[Photo: Tedz Duran]
In the small hours of Sunday morning, the clocks will go forward by an hour, marking the beginning – at last! – of British Summer Time. Naturally, people have been excited at the prospect of lighter evenings for quite some time.
Six weeks to go until the clocks go forward and sunset is at 7.28pm. SIX. WEEKS.
— Time Out London (@TimeOutLondon) February 13, 2015
But we shouldn’t be excited! We should be mad as hell. We can change the clocks whenever we want, and although you may not have given it much thought, the way we do it now is rubbish. Here are three options for a sunnier future.
1) JUST MAKE SUMMER TIME START EARLIER
Right now, the clocks go forward on the last Sunday in March, and go back seven months later on the last Sunday in October. But these are completely arbitrary dates – there’s no reason that, as you read these words, it couldn’t be Summer Time already.
[Photo: Michael Goldrei]
If we put the clocks forward four weeks earlier, we’d have already enjoyed an entire month where it was light until 6.43pm or later. Think how much more you’d have enjoyed March if we’d done that.
‘But what about the mornings?!’, I hear you whine in a voice only a mother could love. Well, sunrise would still have been at an eminently bearable 7.45am (that’s pretty much how it is at the end of January), not to mention it actually starts getting light from 5.56am onwards.
Just ask yourself where you’d rather have that hour of sunlight: 6.45–7.45 in the morning, while you’re hitting ‘snooze’ on your alarm, or 5.43–6.43 in the evening, when you’re flouncing around town after work like you’re Madame Pantalons-du-Fancy? Let’s break it down:
Who’s awake at 7am? Some people, admittedly, even if they’re (shudder) morning people, who as a group have enough advantages in life as it is.
Who’s awake at 6pm? Pretty much everybody.
Ever heard of a little something called ‘the greatest good for the greatest number’, buster? This is a no-brainer.
But this is just the start.
We can do more.
2) MOVE THE CLOCKS FORWARD… AND NEVER CHANGE THEM BACK
What if it was just British Summer Time all year round? Spoiler alert: it would be exquisite, sensual and endlessly refreshing, like a joyful riot of sexy photons caressing your skin at all times.
For 11 months of the year, sunset would be at 5pm or later. Yes, in the very darkest depths of winter, the sun would only rise at 9am, but see 1) for why this isn’t that bad, and also consider the following…
– Do you ever meet a friend at the pub before work? Of course not. CASE CLOSED, YOUR HONOUR.
– Moving the clocks around willy-nilly is kind of hacky at best, or an unnatural affront to the gods at worst.
– My gran thought changing the clocks caused inclement weather, which is obviously insane… but what if she was on to something? Eh?
But there’s yet another way. Yes, the Full English may be the world’s greatest breakfast, but when it comes to timezones, it’s time (time!) London got Continental.
3) SCREW IT, LET’S JUST JOIN EUROPE
The whole year we’re an hour behind the rest of Europe. But is that strictly necessary? NOPE Check out the places in Europe which are west of London but still on Central European Time – just a few backwater po-dunk towns like MADRID and
LISBON (Edit: right, yes, Lisbon is on the same time as the UK):
So we’d fit right in. We’d have all the winter-time advantages of Option 2 (no more miserable dark-at-4pm days!) but by joining CET, we’d get yet another hour of evening sunshine in the summer. I’m talking DOUBLE SUMMERTIME, people! So, right now, it would already be light until 7.20pm. When the clocks go forward, it would then be light until 8.28pm. And at the very height of summer, our dreamy summer evenings would linger on until 10.22pm. That’s an undeniably gorgeous prospect.
[If our current timezone was so great, it would be called Greenwich Nice Time, not Greenwich Mean Time. Photo: Andrejs Fjodorovs]
Here’s how the current situation and our bright European future compare. I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting wastefully early sunrises (sunshine at 5am is pointless), painfully dark mornings (sunrise > 8am) and dingy evenings (sunset < 5pm).
See which side has more red ink? The present. So many pointlessly early sunrises. So many doomily dark nights. Wouldn’t you swap them for a few dark mornings in a heartbeat?
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents are in favour of it.
The environmentalists say that it could save 500,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.
Even the farmers are neutral or slightly in favour.
So what did our elected politicians do with a bill which merely called on the Government to study the effects of a clock change?
‘The bill was again debated on the floor of the House of Commons where it was filibustered out of Parliament by opponents. Angus MacNeil, MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, argued that it would adversely affect the population of Northern Scotland, while Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, tried to introduce an amendment to give Somerset its own time zone, 15 minutes behind London, in order to highlight what he saw as the absurdities of the bill. With all its allocated time used up, the bill could proceed no further through Parliament.’
That’s right, they literally talked the idea to death. So instead, I’ll leave you with the inspiring words of William Willett, the original campaigner for Daylight Savings Time in 1907.
‘Light is one of the great gifts of the Creator. While daylight surrounds us, cheerfulness reigns, anxieties press less heavily, and courage is bred for the struggle of life. Against our ever-besieging enemy, disease, light and fresh air act as guards in our defence, and when the conflict is close, supply us with most effective weapons with which to overcome the invader. Even the blind keenly realise the difference between daylight and darkness. They are always cheered by the former, but depressed by the latter.
Can any words be comprehensive enough to represent the cumulative effect of the additional available hours of daylight which are within our reach, to be had not only without price, but accompanied by a large saving in current expenditure year after year? Let us not be so faint-hearted as to hesitate to make the effort when the cost is to trifling and the reward so great.’
Willett’s campaign was successful in the end. Now we should continue his work, and enjoy more daylight still.
Although, to be fair, sunsets like these are pretty lush at any time of day.