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back to article Historian slams 'absolutely crazy' UK time zone

Noted historian Sir Alistair Horne has described as "absolutely crazy" Blighty's refusal to fall into line with the continental European time zone. Speaking to the Beeb's Today programme, Sir Alistair admitted that while putting the clocks back an hour this Sunday might benefit Scottish dairy famers, giving them some extra …

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Anonymous Coward

ah this again

why doesn't europe fall in line with us.

Bloody foreigners coming over here taking our time.......

I am guessing this is the bloody city again. Moaning that their markets are out of sync.

The US has lots of zones so whats the problem.

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Agreed

Always thought the same. What does it matter what time it says on the clock? A farmer has to be up with his herd at dawn regardless.

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Idiot fails to realise that it is Spain and France that are on the wrong time zone.

"the only country which is on Portuguese time* is Britain"

*cough* Ireland?

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Why not

Why not change school hours in the winter in Scotland, rather than shifting the clocks?

Wouldn't that cause less disruption?

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WTF?

Historian or pillock?

Is Ireland a country? What timezone is it on?

Has the UK tried double summer time as an experiment? Was that the same as being on Central European time? Was it rejected? Why?

Unlike the pillock being quoted, I don't claim to have the answers, but I'm sure readers will help refresh my memory.

Anyway, if folk don't like going to/from work/school etc in the dark, CHANGE THE TIMES OF WORK/SCHOOL etc. Midday is midday, don't f*** with things like that.

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FAIL

Portuguese time?

That why it's called Greenwich Mean Time then? After some place in Portugal? Oh right.

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FAIL

the sun come up... the sun go down

Does it make any difference at all what time we call the hour.

The Scottish farmers should work to the hours of available daylight and ignore clocks.

So should we all.

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WTF?

But, but...

Aren't timezones defined with an offset from GMT? (or UTC, same thing)

So if GMT changes to be an hour later (ie. most of the country stay in BST - presumably no longer so-called), all the timezones will have to rename?

Also, timezones look like longitudinal bands, surely splitting Britain in half *latitudinally* (as you'd be doing by leaving Scotland in a different zone) would just make things even *more* confusing?

Am I the only actually looking *forward* to an extra hour's sleep this weekend?

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If anything is "absolutely crazy"

It's Sir Alistair Horne. I mean, FFS, why mess with our timezone, with the massive technical problems it'll cause with, for example, any computer knowing what time it is, for at most a marginal benefit, and probably none at all. It is almost as if it was for this guy that the word 'fucktard' was invented.

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Another idiot

Why should we change? After all, we operate with what is basically 'local solar time' which was the whole point of time zones (well, OK, they at least gave a uniform time for a whole area around mean solar time).

The argument about business hours is bogus, as some countries (e.g. Spain) have long lunch breaks and work later in to the evening. And of course with 24h e-business what is the problem?

The argument about schools is another straw man: why no do something about road use in general? Why not consider different school hours or maybe educating children to take more care?

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Grenade

Not quite as simple, Sir Alistair

By all rights, France and Spain should also be falling into line with the UK, Ireland and Portugal. It's THEM that's out of whack, given their relative positions to the meridian.

Frankly, the Scots can do what they bloody like. Give 'em their own time-zone for all I care. 'Tis a foolish Englishman that goes that far north in the winter anyway...

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Why change

Why change the clocks at all, don't see the point.

If its for the cows how will they know, can cows tell the time?

School kids mainly go to school in Chelsea Chariots these days and they have headlights (once the driver can find them and switch them on without the blasted rear fog light burning holes in everyone's retinas)

Stay on GMT, it is the global standard after all and we all know why we have standards.

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Joke

Correct me if I'm wrong, but....

...we have not "put them back". We have reverted to GMT, you know pretty much what all time zones are based around. So as the UK is the centre of time, them bloody Johnny foreigners should fall in line with us and like it and while at it, learn to drive on the correct side of the road.....

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Boffin

Speaking as a historian myself

Well, at least I did a history degree before getting into this IT malarkey, but the good professor hasn't really looked very far into the history of this.

France and Belgium were both on GMT until the Germans made them adopt their time during WWII, and whilst Spain is nominally on CET, they actually do all their activities one hour behind the rest of the timezone, opening shops and offices around 10am, and going to dinner around 9pm, equivalant to 9am and 8pm in Blighty (and Portugal for that matter, which is when the Portuguese tend to do those activities).

So really it's the countries west of Germany that use CET that are out of step, and they really should be on GMT like us. Pro-EU as I am, this argument that we should fall into line with France and Germany to aid business is ridiculous. After all, the US has four main timezones plus zones for Hawaii and Alaska, and they seem to cope OK.

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Anonymous Coward

Bloody Johnny foreigner and such like...

How can the UK fall in line with central Europe when Greenwich, England is the reference point. Surely it should be up to the rest of europe to fall in line with the UK.

If nothing else Spain should be on the same time as England as Madrid is west of the meridian.

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FAIL

@Dave Liney

Ireland? thats not even a real country is it lol

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Wise words of Ford Prefect

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."

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Stop

0°00′00″E

The UK is ON the bloody prime meridian - Greenwich in London is at 0°00′00″E. This line also runs through the west of France and the east of Spain, so we're right, and it's them that's wrong.

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Flame

Re: Why not

You should not give such blasphemous ideas.

Next thing you will get the idea of schoolchildren having a life and childhood as they have in the rest of Europe. There they start between 7 and 8 so that they can finish by 1pm and have an afternoon to play. This includes countries which just about see some sunshine after 10am in winter by the way. Oh, and they start formal lessons at 7 as well. Another blasphemous idea.

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Alert

We exist too...

Is Ireland too insignificant or do you still consider it part of the Great British Empire?

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Bleeding good idea.

Its a genius idea. Theres hundreds of arguments for / against. But the only one that matters is my free time.

Its dark when I go to work in the morning regardless, but an extra hour of daylight in the evenings in winter would be great.

End of. Now make it so.

And Im massively surprised that that complete tit-end Salmon running scotland hasnt tried to stick the scots on a different time anyway just to annoy us brits.

Note to scots / salmon: Couldnt care less what you do. If you want independence, take it. You elected the knobhead.

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WTF?

Why not change our time zone?

Because its wrong.

Ever since we started measuring time 12 midday was supposed to be the time that the sun is highest in the sky. As Britain is further west than europe this going to happen at a different time (obviously).

Also as any boy scout knows that by using an analog watch you find out which way north and south is - imagine what would happen, lost scouts wandering all over the country!

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FAIL

Cows can't read clocks

If the UK moves our clocks forward an hour to match Europe, surely that means the Scottish dairy farmers would just get up at 7am (rather than 6am) if they don't want to milk in the dark. Why do they have a problem with that? There something on at the radio at that time they don't want to miss? Their alarm clocks locked in to a certain time and can't be changed? I'm genuinely confused why farming is put forward as an argument to retain the current system.

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Anonymous Coward

<title>

I thought (geographically speaking), France was in the same TZ as the UK. So shouldn't *they* change to match us?

Personally, I say bring back Bristol Time!!!

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@Alastair McFarlane

No, GMT remains what it says on the tin, the solar mean time at the Greenwich meridiam. Currently we're on British Summer Time and won't be on GMT until clocks go back on Sunday. This also means that France and Germany *are* currently on GMT, except they know it as Central European Summer Time.

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The bit that came as news, to me...

... was that, apparently, it's tired school children that cause road traffic accidents.

As I understand it, the core of the argument, is that drivers have a God-given right to drive home in the daylight, since it is so much easier for them to see what they are texting on their mobile phones.

Or something like that.

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Stop

Europe?

Isn't it the case that France and Germany are in the wrong timezone, because of trade with their neighbours - so surely they should be told to move into the actual timezone their land-mass falls into?

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Joke

Simple.

All we have to do is make Summer day hours longer than Winter day hours (and vice versa).

For Summer: Between 0600 and 1800, hours are 80 minutes long. Between 1800 and 0600, hours are 40 minutes long.

For Winter: Between 0600 and 1800, hours are 40 minutes long. Between 1800 and 0600, hours are 80 minutes long.

Sorted.

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FAIL

Britain is not a country

Great Britain is the big island, Ireland is the smaller one to the left.

The United Kingdom is the big island plus the northern part of the smaller island.

There is no country called "Britain"

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Rob
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Stop

Flippin fringe nutter

The US will love us, especially after they just implemented their DST so that the markets were more sync'd.

Surely this would cause havoc on a number of devices and such like that rely on timing based on GMT?

What's the problem with leaving it as is, all the time devices in my house change automatically as it is (except the flippin oven, but thats got a mind of it's own anyway and permentantly lives in a different time zone to the rest of the house). I think this Prof just wants his name to be in the History books, the change would be costly and it's not doing any harm to leave it alone.

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Silly time zones

As if the sun, the earth, or the universe actually care what a few LEDs on a readout state. I personally would be very happy if the whole world just stayed on GMT, screwing with time zones from one location to another and then trying to adjust for "more sunlight" during one section or another is just silly. If you want more activities to be done in natural light, then actually adjust your activities to do just that.

Does this honestly matter in 1st world countries which have large chunks of society and industry that run 24/7? Does it really matter to the average citizen in New York, London or Tokyo if it is daytime or night time for any particular task that doesn't actually rely on the sun being available? This is why we created electricity and reliable power grids.

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Why doesn't Europe just grow up

Trying to get all of Europe into one timezone is just daft. Sure when they a little biddy club of a couple of countries then no problem. If you want to grow and take over a large land area either only grow in the north south direction or accept that no matter how many EU directive you write that the world isn't flat and the sun goes around it.

Other large areas cope with multiple timezones OK it's just eurofiles that can't add up.

Besides France is only in the Austrian timezone because they would never agree to be in the same one as the UK :-)

If we moved to Austrian time they'd move to Turkish.

If you want to make life easy for working out the time of day in other countries just use UTC everywhere in the world and accept that people in SIngapore start work at 01:00 and that those in CA start at 17:00 (actually mostly they start much earlier).

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Unhappy

Keep it GMT

All this playing silly buggers with clocks as dammed annoying. Digital clocks are fine, but when you have to go resetting those analogues it's no fun.

I confuse the hell out of people, because I have my watch always set to GMT. If people ask me the time, I tell them. But I don't tell them which time zone it is.

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RE: But, but

You're not the only one :)

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Fact police

@Dale Liney

Ireland isn't a country, it's a puddle.

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FAIL

For goodness sake Alastair McFarlane

> So if GMT changes to be an hour later (ie. most of the country stay in BST - presumably

> no longer so-called), all the timezones will have to rename?

NO. In summer we would be at GMT+2, in winter at GMT+1. Nobody is suggesting changing what GMT is, just what timezone England etc. uses.

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mh.
FAIL

Not again

There's always someone grumbling about the clocks going back at this time of year but people don' t seem to complain as much when they go forwards again in Spring. I can't help wondering how many people would still complain about the clocks going back even if we did switch over to CET.

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Megaphone

Why does no one understand time these days!

Noon = the time when the sun is as high as it's going to get today (= mid-day!)

All other times in the day are derived from that.

As it's best for everyone in the same country to share the same "time" (within reason) small countries should pick one place and use that to define "noon" for the whole country. It makes sense for this to be a place full of people that can measure such things and judge the right way to keep it sane - such as the country's main centre for astronomy (in the UK that was traditionally Greenwich).

Where countries are too big East-West they really need to divide themselves up into sections and each section sets its own noon. It really helps if it is easy to convert from one to the other, so the whole world needs to agree that one is the "master" version of "noon" and all others are a fixed number of hours away. Why not choose the one set by the boffins at Greenwich, especially as they have now worked out some clever ways to average out differences in the measured "highest-point of the sun".

So, now although in theory everyone has "noon" defined as the time when the sun is at it's highest in their area, it is actually derived from the Mean-Time an measured in Greenwich. But it is close enough that it works very well.

However, if I do business regularly with someone that is several countries away, and their local time is, say 3 hours ahead of mine (so the sun is at it's highest for them when my clock says that it is 9am) we have a problem because our working hours don't overlap.

So, should I change the "clock" - that is essentially telling me the position of the sun relative to my location, or my working hours?

The same thing applies for large countries. Should a huge country (or a huge group of semi-independent countries) set all clocks to indicate the same time (i.e. have one single time-zone) so that people in different parts of the country go to work at the same time, or should people in the far west just go to work at an earlier "clock-time" if they want to be at work at the same time as others in the far east?

If a country in Europe does most of its business with Japan, should that whole country adopt Japanese time?

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Dead Vulture

Bugger off!

That's my extra hour in bed you're messing with!

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@AC (09:56 GMT)

The UK did indeed try double summertime for one year back in the 1960s. The experiment was not continued due to objections, a lot of which were from Scotland (but, by no means, all). One of the complaints was that schoolchildren had to travel to school in the dark putting them at greater risk of an accident.

However, there was very good evidence that using GMT+1 in the winter saved lives on the roads. It was certainly true that there were more people killed in road traffic accidents in the dark mornings, but this was more that outweighed by the reduction in deaths when they travelled home in the light (there are more accidents involving people travelling home rather than from homefor some reason - perhaps tiredness). From memory, I think it was estimated the annual net saving in lives would have been something towards the hundred mark. Of course rational arguments like that are no match for a journalist interviewing a grieving parent whose child has been killed in a road traffic accident on a dark morning. You can't point a camera at grateful parents whose children's lives have been saved in the lighter evenings.

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No need to change

There's no need to be in the same timezone as continental Europe. For most people it makes no difference at all, and for people who have to deal with colleagues in the US it would make it worse. Currently there's half an hour overlap between the working day here and in California; with the change there would be no overlap at all. Most of Britain is already ahead of its natural timezone; it would make more sense for France to switch to GMT.

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Anonymous Coward

A noted historian, eh?

... so where's his deep historical insight, and how that's related to what we do with our clocks? Because if there isn't any such insight, then it may as well be headlined "yet another bloke rants about time zones". Why is this newsworthy?

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Unhappy

@Alastair McFarlane

Some people might be looking forward to an hour's extra sleep on Sunday, but I'm certainly not looking forward to my kids waking up at what will appear to be 5am...

Especially as we're off round to friends Saturday night for a dinner party...

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Coat

Bloody french

The french have never quite accepted that their line wasn't adopted as the prime meridian. Winds them up a treat when you remind them that they are roughtly on GMT* +1

*And let's be having none of thus UTC rubbish, it's Greenwich Mean Time for me, the time from which all time is calculated (OK, it isn't actually calculated from Greenwich any more but they use leap seconds to keep UTC as close to GMT as possible).

Mine is the one with the caesium 133 atom in one pocket and a sundial and map of Greenwich (for when I want to be _really_ accurate) in the other.

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WTF?

ah!... the days of steam! (c.1840)

Leeds is 6 Mins 10 seconds behind London time.

Carnforth is 11 Mins 5 seconds behind London time.

Barrow is 12 Mins 54 seconds behind London time.

Beer is sometimes behind, above, below and in front of any other time you care to mention.

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Geographically, there should be a Western Europe Time Zone

Given that time is a measure from when the Sun is highest in the sky - named Midday, and dependent on longitude. Since the difference in midday is one hour with every 15 degrees of longitude, al of Europe from Ireland and Portugal in the West should be on GMT until one reaches Poland and the Baltic states. There may need to be some shifting slightly, as the "heel" of Italy would be in GMT+1 if the line was strictly delineated. Sweden would be in GMT+1 (since most of the country is further East than 15 degrees), but Norway would be GMT. So physically it is Spain, France, Germany, Benelux and Denmark that are wrong.

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TUNDRAAAA!

Having lived in the "tundra" all my life, I've never found the winter mornings anything other than miserable as it is. I think it might be preferable to have it a bit lighter when we get out of school/work, personally.

The Scotsman had a piece on this subject yesterday from a different source: road safety groups, complaining that the time-shift causes a spike in road accidents every year at this time. Put that up against farmers having to get up at a different hour o'clock, I think I know which is the objective winner.

And of course I'll enjoy the extra hour in my scratcher on Sunday, but all the while knowing I'll have to pay it back in the spring takes much of the joy out of it :(

I'm willing to bet that if this gains any momentum, the SCO.gov will jump on Sir Al's "tundra time" suggestion as another opportunity to drive a wedge between us and England.

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Irp
FAIL

Historian ?

Oh dear lord, I actually don't know where to begin. I'm in agreement with AC above.Let Europe come into line with us.

*Espesially* those countries who happen to be between meridians 7°30'W and 7°30'E, and have the Greenwich Meridian running through them who see fit to be +1 hour from GMT. Do I smell garlic ?:) Are they still upset that "We British" ended up defining the standard time, and not them ?

Now, less nationalistically, if it's such a big deal in the city to be aligned with Europe, surely they could just start an hour earlier ? Yes Yes, they'd have to get up earlier, but they could finish an hour earlier as well, boo hoo how much do they get paid ? Oh, aligning with Europe not *THAT* important now ?

As for the UK being on "Portugese Time", has this "99% Scots" Historian never heard of Greenwich ? Or GMT ? Some Historian!

Now, as for me, I'd abandon this "Daylight Savings Time" nonsense, and keep us on GMT all year round. Then again, I'd make the French use GMT. And the Belgians. And the Netherlands. And the Spanish

As AC said, the Americans handle multiple timezones just fine. You often find the West Coast up early, and finish although that also has to do with the climate it some areas.

Thank Omega, and Rassilon this guy aint a timelord!

Pure geographical meridian based time for all! Now, more importantly, we just need a TARDIS icon

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Headmaster

DBST etc.

Yes, DBST was tried between 1968-70 - dunno why they got rid of it, presumably those Scottish farmers complained. I can't see why it's a problem for them, surely the clock time isn't relevant to milking. It was also used during WWII:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Summer_Time#Double_summer_time

IIRC in Spain they do everything an hour or so later, so while they're on CET they don't go to school/work etc. until 10 am, and typically eat evening meals around 10pm or so.

All I know is I had a terrible time trying to explain their POV on the 1985 Oxford O level English Language paper...(still got an A though - I expect the examiner couldn't understand it either)

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Paris Hilton

On the bright side

At least nobody has suggested changing the world time to decimal..

Paris, because I'd like to be in her zone

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