For the past three days, here on a New Year’s skiing holiday in Åre, totally unintentionally, I’ve been drinking decaffeinated coffee. Yesterday morning when I found out the reason for my continual tiredness I dosed myself up with caffeine during the day. I even asked for a double espresso when offered coffee to go with a rather splendid chocolate tart and Ice Wine by my excellent hostess last evening. My body duly responded, ‘You want less tiredness, I give you wakefulness.’
I had no sleep last night.
But before I spent the night awake, first too hot, then too cold, then just plain angry at my stupidity, we had an interesting discussion over the chocolate pudding. As we watched the snow plough working the dark piste outside our window, the talk turned to our childhood memories. One of the group told us how she’d been truly terrified of the wintry road clearing equipment when a child growing up in Finland. On her way home, on narrow roads, she ran for her life, convinced the snow plough was set to get her. With high banks of snow on either side of the road she’d have no-where to run. We’d been joined earlier by a couple of movie buffs, so the talk turned to Stephen Spielberg’s first film, ‘Duel’ where a truck with an unseen driver terrorises a businessman on his way to a meeting.
In my latest manuscript, a spy thriller called The Red King of Helsinki, Pia, the 17-year-old school girl, lies awake terrified of the KGB agent keeping watch over her flat. She hears the snow plough working on the street outside, and watches the reflections of its orange flashing lights on the ceiling in her darkened room. My wonderful editor felt I could have made more of the snow plough in the plot, and thinking about our discussion while trying to sleep last night, I wondered if I should have taken her advice.
But after several edits, and a complete rewrite, I may just leave the manuscript as it is. At least until I’ve had a good night’s sleep.