Friday, October 20, 2006


Why in God's Name Do We Insist on Putting The Clocks Back?

No doubt most people in this country have felt the first chill of autumn as recent unseasonably warm temperatures begin to give way. This reminder that winter is at hand is bad enough but what astonishes me is our government's insistence on putting the clocks back by an hour; this year it's on 29th October.

The case against this joyless annual donning of a temporal hair shirt is as follows:

i) studies show that while there might be more accidents in the mornings these would be more than compensated for by fewer in the evenings; The Guardian, some time ago, quoted studies predicting a net saving of 140 lives.

ii) 80 per cent of the population want to keep summer time throughout the year.

iii) Many influential pressure groups favour it, including the CBI, the Police and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

iv) the experiment of maintaining BST through the winter 1968-71 was, as far as I recall, a substantial success.

v) It would extend the tourist season, the sporting season and..., perhaps most important of all it would make us all feel a damn sight better about the miserable imminence of winter.

The case against reversing the measure is summed up in the two words: Scottish farmers. They would face much darker mornings as the sun would not rise until 10.0am. However, against this it can be adduced:

i) The rate of decline in accidents would actually be greater in Central Scotland(5.5%) than in the south of England(2.5%).

ii)When I used to visit Northern Sweden regularly, farmers up there did not see daylight until much later than 10.0am and accepted it as part of their cost for living in that latitude.

iii) Now Scotland has its own parliament, why doesn't it set its own regional time and do us all a big favour?

iv) is it fair that a nation of 60 million should suffer merely because a few hundred farmers should be able to see their cows more clearly on a winter's morning?

In the war we had a clocks turned forward two hours- Double Summer Time!- why not return to those good old days? Blair might even find his popularity rises immensely if he introduced this simple yet highly popular measure.

If you take into account the one hour that we are out of synch with our European trading partners at the start and the end of each day, then add the two separate hours for lunch, I calculate that we lose four hours (half a day) in meaningful contact time.

That's in addition to the absurd personal inconvenience we suffer because of our government's policy.

It's one reason why I prefer to spend as much time as possible in a southern Mediterranean country - where it is a plasure to go shopping at 8.30 pm and mix with people still enjoying aperitives in the sunshine.
As a country steeped in tradition, whatever you say, nothing will make any difference, we are stuck in a time warp.
The Premier of Queensland has just opposed extending eastern daylight saving time to his state on the grounds that "we don't need the extra hour of daylight." (!)
More to the point, why in God's name do we ever put the clocks forward?

Noon is, roughly, when the sun is at it's highest.

Feel free to get up, go to bed, start work, stop work, etc, at any time you choose.

As for that business of overlapping working hours with Europe, well I guess now we know why the U.S. is such a backward nation, and why Japan has so much trouble doing business with Europe - all those time differences to contend with, poor dears.

Andrew Duffin
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