Moon River, wider than 1.6km

DOUBLE it and add 30. This is the way I arrive at the approximate temperature in Fahrenheit when given a centigrade figure.

Lynne Mortimer

DOUBLE it and add 30. This is the way I arrive at the approximate temperature in Fahrenheit when given a centigrade figure.

I have lived my life believing that 98.4 is the perfect temperature for most human beings. I would certainly drop dead at 37 degrees Fahrenheit.

If I'm sunbathing, I want to say: “Phew, it must be in the 80s out there.” Rather than: “Phew it must be in the mid 20s out there.”


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It's all about being expressive.

I also like to travel in miles rather than kilometres and I prefer a bust measurement below 100.

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This reactionary attitude to weights and measures harks back to my imperial youth; a time when Lsd was hallucinogenic only for anyone who couldn't add up in bases 12 and 20.

It makes me irritable that I am branded an old dog (watch it... don't start making up your own jokes) resistant to new tricks when I talk in the elegant language of pre-decimal days - a time when water froze at 32 degrees, not at convenient zero. Because, dear reader, I am perfectly well able to work in the decimal system. I simply choose not to.

Why divide by five and multiply by eight to find out that it is 112km to London from Ipswich when we only have to read the milestone to know it is 70 miles.

There is nothing poetic about kilometres, centimetres and litres. They are soulless measurements with only practical applications. Great for calculating; rubbish for fabricating.

Half a league, half a league onward,

Into the valley of death rode the six hundred.

Even rounded to one decimal place, “2.8 kilometres, 2.8 kilometres onward” it doesn't have the same ring or, indeed, poetic (as opposed to distance) metre Alfred, Lord Tennyson intended.

The beauty of Shakespeare's verse from The Tempest...

Full fathom five thy father lies;

Of his bones are coral made;

Those are pearls that were his eyes...

... dies a little in translation: "Full metres 9.1 (rounded) thy father lies."

Does Marilyn Monroe's hourglass figure improve if it is 88.9: 55.9: 88.9?

How much does the musical Half a Sixpence suffer by being renamed Half Two and a Half Pee? And The Threepenny Opera sounds far too cheap at 1.25p.

The famous song Inchworm, originally sung by Danny Kaye in the film Hans Christian Andersen, doesn't work so well as “2.54cm worm”.

What we would lose by changing Miss Adelaide's song from Guys and Dolls: “I love you a bushel and a peck…” It doesn't sound so devotedly besotted when converted to: “I love you, just under 45 and a half litres…”

Then there's South Pacific:

A hundred and one pounds of fun

That's my little honey bun…

How depressingly pedestrian to be 45.9 kilograms of fun - if indeed you even want to be considered fun by a horde of sex-starved American sailors stranded on a Pacific Island with but a handful of army nurses.

Without getting too silly about it, I'm presuming even the most ardent fan of the metric system wouldn't condone changing “yardstick” to “0.9 metre-stick” or singing along with Mud's Tiger 61 centimetres (that's two feet)

“I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and…”

“I can see for kilometres and kilometres and kilometres and… forget it.”

The only measurement that has held its value is weeks, days and hours. Gene Pitney (under 30s, ask your mum) remains 24 Hours from Tulsa, resisting any attempts at metrification.

I bought my first eBay dress; a bargain at �15 plus postage.

The picture of a satiny, jewel-encrusted maroon red evening dress looked almost too good to be true but the bids stopped at �14 and so it was mine, all mine. I couldn't believe my luck.

A week later, my husband called to say the parcel had been delivered to his office.

"It's rather a small package for such a big dress," he fretted.

"I expect it's well folded."

"It's got nice Chinese stamps."

"Mmm, maybe you'd better open it," I suggested.

"I expect it's made of a very light material," he concluded.

He tucked the package in his pocket and brought it home. Like him, I marvelled at its smallness. So clever, the Chinese.

Carefully, I unwrapped it, fully expecting the dress to have been folded into an origami swan and spring out into a mighty ballgown. But it didn't really do much at all.

Unwilling to admit this might not be quite the steal I imagined, I put it on and discovered it was a tad too short for me and while it looks okay at the front it looks ruddy awful at the back. Front: Cinderella; Back: bus.

To be fair, the picture on eBay, only showed the front of the dress which was very similar, though rather flimsier than it had looked on the photo.

Rather like the really cheap saffron I bought in Tunisia that turned out to be the dried flower husks of some sort of weed and incapable of turning rice yellow, I felt that I had got what I'd paid for and put it down to experience.

And anyway, if I ever attend an occasion where no-one can see me from behind - maybe a sponsored stand-against-a-wall - it will be perfect.

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