I used to toddle off obediently to bed around 11:30pm. Sleep would elude me. I would lie in bed, getting more and more irritated by my state of wakefulness, while my husband snored. As my husband would start his day around 6:00am, I would find myself trying to lie still, so that I didn't wake him - lark and owl are we! However, the more you endeavour to lie still, the harder it proves to be!
I longed to be one of those people who make a smooth and speedy transition between 'awake' and 'sleep' mode. Alas, my fate was to remain awake, while my imagination tormented me.
I discovered Christian chatrooms, Iplayer, facebook games - wonderful ways to while away the hours, until I would slink of to bed, falling unprotestingly into the deep pit of sleep, until the rude shout of the alarm disturbed my slumbers.
One night I went to bed and our room was in unexpected darkness. Surprised, I peered out of the window. The streetlight up the road was still on, but the one outside our house was not.
This was the light which....
- allowed me to watch the snowflakes dance their distinctive dizzy descent.
- illuminated a stray fox, trotting brazenly down the middle of the road.
- lit the way for the homeward procession of weekend drinkers, noisily making their way home, before the licensing hours were de-regulated and their rowdy journeys dispersed.
- highlighted the amorous intentions of one drunk, when he mistakenly got too familiar with our neighbours car!
- illuminated the activities of the partying youths over the road, when they decided to take a bed for an expedition down the road.
- shone a light on the ambulance, on the night my neighbour's heartbeat came to a sudden, and unanticipated end.
Don't get me wrong, I don't spend hours staring out of my window. These are just some of the things that I have witnessed over the years as I have glanced out, often at the response to unexpected sounds. Who knows what else has happened under the light of our streetlamp, and not been observed by me or any other.
With the council cutbacks many streetlights go off around midnight in winter and an hour later in summer. The orange glow never bothered me. I quite like the friendly light. Now I know the light will not be on all night it has become my curfew. I find myself watching the clock during the post midnight hour, and as 1am approaches, I find myself hurriedly getting ready for bed - loading the dishwasher, checking the doors, setting my alarm - all the little end-of-day routines we all have, before climbing into bed before familar orange glow is extinguished. It is just a game I play at the end of the day
I glance at the clock, 12:46am. Like a Cinderella in British Summer Time I must flee, before the orange glow is extinguished, and darkness descends upon the street once more.