Wayfarer Column- What could be simpler than calculating distance

If you have an enquiring mind you will find that life is full of interest, every corner you turn could confront you with the unexpected. However if you wish to pass on to others these tales of the unexpected, then you need an imaginative mind to be able to perceive and develop the plot even to a sceptical audience.

For example what could be of interest about the newspaper report of a young Edinburgh youth who worked for a milk company finding himself in court for having stolen and drank 21 pints of milk? That is until you read that in his defence he insisted that the milk came from a rival company. Hmm! Perhaps his employers should reward him for initiative.

In Greenock in January 1969 a policeman noticed a man attempting to steal drugs from a doctor’s car and gave chase.

The thief vaulted over a wall onto the main road and attempted to flag down a passing car.

However in his haste he did not realise that he had flagged down a police car which was keen to give him a lift to the nearest police station. A small incident but one that could bring a smile when recounted.

Considering the unusual can you explain the facts surrounding the commonplace measurement of one mile which seems to vary a lot. The mile originated with the Romans who considered a mile to be 1000 regulation paces of a legion.

This equated to approximately 1620 yards proving that a legionnaire’s pace was a little over a yard.

Now for some unaccountable reason the mile has now become 1760 yards, but to add to the situation we have ‘The Lang Scots Mile’ of 1984 yards, but fortunately the Scottish Government has not decided to resuscitate it.

However to make matters even more confusing there is the nautical mile which is 2025 yards making it even longer than the Scots mile, but added to this is that when travelling at speed over water it is calculated in knots and not miles per hour.

Now we have considered the mile which gets its name from the Roman Legionnaires, but what of the yard which makes up the mile, or the inches which makes up the yard, and that is without even considering the metres and centimetres which we now have to use, although we have thankfully managed to retain the mile.

Whew! What a mystery we make of something which should be quite simple and consider what tales an imaginative mind can make of it all.

I have done my best to give you some food for thought. See you next week.