At 2am tomorrow morning, British Summer Time ends. If you live in Britain, put your clocks back tonight. The suggestion, in England in 2004, that Summer Time is ending is not a little ironic. When did it begin? Did summer happen when I was away for the weekend?Many of my readers, friends, colleagues and mentors are from North American, and it so happens that one of my favourite quotes concerning putting the clocks back originates from across the pond.
In Canada and the US (and, if my memory serves me correctly, in Australia) this twice-yearly messing about with time is called Daylight Saving – a title which one Robertson Davies (1913-1995) found just as much a misnomer as “British Summer Time” seems to me.
“I don’t really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it,” wrote Davies, “but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind. I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves.”
(Robertson Davies, The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, 1947, XIX, Sunday.)