The day the clocks go back is the worst day of the year if you work night shift. I worked night shift as a hospital porter in Stornoway. At 1am I would have to walk round the hospital and change all the clocks. By 1:20am it was 12:20am and I still had another seven hours and forty minutes of my shift to go because, while the clocks went back, the time my shift ended stayed the same. A nine hour shift became 10 hours. I wouldn’t have minded if I was paid for the extra hour but the hospital couldn’t distinguish one shift from another so, as far as they were concerned, I’d only worked 11pm to 8am even if I’d had an extra hour in the middle.
(Of course, when the clocks wend forward, a nine hour shift became an eight hour shift but there was no guarantee that you’d be working that shift to make up for the extra hour! It really was unfair!)
I mention this because it’s almost time for the clocks to go back; a time that also reminds me of another time: the time for the lights to go back too. It’s time to attach lights to my bike so that (a) I can see; and (b) more importantly, cars can see me as (a) I don’t want to get run over; and (b) I really, really don’t want to get run over.
Yet, even though not getting run over is definitely one of my top goals when out on my bike, I’m always reluctant to get the lights out. I know they’re safe, they help me see and be seen, but I can’t help thinking how much nicer my bike looks without lights.
(Don’t get me started on mudguards. They’re the bike equivalent of making Eva Green/Ryan Gosling/whoever floats your boat* wear a Donald Trump mask before going out on a date.)
I just don’t like lights. They’re like zits for bikes. You know there’s beauty underneath but why do they always have to be right in your face so you can’t avoid seeing them all day. Car lights are hidden. No one notices car lights. Yet we stick lights on the front of our bikes like we’re attaching a rocket launcher to a tank.
Then there’s the ‘modes’. It’s not enough that every light shines white with a strong unbroken beam. We also need them to pulse, to flicker, to swing left and right and to flash so strong and so fast the man in the moon will have an epileptic fit.
If you’re thinking of opening a nightclub don’t hire an expensive light system just hang a bike from the ceiling. That’s all you need.
So, with the clocks going back, I find myself putting the lights back on my bike too and I realise why we have the extra hour. It’s not for farmers, it’s not for early morning commuters, or school children wanting to avoid walking to school in the dark, it’s to give cyclists an extra hour to complain about how their bike doesn’t look as cool it used to.
*Except Donald Trump (but, if it is Donald Trump, then we hope you mean that he floats your boat in that he’s full of hot air and will quickly blow up your dinghy).