Forty years on

The whole family was here in the end, all thirteen of us, which was brilliant.  Must be … oh, I don’t know – well, several weeks.  A month or so, I should think, which is a long time for a small baby.  Augustus now weighs over 12 pounds and is 2 feet long.  He’s 8 weeks old today.  I carried him around much of the afternoon, asleep against my shoulder.

The weather was wonderful for the fete, warm and sunny and, although it was rather slow to get going, it became busy during the afternoon.  I’d spent a couple of hours in the morning making cakes; two chocolate cakes and two dozen fairy cakes, and I bought other cakes and a pavlova, so didn’t have to make a pudding tonight.  Hay, who is not officially on solid food yet but who enjoys trying flavours, spent some time sucking on a slice of cooked courgette, and some more munching a piece of kiwi fruit.

It still doesn’t seem right to call it kiwi fruit, you know.  I’m such a stick-in-the-mud.  To me, it’ll always really be a Chinese gooseberry.  And physalis is Cape gooseberry.  And Sharon fruit is persimmon.  Come to that, it took me years to adjust fully to decimal coinage.  I translated back for ages.  This came in handy two and a half years after the switch when I married the Sage; where we went on honeymoon, the rate of exchange was 13 rupees to the pound, so I just thought in one-and-sixpences.  It’s slightly less convenient now, when I find that I am unable to think in metric weights and measures and always have to convert.  It’s not difficult – indeed, if it were harder to do, perhaps I’d need grams to become second nature to me.  As it is, I’m fairly sure I’ll think in pounds and yards all my life.

13 comments on “Forty years on

  1. Tim

    Sounds like a great day!

    I’ve been re-reading Bill Bryson’s ‘Mother Tongue’, in which he rejoices, amongst other things, in the variety of words we have for essentially the same thing. Those supermarket labels are just part of that centuries-old evolution of the language.

    As for weights and measures, I tend to go with ‘that looks about right’ rather than grams or ounces. But then I’m not usually cooking in the volumes you are.

    Oops, there goes the ramblin’ man again … Sorry!

  2. von LX

    The US is on a version of the Imperial system, so that’s what I use. However, I can think in metric because of years of experience as a Technical Writer where we expressed both systems.

  3. Z

    What I love is that my family enjoys spending time with each other, as well as me and the Sage.

    I do largely too, but for recipes and deciding how much to buy, I think Imperial. And when I buy a joint of meat, I have to translate into pounds to know how long to cook it for.

    I find US cup measurements tricky, LX and also that you have 16 fluid ounces in a pint instead of 20. I wish we still used gallons for fuel instead of litres, it really disguises how much we pay to drive our cars.

  4. allotmentqueen

    When I’m measuring (wood, fabric, whatever) I use whichever system, metric or imperial, comes out neatest in whole figures, or which makes for the easiest division if I need to cut it into a number of pieces (lazy, me).

    When I’m cooking I can do either. But I can’t do cups.

    If you say to me that something is, say, 5cm long then I’m afraid mentally I think that 30cm is 12 inches or thereabouts so therefore that’s 2 inches and then I have some kind of realistic idea. Equally I know (from jar jars) that 454g = 1lb so I extrapolate from there.

    Sorry, I never ate kiwi fruit before it became that. And I can’t remember when zucchini became courgettes.

    Clearly I am of a certain age.

  5. Z

    I’m more bilingual in distance than weight, actually – 2 kilometres to the town is neater than a mile and a quarter. I suppose if I ever bought metric scales then I’d have to convert, but I like my old sweet shop scales that weigh in quarter ounces, and I can’t see myself giving them up.

  6. Mike and Ann

    I bought two grandchildren sweets today and asked for them in quarters of a pound- it wasn’t queried.
    Some years ago an American friend sent Ann some recipes she’d asked for, and, as the recipes were American, also sent Ann a set of American cup measures, which we thought was really thoughtful.
    And even now, if anthing is below a pound in cost, I STILL convert to shillings and pence to see how much it really costs.

  7. Z

    At Al’s greengrocery, if someone asked for a pound, that’s what they received, as close as possible (the scales weighed in increments of 5g) and if it was over or under, I’d tell them by how much in ounces. A lot of people did, 500 or 450 grams sounds so pernickety, as if every gram matters. At the sweet shop, you probably received 100 grams though, as that’s the price quoted on the jar.

    It’s jolly depressing when you do though, isn’t it? – “16 shillings for an ice cream? What?” sort of thing.

    Did you not have exercise books when you were a lad where all the weights and measures were listed with their equivalent in metric, Dave?

  8. Z

    Thank you very much, I shall do that. Probably not tonight actually, I must get to bed because I’ll be up early in the morning, but soon.


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