Saturday, 24 October 2009

What Time Do You Call This Then?

The clocks go back tonight. Just thought I’d remind you.

According to a piece in today’s Guardian BST was introduced in 1916 because of the perceived benefits Germany obtained when they introduced it in 1915. The Germans introduced it in response to a campaign by William Willett who liked horse riding before breakfast and golf in the late afternoon and disliked doing either in the dark.

Good grief as they say in Peanuts. So all that minor inconvenience and slight dislocation and hysterical editorials in afore-mentioned Guardian saying that if Scotland wants lighter evenings it should have its own time zones.* All for the pleasures of one man.

Mind you, you have to admit, it is rather impressive. One man changed in a fundamental way the lives of the peoples of two countries. One man. And his first success was in a foreign country. A country that his own country was at war with.

I bet that took more than a couple of facebook petitions.

Which leads me nicely to the subject of monomaniacs. I was reading an MR James story the other night and a character is described thus. It wouldn’t be used in a contemporary story. The word seems to have disappeared. When? Why? It’s not as if there’s no call for it anymore, there are still plenty of obsessive people out there. I once knew a lad who could get any conversation round to fishing in about ten sentences. It was quite fun to set him tests. Start with, say, the Schleswig-Holstein Question and see how he get from there to rod and line. Mind you, he must have thought I was a tad odd, what with starting conversations about the Schleswig-Holstein Question or whatever. I should have sold this to Radio 4 as the format for a panel show. David Mitchell could host it.

Anyway, the word seems to have gone. Was there a campaign I missed? Rock Against Monomania? Posters reading: Are You A Monomaniac? You’d Have A Wider Diversity Of Interests If You Weren’t! Was there a counter-campaign? Tee-shirts saying: Monomania. One Thing At A Time.

And ironically of course, both run by single-issue fanatics.

*I’m not making this up. It was about twenty years ago.

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