The old and the new – in 3d.

It’s budget day. Ozzie didn’t put up the price of booze and like Nothing2Declare, I don’t care what he does to the price of tobacco. The rest of it is pretty much the same-old same-old bleating about how they are doing their best for us and aren’t really screwing us for every penny at all. I haven’t enough interest to read most of it. The bits that affect me are the no-increase in booze prices and the raising of the tax threshold a little closer to my current total income.

If I had still been in mainstream science I would, by now, certainly have been caught by the 40% tax band. I have only paid 40% tax in one tax year and resolved never to work hard enough again to get to the point where I’m busting a gut for half pay. Now I am safely below that band. For the moment. I can see a time coming when the tax-free band hits the 40% band and the 20% band disappears entirely.

I doubt I could really have stayed in what science has become. When our department was closed back in 2005, the boss’s closing speech included the very telling line ‘When I started, we were chasing knowledge. Now we are just chasing money’. Perhaps if I wasn’t so old-school and could accept ‘just chasing money’, I’d have had more businesses paying me to prove their prewritten conclusions. As it is, I once lost a big contract by pointing out that probiotic bacteria could not possibly survive in sausages, not even vegetarian ones, because sausages have to be cooked right through no matter what they are made of. The contamination risk is not so much in the meat or veg content as in the way they are made. Anyway, that’s history now.

We are to get a new pound coin, one that looks like the bastard child of a new £2 coin and an old threepenny bit. As Mark Wadsworth points out, the new design is fitting because that threepenny bit is pretty much all the pound is worth now.

For those who are still in the first flush of youth or even in the second flush of early middle age, the old threepenny bit was more commonly written as 3d. The letter ‘d’ was used to denote pennies, ‘s’ for shillings and the same big flowery ‘L’ for pounds. It was known as the Lsd system because, as with most Imperial measurement schemes, it was clearly designed by people who were off their faces pretty much all the time. None of it made any sense at all.

One pound was composed of twenty shillings. Each shilling contained twelve pence. So rather than the 100 pennies to the pound we have now, before 1970 there were 240 pennies in a pound. They were proper pennies too, great big round ones the size of a modern 2p.

So, 3d is 3/240ths of a pound, 1.25 new pennies. They did indeed have ‘new pence’ stamped on them at the beginning. I can’t recall when they dropped the ‘new’.

We also had halfpennies and (slightly before my time) farthings, which were quarter-pennies. You could actually buy a small amount in a sweet shop with a halfpenny in the 1960s. That’s 0.2p. The new pennies also had halfpennies, tiny things that were needed to try to match the old prices with the new. They went away years ago. There isn’t much you can buy with 1p now, so half-p is pointless.

There isn’t a great deal you can buy with 10p, if it comes to that. 10p was 24 old pennies or two shillings, a mighty coin in the hands of a child in 1966. The modern 50p was ten shillings and that was not a coin. It was a note! It was the sort of thing you’d open a bank account with or, if you had it for your birthday when about nine, you went to the model shop and bought one of the really big plastic kits. Then used the change for enough sweets to make yourself sick – including candy cigarettes and Old Jamaica rum-flavoured chocolate.

The rum-flavoured chocolate might have been later. I do remember stuffing it down and feeling rotten because stuffing down chocolate can do that to you. I doubt there was any real rum in there but still, it could be the reason I don’t much like rum now.

Aside from the £1 and 10s notes (yes, younglings, £1 used to be a note) there were coins. Halfpenny (referred to as ha’penny), penny, 3d, 6d and then shilling (often called a ‘bob’). After that, 2s, (two bob) then the half-crown… okay, you’re baffled now aren’t you? A half-crown was 2s 6d, or 12.5 new pence. The crown was a 5s coin, I never saw one of those.

Then the ten-bob note and then the pound… and then the guinea. Hahaha, yes, it was mad. A guinea was 21 shillings, £1 1s, so if something was 20 guineas it was £21.

We had to just learn it. From a very early age, because coming back from the corner shop with Dad’s fags and the wrong change would send (coal face miner) Dad into a bad mood and that was to be avoided. He wasn’t violent to us kids, he didn’t need to, he just had to look as though he might.

So we knew. We learned it. At infant school we learned about six four gills to the pint, eight pints to the gallon…. twelve inches to the foot, three feet to the yard, 1760 yards to the mile… sixteen ounces to the pound, fourteen pounds to the stone and much more random insanity.

Then it all went decimal and everything divided by ten. I was just about to move from primary school to grammar school (which later became comprehensive but that was OK with me because it gave me access to metalwork class) so ditching the random for the easy seemed like a good thing at the time.

Once, I reduced a kid to tears after he had proudly pronounced all his times-tables up to the ten times table. All I did was ask him if he could do the eleven times table. We had to learn to twelve. Eleven is easy, for the first nine you just replicate the numeral – one eleven is eleven, two elevens are twenty-two etc. In double figures you add the two together and put the result in the middle. 10 x 11 = 110, 12 x 11 = 132…. they don’t know these shortcuts now.

There is worse to come. In my fifty-odd years we have moved from having no, or only monochrome TV, to everyone expecting to have a cinema screen. We have moved from hardly anyone having a landline phone to children expecting to have a pocket phone with a camera and Internet access. The VCR became available when I was about 20, in Betamax and VHS versions. It’s completely gone now, the Betamax died first and I never even saw a laserdisc. Great big chunky reel-to-reel tape recorders became cassette tapes and then CD players and now MP3 players that can fit your entire album collection into your shirt pocket. All in my lifetime.

Nobody even buys CDs any more. You just download the bloody things onto something smaller than a cigarette lighter. I still have vinyl records and some of them are original Beatles singles that appeared in a ’25 random singles for 25p’ closing down sale in the late seventies. There is some strange stuff in those boxes. I’m afraid I wore out Napoleon XIV’s ‘They’re coming to take me away’ and the B side of Manfred Mann’s ‘My name is Jack’  – it was called ‘There is a man’. Worth finding.

It’s not really a new phenomenon though. It’s just accelerating. My grandmother was born before 1900 so powered flight, the motor car, houses with inside toilets and much more would have been culture shocks to her. The thing is, all those innovations she saw are still here. The disposability of invention is the new part. Those CDs are being replaced by downloads and even DVDs are doomed by the streaming services. It all depends on computer world now and like fiat currency, the future is a fiat reality.

The disposability of history is also new. Not just ancient history, but recent history. Sometimes very recent.

Take a look at the things Farcebok throws up. The first one is clearly a  piss-take. It’s along the lines of my current favourite doom-serious comment of ‘Women! Can’t live with them, not allowed to kill them’ that often takes a while to sink in. Most of the rest are exactly what you would expect these days. The hashtag one and the maps one hurt, but do not surprise.

I don’t really connect decimalisation with dumbing down. It’s what everyone else did, 100 centimes to the Franc, same as pretty much every other country. The British were the only ones with the seriously mind-taxing systems in any system of measurement. So, okay, getting in line with the rest of the world might not seem a bad thing.

Then again, in those days we also kept on winning wars and producing world-changing inventions. Since decimalisation and the making of the easy in school maths we produce very little and slap down those who try.

But that’s probably a coincidence. Don’t you think?

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39 thoughts on “The old and the new – in 3d.

  1. Is it a coincidence that Concorde’s first flight was in 1969, two years before decimalisation, and in the 45 years since then no faster passenger aircraft has been in service? In fact, the Concordes all went out of service, so we’re going backwards now.

    I think the British and then Americans had the most inventions patented and made the most scientific discoveries, perhaps because we were more intelligent due to superior brain power having to learn all the different weights and measures and currency (although the USA had 100 cents to the $ for yonks). Even a ream of paper consisted of 20 quires, with a quire being 24 sheets. Now the international standard is 500 sheets in a ream.

    The Germans invented a a fair amount of things, but they’re the major exception before the Far East got their act together.

    Since we all went decimal and industry went metric, the Japanese in particular have caught up and the Chinese have managed to copy what others have invented, but make them much cheaper.

    But with ‘education’ in the West being used to turn the next generation into compliant drones combined with the dumbed down media and the new legislation hampering our industry, we’re definitely on a loser.

    But we still seem to produce plenty of renegades who invent things, but those products are mainly manufactured in China if they prove to be popular.

    Is it a coincidence that we’ve fallen behind, you ask? Imagine doing your accounts in Lsd without a calculator. Sounds like a nightmare, but it’s what people did for centuries and must have increased intelligence, surely?

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    • The mistake you’re making here is in presuming that Concorde was a passenger aircraft; it wasn’t. It was designed as the supersonic replacement for the Vulcan strategic bomber, i.e. a way to deliver a bucket of sunshine to Soviet Russia should the need arise. Werner von Braun’s rocket technology scuppered that one; ballistic missiles are much better at that job than are aircraft.

      Instead of being scrapped, Concorde became a civilian aircraft.

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    • Heh. I did A-levels without a calculator. They were available but not allowed in exams. I still work out most calculations on paper or in my head but have forgotten how to work out square roots. I remember learning that but have lost it.

      Now I see ‘intelligence tests’ in the tabloids which include sums anyone over 40 should be able to do in their heads, with a little note attached saying ‘You can use a calculator’. That’s not testing intelligence, it’s testing an ability to press buttons.

      I’ve decided on the name of the main character in Panoptica. 10538 (yes, nicked from ELO). All that is left at that time is the ability to press buttons and they can’t cope with a whole keyboard’s worth. Nobody sends texts, they send voicemail, computers respond to voices, there is no need to bother with an alphabet at all.

      Finally, I might have something they can’t bring into reality by tomorrow, but I will open the Daily Mail very carefully just in case.

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  2. We designed everything in thousandths of an inch and used slide rules to calculate with. Fixing the decimal point by order-of-magnitude estimate. Well, there were log tables, of course. The Otis King cylindrical slide rule was pretty neat. And those electromechanical calculators that you could warm the lab with by setting them to divide by zero as you went off for your lunch. Yes, doing Fourier analysis using a canned subroutine on a spreadsheet is dumbing down. And yes, writing grant applications that specify in detail the “expected product” isn’t exactly blue skies research. O tempora! O mores! (Oh yes, I did Latin as well as science.)

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    • I saw farthings – I’m sure I still have one somewhere – but never used them.

      You’re right – I was probably thinking in whisky terms (1/6th of a gill in pubs down south). If I had been thinking in Scottish, I’d have got it right (1/4 gill in pubs here).

      Must correct…

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  3. Aah, but 12d to the /- made perfect sense for buying in dozens or 1/2 dozens. Show me a sensible container that contains multiples of 5. Betcha you can still give the price of 1 doz @ tuppence three farthings each, without thinking too hard.

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    • Two and ninepence – I had forgotten how easy that part was! Buying in dozens means you just convert pennies to shillings. The three fathings becomes three quarters of a shilling – ninepence.

      No thought needed at all. Even a politician could do it. Well, some of them.

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  4. Years ago, my father was an amateur bookmaker, and I was sometimes his clerk. Many of the odds on a bookie’s board were (and still are) designed for use with a base-12 Imperial coinage system; even the slang is pre-decimal in parts (“carpet” means three; way back when being sentenced to three years or more meant you got a piece of carpet in your prison cell).

    The era when I was clerking was entirely decimal, for which I’m grateful. Not computerised as it is now, but then a human is mostly faster than a computer on a racecourse, and humans are waterproof as well which is a plus. The only time a computer is nice is when you’ve got a cavalry charge like the Grand National; fast, frenetic betting spread right across a huge field of horses. Normally, a race is ten or twelve horses, and you write the names in working from the betting forecast in the paper, working from the middle of the book outwards. That way the horses you’ll be writing most bets on are in the centre of the page, easiest to find.

    Most punters, I found, were thick. Different racecourses have different breeds of punter; Pontefract has shrewd, sharp small-timers, Wetherby they’re similar but richer. At York the hospitality crowd predominates; drunk and dozy. At Newcastle they’re the most argumentative sods in the country, whereas Chester has some proper knuckle-draggers.

    These pale into insignificance before one lady of a certain age who, in the 1980s, had still not quite come to terms with the decimal money system. She therefore tried to translate everything back to old money, and work things out in that familiar system. Possible, if one has pen, paper and a towering arithmetic intellect but not if you’re a dozy old bat trying to work out what £2 on a 15/2 shot pays for second place on an each way bet (1/5 of the odds for a place bet). Words like “bugger” and “off” came readily to mind in that instance, and back then there was also a 4% tax to be applied on the eventual profit of the bet.

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    • I was ten in 1970, the ideal age for assimilating a new system while still having the old one in my head. Some of the old one has faded now through lack of use (hectares, acres, roods – furlongs and chains etc) but I can quickly refresh it all by looking it up.

      When building something I use whichever system gives the best fit – it’s not unusual to be looking for a piece of wood that’s 3 cm by two inches.

      There used to be much fun to be had by doing spontaneous conversions into old units – especially money. In years past it often gave the oldies (those my age and over) a bit of a shock because we’d still be thinking pennies were pennies. Something priced at 40p would appear in an old head as 3s 4d, so exclaiming ‘Blimey, eight bob for that?’ had the effect of a momentary reality disconnect/reconnect.

      Doesn’t work now. None of the young folk know what the hell I’m talking about.

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      • “Ten chains one furlong. Eight furlongs one mile.” I can still chant that. Not too sure any more about pins and firkins, though. Don’t drink that much beer any more.

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  5. Perhaps it only applies to the U.S., but here I suspect that the current trend to “medicate” young males so as to ensure docility in the classroom has had some negative effect on education outcomes.

    I am not a medical professional, so perhaps pumping half your population full of mind-altering drugs at the same time that the minds in question are being formed is the proper way to go. I wouldn’t have guessed so, but, again, not a professional. That ADHD must be a dangerous condition, to require such a drastic solution.

    I recently had the opportunity to look over math homework for a fourth-grade elementary student. I literally did not recognize the terminology used in the class, and had not the first clue. I have the faint impression that two plus two may still equal four, but would be reluctant to testify so in court.

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    • They used to medicate the naughty among us with the liberal topical application of a cane, a ruler or a board rubber. They worked and had no lasting side effects.

      Now such chastisements are banned, but loading kids up with all sorts of chemicals is just fine with the progressives.

      They really do believe that’s progress, you know.

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  6. Bob, thanks for that, took me right back. Gosforth Park racecourse in the sixties; you’re right about Geordies being argumentative buggers, I’m one myself (both Geordie and argumentative). Ten bob on the favourite for the Pitman’s Derby and then off for a ‘gill’ of beer.

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  7. I had a maths teacher who insisted that the duodecimal system was superior to the decimal system, in that it had the advantage of being divisible by both two and three. Frankly, I didn’t really understand why that should be such a great advantage, but then maths wasn’t my strongest subject.

    I remember having farthings in my pocket as a child, and although they were no longer in circulation, I remember also seeing groats – one eighth of a penny. For many years I possessed a boxed set of four crowns (mint condition from different eras) and a gold sovereign, but a nasty little scroat (a policeman’s son) who was a friend of my son stole them. I didn’t notice until I moved house, by which time it was far too late to do anything about it.

    I had a serviced bedsit in Knightsbridge in 1969 (just down from Harrods – their food hall was my nearest supermarket), and the rent on that was 13 Guineas a week. It seemed quite normal to work in guineas (albeit expensive, having moved from a four quid a week bedsit off Portobello Road) at the time.

    The pounds, shillings and pence didn’t really bother me, and nor did the decimalisation of the pound, but later in life, when I accidentally found myself doing carpentry work, I did find feet and inches, and the fractions thereof a bit of a chore. When I started building recording studios in the 80s, the architect would give me plans which were all in millimetres, and once I’d adjusted, I gloried in the ease with which I could do previously fiendishly complex calculations (as in adding measurements where the inches might be fractionalised to half, quarter, eighths or sixteenths, and then of course the twelve inches to the foot as well). Since then, I’ve never worked in anything but millimetres.

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    • Be glad you do not have to multiply and divide with Roman numerals!!!

      I first went to school in a one-room country school.
      About a dozen kids spread out over six grades and one teacher.

      Not much science; but, everyone learned how to read, write, and were able to do the necessary basic maths.

      Not so today, the below is true for the USA also.

      Some 7 million adults in England – one in five adults – if given the alphabetical index to the Yellow Pages, cannot locate the page reference for plumbers.

      That is an example of functional illiteracy. It means that one in five adults has less literacy than is expected of an 11-year-old child.

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    • I use purely decimal systems in the lab, it’s much easier, but when building models… it depends on the scale.

      1/24, 1/72 and the like are far easier to deal with using Imperial units. 1/50 or 1/100 are easier in metric.

      Sometimes I pick 1/16, just to make life difficult for myself. For those times when there’s nobody else around to make life difficult for. Have to keep in practice.

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  8. As for Latin, once Latin and Greek were taught in secondary schools.

    Now, college entrants have to be taught remedial English.

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  9. Draughts is a nice game, but rather simple minded in its strategy. Chess is a much more complicated game and stretches and stimulates the mind considerably. However if you really wish, to use analogy, to ban the LSD system for the Decimal one, so be it. The excuse for the changeover from LSD to Decimal was that simple minded foreigners couldn’t understand LSD and would buy more of our stuff if we had a decimal system. But the funny thing is, before we entered the “Common Market” we had a huge balance of trade surplus with Europe, now we have a massive deficit. Go figure, as they say.

    You could get four Blackjacks or Fruit Salads for an old Penny in my youth, that’s a Farthing each. They still had them, just, when I was very young. Had a picture of a Wren on them, along with her or his Maj on the other side of course. The Wren was a clue… boy were those coins small!

    Found a big jar of silver Threepence bits in a cupboard at my mum’s over the weekend. Some of them may be valuable in their own right, but I reckon that the melt down scrap value with be many more times the face value. In fact I’m told that if you go to a bank and use the folding stuff to exchange for copper coin, then take the coins to a scrap dealer, you will end up with more folding stuff than you started with. How fucked up is our monetary system exactly?

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    • I remember the fruit salads and blackjacks. They were the same price after the farthings vanished so you could never buy just the one. Two for a ha’penny.

      Captain Ranty brought the copper coin thing up some time ago. It only works with pre-1980-something coins but they are easy to find. The modern duds stick to a magnet, the old, real, ones don’t.

      Those are, I believe, worth half as much again as their face value – 2p is worth 3p as scrap. But you’d have to collect quite a few for it to be worthwhile.

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  10. Nice trip down memory lane, it never ceases to amaze me how much thing have changed in my lifetime, not all for the better. I remember farthings but don’t think you could use them when I was a child, big pennies for the gas meter and all the rest of our pre decimal money. To this day I find it hard to think metric, the money is ok but others measurements I have to think about, I still think in feet and inches and stones and lbs then have to translate mentally to cms and kilos. I don’t remember anyone leaving school semi literate as many seem to now. Happy days.

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    • I remember an English teacher who never had a failure in her class. Nobody dared. There was a rumour that the first failure would have their head on a pole at the school gates as a warning to others.

      She never, ever hit anyone. No need. I saw her reduce a fifteen year old who looked like the Hulk to a cowed and silent penitent using only words and tones of speech.

      I learned a lot in that class.

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  11. My wife was up in Huddersfield early this week. She had some free time so she visited the mining museum there, There was a display on a post WW2 mining village. She found it a bit strange as it was very similar to the village she grew up in. Gas lighting (no electricity) and outside toilets that froze up in the winter. She remembers her grandfather taking canaries down the mine. Some things have changed hugely over our life times. Anyone remember gas pokers, old air-raid shelters or bomb sites?

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  12. Nice post Mr. Iron….

    I am the same age as you and have similar memories (although I did own a LaserDisc player)…

    I remember in the second year of primary school we had a fearsome class teacher – Mr. Wise.

    Mr. Wise would not hesitate to throw a board rubber at a chatting pupil or even beat them senseless in front of the class – we were terrified of him!

    Anyway, we turned up one morning and he was writing furiously on the blackboard… basically all the imperial measurements, ounces, gills, etc. We realised that we’d better copy it down PDQ before he filled up the three blackboards and erased the first one… so we were all there scribbling away in our rough books as fast as we could…

    He got to the end of the third board, turned around and looked at us and said “you don’t have to learn that any more” and rubbed it all off! Obviously not a fan of the metric system!

    Oh, and I remember getting eight Blackjacks (can I say that now?) or Fruit Salads to the 1d.

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  13. Great article and (almost) uncanny similar memories and experiences. I mentally compute that I am about three years younger than our author here, being aged seven in May, 1970.

    It was on the 15th February, 1971 that the UK went fully decimal (money-wise). Doesn’t anyone remember the rhyme one learned at school to help remember and anticipate this impending event?

    What about those little decimal ready-reckoner books, and cards, that were dispensed all over to help people come to terms with it all? When one went shopping, post 15/02/71, one took a little book and did some reading in the aisles, or at the till. I still have two or three of those little books. I hope they’re worth a fortune, now I come to think…..

    Do you remember that the 50p coin actually replaced the ‘ten-bob note’ in 1969, but was until 15/02/71 referred to as a ‘ten-bob bit’? Then it morphed into a 50p piece.

    Other coins that morphed were the sixpence – became 2.5p; the shilling – became 5p; and the florin (2s) – became 10p. There were new 5p and 10p coins minted that ran alongside the old shilling and 2 shilling pieces for quite some time – sometime in the 1990s? The old sixpence was never re-minted anew but continued in it’s old form as 2.5p until, I say, about 1982.

    I too just missed farthings and crowns, but remember the half-crowns. Princely coins they were. My Mum remember farthings and half-farthings too. Silver thruppenny bits also in her day, like tiny sixpences they were.

    The pound note existed until the mid 1980s. They were still around in ’84, I remember using them at the Stonehenge Festival that year. You thought I was going to say the Miners’ Strike for a minute then eh?

    The world has changed. There is no festival now and in fact there is little mining either. The worst crime of all though is the abolition of the thruppenny bit!

    Something to think of is – my Mother (and even I) were still using single coins that were in use one century previously. You could still buy something tangible with a ha-penny in 1970, as you could have done in 1870, and probably not that much less either. Compare now the inflation of modern times (since the 70s for eg).

    I saw an article in a tabloid this week, post-budget, that bemoaned the insufficient rise in cigarette and tobacco prices. ‘Cigarettes are, in real terms, now much cheaper than in the 1960s’, bewailed the article. That, for sure, is a downright lie!

    I went to Grammar School (74 -79) and experienced hard-case school-teachers who threw the board-duster. One of them used to swing those huge long poles, tipped with iron hooks, that were used for opening tall windows – across the row of desks. If we hadn’t ducked someone would have been brained. He used to hold it at arms length too, obviously a strenuous thing (but he was strong) and let it (not so) gently bounce up and down on your head – for the most minor infractions. I also had female teachers who could terrify you with a word or even a glance. They would slap you too, and in front of all your mates obviously. I respected all of them, even loved them in my own way, or so it now seems. No, not in that way……, pah!

    They were all brilliant and we are infinitely the poorer that such people aren’t around in our schools anymore. How sad.

    Blackjacks, Fruit Salads, Old Jamaica – lol. All highly accurate reminiscences. What about those electric rotary slicers for for bacon and other hunks of meat that every shop seemed to have? Deadly machines, but nobody ever got hurt and I don’t remember anyone getting food poisoning from the local shop either. They will be banned on so many levels now.

    The Metric system is to my mind only useful for the purposes of hi-jacking and using *in supplement* to the Imperial system. Make your life easier where applicable, by use of it. Otherwise pay it no further homage. Hence I can appreciate Legiron’s use of both Metric and Imperial on the same (generally personal) job – or in interim calculations, if not on the final printed specification. Millimetres are ok in that they can (just about) be discerned by my naked eye and are smaller than 1/16″. Smaller Imperial divisions (1/32, 1/64) are all very well but have never been very visible to the eye alone. On paper, tis a different matter. But by eye (by rule or tape), the mm can be exploited when it’s expedient to do so (snigger) and used in supplement to the more proper usage of feet and inches and such.

    The subdivisions of Imperial linear measure go in the progression of 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc. Is that Binary? I was never great on mathematical terminology. Other than that, and working smaller, it’s a decimal subdivision, by way of thousandths – 0.001″, or tens of thosusandths – 0.0001, if one has a vernier micrometer.

    Eighths, twelfths, twentieths, thousandths was all in a day’s school in those times. Isn’t a firkin a volume of 9 gallons, and so 72 pints? How long is an ell of cloth?

    The kilo, the litre, the kilometre and the hectare (along with the schoolish cm) have always been a waste of my time. Granted I work with tapes and linear measures, rather than volumes, but I still have to shop for fish and fowl and there is little as irksome as working out the lbs and ozs of the said produce.

    Anyway, I can always use the additional excuse that the Imperial system is sacred. It’s all throughout mysticism and probably Middle-earth too. I remember the elves talking in leagues. One has to retain at least a little batshit, hippy theory somewhere, else one’s entire life has been wasted.

    I remember outside toilets, just about. Folk used to lag the thick lead pipes with bitumen-coated cloth and layers of grease. Horrible places they were, always full of cobwebs and spiders.

    Finally, Firefox spell-checker recognises (that word too) few of these measurements I’ve typed. That’s because the Americans have a further different conception of Metric, or at least the spellings thereof. More confusion, if you let it. Not that we would, we’re far too old and wise for that.

    Finally, finally, those Facebook articles are………….?? The young are doomed.

    Bring back the Empire I say.

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