Posted by: cjenscook | 01/23/2011

British Symmetry Time

Having just watched the Scottish gloom descend over Edinburgh at what seems to me to be an unreasonably early hour, I thought a little Light Relief – in every sense – might be a useful distraction.

I’m old enough to remember the earlier UK trial of all-year-round British Summer Time between 1968 to 1971, and have been following with interest the doomed succession of Private Member’s Bills aimed at re-instating or extending ‘Daylight Saving Time’ . This is perhaps a more accurate name than British Summer Time, particularly in Scotland, where summer begins, if at all, later than in the rest of the UK.

Rebecca Harris MP’s current effort has at least made it past Second Reading

Daylight Saving Bill passes Second Reading

I’m not going to rehearse all the pros and cons here, but perhaps the most entrenched objection is an understandable antipathy to dark Winter mornings, which grows stronger the further North one goes in the UK.

My proposal is pretty much independent of these arguments and is based upon my preference for symmetry, and the fact that the current operative dates of British Summer Time are extremely asymmetric.

Solstice and Symmetry
The shortest day of the year – the Winter Solstice – is either December 21st , or 22nd, and this is of course the day when sunrise is latest and the mornings darkest.

Now, our clocks currently go forward from Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) to British Summer Time (BST) on the last Sunday in March, which may fall on or between 25th to 31st March; while the clocks go back on the last Sunday in October, which may fall on or between 25th and 31st of October. The former date is (including Leap Years) anything from 94 to 101 days after the solstice, while the latter is anything from 51 to 59 days before.

My suggestion is a simple one, and based upon the premise that the calendar difference from the solstice which is appropriate for alleviating the onset of Winter darkness should also be appropriate for marking its end.

I propose that we should bring forward the beginning of British Summer Time to the second Sunday in February, which falls on any date on or between 7th and 13th of February, and therefore between 47 and 54 days after the solstice.

I find the thought that the clocks could go forward in a just over a couple of weeks from now a cheering one.

Maybe any MPs who agree with me could convince the government not to reject Ms Harris’s Bill in its entirety but enact a little Symmetry instead?



  1. You must be a late morning riser Chris. Early risers would have another hour of darkness to put up with, just as the mornings are getting lighter.
    How depressing!

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