Does funny things to a man.

April begins, and this year it's brought the sun with it to Britain, somewhat earlier than one would expect for this sodden island.

I know it won't last, as do the many people who, like me, made a beeline for the nearest sunny spot. And who can blame us, after a winter of Diluvian rain? Having said that, it's only sixteen degrees out there. No wonder the rest of Europe laughs at us.

But don't be so quick to mock. Would you act so differently to me if you knew that come the weekend, you wouldn't see the sun again for a month? And did a helicopter land right in front of YOU on your lunchbreak?

A form of Daylight Saving Time

The original concept behind this form of Daylight Saving Time was proposed by one William Willett of Kent in 1907. He lobbied Parliament and wrote a pamphlet pointing out that in the UK, for much of the year the sun shines for some hours while most people are asleep, and is nearly setting on return from work.

His original proposal was to advance the clocks twenty minutes on each of four Sundays in April, and to retard them by the same amount on four Sundays in September. He reckoned that it would not only "improve health and happiness" but that it would save the country £2.5 million pounds, even taking into account the loss of earnings to the producers of artificial light.

The scheme was initially subject to much ridicule and opposition, but a Daylight Saving Bill was introduced in 1909, and in April 1916, Daylight Saving Time was introduced as a wartime economy measure. Initially this applied only to in Britain, but the idea was taken up by many other countries, both allied and enemy. Sadly, William never saw his idea put into practice, as he died the previous year.

Between 1968 and 1972 Britain tried keeping BST (British Standard Time) throughout the year, largely for commercial reasons - Britain would then conform to other European countries. However, this was not good for the school children of Scotland as it meant they had to always go to school in the dark and the experiment was eventually abandoned in 1972. Since then, Britain has kept GMT in winter and BST in summer. It remains one of those elements of life which we now accept almost without question.

Other attempts have been made, to change timekeeping in Britain , notably staying an hour ahead of GMT in winter, and two hours ahead in summer. Arguments include those already presented above, with the added benefit of reducing road traffic accidents and workplace heating and lighting costs.

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