Sunday, March 29, 2009

On Changing the Clocks

It's really only 08.50 as I start to write this.

The change to British Summer Time at 01.00 this morning routinely produces such conversations in households around the country.

The practice of moving the clocks forward one hour on the last Sunday in March was enshrined in British law in 1916. During World War 2, however, the country operated on double summer time, when the clocks went forward in October of 1940 and then were advanced again in the Spring of 1941. Less night time for enemy bombing raids, presumably. Or was it designed to save energy through less lighting being needed?

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents favours returning to the system of double summer time, claiming that the lighter evenings would result in fewer injuries and fatalities on the roads and elsewhere. Such a system, of course, would see sunrise occurring as late as 10.00 am in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland, were it implemented across the UK. The Local Government Association also favours such a system. A failed Parilamentary bill of 2006 would have allowed Scotland and Northern Ireland to opt out of double summer time if it were introduced in England and Wales.

In the Middle East, meanwhile, while the British-friendly Kingdom of Jordan adopts the practice of changing the clocks twice a year, neighbouring Saudi Arabia and Kuwait take a different approach. They keep the time constant year round but move the working day instead. Kuwaiti workers will therefore arrive at the office on Monday an hour earlier than normal. The latter system would no doubt generate its own variations on the "where did that hour go?" conversations.

Which reminds me, it's 10.10, so I need to go (even though it's really only 09.10).

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