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RICHARD ORD: Getting the true measure of Boris Johnson is pretty easy to do

Moves are afoot (which is exactly 30 centimetres) to reintroduce imperial measurements following an outcry from the British public.

By Richard Ord
Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 12:00 am

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LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25:  Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a press conference in response to the publication of the Sue Gray report Into "Partygate" at Downing Street on May 25, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal - WPA Pool /Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25: Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a press conference in response to the publication of the Sue Gray report Into "Partygate" at Downing Street on May 25, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal - WPA Pool /Getty Images)

If you didn’t hear that outcry, it’s possibly because you were distracted by the Partygate scandal that was detracting from the ‘real and important’ business of the government. That business, of course, being a determination by the Prime Minister to distract the public from his current scandal. Not those other older scandals (you’ve probably forgotten about them), but the new one for which he has kindly apologised (I think) and for which he has been fined.

So, from nowhere, the government is trying to move on by digging up classic, divisive pub banter which to the cynic serves only to get us arguing with ourselves rather than questioning Boris’s suitability for leading the country.

There is no need to reintroduce imperial measurements, mainly because they haven’t gone away. They were happily just fading into the ether.

You can still drink pints of beer in the pub, but pints of milk have, for the most part, been usurped (and slurped) by litre cartons in supermarkets.

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Gallons disappeared with little more than a whimper to be replaced by litres on the petrol forecourt. Motorists shake their fists at rising petrol prices, not whether they’re served up in litres or gallons.

While those in favour of imperial measures consider them to be more user-friendly, I can’t help but think they’re intrinsically confusing.

Take feet for example. The foot is based on the length of a foot. But who has foot-long feet? (Hobbits maybe). And why isn’t it used to measure distance? For distance we use yards, which is based on the length of your arm. So why not call them arms instead of yards? And once you get your head around arm lengths measuring distance, we’re told to measure the height of a horse in hands! Why not feet? Or, better still, in hooves?

In water, measurements become more confusing. Nautical miles and knots are killers. The latter is based on a rope tied to a bit of wood chucked into the sea from a moving vessel and going through the water with knots tied every 47 feet and three inches, passing through a sailor’s fingers every 28 seconds. Once you have that pictured in your mind, you will, for a moment, forget that Boris Johnson is our Prime Minister. Job done.

And as for water depths! Well, I’ll never fathom that one out …