This column could well be entitled “How I discovered I was a sleepwalker,” or even “Is there a ghost in my bedroom.” I recently bought a new mobile phone. I am not so interested in all the features, I fact I probably still haven’t opened more than half of them, but one caught my eye. It interested me basically because it shows up on the homepage of the phone without my having to do anything, those are the apps I like. It basically measures to number of footsteps I do every day. Then it calculates all the distances and so on.
So I read up a little and it seems that you are supposed to be 10,000 steps a day. It seems that 10,000 steps are roughly 7.6 kilometres or around 5 miles. And if you try to that every day you’ll lose weight, which quite clearly is something I need to do.
So I’ve been trying to hit 10,000 every day. Just this week I had a couple of days in the capital and instead of catching trams or taxis I walked. I walked and walked and walked from one side of Zagreb to the other. The first day I managed to clock up an impressive 20,000 steps, “So does that mean I can catch trams tomorrow,” I wondered to myself.
As I limped back into my hotel I was struck by the number of police and security guards everywhere. There were more men with those secret earphones and talking down their sleeves into hidden microphones than actual guests. My legs were a little weary. Instead of the stairs I shuffled into the lift, only to be meet by two huge bodyguards. “What floor are you going to?” one asked in perfect English. “The fifth,” I answered. He looked at the other mountain of a man and raised his eyes as if to say “this one could be trouble.”
Who were they all guarding? It felt like I had walked into a Hollywood movie. Bing! The lift came to a halt. The doors opened and I was greeted by a private army of suited bodyguards. I almost, in a joke, throw my arms in the air as if to say “I didn’t do it!” However, as I had just covered about 15 kilometres across the dry and dusty Zagreb streets all I wanted to do was find my bed.
Struggling along the corridor I had a feeling I was being watched. Trying not to make any sudden movements so as not to excite the army of bodyguards I used a looked in a picture on the corridor to see the reflection of a man behind me. My room key card was in my suit jacket pocket. Slowly I slide my hand into the pocket not to alarm my Kevin Costner shadow. Click! The door opened and I swung around to see him glaring right at me. To cut a long story short I was sleeping three doors from the most important man in the European Union, the EU commissioner himself, Jean-Claude Juncker. Now that’s a man who could also do with trying 10,000 steps a day as well.
I crashed into the shower and slipped into bed, it’s probably the safest sleep I have ever had with the men in suits outside the door, in the corridor and in the lift. So sleep walking. This app works from midnight to midnight. It resets itself at midnight and then counts a full day of steps. My head hit the pillow at a little after 11:00pm and all I did was to set my alarm for 6:00am the next morning. I slept like a log. Dead to the world. Juncker could have been kidnapped and I wouldn’t have heard a thing.
Bleep, bleep, bleep! Woken at 6:00 am as usual I glanced down at my mobile. It normally reads zero steps. But this Zagreb morning it read 60 steps!?! From midnight to 6:00 am the step counter was at 60. One step is roughly 0.7 of a metre. How had my mobile covered over 40 metres on its own? I hadn’t been to the toilet in the night. Had I sleepwalked? And if so where? It was a pretty big room but not 40 metres wide. Had Juncker’s army sneaked into my room and checked my phone as I slept? Was there a ghost in my room? What would have happened if I had sleepwalked right into the EU commissioner’s room. Something wasn’t right here.
Another day in the capital and another day of walking. Again I hit my target. And when I slipped into bed at night I made a point of double checking my mobile. In the morning it read zero steps. Was my mobile lying? I’ll leave the last few words to Mr. Juncker, who famously once said “When the going gets tough, you have to lie.”