I caught an episode of Top Gear the other day. The rather excellent Jeremy Clarkson was talking about ‘driving very economically’ with an big Audi and mentioned all kinds of mpg (miles per gallon) measurements. For me, having lived in the metric system for all my life, conversion from ‘mpg‘ to ‘l/100km’ (liter/100 km) proved to be non-trivial. Some research revealed the following stunning data:


1 mile = 8 furlong, 1 furlong = 40 rod, 1 rod = 5.5 yard, 1 yard = 3 feet, 1 foot = 12 inch
Which gives us: 1 mile = 1760 yard or 1.609344 km 


1 stone = 14 pounds, 1 clove = 7 pounds, 1 pound = 16 ounces, 1 ounce = 16 drams
Which gives us: 1 stone = 224 ounce 


1 gallon = 4 quart, 1 quart = 2 pint, 1 US pint = 16 US fluid ounces but(!) 1 Imperial pint = 20 Imperial fluid ounces
Which gives us: 1 Imperial gallon = 160 Imperial fluid ounces or 4.54609188 liter

Two observations:

  • the English will never be Europeans. They drive on the wrong side of the road, they refuse to use the euro (before 1971, each UK pound was divided into 240 pence, but they reluctantly gave in to decimalisation) and they stubbornly cling on to a measurement system that can only have been invented by a bunch of anarchists with an atypical number of fingers and a taste for strong herbs.
  • for some reason they have forgotten to complicate their time measurement. They still use the ordinary hours and seconds, like every other deadly boring chap on the Continent.In order to bring ‘Imperial’ time measuring on par with their other units, I propose the following:
  • since a ‘day’ corresponds to a full turn on the Earth, and the English are condemned to sharing it with the lot of us, there is no point in changing that.
  • a day is divided in 7 nunes, of which typically 2 to 3 are spent sleeping, and the rest working, drinking tea and reproduction. You wake up in the mor-nune (&#177 7h-10h25) and go to work, you have lunch during the noon-nune (commonly called just ‘nune’), you continue work during the after-nune, and go home to spend the eve-nune before the TV. You then have late-nune, night-nune and dawn-nune for sleeping, going out or procreation, in whatever sequence.
  • a nune (roughly 3.5 hours) is divided into 15 moments or mo’s (something like 15 minutes). “I’ll just be a moment” will then be a more realistic prediction, and tax consultancy companies like KPMG and PWC will now be able to invoice in a unit that sounds indivisible and not open for discussion by clients, and is slightly smaller than the current 15 minutes (but still the same price, obviously).
  • a moment is divided into 97 instants (why 97? because it’s a prime number, of course). An instant is something like 8 seconds, so for someone with basic dexterity, ‘instant soup’ becomes a reality. And AOL does not have to worry about the snappiness of their Instant Messenger, any response time under 8 seconds will do.
  • an instant is divided into 36 winks. It has been scientifically proven that it is possible to wink one’s eye in .23 seconds, which is the metric equivalent. After some intake of alcohol, a wink may be slower than a wink, but time perception under influence has always been somewhat flexible. For all practical purposes, this also is the smallest time unit, but just in case the rest of the world would want to contaminate the system with their ‘micro’ and ‘nano’-nonsense, the prefix ‘d’ will signify ‘dozen’ and can be added in any number to allow for tiny measurements. i.e.: a ‘dddwink’ is a 12*12*12 or 1728th of a wink.This brings us to the following summary of the new Imperial Time System:

    1 day = 7 nunes, 1 nune = 15 moments, 1 moment = 97 instants, 1 instant = 36 winks, 1 wink = 12 dwinks
    Which now gives the English the possibility to express speed as ‘instants per inch’ (ipi) or ‘inch per instant’ (ipi), whichever is the most impressive number.

    Since Greenwich is still England, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) cannot be abandoned just like that, so it will be renamed to Greenwich Mazy Time, and midnight will still be midnight (or actually, it will be mid-nune and happen every day with at least one metric hour difference with any non-English country). The suggestion to have a ‘Daylight Saving Time’ system is still under investigation, it might make things unnecessarily complicated.

    [Inspired by: “The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” – Douglas Adams]