleep on something so narrow!?) was horrifically uncomfortable due mainly to a massive spring sticking up out of the mattress in the general lower back/crotch area depending on how far up the bed I shuffled and on which side I was lying. Either way it was very uncomfortable come the morning.

When I was much younger, though, in the days before the spring, I often had great difficulty in getting to sleep, and who the hell needs psychiatrists, I'll tell you why:


Yes, I was scared that Dracula was going to pop out of my parent's room and suck my blood (remember this was in the days before vampires were all cool and sexy like in Angel and, um, Twilight…).

And why was I so petrified of Count Dracula? Because some doofus at Ladybird Books had approved a kiddy version of Bram Stoker's tale and I'd bought it (well, I suspect Sparky Ma bought it at my insistence - I was awfully good at getting things bought for me, I'm ashamed to admit), and holy-shit-I-just-found-a-picture-of-it-on-eBay-and-it's-every-bit-as-scary-as-I- remember-it-being! 

Anyway, so yes I had a 'child's' version of Dracula. Actually I remember the day I got it. Sparky Ma had taken Big Bro and I to Hounslow, which was a horrific thing to do in the first place because Hounslow is an absolute dive, and a trip to Hounslow usually meant we were being taken to the dentists. And let's not forget the time we went there and the stupid bus driver shut the doors on my pretty pretty face as I was disembarking. Sorry, I digressed again; where was I? Oh yes. Dracula. So yes, we were in Boots the Chemist in Hounslow, and for some reason in addition to toilet rolls, toothpaste, bubble bath, and lady necessities they were selling Ladybird book and tape sets - y'know, the ones where you got a book and a tape that told the story so particularly lazy children didn't have to bother reading along and could just look at the pictures and drool on the pages while a tape droned on in the background. I can't remember which one Big Bro chose, but I imagine it was far more sensible and less psychologically damaging than a read-along-to-Dracula story book. And for the life of me I can't imagine why I chose Dracula. It was 1984 for Christ's sake and I was seven.

That afternoon, and I distinctly remember that it was a lovely sunny day because even I thought it was semi-retarded of me to be sitting inside listening/reading Dracula when I could've been out playing in the garden, I sat down and managed to get through the entire traumatising story in one go. The result of this was that for years after I would not sleep with my back to my bedroom door in case Dracula tried to come in (I'm guessing for some reason actually seeing him come in the door to viciously suck my blood was preferable to not seeing him come in the door to viciously suck my blood), and I would always sleep with my duvet pulled up tight around my neck. Even in the middle of summer.

An aside:

*Knock knock*

Whoever could that be knocking on my door? Oh look, it's Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychiatry. Dr. Freud, do you have anything to add?

*Freud twiddles moustache* (I'm assuming Freud had a moustache. He seems like the sort of person who would have a moustache. And definitely a moustache that was twiddleable)

"Yes. You are f**kin' nuts young man."

Anyway, I was sufficiently freaked out to the point that I never read the book again; the tape befell an altogether different fate, I seem to recall; I have a feeling that after one handy application of sellotape the story of Dracula was ready to be erased forever in favour of something from the Top 40 on a Sunday afternoon, specifically a song by Billy Joel, I believe. 

The upshot of this is that I'm a) pretty sure after 24 years I'm actually over the irrational fears instilled in me by a scary-ass children's book, and b) really, WTF was Ladybird doing publishing horror stories like that for kids? They certainly don't do anything like that now (although Chicken Licken sounds somewhat dirty), nor, I expect, would they be allowed to. That said, in their defense a little Googling does reveal that apparently Dracula was aimed at 9-12 year olds, so really I've only got myself to blame.



The Tall Red Head said...

I remember my older, and should have known better, brother letting me watch 'IT' with him and some of his friends when I was about 10. The result? I would literally shit myself on a toilet in case he came up out of the bowl, and I would shower with my back pressed up against the wall cowering away from the plughole. And storm drains? God, I am scaring myself again. AND OMG...the word verification is WARNPLAY. I am now officially scared.

Tara said...

Dracula never rattled me until I saw the silent version called "Nosferatu". Blergh. Cool, though. I read ghost stories in bed now and, once I'm finished and have to turn my light off (and the switch is across the room near my apartment door), I have to hurry to my bed and cover up completely like that's a shield.

CyberPete said...

I would have a massive freak out too if I heard/read that Dracula book and tape combo.

When I was five I was given the book/tape combo of Snow White and Robin Hood. Snow White scared me to tears and I never finished Robin Hood.

Then when I was 18 I won the It books by Stephen King. I never as much as read the back cover and they were stored in a completely different part of the house but every night I had nightmares. The day I gave them to my cousin and she left with them, the nightmares stopped.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

"And let's not forget the time we went there and the stupid bus driver shut the doors on my pretty pretty face as I was disembarking." So, if not for that unfortunate 'accident', you could be even more pretty?

* gasps and faints in awe but not before covering self with the duvet in case any Kansas farm girls, or German brother & sister, break in *

watch*paint*dry said...

Can you understand my irrational fear of Star Trek now? Scared the bejesus out of me it did.

If someone was texting me at 3am the texts would have sweary words in. Though, maybe not, I have been awake at 3am of late.

the projectivist said...

Yes, i wonder what they were thinking over at Ladybird when they decided to go with that book?

Look at the contrast between Dracula's deathly white, bloodthirsty face and the little sweet ladybird on the cover. Hilarious!

Was it sexy-talk at 3am?

CyberPete said...

Ladybird sounds like a tranny hooker name doesn't it?

Tim said...

The Tall Red Head - OHMYGOD! I had an English lit teacher who looked JUST like IT! She freaked the tits off our class one day by looming up against the small window in the door! Very scary. Lovely woman though.

Tara - Have you seen the movie made a few years back that dealt with the the making of Nosferatu and suggested that the actor playing him was a vampire? What was it called…? Shadow of the Vampire!

Cyberpete - Snow White and Robin Hood? That's an unlikely pairing if ever I heard one. Did they get on?

Inexplicable Device - Yes. Hard to believe I know.

Watch*Paint*Dry - No, I can't!!

The Projectivist - Lord knows! Scare the kids, I'm guessing! Sexy talk? No, 'fraid not.

Cyberpete - No.

CyberPete said...

It would be really funky if they were in the same story, but it was two books.

M said...

When I was little I thought Dracula lived in my wardrobe. My mum used to have to 'throw' him out each night while I hid under the duvet, otherwise I wouldn't go to sleep.

To make it worse, I grew up in Hounslow.

Tim said...

Cyberpete - Well I think there's definitely scope for a crossover…

M - It certainly seems that between the two of us we've confirmed that Translyvania is *so* 19th century and Dracula knows that Hounslow is totally where it's at these days!

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Tim said...

Hapi - Dude, I can barely get my pants on the right way round in the morning and you're asking me this?!