It’s 12 O’clock, right? The clocks have gone back – that’s the good one, isn’t it?
I mean I’ve got that right haven’t I?
Even though we’ve been discussing the clock change for over a week, it still hits us like a sucker-punch as we scramble out of bed and stare at the hands of the clock with confusion.
Twice yearly we all go through the same tired and agonisingly misunderstood process. Why is it that after all our years on this world we are still unable to grasp, internalise or compute this relatively simple concept – the changing of time by one little hour. It seems that even people who undertake fairly complex tasks in their daily lives are crippled by the mathematical problem of working out the time.
If the clocks go back, is that good or bad? Does that mean we get one more hour in bed or one less? What does your watch say now? Have I got the right time? If it was 8 yesterday it means it would be 7 today, so that’s an extra hour, right?
We anticipate the clock change with the same level of dread as the Y2K bug. Is the world going to end on Sunday?
Today in the modern age our confusion is compounded – we seem stuck on the question of whether technology will make the change for us. Will it be painless or not? We’ve been conditioned to think that things will be taken care of, automatically and without fuss. But this isn’t the case; we live with a false sense of security. Just because the computer on your desk politely informs you that daylight savings means it has taken the liberty of changing your clock for you, we assume that it will be the case for everything. But noooooooooo! My alarm clock at the side of the bed hasn’t got a clue what’s going on, and frankly neither do I. What the hell should I do? I stare at my analogue watch trying to pick up a sense of whether it has changed by an hour or not on instinct alone, but no inner feeling guides me. I know for sure the clock on the wall won’t have changed on it’s own – just as surely as I know it won’t be changed for another week, and send me into a state of confusion every time I look at it, until I manage to find the time to actually get off the sofa and change it. And so through a complex method of mathematics I deduce the correct time and manage to set my life straight.
The thing is after we’ve gathered our wits, set our clocks and found our bearings; once we’ve adjusted the time and straightened ourselves down, we take on an attitude of smug intolerance towards anyone so stupid enough to have forgotten. Anyone who turns up an hour early for work, or for their film at the cinema, or for school, panting and sweating from the exertion of trying to get there on time, is told that they’re an hour early with a level of contempt normally reserved for criminals. We enjoy watching them flap about in panic, safe in the secret knowledge that has clearly passed them by, before slowly and calmly informing them, “You couldn’t have possibly made the mistake of not realising the clocks have gone back, surely? That would be ridiculous.”
With each passing encounter we become even more intolerant, amazed that anyone could be so stupid, forgetting with every passing minute our own bleary-eyed puzzlement.