I’m sort of all slowed down at the moment! I’ve always reckoned myself to be a bit of a morning man - up with the lark – rather than a late night owl. When I was at seminary I was always the first to be up and about of a morning and was usually in chapel by the latest 0630 – although I don’t think (if my memory serves me right) that Morning Prayer and Mass started until 0730. My dawn risings meant that I had the job of giving a shake to a number of my fellow students – especially the impoverished ones who couldn’t afford alarm clocks (yes – this was in the days before the ubiquitous mobile phone.). One of my good chums, Jonathan Cooper was on my list of early calls, and so on Mondays to Fridays at about 0615 I would knock on his study door, enter and then knock on his bedroom door, but by the time I had got that far, he had heard me coming, and as I opened the second door I could already see the bright glow of his first fag of the day! It was the first cigarette of many as Jonathan was a bit of a chain smoker, always a packet of ciggies in his hand and always ready to light up. His study was always fugged up with smoke; he smelt (like so many) of tobacco, and in those days no-one – not even non-smokers like myself – would object to nicotine slaves lighting up anywhere they chose including one’s own rooms. It was accepted that people – perhaps even the majority of people – smoked, and there were few if any restrictions.

Well on London’s double-decker buses it was only permissible to smoke upstairs, and on the trains and tube there were designated “no smoking” carriages (there were also “Ladies Only” carriages too!), but on the stations and on most of the trains, smoking was the norm. One of the first limitations on breathing the noxious fumes of the deadly weed was in cinemas, where smokers had to sit on one side of the auditorium and the virtuous abstainers on the other. Of course the smoke itself recognised no barrier and drifted around the entire building. In other words, the smoke, like the sun and the rain, fell on the righteous and unrighteous alike.

When I was a student I tended to do most of my studying and writing in the mornings – I worked better then. The afternoons were reserved for tea in The House of Steps and Prayer Book Evensong in Salisbury Cathedral. What a magnificent building, and captured so wonderfully by Constable in his famous painting from across the Wiltshire water meadows. And evenings? Well down the pub and an early night! Yes – I’ve always been a lark rather than an owl!

But I’m currently finding mornings quite difficult – which is all a bit strange to me. Until I was beset with this present illness – well until a couple of months ago – I was invariably an early morning person. A so-called “lie-in” for me meant getting up at 8 o’clock. Once awake, I was up and about the day’s business in quick time – and mornings are of course ‘the best part of the day,’ everything is spanking new and clean, and so fresh, after a good night’s sleep, I was ready to get to grips with the day ahead. At the moment however it’s taking me an hour or so to get going – despite my best efforts. So the sooner I see the medical team again and we crack-on with the next instalment of treatment – the better.

Roll on Tuesday afternoon!

P.s My good chum Fr Jonathan Cooper, sadly died last year aged 63. Rest in Peace.

P.p.s. If you’re still a smoker – give it up. It’s not nice. Take to gin instead – an excellent substitute!