It's four a.m. and already bright outside. You went to sleep around midnight - it was only just dark then. You groggily drift into consciousness. You look at the Guardian app, at Facebook, wish you hadn't done either. You start to hear drumming. And shouting. And chanting. And the blowing of horns. You realise you've finally lost it: this is the quietest place in the world, it's half four, there's no way that noise is real. You have visions - shudders - of city madness, of Manchester sirens, Belfast marches, London demonstrations. You drag yourself up, look outside. The noise is coming from across the river: a cluster of white, ghostly shapes, clapping, laughing. You decide you have to find out what's happening, still doubting your reality.
It takes a few minutes to get out and by that time there's no sight or sound of the white ghosts. You head down to the now-familiar harbour. When you get there, you can hear drums from up on the hill. It starts to rain. You spot a bunch of giggling, gobbing, joshing, pushing kids standing/sitting/running/playing ball/looking tough up by the Rockhouse, the red guitar on its roof and its dodgy Elvis mannequin looking knackered, wet, hungover. You ask the kids what's happening. 'High School finished.' You think back, you realise you have no memory at all of your own last day at school but you feel an abrupt shove of sadness. You wait with the kids. More people join you. All wait together, quiet in that Greenland way. They're all smoking and you really fancy one.
After about half an hour, by now soaked to the skin, you hear and then see the scattered, fragmented, joyous march approaching. The kids are wearing overalls to protect their clothes from the paint and other stuff they're throwing at each other. A couple of them are pushing oil drums along the road. A resigned middle-aged man is bringing up the rear. You say hello. He's a teacher. You walk with him up, up the hill. He says the tradition is that on this day the kids get up early and go to teachers' houses and wake them up. He doesn't seem completely happy about this, but he asks you about Brexit and smiles his disdain for the French and the Germans and seems to cheer up. You share a quick joke with one of the kids, who speaks perfect English. You wonder again why you have no memory of your own last day at school. You wish them luck and you wonder where they'll be, who they'll be, in thirty, forty years time. You envy them this morning, you envy them their years. You hope the ones who need to stay on this wild island stay here and those who need to leave are able to leave. You tread gingerly down the slippery wooden staircase then, down to the main road. You head home and go back to bed, just as the sun comes out.