The Circadian Rhythm Method

It’s this exact point within any given year in the northern hemisphere that plunges me into the effects of SAD (seasonal affective disorder). 

I usually start to feel the effects towards the end of October, coinciding with my birthday. It’s that wonderful convergence of the changing of the seasons and the sense of mortality that another birthday brings. 

The clocks go back an hour. This year they went back on the morning of my birthday. There’s some rather obvious symbolism there! Turning the clock back on my birthday. I am forever wanting to “turn the clock back” on my life. Reviewing the litany of mistakes, doubt and apathy. Getting too stuck in the past to move forward. I am going to change that in 2022! 

I can’t rewrite history. I can’t go back and change what has passed, but I can alter my future. I can change where I am headed. Give myself purpose and direction.

Sunrise over Glasgow 21/11/2021

The weather really does affect my mood at this time of year as well. As soon as that changing of the clocks happens it heightens the awareness of the shortening of the days. 

In a little under three weeks it will be the winter solstice. The shortest day. Sunrise around 8.50am and sunset approximately 3.40pm – roughly seven hours of daylight. It really doesn’t feel like it! The light is so dull in the winter months  – although on a sunny day it has a beauty and majesty to it. But otherwise it is, to use the title of my favourite Magazine album, “secondhand daylight”. 

I feel the days drawing in. The sunrise is incrementally later and later each morning. The sun rose at 8.26 this morning, and on the 20th it’ll rise around 8.48-8.50. Over 20 minutes of daylight lost in less than three weeks! It’s stark! 

And it mucks up my circadian rhythm too. I feel like I just can’t get enough sleep and waking up and getting out of bed in darkness feels SSOO unnatural to me – even now, after over 20 years of living in the UK. 

The past two years have been another readjustment because compared to southern England, Scotland and Glasgow get less daylight in the winter months. Most notable is the later sunrise. At the moment, compared to London, it is some 40 minutes later in difference. 

I never noticed or felt I suffered the effects of SAD when I lived in Australia. Living so much closer to the equator, and having the Tropic of Capricorn running through the top third of the country through Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia means that there isn’t as marked a difference in the length of days between the seasons. That also means that winter doesn’t feel any less bright than it does in summer. The difference is all felt in temperature extremes rather than changes in day length. Winter is comfortably mild with very few extremely cold days and summer is, on the whole, extremely hot and oppressive. And so you don’t feel the seasons changing so starkly in Australia – possibly with the exception of Tasmania as they are that much further south and that much more temperate in climate.  

The seasonal changes never affected my body’s circadian rhythm. 

Here in the UK my sleeping patterns can alter considerably. Summer brings the other extreme which is very, very long days. Again, the move to Glasgow means that the days are longer in summer than they are in southern England. 

I feel like I need less sleep in the summer. The almost perpetual dusk that happens between May and July means dawn feels like it’s breaking around 3.30am and the sun isn’t setting until after 10.30pm. That kind of pattern of daylight brings more alertness. It literally feels like things are “brighter”. The days are warmer. At least warm enough not to feel like you need to be in layers of clothes to keep warm. 

The sun brings a natural optimism with it. Things feel better when the sun is shining. 

I feel like I can manage with about 6 hours of sleep most of the time. I am also a natural night owl, so not only am I trying to adjust to the winter solstice and SAD symptoms, I have also been trying to alter my sleep pattern. My natural sleep pattern for a long while here in the UK was to stay up quite late – 2.30am/3.30am and sleep until around 9-9.30am. I am now sleeping between around 12.30am-1am til … I am waking up through the night. And the time I get out of bed alters. Some nights I just don’t sleep very well. I awake around 3am and just can’t get back to sleep and can be awake until 5.30am. If that happens then I don’t wake again until my alarm wakes me at 7.45am. I am usually knackered and hit the snooze button a few times. I will try and drag myself out of bed by 8.15am at the very latest. 

There can be good nights where I sleep better. I still awake through the night, but I drift back off to sleep quite easily. If that happens, I will usually awake before the alarm goes off and I can be out of bed by 7.30am. Or as it was this morning, I was out of bed by 7am. 

But it is difficult at this time of year. At 7am it is still dark. Not even a sign of dawn breaking. Whereas at 7am in the summer months, from April til September, the sun is out and that usually means I can spring out of bed, unless I have had a particularly restless night of sleep, or a late night out. 

Typing and describing the conditions in real time – I have been typing out this post since about 8.15 this morning. It is now a few minutes to 11am and only NOW does the day feel bright enough to turn the lamp light off in the room. 

The dark of the winter months really does alter my mood. I find it a very depressing time of year and it is almost entirely down to the reduced amount of daylight. Perhaps it is time for me to invest in a SAD lamp? 

I feel all the things one feels. “Blue Monday” and that the month of January lasts for what feels like about 75 days rather than the actual 31 days it has. The cold also brings with it the desire to want to snuggle up in bed under one’s covers and remain there until the sun starts to make itself better known once again.

I think hibernating animals like hedgehogs and bears have the best way of overcoming the “bleak midwinter”. 

I am not looking forward to three more months of SAD. Usually it isn’t until the end of March, when Daylight Savings comes into being do I start to feel the subsidence of the effects of SAD. It takes a bit of adjustment again. As when the clocks move forward it means once again the sun rises later than it had been a few days before, but the evening is longer. I adjust to that far quicker than I do the clocks going back at the end of October. 

Do you feel SAD symptoms? What ways do you try to combat it?

Grace Jones – Autumn Leaves

I was thinking upon the recent talk of Grace Jones. All things swilling around in my head. Jim mentioning her again in a recent post “You have to be a bastard to make it”, exampling a quote from her “Like a shark. I only move forward. Never backwards, darling!” And of the erroneous eBay listing of Real To Real Cacophony attributed to her and of Simple Minds songs one wished she’d have covered.

I couldn’t sleep last night. It was warm and I cannot sleep without some kind of cover on me. But my summer duvet was far too warm last night, so ensued an endless tussle of me covering myself and then flinging the duvet back off me 10 minutes later. And on and on it went into the wee hours.

In those wee hours I decided to reach for my iPod Touch and listen to some Grace. I listened to all of the Warm Leatherette album (having had Scar in my head and thinking on that JG Ballard connection I link is between the two songs), then selected tracks from Nightclubbing. Finally, I looked through her earlier catalogue and the tracklist of Fame, her second album and noticed Autumn Leaves on the tracklist. What? THE Autumn Leaves? The one that mum wanted played at her funeral? Aye, the very one.

I had to play it. And of course, Grace being Grace, she was true to the original, singing it in French (with just a line or two in English midway through). It was as beautiful as her rendition of La Vie En Rose is. I wish I had known of it years ago, around the time I’d listen to Island Life – borrowing it constantly on cassette tape from the local library, until I could afford to buy a copy of it myself. (Libraries were great for more than just books!) I played Island Life so much. And mum would love listening to it with me. I think had she’d known Grace recorded Autumn Leaves, she’d have loved her version as much as she loved Nat King Cole’s.

I try hard not to have regrets, or at least not dwell upon the endless, countless regrets I have. To paraphrase, “Regrets. I have a few. But then again…TOO MANY to mention!” One that looms large over me is not being in a clear state of mind to have remembered mum’s wish to have Autumn Leaves played at her funeral. The most painful aspect of it is remembering it just 24 hours after her funeral took place. I let her down, even in death. It’s a big cross to bear. I try to give myself a break by telling myself I had just lost my mum, in the middle of a house-move to the other end of the country, and try and give myself some slack. But I also think endlessly – “You had one job! And you couldn’t even get that right, you stupid cunt”.

I’d have played Grace’s version as well as Nat’s. I’m sure mum would have loved it.

Here’s to mum and to Grace…

“Grace” Does Love Song

I am embarrassed to fuck by this! And I will absolutely CRINGE at the thought of anyone listening to it (Scott – don’t you get ANY ideas of doing ANYTHING with this!) – but, it was fun also.

Let me explain it.

I started working on compiling my post for Love Song for Minds Music Monday. There’s no way it’ll be ready in time for tomorrow – it’ll be posted next Monday. But starting my research unearthed an interesting thread to take about the song’s early development. All will be revealed next week.

But in the meantime it had me thinking about how Love Song would have sounded had Grace Jones covered it. Furthermore it begs the question as to WHY Grace has never covered a Simple Minds song?!

Why Grace, why?

Well, here’s my INCREDIBLY EMBARRASSING attempt at vocalising what (only a bit – there was NO WAY I was going to do the whole song like that!) a Grace Jones voiced Love Song might have sounded like.

BE KIND! (Because I know I won’t be to myself.)

(Imagine it over a musical accompaniment akin to “I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)” – except I would NO WAY be able to do the French stuff!)

“Grace” Does Love Song

I am going to embarrass the f*** out of myself! I will absolutely CRINGE at the thought of anyone listening to this (Scott – don’t you DARE get any ideas about doing ANYTHING with this!!!) – but also, it was fun trying to do a pastiche of Grace Jones.

Let me explain the reason for this pathetic little snippet of audio.

I am compiling my post for Love Song for Minds Music Monday. It won’t be ready for tomorrow at this late stage… but it will definitely be ready for next week.

And there’ll be a thread in the telling in which the reason why I did this will be obvious. In the meantime it begs the question – why didn’t Grace ever cover a Simple Minds song? Perhaps it isn’t too late?

By way of some fun and perhaps providing you with a bit of laughter, here’s my crude attempt at imaging what a Grace Jones voiced Love Song might have sounded like.

BE NICE TO ME! (Because I won’t be.)

I was tagged by thebizarremooneyeball

6 albums I’ve been playing a lot lately. Well, if I was REALLY truthful, it would ALL be Simple Minds albums! “A lot” is a relative term…but these are the albums I’ve played most recently…and some frequently.

Moving clockwise, from top right:

1. Diamond Dogs by David Bowie
One of my fave Bowie albums. He played a lot of the instruments himself. An entire concept…meant to be adapted to a theatrical piece for the stage. It sadly petered out…but you get all the imagery from the album. The first copy of it I had was the 1990 Rykodisc version with the alternate Dodo and Candidate tracks on it. I love them as much as those on the album proper. Fave track from the album? – Rock ‘n’ Roll With Me.

2. Achtung Baby (Deluxe Edition) by U2
Absolutely adore this album. By far my favourite U2 album. My fandom was probably really on the wane by this time. I was heavily into Bowie by this time, but my brother was still a big U2 fan. I listened to his copy first, then soon bought my own. I was hooked! The deluxe edition has a great selection of bonus tracks. Songs from the single releases, etc. I pretty much stopped buying singles by the early 90s. Albums were much better value all round, so I missed hearing a lot of the bonus tracks at the time. Love them now. Fave track from the album? – Ultra Violet (Light My Way).

3. Zooropa by U2
Not quite as strong as Achtung Baby (IMHO), but still firmly in my favourite period of U2. I love their more “experimental”, European influenced sound during this period. Love the Zoo TV tour stuff. MacPhisto – I mean, I would! Lol. It’s hard for me to choose a fave track off this album. I bought Stay (Far Away, So Close) as a single (ha! What was I saying about no longer buying singles?! Tosh!) – so that holds a special place. I love the sexual playfulness of Babyface. But…ultimately…I have to choose the title track…Zooropa. What an opening song! A statement of intent if ever there was one!

4. Silver Box by Simple Minds
It’s been nearly a year since I became a Simple Minds fan. I’m not sure of the exact date but, I love the idea that by sheer coincidence, it might have been Jim Kerr’s birthday (July 9th)…so that’ll be my anniversary date from now on in.

Anyway, on to Silver Box. It contains rare, early live tracks and demo versions of songs. I’ve said this several times on my blog when linking to tracks from the album, but the demo versions are just as amazing as the full studio recorded versions. Jim Kerr really likes to play around with his words, so tracks like Twist/Run/Repulsion have completely different lyrics to what end up on the album. The set also contains the “lost” Simple Minds album “Our Secrets Are The Same” – which I can’t understand for the life of me WHY no record company wanted to touch this. Sadly, Virgin cash in in the end, releasing it as part of this box set. Favourite track from the set? Well…considering it’s five discs…I’ll choose one from each. Disc one: Twist/Run/Repulsion. Disc Two: Life In Oils. Disc Three: Ghostdancing. Disc four: Bangin’ On The Door. Disc Five: Neon Cowboys.

5. Island Life by Grace Jones
Apart from my brother having a 12" version of Walking In The Rain, I didn’t have much exposure to Gracie until this came out in 1985. I would borrow a copy of in on cassette from the local library and play it every day while I had it out on loan. The cassette copy the library had had bonus tracks. I recently made a Spotify playlist of the album with these bonus tracks added to it. Love Gracie! Fave track from the album? Warm Leatherette.

6. X5 by Simple Minds
Yes…it’s a box set like Silver Box…but I play this SSSOOO much. Seriously!! I never STOP playing it! The bonus tracks…the remastering of the albums themselves. It’s just AMAZING! A must for any Simple Minds fan! And seeing as there are 6 albums on here (Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call usually get bundled together…but they ARE separate entities tied by being recorded in one MEGA session)…I’ll pick a fave from each disc. Disc one: Murder Story. Disc two: Premonition. Disc three: Constantinople Line (but, frankly, D3 is impossible to single out one fave). Disc four: Boys From Brazil (but Seeing Out The Angel is also beautiful!). Disc five: Wonderful In Young Life. Disc Six: New Gold Dream (German 12" Remix) – now has such special significance :-))

And that’s my six. I tag bitter-milk deluge-in-a-paper-cup depechecure hanzcubed bunny-and-the-echomen goodytwolose