Dear Prime Minister Johnson,
I note you are planning to “capitalise on freedoms after leaving the European Union” by reviving the imperial system of weights and measures. Way to go! Soon Brits will be able once more to proudly buy their beer in pints and their jam in jars of pounds-weight, to measure their height in feet and inches, their weight in stones, and the petrol consumption of their gas guzzlers in gallons per mile. Cricket pitches will be measured in chains. Horse races will be measured in furlongs and miles. Very large icebergs calving off the Antarctic ice-cap will be measured in terms of the size of Wales. Or Rutland.
The fact that this was going on, more or less, throughout the 43 years of the British membership of the EU is neither here nor there.
But I would like to propose a further “capitalisation” that I am sure would be of great delight to many and put up a much thicker smokescreen between the people of Britain and your shenanigans at their expense. Why not reintroduce Britain’s proud and ancient currency? Who stole pounds, shillings and pence from the people? As you are surely aware it was a Labour government under Harold Wilson. What a piece of red meat to throw to your slavering party pack! Down with the socialist decimal, up with the Imperial Lsd!
Think of all the extra work teachers of mathematics would be forced into. Teaching bemused children that now there are 12 pence to the shilling, 20 shillings or 240 pence to the pound. And that pounds should be abbreviated ‘L’, shillings ‘s’ and pence ‘d’. That would really take up their time and hinder them from teaching any more nonsense about gender equality or Marxist theory.
Bring back the sixpence, the thruppence, the ha’penny, the farthing. Bring back the crown and the florin, the half-crown and the mighty guinea!
Rejig the economy
Of course, to make it worthwhile and really popular, you would have to get the Chancellor to rejig the economy. For instance, a pint of beer in London now costs about £6. Back just before decimal currency was introduced it cost about two-shillings-tuppence-ha’penny – 2s 2½d – which became 13p in the new system. Go back to the old system at the old prices. It’s a vote winner.
Think of it, petrol a gallon at 6s 8d (39½p); a pack of 20 cigarettes at 2s 9d (17½p); a copy of the Daily Express at 5d (4p). Why not?
Good luck with that.
With at least as much true sincerity as you have ever exhibited, in or out of government, I remain, etc.
I took the illustrations mostly from Wikimedia Commons. The notice of beer prices in February 1971 I took from the website of The King of the Belgians. This is a village pub in Hartford to the north-west of Cambridge. The Daily Express from 1969, with a cover price of five old pennies, I took from the website of Historic Newspapers.