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Trouble With Insomnia – Or, What I Owe To Buffy

I owe everything to Buffy, she burbled, holding Oscar tightly to her heaving bosom… Well, perhaps not everything. That would really be too much blame to lay at the feet of the diminutive vampire slayer. But the wonders and joys of Sunnydale and the supernatural, vampire infested universe created by Joss Whedon, has certainly done a lot for me. For starters it’s allowed me to sleep at stressful points of my life for the last decade or so of it. For some people a hot milky drink does the trick during insomniac phases, for others counting sheep is what it’s all about. (Why sheep? Why not velociraptors?)

For me the white noise of a TV running quietly in the background is what allows me to sleep when nothing else will. But not just any old program will do. (Old editions of Countdown definitely aren’t going to do it.) It pretty much has to be Buffy, or at a pinch Angel. Or, really at a pinch, QI, but for preference I’ll take magical worlds and Buffy’s wisecracks over nonsensical scoring systems and Stephen Fry’s.) It’s funny just how magically it does work, generally having me drifting off to sleep within twenty minutes with the TV set to switch to stand-by at an appointed time.

Bizarrely, though, I sometimes wake up at the exact moment the screen fades to black and all Buffy-ness is at an end for the night. Which suggests to me that, somewhere in my sleeping mind, my subconscious self is actually following the narrative thread, episode by episode and line by line. Spooky, eh? (Especially the thought that I know each and every Buffy episode inside out, to such an extent that my subconscious knows it too.)

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I think the part that enables my mind to relax when nothing else will, is the narrative aspect. Music won’t do: nor will the radio, with mundane current affairs and talk shows lacking the impetus and coherent structure of fiction. But a story – an old, familiar story for preference, so that the mind can mull over past events and comfortably anticipate future ones – allows the mind to wander along familiar lanes, to busy itself and lose itself until workaday worries are left far behind. Sleep comes imperceptibly, and bless Buffy and Whedon for that.

Heavens, I hope no-one takes that as an insult though! Excitement, thrills, romance, adventure – what has more of these things than Buffy? At this point, though – where I could recite to you Buffy dialogue like a Catholic reciting the rosary – I just don’t need to be awake to thrill to it.

The wonders of Buffy, then – Halcion, St John’s wort and a glass of champagne combined. How did we ever survive without it?

Copyright Ollie Hicks, 2009.

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Ollie Hicks is a graduate in Biochemistry and Pharmacology, a freelance writer and has a strong interest in the modern craft movement.

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