Dedicated to ‘Johannes Punkt‘.

Four am is, without doubt, the most awful hour of the British morning. Anyone who wakes up within the sixty minutes that comprise four o clock can testify to the feeling of dread. There is no sense of having woken at an early but suitable hour, no sense of a good start to the day. Those who wake at four and find themselves unable to sleep know in their hearts their day will be miserable, and all that they put their hands to will fail.

But why is four the cut-off point? Why not three? And what of melancholy five? Surely something must be said of these? And indeed it must.

Three am, throughout the year, speaks of revelry, and of more time ’til morning. Waking at three am is, of course, undesirable. But one may more reasonably hope to catch a few more hours of sleep before the onslaught of the ‘real’ day. Those who fall asleep at three am can at least satisfy themselves with the though that their night was well spent.

And the fifth hour? In this country of two time zones, the status of the fifth hour is ambiguous. During British Summertime, waking up at five comes with a good chance of seeing the sunrise. Whether one is predisposed to sunrises or not naturally affects how this prospect is viewed but, nevertheless, waking at five during BST is not at all bad. One can revel (après avoir se réveiller) in the sentiment of a productive morning well spent.

But waking at five once the clocks have been turned back… What disappointment, what horror! It is, of course, like waking at four, only worse. No promise of sunrise, no possibility of an hour or two in which to doze. Just the cold, hard fact that soon, it will be day, just the knowledge that until then you will be as trapped in your bed and your sleeplessness as a prisoner in his cell.