Keep evenings lighter

    it is all the more baffling that we do not make the obvious move and reverse yesterday’s ludicrous clock-change so as to increase the quantity of joyous sunlight that is available to us all

lighter evenings would save lives, save CO2, save money, generate jobs and growth

Just when you think the world can’t get any madder, along comes dear old Hattie Harman and takes the biscuit. At last the bossyboots Paulina has decided to pick on someone her own size — herself!

She made some harmless gag about Danny Alexander and a squirrel, and then decided a few hours later that it was politically incorrect. It was offensive. It was wrong, she wailed.  She should never have called the Chief Secretary to the Treasury a “ginger rodent”, she said. She was going to get behind herself and give herself a metaphorical kick in the pants, and she was issuing a fulsome apology to all rodents, anyone with ginger hair and, above all, to the Scots.  “Eh?” you might say. Well, it turns out that Hattie believed she might have insulted not just squirrels and the Chief Secretary but also the entire Scottish population, since a lot of Scottish people have red hair — and that set me brooding. Palefaces like me and Danny Alexander may occasionally receive colourist insults (someone, I can’t think why, once called me a “disfigured albino gorilla”), but there is a sound biological reason for our pallor.

Aeons ago, our species migrated from Africa to the lush pastures of northern Europe, and the only drawback we found was that with much less sunlight it was less easy for our skins to manufacture vitamin D. So we fell victim to rickets and brittle bones and general gloom until… ping! some ancestor of me, Danny Alexander, Simon Heffer and Nicole Kidman (what a thought, eh?) had a random genetic mutation. This gave him or her a paler skin and a greater ability to manufacture vitamin D from the limited quantities of sunlight available, and it seems so far to be a modest evolutionary success.

And yet we cannot pretend that we have cracked the problem entirely. Vitamin D deficiency still afflicts about half the UK population, and is a serious problem in all north European countries, not least Scotland. The deficiency particularly affects pregnant women, young children and anyone prone to osteoporosis.

So it is all the more baffling that we do not make the obvious move and reverse yesterday’s ludicrous clock-change so as to increase the quantity of joyous sunlight that is available to us all. Everybody from the Police Federation to Age Concern to the British Chambers of Commerce and Industry now supports the campaign to keep our evenings lighter.

I am in favour not just for narrow personal reasons, compelling though these are: I greatly prefer an early morning run in the darkness, so as to minimise the jeers and catcalls that normally accompany this ritual; and on the whole, I think winter would be more bearable if it got dark at teatime rather than just after lunch. Nor do I support the change to lighter evenings for the parochial reason that it would be better for London — though that is overwhelmingly true.

Far from increasing road crashes, the evidence is that we would reduce the number of killed and seriously injured by 20 per year, with a financial saving of £14 million. We would reduce energy consumption and CO2 needed to light our homes in the unnaturally early dusk — saving £20 million. It is likely that we would reduce crime, since there are three times as many assaults between 7pm and 11pm as there are between 7am and 11am, and lighter streets would certainly feel safer.

We would give a huge boost to the London tourist industry, since we would be able to keep our sites and attractions open for an hour longer in the evening, when tourists tend to be out and about, with overall benefits of up to £720 million in London alone.

But the main reason for supporting lighter evenings is that the benefits would be demonstrably spread throughout the UK. Of the 80,000 jobs we would generate in tourism, 7,000 would be in Scotland — and, yes, I believe the change is best for Scotland, too. Contrary to widespread superstition, darker mornings and lighter evenings would reduce Scottish road accidents, since most of them take place during the evening rush hour rather than in the morning – with a financial saving worth about £8 million. The difficulties for farmers have been much exaggerated, given the changes we have seen to agricultural methods, and I have never seen a cow that could read a watch.

Longer evenings would give those Scots in nine-to-five employment a yearly total of almost 300 extra hours of daylight. As for Scottish children, I suppose they would still have to switch on the light to get up in the morning. But each one would have an annual increase of about 200 daylight hours in the afternoon, with about half of these falling on school days. Up and down the country, from London to Aberdeen, children would have more time after school to exercise, to play football and generally to enjoy themselves outside rather than sitting inside with the Xbox, getting ever more obese.

One final point: we would be in the same time zone as Brussels, so that we could no longer be ruthlessly ganged up on by our continental friends and partners. No wonder we have just found it impossible to stop this insane expansion of the EU budget. No wonder we have been strong-armed into spending ever more on the whole lunatic waltz of officials and MEPs from Brussels to Luxembourg and Strasbourg, and no wonder we are spending zillions more on Baroness Ashton and her mysterious army of EU ambassadors — our continental counterparts have eaten their continental breakfasts and have been plotting and scheming to get their hands on UK taxpayers’ money for an hour before we even get into the office. Go to the London website, where you will see an excellent and detailed case, and a brilliant exposition of the Scottish argument by Dr Mayer Hillman of Westminster University.

But take it from me that lighter evenings would save lives, save CO2, save money, generate jobs and growth and give us all, ginger or otherwise, a little bit more of the sunlight we need in the hours we are likely to need it.

11 thoughts on “Keep evenings lighter”

  1. …or we could just get out of bed an hour earlier, work 8am-4pm and go to bed early.

    Then again that might be harder to sell than the polite fiction of changing the clocks.

  2. Maybe a line could be drawn across the map of Scotland, at a point agreed by the Parish Council in Holyrood. The clocks would remain at the same time south of the line, and would then be altered to suit the bedtime habits of those further north.
    It could be called, “The Ginger Rodent Line”.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly with Boris Johnson’s thoughts on the ridiculous clock change from British Summer Time which still keeps us an hour behind countries which are south or west of us. Viz. France, Spain and Portugal, and causes so many problems for all of us. I am also somewhat perplexed by the mathematics of the change because by my calculation if you take the days from the recent change to the shortest day and then the same ongoing then the clocks should change back about two thirds of the way through February. So why are we robbed of that extra hour of daylight at the end of the day for some six weeks until the end of March when the clocks do change back. How many lives are lost in that time. It would be a great help to gardeners as March is the optimum time for planting seeds.
    Yours faithfully,
    Anthony Heath
    62 Pembroke Road,
    Bristol BS8 3DX
    Tel 0117 6=9741183

  4. I’d rather have the light in the morning. By the end of December it would be dark by 5pm anyway, and I’d be doing both the trip to work and home again in the dark. I know it’s not true further north, but at least with the present arrangements I can wake up and get to be outside in daylight before getting shut in a building until after dark.

    As for business, we get to overlap with the US more than the rest of the EU, who reach 5pm as the US West Coast starts appearing at work at 8am (those who manage to get up, anyway).

    Time changes are less of an issue as one gets closer to the equator because there are more hours of daylight even in midwinter, so France (which technically should be on GMT, and probably would be if it was Paris Mean Time) and Spain are in the wrong.

    If you want more light in the evenings then get up an hour earlier and shift your day that way.

  5. Boris has made the case for not putting the clocks back intelligently and sensibly. I would go so far as to suggest that we introduce double summer time. The afternoons would be lighter for much longer and would probably make almost everyone happier.

  6. Moan, moan, moan, moan!!! Bloody typical English – just good at moaning, moaning and moaning BUT will never actually do anything about it!

    Yeah yeah, I know what I’m talking about, believe you me. Look at the TV licence – moan moan moan but has anybody done anything about it? Look at our out-of-control immigration – moan moan moan but has anybody done anything about it? Every year just the same: Change the clock, don’t change the clock, moan moan moan but has any bloody one done anything about it?

    You are only moaning openly ONLINE (!) now thanks to Bill Gates. In the old days, you did your moaning behind closed door.

    Don’t worry about the farmers what can’t see their weenie cos it’s too dark in the field – most of them are told by Brussels not to produce too much food in order to keep the prices up and to let their fields run wild and receive subsidy from Brussels instead. Money for nothing!

    About that politically correct maniac Harriet Harman. I have told you here before and I will say it again now: Political correctness is a forced thing. People are not born politically correct. It’s unnatural to force people to be politically correct.

    Because at the back of their mind they know that they are really not a politically correct person. Am I right? Am I right?

    Because sooner or later they will reverse back to their un-politically correct nature off-guard (!). Prime example: Harriet Harman/ her ginger rodent comment.

    What else? what else? well that’s enough of my moaning for now.

  7. Edna, you are absolutely right about political correctness being a learned behaviour. Maybe it’s a sort of barmy brainwashing? How else to explain that one should not ask for ‘black coffee’ but instead request ‘coffee without milk’.
    I was told about this by a friend who was berated by his superior for asking for ‘black coffee’. Needless to add, he works in the public sector.

  8. We tried having summer time in the winter in the 1970s and it was a flop. There was no reduction in accidents, no increase in productivity and no effect on power consumption. The reason for this was that an hour’s additional daylight in the afternoon is one less hour’s daylight in the morning.

    Everybody was pleased when we changed back and no longer had to go to work in the dark and bitter cold.

    One experiment trumps any amount of theory. Legislating for winter to be summer is an avoidable error.

  9. Ed love, alreet? I always ask for a well tanned coffee, love.

    Now, where was me? Ah yeah – the English and their bloody moaning hobby. Their non-stop moaning and their indecision what they proudly call their traditions!

    Leave the EU, No stay with the EU. Moan, moan, moan. In? Out? In? Out? In, out, in, out, shake it all around. Bloody hell. To the point that people wonder if the English ever have sex at all. Oh I know – is this why you say: “No sex please. We are English!” ??

    No wonder right now 3 out of 4 children born in the UK are born to Eastern European parents! Oh and don’t forget to work harder and harder to pay them their due child benefit of £20 per head per week eh?

    EU referendum? Where is your promised EU referendum, if you don’t mind me asking? I’ll tell you what: this government or the next government will never let you have a referendum on the EU. Watch my lips.

    You know why? Because they know damn well that the English are only good at moaning and are not bothered about the outcome. If there is no EU referendum, they will swiftly find something else to moan about AND will forget what they last moaned about. This is what I call Moaning/Indecision.

    Belgium has banned burka wearing in public. EU’s politically correct headquarter is in Brussels, Belgium. Just think about it. France has followed suit. More EU countries are gonna do the same. Switzerland has banned minarets. In Britain? ” Ooh? that’s racist! “, ” Very racist! ” YET they moan about Islamic culture has taken over their country!

    The recent cartridge bombs has made our Theresa May flap around like a headless old hen. ” I’m going to ban all cargo planes from Yemen right now!” Yeah yeah as if our inland terrorists won’t think of making cartridge bombs right here in the UK and let them explose on a bus or a train!

    Ask her what her or the last Labour government have done with the caught inland terrorists. Kept them in jail for a few months, downgraded them to terror-suspects as they can’t be deported – human rights thing (!), put them and their families in rent-free council houses and give them all sorts of social benefits. For life! ” We can’t deport them as it would breach their human rights. Sorry!” Yeah yeah.

    Bet those unemployed Brits what have lost their jobs in this recession are wishing they were in these terror-suspects’ shoes right now!

    The English moan about “political correctness” ( made into a law by the last Labour government, what the current government said they would get rid of it, but will they ever? ). They ridicule it. Yet if you ever make a harmless remark, they will jump on you back and call you a racist.

    In this country UK, you can’t call a black man a black man because that’s racist. This prompts you to ask this question: “What is wrong with the black colour? Black is black”.

    The English church-goers say: “Jesus created all colours on Earth. All of his colours are nice.” Yet bloody lots of them won’t dare call a black man a black man. Because? “That’s racist, of course!” See what I mean? see what I mean? Cool, cool.

    Whoever thought the colour black was ugly and ought not to be mentioned are racists themselves.

    In the old days calling a man with red hair a ginger rodent would be laughed at as a light hearted banter, a joke. Not anymore in this bloody politically correct United Kingdom. So you have to admire the last Labour government’s 13 long year brain washing programme. It worked!

    The English are the victims of their own making.

    ( Talking about cartridge bombs, folks. News: ” Al-Qaeda made the underpants bomb on Christmas Day.” Did they stuff the underpants with Brussels sprouts or equally deadly baked beans?

    ” The bomb master’s brother was killed in suicide blast after hiding bomb up his backside.” Wow! Do they call it a stink bomb? Only asking, only asking. )

  10. = The English church goers say: “Jesus created all colours on Earth. All of his colours are nice.” yet bloody lots of them won’t dare call a black man a black man now because “That’s racist, of course!” =

    Hahahahahaha!!!!!! Classic!

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