Mud On the Road

we're about to go shopping in Salisbury...

Rise and Shine!

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

     Beloved Sister and Go-Faster had an early away-day trip-involving-tenants today and so, in order to be the best of all possible aunts, I was up with the larks at 6 am  to drive over and look after the small people and experience the delights of being there when they woke up.

      Small But Mighty, my nephew,  aged five and a half, was the first to appear downstairs. No sooner had he opened his eyes than he was completely and utterly awake, chatting and skipping about as if he had not been asleep for eleven hours but was simply continuing yesterday's conversation with life without interruption or deviation.

     I could tell The Nephew was really pleased about being awake. He was mentally composed and alert; he was hungry for breakfast; he was ready for any one of the marvellous things that sunshine and the Easter holidays might have in store for him. In this case a bike ride, the swing park, a game of tag, chocolate eggs and an adrenaline fuelled round of Frustration with his favourite aunt. Well, one of his favourite aunts.

     In marked contrast three year old Little Niece, slept on another twenty minutes or so and then made it only half-way down stairs before coming to a sort of militant full stop on the mezzanine landing where she made a few grunting noises that never quite became words. I stood at the bottom of the stairs and considered her.

      Little Niece was fashioning the über-tousled bed-head look. Sleep had creased and criss-crossed her little face well beyond her tender years and she was flushed several shades pinker than her Miss Kitty pyjamas.

     She was quite alarming to behold. Like a small but highly electrified thunderstorm building on the horizon. Like the tumult of hooves warning of an approaching stampede. Especially, like a blonde, blue-eyed version of Bette Davis in a very bad mood,  complete with cracked croaky voice and an expression so severe it would make even bubbly Nurse Chantelle on Holby City wilt.

     More frightening still, Little Niece was armed with four dolls and a sort of a mouse and she was struggling under this burden and being jabbed at by plastic dolly fingers and blinded by nylon dolly hair. These torments were slowing her up and doing little to improve her mood but she was not about to leave any one of them behind and she was certainly not about  to entrust a single one to my care.

     I got the feeling that the dolls and the sort of a mouse were also thoroughly maddened by the whole business of being woken up and they had all got together and decided to blame me.

     Which was ironic because I am like them. I am one of them. I am not an easy riser.

      I would prefer it if you didn’t speak to me first thing. Not for a good hour at least. And I've been made aware, across the several decades of my existence, that it takes two hours, sometimes longer, for my face to recover from the business of sleep and reorganise itself into something approaching normal.

     Like my fellow night-birds I understand that the sacred worms (public approval, lithe bodies, million pound bonuses) are reserved for pious early birds, e.g. John Humphreys, Gwyneth Paltrow and those captains of industry who can, respectively, formulate whole sentences at 6 am for Radio 4's Today programme, contort their bodies into Yogic crabs as the sun is rising or power breakfast at 7 am.

     Obviously there is  a waking-up gene to be discovered and mapped – a gene which pre-determines from birth how successfully and speedily a person gets it together in the morning.

     Then schools, hospitals, airlines and every single employer in the country will be forced to institute a new system of office hours; shops throughout the land and not just in the cities will open later and stay open later. Hopefully by the time Little Niece grows up it will become politically incorrect to equate early rising with all that is virtuous, pure and saintly and likely to make the pious man 'healthy, wealthy and wise.'


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The Good Workman 
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Blowing My Trumpet 
Eaten Alive!

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