In fact, it’s as important to your well-being as eating, breathing and not drinking petrol.
That’s why I’m missing it so much. You see, we’ve decided to open the tea shop early. This is an utterly selfless enterprise designed to avail the good people of Upper St James’s Street of caffeine, croissants and toast from 8.15am (also known as ‘the dead of night’).
There are newspapers for those who don’t feel too exhausted to read and some gentle music to steel customers against the horrors of the day ahead. There’s even cake for those who need to be jump-started. So, as I’m sure you’ll now agree, it’s a mercy mission. A veritable field hospital in the enemy territory that is the early morning.
Obviously, I can’t see your face as you read this but I sense at least one of your eyebrows is hoisted rather high. 8.15am is not early, you are muttering crossly – and there are plenty of street-sweepers and paperboys who’d agree. But, if you’ll allow me to explain, you don’t simply throw the doors open at that time and – dah dah! – you’re immediately ready to start cheerfully handing out the humanitarian aid rations of cheesecake and cappuccino.
For a start, there’s enough metal to remove from the outside windows to make a near life-size model of Brighton’s derelict West Pier.
When the postmen aren’t on strike, there’s mail to open and that can be even more frustrating. Last week, a tea strainer I had ordered arrived. It’s still in its plastic case because I cannot get into it. My kitchen knife just snapped. My chainsaw stuttered and jammed. And dynamite was utterly ineffective.
But before you’ve even attended to these two tasks, you’ll already have: (a) set the shop furniture up, (b) turned on all the lights, (c) fired up the coffee machine (d) driven, cycled or walked to the shop, depending on how much you care about climate change, (e) picked up some fresh croissants from the bakery, (f) gone through that appalling rigmarole – if you’re a man – of shaving (because not shaving would inevitably lead to the appalling rigmarole of being a man with a beard), (g) eaten breakfast. And, finally, if you’re the sort of person who would write a blog about getting up early to open a tea shop, it’s very likely you’ll have ‘tweeted’ about the contents of that breakfast.
So, working backwards, it is likely to be somewhere around 7am when that formidable list of tasks has to begin. Which means it’s completely pointless going to bed in the first place.
I’m told that in every city there are significant numbers of people who actually enjoy those serene moments just before the sun comes up. Yet, we sane folk will never know who these people are because we’re all fast asleep at the time.
Of course, a clue about their identities comes later in the day, when, just after half-past eight in the evening, they say goodnight.
And this is what I have come to realise since starting the Metrodeco aid mission: that the act of getting up divides those of us who are morning people and those who are night people. Morning people are at their physical and mental peak between seven and 11 in the morning, while the rest of us are at our peak between seven and 11 at night. Sadly, Metrodeco generally isn’t open between seven and 11 at night.
Morning people are able to function at 8am without having to eat pure coffee beans. They are lively almost at the moment of waking up. There has been no evidence of this happening to any member of my family so far in recorded history. Even my alarm clock, which could wake the dead, just makes me cross – still sleepy – but cross.
So, now that you know the pain we are going through to provide this essential social service, perhaps you’ll stop by for a bowl of muesli or a toasted ham sandwich one morning soon? Here’s the menu if you fancy something else.
And in the meantime, I’ll start going to bed earlier.