Dreaming of a brighter day

by Rick Johansen

It’s nearly three weeks since we were forced, by government diktat, to put our clocks back and already I’m at the stage of, “What was the fucking point of that?” Apologies for the bad language, which illustrates yet again my lack of decent vocabulary, but, honestly, what is the point? Well, we know the point in the sense that arsing around with the clocks started in the First World War in order to give farmers an extra hour of sunlight in which to work, but surely in these allegedly modern times people have worked out the simple truth, that there really isn’t an extra hour of sunlight. Do I really need to spell this out?

For weeks, maybe even months, before we put the clocks back, I can feel my mood slipping into mild despair. I have not been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), not least because it’s nigh impossible to get a diagnosis for anything these days, although I have all the symptoms (except decreased sex drive, obviously). But I find it hard to believe that plunging the country into darkness in what appears to be the middle of the afternoon doesn’t affect our mental health and that extra morning light we gained has all but gone now. I have a simple solution. Let people choose what time it is themselves.

Obviously, we can’t all decide what time it is, but surely we have the ingenuity to get things done without changing the clocks? (Actually, I do have a suggestion for changing the clocks in what I consider to be a good way, but more of that later.)

I appreciate that the darker mornings are trickier for Scottish farmers, so why doesn’t the devolved Scottish government have its own daylight saving while the rest of is go our own way? Or if that doesn’t work, can’t Scottish farmers unilaterally take things into their own hands and keep their own time? If they leave their farms, surely it wouldn’t be that hard to wind their watches on an hour and as for watching TV, just buy a permanent marker for your Radio Times. Perhaps, this is all too simplistic, but it sounds eminently sensible to me. But here, in a magnificent example of contradiction, here is my solution to the problem.

I would be content if we simply scrapped daylight saving time and had the same time all year round, but how about if we moved to double summer time in the summer and summer time in winter? Imagine those June and July evenings when it would be bright until 11.00 pm? It would still be a pain in the arse to change at the end of October, but crucially we’d have an hour’s extra light at the end of the day all winter.

Whether we suffer from SAD, and I have friends who do, or other mental health issues, darkness has been a problem. It has been for me for as long as I can remember and I know it makes my depression worse. That’s just a simple reality for many of us. Consciously or unconsciously, we regard the dark as bad and the light as good and we would welcome more light at a time when we can feel the benefits.

Once the clocks change, it’s all downhill to the shortest day, which this year falls on 22nd December and, for many of us, until the start of British Summer Time on – Jesus, how late is this? – 31st March 2024, a whole month of spring wasted in my humble opinion.

It’s worse in Britain because it seems to be overcast and drab all year round (that’s because it is) and some of us dream, literally, of a brighter day. If changing the clocks mean we can have brighter and more lighter evenings, can’t we at least try it, say as part of a 20 year trial? I’ll have long shuffled off my mortal coil by then, but I’ll probably have died a bit happier.



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