There's a curious need to believe that your countrymen must have invented every important thing. It's particularly strong among imperial powers. The British emphasis on their own achievements has waned noticeably, as the British empire fades into history; but America and China are both insistent and singleminded in teaching their children that their country did everydamnthing.
Take submarines, for instance. The first working submarine was built by a Dutchman living in England; the first one to be of any practical use in war was invented by an American living in France. Dutch, British, American and French schoolkids each hear about whichever invention fosters their national pride. Later in life, adults who like to think of themselves as well-rounded Renaissance Europeans point to the fanciful drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, who is sometimes claimed to have invented practically everything - despite never having built any of it. Then, inevitably, some idiot Chinese historian pops up and announces that China was developing them in the 13th century.
Or electricity. Every American schoolchild learns that Ben Franklin invented electricity by flying a kite in a thunderstorm. Britons may hear that story in passing, but it's not nearly as important as the contributions of William Gilbert (who invented the word, roundabout 1600), or Michael Faraday. Danes learn the name of Ørsted, Germans of Siemens, French of Ampere, Italians Volta, and practically everyone claims Tesla for their own.
And so I wasn't surprised to find an American website claiming, in all apparent seriousness, that Ben Franklin invented the idea of daylight savings time.
But I acquit Franklin. He thought he was joking. The fact that some people took him seriously says more about his ponderous sense of humour than any active ill-will on his part.
I am ashamed to say that this particular invention can be more convincingly laid at the door of a New Zealander. George Vernon Hudson was an entomologist, who wanted more time after his shift to go bug-hunting.
Independently, a few years later, an Englishman strolling through the streets of Croydon one summer morning was appalled at how everyone was still in bed. With the unfailing paternalistic instinct of the Victorian do-gooder, he devoted the rest of his life to campaigning to force everyone else out of their beds to enjoy the morning quiet.
It took the Great War to make people listen to him.
Of course "total war" justifies a lot of things. In terms of the impositions made at such a time, setting one's clock forward an hour seems pretty mild. But ninety years later, we still have this idiotic institution. Every year at this time, an hour gets stolen from our lives, to be returned in autumn when we will least appreciate it.
And that's why Susan is now getting up in the dark (again) and walking around like a zombie all day; that's why I'm trying to force myself to go to bed while my body is still screaming that it's wide awake.
It's not really Hudson's fault, or Willett's. They lived in a very different world from ours - a world of mass employment in factories, shift working, and where artificial lighting was an expensive luxury.
Today? We have no-one to blame but our own politicians - the same people whose idea of an early start is getting out of bed before 9 a.m.
Why, oh why, can't we just forget the whole thing?