Photography: Raising Life

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Friends think I'm weird. I actually like being awake with our baby at night. Well, to attach the term "like" to broken sleep may be a bit strong. After all, my current fantasy is to roll home with the dawn chorus, fall into bed drunk, wallow in oblivion (with a slight attack of the whizzes, when nothing seems quite focused) and not stir till it's begun to go dark again. Not much chance of that these days.

Nevertheless, baby night-life has its own attractions. If I've been out at work all day, then spending the small hours walking our one-year-old around the bedroom massively multiplies our time together. Of course, conversation is minimal. (Given her current feline obsessions, a glance at the darkness outside, accompanied with the statement: "The cats are all still asleep" often does the trick.) However, by the end of a night of cuddles, wriggles and roars, we are transformed from strangers in the night into morning intimates, bonded by shared events that have become a blur by the time dawn breaks.

There is also plenty of time just to be, for the night is long. There is none of the daytime rush that can turn a relationship with a child into a merely functional matter of feeding, bathing, dressing and appeasing.

And, of course, there is the chance to sing. I know a thousand tunes, but no more than a couple of lines of a single one. At night this ignorance is no disgrace. I hum and sometimes, in her sleepiness, she hums in her own way before drifting off. And, as morning comes, I find myself thinking of Yeats's poem, "The Stolen Child". "We foot it all the night/ Weaving olden dances/ Mingling hands and mingling glances/ Till the moon has taken flight."

All this can, I'm afraid, leave you a bit tense next morning. The best preparation I've had for that frayed feeling is sleeping rough in one of Bristol's multi-storey car parks. Because no matter how much you cover yourself, the freezing cold (or in this case, the cry) still seeps in and wakes you up. And next morning, though you may not be tired, provided you took to your concrete bed early enough, you are discombobulated. The only way to get your head together, some companions once revealed, was a few puffs of dope and a mug of coffee in McDonald's.

They were right. However, mindful of Jack Straw's problems, I am careful not to set the baby a bad example. These days, a long, hot bath must suffice. And then I return to work until another night.

Next week: partying with baby while talking existentialism

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