I know that this may be hard to believe, but there are two four o’clocks in a day! The first time I discovered this was while I was in the army. Trust me, it was a terrible introduction! I still remember it clearly; stood in a trench with a fellow recruit, dead tired as we had been run ragged throughout the night by our sadistic instructors, we watched the dawn creep slowly over the hills and trees. It wasn’t a spectacular dawn as described in books and paintings, but a dreary one, promising rain. It was, to be perfectly honest with you, a totally miserable experience. The shock of being awake at such a ridiculous time mixed in with the fact that we were going to be wet and miserable for the rest of the very long day was enough to make a grown man cry. We didn't, of course. Mainly because we could barely classify ourselves as grown men and the fact that our tear ducts were too tired anyway!
But that was a long time ago now. I have been up countless times since, and the experiences have been mixed. I do remember one outstanding dawn, in Saudi Arabia, just before we were going to teach a bloke called Saddam that he really shouldn’t have occupied a nearby country. I was stood on the roof of a building we had ‘borrowed’ and was having a well deserved cup of tea and a smoke, when I noticed the sun rising over the desert. Now that was the sunrise as described in books; the darkness turning from a deep, dark blue to an orange, then red and finally yellow and blue as the sun crested the dunes. It happened so quickly that you could barely believe it. I would like to have classed it as the perfect sunrise, but our situation seriously dampened any poetic or romantic notions! It was very pretty and I have yet to experience another like it.
And here I am, again, at dawn, experiencing another four o’clock. This time, however, I am at home, listening to the noise of birds chirping (does anyone else find that annoying?) and wondering why the hell I am awake! Even the dog is snoring quietly in his bed, having looked up earlier and watched me make a cup of tea. I wonder if he thought I was a complete idiot being up this early?
For me, though, being up at this time is due to circumstances beyond my control. Some poor souls have to do it every day through necessity. I really feel for the men and women that have to be up at this time of the day because of their jobs. Having never been a ‘morning’ person, I imagine their misery at having to do whatever they are doing at this time of the day and, all the time, wishing that they were back in their warm beds, sleeping and dreaming dreams of Easter bunnies or whatever their subconsciousness conjure up!
There are, however, weird bunches of people who actually like being up early. To me, that’s about as natural as me eating grass and producing orange juice! I can understand wild animals being awake – they have to be for a variety of reasons; from getting something to eat to just ensuring that they aren’t the something to eat for another animal! But people? For me, the call of a lovely warm, comfortable bed and being in a deep, blissful sleep is by far the best way to not experience a dawn. But not these people, they are up, making tea or coffee and doing stuff. How wrong is that!
These ‘morning’ people are probably aliens, sent to spy on us while we are all asleep. Ok, probably not, but they may as well be. What on earth can you do this early in the morning? Nothing is open, TV is rubbish and even the postman is only just waking up! But there they are, walking the dog (who is probably very annoyed about being dragged out at this ridiculous hour – my dog would probably look at me as if I was completely insane, bite me, then go back to his bed. And who could blame him!) and probably making their way down to the news agent to get a paper (the news agent is probably not a morning person but is one of those poor souls that have to get up early). And then what do they do? They go back home, sit down with their paper and a cup of tea, waiting for the rest of the world to wake up!
I am not one that would judge a person on how and why they do things; ok, maybe I am. I am sure that I have some foibles that people would consider strange (like writing about people being up early in the morning) and, no doubt, people may think that I am slightly weird (but in a good way, naturally!). But as dawn turns into day, I sit here wishing I was asleep without a worry in the world, while the real weirdo’s walk their cats and greet each other with happy smiles and waves. And to top if all off, it isn’t even a nice dawn. It's cold, it's damp and I'm awake!