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It’s time to save time and put the clocks back

POSTED ON 25 OCTOBER 2019

Daylight Savings Time (DST) ends at 2am on Sunday

If you remember to put all your timepieces back an hour before you go to bed on Saturday, you can roll over and make the most of the extra hour in bed. If you forget, it’s time to stare blankly at the central heating control panel, attempting to recall how you re-programmed it last time, as well as trying to reach that clock that “would look lovely” in a spot inaccessible to all but a 7ft contortionist.

And don’t forget the car. Ah, but you probably didn’t put that one forward in March, so at least that’s right!

Yes, it’s that time of year when you wonder why you need so many clocks; why do we have to revert to Greenwich Mean Time anyway … and what’s it got to do with Coldplay?

Well, for the first one, count yourself lucky. There are more than 2,000 clocks in the Houses of Parliament to be changed, while the operation to alter the four faces of Big Ben starts a full five hours before the official switchover.

As for the second, the idea to turn the clocks back to save an hour of daylight was first jokingly suggested by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 although it was not really picked up again until William Willett launched a campaign in 1907.

Willett, a builder, argued we were frittering away daylight hours by rising at the same time in the summer as we did throughout the winter. He advocated putting clocks forward by 80 minutes, 20 minutes a time at four stages during April, and reversing it the same way during September. His idea wasn’t adopted until during the first World War in 1916 – and then only by an hour – because it was felt it would help productivity and cut fuel consumption.

It’s never been popular, though. Farmers, builders and outdoor workers can still go about their business while retailers moan darker evenings mean shoppers are less likely to venture out after work – until the Christmas rush kicks in – and there have been many attempts to scrap it: the most recent was an experiment in 1968 when Britain remained in DST for three years.

Nothing came of it, but earlier this year the European Parliament voted to scrap the EU-wide rule requiring countries to practice DST, meaning member states wanting to be permanently on summertime would adjust their clocks for the final time on the last Sunday in March 2021, while those opting for permanent wintertime would turn back their clocks seven months later.

And what links DST to Coldplay? Well, William Willett is the great, great grandfather of their frontman Chris Martin who, for their 2002 album ‘A Rush of Blood to The Head’ co-wrote a song called … ‘Clocks’.

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