Friday 25 February 2011

Changing the clocks

I read just recently that the government is considering changing our time so that it is an hour later all the year round than it is now.

This strikes me as the worst of all possible time zone scenarios.

Firstly, changing the clocks in autumn and spring is completely unnecessary any way. We used to be told that it was for the farmers' sake, so they had more light in the morning in the winter. But down here, surrounded as we are (literally) by farmers and their fields, we know that this is a complete myth. If farmers want to work out of daylight hours, winter or summer, they turn on the powerful lights in their barns or on their tractors, and work away. It is not uncommon for us to be woken at 2 a.m. by farmers trundling down the road in their tractors to harvest, cut hay, or otherwise till the soil.

Secondly, changing the clocks is a nuisance, especially if you have young children who cannot easily adjust to the time being different. When my daughters were younger I spent ages either trying to stop them getting up at an unearthly hour when the clocks went forward, or waking them for school when the clocks went back. For weeks we struggled with this, to the distress of all concerned.

Thirdly, I find it difficult enough to get up on a winter morning in the dark when it's only for three months or so. I have to be up early in order to get my younger daughter off to school on the bus by 8 a.m. If the government decide to harmonise our time zone with that of France, for example, by my reckoning I shall have to get up in the dark for most of the winter. As I find light extremely helpful for dragging my bones out of bed, I view this prospect with horror, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this. It is simply unnatural to get up in the dark. Our ancestors didn't do it, and neither should we.

I give my vote to Greenwich Mean Time - i.e. British Winter Time. Let's be on that all year. It has the virtue of being simple - noon is when the sun is at its height; it gives us more light in the morning for getting up; and it's British. How many people actually need to b e in the same time zone as our friends on the Continent? I can see it might be useful for business and trade, but is this important enough to give the rest of us these problems to live with?