I’m up early this morning – fierce early. The feeling of smugness is overwhelming. That’s not a surprise – the world attaches a moral value attached to it. The early bird catches the worm; early to bed and early to rise leads to health, wealth and wisdom. By contrast, late is only better than never.

I don’t want to understate the scale of my achievement this morning. Especially as I’ve overcome a particularly harrowing addiction to the snooze button.

Most mornings consist of me actually telling the alarm: “Really alarm clock? You didn’t think I was being serious did you?” There then follows a sleep pattern of nine minute micro-sleeps each one followed by accusing the alarm of all sorts of betrayal.

Yet I’ve overcome these challenges and, rather like exercise and drinking plenty of water, I’m asking “Why don’t I do this more often?”

Of course I’m only up because I have to. I have to bring someone to the airport.  There is something about the incontrovertible reality of a plane taking off whether everyone’s on it or not, that cuts through all snooze button inclination.

It’s a pity that necessity is the only mother of ascension because the early morning world has a charm all of its own.

There is a camaraderie on the road. People who are bound together by bleariness. Milkmen, streetcleaners, taxi drivers who have just dropped off the last ‘legend’ from the night before, someone cycling in to open up the Spar. The traffic lights are mostly green and even when they’re not it’s no problem to wait. An urban fox stops. We regard each other for a while. The fox wonders if I’m new to the area, looks at the age of my car and hopes the neighbourhood isn’t going downhill.

AA Roadwatch has nothing to say yet. The Jack Lynch tunnel is free of all load-spilled trucks. The Farrybank Djewal Carriagewaiy has no bumper to bumpers. Lough Atalia is just that – a lake rather than a defensive formation preventing an attack on Galway from the East. The radio is more placid. The talkie stations haven’t woken yet. If you wanted you could hear a replay of yesterday’s bad news but to best capture the mood, listen to the pre-breakfast DJ. They haven’t the energy for competitions or talking to listeners. They’re just playing a Prefab Sprout song that won’t get near the playlists for the next twelve hours.

By 8 o’clock we have all become competitors on the road – snarling and beeping at each other. We have conversations with other drivers that they will never hear: “No go ahead – DON’T let me turn right? That would be TOO sound, you [insert swear-word].

There are downsides to early rising. You become insufferable and say things like “I’ve half a day’s work done already?” and “Are you STILL in bed?”

And I know it won’t last. Tomorrow if the alarm goes at the same time, I will patiently explain to it that there’s been a mistake and I don’t know who told it that I was getting up at that ridiculous hour but if it didn’t mind, I was going to have a snooze.

I’ll let the fox have the worm.

First published in the Irish Examiner, September 9th 2013

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