As I write this, it is 1.20 am on Sunday, October 25. If I keep writing for exactly another hour (which I won’t), I’ll finish at, well, at 1.20 am. And that is, of course, because tonight the clocks change in these islands, and we will be moving from British Summer Time (BST – do we actually call it that in Ireland?) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). We get an extra hour’s sleep, but that’s the only advantage I can think of.
The standard time in these parts is GMT. But in the early 20th century, at the suggestion of a Kent builder, William Willett, the idea was considered of moving the clocks back for the duration of the summer and early autumn. It was however only put into practice after the Germans changed their clocks during the First World War, in order to conserve energy. The United Kingdom (together with a number of European countries) followed suit in 1916, and the United States adopted the practice in 1918.
And that’s where it all remained, until 1968. For a period of three years Britain and Ireland maintained summer time throughout the year, in order to keep the afternoons light for longer. But largely because of complaints from Scottish farmers and schools about the dark mornings, the practice of changing clocks then resumed, and has stayed with us ever since.
I think we should reconsider all this. The costs and complications of changing the clocks are considerable, and it has been established that the darker afternoons in the winter increase road accident fatalities. Farmers, I suspect, no longer need the lighter mornings. I believe we should discontinue the clock changes and stay with summer time for the entire year. Sorry, Greenwich, but that’s what I think. I hate the dark afternoons.