MURDER IS EVERYWHERE—Sunday, 25th March 2018

Collection of old analogue clocks

When I woke up this morning, my phone and my laptop both knew that the clocks had gone forward by an hour to herald the start of British Summer Time, or Daylight Saving Time, whichever you prefer. It’s a novelty to have old-fashioned clocks you still have to reset by hand.

Only the British weather itself doesn’t seem to have cottoned on to the fact that we’re supposed to be heading for summer, with forecasts of more ice and snow for Easter.

I suppose the advantage of calling it Daylight Saving Time is that it doesn’t get our hopes up for an actual summer, which might include shedding our greatcoats and being unpicked from our winter underwear.

We have been fiddling with our clocks, spring and autumn, in the UK since April 1916, when it was part of an effort to save fuel for the war effort. Before this, it had been a localised affair, with the inhabitants of Port Arthur, Ontario (now Thunder Bay) resetting their clocks by an hour in July 1908.

Three years prior to that, a British builder by the name of William Willett suggested adding 20 minutes a week to the time on every Sunday in April, and subtracting it again on every Sunday in September.

Member of Parliament, Robert Pearce, took Willett’s plan before the House of Commons in 1908, but it was opposed and didn’t make it into law until eight years later. Sadly, this was a year after William Willett’s death, so he never saw his idea make it into reality.

More on the manipulation of our clocks in my Murder Is Everywhere blog

This week’s Word of the Week is haruspication, meaning the use of sacrificed animal entrails for divination. Also called extispicy.