Clock changes are a time to enjoy - Monocolumn | Monocle


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24 October 2012

It’s that time of year again. That time when one is forced to think about – time. Perfect timing, you might think, to clock up a few seconds, minutes or even hours ticking over in your mind about temporal issues. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, you dealt with it weeks ago. It’s just a distant memory to you now. But to us northerners the weeks of confusion are only just beginning.

If you haven’t guessed it already I’m talking about clock changes. Time zone shifts. The sun sets on European summer time, eastern daylight time waves goodbye and don’t forget Azerbaijan time, which of course works to its own distorted metronome. Each comes with an equally confusing acronym, all of which ultimately spell out the same thing. Our days are getting shorter, our nights longer. We will end up spending more time in darkness. Winter is officially upon us. And let’s not even think about Russia, who seem to legislate for and against time zones every time they need to change their alarm clock batteries.

I like to think we’re an intelligent bunch here at Monocle 24. But nevertheless, the term “clock change” strikes fear in even the strongest of us. If it weren’t tricky enough making sure we always accurately inform people of the time in different places around the world, there’s now the added pressure that these numbers – much like the sands of time – are shifting. And for what? Because a few hundred years ago, farmers wanted to be able to spend more time out in the fields during summer.

While this may prove helpful as Europe slides back into a farming economy in the wake of the eurozone crisis, let’s take a moment to look at the facts. Changing clocks can disrupt sleep and reduce the efficiency of your precious slumber. Negative effects on your circadian rhythms can be severe and last for weeks. Sufferers of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) will not need reminding that the condition’s worst aspects are exacerbated.

But despite all of this, deep down, I secretly love British summer time and not just because it prolongs the sunshine during the fun times. There’s actually something I find strangely comforting about battling to reset the clock on the oven each year, wondering if I’ve just really put some kind of timer on. I like the descent into darkness, because it’s the one time of year when you really do think about time.

Because regardless of who you are or what you’re doing, wherever you are in the world, time ticks on. History continues to be made. And while we may not be farmers anymore, I like the reminder that once most of us were, and that we made this thing – time – to help us cope with the world. We adjusted these clocks twice yearly to help us conquer it in some small way.

So next time you get confused because you’re flying to New York in the first week of November and you’re not sure whether you’ll catch the last subway, take a second to think about that. A time out, you might say.


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