Becky Sheaves: Let Scotland put its clocks back – I want my evenings back
Just so you know, I'm a quarter Scottish). So I hope I've got just enough north-of-the border blood to excuse me from accusations of racism, xenophobia or whatever over today's column.
The thing is, I'm all for Scotland declaring its independence. Please do, folks. Be my guest and be off with you. Then we down here could declare our independence from Scotland. And, in particular, their horrible winter time zone.
Yes, the clocks have gone back this week. Mainly, as I understand it, so that people living 500 miles north of here can see daylight before midday. For my part, I'm feeling cheesed off about the fact that my evenings have been stolen off me, just to give the Scots their mornings back.
Now, it's dark by 5.30pm, which will be 4.30pm by the time we get to December. Is there anything good to be said for that? I don't think so.
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In the winter, the kids come home from school and, by the time they've had something to eat, it's pitch black outside. Which would be fine if only they would spend their winter nights quietly doing their homework, practising the violin or helping with the washing up.
Alas, my offspring prefer to play giant indoor football with my Swiss gym ball, train the dog to leap over the sofa, or fight over John's iPad, which they have already managed to crack across one corner. He wasn't annoyed about that at all, of course.
Outdoors, meanwhile, there is so much fun to be had here on the farm: slipping about in wellies while filling haynets, wheeling barrows and trying to catch horses in the dark. You can't ride in the evenings of course, at least not until the end of March – which seems like a lifetime away.
So yes, I'd vote for Scottish independence in a heartbeat. Then they up there in the cold, dark north can have their own time zone and start their day whenever they want. Down here, I'd vote for summer time all year round. That way, we'd still have a sporting chance of getting the farm chores done in semi-daylight of an evening at this time of year. And as for the fact that the sun wouldn't come up until about 9am, well to be honest, I'd go for that. I'm not much of a morning person at the best of times.
The only consolation, I suppose, for the fact that the clocks have changed is that we have a flurry of evening parties to go to. Last night it was Hallowe'en and tomorrow it's our village firework party, followed by our nearest town, Ottery St Mary, holding their bonkers annual fire-fest, the Tar Barrels. All are much-needed chances to get outside on dark evenings and shine a defiant, rather pagan, light at the encroaching gloom of winter.
So we have carved two fine pumpkin lanterns and the boys spent what felt like hours in the fancy-dress shop last weekend frittering their savings on new costumes. In my day we cut a hole in a sheet to be a ghost or made witch hats out of rolled-up black sugar paper. But for our kids, the choice and range of plastic Hallowe'en tat is endless. And actually rather fun. Should it be the vampire teeth or the plastic knife-through-the-head trick? The luminous skeleton onesie or the scary clown mask?
In the end, Luke (11) went for a punk zombie outfit with pretend gas mask and orange Mohican, which looks genuinely rather horrifying. William (eight) looks ridiculously sweet in a hooded monk robe and Phantom of the Opera mask. I was upstairs yesterday when I heard William saying: "I'm going to go upstairs in my costume and freak Mum out" followed by the thunder of little feet. He burst into my bedroom, shouting "Aaargh!" but was not expecting me to be standing partly concealed behind the wardrobe door. "Hello!" I said – at which, despite his bold outfit, he screamed, jumped about seven feet in the air then wiped out totally and hit the deck. I never knew I was that frightening.
He and I haven't laughed so hard since the dog broke wind in front of the meter reading man.
Somewhat against my better judgment, we allowed Luke and his best pal to go trick-or-treating this year without adult supervision. Providing they are home by 8pm and are "good" – whatever that means. Oh well, I suppose running around in the dark menacing the locals and scoffing sweets could be seen as a much-needed chance to get some fresh air and exercise at this wintry time of year.