Imperial nonsense

Enough’s already been written about the lunacy of Johnson’s ‘consultation’ regarding the use of imperial measurements. There’s a good overview in the Guardian (click here).

What the review will find is that people prefer to use what’s convenient and easy and with generations now having grown up with the metric units of litres, grams and metres there will be little mood for change.

There are exceptions of course and they’re in daily practice in the UK. We buy draught beer in pints and we measure distances on roads in miles. And although heights as recorded by the NHS et al are measured in centimetres I can’t stop thinking in feet and inches. Sadly which ever unit is used I still seem to be shrinking.

There are other exceptions and these are more international and useful questions in Trivial Pursuit. Bicycle wheels are measured in inches and skis in centimetres wherever you are. And there’s the urban myth of carpets which are measured in centimetres for the width and feet and inches for the length.

Doubtless the coexistence of (US) imperial and metric units cause problems. I remember the extra large gate at a Dow factory in Sweden where the US engineer had noted a width in feet but the engineers who’d built it read it as metres.

I grew up in the old days of course and remember the exercises in school where we were tasked for example with converting so many inches into miles, furlongs, chains, yards and feet or ounces into tons, hundredweights, quarters, stones and pounds and vice versa. It did wonders for our arithmetic skills but I hated them.

I later spent my formative business years working for an American chemical company and I’ll now never forget that a US gallon is 3.785 litres (there are of course 1.2 US gallons in a UK gallon which results in a pint being a little over half a litre, 0.567 to be precise) and a kilogram is 2.2046 pounds (which means an 8 ounce, that’s a half pound, steak is a little over 200 grams, 227 to be precise) as I converted US costs and transfer prices into their metric equivalents. And that was before you worried about currencies.

We all know what Johnson is up to. He’s trying to deflect attention from his own and our very real national problems, he’s trying to appeal to the ultras of his own party and he’s hoping there will be enough older people out there who want to return to the old ways. He’s wasting his and the nation’s time and he’s not observing one of those fundamental rules: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

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