back to article First alligators, then dogs, now Basil Fawlty is trying to standardise social distancing measures

No less a character than John Cleese himself has mounted a challenge to the supremacy of the Register Standards Soviet after the funny walks man suggested that he himself was an appropriate measure of social distancing. The Fawlty Towers star took to Twitter, as reported by our state broadcaster, after Torbay Council in Devon …

  1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

    But what would the measure be... deceased Norwegian blues?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. DJV Silver badge

      Re: But what would the measure be...

      Who cares - I'd be too engrossed in admiring the plumage!

      1. EagleZ28

        Re: But what would the measure be...

        " I'd be too engrossed in admiring the plumage!"...

        and for this reason, perhaps the distance which one can throw the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch might be a better measure.

        Provided that one doesn't spend too long reading the manual.

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Holy Social Distance of Antioch

          Two shall be the metre count of social distancing, and the metre count of social distancing shall be two.

          Three shalt thou not count, neither count thou one, excepting that thou then proceed to two.

          Four is right out. Once the number two, being the second number, be reached, then thou art socially distance from thy foe, who, being safely distanced in My sight, shall maybe not snuff it.

    3. TRT Silver badge

      Re: But what would the measure be...

      Look, I took the liberty of examining that council meeting when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that the councillors had been socially distancing in the first place was that they had been NAILED there.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But what would the measure be... deceased resting Norwegian blues?


  2. OssianScotland

    Ministry of...

    Surely they could have done it in terms of silly walks, most of which looked to be about 2m each pace?

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Ministry of...

      The Ministry of Silly Walks was aired in 1970 - at which time distances would have been measured in feet - so: each pace would have been about 6'

      1. 6491wm

        Re: Ministry of...

        on a technicality by 1970 the yard was officially linked to the metre so although feet may have been in more common place usage......................

        The international yard and pound are two units of measurement that were the subject of an agreement among representatives of six nations signed on 1 July 1959, namely the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa. The agreement defined the yard as exactly 0.9144 meters and the pound as exactly 0.45359237 kilograms.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Ministry of...

          The yard (of ale) should be the unit for socially distanced drinking at the bar.

          1. TimMaher Silver badge

            Re: Ministry of...

            Two yards really.

            Much better.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Ministry of...

              One each, innit?

        2. swm Silver badge

          Re: Ministry of...

          "yard as exactly 0.9144 meters"

          This was changed to 1 inch = exactly 2.54 cm

  3. Teiwaz

    The Osman

    Standards Soviet

    I'd no idea who or what an Osman was initially (the bulb makers? did they mean the Osmonds? etc.)

    Not all of us watch TV anymore.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: The Osman

      I would tell you, but it would be Pointless! Right Richard?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Osman

        .. err, almost a lightbulb moment, there.

      2. Kane Silver badge

        Re: The Osman

        "I would tell you, but it would be Pointless! Right Richard?"

        Personally, me and the wife prefer House of Games.

        Answer Smash - the best we've seen so far is Unicornish Pasty. I forget what the actual question was.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: The Osman

      Also Osman Ghazi, the first ruler of the Ottoman Empire, so quite obviously a unit of measurement based on a bedding trunk. Right kids? ;)

  4. Chris G


    Remembering the car thrashing clip, wasn't it a standard rose that Basil used to thrash his car with?

    Which begs the question, what is a standard rose and by whose standards is that determined?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Standards

      There are other points to look at from the "jolly good thrashing" of, what I think , is an Austin 1100. Not least of which is that you can give it "one last chance" without actually needing to try the starter again :-)

      Or perhaps my memory is fading....

      1. Glen 1

        Re: Standards

        Depends if it had the Lucas alternator...

    2. PTW

      Re: Standard rose

      Back when god was a lad my uncle watched his neighbour, freshly returned from the garden centre, dig a 3 foot deep hole in his front garden to plant his newly acquired "standard" rose

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Standard rose

        @Chris G - nope, unless it was a very large rose indeed (and without a flower on it)

    3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Standards

      "what is a standard rose"?

      Well, it's bit different to a "Bog Standard Rose", which would be a "Standard Rose" that originates from a Bog

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Standards

      Which begs the question, what is a standard rose

      Well obviously it's a common or garden rose. Named after the fact that you can lop the top off and make a standard lamp out of it.


  5. MJI Silver badge

    But but

    The standard unit for this is an Osman.

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge


    Thin at one end, fat in the middle, thin at the other end. And 25 social distancing units long. What's complicated about that?

    1. You aint sin me, roit

      Re: Brontosauri

      Too difficult to get down the aisles at Tesco, where social distancing measures are most needed. Similar issues with London buses - fine for outdoors, but not advisable in confined spaces.

  7. b0llchit Silver badge

    Pi and the mathematics of social distancing

    Why is nobody using ⅓ and ⅔ of π distance? Then we can all be assured that nobody will keep their distance and we can circle nicely into oblivion with enough subjects rounding down.

    1. Robert Helpmann??

      Re: Pi and the mathematics of social distancing

      Why is nobody using ⅓ and ⅔ of π distance?

      In this case, ⅓π Basil Fawlty is a bit much, but only a bit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pi and the mathematics of social distancing

        In this case, ⅓π Basil Fawlty is a bit much, but only a bit.

        Yes, but is the bit 1 or 0?

  8. not.known@this.address

    My preferred measuring device

    Apparently the average human arm holding a "standard" D&D shortsword works out to be about 2m - so if I can stab you, you are too damn close. Now, does anyone know where I can get a shortsword while my Dwarven armourer is in Lockdown?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: My preferred measuring device

      I prefer the Bohemian ear spoon, myself.

      I really should be able to let this go, but I seem unable to... that episode of Blockbusters where Bob Holness asked "What S is a halberd, a partisan or a javelin?" The correct answer is 'shafted weapon', but they gave the correct answer as 'spear'... which is totally wrong because a 'spear' is specifically a weapon with a shaft which can be used in one hand for throwing or thrusting, and you wouldn't throw a halberd!

      1. TimMaher Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: My preferred measuring device

        Well, you could just about throw a halberd but you’d get that springy, bouncy effect when the butt hit the ground and it might topple over and hurt somebody.

  9. Dr. G. Freeman

    Sadly, here in Aberdeen, people couldn't understand how far one metre was (inside the pub), so we're in Lockdown again.

    It's all well and good telling people to stay apart, but when they lack any spatial awareness at all, well, it's easier talking to the pigeons. (who just want to talk about political uprisings- coup, coup)

    1. drand

      Oh I am having that one.

      (Which is a measure of its awfulness)

      1. Dr_N

        Re: Oh I am having that one.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Well, yes, a good rule of thumb would have been: if you're close enough to shake hands, you're too close. But seeing as other considerations such as time and air throughput are just as important, it was only ever going to be a rule of thumb.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "if you're close enough to shake hands, you're too close"

        Yes, Boris... especially when you are visiting a hospital treating Covid victims...

        You then had to come back a week later to visit intensive care!

  10. John Jennings

    That episode of Fawlty Towers

    is currently withdrawn - the Major was quite politically incorrect. (yes, I know he was meant to be, but that is not possible currently)

    No word yet when it will return - though it is available on non-official channels.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: That episode of Fawlty Towers

      Indeed, yet another example of Alf Garnett syndrome, and some people who are unable to appreciate or in too many cases even identify satire and ridicule.

    2. A Nother Handle

      Re: That episode of Fawlty Towers

      I thought I read that it was put back a few days later with a warning that some of the jokes were dated, er... I mean of their time.

      Not that I'm bothered. Hurrah for DVDs.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: That episode of Fawlty Towers

      Really? That is odd. When I watch it, I find that the most jarring parts are the ones involving Manuel – not least in having an Austrian refugee play a clichéd Spaniard. I think most of the violence could be removed without affecting the show and perhaps fewer jokes solely based on the word "que". The best comedy is derived from Fawlty's misplaced arrogance and his resulting insecurity; holding a mirror up to our own most embarassing frailties.

      But the Major was a stereotype of the time, being somewhat cruelly mocked. And let's face it people like Rees-Mogg seem to be doing a good job at making sure it doesn't disappear!

  11. Paul Shirley

    my sort of distancing guide

    this fits pub use better

    Though I'll need to calculate what 24 cans is in bottles or cider boxes

    1. Rich 11

      Re: my sort of distancing guide

      24 cans = almost a weekend

  12. Keith Oborn

    1.1764705 Smoots

    'nuf said, although I suppose the Smoot is a Colonial unit, with excessively close association to certain tea-rejecting locales, so should be ignored in the UK.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1.1764705 Smoots

      The Smoot may be colonial, but the MIT connection provides the IT angle, doesn't it?

      1. Dr. Ellen

        Re: 1.1764705 Smoots

        Smoots for the win. I find the British measure Fawlty.

        1. RM Myers

          Re: 1.1764705 Smoots

          Fawlty yes, but still a tower of strength length.

  13. Daniel von Asmuth

    Holiday in Holland

    The Netherlands keep closer than the Britons. Fortunately, singer Roel van Velzen at 1,52 m has the appropriate length for our social distancing.

  14. Mike 16

    U.S. Standards

    At least an alligator is more likely to be horizontal than Osman or Fawlty.

    Not always, mind. At least one in South Carolina managed to climb over a 1Meter+ fence, which required a certain amount of verticality.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Geezer standard

    I use the extended cane measurement. If I can poke you with it, you're too close. And if it hits when I poke at you, you deserve it

  16. heyrick Silver badge

    I don't believe 7.14 linguine is correct

    Analysis on my blog.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Social distancing ...

    Monty Python style ...

  18. Neil of Qld

    Australain Standard

    Try one kangaroo hop

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Australain Standard

      Here in British Columbia, Canada, there are life size cut-outs advising you to be one mountain lion body length, one golden eagle wingspan or one grizzly bear apart.

      The number of covid cases is very low, but the deaths due to mountain lion grizzly bear and golden eagle are presumably rising

    2. Twanky Silver badge

      Re: Australain Standard

      Is that the Red or the Eastern Grey?

    3. Rich 11

      Re: Australain Standard

      I'd like to see kangaroos try to win a three-legged race.

    4. chrisw67

      Re: Australian Standard

      Not in the Northern Territory where the measure is "one small croc".

      If memory serves, free-range crocs in the NT come in sizes from huge to gigantic, so there's plenty of separation going on.

  19. Badbob


    I believe the indoor social distancing measure is the “Cat Swinging Length”. If I there is enough room to swing a cat, then you are sufficiently far away.

    However, as an animal lover, I recommend the use of an appropriate analog for a cat. I personally tape 20 sharp Stanley knives (other brands are available) to a toy Bagpuss and head off down the aisles of Tesco merrily swinging away.

    I’ve only been arrested 4 times so far, and tasered twice.

  20. Twanky Silver badge

    This advice has to change!

    I've tried staying two metres apart - I really have.

    It doesn't half make my eyes water.

  21. The Count Is Dead

    The Basil Fawlty becomes official measurement in the U.S.

    In the U.S. state of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has issued a executive order proclaiming that the Basil Fawlty shall be the officially recognized measure of social distancing. Although we did have to play a few episodes for her before she got with the program.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Appy Days could be here again

    It would be useful if someone in the Politburo of the Register Standards Soviet could include the construction of an an App in the next Five Year Plan.

    The app shall carry out all he conversion function of the web based page of information, and a Premium version could include linking to the mobile's onboard sensors to give immediate outputs in unit of choice. (exampe: if linked to your car systems, parking sensor warnings given in Osmans or Linguinie)

    I release any profits arising from IP value of this idea to any El Reg fund for the next space project to follow up LOHAN.

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