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Letter: Not metriculous.


Dear Editor, - Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the day in 1965 that the President of the Board of Trade told the House of Commons that Britain would join the rest of the modern world by taking on full metrication within ten years.

Ha, ha. What a laugh. Here we are, 40 years on, and we have what could be called a 'Very British Mess (VBM)'. British Industry, with certain dishonourable exceptions, is fully metric. All retail foods are required to be packed in metric sizes, except milk in bottles and beer in glasses.

Children are taught the metric system in school but they go out of school to hear only imperial measures named in normal conversation - and in most instances don't know what the measures actually are, nor how one relates to another.

Expectant mothers go into hospital to give birth. Their newborn is weighed - in kilos - but the mother is told the weight in lb/oz, and that is what all friends and relatives are told.

Does the media use metric? The hell you do. 'Our older readers don't understand metric,' we are told. How old is 'old'? Children have been educated in metric for 40 years. And we have had increasing metrication for all that time. I'm nearly 60 and have been using metric since 1972. Am I old enough to be considered 'older', or are we talking about septa, octo and nonagenarians? Ask a few. See whether they understand the metric system. Maybe you'll get a surprise.

The one area of life in Britain that is totally non-metric is road signs for distance. Or is it? Travel any motorway and there will be signs at the side of the road which have an increasing number with each sign. They are 500 metres apart.

So, we can remember and celebrate VE Day, 60 years ago, but we can't even remember that we started the long haul towards metrication to join the rest of the world (bar the USA), 40 years ago.

Oh, yes. A Very British Mess

DANNY COLLMAN Handsworth Wood


Mixing up metric and imperial
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 25, 2005
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