A version of this post first appeared in my newsletter. It goes out once a week, and you can read more here, or go completely wild and skip straight to the sign-up. Ok. Awkward self-promo done. Onwards.
If I had to name one thing I like the most about the weekend – aside from the obvious – it’d be not having to be in bed at 11pm.
That’s my cut off time during the week, any later than that and I know I’m pushing it. Even if I want to stay up and carry on with whatever I’m doing – and annoyingly, late evening is usually when inspiration strikes – 11 o’clock heralds the start of a countdown in my head. In nine, then eight, then seven, then six hours I’ll need to be up, reasonably well dressed and in a fit state to interact with other humans by about 9.30am.
Being a night owl doesn’t mean existing without sleep. I love sleep, I want it all, every last bit – just not when the world says I should be in bed. As a child, I once fell asleep across the fold down seats in Wembley Arena during a Status Quo concert (I like to think it was during the middle bit when bands play new stuff) but my priorities haven’t changed much since.
Being able to stay up late without getting tired has had its benefits.
In my teens, I listened to radio stations that didn’t start broadcasting until the evening, and went to the sort of clubs where the good DJs didn’t come on until the early hours. If my body didn’t let me stay upright, I’d have missed some pretty epic sets. Someone once wrote that nothing good ever happens after 2am. That person has evidently never felt the floor beneath them moving as a rave reached its peak.
Aside from anything else, cities are infinitely more interesting at night. When London’s daytime ends, different subcultures emerge; a nighttime shift of people drawn to buildings and spaces and scenes lit by artificial light.
Sometimes I envy people who can wake up early and get things done. But I quite like how my energy picks up through the afternoon and follows me into the night. The city slows down, the flats in our block get quiet, the day’s sounds fade out. That’s when the thoughts in my head get some order, and ideas start to make sense.
There’s one thing that night owls and early birds have in common: we’re both drawn towards the sunrise. But you ever find me watching the sun come up, you can bet it’s because I haven’t been to bed.