They have taken to switching off the streetlights at midnight. By day, the cul de sac looks very boring: A middle England street of almost identical houses, middle-price cars, a strip of grass opposite, some trees and a few metres down, a small stream. Nothing unremarkable there.
By night, it is dark. Without the streetlights, and with everyone gone to bed, it is nighttime middle-of-the-countryside dark. Well, it's not suburban here. It's a very small country small town and we live on the edge of it, where fairly wild countryside abuts onto the edge of civilisation. Nevertheless, the absence of light seems to throw a deserted, impersonal, almost hostile feel to that which in the day is relatively benign.
I rather like it. Darkness feels like a refuge. I know that all these houses contain people, but there is not a sign of that. I might as well be the only person alive, everyone else vanished somehow, the power stations perhaps all long having fallen into disrepair and the primeval dark once again ruling the night. Animals roam. I see foxes. And I hear hedgehogs. But they don't assuage the loneliness of 3 a.m. solitude. There is no evidence of humanity out there beyond the glass of the windows.
It is 3:17 a.m. Sleep is as elusive as ever and I feel wide awake. What do do...? Well, I could clear up the kitchen, left at 11:30 when we all traipsed up the wooden hills, thinking sleep was imminent. But I would wake the other members of the household.
I could step through into the adjoining garage and do some work on one of my projects: I do have a small electrical junction box I am constructing for the solar panel and charger on my van. But similarly, it would be difficult to do quietly and I risk the wrath of my wife who would surely be woken
And all my reading material is by the bed, unreachable quietly.
So, I suppose I will sit here and press the orange "publish" button to send these words out into the virtual space where we venture sometimes to be another version of ourselves. Tonight, unusually, it is the insomniac. An infrequent persona. One I would happily forego. But, well, here he is. Good morning. It's 3:26.