Every year at this time I briefly become agitated about the changing of the clocks at the end of British Summer Time. Usually I content myself with a brief rant to family members and work colleagues, however this year I am going to indulge myself in my first Official Blog Rant.
I don’t object in any way to the changing of the seasons or the shortening of the days. What I do object to is having the natural flow of the seasons interrupted by the entirely senseless transition between British Summer Time (BST) and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Every year a small minority propose that we should in fact stay in BST all year, perhaps with the option of advancing a further hour in the spring to GMT+2. Each and every year these visionaries are shouted down by dogma-peddling dimwits and dullards who trot out the same Tired Old Reasons as to why our evenings from now until the end of March should be plunged unnecessarily and prematurely into darkness.
Tired Old Reason Number 1: We change clocks for the benefit of the farmers, it is dangerous for farmers to start work in the dark. This is utter nonsense. I know because I grew up and worked on a farm. Farmers work long hours and it is therefore inevitable that they will start and finish their work in the dark for many months of the year, no matter how we fiddle with the clocks. This reason is doubly spurious because farmers, not being bound by 9 to 5 convention, can start work at any hour of their choosing.
Tired Old Reason Number 2: In some places in Scotland it wouldn’t be light until 1000 hrs. Is having darkness until 1000 for a couple of weeks really that much worse than having it until the already pretty late hour of 0900? It is simply very dark in midwinter and any morning-related gains made under the current arrangement would be comfortably offset by the increased quantity of evening daylight gained under year-round BST
Tired Old Reason Number 3: We change clocks for the benefit of the children. Children would be mown down in droves every morning if they had to walk to school in the dark. This is absolute nonsense. The popularity of this Tired Old Reason illustrates the wrong-headedness of the pro-GMT lobby perfectly. Not only is it demonstrably false – a trial of year-round BST between 1968 and 1971 resulted in less, not more, road casualties – children would actually benefit from the additional opportunity to play outside in daylight after school.
All of us would benefit enormously from additional evening daylight during the winter months, from the ability to go for a walk, a run or a bicycle ride and feel the evening sun on our faces. So support the campaign: join the Facebook group; rant to your colleagues and family members. It would be great if common sense prevailed eventually. One year -maybe even next year – I might be spared the pain of listening to some unthinking automaton reciting the three Tired Old Reasons above.
There is always hope. As I type the Californians are voting on Proposition 19, a proposal to legalise the cultivation and sale of marijuana. A Yes vote would be a nail in the coffin of the War On Drugs, a clear statement that the rest of the US – and the world – would find very difficult to ignore. Who knows, it may even eventually lead to this country adopting a rational, evidence-based drug policy.