Tuesday, November 2, 2010


[Originally posted on the Melbourne Writer's Festival blog:]

At this hour of the morning,’ he said, addressing nobody in particular, ‘people who are awake fall into two categories: the still and the already.

So says a character in Italo Calvino’s story ‘The adventure of a wife’ to the protagonist, who has wandered into a cafe at six a.m. She, like the speaker, falls into the first category, since she is on her way home after being out all night.

In 1994, I was up at six a.m. almost every morning, but for the first part of the year I was a ‘still’ and in the second part I was an ‘already’. In the 'still' part of the year, I worked on the night shift as a security guard at a cardboard factory. (I think that’s what they made. I didn’t really care, so I never bothered to find out). In the 'already' part of the year, I worked as a postman, and I started work at 5.45. In both jobs I set a record of sorts: I had the longest hair of any security guard in Glasgow that year; and later I was the slowest postman in the entire city.

I became a connoisseur of tiredness during this period. The first critical distinction to be made on that subject is related to Calvino’s observation, since the tiredness of staying up too late is qualitatively different from the tiredness of getting up too early.

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