Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Will the BBC take heed?

Now that our real government has decreed that we can retain our traditional weights and measures after all, do you think it is possible that the BBC will stop trying to force the metric system on us?

Of course, it should be said that our education system should now desist from teaching metric alone (they never should have started) and go back to telling our kids about yards, feet and inches - measurements which are not only more human, but knitted into the very language we use. There was never any need for our schools to go the whole nine yards and teach metric only, but if you give 'em an inch they take a mile.

Imperial measurements are based on human characteristics. An inch is roughly the width of an adult male thumb, a foot is roughly the distance from the wrist to the tip of the elbow and a yard is roughly the distance from the tip of the nose to the tip of an outstretched arm - the whole point being that no matter where you were or who you were you would always have a rough and ready method of measuring.

Metric, on the other hand, is based on a miscalculation by a couple of Napoleonic flunkeys.

The BBC are the worst culprits. They insist on giving measurements in metric - whether it is rain/snow fall in millimetres in the weather reports or distances from locations in kilometres in news reports. The funny thing is, when they start talking about human characteristics they always resort to imperial measurements. They give the height of a suspect in feet and inches and weight in stones.

That's because even after years of being taught nothing but metric at school, people still measure themselves in feet and inches and weight themselves in stones and pounds. It's also because if they said on Crimewatch that the police were looking for a suspect who was 178 cm tall and weighed 86 kg no one would have a clue if they were fat, thin, tall or short.

Now that the EU have graciously (that's sarcasm, by the way) allowed us to retain our measurements our government should pass a law insisting that these are taught in schools and used in the media as they already have for road signs.

The BBC should start with the weather report. When they say there will be 25 mm of rain few people know what that is without thinking about it, but if they said an inch instead we'd all know that was roughly the width of our thumb and we'd know that instantly and instinctively. Simple and very very human.

Now that the EU have finally stopped trying to force metric on us, our own government, media and broadcasters should do the same.

1 comment:

Blognor Regis said...

According to the BBC's Coast programme the girders on the Forth Bridge are "61cm". 'Cos Victorian engineers all used metric and also, what a co-incidence that this figure just happens to equal 2 feet.