As British Summer Time ends and the autumn leaves fall, we enter the annual routine of putting our clocks back by one hour. You did put your clocks back, didn’t you?
Please don’t tell me you forgot?
Well this morning we encountered one of the many people who did forget.
My bride-to-be and I are staying in a quaint little English bed and breakfast on a farm on the outskirts of Macclesfield. Having enjoyed celebrating a friend’s wedding on Saturday an extra hour in bed to recover is always welcome.
The kind landlady at the bed and breakfast was kind to offer to deliver breakfast to our room. This is above and beyond the normal service so we are very grateful.
I requested delivery at 10am, so we could lie in and have time to pack and check out.
Yes, you’ve guessed it, shortly after 9am there she is at the door with a tray of goodies. Naturally very grateful I receive this bounty of English Breakfast delight.
Aware of the error I gently raise the query “You do know the clocks went back overnight don’t you?”
Well, this query was greeted with horrified silence. In true comedy moment character her jaw dropped and her eyes widened in shock. Taking a moment she composed herself and asked “So it’s just after eleven now?”
I corrected the misunderstanding and explained it was just after nine.
Soon the awkwardness was over and apology accepted. Following on from this she told of how once she prepared a meal for around twenty guests an hour early. All due to timing changes. So if I was to ask her again, “You did put your clocks back, didn’t you?” I’m sure the answer would be no.
For some of those visiting the UK this is maybe a little strange. I know that not all countries change their clocks. In the UK it happens on the last Saturday/early Sunday of October (clocks go back one hour to revert to Greenwich Mean Time aka GMT) and on the last Saturday/early Sunday of March (clocks go forward one hour to begin British Summer Time (BST)).
Daylight Saving exists in many countries around the world although not all. It is worth noting that the changing of the clocks in the US differs by date from those of the UK and Europe.
Australia is also complicated by the fact that some states use daylight saving and some don’t! So if you ask an Aussie “You did put your clocks back, didn’t you?”, be careful who you ask, he might not need to.
There is quite a detailed history of daylight saving. It evolved as a way of utilising daylight hours more effectively for various purposes. This can include the use of energy resource (light and heat), working shifts, maximising daylight hours through the seasons.
In the UK our autumn and winters are such that I can often set off for work in the morning in the dark then leave the office in the dark to come home. I spend all day in fluorescent light and gain no tangible benefit from daylight saving.
Modern history reads that daylight saving first came into place during the first World War. Actually starting on 30th April 1916 by Germany. Other combatants soon followed from both sides. The United States was on board by 1918.
In the modern-day, the benefits of daylight saving are disputed as hotly as ever. In Scotland there is strong sentiment not to change the clocks twice a year. This is due to the short lit days and the perceived dangers of children going to/from school in the dark. There are also arguments over the safety of driving conditions.
The arguments will rumble on and I’ve no idea if things will change.
I do know that the last weekend in March and October are important though. So I’m always prepared for the question “You did put your clocks back, didn’t you?”