Last night I went to bed tired out; my head touched the pillow, I started drifting off, and bam! My brain decided it wasn’t ready for sleep. In spite of the rest of my body being more than ready to slip into dreams, some part of my mind wanted to think.”You gotta be joking – I’m tired!” I complained to the inconsiderate me, “Please just go to sleep.”
But no, something (some-me? If there isn’t such a word, there is now) was wide awake. What perhaps made it worse was that the thought that came first was utterly inconsequential.
WTF? Gutta-percha??? Why are you keeping me awake thinking about gutta-percha?
I’m not thinking about gutta-percha. It just struck me that ‘gutta-percha’ is a lovely word. I’m thinking about words I like.
Ok, ok. Yes, ‘gutta-percha’ is a strange and lovely word. Now can we go to sleep?
What others words are odd, funny but have a nice ring?
I don’t want to think about words. I want to go to sleep.
Well I want to think about words. Come on, some words are delightfully odd, aren’t they?
Oh well, if you insist… ‘Tiffin’ – that’s a good one. Anglo-indian, popular in Victorian times. Not really used in the UK any more.
Good. Another one?
‘Poodle-faker’ – another 19th century anglo-indian word.
Wonderful! Now put them together in a sentence.
Ummm… After a morning visiting his gutta-percha manufactory, the poodle-faker loved nothing better than engaging in some persiflage with the ladies over tiffin.
Now we can go to sleep?
Random, or what? Now why I apparently had some need to play silly games with words when I felt so tired is beyond me. Maybe it was some kind of free-association so beloved of Freudian therapists. Perhaps it was simple need to re-experience – if only for a few minutes – the kind of delight children have in strange and funny things. I don’t know, and right now don’t feel the need to find out. Self-awareness has its limits.
Now, maybe you don’t know what ‘gutta-percha’ is, nor what a poodle-faker does, or how one would go about engaging in persiflage, and whether you would enjoy tiffin or not. You may be fascinated by hypnogogic phenomena – those strange thoughts, hallucinations, feelings and sensations that can occur as we are drifting off to sleep. So let me say: go and find a dictionary or check Wikipedia. Me – I’m tired and off to bed.