# Two measuring systems spell ton(ne)s of confusion.

Byline: ALUN PUGH

WHEN it comes to weights and measures the UK is in a league, or 4.8 kilometres, of our own.

Progress along the optimistically titled North Wales Expressway is measured in miles.

But when you head for the hills you start walking in kilometres because the Ordnance Survey went metric decades ago; you will look in vain for yards and miles on a mountain map.

Against the nameYr Wyddfa is printed the number 1085: the height, in metres, of our nation's highest point.

Beer is served in pints, but petrol in litres.

That's really handy when fuel consumption is often quoted in mpg. We have tons and tonnes; it's a perfect recipe for ton(ne)s of confusion.

Derek Brockway, Wales Today's resident weather sage, has for been saying for years: "tomorrow it will be cold and wet.

Top temperature 8 degrees in Llandudno, that's 46 degrees Fahrenheit". He should add: "for anybody who won't use a simple, international, water-based 100 point scale and insists on using a less sensible way of measuring temperature".

Things don't have to be as daft as this. The metric system is a much more logical system that unifies the various weights and measures. It's based on a decimal system to make calculations simple and is used by nearly all the world.

The only disadvantage is that it was originally designed by the cheese eating, surrender monkeys on the other side of the English Channel rather than the glorious empire that gave the human race Greenwich Mean Time together with some rather less useful measuring tools.

Imperial weights and measures belong in St Fagan's.

It's not that we are incapable of change; I'm old enough to remember the switch over to decimal currency in 1971. There was a "big bang" approach, complete with lots of advertising and a clear governmental strategy. Things were a bit confusing for a day or so but, being sentient mammals capable of figuring out quantum physics, we soon got the hang of it.

In contrast, metrication is a numerical soap opera that has been running for far longer than Pobl y Cwm.

Lined up against change are the forces of inertia and the so-called metric martyrs. In the fine old English tradition of eccentricity, to put it mildly, the shopkeepers amongst them declare that they are prepared to go to jail to defend the ounce. There are a very small number of principles that I am prepared to go to prison to defend. The right to purchase minced beef in quarter pound increments is certainly not one of them.

The martyrs are, no doubt, one reason why the switch to metric is proceeding at the pace of a vehicle along the A55 when the cones have been left out. It would be tidy, as they say in the Valleys, to sort this metric muddle out. Preferably before I am 1.82 metres under.