(Contributed by Ben)
Do you ever ‘pull an all-nighter’? That’s when you stay up all night, normally so you can achieve something. When I was at university I often pulled all-nighters to complete essays before their deadlines. It was normally a bad idea. Saint John once wrote, “Night is coming, when no-one can work” – and I quite agree. It’s very difficult to achieve anything after midnight.
When there’s a general election, I normally stay up until dawn to watch the results come in. Other times, I’ve stayed up all night so I can see the sun-rise. In Springtime, if you go out just after dawn, you can see dozens of tiny rabbits running around.
Staying awake all night is fairly easy when you’re young. It gets a bit harder each year. This week I needed to take my lodger to hospital, and we had to wait and wait for test results. It was my first all-nighter in a long time, and I didn’t get to bed until 10am. It’s a good thing it wasn’t a work-day.
Let me tell you about one more all-nighter which has stuck in my memory. It was Easter Eve (the night before Easter Sunday), 2005. At the time, I was working as a verger at Durham Cathedral. (A verger is part-cleaner, part-security, part ceremonial figure).
On Easter Eve I was scheduled to work until 11pm. On Easter Sunday, I was due to start at 4.30 in the morning (to prepare for a 5.30 service – there is always a very early church service on Easter day).
According to the schedule, I only had five-and-a-half hours between shifts. However, because of the date, the clocks went forward that night. That meant we lost an hour! I really only had four-and-a-half hours between evening work and morning work! I was worried that if I slept, I wouldn’t wake up in time. So, instead of working, I watched ‘Ben-Hur’. It’s my favourite movie, and it’s three-and-a-half-hours long – and it’s set at Easter.
As soon as it was over, I walked back to work. The timing was perfect, but I was very tired, and probably not very useful at work. It was an interesting experience, but I hope I never need to repeat it.