It’s October, so Australia goes to daylight saving time. Well, half of it does. In Queensland and Western Australia we just plod on as normal.
Believe it or not, despite four referendums on the subject – I only remember two but Facebook insists there were four, so that must be true – the debate about whether WA should go to daylight saving has broken out again.
For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts.
Now I’ll go put my hardhat on and wait for the brickbats to start flying. 🙂
Lucy hurried down from the car park, her thongs slapping on the sandy steps. She paused as she hit the beach and held her palm up over her eyes to search the figures in the dawn shadows cast by the Cottesloe Surf Club. She picked Grandma immediately, stretching into an exaggerated yoga pose in a swimming cap and a one-piece she’d probably had since 1972. Such a dag! Mum sat cross-legged on a towel squinting against the sun.
Lucy marched through the milling horde of dog walkers and early-morning dippers to drop her towel next to Mum’s.
“Oh, darling you made it.”
Grandma grinned. “Good morning, my darling.”
“Hi,” Lucy shrugged out of her wrap. “I missed the sunrise. Such a pity, it’s beautiful this time of year.”
“We’re just glad you could make it,” Grandma said. “It’s so lovely to have some girl-time.”
“Thanks, I really wanted to be here today because it’s the last time I’ll make the three-generation-swim for a while.”
Mum stopped in the act of fitting her swimming cap. “Really, what’s happened?”
Lucy chuckled. “Oh, Mum, you’re such a ditz. Daylight saving starts on Sunday, so next Tuesday I’ll be at work when the sun comes up.”
“Oh!” Grandma pouted. “We’ll miss you.”
“Well, blame those luddites who voted ‘no’ in the referendum in .. when was it?”
“The second? 19 – something. But don’t forget we voted no every time there’s been a referendum.”
“Quite right, Grandma. It’s an embarrassment. How can half the population of Western Australia be so backward that we stand still when the rest of the country goes forward. Three hours behind Sydney. It might as well be twenty years.”
“Mmmm,” Mum wasn’t really listening, too busy pushing hair under her cap.
Grandma raised a finger. “Of course, if we had daylight saving, Gwen couldn’t come next week, could you, love?”
Mum startled. “What?”
“You don’t swim in the dark.”
She smiled. “Quite right. The waves scare the life out of me in the dark.”
“Oh really, Grandma.” Lucy shook her head. “It’s hard to believe you were Features Editor of the ‘West for twenty years. Just come later. How hard’s that?”
“About as hard as going to work an hour earlier,” Grandma looked down her nose at her granddaughter to make it clear she was having a dig, “but if we came to the beach an hour later, your Mum wouldn’t be able to swim because it would make her late for work.”
“Good point, Mum,” Gwen said, “Are we going in the water now?”
“Oh, for goodness sakes, Grandma, are you frightened your curtains might fade? I know you better than that.”
“And I thought better of you, Lucy. Do you think your curtains will last longer if we have daylight saving? I get so annoyed when people who can’t make a proper argument try to belittle the other person. It’s playing the man, Lucy.”
“Okay, Grandma. How many thousands of people have to change their work habits and get up at the crack of dawn so that WA can stay in the dark ages?”
“I don’t know. Reporters like you – some of them. I bet the features crew don’t do daylight savings hours.”
Lucy accepted the point.
“And a couple of dozen futures traders,” Grandma went on, “who else? And how many are on this beach? How many would miss out on their morning exercise when it’s beautifully cool and fresh as the sun comes up?”
“The same number that can enjoy longer evenings.” Lucy preened, confident she’d made a winning argument. “We can have three-generations-drinks and watch the sunset from the balcony at Indiana Tea House.” She swung her arm towards the limestone edifice that loomed over the beach like a protective uncle.
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Gwen said.
“Oh mother, I’m sure I’m going to regret this, but why?”
“When we had that daylight saving trial it was awful in the evenings. So hot and muggy when we got home from work. I didn’t feel at all like going out. It’s better when the sun’s gone down.”
Lucy threw her arms wide. “I was right, I didn’t want to know. Bloody hell, am I the only one living this century?”
“No,” Grandma said, “most of the people on this beach, and the farmers, are happy just the way things are.”
“The farmers! No way, Grandma. They work to the sun, so nothing changes for them. Come on!”
“Perhaps not, but school times don’t change. Their kids have to travel for hours to get to school on a rickety bus on gravel roads. With daylight saving they’re getting on the bus in the dark and coming home in the heat of the day.”
“School kids? You’re giving me school kids?”
Grandma nodded. “School kids. How many little ones have to go to school half asleep and swelter on the way home on a dusty bus so a couple of dozen journos and stockbrokers don’t have to set their alarms an hour earlier?”
“Anyway.” Grandma called over her shoulder. “I’m going bodysurfing before the water gets cold. Last one in’s a dickhead.”
Lucy crossed her arms and watched her grandmother pound into the surf. “Water gets cold? She’s crazy.”
Her mum put an arm around her shoulders. “She’s a force of nature, Lucy, I’ve always told you.”
“Yep, she’s damned smart too.”
“Oh, yes. It missed my generation completely with me, but you’ve got her brains, thank goodness. Come on, love, let’s swim. If we don’t get in soon that bikini might fade.”
Mum jogged off to join Grandma. Lucy shook her head, but she had to laugh.