A 6.30am alarm wakes me. On a Sunday. And the gadget, a smart watch, ringing the alarm is somewhere on a desk somewhere hidden in a dark cold hotel room.
I stumble out of bed blind and unsteady, hand and arms outstretched in front of me, combing the black air, trying to touch something soild. Trying to stop the incessant noise.
I was brought up to fear the dark. It didn’t take my small imagination much to conjure up monsters under the bed and ghosts on landings. Lying perfectly still in my bunk bed pretending to be dead already, the dark dug deep into my psyche so that I grew up fearing my own reflection.
When I’m not watching my weight (come on, when am I not watching my weight?) I enjoy an extra cold pint of Guinness with a shot of blackcurrant to cut through the bitterness. A drink of pure iron. Thick like treacle, it works well as a lining on my stomach before multiple rounds of alcoholic concoctions follow. Who knows? Who cares? But as long as my core swims deep with the dark stuff I’m ready for anything.
On our living room wall in our maisonette flat in Bradford where I grew up, we had a velvet scroll depicting two islands. The land was made up of bright green stitched thread. The towns and villages were named in golden thread. Bright red blazed across the top, ‘The Islands of Trinidad and Tobago.’ I’m not sure if we were ever told but our dad came from those islands. It was a silent fact. I liked to touch the thread, when I got the chance. The stitching was tight and taut. My eyes, though, were pulled into the expansive black crushed velvet Caribbean Sea wondering how he survived the swim over to the U.K.
I thought these smart gadgets were supposed to make your life easier. Why wasn’t it flashing neon green, or red even, at the same time as sounding an alarm, giving me some clue as to it’s whereabouts? I felt I could have done better with my eyes shut. But I’ve been living that way for far too long. Now with eyes wide open to the dark, I’ve become wise to the tricks of history. I’m woke.