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Grimble Mean Time

There is great confusion in the world (which includes both the UK and the USA) about 12pm. It is a well known and yet little realised fact that time goes: 1am, 2am, 3am, ..., 11am, 11:59am, 12:00pm, 12:59pm, 1pm, 2pm,..., 11pm, 11:59pm, 12am etc.

This is the fault of the Romans who decided that pm should start "post meridiem" (after midday) rather than the more sensible "pl" (post lunch) which would have let the day start at 1am, carry on as am until 12:59am in the heat of the daytime sun*, and then have pm until the end of the day - 12:59pm at night.

Now the military - presumably not the Roman legions though - decided to tidy the clocks up by inventing "nought o'clock" and scrapping all this am and pm business. This was a great step for mankind. 0:00 was dark and 12:00 was light. No problems.

Confusion was still possible, especially for university students who go to bed late. "I'll meet you at the student's union at midnight on Tuesday". Did this mean Monday/Tuesday night or Tuesday/Wednesday night? A military venture 24 hours adrift would have serious problems. (Indeed, how would a Roman legion cope with a student's union bar?)

The solution - attributed to Jonathon Livingston Grimble - is to use Grimble Mean Time. This simple system is unambiguous. Time progresses forward at an hour per hour and for much of the day is exactly the same as military time. BUT it keeps going at midnight, 23:00, 23:59, 24:00, 25:00, 26:00 etc. And only when you go to sleep does it reset by -24 hours to say 2:00.

Neat and simple.

* Footnote - It is rare to have the sun shining when it is not daytime.

(This article by Steve Bailey is based on information originally provided by Stuart Brook. It is included in E.G. by threats and violence towards the editor, Greg Bailey.)

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Last updated 2004-08-10
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