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Causing Chaos and Consternation

I have been sleeping badly for ages, and would really like to do something about it without resorting to sleeping pills – it would be much better to fix the underlying problem if possible, than to resort to drugging myself. I noticed that I slept much better in Greece than I’m used to. Of course, that may have had something to do with walking over rough ground around archaeological sites for up to four hours a day, plus huge amounts of food and drink! But I also slept pretty well at my parents at New Year. It seemed to me when I got home that my bed was distinctly uncomfortable compared to the ones on holiday and at my parents. I looked more closely, and the mattress has a distinct sag in it, which doesn’t help. We bought the bed when we got married, over twenty years ago, and replaced the mattress about ten years ago. Clearly it’s now getting to the end of its life, so I decided that I’d buy a new bed in the January Sales.

There are two bed shops in Malvern. One is an offshoot of the local family-run furniture business, who pride themselves on customer service, and whom I’ve used extensively in the past. The other is fairly new in Malvern, but clearly wants to provide some serious competition. I’ve spent several hours in both of them trying out a range of beds and mattresses. I was surprised at how little there was on the market that met my requirements, which I didn’t think were that unusual or exacting!

Firstly, I wanted a king-size wooden bed frame, not a divan. Shouldn’t be too difficult, you’d have thought. And of course I want to be able to sit up in bed and read or have a cup of tea. But most of the wooden bed frames I was shown had headboards with fancy wooden detailing on them that dug into my shoulder blades when I sat up! They were extremely uncomfortable! I’m a big believer in “form follows function”. I don’t dislike ornamentation in itself, but I do object strongly when it detracts from the basic function of something. As far as I’m concerned, many if not most of the wooden beds I was shown failed the basic criterion of being “fit for purpose” and should never have been allowed to reach the market! Funnily enough, it wasn’t a subject that seemed to have entered the heads of the salespeople at either of the bed shops, and they looked surprised when I pointed out how uncomfortable some of their beds were to sit up in.

The next contentious point was the mattress. There were plenty on show at both shops, and I lay on many of them. My key requirement was that it should not need turning head-over-heels, as I simply can’t manage that on my own. In fact, I’m sure that is why my current mattress has got so uncomfortable – it’s far too heavy for me to manipulate, so it hasn’t been turned since before Chris died. But even the modern mattresses which don’t need turning upside-down do need rotating top-to-bottom on a regular basis, to promote even wear and to reduce the likelihood of saggy bits. So I insisted on attempting to single-handedly turn each of the candidate mattresses in both shops, telling the salesmen only to intervene and help if it looked as if I was going to break something. I’m not sure they’d ever been asked that before, as again they looked very surprised. But there really is no point in them selling me something that I can’t manipulate on my own, and indeed that test ruled out many of the mattresses on my short-list. In fact, some were so heavy that I’m not sure I’d have been able to lift them easily even far enough to change the sheets, and they were definitely unsuitable on that basis.

So far I’d got down to a short-list of two beds that were comfortable to sit up in, and two mattresses that were comfortable to lie on but also light enough to manipulate, one from each shop. The two shops were running neck-and-neck, with very little difference in their sale prices. My next requirement was on delivery of the new bed and removal of the old one. That is the main reason why I want to buy locally, rather than trying something out for comfort and then buying it cheaper online. There is simply no way I could fit my current king-sized bed and mattress into my little Mini to take it to the tip. It was absolutely essential that the shop was prepared not only to deliver the new bed but also to take away the old one. And that is where I finally found a clear difference between the two. Both offered that service, but the newer shop required the old bed to be disassembled first before they would touch it, whereas the family-run firm were happy to dismantle it for me. That makes a big difference. If I can’t even lift the mattress on my current bed, I’d be likely to do myself a real mischief if I tried to take the whole thing to pieces. I distinctly remember that being a two-person job when we moved house, and it would be asking for trouble to try it on my own.

So I’ve gone with the family-run company, on the basis of their superior customer service, and the fact that I’ve found them very reliable in the past. It will take several weeks for the bed to be delivered, but I hope that it will then make a difference to the quality and quantity of my sleep.