Cressida Connolly: It's time Scotland did its own thing with the clocks

We can change our watches as we cross the border

Share

Nothing presages the end of summer like the nights getting longer, and the children going back to school for the autumn term. By eight o'clock now, it is getting dark: no more languid, sunlit strolls after supper; no more children complaining that they can't get to sleep because it's still light outside. Given how unreliable the weather is (we were lashed by hailstones in York the other week) the hours of daylight - and when the nights draw in - are the only reliable indication of the season.

Nothing presages the end of summer like the nights getting longer, and the children going back to school for the autumn term. By eight o'clock now, it is getting dark: no more languid, sunlit strolls after supper; no more children complaining that they can't get to sleep because it's still light outside. Given how unreliable the weather is (we were lashed by hailstones in York the other week) the hours of daylight - and when the nights draw in - are the only reliable indication of the season.

Some people profess to love the sky at night. It is fashionable for city dwellers to complain that light pollution prevents them from seeing the stars, but they don't know how good they have it. OK, so the heavens over Soho are not the rich velvety black that we country folk enjoy. The metropolitan night sky is more Lucozade than Guinness, but that's because the sky is ablaze from all that fun going on below. We in the provinces can see the constellations - at least on the rare occasions when it's not too cloudy - but, believe me, they are a poor substitute for cinemas, theatres, cafés and restaurants. We've got stars but no Starbucks. Meeting a friend for an evening staring at Orion's Sword has nothing on a balti and a new Coen brothers film. Especially in winter.

Which gloomy thoughts lead inexorably to the question of British Summer Time. Benjamin Franklin thought up Summer Time in 1784 when he wrote a whimsical article advocating its introduction. No one welcomes the shorter days at the end of summer, but the poignancy they occasion is a luxury compared with the Strindbergian misery of the clocks going back in October. Townies at least have the compensations of street lighting and company and cheery, brightly illumined shops; but out here in the sticks it's pitch black by four. It's just you and the night and the cowpats.

In France they have Double Summer Time in the summer and Summer Time in the winter. Their citizens still manage to get an education and manufacture dairy products - French cheese sounds vaguely familiar - but apparently we would not be so lucky. The argument has always been that Britain needs light in the early mornings, and only a strict adherence to Greenwich Mean Time from October to March can achieve those.

Winter GMT, the argument goes, means that (a) our nippers can walk to school without getting run over on ill-lit lanes and (b) our farmers can milk their herds in daylight. Since parents are too rushed and/or neurotic to let children walk to school these days, the former hardly obtains any more: under the present system they get driven home in the dark, anyway. And a government that has all but ruined the farming industry would be hypocritical to concern itself with the pleasant waking conditions of a handful of dairymen. Milk is now cheaper than mineral water, with the result that 75 per cent of dairy farmers are predicted to go bust in the next 12 months: the few who remain will be too enfeebled to grumble about the dark.

There is a third reason why we have not kept Summer Time in winter. It is called Scotland. Without GMT in the winter, parts of north-west Scotland would remain shrouded in blackness until mid-morning. The people who live up there don't fancy that, and time was when Westminster was so desirous of their votes that they had to be accommodated.

Not any more. Now that Scottish devolution is established, it is time to let them fix their own clocks. We are all accustomed to changing our watches when we cross the Channel: from now on we can do the same as we cross the border.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: odd pub names, final polls in Scotland and war historians

John Rentoul
 

i Editor's Letter: We are winning the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. It's time to up the ante

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week