As all but the laziest slugabeds will have noticed, the mornings have been growing progressively gloomier, with much of Scotland having to wait until after 8am for sunrise.
The gathering gloom of October is due to our asymmetric summertime, which, although beginning a week after the vernal equinox, continues until five weeks after the autumnal one. In addition, the increasing difference of up to an hour or so between sunrise and sunset in the south-east of England and Scotland's central belt is due principally to the difference in latitude although, with Edinburgh being further west than Bristol, as every schoolchild knows, longitude accounts for 10 to 15 minutes of that difference.
When the clocks go back to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), this weekend, many will welcome the respite of the lighter mornings in November, when the sun rises before they have to. Others, of course, will regret the change, such as retired people whose late afternoon golf will be curtailed.
Every year, there are calls, particularly from the south of England, for Britain to stay on so-called summertime, and every year these are opposed, especially from Scotland where such a change would consign much of the country to five months of dark mornings.
Recently, Prime Minister David Cameron said he would not support keeping the clocks forward unless the proposal had the support of all parts of the UK and, in truth, the present arrangement is a compromise, giving the south of England longer evenings in summer while protecting Scotland from five months of going to work and school in the dark.
What would happen should Scotland vote to become independent in next September's referendum? At first glance the answer seems obvious; an independent Scotland could set its own time zones.
But hasn't the Scottish Government frequently stated that the present arrangement is best for Scotland? However, even if Westminster - freed from having to consider the best interests of Scotland and unfettered by the votes of Scottish MPs - decided to keep the clocks forward in winter and perhaps even opt for double summertime for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Scotland could go its own way.
So it would seem that independence is the best way to protect Scotland from five months of dark mornings. Hooray.
But is that what would actually happen? It is perhaps not well known that Ireland once had its own time zone.
In 1880, when GMT was made the legal time for the island of Great Britain, the effect of the difference in longitude was recognised with the adoption of Dublin Mean Time, about 25 minutes 21 seconds behind GMT, as the legal time for Ireland.
Yet, after the Easter Rising of 1916, far from keeping its own independent time zone, the new Irish Free State found it to be untenable for practical purposes, especially telegraphic communications, and defined Irish time to be the same as British time.
Apart from eschewing Double Summer Time during the Second World War, the Free State and later the Republic have kept the same time as Britain, even during the 1968-1971 British Standard Time experiment.
The Irish experience suggests that, although in theory an independent Scotland could choose whatever time zone it liked, in practice the realities of cross-border communications, transport and broadcasting (do we want to hear the World at One at twelve noon, for example?) would compel Scotland to follow whatever system Westminster chose to adopt, without any right to be considered nor any say in the matter.
So it would seem, therefore, that the best chance of keeping a time system that recognises the discrepancies of light and darkness imposed by differing latitudes lies, after all, with Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom.
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