Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory have established the length of ‘a piece of string’ to be 1 metre, although Jacob Rees-Mogg has proposed the perch as the ideal British unit of measurement as it is the oldest one he can find. The standard piece of string will be held at the NPL’s headquarters in a sealed unit at constant temperature and pressure in perpetuity, or until politicians stop saying ‘Ah, but how long is a piece of string?’ to avoid answering the bloody question.
Other researchers will be able to copy the standard piece of string by placing theirs alongside it and trimming to length, in a process known as ‘secondary standard calibration’, or – in layman’s terms – ‘cutting’. Many politicians are disappointed by the move, and several have vowed to continue not giving a straight answer to a question. However, Diane Abbott, who has welcomed the news that a piece of string is ’28 million miles, sorry, 3 millimetres, I mean 25 kilograms long’.