The difficulties of number and the number of difficulties

This morning in a well known DIY store I heard two members of staff discussing the metre-cubed measure of volume. One said ‘what is a metre cubed?’ and the conversation then went:

‘Do you know what a square meter is?’


‘Well that’s, like, with 2 and a metre-cubed is, like, with 3.’

‘Oh I see’

If this is a hard concept then, in the words of a well known fictional army reservist, ‘we’re doomed, doomed I say.’