It’s Happened Again

The clocks went forward an hour today in the UK. Or maybe they went back an hour. I’ve already forgotten which.

Chris Snowdon has written a rather humorous piece about British Summer Time, and the objections raised against it, including those of Peter Hitchens, who calls it a “mass deception” which involves “lying about the time.” I wasn’t quite sure, but I suspected that Chris Snowdon is a true believer in BST, and maybe even in BST all year round.

Well, I’m not. And I’d like to set out my own objections to it.

First of all, it always catches me by surprise. And when it does happen, it’s a bit like stepping outside your home one morning, only to find that there are two steps down to the street rather then the usual one step.

But then, after the realisation that It’s Happened Again dawns on me, there’s the process of changing all the clocks in the house. There’s my wristwatch. And there’s a clock on the kitchen wall. And there’s the bedside alarm clock. And there are all the other secret, hidden clocks that I’ve forgotten about (e.g. the clock in my car, and in my electric oven, and on the central heating boiler). And there are the new clocks, like the ones in the new phone handsets I bought just last week.

Needless to say, the process of changing all the clocks is a bit haphazard. I change them as and when I notice that they need changing, and how easy it is to change them. The kitchen wall clock is about the easiest, because there’s just one little knob on the back to turn: the only tricky thing is fitting it back onto the screw in the wall. The next hardest is the bedside alarm clock, which has two knobs on the back, and I never remember which is which. Next up on the ladder of difficulty is my LED wristwatch. It’s got a number of buttons around its edge, all of which have different functions, which I have to rediscover every time I change it (the manual for it having long been lost). Usually after about 10 minutes I’ve re-discovered, by trial and error, in what order the buttons need to be pressed. But occasionally I inadvertently enable other features (e.g. its alarm clock, and even worse its nasty habit of marking every hour with a little beep (it took me weeks to find out how to stop it doing that)) . Fortunately my Windows PC updates itself automatically – which can also be a bit disconcerting when you haven’t yet realised that It’s Happened Again. And my car clock is never changed anyway. I never use it, and if any passenger asks “Is that really the time?” I just say that it’s a meaningless number that regularly appears on my dashboard.

But in the process of slowly changing all these clocks, often over a period of weeks, there comes a time when half the clocks say that it’s 3 pm or something, and all the rest say that it’s 4 pm. There’s no consensus opinion among the clocks. And you don’t know which ones are right, and which are wrong. During this dangerous Period of Confusion, quite often clocks get switched back to the wrong time (often on the fallacious grounds that the Kitchen Clock Is Always Right).

But all this assumes that you actually know that It’s Happened Again. Quite often you don’t know. Or at least, I don’t. And it can take days to find out. So the Period of Confusion is usually preceded by a Period of Ignorance, during which you find that shops are closing unaccountably early (a death in the family, perhaps?), and people you’ve agreed to meet fail to show up on time, and TV or radio programmes are over before they started. The Period of Ignorance can last for several days before the penny finally drops.

It was during the Period of Ignorance, a few years ago, that I went to have lunch with some people, only for them to show up an hour late. It was a good thing that they didn’t show up an hour early, as they would have been eating their desserts by the time I showed up. I often wonder how many romances have been wrecked when clocks go forward or back, and young lovers on a date inadvertently stand each other up, and it’s Never Forgiven.

My primary objection to putting clocks forward or backwards twice a year is that it makes for a lot of work, correcting all the clocks. That might not have been too much trouble 100 years ago, when people would only have one clock (or not even that), which could be easily corrected by opening the front, and using a finger to turn the hands back or forward one hour. But when you have at least 10 clocks, all with their own secret ways of being changed, it gradually becomes a nightmare.

I maybe wouldn’t mind if there were frequent reminders that the clocks were about to go forward. Prolonged ringing of church bells, police sirens, fireworks, that sort of thing. But there never is. There are never headlines on newspapers that The Clocks Are Going Forward Tonight. So how is anyone supposed to know when It’s Going To Happen? Is it done by word of mouth, between friends or family? All I know is that I never know when it’s going to happen. Perhaps there’s a rule, like for when February has 29 days, or when Easter is celebrated. And you’re either In The Know, or – like me – you’re not.

It’s called Daylight Saving Time, but this is a misnomer. Because there’s just as much daylight in any day, whether the clocks go backwards or forwards or perform little waltzes. You don’t “save” any daylight. None at all. Nada. Yes, really.

If people want children to go to school in daylight, then the simplest thing to do is change the times that school starts and ends. Same with factories. Each school or factory or office can set its own hours. They all set their hours anyway. Some of them have flexi-time. The one thing they shouldn’t do is get the whole country to change their clocks.

It’s also, like public smoking bans, another One-Size-Fits-All solution to something that was never really a problem. Or wouldn’t be a problem if people were left to their own devices. What happened before there was “Daylight Saving Time”? Was it a period of chaos and disorder, with schoolchildren being abducted and workers falling into potholes all the time?

Putting all clocks forward or backwards is also a way of debasing time. It’s really a bit like saying that when all the clocks go forward, a foot rule will also measure 13 inches, and there will be 17 ounces in one pound – until next October, when they’ll go back to having their usual 12 inches, and 16 ounces. Clocks, like weights and measures, should be sacrosanct: they should never be changed. Because our measures of time are as important as our measures of length or weight.

I could go on, but I won’t. Because I’m sure you’re convinced by now.

About Frank Davis

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39 Responses to It’s Happened Again

  1. Actually frank you can blame it on the railroads they caused it because of distance and to keep train schedules on a collective time. Then there the british maritime board I believe that actually worked out Norwich time for sailing ships and hours would be counted for distance and reading the stars to chart location……….

    But for most of us it doesn’t make a damn what time it is.

  2. Reinhold says:

    British Summer Time

    You’re not alone, Britain!
    The whole of Europe suffers from this sickening disease!

    And I’m ashamed that Germany and Austria implemented it first:

  3. jaxthefirst says:

    I’ve never been able to work out exactly why the clocks get changed. Everyone seems to have different ideas about it: “It was from the time when so many people worked on farms – to avoid missing the early daylight hours,” “It’s to avoid road traffic accidents in Scotland in the mornings,” “It was because of the War,” “It’s a conspiracy by the big energy companies to make money by having people out of bed for longer, with the heating on, and showers being used and doing ‘stuff’ that uses energy.” The only one which seems to make any sense is the farming one, but as we’re no longer an agriculturally-based economy it seems crazy to change everyone’s time for a section of the economy which is, now, quite small. All the other reasons seem to be negated by the fact that, as you say, Frank, changing the clocks doesn’t actually make the day any longer, and the Scottish road accident one surely means that the higher numbers of road accidents will simply be shifted to later in the year (when it’s suddenly dark when people go home), when the clocks all go back again!

    I think that much depends on whether one is a morning or a night person. My OH – an unabashed morning person to his very bones – positively rejoices when the clocks go forward, because by this time of the year he’s waking up at five every morning, which is a bit too early even for him to go to work, but when the clocks move on he’s only waking at six. I’m the opposite. I hate it. I hate that feeling, when it’s still all light and bright and lovely, of thinking that you’ve got a whole evening ahead of you, only to look at the clock and see that (on a work night) it’s almost bedtime and the evening is, to all intents and purposes, over!

    • Frank Davis says:

      I’m a night person too. But Peter Hitchens is a morning person, and doesn’t like BST either:

      The idea, a bit like the man-made global warming cult, is fanatical and dictatorial. We are all to be made to live differently, for our own good, even if the evidence that it *is* for our own good is sparse and open to contest.

      Introducing the measure on 16th May 1916, the Marquess of Lansdowne (later to be famous for a noble but doomed attempt to end the Great War in a negotiated settlement), said :

      ‘‘It has often been said that if in this country any one were able at five o’clock on a summer’s morning to lift the roofs off the houses he would see that, in spite of bright daylight, the greater part of the population was sound asleep with closed shutters; that if, again, he were able to perform a similar operation at ten o’clock in the evening, he would find a great part of the population using artificial light in order to make up for their own mismanagement earlier in the day. The object of this Bill is to introduce a small measure of additional Common sense into these arrangements.’

      it is a measure which conduces to efficiency and economy, and there can, I think, be no doubt whatever that this Bill will have those results. Our proposal is that in the five summer months we should push on the clock by one hour, and thereby encourage people to begin the day and the night earlier than they have hitherto been in the habit of doing. The arguments in favour of the proposal seem to me fairly obvious. It is, of course, the case that the hours of daylight are limited, and it seems to follow that it is our duty to turn them to the best account that we can. I understand that the result of this Bill will be that during the summer months 130 additional hours of daylight will be available in consequence of it.

      There it is. “In spite of bright daylight, the greater part of the population was sound asleep with closed shutters.” How terrible! We can’t have that! We have a duty to use the few short hours of daylight to the best of our ability. We mustn’t waste it. Not a single minute of it.

      You never hear the corresponding argument that we shouldn’t waste a single minute of the night, but should go directly to bed the minute the sun sets, and get every single minute of sleep that is possible during the precious night hours, all sixteen of them (in winter).

  4. Nightlight says:

    It’s the authorities conditioning their little peons to obedience, or like making your dog jump the hoop, just because you can.

  5. SteveA says:

    When told the reason for daylight savings time the Old Indian said, “Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”

    • love it

      When told the reason for anti-smoking laws the Old Indian said, “Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer life than god gave you.”

  6. Zaphod says:

    Frank, I thought this post was just gonna be whimsical, or maybe even reactionary.
    I’d heard all the arguments before, and wasn’t really bothered enough either way.
    But I am totally convinced!
    This is the best argument I’ve ever heard, on a subject I thought had already been done to death.
    Count me in.

  7. Marvin says:

    Yes, it’s a pain in the ass alright. My biggest gripe is wading through all the menus on my sat/video/dvd recorders just to set the friggin time. And you’re never quite sure if you’ve enabled/disabled something you shouldn’t have. Still that won’t affect you, not having a telly ‘nall. My kitchen clock is one of those radio-controlled things and is never wrong, so that one is the ‘master’ for all the others, when I can be bothered to change them.

  8. Smokers Rebel Against ISIS Cig Ban

    After ISIS took over Mosul last year it banned smoking on religious grounds. But hundreds of thousands of locals, desperate for cigarettes, still manage to light up.

    By Khales Joumah, Niqash

    MOSUL, Iraq — When 34-year-old Ibrahim Hassan was caught smoking a cigarette recently, his punishment was not just eventual ill health. The extremists from the group known as the Islamic State who currently control this city have banned smoking, and Ibrahim was taken to prison for lighting up.

    After 24 hours, he was brought before one of the Islamic State group’s self-appointed judges, specialists in the group’s own brand of religious law. The judge fined him 5,000 Iraqi dinars (about $4) and told him off, reminding him of religious verses from the Quran deemed to ban smoking because it can be considered a form of slow suicide.

    “I paid the amount reluctantly but I felt lucky compared to other smokers who have been caught—they were flogged,” says Hassan.

    When the Islamic State, or ISIS, first took control of Mosul in the middle of last year, it didn’t ban smoking immediately. But that began to change after members of the group’s “morality police” confiscated, then burned, large quantities of cigarettes, began closing coffee shops where men smoked water pipes, and started prosecuting those who smoked in public places.

    From the outside it does look like Mosul is succumbing to the restrictive rule of the ISIS—but there all kinds of ways that locals circumvent the ban.

    Estimates suggest that in Iraq at least 31 per cent of males smoke (the practice is less acceptable for women and the number is negligible). Mosul was a city of around two million inhabitants before ISIS took it over so one imagines that there are still, literally, hundreds of thousands of frustrated smokers here.

    “You can get cigarettes easily enough if you try but it’s not a simple process,” says Abu Qays, a heavy smoker in his 30s. “They’re available in the marketplace but you have to be careful where you buy them and where you keep them, in order to avoid prison or flogging.”

    Abu Qays works as a taxi driver and he says he buys, and carefully hides, about a month’s supply at a time. He has also become expert at deceiving the ISIS fighters. “I smoke when I am far from them and I always carry perfume in the car with me so I can disguise the smell,” he explains. “The dogs of the Caliph use their noses to find smokers,” he jokes.

    So where are the cigarettes coming from now, seeing as the ISIS fighters did their best to destroy all the stocks in the city months earlier?

    One merchant told us that they are imported from Syria and are smuggled in, hidden under legal goods like clothing and grocery items. They also come from the Kurdish region of Syria and are smuggled through Dohuk and Erbil into Mosul.

    “They also come from Iraq’s central and southern provinces,” the merchant told us on condition of anonymity. “Cigarettes are hidden in tankers and oil drums. Most of what is on the market here is really bad quality and it is only meant for smuggling. The risks are high but the profits are very good.”

    The traders then get the cigarettes to Mosul’s retailers—and the whole system is based on trust.

    Abu Qays says that the mini-mart where he gets his cigarettes has been very successful with the illegal trade. Because the market’s competitors envied the good business, they informed on the mart’s owner to the ISIS group. The morality patrols, or hisbah, place a lot of emphasis on catching smokers. “But he’s very clever at hiding them and also at hiding the tobacco somewhere totally different and far away,” Abu Qays explains.

  9. Man asks co-passenger to cease smoking, gets thrashed

    New Delhi, March 30, 2015, DHNS:

    Requesting a co-passenger to cease smoking in train proved costly for a 45-year-old man as the smoker and his friends allegedly thrashed him and pelted stones at him.

    The victim received injuries to his face and an eye, but is out of danger, said police. The five assailants got off at Sadar Bazar station and fled once they realised that the victim was going to be approaching police.

    While a case of assault and wrongful restraint has been registered, the suspects remain unidentified.

    Police have learnt that the suspects regularly board the Shaheed Express train at Sampla in Haryana and get off at Sadar Bazar railway station. The victim has claimed he can identify the suspects if paraded before him.

    The victim Harban Singh, a resident of Rohtak, makes frequent work-related visits to the income tax office in Delhi’s ITO. He prefers the Shaheed Express train and gets off at Tilak Bridge station.

    On Friday, an unknown person who happens to be his frequent co-passenger, lit a beedi, much to Harban’s dismay.

    “I requested him with folded hands not to smoke in the compartment. Instead of obliging, the passenger threatened to throw me out of the train which would save me from smoke forever,” said Harban.

    When Harban made repeated requests, the man and his four friends allegedly launched a physical assault on his face.

    The victim claimed serious injury to one eye because of the assault. He also alleged that they took off his turban and pulled his hair.

    As Sadar Bazar station arrived, Harbans began getting off the train to lodge a complaint.
    However, the five men allegedly pelted stones at him in a bid to keep him restricted inside the compartment while they fled.

    Harban then called the police control room and informed about the incident while he went to Lady Hardinge Hospital for treatment. Police met him at the hospital and took down his statement for lodging a complaint.

  10. Smoking cessation remuneration needs to improve

    The Pharmaceutical Journal, 30 MAR 2015By Mussadiq R. Master

    According to research by University College London (The Pharmaceutical Journal 2015;294:293), the drop in the number of smokers who quit smoking through the NHS Stop Smoking Service was mainly a result of insufficient investment in advertisement for the service. I believe the decline is also caused by the low remuneration paid to pharmacists who provide this service which, in turn, leads to apathy. If the payment structure were improved (e.g. if we were paid similar to GPs) then there would be a financial incentive for pharmacists to give this service the push it needs to be successful.

    Mussadiq R Master

    • Excuses Excuses Excuses

    • smokingscot says:

      Seems Mussadiq’s in denial about vaping.

      He may believe what he likes but there’s no way a pharmacist warrants a salary that’s remotely comparable to a General Practitioner.

      Maybe after some of the tobacco levy he thinks may be swilling around sometime after the election.

  11. Time for smokers to butt out in all public places

    Susie O’Brien
    Herald Sun
    March 31, 2015 12:00AM

    IF I had my way, smokers would suck their cancer-causing tar sticks in bunkers hidden deep underground.

    No one would be allowed to smoke anywhere outside in public areas, and even private backyards would have to be smoke-free.

    Filthy smokers would only be allowed to smoke in their own homes as long as there were no non-smokers present — and absolutely no children.

    So I welcome the move by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle to ban smoking in outdoor areas around the city. However, it’s about 10 years too late, and will merely bring Victoria up to date with other states. Why not go further?

    Why doesn’t Premier Daniel Andrews step in and make a state law banning smoking in all public places? We claim to be one of the world’s most liveable cities, and so we should have totally smoke-free public areas, including businesses, backyards and streets.

    As far as I am concerned, smoking is a disgusting, evil habit, and smokers deserve to be socially ostracised.

    I am sick to death of sitting outside in a restaurant eating a meal, grabbing a beer at a pub, visiting someone in hospital and even waiting for a lift outside a train station, only to be surrounded by desperate, smelly smokers sucking chemicals into their putrid lungs. It’s typical of smokers, who seem happy to inflict their harmful smoke on other people.

    So I think it would be great to see smoking bans go further. Why not ban smoking from cars.

    Or — my pet hate — parents who push strollers with a smoke in their hand held right next to the faces of their kids and babies?

    I know this isn’t likely to happen any time soon, and more’s the pity. It’s hard enough to convince some smokers to look out for the health of others, let alone respect bans.

    Recently I was sitting on Smith St having a bite when a smoker came out and sat next to me.

    She lit up, and proceeded to sit with her back to me, holding her hand up in that affected smoker’s pose with the arm bent and the wrist out so the smoke didn’t go into her face, but into mine instead.

    She was totally clueless until I politely asked her to butt it out.

    This is not about a nanny state, it’s about good health and good manners.

    Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter whether food is being served, or just alcohol or coffee. All public areas should be totally smoke-free.

    There is plentiful evidence that even being near smoking outside is damaging to your health.

    A recent study from Curtin University found even parents who smoke outside their house are still exposing their children to the harmful effects of passive smoking.

    Researchers still found nicotine particles in the air inside homes — even when the household smoker only smoked outside. They concluded the only way to give children a smoke-free environment is for their parents to stop smoking totally.

    The study’s findings have been backed up by many researchers around the world.

    We don’t need any more evidence that widespread bans are the way to go. Cancer Council research shows the vast majority of people welcome bans around food and in public streets, and smoke-free zones increase business, not deter it.

    Lawmakers should stop ignoring the undisputed fact that smoking is the largest single preventable cause of death and disease in Australia.

    Clearly, more needs to be done to severely curtail current smokers’ rights. However, any ban needs to be upheld by authorities. At present there are few convictions of smokers, and fines are rarely given.

    Of course, governments are hypocrites in this area. They are hooked on the revenue from federal tobacco excise from legally sold cigarettes, but spend up big on education campaigns convincing people not to smoke.

    Perhaps I feel so strongly about this because I watched my grandmother die of emphysema. It’s a horrible way to die — a long, lingering death where every day your body allows you to do less and less. By the end every step is an ordeal, and every breath a struggle.

    We need to do more to ensure people today don’t risk facing the same cruel, painful way to die a premature death.

    Ya think theyd print a opinion piece from any of us…………

    • Jude says:

      GAWD reading that bit of pinch mouthed puritan tripe is a good way of risking a cruel painful way to die a premature death. What is scary is these people really exist, something is desperately wrong with our society that it can produce such hate filled spite.

    • Furor Teutonicus says:

      Just posted ; XX Susie O’BrienXX
      You forgot the “Sieg Heil” at the end. XX

      I give it a half hour before it is gone.

  12. Jude says:

    Ah its nice to live in a state that doesn’t do DLS. We gave it a try, 3 times over several years, then had a vote, and people rejected this silly idea, so now I think we are only one of two states in Australia that doesn’t have DLS. We are called backward thinking, and other not so nice things, simply because we don’t all turn our clocks back/forward.

    I’d be more than happy to comply if they didn’t insist on doing it in the summer time, when the last thing we need is more bloody work hours during the hottest part of the day. (who the hell wants to be coming home from work in 40C heat, or having the kids walking home from school in it?) Why not have it in winter when an extra hour of daylight after work would be most appreciated?

    We would also miss the joy of ringing my inlaws at 10 pm their time, and blithely announcing that it’s only 7 pm over here in a slightly more sane state.

    As for clocks, I’m a punctual person, so once every 6 months or so, or if I’ve forgotten to replace the battery in the kitchen clock, I ring up the speaking clock, (atomic time apparently so eminently accurate), and adjust the kitchen clock accordingly. All the other clocks are my servants, so they will show whatever time I damn well let them show, and anyway, its an exercise for the brain to try and work out just how wrong they are, so I’m doing my bit, along with a steady intake of nicotine, to keep Alzheimer’s at bay.

  13. Study: Medicaid expansion caused more pregnant smoking

    Back to the article » By Jason Russell | March 30, 2015 | 2:01 pm

    Increases in Medicaid eligibility during the 1990s slightly increased the incidence of smoking during pregnancy, according to a new working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The authors — Dhaval Dave of Bentley University, Robert Kaestner of the University of Illinois and George Wehby of the University of Iowa — cited their finding as one possible explanation for why the…

    Their findings are as Bullshit as their claims……….lower costs meant more money to buy smokes with………..among other of the same BS claims

  14. Im fighting everywhere today…………

  15. Lord even the right to life folks who are against abortion want in on the action………..
    I emailed them the ” The myth of smoking during pregnancy being harmful ” editorial

    Concern expressed about the effect of smoking on pre-born babies

    By Mike Schouten

    In another case of cognitive dissonance regarding the rights of pre-born children Cosmopolitan has posted an article with disturbing ultrasound images showing how pre-born babies react when their mothers smoke. In a study from Durham and Lancaster universities researchers looked at the effect of smoking on children in the womb.

    The Cosmopolitan article states:

    Over the course of the study, the researchers took 80 ultrasounds of 20 babies between the 24th and 36th weeks of pregnancy. Of the 20 cases, 16 babies had non-smoking mothers and four had smoking mothers. The mothers who smoked has an average of 14 cigarettes each day.

    The results (above) show the babies whose moms inhaled smoke (top row) covering their faces and moving their mouths. The bottom row depicts the non-smokers. According to the Durham research, these pictures show that “fetuses whose mothers were smokers showed a significantly higher rate of mouth movements than the normal declining rate of movements expected in a fetus during pregnancy.”

    The higher-than-normal mouth movements of the babies who inhaled smoke (resembling what the Telegraph calls “grimacing”) is further confirmation that nicotine is terrible for unborn children. This kind of behavior could indicate that the fetal central nervous system did not develop at the same rate in the babies who were exposed to smoke.

    “These results point to the fact that nicotine exposure per se has an effect on fetal development over and above the effects of stress and depression,” lead author of the study Dr. Nadja Reissland commented.

    It has been well documented that smoking while pregnant has detrimental effects on the developing child. This is one of the reasons why cigarette manufacturers are mandated by law to include such graphic images on their packaging.

    While those who want to ensure that human beings are given the best environmental conditions possible to develop it smacks of hypocrisy that the same societal concern is not expressed regarding the intentional killing of babies before they are born; forceps and suction machines are used to inflict far more damage upon children in the womb than smoking.

    Editor’s note. Mr. Schouten is Campaign Director, of the Canadian pro-life group This article appeared here.

  16. smokingscot says:

    O/T (however as it’s no big deal in the UK and you don’t have a telly).

    FN did rather well in yesterday’s local elections. Ms Le Penn sums it up “magnificent success”.

    On France 24 TV they reckon she’ll probably be in the run-off for President in 2017.

    (It’s very unlikely she’ll top Sarkozy, but what a slap in the mush for Mr. Hollande today!)

  17. WATCH: Indiana GOP leader admits ‘No Gays Allowed’ sign would be legal in most of the state

    So can anyone toss up a smokers only sign and get away with it too!

  18. I just ordered up about 250 tobacco plants for this year. That’s about 180 pounds of baccy when its cured and cut up. Brother isn’t putting in a garden this year so Im plantin………

  19. smofunking says:

    All this fucking about with time only leads to no good. Have we not learned from the experiences of Doug Phillips and Tony Newman?

    I’ve kept my timepieces on GMT for about the last 8 years. I just remember to do things an hour earlier during the artificial BST months.

    Just another example of social engineering that needs to be confronted by mass civil disobedience.

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