Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Tick tock the clock goes back

And about time too.

I am not a lover of summertime at all. I see no reason for people to faff around with hours - so that there is an extra hour of daylight in the evening or some garbage like that. Just, why?

Personally, I like to get up when it is daylight, and go to bed when it is dark. Or even before it is dark in my case, being something of a Sleep Monster. So people tell me.

In fact, I don't mind getting up half an hour or so before it is daylight. Coffee, waking up slowly etc etc just about uses up that pesky half an hour.

But when it isn't daylight until after 8am - what on earth is one supposed to do for all those hours? (This is assuming a getting up time of somewhere between six and seven).

You can't go cycling, you can't go walking because it is too dark. Damn nuisance. I have gazed at the clocks and the calendar throughout October, waiting for that magical Sunday when it will be daylight again at 7am.

I always thought it was strange that people said it was a wonderful opportunity to have an extra hour in bed when the clocks went back. Because, as it is Sunday morning, most people can stay in bed as long as they want - in theory.

Winter hours were a nuisance in the UK I have to say, but that was because there was so little daylight. It didn't matter how you cut it, you went to work in the dark and came home in the dark. It was so depressing when it started to get dark after 3pm and you had no chance of going home for two or three hours.

But as I don't live in the UK, any more, that's now of no interest to me. At least here on the southern end of the Iberian peninsula we can look at daylight from approx 7am until 6pm during winter.

Back to Sunday when I was in Spain waiting for the clocks to tick tock backwards. We all woke up at the usual time. By which I mean everyone woke up at what would have been the same time had the clocks not gone backwards. And everyone got up.

I don't just mean us and the dog. The goatherders next door went to work - by the clock an hour earlier, but really it was just the same sort of hour they would normally have gone - about half an hour before it got daylight. The guy who drives tractors and ploughs all the local fields drove down the street a few minutes before daylight.

It doesn't matter to campo workers, and to a similar extent, to construction workers, what the clock says. People need daylight, so that's when they start. In fact I did wonder if people n the village have clocks at all.

And in summer it seems so irrelevant because everyone (except us) stays up in the dark nights because it is cooler. Andalucians are used to living outside in the dark.

So I shall enjoy the next six months of 'proper' time, and dread the arrival of summer time when I will be jet-lagged for at least a month due to the clocks going forward.

I thought I would look up something about summertime. I vaguely remembered it was introduced when I was a kid in the 60s/70s to combat the energy crisis. Wrong!!! I was obviously getting confused with the Harold Wilson experiment of staying on summertime all year in that period.

In fact summertime was first proposed in 1895. I was stunned to read that, I have to say. London-born Kiwi George Vernon Hudson apparently liked collecting insects and valued later daylight hours for this. Great. We all get our hours changed for someone to collect insects??

Hudson's proposals failed but meanwhile British builder and outdoorsman William Willett was cantering around on his horse in 1905 before breakfast and was horrified to discover how many lazy Londoners were asleep in the morning in broad daylight. Hello, Mr Willett. Those lazy Londoners may well have been knackered labourers who didn't have a horse to ride around on in the peaceful early morning and valued what little sleep time they could grab.

Nor did Mr Willett like having his evening round of golf interrupted by dusk. That really says it all doesn't it?

Anyway it wasn't collecting insects, lazy idle Londoners, or cutting short the evening's golf that brought about the introduction of summertime - it was the first world war. The Germans beat us to it in April 1916, with the Brits following a month later. Initially it began towards the end of May and ended at the beginning of October. Well. I think that would be an improvement if we have to have summertime at all.

It seems, reading Wiki, links here and here, that people have been messing around with the clocks for nearly a hundred years now. And the amount of studies carried out, to work out whether or not there is any financial saving, energy saving, reduced number of accidents, defies belief.

And guess what, yes, people are still faffing around introducing bills to change the hours this way and that. I would have thought the British government would have more important things to consider than messing around with an hour at the end or beginning of the day. How about homeless people? Unemployed people? Especially all those pensioners who won't have a pension until they are 70 - or whatever the ever-expanding goalpost is - and won't be able to get a job either? The list is endless but I bet most people wouldn't put daylight saving(s) at their top of priorities for the government's Must Do list.

Messers Hudson and Willett, you would not be on my Christmas card list (assuming that a) you were around and b) I even sent them). Truth is though, that reading the tedious history, it would have happened without entomologists and horse-riding golfers.

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