Like medicinal cannabis, the Johnson government is proposing to decriminalise the personal use of imperial measurements. It means that I won’t any longer risk prosecution if I weigh out a pound of tomatoes using grandma’s old scales. Since the year 2000, pounds and ounces have had no official status within UK law.
To understand how this works, imagine that I walk into my local McDonalds Restaurant and demand a ‘Quarter Pounder’. I will be served a freshly cooked hamburger with a pre-cooked minimum weight of 113.4 grammes (maybe slightly larger). What makes the sale ‘legal’ under UK law is the fact that the metric equivalent is prominently displayed. In effect in the UK, the term ‘Quarter Pounder’, is purely an international McDonalds trademark that is used to advertise a range of products, not its weight. It is pure coincidence that its equivalent pre-cooked imperial size happens to be approximately 4 ounces. Long after pounds and ounces have passed into UK history books, customers may still be ordering Quarter Pounders, without giving any thought to the pre-cooked weight, until McDonalds itself decides to change the names of its products. It is also worth mentioning that in countries that have never used imperial or customary units of measurements, McDonald’s advertises its equivalent product under the name “Royale”, a fact which John Travolta made famous in his 1995 film Pulp fiction. I’ve also got a vested interest in this latest government proposal because for the past few months I’ve been writing a book about imperial measurements.
What? You’re writing a book about imperial measurements? That’s madness! Don’t you know that 96% of the world’s population has already gone metric?
Yes-I know it’s insane. And I’m not trying to defend my sanity. But I also know it takes the Earth 365¼ days to go round the sun. Try metricating that! I also know that the world’s largest economy has barely started to go metric. And that American Tech has more influence over our lives than the dictates of any national government.
So if you’d like to send me a message, I’ll try to get you a free electronic copy of my forthcoming book as soon as it comes out. Thank you.