Umm, how?

In the film, we see Carle out with members from the Active Resistance to Metrication, whose undercover late-night operations involve changing road signs from metres and kilometres to yards and miles.

“They were mostly older men, Brexiters who said the English had used their own system for ever and they didn’t see why it had to change. They were real rebels, but ultra-polite and correct and very precise about how they pasted their stickers,” he says.

Road signs in Britain are in miles. By law they’re in miles.

45 thoughts on “Umm, how?”

  1. I’ve seen a few “Give Way 125m” or similar, but that was a long while back, probably back in the ’90s; and those soon got adjusted unofficially, even if just by being defaced. But I’ve not seen any in recent years.

  2. My german bathroom scale, has a stones and pounds setting. Which delighted me when i discovered it and started to use. But it isn’t half annoying that the pound reading is given to one decimal place and I’m caught in a dilemma whether to go full metric to avoid this annoyance..

  3. “gives two bises (a peck on each cheek – very French) ”

    Sure he’s not Spanish?. In France deux est pour la grand-mere

  4. I’ve never understood why some people are still emotionally attached to the archaic imperial weights and measures system. It is a complete and utter mess of arbitrary and random multiples. The metric system is far more logical and sensible. I suppose we hate it because it’s French.

  5. Unlike every other protest by every other disgruntled group, these old boys are converting illegal objects to comply with the law.

    Seems a bit more productive than pretending to glue yourself to the road.

  6. He’s not English, bis, what particular type of non-English person is of little importance.

    Wogs begin at Calais, Gretna, Abergavenny and Bude.

  7. Are the French really taught that Joan of Arc drove the English out of France?

    I remember ‘learning’ that it woz the Evil Brits wot burned her at the stake; but visiting Rouen and the Museum of Joan of Arc, I discover that it was the perfidious French wot done it; in fact, the Church itself. A local bishop (who’d sold out to the English) stitched her up for heresy, which was a burning offense. That time. Plus, her string o’victories was rather short.

    http://www.historial-jeannedarc.fr

  8. Imperial’s logical because it’s fit for purpose. Lengths are duodecimal feet. Divisible by 2,3 & 4 into inches. Pounds can de divided four times by two to get an ounce. These are measures for people who do things. The carpenter. The baker.And what other purpose does measurement have? To provide pretty round numbers for mathematicians?

    I use both. Whichever is better for the purpose in hand. (Or three if you count oz troy) And can do the conversions between them in my head. What’s the problem?

  9. ““Still,” he perks up: “At a time when everyone watches the same television series, listens to the same music and has the same cultural references, it’s good that there are so many differences between countries that are so close. We don’t need to all have the same cultural identity.””

    I mean, they’ve got the same shit we do. But it’s the little differences.

    I go to France every year on holiday. mostly for the weather, but I also like the food and the historical sights. The single, number 1 difference I see is that France just isn’t as hot with the internet like the UK. Like, they still have lots of bookshops. When Google Maps tells you to get off the Autoroute because of a jam up ahead, not many cars turn off. Quite a lot of them are British.

    And customer service is like Britain in the 1980s (except McDonalds). Everyone is doing you a favour selling you something.

  10. I’m a Londoner, Doc Bud. To quote a recent post of our host, anything north of the Marylebone Road can be dismissed as being forrin’.& inexplicable & ignored..

  11. @Stony… True, the old units are a mish-mash of arbitrary and random multiples – I guess that’s because they evolved rather than were imposed. Mind you, it’s worth noting that the forrinners still use seconds, minutes, hours etc…

    However, on the plus side, using mixed radix arithmetic, 16:1, 14:1, 8:1, 20:1 for weight, 12:1, 3:1, 220:1, 8:1 for distance and 4(or 2):1, 12:1, 20:1 for currency, etc. etc. made us old buggers a damned-site better at mental arithmetic than the present “decimalised (in everything)” generation – despite them being “far better educated”. 🙂

  12. Worth pointing out, M’lud Jackfield, the Imperial system only looks complicated if your try & use all the various measures together. Which, in practice, was never done. A carpenter works in feet & inches. A bricklayer may add yards. A haulier uses miles, a farmer chains & furlongs. A goldsmith uses troy, a baker pounds & ounces (imp) & a collier hundredweights & tons. At no time was anyone interested in how many inches made a furlong or ounces a ton.

  13. “Still,” he perks up: “At a time when everyone watches the same television series, listens to the same music and has the same cultural references

    U wot m8?

    Was he flash-frozen in an Alpine glacier circa 1996 and only recently thawed out?

    Surely the story of the last 20 years is cultural archipeligofication due to the explosion in digital content and multiplication of distribution channels.

    The days when 20 million people would sit down to watch Allo Allo or something are long gone, and a lot of what the kids do (Fortnite, Tik Tok, changing gender) is completely mystifying to anyone over the age of 35. The pop charts don’t really mean anything anymore in the age of streaming.

    So nah, mass culture has congealed to the lowest possible common denominator of Disney-Marvel-Fox’s endless capeshit movies and the odd other breakout franchise like the one about the private wizard’s school where kids keep dying and the magic bank is run by anti-semitical stereotypes. It gets a lot more fractal after that.

  14. And as I’ve pointed out on this site many times before, the preferred sizes & weights of stuff in the metric system are largely just the Imperial preferred sizes expressed in metric. Kitchen tops are set at 915mm, doors are 2033 high (or 1982). Timber comes in increments of 30cm.
    The Imperial system fits the human form. That’s where the interval were derived from. Metric is arbitrary.

  15. BiS, Pounds to ounces make sense, but I’m curious why a stone is 14 pounds. Hmmm… doesn’t follow your logic. Jus’ wundrin’….

    Meanwhile, I’ll stick to nautical miles, knots and fathoms.

  16. Baron Jackfield, talking of mental arithmetic, my loved but long departed grandfather, a master butcher, left school at 12, but could calculate princes in pounds, shillings and pence for quantities pounds and ounces.

    Thus, 1lb 5oz of steak at 5/8d a lb was….err…um…

  17. “And our 3-pin electric plugs are better as well!”
    Are they ever! Something I struggle with ever day. Getting a two pin 16A plug into its circular recessed socket. Half of which have the pin holes set at angles. The english square three-pin goes sweetly into it’s socket blindfolded in the dark. The earth pin is designed longer, broader & vertically orientated to facilitate this. And it doesn’t fall out again at the slightest tug.

  18. I mentally work out that I need multiples of 10-foot lengths of 25mm piping, and 3m of 2-by-4, and multiple feet of 2.5mm cable…

  19. BiS: *plus* the cable comes out at the side, so is flush with the wall, instead of sticking out into the room/desk/counter space, like those morons who queue up for an ATM across the pavement.

  20. One of life’s mysteries. With the exception of the French version (which has an earth pin in the socket) Euro plugs, both 16A & 5A, can be inserted in their sockets either way up. So why do they insist that cables to appliances have colour coded wires? They do not inform you whether an individual wire is neutral or live. That would depend on which way up you put the plug in the socket.

  21. To be fair, jgh, you can buy side entry Euro plugs. And extremely low profile. They have a handle hinges up for pulling them out of the socket.
    But in general, Europeans don’t like innovation. In the UK I did interior design. I had an enormous range of styles, colours & designs of electrical outlets to choose from. Chrome looks good in kitchens, brass in traditional living rools. Or ranges of bright colours for dramatic effect. And plugs & cables to match.
    Euro fittings come in white black & an extremely naff faux woodgrain. And that’s it.

  22. Many signs for local facilities put up by councils are in metres/km. Not sure if these are covered by the “imperial only” legislation.

  23. “The english square three-pin goes sweetly into it’s socket blindfolded in the dark. The earth pin is designed longer, broader & vertically orientated to facilitate this.”

    The longer length of the earth pin is also to act as a opening device for the covers that close up the live pin holes. These prevent curious children from poking objects into the live wires. The longer earth pin pushes the covers aside internally as it enters the socket, clearing the way for the shorter live pins to enter.

  24. “BiS, Pounds to ounces make sense, but I’m curious why a stone is 14 pounds. Hmmm… doesn’t follow your logic. Jus’ wundrin’”
    Stones & pounds aren’t in the same measuring sequence. That’s just where the scales intersect. Stones is part of the quarters, hundredweights, tons sequence used for bulky commodities. No-one”s interested in the odd pound. It’s below the required level of accuracy. A thing would be a bit over a stone or a bit over.
    It’s like the troy scale. There’s a pound, ounce, pennyweight & grain. The intervals are the same as £.s.d There’s no troy ton. Converting.troy to imperial’s tricky but no-one ever needed to do it.Troy’s for weighing down to very small quantities. You don’t measure diamonds & gold by the ton or tonne.

  25. Regarding the 13A 3-pin… I think that apart from the shutters being opened by the longer earth pin, there’s an additional safety aspect in that the appliance is automatically earthed before any power is fed to it. Now largely negated by “double insulation” and no earth wire in the power cord!

    @BiS – I note that I missed out Chains in my “distance” measurement scale… You can tell that I’m not much of a cricket enthusiast! 🙂

  26. Nautical Nick: there are 14 pounds to the stone, 28 to the quarter, because there are 7 days to the week. One stone of supplies gives you 2 lb per day for a week, or 1 lb per day for a fortnight.

    The mad revolutionary French did try going over to a decimal, 10-day week, but it was never popular. There are more working days in a year of 10-day weeks. Napoleon abolished it.

    Someone who once worked on a French building site told me that the carpenters still thought in terms of pouces and pieds: twelve of one to one of the other.

  27. “The longer length of the earth pin is also to act as a opening device for the covers that close up the live pin holes. These prevent curious children from poking objects into the live wires. The longer earth pin pushes the covers aside internally as it enters the socket, clearing the way for the shorter live pins to enter.”
    Worth noting, with the recessed circular entry Euro 16A sockets, it’s only the smallest of hands can manage to insert something into the pin receptical & electrocute themselves. Something I’m not entirely critical of. Evolution in action & towards a quieter life. They have, after all, only a 50% chance of hitting the live side.

  28. If you hear people in Jamaica talk, they still use chains as a normal unit of discourse.
    On motorways in the UK, the distance boards are in km and the markers between them every 100m. However what really puzzles me is that the board distance isn’t a whole number of km – they read 85.2 or something similar.

    As for Euro plugs, I still have to struggle with adaptors when we visit the Canaries – the adaptors, with the weight of the UK plug & wire, fall out of those little vertical 2-pin thingies, as the spring contacts inside lose their springiness with time.

    Wire colours piss me off the most. I think the only reason we went from red/black for live/neutral is that the Yanks use black for live over there. So now we have brown/blue as a compromise, and because of that we have to go from Red/Yellow/Blue/Black for 3-phase to Brown/Grey/Black/Blue. Have I got the colours in the right order, and can I distinguish them in a dark wiring closet? I did note in the recent power collywobbles in the UK, the interim report talks of the initiating lightning strike taking out the Blue phase. So I did have a small cheer.

  29. “Lengths are duodecimal feet. Divisible by 2,3 & 4 into inches.”

    Mind you I used to chuckle at the thou.

    Yanks call the thou a mil. So what do they call a millilitre?

  30. “Before I made this film, I would have said I was 25 to 30% English. Now, although I feel more French, I have a greater respect for the English, because I realise I’m not one of them. Today, I feel 10% English.”

    Surely, if anyone from the third world who sets foot in England is English, then any Frog who comes here must be too?

  31. The new wiring colours came into force when part P of the regulations came out, prohibiting all but the qualified to do most domestic wiring jobs. Some believe it was a way of working out whether a mere amateur had committed the dreadful sin of installing a spur socket after the implementation, and could therefore be hauled before the beak and fined. Of course if one was clever enough to stockpile a few hundreds yards of the old colours before they became unavailable…

  32. @Maritime Barbarian “And our 3-pin electric plugs are better as well!”

    Except when you step on them! 🙂

    @Jim. The earth pin opens up the socket’s covers. That’s the plastic “safety” covers for sockets is not required. They are actually dangerous because the plastic cover can be used to open the socket and expose the live connections.

  33. gus,
    the new wiring colours predate part p by many years.
    the justification for the colours apparently being for the benefit of colour blind electricians. and the confusion of everyone else.
    there is no justification for part p other than a conspiracy of a trade to fleece the public.

  34. Bloke in North Dorset

    Ref electrical plugs and sockets..

    IIRC historically in UK neutral is grounded at the substation so it’s really important that appliances are plugged in the correct way round. On the continent they aren’t so it didn’t matter which way round the plug went in.

    As someone said, this isn’t an issue now that electrical goods are double insulated.

  35. @bloke in spain September 1, 2019 at 10:15 am

    +1 I too use both

    eg wood 2×1, 2×4, 6×2 etc

    eg tools – much easier to work with 8,10,13,15,17…34mm bolts, spanners, sockets etc than x/y”

    Sockets go on 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″ sq drive ratchets, bars

    .
    @Bloke on M4 September 1, 2019 at 10:15 am

    customer service is like Britain in the 1970s (except BK, McDonalds etc). Everyone is doing you a favour selling you something.

    That is my experience in Sweden – although Anglos are treated much better than Sweeples

    .
    @nautical nick

    A stone is 14 pounds (Edward III) iirc a Stone (~7kg) was the weight of a large stone a builder, mason etc could comfortably handle.

    Stephen may also be correct

  36. “If you hear people in Jamaica talk, they still use chains as a normal unit of discourse.”

    Just like your average footie supporter then….

  37. In France deux est pour la grand-mere

    perhaps ‘c’est’ in lieu of ‘est’ by itself?

    There are variations also relating to class.

  38. @TMB
    My friench is lousy. Not helped by a lot of the French i know speaking really lousy French themselves. Street french, not out of a book. I couldn’t write it.

  39. @BiS
    Which of course can’t be said of the UK, where everyone speaks the Queen’s English and don’t have an unintelligible dialect at all…. 😛

  40. Grikath: everyone speaks the Queen’s English and don’t have an unintelligible dialect

    QED

    @BiS – mostly I come here for the latin.

  41. In my experience of making the odd power supply for American voltages, white is the neutral (because it’s a neutral colour) and black is the live ( because that’s what your relatives will be wearing if you touch it).

  42. All railways measure curve radius in chains, although I won’t swear that some continental ones don’t bodge it by using multiples of 20m.

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