Monday, December 15, 2008

Letter to the Torygraph

Dear Sir

Despite being overwhelmed by festive emotions and enjoying the sight of carollers happily plying their trade and dodging shrapnel in the lanes and byways of North East Hampshire, I am moved to compose this letter of complaint. I do this with charitable motives. No one can accuse me of being less than generous in sharing my wisdom.

I refer to an article headed "Spider as big as a plate among scores of new species found in Greater Mekong". Despite the fact that the article itself goes on to stipulate that the plate at issue was a dinner plate, I feel that this is a wholly unsatisfactory comparison.

You see, my dear sir, many of us do not limit our mealtime habits to always ensuring that our crockery is of standard dimensions. In short, I have no idea what size a "dinner plate" is. Come supper time, chez mois, a plate (trough/bucket) is chosen according to my appetite. I suspect that the resulting choice would be larger than any arthropods known to science, be they south-east Asian or no. "A deepwater stingray, the size of Scurra's dinner plate" would be a description more likely to result in understanding among your readers.

I have to inform you that many of your patrons, in these modern times, will have attended school, and picked up the rudiments of weights and measures. We are familiar with concepts such as "feet" and "inches". Had you said that the creature in question was 1/64th of a furlong in diameter, you would have sensed the vibration of heads nodding in comprehension up and down the country. I am told that in schools these days pupils are taught the metric system. You need not overly concern yourself with this, as it will be very many years before these people are mature enough to interest themselves in your journal.

I hope that you take note of my concern, and address this issue. If not, I fear that my next missive will be as long as an under-butler's cummerbund.

with very best wishes

Vicus Scurra


Tim Footman said...

Admit it; you're really Simon Heffer, aren't you?

MJ said...

Does size really matter?

Donn Coppens said...

Metric bloody's absurd to divide everything into tenths.
Are there 1000 days in a year?
100 minutes in an hour?
I think not.

quarsan said...

Quite right. It is a nonsense that we have no proper methodology for measuring spiders. Resorting to crockery is just a sign of a nation in hock to socialist dogma and political correctness.

In Imperial times the world was full of pure blodded Englishmen measuring anthropods from dawn to dusk with unerring accuracy.

Vicus Scurra said...

Heffer so slightly.
MJ. No, and in your case the same is obviously true of quality.
Donn. How many days do you have in a year in Canada? Or does it just seem like it?
Q. I value your support. Does Zoe know that you are out?

Dave said...

Is the plate-size a measure of the body, or the full extent of the legs? This is more important.

The Times uses the double-decker bus and/or Nelson's Column as standard measurement standards.

I, Like The View said...

I think you secretly edit New Scientist on the side. . .

. . .they have a special department devoted to varous periodical's unusual weights and measures comparisons (it's usually buses* and whales and football pitches)(*as Dave points out) so that the general public might understand what they are talking about

(and for future reference, you might like to point The Editor of The Torygraph in the direction of the Department of Trade and Industry's National Weights and Measures Laboratory, in Teddington - its senior department officials are undertaking a review to identify areas in the private sector that could supply the services presently provided by NWML. . . you've obviously found one)

Richard said...

I don't really care how big it is, what concerned me was that the bastard could jump four feet (up to HERE!!) and that it shared its living space with a cyanide spitting pink centipede. You mess around with agent orange at your peril.
Anyway, that's the Mekong Delta off my travel plans for the foreseeable.

KAZ said...

You are so wise Vicus - you must have a brain as big as a cabbage.