The US, Liberia, Burma and Liggetsherwenistan

This week, like many of you, I’m watching the Tour De France, which is wonderful, though I’m trying not to blog much about it because saturation.

Still, I have to note that I’m feeling particularly exercised during this tour, because I’m watching the SBS coverage, sitting about three metres from a 155cm television, in a country that runs on metric, watching a bike race – a sport that runs on metric – in a country that runs on metric and I still have Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen attempting to explain stuff to me in miles.


I mean, what the fuck even is a “mile”? And why would anyone want to do an arbitrary number of them per hour?

Those with an irony deficiency – you can get tablets for that by the way – will say “a mile is 1.6km” but those people will be missing the point. I neither want nor need to do irrelevant mental arithmetic while I’m watching a bike race which takes place in the country that invented the fucking metric system.

Yes, I realise that Liggett and Sherwen’s commentary also goes out to the US. I also don’t care. The US is one of only three countries entirely on imperial measurements. The other two are Liberia and Burma, with the UK faffing about on a mixed metric/imperial melange just because Britain is Britain and we’d never have survived the blitz if we’d had to cover our bomb shelters with a Frenchy, surrender-prone 40cm of earth instead of a good British fifteen inches. Or something.

National quirks aside, the on-screen displays provided by the ASO is in kilometres, and pissing about converting things into miles for the supposed benefit of a small part of your audience is just going to create a jarring dissonance between what’s on the screen and what’s going into the ears. I don’t like dissonance.

It’s even worse when I’ve started my evening of bike watching on the SBS Live Stream, and have therefore had Matt Keenan, a man who knows his kilos of Seville oranges from his bushels of ye olde eatinge appelles, explaining stuff in good sensible metric.

Look, I also realise that Phil and Paul are mildly senile, and that this doddering incompetence forms part of their latter-day charm. I don’t care. If they keep forgetting which century they’re in, they should write a big note reading “stop using imperial measurements” and put it on their monitor, in their line of sight. Or have a producer administer a light electric shock any time one of them utters the words “that’s about thirty miles an hour“. It’s possible this may make them more confused, but that would be a bonus and may lead to some new clichés for us to laugh about on Twitter.

Perhaps I was spoiled during the Classics Season, as I watched much of my coverage via Eurosport, a channel which appears to be mostly in the right decade, measurements-wise. Perhaps the late nights are getting to me already. Perhaps I’m not putting away enough wine. Doesn’t matter. The fact is, no-one – outside of three and a half countries worldwide – cares what a mile is.

So stop using miles. Miles are dead. They lie, unmourned, in an unmarked grave in unconsecrated ground in the cemetery of outmoded ideas. There are no flowers on their headstone, and fans don’t turn up once a year to burn candles and strum acoustic guitars.

They’re dead. Deal with it.

Rule 24, bitches. Rule 24.

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