Monday, October 30, 2006

Greenwich polemic

We took Baz (the son formerly known as Lockboy) up to the boats with us last weekend, and he slept on Andante while Jim and I occupied Warrior. As teenage boys go, he isn't bad at all. But the amount of dirt he managed to trail onto that boat in the space of three days beggars belief. On top of which, Jim had been doing final little repairs and touching up. So I spent the best part of Sunday (when it was lovely and sunny, naturally) cleaning and tidying and polishing in case any prospective purchasers should materialise in our absence. And this took longer than I expected, somewhat to Jim's chagrin. We'd planned to leave at two, and in the event, it was nearer three by the time we got away. But when we got home, I realised that we should have put the clocks back the previous night, so we had left at two after all. I felt thoroughly vindicated.

Which is all by way of introducing a pet rant. I love it when the clocks go back. I dislike British Summer Time with something approaching a passion. I want to scream when people say it 'gives us an extra hour of daylight'. Apparently sane people who nonetheless genuinely seem to believe that such a thing is possible. (So livid am I that I have lost the ability to write in sentences).

British Summer Time is a con; a flim-flam to make us all get up earlier in the summer so that we don't stay up too late enjoying ourselves and fail to turn up for work the next day. (Seriously, that's how it started, for WW I munitions workers. I read that in a book review, although I'm afraid I can't remember what the book was.) Instead of setting our alarm an hour earlier (because that would be a bit obvious), we put the whole clock an hour fast. Same effect. My father used to do this, but only because his alarm clock was missing the knob to adjust the alarm hand, and he was too mean to buy a new one. The entire country then participates in the mass delusion that the evenings have suddenly got lighter. They haven't! You're just pretending that it's an hour later than it actually is, throughout the whole summer.

Some people argue that we should keep British Summer Time all year round, citing things like road accident statistics. It might well mean fewer accidents if people could get home from work before twilight for more of the year. It would be great not to have to clamber all over the house adjusting myriad timepieces twice a year. But the way to achieve this is to keep Greenwich Mean Time the whole year round, and adjust our working hours, once and for all (or possibly have different hours at different times of year). Greenwich Mean Time means something; it bears some resemblance to natural reality (e.g. the sun being directly overhead at noon). It would be honest, transparent and consistent. GMT is the default time system for the world (one of the few things I can get all chauvenistically misty-eyed about. Beer is another) yet some people would have us abandon it for no good reason.

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