What did you do with your extra hour yesterday?

This year I decided not to waste mine - so spent it trying to find out why we bother putting the clocks back.

Google wasted no time in directing me to the story of William Willett, who was the main champion of the idea of British Summer Time (which the rest of the world calls ‘daylight saving time’) at the beginning of the 20th century.

He calculated it would provide each of us with no less than three extra years of daylight during our lifetimes, and apparently he intended to spend all of his bonus time playing golf.

Thanks to the internet, you can easily read the paper that Willett published in 1907, which was supported by Winston Churchill and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (no less) but not many others at the time, so it was 1916 before BST was adopted.

Sadly for Willett, he died a year earlier, so never got to see it become reality, and I’m sorry to say it was probably his own fault - for trying to be too clever.

If you thought that remembering to shift the clocks twice a year is a challenge, consider his idea of moving them forward by 20 minutes at 2am on four consecutive Sundays in the spring, and reversing the process over four Sundays in September.

Imagine the confusion that would cause.

Anyway, Willett is still considered the father of British Summer Time, and by a strange twist of fate he is also the great-great-grandfather of Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay.

During my hour of research I also discovered that, as an experiment, between 1968 and 1971 the clocks did not go back in October.

So we were on BST continuously for more than three years.

But politicians couldn’t agree on whether there were benefits or not.

So they did what they always do in these situations, which was to default to the ‘norm’ - proving, once again, that the very worst reason for doing anything is always ‘because that’s how it’s been done since time immemorial’.

So here we are still putting the clocks back today, despite the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents campaigning against it for years, on account of the fact they reckon it would save around 30 deaths a year in avoidable accidents.

I think we are now at the point where virtually everybody agrees with Willett that Greenwich Mean Time is best abandoned from March to October.

So you might ask: why not for the other months, too?

I’m sure I can’t be the only person who would make more use of an extra hour of daylight at tea time, every day, compared with one when I am just waking up or still in bed.

And that is especially true in 2020, when most of us now find we have no need to go out at breakfast time.

Well, I had a whole hour to try to find one good reason for reverting to GMT.

And, frankly, I’m still in the dark about it.