Trying To Keep Up

I was talking, as you do, with fellow blogger Lisa Crye, who blogs here. She referenced the local temperature in the mid 40s and for just a fraction I thought ‘bloody hot’ until I remembered she lives in Virginia and it’s winter. She was talking in Fahrenheit, of course and my go to temperature referencing is Celsius. Which made me ask myself ‘When did that happen?’

When I was growing up, suburban sixties Britain, Celsius was for abroad, not for home. The French were all about 1-100 in measurements. Whereas we had Fahrenheit (freezing at 32), miles (1720 yards), pounds, weight (16 ounces) and pounds, money (20 shillings, 240 pence). I learnt about rods and perches, stones and crowns and guineas. It was like being in a secret squirrel club where you’d master one code only for another one to be thrown out at you.

We made one concession to joining the EU in 1972, decimalising the currency, dispatching the shilling to graze its retirement in the backs of dusty sofas and twisting the penny to become a bolder pence that formed one hundred parts of a pound. I think my parents saw it the same way as they did adding fluoride to the water, pop music, driving on the right and calling doctors by their Christian names: a bit too modern, too soft, too continental and conclusive proof of an irrevocable decline in standards.

There were battles between the imperials and the metrics, mostly over market traders being required to display produce in both pounds and kilos. We kept the pint of milk though.

What I don’t recall is any pressure on us to drop Fahrenheit, yet at some point I made that personal decision and now find it easier to think in Celsius. Yet I’m well aware we have yet to experience a temperature in the UK of 100 degrees F, a sort of classic dividing line between pre climate disaster and post: we cross that threshold and it’s a matter of time and we’re doomed, or at least that’s how the Mail Online will probably portray it.

I drive in miles, yet watch sport in metres and I’m definitely bi-scales when it comes to weights, capable of visualising both kilos, ounces and millilitres and pints.

But I’ve lost Fahrenheit.

Though, as I said to Lisa, at least I’ve not compromised myself so much that I can tolerate cups. If we are separated from our American cousins by a common language (the latest example being the Wordle furore that was caused by a recent answer being the American spelling of favour – with its innocent little ‘u’ having been excised, a very graphic example of the difference between u and non-u words (with apologies to Nancy Mitford)), that is as nothing to recipes in cups. No. Not right. I simple refuse.

It is strange how one’s plans can be hijacked: I was going to discuss whether I am right to be irritated by people talking about ‘their’ truth as opposed to ‘the’ truth. I’ve sort of concluded that there is some point distinguishing between an objective truth and a personalised one, even if all truths are a mix of fact and perception. Well, perhaps the Founding Fathers who found truths to be self evident might disagree but they were old school truths which today I suppose we think of as truisms. Truths, telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth still allows for factual errors created by faulty perceptions. And if that is so, then how far a step is it to claim a truth for your own?

It was Mark Twain who said we should ‘get our facts in first so we can distort them’. That is perhaps where I was going with my concern about this recent focus on personalised truths. It is one thing to reveal ones experiences and perceptions that create this specific truth, even if it contradicts others equally valid experiences and perceptions. As with evidence in a court, two people might tell ‘the truth’ as they understand it yet be telling very different versions of what happened. And often one can easily replace ‘my truth’ with ‘my opinion’ or ‘my perception’ without doing damage to the context but reducing the power of the point being made by moving it from something that carries a connotation of fact which is what replacing ‘truth’ for those other words does.

Anyway, that’s what I was pondering and you may disagree. Just don’t tell me about your ‘lived’ experience of your truth, because tautologies grind my gears even more than split infinitives.

As you’ll understand from this post, it is International Curmudgeon Day when we celebrate know-all old grumps the world over. Our Patrons, Waldorf and Statler would send their best but they can’t be arsed.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in thought piece and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Trying To Keep Up

  1. wjwingrove97 says:

    I am fluent in both 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. trifflepudling says:

    Ain’t that the truth!
    We had those measurements tables on the back of our red Silvine exercise books. I also remember the measurements included poles but it all already seemed archaic by the late 60s. We learned about Centigrade rather than Celsius and for a short while I thought they were different.
    It did reach 101F in southern England in 2003. When it’s really hot I occasionally convert the display to show the temperature in Fahrenheit, just for the thrill!
    I learned from somewhere last year that revolutionary Americans changed the spelling of certain words like favour so that people could tell for sure whether they were reading English propaganda or not – not sure if that’s true.
    Personal journey gets me aggravated.
    Urban Dictionary: My truth ‘ Pretentious substitute for “non-negotiable personal opinion” ‘ …


    • TanGental says:

      Oh stop it! I like my myths and 100F was one of them! Apparently, per Google that’s been beaten in 2019… and thank you for the definition. I will remember that.


  3. Marsha says:

    I still have to use the conversion charts to figure out temperatures in your neck of the woods. It’s too bad we in the US didn’t switch over. It would have made things much easier. When I was in junior high school – about age 12, it was bantered around some and we had to learn metrics, but we never made the switch. Pity. Fun post. I’m linking it to Story Chat today. 🙂 Have a great day. Thanks again for a wonderful month with “When Gratitude is Hard to Come By.” It’s still getting lots of views. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Both thought provoking and amusing. I’m with you on Fahrenheit. Now, what is the correct spelling of can’t be a( )sed?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. noelleg44 says:

    Here’s to the curmudgeons! I still need a conversion chart of degrees Celsius and I bought a scale to be able to use recipes in ml, grams, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Just in case you are baking I thought this may prove useful:

    Butter sticks are easy to measure! One full stick of butter equals 1/2 cup, or 8 tablespoons. Half sticks equal 1/4 cup of butter, or 4 tablespoons.

    Don’t tell me, you care not a jot nor a tittle!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Story Chat Y2: “Handle with Caution – Marsha Ingrao – Always Write

  8. arlingwoman says:

    Personal truth indeed! I don’t have a problem with someone telling me “in my experience, x, y, or z usually happens.” Some of this I put down to language and people no longer understanding it (heard anyone say “mitigate against”? I still scream inwardly when I hear it) and making up their own words or using the wrong ones. There’s also a certain pretention in talking about personal truth, maybe because the person doesn’t have the vocabulary to discuss values. Wow. Boy did I take off on that, just like an aging grump! Thanks for the link!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. It seems like everything is becoming personal. Truth, freedom, journey, awareness, and space are all defined and unique. I suppose as long as they are kept away from me I can live with them. Lovely post, Geoff

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Erika says:

    Since we lived in the US for a while, I am familiar with both systems and also the temperatures. But I am really glad that I may still live in the metric system. Since I grew up with it, it is a lot easier for me to handle.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. JT Twissel says:

    Good old Mark Twain: We should shoot all our chickens before they hatch!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. petespringerauthor says:

    Here’s to the old grumps (like us) who will always find something to complain about.😂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Yvonne says:

    My Biology tutor at Uni said he had never seen such a poor result in a taxonomy practical exam as I produced. We switched to metric measures in Australia just as I started Uni as a mature student, and I had grown up in Canada, which was straight Imperial at that time. I couldn’t tell my mm from my cm, or even from my a*se…. at that stage, so got absolutely “0” marks for that practical. The experience still pains me.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Chel Owens says:

    I thought you were the sort to really like split infinitives…. Coincidentally, I argues about “my truth, your truth, red truth, blue truth…” -okay, just the first two- over at LA’s blog with a commenter named Mark. Turns out we were on the same page about it.


  15. Widdershins says:

    I grew up with metric in Australia, but here in Canada we’re officially, and mostly metric, but Imperial still pops its weary head up now and then. Mrs Widds thinks in Imperial (she’s a born and bred Canadian) so we had some … interesting, misunderstandings in the early days. 🙂
    I too, prefer ‘arsed’. The American ‘assed’ just doesn’t cut it.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: Coffee Share Catch Up: Square Odds, Doors, Trios, LAPC #185 Change – Marsha Ingrao – Always Write

  17. Pingback: February Challenge Wrap-up: Photos, Reading, Fun – Marsha Ingrao – Always Write

Comments are closed.