Thursday, September 19, 2013

1988: All through the night

Don't know about you, but I'm up with the lark these days.

When I say these days, I mean for the past 15 or so years. There was a time when I never saw the dawn unless I was coming home during it. I never knowingly got up to see the sun rise. I don't know how this happened - it's not like I had children to jolt me into early mornings or anything - it just occurred. Over time I got to thinking it was the best part of the day. Now, I like to - not necessarily be dressed and ready for sunrise - get an early start. The day is young, still, quiet and you can make the most of it.

So I have no problem getting out of bed but, like most of us, it wasn't always the case. There was a time when I'd happily wallow in my pit until midday. Needless to say, when the time came to start working it was a living hell. You want to stay up late, but you have to get up in the morning. What kind of awful injustice is that? But at least I was living in central London. It's not like I had a milk round or had to go down a mine or stand at a bus stop in a country lane in the pouring rain at 5am.

But to me it felt no different to that. Worse was to come, however. Finding myself between flats - ostensibly homeless but for friends' spare rooms and sofas for a few months until I got myself together - I briefly lived in Greenhithe, Kent (see post 1988: All We've Got Is This Moment), now home to the gigantic Bluewater shopping centre, but then more or less the back of beyond.

I was working at a central London bookshop, where each night after work we'd descend on the local pub and stay put until closing time. Not adjusting my lifestyle in the slightest, this meant a long train journey from Charing Cross, then picking my way from the station up unlit roads into the back entrance of the house I was temporarily lodging at (thanks go to Tony for getting me out of a hole) and going straight to bed.

It wasn't always so straightforward. There was one night I realised I'd trodden in a rather sickly yellow dog turd which was all up the stairs and through the house, which meant scrubbing for hours until it was gone. Then there was the time I'd left the gas on, the smell of it on opening the door reminding me of that PIF about not turning on the light, so sitting there with all doors and windows open until I thought it was safe to do so.

Usually I was home but about oneish and to make sure I was at work for nine - as we had to clock in and out there was no hiding place - I had to go immediately to bed in order to get up at about 6.30 if there was any hope of getting in on time. What fresh hell was this?

Each morning I was rudely awakened by the radio alarm as the sun struggled to break through the grey autumn clouds, and more often than not, this little gem was what I woke up to. To date, it's the only Kylie song I find bearable.

Whenever I hear it now it makes me want to snuggle back under the duvet and not go anywhere, and I still associate it with dark mornings, utter, killing tiredness coupled with a vague hangover and with a long journey ahead of me. But I never gave myself a break. FOMO meant it was the same again the next day and so it went on until I finally moved back into central London in early December. And there I've stayed ever since.

Though I embrace an early morning if it's in my own time, the thought of doing one of those lengthy commutes - hideously early starts and not getting home til late and having no real downtime - is just horrific.

So come back to bed with me and let's doze to this. Who's feeling all warm inside?

1 comment:

  1. Loved your PIF reference! Yes we've all been well-trained to be freaked out by the smell of gas (and not play in rivers, grain stores or go near quicksand...)
    I wish I was more of a morning person as I agree that it is the best part of the day, especially in Summer. But after a spell of having to get up at 5.45 and do a long drive to work, now that I've been self-employed for the last ten years and CAN go back to bed for a little doze, it's all too tempting and I frequently succumb. Just five minutes more. Ok, make that ten....
    I'd really struggle now with that previous routine.