My earliest memory is waking up in Queen Alexandra hospital in Cosham after an operation on my ears. I must have been about four years old and it was the middle of the night. I was in a room on my own and the door was locked. It had been daylight only seconds before so I got out of the bed and walked to the window to look incredulously out at the amber world that lay beyond.
I can remember the stillness of it, the feeling that no one else was around and that the world had somehow forgotten me. I remember the magical loneliness of being the only person awake as far as I could see. I don’t know what happened next, I must have just gone back to the bed and fallen asleep again.
I still love being alone in the dark. Sleeplessness is often frustrating but sometimes I will just sit by the window in the dark looking out at the orange glow of the streets, listening to stray cars padding past and wondering about the stories that might be sending people out on the road in the early morning. I think about the dreams of the people sleeping in their beds and I try to look for lit windows, for someone who might be doing the same as me.
In Bath, I lived in a flat on the London Road with a window that looked out over St Stephen’s Church and Larkhall stretched up the hill behind. I remember hot summer nights in 2006 looking out of that window and up the hill. I can think about the search for lit windows and the five years between then and now dissolve in an instant.
Meanwhile, I think there is a part of me still stuck inside that room in the hospital, stuck back there at the beginning. Every time I find solace in being alone I am escaping back to that night and to the amber world.