Thursday, 25 June 2009

Miles Better

Bit of a rant coming up I'm afraid. With sincere apologies to my followers who drive on the wrong side of the road, but is anybody else out there getting sick of seeing and hearing 'kilometres' used instead of the statutory 'miles'. Who made the decision that our English distances should be annotated thus? I've seen it on signs warning of temporary roadworks, I see its use all the time in the press (even the Telegraph for God's sake) and I've lost count at how many times the BBC trot it out. But I threw coffee all over my freshly-laundered sheets this morning as a reporter on the Today programme talked about a 50 miles per hour speed limit being imposed on a 12 kilometre stretch of the 'dangerous' Buxton to Macclesfield road. Who said that it was perfectly acceptable to do this? I imagine it's part of yet another insidious government programme to remove every last shred of 'English Difference' with Orwellian Newspeak. What are they teaching in schools? If one of my boys says 'kilometres' to say how far he went on a Scouting expedition he knows he runs the risk of having to go and sit in his bedroom for an hour with a 1957 AA Handbook. Maybe it's a sore point with me because I was obliged to give metric equivalents for Built for Britain's international market, but here at home I don't want the signposts changed to read 'Steeple Bumpstead 3km'. 'But I have promises to keep, / And kilometres to go before I sleep...' as Robert Frost didn't say.

26 comments:

Puddler said...

Peter, I think you may have something here...an anthology of metric poetry.

Two point four kilometres, two point four kilometres,
Two point four kilometres onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Peter Ashley said...

Thankyou Puddler, excellent.

DC said...

And the well-known (even to Unmitigated ears?) Proclaimers song wouldn't sound quite so effective if it ran:

" But I would walk eight hundred and four point six seven one kilometres/ and I would walk eight hundred and four point six seven one more/Just to be the man who walked sixteen hundred and nine point three four kilometres/To fall down at your door.

chris said...

Don't give in to those dastardly metric fanatics. To paraphrase the old adage, give 'em a centimetre and they'll take a kilometre.

williamandemma said...

On a slightly different imperial / metric topic... When it is cold I like to know what the temperature is in Celsius but when it gets hot I like the temperature in Fahrenheit. But I totally agree about the miles kilometres business - miles all the way for me.

Puddler said...

williamandemma - how true, I'm just the same. So when the media say it's going to get to 25 today, I'm only a little the wiser. Was the dismissal of Fahrenheit an insidious EU thing?

Jon Dudley said...

You're on a roll Mr.A. Encouraging the boys to digest old AA handbooks is an excellent idea...adding a test of mileages between your local villages would be very good for them - maybe the reward of a sherbet fountain each would encourage their diligence.

I think Puddler may have created a new game for 'I'm sorry I haven't a clue - "The metrication of well known poems - let's start with you, Barry..."

Is it the heat or have you been taking extra strong curmudgeonly tablets?

Peter Ashley said...

I agree with the thing about fahrenheit. I too have no idea what the temperature is now. Just hot, cold, raining, not raining, not raining yet.

And Jon, you're right, I'm not good in hot sun. I'm more of a spring / autumn chap. Roasting my chestnuts by an open fire, blue wreaths of woodsmoke curling up through the bare branches of the ash and oak, the....

Philip Wilkinson said...

Publishers' unquenchable desire for metric equivalents and, increasingly, for metric measurements alone, makes me spit too. I'd thought that the mile, at least, was safe, but it seems not. Let's hear it now for a campaign to save the mile - and restore the rod, pole, or perch.

Simon said...

Restore the Rod and spare the child?

Peter Ashley said...

Good idea Wilko. Let's start a campaign now. What do we think? 'Miles Better'? Other suggestions welcome.

Puddler said...

Miles Apart? No, on second thoughts, too devisive.

Thud said...

We are told we must join in the metric world to survive...funny how America manages on miles.I must admit to getting away with speeding in California by pleading my European credentials "I only understand kilometres officer"....sad and shameful I know.

accountant said...

I agree entirely, I was in the butchers ( Bates in Harborough, very fine fluted Ionic columns, circa 1800)last Saturday and when I asked for a quarter of mince I was asked whether this was pounds or kilos. After expressing my surprise at being asked such a question, he told me more customers are using kilos mostly the younger generation.

I have just purchased the new book, it looks great, I'm afraid to say that your text has already been overtaken by events. When I crossed the QE11 bridge last weekend on the way to Rochester it cost £1.50 not the £1 in the book.

Going back to an earlier blog, why is Slawston so up tight about mincers. Surely now that you are the proud owner of one that means there are two in the village, meaning there is a spare in case of emergencies. It reminds very much of the mincer my mother had when I was a child.

Peter Ashley said...

Oh Accountant, you've blown my cover. Now I'll have Hallaton coming down here to borrow it. Mincer Wars.

accountant said...

Mincer Wars! Life in the Welland Valley is certainly rougher than when I was in Welham.

Diplomate said...

Fortunately there are good few oppos in the construction industry who are ambidimensionalist. I for one am very happy call out from the business end of the tape " that'll be two poles, four metres, one foot, three centimetres and 15/32..." - "crikey - spot on!" is the happy refrain.

Sue said...

As one who drives on the right, the left and sometimes down the middle, I'm not offended, but up in arms with you.
My friend's son is called Miles. Will he have to change his name?
And Miles are cool and hip out here behind the sauerkraut curtain. Guess what Lufthansa's bonus scheme is called - yes, "Miles and More"!

Toby Savage said...

The now closed Knighton Timber, here in Leicester was run by a proper grumpy old bloke. When a Weights and Measures Inspector, checking him out for full metrification, asked him how he sold his timber, he replied 'By the length!'.

Us Photographers used all - 35mm (Who could now Imperialise that?) Two and a quarter square - inches, and 5x4 - inches. Marvelously reprints are still imperial with paper supplied as 6x4, 7x5 and 10x8 inches. Though they put the awkward metric size in small letters too. Buggers!

ChrisP said...

Actually, when it comes to paper I am a big fan of the Continental system (A4 etc) because it is based not on metric or Imperial but simply on the sides being in the ratio of one to the square root of two.

Vinogirl said...

Nice little 'lollipop' speed sign.

Ron Combo said...

Here in Italy TV screens are in inches (why?) and also I think that plumbing measures are in inches (although I could well be wrong after a shedload of Barbera d'Asti, perhaps I dreamt it). Internationally all nautical measurements are imperial, using knots and miles so all is not (quite) lost. However I agree. Stop the BBC licence fee and all this km nonsense will evaporate. They'll soon realise which side of their Hovis is buttered.

Peter Ashley said...

Thankyou Ron. I nominate you as PR Press Person. Anyone second that?

And yes, Sue. Your son must be taken to the nearest Bundespost (?) and fill in triplicate A4 forms to have his name changed immediately to 'Kilo'.

Peter Ashley said...

Sorry Sue, I meant your friend's son of course. This heat's getting to me.

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