Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Into the Night

Welcome to the start of 30 Blogs of Night, an attempt to blog every day for a month. No idea what I'm going to talk about (well a few ideas, but a lot of this is going to be making up stuff as I go along... which my gaming group would define as 'business as usual' I imagine).

Night is a funny time, one of mixed emotions for me. Ian Marchant in the pitch for his book 'Something of the Night' (available in all good bookshops I'm told) talks about the wonder of night, how it's a transformative time. You can be anything in the night, a hero, a villain; a rock star, anything you like.  I see that now, but when I was young my experience of night was a little different; one of fear.

As a child I swore I saw a woman fly past my window in a basket. In hindsight it was probably the influence of too many fairy tales and the workings of an overactive imagination, but when you're a toddler you don't really discriminate about this kind of thing, you run to your parents in a blind panic. Something I did a lot. I swore the shadows on my walls crawled menacingly, that I heard a witch's voice came through my curtains one night.  There was a monster under my bed and in the wardrobe. I slept with the light on until I was twelve, protected by an Animal marionette.

It was only in my teens that things changed. I abandoned safety, slept with the curtains open: embraced the night. I started reading about paganism and witchcraft, terrified my mother by asking about tarot cards (only to be told that they were pure evil, the spiritual equivalent of radiation poisoning). Whilst there were habits I couldn't quite shake, I still can't sleep with an arm hanging over the side of the bed just in case, my attitude changed. There were monsters in the night? Well they could come and get some.

At university I learnt to enjoy the night's other pleasures, nightclubs and pubs opened up to me and were okay, but I'm an introvert at heart. I preferred walking through the dark in the early hours of the morning, stealing back from campus to the house I rented down in the town. Ormskirk at two in the morning was beautiful and eerie; the huge quiet and the empty streets almost post apocalyptic. I realised during those years that night is a special time, almost holy. If you're lucky enough to be in a place without light pollution, night really puts things into perspective. There are few things more awe inspiring than sitting on top of a hill staring up at the night sky, feeling how old and vast the universe is. It's a time for thought, for introspection, no wonder we fill it with noise and light, try to drive the dangerous things away.

Today night and I are passing acquaintances, it's been a long time since I went walking through the night for fun and a friend of mine wants to go stargazing. Perhaps it's time to step out again and embrace the dark.