One Summertime (or, Measuring a summer’s day)

As I was saying yesterday, summers tend to be all too short in this part of the world.

This fact was confirmed for me today when, having put on shorts and a t-shirt this morning because this week’s glorious summer weather appeared to be continuing, I found myself having to cycle home from work in my shorts and t-shirt in the rain.  As I went along, I cheered myself up by singing a rendition of George Gershwin’s Summertime (with a fairly heavy dose of irony).

This lead me inadvertently to the invention of a new unit for the measurement of distance.

As you may recall if you’ve been reading this blog for long enough or have browsed far enough through the archives, a while ago I ran a series of posts about units of length, relating them all to the span of the Menai Suspension Bridge (NB that link is actually to one of my blog categories; most, but not all, of the posts relate to that particular series).

It just so happened that I started singing Summertime (one complete run through at moderate tempo) more-or-less as I was getting on to the bridge and I finished it at about the time I reached the far end.  Therefore, it occurred to me that I could measure the length of the bridge (or anything else for that matter) in terms of the length of time it took to sing the song.

I therefore (loosely) define a Summertime to be the unit of length equal to the distance traversed on a bicycle while singing the eponymous song.  Of course, it’s not a particularly precise definition since it depends on how fast you ride and how fast you sing (which are not necessarily directly correlated).  On the basis of one measurement, given that the length of the Menai Suspension Bridge is about 256.3 meters and rounding up due to a combination of the inherent lack of precision in the definition of the Summertime and the fact that I hadn’t actually quite reached the bridge when I started singing, the conversion factor seems to be 1S = 300m approx.

And of course, that’s not all that much shorter than the length of a typical British summer. 🙂