Hate the concept of daylight saving time? Blame an ancestor of Chris Martin of Coldplay.

Why is daylight saving time still a thing? Introduced during World War 1 as a way of conserving energy (and to match the Germans who had jumped on it earlier), this semi-annual adjustment of the clocks has been proven time and time again to be a total waste of, well, time.

John Oliver of Last Week Tonight has this helpful deconstruction of this nonsense.

So who do we have to blame for DST? A not-terribly-distant relative of Coldplay’s Chris Martin.

In 1905, William Willett, a builder and outdoor enthusiast, was out for a morning ride and began annoyed at how most London folk slept through so much of a summer day. At his latitude, the sun roses before 5 am in June. It also annoyed him that the sun was gone by 9:30 pm, which cut into his beloved rounds of golf. To Willett, this seemed like a huge waste of the nicest part of the year.

Two years later, he passed a proposal to Robert Pearce, a British MP and sunlight ally, who then introduced a bill asking that the idea be examined. The concept was studied but failed to pass into law even though Willett continued to push the idea until he died in 1915.

Meanwhile, some jurisdictions learned of the concept (an earlier similar proposal had been made by George Hudson in 1895) and began advancing the clocks in the spring and falling back in autumn.

The first city in the world to enact daylight saving time? Port Arthur, Ontario, now known as Thunder Bay. It moved its clocks for the first time on July 1, 1908.

But back to Willett’s idea. It was resurrected in the House of Parliament in 1916 as a way to save energy during The Great War. The Germans and their allies, the Austria-Hungarian Empire, adopted DST on April 30 of that year, ostensibly as a way of conserving coal, their prime source of energy.

Since Britain and her allies couldn’t let the enemy get away with having some extra daylight in the evening, the country and many other European nations, finally adopted Willett’s idea until the end of the war in 1918. With the armistice, most countries went back to having their clocks set normally.

That, however, didn’t last. DST returned before WWII and was ingrained around the world with the energy crisis of the 1970s.

And even though disadvantages of DST far outweigh the advantages, we’re still stuck with this stupid ritual. (Props to the people of Saskatchewan. You got it right by refusing to play this game.)

So where do Coldplay and Chris Martin come into the picture> William Willett was Martin’s great-great-great-grandfather.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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