University library snoozes

My studies at Edinburgh University centred around George Square. Despite the name, all of its Georgian buildings had been replaced by modernist glass and concrete skyscrapers. I studied philosophy in the David Hume Tower, history in the William Roberston Building, and I read in the University Library.

It was both intensive and competitive. We all egged each other on and struck sparks off each other. In between lectures we read. I read books at the rate of at least one every day during term-time. A group of us would usually have a quick lunch together in the basement cafeteria of the David Hume Tower, normally yoghurt and a sandwich, before heading back to work.

I would read in the University Library if there were no afternoon lectures. There were comfortable armchairs on the top floor. The problem was the heating. The whole place was vastly over-heated. Given how cold Edinburgh can be, this as undoubtedly better than being under-heated. But it made one drowsy. Every day after lunch I would start to nod off, and fall asleep in my chair, waking up fully refreshed after a snooze of about 10-15 minutes.

It must have been habit forming, because when I taught at Hillsdale I would take an afternoon nap on the couch, again for 10-15 minutes. This was nothing like a siesta of one or two hours. It was just a short nap. I still do the same, lying down after lunch. I never set an alarm, but always wake refreshed after a nap of never less than 8 minutes, never more than 20 minutes. Uncannily, 9 days out of 10 it is exactly 12 minutes. I think I may have been conditioned into this by those years long ago in that over-heated library in George Square.