In the cold darkness of early morning, you hear the sound of a timer switch clicking on, following by the humming sound of capacitors. The loud crackle of discharging electrical current is accompanied by (slightly sleepy) shrieks, and the smell of gently roasting Scotsman...

Jim McLennan is...awake!

I used to think "I'm not a morning person". However, it's 09:58, and I've just tried to phone Lino. I would have had better luck communicating with the dead, but I have gained a whole new respect for what the phrase "not a morning person" really means. In his case, I reckon even afternoons are a bit dodgy. But from my point of view, now that the clocks have gone back, getting up ceases to be a mild irritation and become a major feat. Never mind single-handed conquests of Everest, me getting into work (vaguely) on time is something much more deserving of applause on the 'human endeavour' front. It's bad enough getting out of bed in the summer, when sunlight falls in dapples through the curtains, and birds are singing on your windowsill. But when it's pitch black, and any sensible fauna has migrated to warmer climes...

Things are not helped by the steadily escalating round of Christmas parties and outings, which tend to lead to me staggering from one day to the next, desperately trying to cram eight hours of sleep into six hours in bed, and two hours of hungover misery at your desk. Put two or three such nights in quick succession, and I rapidly start looking like a audition candidate for George Romero's next epic.

Oddly, though, I've found a small loophole in biological law, which I hereby pass on, in the hope that it'll be of use to others: if you aren't going to get eight hours sleep, it's a lot better to get four than six. I presume it's something to do with cycles, but six hours invariably leads to the aforementioned walking dead impression, while on four, I can usually just about function and get through the day. I might crash out in the bogs for half an hour's kip, mind, but hey, rather that than the feeling that your brain has been replaced by two pounds of treacle.

The other advantage is obvious: you can get so much more done when you don't have to go to bed till 3 a.m. And there is much less competition for leisure resources at that hour, because your more sensible housemates have already departed for bed. Thus, television, computer, Playstation -- all are available for your entertainment. The major problem is when it reaches your revised crash-time, and you start trying to talk yourself into thinking you can survive on no sleep whatsoever. This is very, very bad and should be avoided at all costs, unless you want to start Seeing Things out of the corner of your eye round about tea-time.

Now, I take this approach as an emergency measure, good for one or perhaps two evenings per week to tide you over until you reach less sleep-challenged waters. However, I passed the technique on to Rob Dyer, of 'Dark Star' magazine, and he has taken it to the next level, with prolonged periods on four hours sleep per night. [Dunno whether this means we'll see a new issue inside 18 months... :-)] I am monitoring his mental condition to see if he starts giggling inanely, staring into space, or purchasing B*witched CDs -- as yet, there have been no signs of Mr.Psychosis paying him a visit, but I'm not yet going to risk it myself.

I did it last night, however, since I was looking at about six hours sleep by the time I got back from the company Christmas party and pottered around on the Internet. The party was actually rather good, compared to previous nightmares. I'll spare you the details, but the most noteworthy thing was the decorative theme which dragged in Area 51 and alien autopsies, with vats containing ETs, etc. Interesting how it has become so engrained in public consciousness that it can be used in this fashion without anyone batting an eye-lid. But of course, this is precisely what "they" want to happen...

And on that note, I'm off to bed. I have some catching-up to do.
Zzzzzzzzzzzz...


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