Bedtime is the unique timetable operating in the county of Bedfordshire, England, since 1984. The county is the only one in Merrie England to have adopted its own temporal system, and a jolly silly one it is too. It means that Bedfordshire is now not only out of step with the remainder of Great Britain and all its territories and dependencies, but also at odds with Alaska, Easter Island, and Cloud Cuckoo Land. “Bedfordshire,” as Bill Clinton has opined, “is on a big curvy path leading straight to lunacy, by way of hell”. The whole county should “have a little lie-down and think again”, according to President Bumtwaddle of Peru, who was speaking while he walked stark naked in the street. And he’s a fine one to talk.
People have compared Bedfordshire’s extraordinary temporal secession to Berktime, which is the similar regime run by berks in the county of Berkshire. Others have shouted about the similarities with the ridiculous Apart-Time system in South Africa, and with the Unilateral Declaration of Insanity made by Southern Rhodesia in the 1970s, which made it legal to humiliate decent folks who had healthy-looking dark faces. You can read about that stuff elsewhere if you really want to. Entirely different people have made comparisons between Bedtime and the United States’ 20th-century Prohibition experiment, when all the bottle shops closed down except those owned by Al Capone and his cheerful buddies. A few red-haired eccentrics have also raised the subject of the crustacean civil war currently raging on the tiny uninhabited island of Whiskybastard in the Scottish Highlands, but nobody seems to know what that has to do with Bedfordshire. “People should stop straying off the subject,” said disgraced politician Tony Blair in an angry moment yesterday, as surgeons looked on with concerned faces and trembling hands.
Wake up, everybody!
Under the new quotidian arrangements in Bedfordshire, everybody living in the county is forced by law to get out of their straw beds at 9am, Bedtime (short for Bedfordshire time), feed their cats at 9.10pm, have breakfast at 9.20am, open the mail at 9.25am (possibly at the same time as eating breakfast) and turn to the sports pages of the newspaper at 9.30am. Any deviation from these times and activities is punished by death.It’s shocking.
The working day
People must then go to work, and are followed by Simon to make sure they do. Lunch is at 12.30 Bedtime, and liquid lunches are banned. They come home at 6pm. There are a further 147 rules relating to times and what you should do when. If I listed them all here, you wouldn’t get anything done today or tomorrow, believe me.
Off to Blanket Bay
Come 8pm Bedtime, everybody is required to finish up their two bottles of beer (or half-bottle of wine, if they have breasts) and toddle upstairs to bed. The man with the yellow hat and the baseball bat follows people to make sure they fall asleep at 8.15pm precisely. A lot of people pretend to fall asleep, of course, but that’s okay with the yellow-hatted Simon, who gets his kicks from the power he wields and the fear he instils in Bedfordshire people. He’s not from Norfolk although “Norfolk” is his surname, and this is his only joke. He’s neither a funny man nor an intelligent one.
Bedtime is horrible and everybody hates it. Most people leave Bedfordshire at the earliest opportunity. Zaha Hadid and Ken Dodd’s dog did. Some people who have never been there never go there. Some Bedfordshire citizens, young and old, sexy and ugly, have the bruises for life. For some, the inner torment leaves deeper scars.
The down-and-out British writer George Orwell, winner of the 1984 Cigar Smoker of the Year award, has written a book about the whole Bedtime business. Its working title was Bedtime, but he changed it at the last minute to Nineteen Eighty-Four.It's a bad read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!