A Morning Wake-Up Call

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Issue 309
July/August 2018
The Food Issue

Reviews

A Morning Wake-Up Call
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Cover: Photograph by Leela Cyd www.leelacyd.com

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Anna Turns enjoys a new book celebrating the joys of early rising. Morning: How to Make Time – A Manifesto by Allan Jenkins. Published by Fourth Estate, 2018. ISBN: 9780008264345

For Allan Jenkins, early morning is the most precious time of day. This book is a celebration of dawn and a look at what makes it so special. Diary notes scribbled in the hours before sunrise over the course of one year provide a snapshot into Jenkins’ routine and habits before the rest of the world wakes. Most noticeably, it’s multi-sensory – morning can be immersed in light seeping in through open windows, in the surround sound of the blackbird or the gulls or the traffic, and in the smell of Earl Grey tea, or sometimes morning is simply still and quiet.

Jenkins’ writing is beautiful, poetic and insightful. Above all, it’s always honest. At times it feels meditative, and Jenkins hopes to inspire his readers to occasionally ditch the late-night television and instead get up early, tune into Nature and savour the extra time before busy-ness begins.

As described in the book, 10–15% of people are larks like Jenkins – tending to naturally sleep between 8pm and 4am. Often, for these ‘larks’, early morning is their most creative and productive time of day. But Jenkins invites anyone, lark or owl, or anything in between, to enjoy an early hour or two to take stock, to reflect and to notice. The author’s own 20 rules of early rising are nothing too prescriptive – try to get outside, try to listen, try to do the thing you always wanted but “don’t have time to do”. And he is keen to share the magic of morning but insists it doesn’t have to be every day – there’s no pressure, but it will probably be worth it.

Like Plot 29, his previous book, Jenkins’ rhythm stems from an undeniably strong connection to his North London allotment, and that carries him through the seasons of the year. Perhaps birdsong is his hymn.

Morning: How to Make Time – A Manifesto is an almanac of early rising – from the lexicon of dawn to the “seven ways to know you’re not getting enough sleep”. The narrative runs from March to February, beginning on the first day of meteorological spring. Each month of diary notes is interspersed with conversations Jenkins – editor of the Observer Food Monthly magazine has with other “early morning appreciators”: for chef Jamie Oliver, sleep is “as important as nutrition”, and for Guy Grieve, a scallop fisherman working off the Isle of Mull in the Scottish Hebrides, the morning “sets the mood of the day’s diving to come”.

As well as these other personal perceptions of early morning, David Lindo, an ornithologist known as the Urban Birder, sheds light on the dawn chorus, and Jenkins interviews a sleep scientist. Of course, there’s also religious symbolism to the sunrise – early morning prayers often mark this sacred transition between night and day. Jenkins joins Muslim and Hindu communities, and experiences the call to prayer for himself.

This is a book to savour and perhaps a call to action to indulge in your morning a little differently.

Anna Turns is a journalist specialising in sustainability and the environment. devonfeatures.co.uk

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