Yesterday, I got out of bed at 5.45am. That might not scare all of you, but to me, that’s the middle of the night, and not a time I regularly see on the clock unless I’m up for a train or a plane or both.
The reason I was up with the larks was the dawn chorus, which takes place every year to kick off the Cork Choral Festival, high atop the tower of St Anne’s Church in Shandon, better known to most of us as the Shandon Bells.
Every year I’ve lived in Cork, I’ve intended to go, but recent events have reminded me that we do not always get a chance to fulfil our intentions. Take the chance while you have it.
A small choir on the tower serenaded a motley crew comprising about 30 people, two curious dogs, a quickly silenced bin lorry and a few startled avian residents of the Butter Exchange building who protested loudly, their cries mingling with the voices from above.
It was sublime.
It was a wonderful start to an ordinary working day, particularly a print day, which is arduous at the best of times.
And it was a great reminder that there is more to life than work; that the world is a different place when you approach it differently; and that the city is always full of possibility.
Nothing would satisfy the dog afterwards but a stroll around the city centre. Street sweepers and habitual early risers have the place to themselves before the commuter invasion. A few runners, one or two homeless people, still asleep on their pitches, and at least one girl heading home from a night out made it seem a different place entirely from the busker-jamming, traffic-jammed city of daytime.
Paradise Place was an appropriate place to pass through on such an ethereal morning, and I’d never noticed its existence til now. (I’m a fan of Fast Al’s but I wouldn’t call it heavenly.)
The whole experience was both calming and energising, and in the week following the loss of a very dear friend and adopted grandfather, served as a small tribute to him and his attitude to life.
Make the effort; take the chance; most of all, have a laugh while you’re at it. (He’d have loved the bin lorry, which we heard rumbling up the street before we saw it, just as the performance kicked off.)
In writing this, though, I’ve broken his cardinal rule; tell nobody your business.
Rest in peace, Mike.