It is 4 a.m. and I am annoyed, when instead I should be enjoying the quietness and solitude of insomnia. Having tip-toed out of the bedroom, joints cracking while clutching in the dark for my book, I have settled by the warm embers of our holiday fireplace, blanket -wrapped, ready for that heart-warming feeling of cosy alertness in a world of slumber.
But instead of reaching out to my current choice of book reading material, I have opted for my iPad knowing how this will no doubt affect my REM's if I ever hope to find somnolent respite in the few hours left of darkness. So risking the interruption to my natural metabolic rate and light awareness gene I succumb to the digitally enhanced blue light that will ensure I never want to sleep again, at least until it's daytime and I lie comatose on the sofa feeling like I've drunk a bottle of wine through my eyes.
I scan emails. A friend has sent a link to a New Yorker article by David Sedaris and I snuggle in for a visit of observational funniness . And this starts well as I giggle at his description of his brother's conversion to healthy living. Within seconds, however, I blink and twitch at some sort of flashing light coming from my right. Dismissing the possibility of an approaching migraine, I turn sideways to see if the fire has re-ignited itself, expecting to meet its flickering glare. But the fire crackles with tranquility and with a light nature intended; soft and golden. So I continue reading only to experience the flashing again. It takes me an additional few seconds to realize that the source of intrusion is a square of movement on the IPad screen. It's not even a whole square but the top part of it and I need to scroll down the page to experience its full-on attention-seeking efforts. Like crossing a motorway of traffic, I have to concentrate on catching a moment of non-flashing to discover that it's an ad for golf clubs.
Its persistence stops me from being able to read the article. Like flash photography I am left with residual pinpricks of stars and am unable to focus on the stillness of the text on the rest of the page. Who would have thought that comparatively-speaking GIFS' nodding cat heads now look serene.
The square continues flashing and I keep scrolling down until it is out of view, as is the chunk of article I have also forfeited. With frustration I close the entire window. But I return to it, dogged in my determination to read it. David Sedaris can be that good.
Tentatively I scroll down, careful to avoid touching the horrid square, which re-appears every couple of inches, in case I am transported to a deeper state of weirdness. Is this a modern twist on Lewis Carroll? This time the square is of a dementedly-smiling snowman which would make Stephen King proud and which I refrain from looking at in case it jumps out punching with a knife. And, above all, I don't want to give the advertisers the satisfaction of knowing what they're advertising.
Have we ever been this instantaneously close to determining joy or torment? When the merest brush of a finger can open up a world of information or a descent into an infernal army of free radicals of distraction, advancing on brain cells struggling for usage.
So what should have been a quick amusing read has now turned into mind games of inanity as I plot revenge on the outside powers bedevilling the insides of my head -- haven't decided what yet but it sure is taking up my time. Could I enlist my latest hero, Pope Francis, and his courage to do battle against the abuses of online advertising?
I know print publications are losing money. Maybe, like Hollywood actors who advertise cognac and watches in foreign, far away places, the New Yorker is reaping revenue in the wee hours of human sleep when no one is really looking. Except some of us are and it's really annoying.