I envy little kids.

When they clamber into bed after another day of doing things they have the ability to nod off almost immediately. Entering the world of sleep so quickly is easy for them.

It is a skill which through the years seems to dissolve ... it seems to take me about a fortnight.

There is that school of thought which goes down the path of "the older you get the less sleep you need".
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Which may be right because despite having some unsettled snatches of sleep time, and spending what seems like a fortnight getting to those unsettled zzzzs, I don't feel too fatigued the following day.

And I figure that even if I do at least it'll mean I'll get off to sleep quicker that night.

But no, another fortnight of semi-slumbering and tossing and turning.

Now I'm not keen on the idea of taking something to help me sleep because I kind of figure that it should come naturally...although I am not averse to a cup of one of those oddball teas which are said to encourage relaxation.

But sleep stays away, so I pursue the art of hammering my brain with challenges.

Forget trying to count sheep ... there aren't enough of them left on the farms any more.

You could try counting cows but these days it would probably be more effective if you tried counting pine trees.

But I counted how many stupid questions I can come up with to ask myself.

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And how many ways I can play with words to make other words, and use the wrong words to make common phrases sound the same.

Like "honour role".

On a roll, I pondered.

And reindeer ... "rain dear".

That's when I veer off down the path of how many ways one word, meaning different things, could be spelt out.

I got beer, bare and bear.

 This lad's playing with words but I bet he'll nod off quickly when bedtime calls.
This lad's playing with words but I bet he'll nod off quickly when bedtime calls.

Oh, and mare, mayor, mere ... I was honour role.

Then there are the times I go alphabet hunting.

Like coming up with people whose Christian names start with the same letter as their surnames.

Good old Alan Alda, then Burt Bacharach then Cliff Curtis and Daniel DeFoe.

So that all went well until I got to Q and called it quits.

I have also been down the road of using only four letters to make a sentence of four words.

You'll have to beer, I mean bare with me here for it requires some imagination to get the gist of the only one I could come up with.

It centred on a cheesemaking lady called Meda and for her services to the cheesemaking industry as a whole she was made a dame.

So of course when she focused on a very popular and common style of cheese called edam it was a case of Dame Meda made edam.

So there I lay, at 2.11am, absolutely delighted with my efforts to the point where I got up and wrote it down ... sleep was a distant memory at that stage.

"Oh," I mumbled, "sleep backwards is peels."

I pondered using the Latin phrase of "omni" for my alternative word wrangling around the appropriate word of "insomnia" and came up with "inns omni ear".

Which is utterly meaningless but things with meaning do tend to drift out the door when one is seeking sleep.

Now wordplay is a very fine thing to do because it keeps the brain rattling along rather nicely, but pursuing this exercise while trying to open the door to Dreamland is not a very good idea.

Because it does not rest the brain, it sparks it.

And the more you spark it the more it stays awake.

It is a dilemma ... for lying in darkness and in peace and quiet is the ideal time to ponder the wonder of words and how they can be wrangled and woven into so many forms.

There's the ire Ronnie ... I mean irony.

Hey, I 've thought of another four letters that can make four words.

Time, item, emit and mite.

Oh well, soon be dawn.


Roger Moroney is an award-winning journalist for Hawke's Bay Today and observer of the slightly off-centre