From the Winter 2004 issue of Nobbut Torver
Written by Eddie Clunan in response to the editors piece the previous month: Centipedes and Millipedes
World First for Torver - A New Way to Count
In pursuit of our learned Editor’s worthy campaign for Imperial measurement I should like to propose a system of counting which will promote the (clearly superior) Imperial system of weights and measures. To defeat the insidious Metric system, we have to recognise that it was invented by cheats, and be prepared to cheat back. Using a measuring system that uses numbers in the same way as ordinary counting is clearly unfair – having a thousand millimetres in a metre, and a thousand metres in a kilometre, is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who has progressed beyond counting on fingers-and-thumbs.
To defeat our enemy, however, we have to understand his strengths. In counting from zero to nine we use the Arabic numerals 0, 1, etc as far as 8, 9. After that we add 1 to the next column to the left, and repeat the process thus: 10, 11 etc as far as 18, 19, 20; then in the way we all know to 98, 99. We then begin the process over again by adding 1 to the third column, thus: 100, 101 etc. So far, so familiar. Using this process for measuring distance or weight makes the whole thing absurdly easy.
So what we need is a counting system that works in the same way for Imperial units. Since there are three feet in a yard, when counting feet we need to add 1 to the next column as the count reaches three, thus: 0, 1, 2, 10, 11 etc; meaning zero feet - one foot - two feet - one yard zero feet - one yard one foot - etc.
Those of you who have been paying attention so far will be pointing out – ah – but what about twelve inches in a foot! This is also quite easy. We don’t have Arabic numerals for ten and eleven, but what could be more fitting than the Imperial Roman alphabet! We will use A for ten and B for eleven. After that we add 1 to the next column to the left in the usual way. So to count eight – nine – ten - eleven inches, then – one foot zero inches - one foot one inch, etc we go …8, 9, A, B, 10, 11 etc.
So, for example, seven yards, two feet, eleven inches, is written 72B. What could be easier! We only need to remember that the first column (inches) rolls over to zero after B (eleven); and the second column (feet) rolls over to zero after 2.
It only remains to provide columns for the other units. Remember that there are twenty-two yards in a chain, so we need to provide numerals for values up to twenty-one. Again the Imperial Roman alphabet provides A for ten, B for eleven, and so on up to K for twenty and L for twenty-one. So three chains seventeen yards one foot ten inches is 3H1A. Easy!
As there are ten chains in a furlong, and eight furlongs in a mile, the two extra columns for these are easily added. Seven miles two furlongs three chains thirteen yards one foot eleven inches is just 723C1B. So now we have our system in place, and we can use it as easily as the Metric system.
Before the next lesson I should like you to develop the counting system for weights, remembering that there are 16 ounces in a pound, 14 pounds in a stone, 8 stones in a hundredweight, and twenty hundredweights in a ton.
Editor’s note: I would like to thank Professor Clunan for his valuable contribution to the Metrication debate. As he makes clear with his new counting method, the Imperial Measuring System, based on units of 3, 8, 12, 14, 16, 22 etc. etc., is infinitely more versatile and logical than that other moronic and boring nonsense contrived around 10. When our worthy politicians declare that they will go the “extra mile” for peace, they know that they are proposing a full 1760 yards, a truly dignified achievement. How many lives would they expect to save over a mere kilometre with it’s measly 1000 metres?
Perhaps we should also remember that when the canons roared at Trafalgar to save the world from tyranny, our balls were measured in Imperial inches. They were British balls moulded from the iron of our National Heritage.
God Save The Queen