My eyes are bloodshot. My skin is parched. I look rough. There’s a chance I could be cast in Train Spotting, the Musical if I go out without make up.
No, I’m not ill. I’ve just had a few late nights.
Five in a row, actually.
My regular working hours mean I rarely get in much before midnight, but this week I had two even later finishes. I saw 3am twice in five days.
The first was after the Great British Panto Awards, held in the New Wimbledon Theatre on a Sunday evening.
I’ll admit, although it was work, I had a great time.
Why, I sat on Christopher Biggins’ good knee! I was hugged tightly by Bob Lindsay and I was kissed in the wings by Roy Hudd! There aren’t many jobs where the perks involve swapping DNA with your heroes.
It was like being shot back in time to an era when touching other human beings didn’t automatically make you a pervert. I loved it.
Ok, so when the stars headed off to the after show party I remained in the theatre. And yes, while they were getting drunk on close-to-expiration-date beer I was sitting with the camera crew feverishly watching a computer screen as it uploaded material from an SD card but here’s the thing: I didn’t want to spend the night at Wetherspooons anyway! (Austerity has hit Pantoland just as it has the country at large.)
So that was hobnobbing with the stars. Kinda.
And then there was the Thursday night.
Me, the Returning Officer and a whole load of hopeful, power-crazed types, giddy at the prospect of raising charges at the tip and up for election to our local councils.
I’d consumed an entire bag of Mint Imperials and downed my flask of fresh coffee by 11.30pm little knowing that, by the time of the full seat recount for Old Town at 1.15am, the refreshments table would have been ravaged and all hope of a Viennese Whirl would have crumbled like the dreams of so many Tory councillors.
I drove home, reciting the names of the nineteen wards who’d declared at Swindon in a bid to keep myself awake.
Late nights are the preserve of the young.
Proper conversation – you know, the meandering debates about the future of mankind, the existence of God and who’s shagging whom on the Drama Soc committee – never really got going until 1am in my experience.
While I did manage to stay awake ‘til 3am this week, I’d be hard pressed to say anything coherent after midnight these days, let alone wrestle with philosophy.
I used to be so good at late nights!
I remember turning up to friends’ student digs at midnight on the borrow: a couple of eggs, a coveted jacket or (less likely) an academic tome.
I recall the nights spent at deadline, furiously writing pretentious critiques of Baudelaire in the wee small hours and chain smoking through the conclusion.
I think back to parties which lasted ‘til dawn and the ‘Survivors’ Photo’ featuring young people in black tie holding a barbequed sausage aloft in triumph and I know I’ll never appear in one again.
In Executive Youth I cherish the early night. I like to be in bed by 10pm (though it doesn’t often happen).
The introduction of the laptop and on-demand TV services means I can fall asleep watching ‘999 What’s Your Emergency?’ in bed rather than on the sofa. Which has meant no dribble stains on the good cushions. Oh, the victory of technology! It will change our lives. And our soft furnishings.
Late nights are a necessary part of my working life. The joy is that, as I drive home at midnight, I can call up either one of my sons, both now students at university, and find out who’s shagging whom on the Drama Soc committee…