Posted in Events, Family, Personal life, Writing

Body Clock Versus Alarm Clock: A Lockdown Dilemma

photo of two sleeping kittens curled up
Chez Young we are sleeping like kittens during lockdown – including our new kittens, Bertie and Bingo

I wrote this column towards the end of April for the May 2020 issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News

Now that all but essential keyworkers are at home all day and most of us are no longer slave to the alarm clock, are you finding your body clock is changing?

In our house, we’ve moved into a different time zone, four hours behind British Summer Time. We’re in synch with Rio de Janeiro.

We’re also sleeping more, typically nine to ten hours a night instead of the usual seven. It feels almost like hibernation, but that’s all wrong for spring.

Anyone for estivation? – a handy word meaning the summer equivalent of hibernation, mostly done to survive periods of drought.

As I’m used to working from home, I’d assumed lockdown wouldn’t affect my writing schedule. When getting up at 6.30am to see my daughter off to school, I used to start writing between 8am and 9am, before any other business of the day might distract me. Now I don’t start writing until mid-afternoon. That’s a much bigger lag than our sleep schedule.

I’ve no idea why this is so, but as with all else in lockdown, I’ve decided to go with the flow and count any day that ends without a crisis as a win.

Our current situation makes clear how artificial “office hours” of 9am-5pm are. How did they ever catch on? Of course, office hours don’t apply to many of those keyworkers whose true value to society is now apparent to us all. I bet many people now enjoying working their own flexible hours from home will be lobbying to retain them post lockdown.

Even so, I will have to break my current habit of stepping outside the front door in my nightie at midday to bring in the newspaper/milk/parcels, as there will once again be passers-by to consider.

Roll on the day when moving the wheelie bin onto the pavement no longer feels like an exciting, slightly illicit outing.


Need Escapist Lockdown Reading?

cover of Murder Your Darlings
Fly away with Sophie to an idyllic Greek island!

While all of my novels class as comfort reads (despite the odd murder!), my latest novel Murder Your Darlings is particularly escapist, as it takes place in the idyllic setting of a tiny, remote Greek island in the month of May. Starting an finishing in the village of Wendlebury Barrow, the action takes Sophie Sayers outside of her comfort zone while she takes stock of her relationship with Hector. Will absence make the heart grow fonder? You’ll have to read it to find out!

Order the ebook for the ereader of your choice here.

While most bookshops are currently closed, order the paperback from Amazon during lockdown – or contact me to provide a copy to you directly.

Addicted to Audio?

image of square version of Best Murder in Show cover, ready for new audiobook
An audiobook bargain at just £2.99!

Audiobooks make a great accompaniment to gardening, decorating, crafts and other activities you may be doing more of during lockdown.

I’ve just discovered that the ebook of my first novel, Best Murder in Show, is currently on special offer at just £2.99 on Audible. (Also available from many other ebook retailers – prices may vary.)

Click here to order your copy on Audible.

Siobhan Waring did such a great job with this story that I’ve just booked her to narrate the audiobook of Secrets at St Bride’s later this year.

 

Posted in Family, Personal life

Time to Readjust

An old style alarm clock.
Image via Wikipedia

Since leaving my 9-5 job in February, my body clock has been quietly readjusting.  No longer do I wake up a minute before the alarm sounds, nor do I habitually go upstairs at 11pm, programmed to fall asleep the minute my head hits the pillow.  Instead, my bedtime is creeping back, getting later and later.  I’m having way too much fun to want to go to bed.

This subconscious readjustment has always happened during my two-week Christmas break.  By the end of the fortnight, I reach my natural state: waking refreshed around 9am and hitting the hay around 1am. Holiday over, I ditch my body clock and take my cue instead from the radio alarm, permanently tuned to Radio 4.  Listening sleepily to whatever is on, I can tell whether we are running late.  Farming talk: safe to doze.  News headlines:  jump up and get busy.  Sports Report: overslept, but I can still make it to work on time if I hurry. Thought for the Day: I’m in big trouble.  Putting the clocks forward or back at the end of March, as we have just done, has never affected my sleeping habits, so long as I’ve remembered to adjust the radio alarm (and John Humphrys had done the same to his).

Now that I’m liberated from my job, I’d rather do away with my watch and my radio alarm and listen to my body clock instead.  Now I no longer have to get to the office by a fixed time, I just wander into my study when I’m ready and take a seat at my desk.  Surely following my body clock must make for a healthier lifestyle.

After all, it’s not that long since it was common practice across the country to take the time directly from the sun.  It was only the construction of the London-Bristol railway that caused this part of the country to reset its timepieces to match the capitol’s.  Apparently, we were far enough west for our day to run 11 minutes behind central London’s. This would have made the first London-Bristol train timetables bewildering, were it not for the fact that the newly built Temple Meads Station helpfully offered passengers two clocks, one showing local time, the other “Railway Time”, i.e. 11 minutes earlier.

Unfortunately, there is just one small obstacle that will stop me from giving full free rein to my body clock:  my daughter still has to get to school by half past eight.  So it looks as if my household will also have to keep two clocks, one for London time, the other for Debbie time.  I wonder if I can persuade Hawkesbury School to do the same?

This post was originally published in the April 2010 issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News.