Looking for a lead out of the UK’s measurement muddle? The last government showed no desire to become involved, and now the present government appears to be following in its footsteps. Metric Views recently came across a comment elsewhere which prompted speculation on a way forward.
A reader recently wrote this:
“The campaign to shift the UK onto a sensible time zone is back in the news. I see this as a very similar campaign to our own, and one which may give us some pointers to how to (or not to) influence the government and achieve change in this country.
Today’s rhetoric from the UK government may not be comfortable reading. They are effectively opting out of all responsibility for leading, and claiming that the government’s role is to follow public opinion on this issue. If they take the same approach on metrication, then we proponents have got a steep hill to climb.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said any plans to give the UK brighter and longer evenings will only become a reality if it’s clear that the country is behind it.”
So, how can proponents gain and demonstrate public support for issues such as daylight saving and ending the measurement muddle, when these have been pigeon holed by government as ‘too difficult’, ‘ideologically unimportant’ or even as ‘wait and see’?
Metric Views is not qualified to offer advice to those promoting daylight saving. But on the measurement muddle, we will continue point out the consequences of current policies. Our hope is that progress will become a reality before it becomes clear to the country that continuing damage to the UK economy can no longer be sustained.
So what has this to do with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?
‘The Dragon Tattoo’ is the first of three thrillers written by Stieg Larsson and originally published in Sweden in 2005. The Times book critic wrote of the English translation: “A publishing sensation, an accomplished crime writer who seemingly came from nowhere … A gripping crime novel that lives up to the hype”. Several themes in the first book, including cyber crime and the ethics of investigative journalism, place it firmly in the 21st century, and the measures used in the English translation (by Reg Keeland) are , with one exception, metric. All three books became worldwide best sellers.
Partly as a result of the pervasive US influence in Britain, for example in TV, in film and even in the description of lap tops and notebooks, kids and their parents might be forgiven for thinking that metric is for school, and feet and inches rule elsewhere. ‘The Dragon Tattoo’ shows otherwise, and also links metric measurements firmly to this century. Some of its readers may infer that Imperial measures really do belong to the heyday of empire and the 19th century.
Of course, these three novels, no matter how popular, will neither change public perception and attitudes nor bring the country behind metric measures. But they will have nudged some of the public in that direction. We just need a stream of other examples, not only in books but also in broadcasting, film and the press.
Perhaps as a start, an Australian author could produce a few worldwide best sellers.