Thursday, February 23, 2006

In praise of ... the mile

Thursday February 23, 2006
The Guardian

In the Blair-Cameron era, the parties are converging. And now they are converting. Former Labour leader Lord Kinnock today combines with former Conservative deputy prime minister Lord Howe to launch an attack on the great British mile. Well, the great British and American and Liberian and Burmese mile, for ours are apparently the only countries to continue to retain the old measures for their road signs.

The two peers have joined a campaign to metricate road signs within five years, in time for the emphatically un-imperial Olympic Games. Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat leadership contender, is also a supporter of the campaign. (As yet the thoughts of his rival Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Olympic runner who once held the British record at 0.062 miles, remain unrecorded). Those fuddy-duddy road marks, says Lord Kinnock, contradict "the image - and the reality - of our country as a modern, multicultural, dynamic place".

But the ancient measure is very deeply lodged in the vernacular of this country. It is not necessary to involke the searing Eminem movie 13.54 kilometres, nor the awe-inspiring jazz trumpeting of Kilometres Davis, nor the fine Proclaimers' song I'm Gonna Be (804.67 kilometres), to argue that if we were the UK Metric Association, we wouldn't start from here. Is the image of cool Britannia so vital that we should alter history's description of Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run 1.6093km in four minutes, even - especially - in time for London 2012?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Lord Kinnock today combines with former Conservative deputy prime minister Lord Howe"

Lord who & Lord how!

Two of the three monkeys, see no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.

Who is going to be the third?

Ah of course, Pete. Remember Pete and the Britannia building society??

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