Jayne Dawson: The many ways that British Summer Time can hurt you

I know, your head is all over the place. Mine too.

You’re ravenous mid morning, you’re a dead weight when the alarm goes off and pointlessly shiny and bright at lights out. Who knew an hour could make such a difference? Well we did, since we live through the trauma of British Summer Time every year.

But every year we forget just how much of a punch in the solar plexus it is. Until we receive that body blow. However, endure it we must. British summertime changes life. Nothing will ever be the same again - until October. Here is how life will be different for me for the next six months:

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I will be forced to live in real time. Since I have never worked out how to change the clock in my car, it is set for wintertime. I have no complaint about this. Au contraire, I like it. It means that for half the year I am an hour ahead of myself An hour and twelve minutes actually, since it has gained madly somewhere along the line. The effect, for those golden months, is to make me a Time Lord. I am in charge of time. I am on top of life and totally in control.

My clock says I am hopelessly, helplessly late, that I have missed by a country mile, but I know different. I’m not! I haven’t! Because it is actually one hour and twelve minutes earlier! I chortle with delight. Every time.

But now I’ve lost all that - except for the twelve minutes. It’s not enough and I feel all out of control.

I will shuffle clothes around. If you haven’t done the wardrobe swap yet, you need to crack on. I’m talking to myself, because I haven’t done it . But I will soon. All my black things - now looking dusty, grey and a bit mucky in spring sunlight - will go into the wardrobe in my daughter’s old room, and all the things that are not black will come out. This will include the things I don’t like but am determined to get the wear out of. As the weeks pass I will stare at them unhappily and then sidle off into the bedroom next door to find one of the stored black things. That’s how it always works but it’s a ritual which must be observed during the months of British Summer Time.

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I will buy some compost and replacement garden tools, because it is one of the laws of the universe that trowels will find an invisible water source during the dark months and spend all winter getting good and rusty. Also that only weeds will have survived the harsh, iron-cold months. Then I will make my first visit to the garden centre and come over all faint at the price of things. I mean, who includes the cost of plants when they are trying to balance the books? Every year they come as a surprise emergency cost.

I will begin fretting about my legs. What to do with them? When the days are grey and the tights are black, life is simple and straightforward as a Roman road. Once the clocks make that leap, the way forward is tortuous and twisted. Bare legs? American Tan tights? That two-tone fake tan look where the legs are brown but everything else is white? It’s all so difficult - you blokes have no idea.

I will start to worry about those things which should never be worried about. You know: skirting boards, door handles, the tops of things. As the year marches into April, shafts of bright light will pierce the smeary windows and illuminate dirt and dust. At some point in the next few weeks I will be found dispiritedly flicking a wet cloth at patches of paintwork. I will resent this. Life should not be about wiping marks off things. And, while we’re on the subject, how do radiators even get dirty? Door handles I understand - radiators? No.

That’s my list. You will have your own. Yours might be full of fun, sunshine and frolics; carefree days and languorous nights. I can’t help that. I’m having to live in real time until October. I am no longer a Time Lord and it’s not fun.


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The names we give our children are endlessly fascinating, a glimpse into the world at the moment of their birth.

And there have always been trends - a trip round any cemetery will tell you that. Names have surged and waned in popularity depending on the prevailing mood, the famous people of the day, the events taking place.

After the First World War, there was a fashion for naming babies after the terrible battles that had so recently taken place. Parents took to calling their babies Verdun, Ypres and Mons. That’s easy to understand, if a bit of a burden. The Victorian trend for giving their babies the same first name as the family surname less so. Imagine going through life saddled with the moniker Jerome K Jerome.

Names tend to come and go in 100 year cycles. Once a generation has died away, the name is free to use again - how else to explain all the little Stanleys and Norahs now taking their first baby steps.

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If you want to give a baby a truly unusual name now consider something like ...Jayne. Alongside me in the infant school were Janet, Linda, Anne, Jean - all names now midway through the century cycle and therefore terribly unfashionable.

Some names always endure. Research by Ancestry shows that the most popular names of the last five hundred years have been Mary and John.

Neither particularly fashionable right now, but their very timelessness gives them a wonderful appeal.


Yorkshire chef James Martin has hosted his last episode of Saturday Kitchen.

I can’t say I’m bothered.

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There were tears from him during the show and a phone call from the ever marvellous Mary Berry, complaining that her bottoms were always soggy. I can’t tell you how much I love that woman.

But Saturday Kitchen? Not so much. Not at all really. It has always seemed to me an awkward format. Either be a cookery show or be a chat show: don’t try to be both.

James Martin didn’t help. He was never good enough to smooth out the rough edges, the clumsiness of the show.There was always the sense that he was throwing out prepared questions to guests without any interest in the answers because all his attention was on the pan in front of him.

Indeed he usually didn’t appear to be even listening. It was edgy television, but in the worst way.