At the end of last month we went through the twice yearly ritual of changing the clocks by an hour. In the USA they did it at the beginning of the month so as to confuse us should we want to contact them in March. The clock in the car does it all by itself, as does my phone, but my watch and the other clocks in the house need to be adjusted manually (in fact manually bi-annually even). I usually manage to fix most of them first thing in the morning but there are a couple I don’t understand and so they remain on GMT until a small child comes along and sorts them out. This means there is plenty of scope for confusion if you look at the wrong clock and forget that it is an hour out.
This of course was the change to what we call British Summer Time (other countries call it Daylight Saving Time since they are not British). It dates back to WW1 and during WW2 there was a period of Double BST while in the 1960’s there was an experiment with BST all year round (i.e. GMT + 1). Not sure why they didn’t just tell everyone to get up an hour earlier everyday. When I commuted into London I found that by the end of October it was dark when I left in the morning and again when I returned home in the evening so I looked forward to the return to GMT because it was then daylight at least once a day (when I left in the mornings).
Andrew in the States tells me that in 2005 the US congress decided to extend Daylight Saving Time. Easy enough for them but then they didn’t have a billion and half computers all hard-coded to go to Daylight Saving Time on the first Sunday in April. He has a satellite clock which has a built-in feature that automatically switches to DST on the first Sunday in April. This was great but now it is wrong for two months out of the year.
In comparison Western Australia had for many years kept the same time all year round. When we visited there in early December 2006 we had to change our watches etc. during our stay because one night Western Australia had gone over to Daylight Saving Time for the first time for many years. Many people found this very confusing, especially as it was a three year experiment agreed only a few weeks earlier. Some people ignored the change and places like the Roadhouse between Perth and Denham work from dawn to dusk irrespective of what the clock says.
We had to double check the time of our flight out because we didn’t know whether it would be at the time on the ticket or an hour later. In fact our flight was an hour later than originally planned. The airlines had obviously decided to keep the timings of interstate flights fixed by the time they were due to arrive or leave the airport outside Western Australia. So our flight arrived at Sydney at the same time as it was originally scheduled. The experiment was abandoned in 2009 and Daylight Saving is not observed in Queensland, the Northern Territory or Western Australia.
If I had a sundial I would have to unscrew the dial and move it round a bit! Actually, I am not sure that they make adjustable sundials – they sensibly stick with GMT all year round and you can make the adjustment in your head.