Hamish Whyte was born near Glasgow where he lived before moving in 2004 to Edinburgh. Paper Cut (2020) is his fourth poetry collection with Shoestring Press. He has edited many anthologies and runs the award-winning Mariscat Press. He’s been a librarian, indexer and crime fiction reviewer. For Edwin Morgan’s 100th birthday year in 2020 he edited his Centenary Selected Poems (Carcanet) and published a memoir, Morgan & Me (HappenStance). He’s a member of Edinburgh’s Shore Poets and plays percussion and drums in a couple of bands. Hamish is 74.
This is Beloved speaking, from my snug, snory, comfy cabin under the eaves, where I spend each night in an effort to provide Sweetcheeks (and myself) some chance of some sleep.
We always begin each bedtime together in her big bed, then I slope off. Sweetcheeks is insomniac. I am up and down to the loo several times a night. And I snore. Loudly. I once shared a room with my son on holiday and kept him awake all night. It was a revelation to both of us.
Thirteen years ago, I had trouble with my prostate. Cancer was diagnosed and I had it removed. I thought that would cure the multiple wee small hours loo visits, but it didn’t. I go at least three or four times every night. The longest continuous spell of sleep I’ve had these years is three hours. I sleep usually in bouts of two hours, occasionally one. However, I can get back to sleep fairly quickly, unless my brain finds a niggle to worry at.
On my nocturnal wanderings I sometimes encounter Sweetcheeks on the stairs or the landing. ‘Hello’ we say like ships in the night. I might make her a cup of tea (with sugar) or refill her hot water bottle. Now and then, if we’re both awake enough, I’ll pass the time with a story from the adventures of Olaf the Sailor and his faithful companion (who never speaks). My imagination isn’t always up to it and then we’ll both just read: Sweetcheeks highbrow (Chekhov for instance), me middlebrow (crime fiction, hard-boiled or Golden Age for preference).
In the morning the Tea Lady [it’s really Sweetcheeks] comes with a mug of Lapsang and we sit on the linen chest in her room and try to remember our dreams. They’ve usually faded by this time, but it’s still very companionable.
I don’t mind the single bed or banging my head on the sloping ceiling. I can toss and turn to my heart’s content and not bother anyone with my snoring (at least the neighbours haven’t complained yet).
So, we rub along.
Hamish Whyte (Beloved)