Here we go again

Year after year the debate about changing to permanent British Summer Time (an hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time – incidentally the same as Universal Time) crops up as soon as autumn appears on the horizon. This time the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has joined in wanting the country to adopt BST year round, according to the Torygraph. Not only that, he wants DOUBLE BST which effectively means the clocks going forward by 2 hours in summer and then back 1 hour in winter and doing away completely with Greenwich Mean Time.
It’s already hard to practise this hobby here anyway due to our climate and the sheer amount of light pollution – although here on the Isle of Wight, we’re more fortunate than a lot of people as we have a higher incidence of clear nights and less light pollution than the adjacent mainland –  and dicking about putting the clocks forward every March just adds insult to injury as summer observing becomes almost impossible, particularly for people having to get up for work in the morning. Putting the clocks forward two hours would mean that any summer observing here would be completely impossible, certainly during the week.

In my opinion, putting the clocks forward in March and leaving them forward until October is a complete waste of time (pun intended) because the evenings are light from May until late August in any case, as are the mornings. When you get to winter, when the time has reverted to GMT, both mornings and evenings are dark. So what’s the point of changing? It’s pointless and ridiculous and only panders to the general public who seem to think that altering the clocks alters the earth’s orbital tilt and rotation!

The excuses for changing the clocks is nothing to do with crops and farmers any more, as was once the case. No the new excuses vary from road accidents during dark evenings to tourism.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents backs a change, saying that it’ll prevent road accidents on dark evenings. So what about dark mornings then? There are plenty of RTAs on dark mornings, plus mornings have the added ‘bonus’ of people being sleepy and not ‘with it’.
So that’s nonsense for a start and what about the main cause of accidents? It’s not the dark that causes accidents, it’s moronic and careless driving that causes accidents. Accidents are caused by excessive speed in inappropriate conditions and on badly-maintained roads, they’re caused by tailgating, overtaking into oncoming traffic or on corners and the brows of hills, cutting people up and other forms of bad driving. They are not caused by dark and if dark is a factor it’s because someone is not driving with due care and attention.
Not only that, I am not a morning person and, long observing session or not, I find it difficult getting out of bed in winter anyway because it’s so dark and I am not sociable at all until at least 10am. This change would make that a lot worse.

Environmentalists say we’ll use less electricity during the evenings, which conveniently forgets that we’ll end up using more electricity in the dark mornings instead. When you have to get up at 0600 to be at work by 0830 and it won’t get light until 0900 then you are still going to use a good deal of electricity in the mornings, so I don’t see the environmental angle at all.

Another reason is tourism. Who decides to go somewhere based on the time zone anyway? And, considering the country is even more damp and cold in winter than it is in summer (when it’s merely often damp and a bit chilly), tourism wouldn’t play a part anyway – why come to rainy old Britain in autumn and winter when you could go to the Canary Islands or somewhere else far pleasanter and warmer?

And then there’s the completely daft and spurious argument that ‘we’ll get more daylight’. Er, NO WE WON’T! How many times does it have to be spelled out to some people that we do NOT physically get more daylight?! Some members of the public seem to have difficulty grasping the idea that BST does not mean we get extra daylight, that the hours of day and night remain the same and that all BST does is just move the clocks an hour forward. Daylight just starts and finishes later, there isn’t actually more of it.
If people want more daylight, then go to lower latitudes in winter.

I hope that this stupid and halfwitted idea does not become a reality. With a bit of luck the Scots will have a lot to say about it because Cameron has insisted that the entire UK and not just parts of it would have to be included in this hare-brained idea and Scotland is very dark in winter. I know there is a lot of opposition to this in Scotland, where permanent BST would be a big problem for them with no daylight until at least 1000 in winter.
BST in winter would not, admittedly, be a big obstacle for observing as I can usually be observing by 5pm on a clear winter evening during the weekend. If it’s a week night, by the time I’ve got home and the evening meal is done and finished with, it’s usually 6.30 by the time I can get outside and still have a long observing session until 11pm or midnight. But that’s not the point because I oppose year-round BST on sheer bloody principle! And I especially oppose BST +1 because there is actually no sound reason whatsoever to change the clocks from the present system.

Oh and to add to my good mood, forecasters have predicted that the weather’s likely to be rubbish until November. Great. I just hope it’s the usual forecasters’ trick of making a long-term prediction only for it to be totally wide of the mark, like they have for the past few years. Knowing my luck it will be right for once.