Sunday, October 26, 2003


If you live in one of those countries that’s far too sensible to change their clocks twice a year, you will be unaware that the rest of the world has bade farewell to summer and welcomed in twenty-three weeks of winter by turning the clocks back one hour. I myself have prepared for this by not only prowling the house attacking time-pieces with a large stick, but also with a week of staring at Excel spreadsheets programming up very expensive broadcast equipment with new times and frequencies. And it might even work.

Greenwich Mean Time, therefore, is something very dear to my heart. The global standard of time, named in honour of British dominance of the seas in centuries past, the prime meridian running through east London, dividing the world into hemispheres, and the time zones that we all know, love and confuse the hell out of travellers.

GMT, however, is dying on its arse. There are those *cough* the French *cough* who don’t like the idea of being reminded of that fact the British whupped them on a regular basis over a long period of time, especially since the prime meridian also runs right through much of their country.

Hence GMT is now referred to as UTC – Universale Temps Coordinee (or something fiendishly similar), a standard time no longer controlled in London, but a nuclear stand run from some soleless box somewhere on the continent where they’d crap in your airing cupboard given half the chance.

But did you know that UTC was actually the second choice of name for the world time standard? Oh yes, and I’m not kidding you on this one iota, but the original name, proposed by the scientific community for the replacement for GMT, was Coordinated Universal Nuclear Time. I leave you to work that one out for yourselves.

The idea was quietly dropped. I trust you enjoyed your extra hour in bed.

Edit: All the above may turn out to be completely untrue, but I stand by my total lack of research in the face of people far cleverer than I am. So there.

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