In these uncertain times, politicians are often keen to point out areas where Britain leads the world. We have a suggestion: creating a measurement muddle. Examples follow.
One of our readers has drawn our attention to his Ageas Countrywide Avenues House & Home Insurance Policy. In the Policy booklet dated Oct 2017, under ‘Buildings and contents, section five, STORM’, it is stated:
“By a storm, we mean … winds over 55mph … Rainfall … more than an inch falls in an hour. Snow … if 12 inches or more falls in a 24 hour period.”
However, when we consulted our home insurance policy, issued by Towergate Insurance, we read:
The property “Is free from rivers, streams or tidal waters within 500 metres of its vicinity”.
So, rain or snow falling on a property insured by Ageas will be measured in Imperial, but after it reaches the ground Towergate will assess the resulting risk by its distance away in metres. Hmmm.
On Wednesday, we picked up the Evening Standard and, while browsing the Homes & Property section, we noticed, even before we had passed page 3, the following:
“… Harry the Hermit, who won squatters’ rights to a half-acre plot on the edge of Hampstead Heath …”
“Glamour comes big for this power couple with 3,300sq ft of space …”
“For extra pampering, there is a 25-metre residents’ swimming pool, …”
So whether you are a hermit or a power couple, your property will be sized in Imperial, but as soon as you visit the pool you will need to think metric.
Pages 6 and 7, listing the winners of the New Homes Awards 2018, we noted references to:
“Generous-size houses, typically 2,000sq ft”,
“the lovely green backdrop of the 200 acre Syon Park”, and
“A vast open-plan living space stretches to 21.6 metres”.
But we weren’t quite sure what to make of this:
“a programmable mood lighting system has no fewer that 2,700 Kelvin warm white lamps.”
There again, if you are muddling through with two measurement systems, you can’t be expected to be expert in either.
The advantages of being the world leader in the creation of a measurement muddle are open to discussion. Britain does benefit from being the origin of the world’s most popular second language. But is our hybrid mix of metric and Imperial measurements likely to catch on? We think not. It took less than 200 years for the metric system to be adopted by all but a handful of the countries of the world, and in the 21st century there is no sign of a retreat. But that won’t, it seems, stop Britain carrying on muddling.