I used to be a real night owl. I’d stay up till 2 or 3am any time I could. In fact, unless I had some impetus to get up early the next day, it wouldn’t even occur to me to go to bed until that sort of time. Friday nights were my favourite. A great big sea of time at the front of the weekend.
Naturally I used to sleep late to compensate. People used to ask me if I felt like I was missing out on the day. It never really made sense to me that people would think this. It’s not like I was sleeping till midday having gone to bed at a sensible time the night before. My waking hours were the same in number as everybody else’s, they were just different hours. I didn’t see any different value on getting up early vs staying up late. It’s not which hours you are awake for, it is what you do with them.
Ever since my brain haemorrhage however, I have lost the ability to stay up late. I usually run out of steam anywhere between 10 and 10:30 of an evening and when I go to bed I fall asleep really fast. This never used to be the case; I used to have a really hard time falling asleep. I think it probably took me a minimum of an hour of lying in bed before I would fall asleep, now it is more like ten minutes. But, correspondingly, I then get up nice and early.
On the weekends I am usually up at about six. I get out of bed, make a coffee and sit in the lounge with my book, and it is just the loveliest thing. The world is dead silent. The light is hazy. There’s nothing to do but read. I get about two or three hours like this. After a while my neighbours get up and all their shouting and clomping and slamming of stair gates begins. The world wakes up. But before that, it’s like a little oasis of calm. I read most of 1Q84 this way, now I am reading most of The Art of Fielding in the same way. If I need to go shopping for some reason I will be showered and at the shops as they are opening, and I still would have had time for two cups of coffee and 150 pages before I get there.
I do miss staying up late sometimes. I feel like a bit of a wuss when my eyes go all red and watery at 10:30 on a Friday. That’s not even late enough to get kicked out of a nightclub for drunkenly inappropriate touching. The headline band is perhaps only just getting started. But those early hours on Saturday morning, when the world is silent and the sun is low in the sky and the hangovers are still dormant, are just the most brilliant way to start a day.