My plans to catch up on some sleep in the pre-harvest lull are not going very well at all.
It should be easy – the spray recommendations have slowed to a trickle, the dry spell in May has shunted the hay and silage-making back a week or two, and two of three children have moved out, so the noisy midnight fridge raids have all but stopped.
Trouble is, I’m the world’s lightest sleeper, which means the slightest noise contrasts hugely with the background silence. If a mouse farts two fields away, I’m leaping out of bed demanding to know what’s going on.
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But events this week put a flatulent rodent in the decibel shade. First up was a tractor heading our way at 4.30am.
I was, of course, awake at once. And, because I’m a sad git who can identify engines by sound, I knew who it was: a local contractor who has a fabulously maintained and immaculate old Ford TW.
But what on earth was he doing heading our way at that time, and in top gear, and at full throttle? Or was it him? Was it someone who had taken a shine to his old Ford, and decided it needed a new home – a container to the continent?
As the old beast sped past the house, I spotted the owner in the cab: I didn’t need to press the third of the three nines on my phone, and went back to bed.
It turned out that he was on his way to pick up and deliver a load of bales, and thought it best for the industry’s image to get it done before he got in the way of the Hampshire commuters hurrying to the station. Good lad – I’ll let him off.
A couple of nights later, it was our turn to host the late night reconstruction of Apocalypse Now.
A Puma and an Apache decided to do a bit of low-level buzzing of Cheriton just before midnight: if it hadn’t been so spectacular (and, of course, a vital training exercise), I’d have thrown a bit of a wobbly.
Sadly, there was no Wagner on Classic FM when I turned it on to help me get back to sleep after the huge choppers had finished their frolicking and headed north; neither did the next morning smell of napalm.
Surely the weekend would bring a break from the aural interruptions? Alas, no; just after eleven on a hot and still Saturday night, a band launched into Summer of ’69.
They were miles away, but from up here on Hinton Hill, that’s still line-of-sight – and sound. Despite the heat, I shut the windows and snuggled under my space-rocket-print duvet.
I could still hear them though, but they were good – really good. I played along in my head for a bit, and managed to drift off just as they were nailing Mustang Sally.
I had long vivid dreams of appearing on Dragons’ Den, selling my revolutionary and completely soundproof marquee, and making a million billion. All I need to do is work out how to impregnate the canvas with a non-Newtonian fluid…
Luckily, the Formula 1 highlights the next day provided the perfect chance to get a couple of hours of really deep sleep, and, anyway, within a few weeks I’ll be tucked away in the cool, calm and contented surroundings of the combine cab, romping through the majestic crops in air-conditioned comfort.
I won’t even be able to disturb the peace with the radio; the mice have eaten the speakers. Shame; you can’t beat Wagner for a July sunset.