Postcards from the Edge
Soon we’ll lose an hour and have depressingly dark evenings. Can’t we just have eternal summertime?
Do we have to keep putting the clocks back at the end of October, and then forward again in March (mnemonic: ‘Spring forward, fall back’)? Our friend Jean-claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, says his officials will put forward a bill abolishing these seasonal times changes.
Good idea. It’s horrible when the evening light suddenly drops an hour at around the Hallowe’en weekend (28th October this year). This is one EU idea that, surely, the United Kingdom should embrace. And if Ireland agrees with an EU directive to maintain permanent ‘summer time’ – and Britain does not – then there could be a ‘time change’ when crossing the Irish border, as Northern Ireland and the Republic could be in different time zones.
Changing the clocks is a subject of continuous Irish debate, where the light varies appreciably between the east and west coast. In County Galway, even in the depths of winter, it’s never dark before 5pm. Mornings are a different matter: as in Scotland, bright evenings mean darker mornings. Children walking to school in the dark is an issue – although so many children now go to school by car.
Back in 1916, when the clocks in the British Isles were being aligned, there was a movement in Ireland to establish ‘Irish time’ – supported by the Catholic Church. The clergy liked the idea that clocks should follow nature and, as Dublin was about 20 minutes behind London, according to the arc of the sun, it should be 20 minutes later by the clocks.
Perhaps time didn’t matter quite so much then. There was an old country saying that ‘When God made time, he made plenty of it.’
Our times are different now, in every sense of the word, and clocks and other timing devices have to be harmonised to within a particle of a second.
Still, keeping all-round summertime is
As I am an Irish citizen resident in Kent, it has crossed my mind (and that of many other Gaels in a similar position) that I might be kicked out of the United Kingdom on 29th March next year. I’d not only be separated from my beloved English family, but from my beloved English NHS and my excellent Deal GP, Dr Philip Rawson. The NHS is so dear to us oldies.
But I needn’t have worried: assurance has been formally given by HM Government that ‘If you are an Irish citizen, you would continue to have the right to enter and remain in the UK, as now.’ Phew!
If we are honest, the Irish always have had their cake and eaten it in this respect. When Eire, as it was, decided to quit the Commonwealth and rebuffed King George VI in 1948, there was some concern that Irish workers would no longer have access to Britain. Some sterner influences within Clem Attlee’s administration wanted Ireland punished (and Attlee himself wasn’t best pleased). But wiser counsels prevailed: the free flow of labour suited both sides and a deal was made.
The King asked the Irish High Commissioner if there was any chance of a change of mind. High Commissioner John Dulanty diplomatically fudged the question: he then asked the King’s secretary if there was any chance of a couple of decent tickets for Ascot. Horses before politics!
Dublin buses now offer wi-fi and encourage passengers to link into their system. The usual questions are asked about your name and email and, under the ‘gender’ category, the passenger has three options: male, female or ‘nonbinary’. Funny question. However, I expect Dublin Bus wants to show that it is ‘woke’ – a term which Google defines as being ‘of African-american origin that refers to a perceived awareness of issues concerning social justice and racial justice’. And that now includes nonbinary gender justice.
However many repeat referendums are offered, Southend-on-sea, in Essex, will always vote solidly Brexit. A coach service replacing Sunday trains from Southend Airport took us through the purlieus of the town, awash with St George flags, bearing the name ‘England’ across the central bar of the single cross.
‘Is there a sporting event on?’ I asked the driver. ‘No – people here are just being patriotic,’ he replied.
It’s significant how, in working-class areas, the ‘England’ flag has now replaced the ‘British’ flag of the Union Jack. They don’t want the ‘diverse’ British identity: they want to be ‘English’.
This is now considered insular, but ‘England’ does have more poetic and historic resonance, from Shakespeare to Brooke.
Anyway, if Islington can fly the LGBT flag for identity affirmation, let Southend take pride in St George’s Cross.
an idea worth discussing at an official level. M Juncker has a sensible point.