Daylight saving is back again for the 17 million of us who put our clocks forward an hour on 1 October. There will be the usual objections, so let’s take a whimsical look at what can be a vexatious issue for many.
As a Tasmanian – one of the 74% in favour of it – I smile at those who blame the Apple Isle for its creation (although it is 50 years since we first brought it in). There are many misconceptions, so a brief history might be worthwhile.
There is nothing new to it. Ancient agrarian societies set time to the longer summer days to coincide with important production and harvest times. Later, with mechanisation, came a need for greater regimentation.
Many Americans think Benjamin Franklin father of daylight saving (the reason some reckon he ought to go fly a kite!) Not so. Franklin wrote a tongue-in-cheek letter in 1784 when US Ambassador to France suggesting Parisians economise on candles by rising an hour earlier! His letter never actually promoted daylight saving.
A New Zealander, G. V. Hudson, proposed modern daylight saving in an 1895 paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society suggesting a two-hour shift in time. Further arguments were made in 1905 by Englishman, William Willett, an ardent golfer and sportsman who felt English people slept through and wasted the early part of the day. Willett died in 1915 before his idea was realised.
Germany and Austria-Hungary commenced daylight saving in the northern Spring of 1916 to conserve wartime coal supplies. Britain and her allies adopted the practice soon after. Since then, daylight saving has had varied acceptance through different parts of the world.
Little of which is light (as it were), something I inferred at the start.
There are some hilarious aspects to daylight saving; You will be familiar with:
“It puts the cows off milking.”
“It fades the curtains.”
“The extra hour of sunlight will be good for my garden.”
“Won’t it cause a problem with global warming?”
“I love daylight saving. It’s the one time I can tell my girlfriend we made love for and hour and three minutes.”
Well, perhaps not that last. There are, though, a few oddities that raise eyebrows:
Twins were born on the night of change in 2007, one at 1:32am and the other at 2:06am. Because daylight saving came in at 2:00am, the birth of the second baby was officially recorded as 1:06am. Does that make the younger child the older…?
Antarctica has 24 hours’ sunlight at mid-Summer. Australian and New Zealand research stations maintain DST to coordinate with their home countries. The Yanks go along with this, but only for polar research.
A man in the Wimmera had a radio schedule to maintain at 5:00am. His watch had died. As it was the night of change to daylight saving and he needed to be on time, so he tuned in to an all night AM radio station using it to advise him of time through the night. Hearing the five o’clock news, he made his radio call… an hour late! Unknown to him, he’d tuned in to a Queensland station!
One strange comment came from a delightful lady from north of the Tweed. I explained that we have gloaming that extends beyond 10:00pm. She replied, “Well, we have things called stars!” Oops, and here was I labouring under the misapprehension we were all born under the Southern Cross!
None of which will solve any issues, so I’ll end up with a couple of funnies:
You stagger out of bed an hour earlier and trip over the dog, still asleep on the rug.
Several of your staff arrive an hour late for work, but I bet they won’t be an hour early come April!