“I’ll have a half-litre of the usual, thanks.”

A PintImperialists and Victorians of the world, rejoice! Word has come through the European Commission that they’ve decided to give up trying to force the UK and Ireland to rid themselves of imperial measurements. Pints, pounds, stones and ounces remain legit in this corner of Europe indefinitely, and those displaying the measurements will not be forced to court. As you can imagine, this is fantastic news for those Eurosceptics in Britain, who see it as somewhat of a victory for their own ‘culture’. London, not the EC, will make decisions regarding the imperial measurement from now on. Waffler says good luck to any MP in Westminster who tries to push a ban on pounds and pints through the Commons and Lords. A bit like pushing for French to become the UK’s second language, somehow you don’t quite see it working.

In Ireland, it’s all a little more muted. It’s getting coverage on all the main news sources, but you can’t help but get the feeling that it doesn’t matter just as much to us. When I went to primary school in the late-1980s and early-1990s, it was declared that it was the end of the imperial measurement. Metre sticks were left lying around the classroom and maths was based around how many millilitres were in a litre. The only association children had with miles and gallons was when adults used the measurement to other adults. Quite confusing for a four-year-old. I lost count how many times teachers in those six years drilled into us the difference between miles and kilometers. (1 mile = 1.60934 km, just if you’re wondering)

Today, the only contact most of us would have with such measurements would be with alcohol, naturally enough. Every single one of us knows what a pint looks like, (Pictured, for you’re convenience) and perhaps our own weight. Yep, we drink the pints and measure the damage in stones! Go beyond that and it all gets a little confusing.

KPH in IrelandReading the BBC’s outlook this afternoon, sceptics seem to believe the abandoning miles per hour on public roads would be cataclismic. Cars would crash into each other, they’d go the wrong way down the road and they’d never get to their destination! Nooooo! Take the Irish example. It’s over two years since all the road signs here changed from miles to kilometres. What that involved for most people was simply reading the ‘little numbers’ on the speedometer rather than the ‘big numbers’. My mother’s car was a Toyota Yaris with an electronic speedometer, so all we had to do there was flick a button and the car was safe! No running into the back of each other, no going the wrong way down the road. Amazing.

I know the excuse about ‘what about the old people’, but come on, that excuse is old. They’ve been through two currency changes already and three-quarters are already familiar with kilos and litres, just as we young ‘uns are familiar with a pint. And anyway, if in the 1980s schoolchildren were told to abandon imperial measurements, pounds and ounces will become pretty non-essential in the next decade.

Interestingly I bought quite a large drum of oil for the car the other week and my father exclaimed ‘my God, there’s about a gallon in that’. I replied ‘no there’s not that much.’ My perception of a gallon was so skewed that in the end it was discovered there was two gallons in the drum! Whoops!

Now, where’s my half-litre of Guinness?


~ by waffler on September 11, 2007.

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