VERITY LUSH: Hamsters and a squillion thoughts keep me awake

Verity's daughter can sleep through the noise made by her dwarf hamster. Unfortunately, Verity can't.
Verity's daughter can sleep through the noise made by her dwarf hamster. Unfortunately, Verity can't.
Mel Gibson as Kurt Mayron, Mark Wahlberg as Dusty Mayron, Will Ferrell as Brad Taggart and John Lithgow as Don Taggart in Daddy's Home 2. Picture: PA Photo/Paramount Pictures/Claire Fogler.

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For my youngest daughter’s birthday, she requested two dwarf hamsters.

After much deliberation, my husband and I caved and, despite the fact her birthday is

We all know what it’s like once a thought worms its intrusive way in and begins a nasty ripple

not until next month, purchased the little cotton wool balls of fur.

It seemed more fun that she have them for a couple of weeks of summer holiday, than when she’s back at school.

The hamsters are nocturnal but my youngest sleeps through anything and always has (the eldest is a different matter).

The mad squeaking of the wheel (dismantled when we stagger to bed ourselves), doesn’t disturb her at all, and she snoozes on through. Oh, to be young.

I lay in bed last night, despite having been on the go for hours, including a run and general charging-about parental activities, unable to get to sleep.

I read with the light on, and then I read (thanks to my Kindle) with the light off.

Nothing helped.

I hadn’t even gone to bed until midnight due to my currently being on holiday and therefore not experiencing the work exhaustion that usually packs me off by 10pm latest.

I usually sleep well and suspect that having a squillion things to think about last night was the culprit.

We all know what it’s like once a thought worms its intrusive way in and begins a nasty little ripple effect in your brain at night.

But I also know that as we age, we begin to sleep less.

That is not something I’m looking forward to.

I have blackout curtains in my room but sometimes sleep with an eye-mask on.

I suspect this has terrified my husband in the past, but it’s feather-lite, costs next to nothing online, and is fantastic when dawn starts creeping in.

After my husband and I visited New York last year, we also discovered the wonder of earplugs.

Anyone who’s travelled to NYC knows how loud it is, even in your hotel room, where the horns and sounds of the city that never sleeps conspire to ensure you don’t either.

I’ve not needed those at home. Yet.

The hamsters may change this.


Everywhere I go at the moment, and whomever I speak to, the weather is mentioned.

This is not unusual, given that I’m in the UK, and we Brits love to chat about the state of the skies.

But it’s the missing-inaction summer that everyone is talking about at the moment.

I had warned my children last year not to expect a wonderful summer like 2016 again.

Last year it was so warm and sunny that we spent endless days swimming, whether in the warm (!) sea at Witterings, or Arundel Lido, or even a stream for a spot of wild swimming near Winchester.

This year, we haven’t even been inspired to get the barbecue out and eat in the garden.


By the time this appears in results for 2017 will be The News, the GCSE out.

The core subjects will be a new 9-1 grade. It will be fascinating to see what those grades look like – as I don’t think anybody actually knows.

Even exam boards have been unable to give any grade descriptors – this is due to the fact that the system is brand new.

And also rather random.

We are used to a ‘1’ denoting excellence, but 9 is actually the top grade – and nigh-on impossible to achieve I suspect.

Much as I focus on grades (being a teacher this comes with the territory), I also firmly believe that common sense and emotional literacy are just as, if not more, important.