Bureau of Measures

From Discworld & Terry Pratchett Wiki
Revision as of 00:33, 12 February 2018 by Old Dickens (talk | contribs) (typi)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Situated opposite the Barbican on the corner of the Street of Small Gods and Rampire Alley, this is perhaps the nearest thing Ankh-Morpork has to a Trading Standards Office. Herein are stored all the absolutes and referents that a literally-minded society requires. The Sharp Stick is stored here, for instance, the pluperfect example that all other lesser sharp sticks require judgement against, in the context of That {unspecified event or thing} is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Extensive tests have indeed formally discovered that few things are worse than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Similarly, the Bucket of Pitch, as an absolute measure of blackness, is to be found here, as are a host of other comparative and superlative terms. Similar offices on Roundworld store only the mundane things, like the yardstick which is made of a specific metal alloy such that a certain weight, extruded in a bar one inch square, will be precisely 36" long at 20 degrees centigrade. But that sort of thing is boring by comparison... besides, Ankh-Morpork is a city where the mundane units of weight and measurement have been filed down, soldered onto, drilled, clipped and had bits of chewing gum stuck onto them on so many occasions that it is difficult to ascertain the exact originals.

Bureau officials maintain an ongoing programme of tests into such pressing issues as

  • The alcoholic tendencies of newts;
  • The precise degree of similarity between randomly chosen peas from the same pod;
  • The ability of a standard size of stone, and the best possible stony substance for it to be made of, capable of gathering moss (or otherwise) as it rolls downhill.

As the Patrician said, it's vitally necessary that people with this sort of mind be found harmless jobs to do. Or they might be capable of anything.