Dawn chorus

I’ll sleep when I’m dead!


Not because I lead a wild life of excess and partying, but because nothing else seems to work. The pills have a limited effect, and can’t be used too frequently. I am no stranger to 3 a.m, or the thoughts and feelings that go with it.

During the summer this is more bearable. By 4 o’clock those good old birds are conducting operettas on the window-sill and infecting me with joy in the morning. I have to say it can be quite hard to find joy at 4 o’clock in the morning, so they do a very good job. I commend their work to you.

They start with an occasional muffled chirp, hesitant, unassuming. Gradually this builds to sustained musical phrases, but still a solo performance. Then others begin to join in with the performance, finding their places in the overall score, adapting and enhancing the final glorious chorus, the avian equivalent of the Male Voice Choir Wall of Sound. Finally they reach the first interval with some enormous feathered creature squatting outside my window, screaming “CHIRP CHIRP! WAKEY WAKEY!” at 200 decibels or more. This is the signal that I need to rise, shine and have my shower.

By now sleep will have fled to a very far country. There is no hiding place. The feeble limits of the so-called all-powerful Temazepam are exposed. Against the combined might of the world’s greatest medical research facilities, the natural order emerges triumphant – loud, proud and defiant. The music the birds produce beats to the diurnal rhythm laid down in the dawn, not just of this day, but of the planet’s very origins. I am a pawn in the hands of Nature. Morning has broken, like the first morning, and I must sleep no more.

The routine varies a little during the darker winter months. The orchestra tunes up sullenly as my alarm clock shrills, and I stumble from my bed into the chilly embrace of the bathroom, where the radiator has still not responded to the imperative of the timer. Already I will have lain awake for some hours contemplating the issues of the day. I will feel tired, muggy, irritable. The only chirpiness will be provided by the Breakfast TV presenters. Summer birdsong will be a distant memory.

As for the cause of my sleeplessness – well, I’m a project manager and it’s in the job description.

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