Awake long before the 6:30 alarm, like I usually am these days, I’ve been listening to the local backbird since I’m not sure how long. In and out of half sleep once the mid-April half light started this waking to another day.
Mornings are one of my things now. And have been over the last couple of years as I’ve got older and maybe as I’ve got happier? Probably some of both.
It was BBC Radio Three that first made me aware I was getting up earlier. From listening to what I’d been calling ‘The Morning Programme’ for a couple of years, since classical music turned up in my life, I noticed I was now listening to more and more of the programme before it. The very early morning programme, broadcast by the splendidly named Petroc Trelawny. Quiet hours playing music quietly, while the house carried on sleeping around me. Moving about the kitchen while the day grew lighter outside, I’d become a morning person.
I leave the house this morning while the terraced street we live on is still full of sleeping cars. Hearing the bus to town long before it arrives along the still empty Smithdown Road.
My quiet hours, long before I do any work. Time for me to think, to breathe, to be. Long before I’ll walk into a silent University Library at around half eight to think about beginning my working day.
Before that there is the morning.
And this week some of my morning hours have been spent reading through a book about all this. This rhythm, this listening, this quiet.
“Morning: How To Make Time” by Allan Jenkins is his manifesto for making the best of these early hours. Persuasive it is too, even for the already persuaded. We follow Allan around as he refills his teapot in the dark, catches the last of the night buses to his allotment and watches the dawn begin. All the way through a year of getting up early, with interludes.
Equinox in Scandinavia, matins in a monastery and the neuroscience of sleep come and go between days at home. People you’ll know and most you probably won’t turn up with with their own reflections on mornings. Mostly interesting and no one has much of an answer to Allan’s standard question of what they least like about being up early?
But it’s the rhythm I most like the returning to. Through the days of the month and the seasons of a year. Following Allan from the dark to the light and back again. Every morning different and welcome, as well as the same and reassuring.
If you’ve read his previous book “Plot 29:A Memoir” you’ll recognise some of the habits in this one. The careful planting and the tenderness for others. But this is different from that. Like each morning is different. Waking up in the quiet energy of a new day. The energy of being alive.
And now it’s the daytime here in the University Library, as I photograph the book to go with this writing and open up my laptop to copy it out from my journal and share it with you. Early morning reflections about mornings.
Remembering, as I finish, this incident from yesterday morning’s especially early arrival here:
“Early morning walking in along Catharine Street, a car slows down to greet the man in front of me. Windows wind down and two cheery faces emerge shouting ‘Knobhead!’ All is well with the day.
A Liverpool morning, as real as you like and as joyous to be alive in as this book makes me feel.
Recommended, for the persuaded and the sceptical.
“Morning” by Allan Jenkins is £8.99, available now and this is not an advert. I think it’s beautiful.
Thank you to Linda Grant for letting me know this was out. Linda’s one of the visitors in the book, a fellow Petroc Trelawny early morning listener.