“Show me a man’s bed and I ‘ll tell you who he is.”
— someone, once long ago
The prototype unMonastery bed is seemingly ingenious. The European wooden palette specifics are clear: 80 X 120 cm. Placed end to end, two of them are too long to be immediately useful; placed on the perpendicular they form an idea base for a standard 2m mattress with a convenient 40 x 80 cm head-end jetty as a side table for books, your mobile, the pile of travel receipts and a photo of Mamma. Placed two high, roughly sanded and painted, they provide a right delightful alternative to flopping our unMo mattresses impulsively onto the floor and then spending the rest of ones stay stooping, squatting and otherwise performing involuntary yoga postures. At this ideal height, your average feet can swing out of the horizontal and with the aid of a nifty 90 degree bend at the knee place themselves firmly on the cold stone floor. Your day can begin.
The tricky bit is the 80 cm width. Generous by historical standards (at least for a certain class of servant’s quarters), it provides a clear statement: here lieth thou or else. For those such as myself, spoiled by the wide open spaces of modernity, this otherwise welcome invention rapidly restructured my sleeping pattern. Since a close woman friend once goaded me into expanding my territory, I have tended during the current stage in my life to spend more than the odd night alone swimming on a vast prairie of pressed fabric and springs. A pattern has emerged. I sleep most snuggly on my left side. Head propped up by sufficient pillowage, I can then direct my limbs in an expressive sprawl that broadcasts unto no one my degree of inner satisfaction.
Alas, the unMo cot allows for none of this. Flex one knee and it protrudes worryingly from off the precipice; retract it to terrra firma and the secure feeling behind ones back inevitably evaporates. Like it or not, the dormitory bed flips most of us upon our backs; we only lack matron’s — “Hands above the covers, Boys and Girls” to complete the idyll.
Routinely rendered supine, the straight-jacketing effect can rapidly worsen as the trough within which we lay our weary bones gets compressed by the steadily progressive heights of our exhaustion. Sleepless nights can be made of less. For lo and behold, the imposition of the corpse pose doth cause the slack-jawed among us to split the airflow of our nightly inhalations, and since the vaulted roofs of our new home exhibit superior acoustic properties a gentle rolling snorer all too quickly acquires an unfavorable reputation.
The benefit of the well supported night’s sleep becomes apparent the next day. The unMonasterians of Prototipo Matera have adopted an enviable discipline. Every morning as a brisk wind sweeps any vestiges of condensed moisture up the ravine to allow the sun’s first heat to grace our magnificent stone terrace that overlooks exactly that view you get in the tourist brochures, the unmoaning unMoners embrace their Morning Practice. Internally it is described as a ‘morally mandatory optional’ gathering of the clan. Morally mandatory option means what it says; if you lack the gumption to respond actively to the 0700 hours morning bell, you face the certain knowledge that the remaining crew has upped the silliness quota in the interplay of their core exercises with Greatest Hits from the Civil Arts Master’s trove of extra-appropriate behavior that are designed to irrefutably tweak the ensemble’s connection with their inner goodness…