Bill Linnane: 'I broke our marital bed with my 'kingsize' body'

I regret to inform you that the marital bed is no more. No, not the institution, that is still hanging in there in all its rickety glory, but the actual bed itself has come undone. To be fair, it’s time had come – we bought it some 15 years ago, and it was one of the first big investments we made together (other than the child we’d had a year previous).

Over the years it served us well, but time has made wrecks of us all, although the demise of the bed really had a lot to do with me. The bed had a central strut which I, not being an engineer or even vaguely intelligent, removed to make way for a load of storage boxes containing my CD collection. I had convinced myself that the CDs were not safe in the shed, as clearly there are criminal gangs roaming the countryside looking for obsolete audio formats. Lock up your C90s and vinyl, here comes the 1980s Audiophile Gang, they’re addicted to crackle and hiss.

So out went the strut, under went the boxes, and all was fine, our sturdy, dependable, long-suffering bed held up, even if it, like myself, started to sag in the middle. But the last 12 months of climate turmoil appears to have kickstarted some ancient survival process encoded in my DNA, as I have transitioned from ‘lean-yet-flabby’ to ‘man who needs extra support in bed due to massive weight gain’. Basically, I broke the bed.

I’d love to give you some sort of wink, wink, nudge, nudge at this point to tell you that some boudoir activity was the undoing of the poor frame, but really I just enthusiastically hopped into bed one night and cracked half the slats. ‘Oh no’, was my first thought, ‘my Manic Street Preacher CDs’, and latterly, argh, my back. So the bed was dismantled; I was half tempted to stick it on Done Deal but given the level of fertility we have been afflicted with, I didn’t want to risk passing on a bedframe that was cursed by some Sheela Na Gig type daemon and forcing some other poor fool to endure a murmuration of children like the one swarming around us. No, this must be chopped up and burned, before it has the chance to seduce others into parenthood.

And so the hunt for a new bed began. As with all projects we engage in, a giant argument was required to kick things off – I wanted to go flatpack and budget, she wanted a gold gilt bower fit for Versaille. I wanted to go to whatever ugly furniture store was nearest to my house, she insisted we go to a specialist outlet that only sells beds, her logic being that the salespersons in most outlets cover a variety of items, whereas the bed salesperson is a specialist – part chiropractor, part neurosurgeon, part sleep scientist. Within five minutes of meeting one of these boffins, I am inclined to agree, as they exhibited all the humour of an academic when they refused to laugh at my japes about the bedroom being where the magic almost never happens, or questioning the jaded sexism of king size and queen size, or any of the other unhelpful contributions I made to the selection process.

Of course, despite my wife’s desire to smash the patriarchy (and me), she still wants a super king size bed, presumably so she can stay as far away as possible from me without sleeping on the floor. This now means we also need to get rid of our old mattress, and this was where the hassle began. They call it memory foam because the stuff remembers – whip the sheet off and you realise that actually, you’re going to need to get it professionally cleaned before you drag it to the recycling centre. God be with the days when you could just let nature run its course by dumping old mattresses in a bog. Now we have to hide the grotty creatures we are.

But in the meantime while we wrestle with the possibility that we will need to clean it ourselves, then get it cleaned, and then dump it, we are sleeping in what I have rebranded as a ‘futon-style’ arrangement, but which many kidnapping victims will recognise as a manky mattress thrown on the floor, as one might find in a Victorian opium den. This does, however, lend itself to your bedroom, which is always going to be a bit of a state. It is the most private part of us, the room the kids’ friends are never allowed play in, the place of laundry mountains, acres of what is optimistically referred to as ‘the ironing’. In many ways it is a symbol of us – the most inward-looking room in the home, where all the best arguments and making up happens, and where that most cherished commodity, sleep, is fought over. As for our decisions on a bed, it can wait – until we drag ourselves out of the winter, until my long-planned health kick actually begins, and until we figure out what we sleep on while we wait for the Vanish Oxi Action to work.

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