The perfect morning

Two lungfuls of chill-edged canal air, shot through with the sharp edge of spring, the sweet incense of exhaust, and the rank basenote of riverbank.

This is no Riviera awakening, languorous in cotton andbody cream, squinting into the sun tousle-haired and foam-lipped on a balcony to a soundtrack of shuffling silverware and surf. There is no holiday in this daybreak, no self-conscious sense of promise or ownership.

This is Hackney.

And this morning is obliviously, splendidly ordinary. Yesterday wasn’t perfect and nor will be today. There will be work, and wrangling, and hot messy confusion, and ill-considered sugar highs, and the sound of your own voice, brash.

But up a little earlier than you should be, you feel that you have jumped a step ahead of yourself for a tiny fraction of time. An hour’s mindless exercise has stilled your brain and opened your eyes, whetted your mouth and pricked your scalp awake with the tightness of drying sweat. Seratonin has opened a slender crack of clarity, and you look, benign-eyed, at the glinting Ginsters packet and the foot-squashed Kipling slice, nursery-coloured against the grey concrete. You look, unjudgemental, at the crack-born straggle of weeds, bullseye in a jaundiced halo of old dog piss. You look, poised, at the joggers pumping past, faces furiously interior, elbows isocelean; the cyclists wavering in their precarious line between brick wall and black water, tumoured with pockets and packs; the moorhens, scrapping lethargically; and the short white scars their ragged wings score on the surface of the canal.

A bus huffs past, flashing it’s pale-faced, black-socketed cargo.

Hunger and thirst will soon start to squeeze, but for now you are a primed vessel, a high-sitting ship, washed clean and bright with new blood. Your shoulders feel a mile apart. Your breath feels barbed in your nose.

In the words of the poet David Whyte, everything is waiting for you.