Here in the UK it’s that time of year again of mists, mellow fruitfulness and endless debates about daylight saving. If you believed the Daily Mail (what? You mean you don’t?) most of us Englishers are currently stumbling all over each other, bumping into inanimate objects, treading on one another’s toes and generally getting pretty miffed about the clocks going back leaving us all in the dark. According to that blessed rag the Mail we all want to keep to British summer time this year please thus moving our time zone into synch the rest of Europe. All this fuddy-duddy time changing is as far as they are concerned, an anachronism that has no place in this modern world of hour long commutes and climate change. Well prepare yourselves for a shock but there are actually a few of us who actually think good old GMT is a good thing.
For a start the very fact that this change would mean dropping GMT seems well, rather un-patriotic really. If all time starts with Greenwich Mean Time then surely Greenwich, and consequently the UK should keep that time. European time may be good enough for the rest of Europe’s but by golly Greenwich Meantime is ours. I must admit to a certain frisson of nationalistic pride when I set the time for this blog; we’re not 8 hours ahead or one hour behind. No, we in the UK have the right time thank you very much. There may be very little else in this world that we do right but in this one thing we genuinely lead the world, and let’s not forget that.
But beyond petty jingoism this shift of the hours brings with it many other pleasures that I would miss. First of these is that languorous lie-in of a Sunday morning once the clocks have been changed. But then, one assumes that once in synch with other Europeans this pleasure will be returned to us so I can’t really use it as a defence for the status-quo. But one thing we would loose forever are lighter mornings and no one can dispute the amazingly therapeutic effect of being able to put one’s socks on by daylight. By mid winter as the darkness really sets in everyone starts counting the days until the mornings start to brighten again. If we had to wait any longer before daylight stretched back to the breakfast table, if we had to wait as long as, and I shudder at the thought, (Scandinavians and Orkadians please don’t laugh) February, the country’s mental health may be in tatters. February is already the month when workers are most likely to call in sick; the darker mornings would surely compound this. Houses are cold and stark on dark mornings but by the evenings they have transformed themselves to lovely cosy places all warm and inviting as summed up by that wonderful German word Gemütlichkeit.
And so, finally I reach my title. The dark nights, or evenings if you want to put it correctly. What is so very wrong with them anyway? Darkness in the evenings brings with it its own special pleasures. Warmly lit shop fronts, softly glowing street lights. Evening walks through a small town like ours in the darkness can be a magical experience, and one you can’t otherwise enjoy with your children. Moving away from streetlights and into full darkness we get the glory of the night sky and the only real chance younger children get to star gaze. Darker evenings for me are a magical time of lanterns and torches, watching the phases of the moon and gazing up into a never ending sky. If you don’t enjoy dark evenings then really you perhaps ought to think about moving somewhere more tropical, more monotonous and predictable, and leave the rest of us to light a candle or two in your memory. We’ll put them in the window ready for your return.