Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Weights and Measures

We British are clearly insane. We torture ourselves with all manner of units with which to measure things. We buy our petrol in litres but we talk about miles per gallon for fuel consumption. Almost nothing is measured in feet and inches, except our height. In B&Q you can't buy 5 ft of wood. It has to be in metres, even if the wood is labelled 4"x 2". We hung on to pounds (£) through decimalisation but our over-50's still talk about "ten bob" (£0.50). We still auction horses in guineas (£1.05). We drink our beer in pints and halves but buy our milk in litres. Nearly all the measures in a pub are imperial. We sell our fruit and veg. in kilogrammes but have a sly nod to pounds (lbs) every now and then. We weigh ourselves in stones and pounds and buy our sugar in kilogramme bags. Recipe books seem to have ditched ounces and have gone for the pragmatic: teaspoons, tablespoons and the indeterminate "dash". A hot day to a youngster will be "getting on for thirty" but for our older bretheren it will be "pushing a hundred". (By the way; I REFUSE to use Celsius. It will always be Centigrade to me)
This debacle really does have to stop. Before my generation Brits had to deal with the Imperial System. In school today they are taught Metric. I was caught in the middle but, now, we are sending kids into the outside world who have absolutely no idea how things are weighed or measured.
Every year, at GCSE results time, the BBC dredge up some "captain of industry" who pontificates on the low standard of mathematics coming out of our schools.
The poor kids don't have a chance!
Colour code: Imperial in blue, Metric in red. Confused? So are the kids.

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