Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Save the Imperial Martyr!

Pint of beerSo then, nutty eurosceptic types who blamed the so-called Metric Martyrs‘ persecution on the EU (rather than, erm… a combination of a pre-EEC British decision to simplify measurements and their own obstinacy in not maintaining legal scales) – what’s the response to this one?

A restaurant owner has described laws which ban him from serving beer by the litre as “barmy” after he was threatened with court action…

Mr Davison, who owns the Kuchnia Polska restaurant in Doncaster, was told to change his glasses within 28 days or face a court hearing and a £2,000 fine.

The 1988 Weights and Measures Act says draught beer must be sold in pints.”

Curse that meddling EU, forcing us to serve beer in pints! Curse it! Even though it had nothing to do with the 1988 Weights and Measures Act! And even though it’s quite happy – unlike the British government – to have two systems of measurement continue to work in tandem!

(Don’t think eurosceptics are silly enough to blame the EU for something with which it has had nothing to do? Check the comments to the barkingly anti-EU Daily Mail’s version of this story… “Another barmy idea from the EU Police”, says one, “too many E.U. laws are coming our way”, says another, and then the classic Ted Heath moment: “Let this country go right back to using Imperal measures and sod the european union farce. Most of the BRITISH inhabitants did not want the metric system or decimalisation in the first place. Thank you for nothing, TED HEATH FOR taking the country into the eu!” – I love Mail readers, they’re just so predictable…)

The Metric Martyrs are supporting Mr Davison in his new campaign. It couldn’t have anything to do with his views on the EU, which they consistently misrepresented as being behind their self-inflicted plight, could it?

“I love Poland and I speak Polish,” Davison tells the Mail, “but the European Community is corrupt as hell and a waste of time.” Loves litres – “Grrr!”; employs Polish immigrants – “Double grrr!”; hates the EU – “Eh? What? Oh… He must be alright then… Let’s support the poor chap!”

(Now all we need is for someone to be prosecuted for selling beer in litres in a bar that only accepts euros and employs only gypsies, but who has Ted Heath’s face on the EU flag dartboard and is a fully-paid up member of UKIP, advocating total and immediate withdrawal from the Union. Then their heads will explode in a glorious Bonfire Night of brainsplattering fireworks, and I can pop open a nice jeroboam of champagne, which I shall insist on calling a 4.5 litre bottle, just to ensure that I cause the headrupture of the last of them…)



    This is round the bend. How the hell have we managed to get UK law to oblige people to serve draft beer only in pints? I thought the UK wanted to keep pints, not make it a formal obligation to have to serve in pints.

    As for this idiot Davidson – he can shut the f**k up. This is the stupidity of UK law, nothing to do with EU law on this one.

  2. I must say you exhibit a large amount of arrogance and ignorance in your comments.

    You claim the metric system is easier, but cannot understand a kilometre. Not surprising, as a kilometre is an arbitrary fraction of the (incorrectly calculated) circumference of the earth. Most people will have certainly have to think to tell me how many c.c are in a centilitre

    The decimal system is more complicated for financial calculations. A decimal pound has the following fractions : 2, 4, 5, 10, 20, 25 and 50.

    The LSD pound had 2,3,4,5,6,8,10,12,15,16,20,24,30,40,60,80,and 120. Much easier for financial calculations.

    The use of body parts for units of length (mile, yard, foot, inch (the French use the same word for inch and thumb) and the naming of “sensible volumes” makes the system easy to understand. Is £4.50 a good price for a decilitre of perfume?

    The metric system is ideal for people that need their fingers to count. The rest of humanity merit something better.

  3. Sorry, William, you’ve lost me a bit there by wandering rather significantly off the point.

    First, on the metric system being easier and the kilometer thing, I think what you’ll find that on my earlier metric martyrs post, what I was getting at was that I can’t visualise a kilometer (just as I can’t visualise a kilogramme or an ounce), and blamed my confusion on successive governments failing to sort out the education system to ensure that those of us who’ve been to school since decimalisation understand either system – not on either the Imperial or the metric systems, both of which are perfectly valid as far as I’m concerned.

    As for your “body parts” argument, having just measured a few of them, that makes a foot 11 inches, does it? Because that’s how long my foot is. For my wife I suspect it would be significantly shorter, which would make building a wardrobe with her rather tricky.

    The point here is nothing to do with arrogance or ignorance – and I’m not a cheerleader for the metric system (if you think I am, you’ve misread me). The point is that standardised measurements, whatever they may be, are essential. Without everyone being able to understand how long/heavy/whatever something they’re buying/building/whatever is, people will end up both ripped off and confused.

    The EU is happy for metric and Imperial to be used side-by-side (by listing weights, for example, in lbs and kg at the same time) so that people like me, who use a combination of both systems, or people from that increasingly large number of countries that use the metric system can get by. Meanwhile, the British government has, it seems, foolishly banned certain metric measurements for certain products while also phasing out certain Imperial ones for others, creating confusion. And what the Metric Martyrs did was effectively the same thing, refusing to list their produce in metric as well as Imperial.

    The get-out for our Polish bar owner here should, then, be that he sells his beer in litres, but has a small sign somewhere saying “1 litre = 1.75975326 pints”. If the government told him to display both measurements, and he refused despite being informed that it’s a legal requirement (like the original metric martyrs), that would make him stupid and a criminal. That the government won’t let him serve beer in litres despite litres being a perfectly legal unit of measurement in any other context makes the government stupid, not the metric system.

  4. Nosemonkey: A quick clarification. It isn’t ‘an increasingly large number of countries’ that have adopted metric, except in the sense that the number of countries in the world is increasing (East Timor, Montenegro, Kosovo…). It’s ALL of them, across the entire planet, with about three exceptions, and it’s been that way for a couple of decades I think. The exceptions are the US, Liberia and Burma. This doesn’t mean everyone else has completed the transition, but a trip to Australia (which started metrifying around the same time as the UK, with a mostly British-origin population that ‘thought in Imperial’) could be instructive.

    BTW, I’ve been to a Bavarian-themed pub in London. Their menu describes the beer quantities on offer as 0.3l, 0.5l and 1l. So I think the rule as applied isn’t that pubs must sell beer in whole multiples of half-pints, but that the glasses used to serve the beer (if it’s on tap or no bottle is provided to the customer) have to have a certified half-pint or pint capacity (or have the relevant level marked on them if they are oversize), so the customer can tell whether he has received more or less than a (half-)pint. (I noticed British certification marks even on glasses with German logos on them.) It’s against the law to serve draught beer in unmeasured glasses, because of the potential to rip the customer off. So I would guess the problem here is that the pub owner wants to use Polish *glasses* to serve his beer, and couldn’t find (or didn’t want to pay extra for) UK-certified glasses with ‘Tyskie’ or ‘Lech’ logos on them.

  5. Colin – yep, that’s my guess. Just like the metric martyrs, the guy’s too cheap to update to legal measures (in his case, glasses), and has decided to turn his miserliness into a point of principle to disguise the fact that illegal measures mean customers can be ripped off. Hence standardised weights and measures being one of the key factors in the British legal system for centuries – hell, in pretty much every country the need for standardisation of measurements was one of the prime causes of centralisation of power and the development of modern national governments… (In fact, I thought this was one of the prime reasons why the eurosceptics were so opposed to the euro – standardised currency being, after all, an offshoot of the same basic idea.)

  6. Oh, and where’s the Bavarian pub in London? I do like German beer…