Metric has actually been legally possible since the 30s but it was only in,
I think the 70s that the government tried to push the change, declaring a
10-yr programme at the end of which only metric would be legal. This was
then abandoned in favour of a voluntary scheme which, in general, actually
worked, since industry has converted. We even tend to measure temperature
Just a few years ago it was decided to make metric weight the legal measure
for pre-packaged foods. (I.e. if there is a dispute, the relevant number on
the pack is the metric one.) Then loose fruit and veg etc were covered.
Being the law-loving nation we are within weeks a small trader was
prosecuted for selling in lb... there was, quite rightly, mockery and
The conversion to metric had exceptions.... draught beer is still sold by
the pint (i.e. 568 ml) and so is (packaged) milk. However, milk is also
sold in metric packs, i.e. 1 l, 2 l etc. You have to watch the pricing! In
one shop the price of, say, a litre pack is the same as the (imperial) quart
in another so, in a hurry, one just notices the similarity of price in a
similar-looking container without realising there is an 11% discrepancy...
My almost-12-yr-old boy does not know what a pint is exactly, and how many
inches are in a foot etc. Of course he has never heard of a perch or a
chain (even though the cricket pitch is a chain (22 yd) between wickets...
Dear olde Englande...
Anyway, why do we want to be exactly like our neighbours? We already have a
reputation for eccentricity - why change it?
I must add that Eire did change to metric for distance and speed as well
years ago. Being Ireland, not all the roadsigns were changed simultaneously
so for while there were km and mile signs up... I kid you not, I saw them
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