A very tall story

HAVING grown up in the imperial world, I am quite satisfied with the way in which I now understand metric measurements. With one exception: height.

I am happy to drive 70 kilometres from A to B and know that if I drive at an average of 70km an hour, it will take one hour to get there.

I am happy to know that a glass of wine is 100ml and that drink safe authorities say that I can have two glasses a day – mind you, when I pour it, each glass is double that!

I am happy to know that when the scales tell me I weigh 92 kilograms, then I know I’m about half a stone overweight.

I am even happier to know how to count my money in dollars and cents instead of that complicated pounds, shillings and pence nonsense.

And I know that at 6ft 3ins tall, I am 1.91m in the new money.

But the height of other people baffles me.

I was reading the story of a Sudanese refugee family who made their way to Western Australia. Two sons are 214cm and 209cm tall and both are playing basketball in Canada with a basketball team in Perth trying to lure them back here.

Now I know that these two boys are tall because they are a lot taller than me. But I can really only visualise how tall by converting the metric measurement back to imperial. At which point I realise I am looking up to an 18-year-old at 7ft and his kid brother at 6ft 10ins.

It reminds me of when I was working with a Managing Director who was taller than me and I delighted in telling him that he was the only boss I ever looked up to!

Coincidentally, a BBC Online report this week examined why humans are growing taller and whether there is a finite limit.

Not surprisingly, social and health improvements over 150 years have led to an average increase in height of 10cm.. But Adam Hadhazy writes that one nation stands head and shoulders above others with a gain of 19cm – the Dutch, where young men and women now stand 184cm and 170cm respectively on average.

The BBC article made no mention of young Sudanese basketballers, but the quoted experts did suggest that we may have reached our genetic potential in terms of height.

Len Horne


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