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Something of the Night

by Ian Marchant

For as long as he can remember, Ian Marchant has been a night owl. When he was a kid, he loved going to bed, because it meant that he would be alone. The night time was a place to read, and play, and dream. Year after year and minute by minute, he stayed awake a little longer each night so that by the time he became a student he jumped at the opportunity to work in an all-night garage and as a rock musician, gigging into the small hours. The night is still a place of work; with the punters tucked up in bed, the shelves can be stacked, the Tube de-fluffed, and the motorways repaired. Night is also our time of greatest playfulness and freedom, of love and romance. We go to pubs, nightclubs, and all-night drinking dens. Nightingales sing in Berkeley Square. We fall in and out of love. Equally, the night is the place of our greatest danger - a time of crime, and of transgressive sexuality - and also the time of our greatest fears; of ghosts and ghouls, and vampires, of night terror and night sweats. Monks chant compline in freezing cloisters to keep us safe from the old powers of the dark. Above all, night is the time of rest and recuperation. We sleep to dream. In dreams, our unconscious is loose, and doing what it will. We need sleep; our biological clocks are reset and our cells regenerate. We are born again, night after night. In Something of the Night, Ian Marchant offer a night owl's guide to Britain, exploring the funny and fascinating truth of what night means in Britain and what we do in the dark. He visits linen weavers and blanket makers; calls a little bingo, and goes to the dogs. He learns a new skill at evening class, goes ghost hunting with a diocesan exorcist and stands vigil with anti-war demonstrators. In the night, anything could happen.

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