IT IS peculiar what gets into the heads of Fairfax columnists – or, rather, the curious notions that took root years ago and refuse to be dislodged. Geoff Strong, one of the reasons the Age sells so well, is at it this morning with a dribble of nonsense about how proud he is that Australia moved to the metric system. When crusty conservatives, like the one who lives at the Billabong, insist on thinking of, say, Buddy Franklin as 6’5” rather than 196cm, be assured that it has everything to do with the imperial system providing a better and more accurate mental image of the Hawk forward’s imposing physicality. Not according to Strong, however, who fingers the United States’ pernicious influence on non-progressive minds:
Perhaps it is the adulation for all things American that makes some cling to the old illogical measures.
After that, and still having a few inches of newsprint to fill, Strong does what Fairfax’s six-figure sit-abouts do better than anything else, which is fail to notice the contradictions of their own prose. He was off in Austria, Strong tells readers, where he basked in the praise of a Sound of Music tour guide chuffed that her English-speaking visitor understood metrics. “I felt a tinge of pride,” he writes, “that she saw us alone among the Anglosphere as being comfortable with the measurements used by nearly everyone else.”
So, Australians are “alone” in grooving to kilos and kilometres. Except…except…. in the very next paragraph Strong writes that “metrics are used by America's neighbours, Canada”. One can be alone, apparently, but still have company. Then comes another passing and pointless shot at the United States:
Is it part of the Yank mythology of them being different to the rest of us?
Finally, the mystery of the column’s purpose is revealed. In the very last paragraph, he addresses the matter of the Strong schlong:
Let's face it, when it comes to being a normal average bloke, 150 millimetres doesn't stand out as much as six inches … or five, or even four.
That’s the thing about wankers. Sooner or later they always return to what fascinates them the most.