Stephen Fry addresses inequality and injustice with Sandi Toksvig, Clive Anderson, Henning Wehn and Alan Davies.
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Good evening, good evening, good evening!
Goo-o-d evening and welcome to QI,
where the composition of our panel is intentionally international.
From Denmark, Sandi Toksvig...
From Germany, Henning Wehn...
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
From Scotland, Clive Anderson...
And from God knows where, Alan Davies!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Tonight's show is all about inattention and ineptitude.
Alan, what is tonight's show about?
Inattention and ineptitude.
That's ten points off for a start, because tonight's show
-is all about inequality and injustice.
-Oh, of course!
And so we unjustly took 10 points away from you,
because this is a show in which nothing will be fair,
from top to bottom,
so let's get it over with and go straight to the scores!
In first place, with -54,
it's Sandi Toksvig!
In second place with +7, is Clive Anderson!
(BUZZER) 'Objection, m'lud!'
In third place with minus sechzig, is Henning Wehn...
(BUZZER) 'Don't mention za var!'
And lastly, obviously, with minus one gazillion, is Alan Davies!
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
CLIVE: So that's it, you've done the scores already?
The scores are already done, but we've still got questions to ask.
And don't forget your nobody knows joker.
There's a question, maybe two, or three,
to which the correct answer is, "nobody knows".
If you wave your nobody knows joker you get extra points,
or maybe you lose them,
or maybe you don't, because the scores have already been given.
It's an unjust game tonight. The first question is easy,
so I'll give it randomly to my old friend, Sandi.
What can you tell me about this chap behind you?
Ooh! Er, well, do you think that the words give it away,
or is that going to be unfair?
Er, the fact that it says, "The Puritan."
-That seems unfair!
-It does, doesn't it?
Because what it is, is the 19th century IDEA of a Puritan,
and in fact the 19th century idea of a Puritan,
which we retain to this day, is completely inaccurate.
The steeple hat, the clothing, no evidence
they ever wore...
They wore a beanie hat, did they?
They wore ordinary clothes, but if having a portrait taken,
they usually wore their Sunday best,
which tended to be black.
-So he's not a Puritan at all?
-He's a 19th century idea of a Puritan.
-You were right to say he was a Puritan...
-I was merely reading!
..and I was unjust. You've lost 10 points,
-but it doesn't matter because you've already won!
-Do you know, I'm quite relaxed about the whole show?
Now, what can you tell me about the Puritans, in America?
Er, they went over on the Mayflower?
-I keep expecting the thing to go off again!
They didn't go on the Mayflower?
No. The great American myth, if you like,
is the Puritans arrived on the Mayflower,
and they came to avoid religious persecution.
In fact, they came in order to be able to persecute.
-Yeah, but they hated the Quakers.
-They objected to religious freedom in England,
that meant you could have all kinds of ranges of religion.
In 1660, they hanged a woman just for being a Quaker.
-That's right, the very one.
Obviously many people did come to America to avoid persecution,
but the idea the Puritans came to avoid persecution,
they came to persecute,
they wanted to build a country
in which there could be no dissent from Puritanism.
Puritans, they regarded luxury as sinful, didn't they?
Some of them set off to America and the others opened B&Bs in Britain!
B&Bs, breakfast until seven - don't call it B&B, just call it B!
If you've got no intention of serving breakfast, don't call it B&B.
Do you know, I once sailed all the way round Britain,
and we finally got to Northumbria, and on the coastline,
there was a house with paint saying,
"Bed and breakfast, hot and cold water."
I thought, "Only in this country, would you feel you must advertise you have both."
Oh yes. Pride!
It used to be hot and cold running water.
Not just a bucket lying there, there's pipes and everything!
In this painting, did the native there, on the left,
-did he bring that tree to hide behind, because he looks...
He doesn't look happy!
-See which way the wind is blowing.
-I think he knows what's coming!
It's true, Stephen, the Puritans went on the Mayflower.
They say they landed at Plymouth Rock, but it was Provincetown, so none of it is true?
I'm afraid, yeah, it's a myth.
Every country likes to build up a legend of its own foundation.
Really ugly baby!
It IS a rather ugly baby!
Like a tiny person standing behind that woman.
It's not any use... don't learn that expression, "really ugly baby".
There's never an opportunity to use that in real life.
Little tiny... I'm really enjoying this painting...
They've come all the way over, brought one pickaxe and a hat.
It's no basis on which to build a country, is it?
The guy on the right brought a girl.
300 years later, it was the mightiest nation on Earth.
-Extraordinary! No offence!
-Don't think the man in the hat had much to do with it!
Anyway, that was our first unfair question.
Puritans didn't really dress like that. What key role
did a Puritan pig play in the trial of George Spencer in 1641?
-Is that the actual pig we're looking at?
-No, that is not the actual pig!
Because that's a photograph of a modern pig posing as a 1641 pig.
A rather similar picture of myself at a spa!
Oh, now! You've got two fewer nipples!
Well, certainly, the nipples were a surprise!
-But that look of contentment!
-One happy pig.
-That's a pig in clover.
A pig in clover, absolutely!
-George... When did you say, what year did you say?
Are we talking about witchcraft?
We're in New Haven, Connecticut, the centre of the Puritan...
-Is this a bit like that monkey they hanged in Hartlepool?
Because they thought he was French, didn't they?
The monkey was hanged because they thought him a French spy.
They knew French people spoke a different language and were small,
and cartoonists had made them look diminutive and nasty,
so they see a little monkey, they buy the propaganda!
-When the monkey was in the dock it was thoroughly evasive!
It didn't give a straight answer to any question!
This, on the other hand, is a Puritan world, and I would remind you of Leviticus 20:15.
Not eating pork, presumably?
No, "If a man lie with a beast,
"he shall surely be put to death, and ye shall slay the beast."
-He laid with a pig!
-Did George have his end away with a piece of pork?
He just fancied a bit of crackling, that's all!
It's even unfairer than that.
It so happened that George was a rather ugly fellow, who was bald and had one eye,
and one day a sow farrowed, I think is the word, a litter of piglets,
one of whom was strikingly similar to George,
and had one eye, and so George was immediately
put in front of the Puritan court, accused of having lain with the pig.
He didn't have the chance to get a super injunction?
He denied it strenuously, as you might!
Typically, the Puritans then said, "There shall be mercy shown,
"should you be open and honest."
So he thought, "If I say yes they'll let me off",
so he said, "I laid with the pig", and they said, "The mercy will be shown by the Lord, but not by us."
For there to be a capital offence there had to be two witnesses to it,
so they included the pig.
So they brought the pig into the trial to speak against itself,
or squeak against itself, and both George and the pig were executed.
-Both got the chop.
-Both got the chop!
-Did the pig shyly look at George,
in a kind of I-remember-that-night way?
I think the whole thing was just...
The pig came in and said, "That bastard, he never rang...
"..he just used me!"
Some 50 years later, there was the famous mass hysteria in Salem...
-Salem witch trials...
-The witch trials, but this was before them,
there were the bestiality obsessions as well.
-Who's the other witness, though?
-George. George said yes.
-So his confession...
-His tricked confession was counted.
If you'd been there, he'd have got off, Clive.
Of course, I'd like to think so,
but these days, you convict people on a confession,
you don't even need the pig!
There was a man caught
in an intimate situation with a donkey in 1710 in France.
He was caught in the act with a female donkey,
and character witnesses appeared - this is what was so sweet -
-on behalf of the donkey...
..saying, "This was an honest donkey
"and a modest donkey and a decent donkey,"
so the man was executed and the donkey got off scot-free.
The law is an ass!
It seems very unfair to execute the pig.
-If the sin is lying with the beast...
No, Leviticus, I remind you,
"If a man lie with the beast he shall surely be put to death,
"and ye shall slay the beast."
-Does anyone know,
why did the New Haven Puritans abolish trial by jury?
Well, the Bible has stuff about, "Judge not, that ye be not judged."
I think it's in the gospels.
Does that go on to say, "..and don't be on a jury, either."
Oddly enough, you're in the right area.
It's simply that juries are not mentioned in the Bible.
They thought they had no place in life
as they didn't have them in biblical times.
What about a propelling pencil? They wouldn't have that either.
Well, quite. There are Amish communities and various other Brethren who don't.
-It's a sin to use a propelling pencil?
-Well, it's very hard. I agree.
It's a very peculiar world, the world of the Puritan.
America's full of those strange rules.
Did you know that it's still the law in Alabama that it is illegal
to wear a fake moustache in church that causes laughter?
They got Groucho Marx on that!
It's fine otherwise.
It's OK if it's serious?
If people take it seriously, but if it causes laughter in the church, you're out.
I think under Thatcher or maybe just after, under John Major,
-there was a Lord Chancellor called Lord Mackay of Clashfern - do you remember him?
He was a member of the Order known as the Wee Frees,
who are a very extreme sect of Presbyterians.
And he was actually expelled from the Wee Frees
for attending the wedding of a friend who was a Catholic.
It was the funeral of a judge who was Catholic,
and that's consorting with the Antichrist, unfortunately.
-Just going to a friend's funeral...
-He was an elder of the Kirk,
and had spent his whole life in the Church and he had to go.
Expelled just for going to a friend's funeral. There was a good story about him
- I'm not saying any Scottish mean jokes,
but he was apparently quite a frugal man.
Apparently he held a tea party for various lawyers
and procurator fiscals, or whatever they're called in Scotland,
and there was tea, and there was a tiny pot of honey and some toast.
Someone had this little pot of honey, and one of the lawyers looked at it and said,
"I see Your Lordship keeps a bee."
-A very good line.
-He was a fine man, though.
..and a good lawyer, no doubt. Or he wouldn't have risen to his eminence.
We have odd flashes of Puritanism, because I was listening to
Radio 5 the other day and they had an actress on, not Angelina Jolie,
but the one who's Lara Croft in the latest Tomb Raider film.
Cut a long story short, they airbrushed her nipples out of the poster.
Her nipples were showing through her costume, just the two little...
But this was radio!
Not just for the radio!
And she had complained about it and said,
"Why have you airbrushed my nipples? That's ridiculous. Why not just leave them?"
And the presenter said, "Well, perhaps they thought they weren't suitable for children?"
Nipples not being suitable for children!
-She said, "Are you being serious? My nipples?"
-They are expressly designed...
..for the purpose of the continuation of our race!
I did a sitcom for Channel 4 with the lovely Mike McShane. And he played a sex expert
and we decided his apartment would have lots of sex things in it.
And he would have a coat rack made entirely of penises.
And this went the Channel 4 lawyers and they said,
"You can have the penises, as long as they're not erect."
And I said, "Well, how will it work as a coat rack?"
Not my specialist area, but nevertheless!
You have to excite your peg before you can hang your coat up.
Right. Royal unfairness, now.
Who got the blame when the Prince of Wales misbehaved?
Seeing we're in Britain, usually the Germans.
Well, they are Germans, so... LAUGHTER
-Is it this Prince?
-It's not actually this one.
-Is it another Charles?
-It's not, actually.
-All princes of blood.
-Edward VIII was always in trouble.
Queen Victoria said, "If I get the right..."
Earlier ones were often in trouble.
What I'm really talking about here, I suppose,
is the business of corporal punishment.
Until very, very, very recently in human history
has it become unfashionable and indeed considered wrong
to strike a child for a misdeed.
-It's now illegal to do so.
-I believe so.
Just on the way here, a small urchin annoyed me!
It used to be considered,
it used to be considered
not only empirically but in every other sense a good thing to do.
How is he holding that child up? He's got his thumb wedged in his...
It's the only way of holding him up. It's like a bowling ball.
Don't know whether that's Dotheboys Hall from Nicholas Nickleby or similar.
Generally speaking, almost everybody was agreed it was good for children to be beaten.
There was the Bible, "He who spareth the rod hateth his son.
"Withhold not correction from your child.
"Beat him with the rod and thou shall deliver his soul from Hell." Apparently.
Children were always beaten. We're the first generation...
-I'm not. I was beaten hugely as a child at prep school.
God, yes. From the age of seven till 13, at least twice a week.
I was a bad boy and I was always being thrashed.
-Oh, stealing, lying, cheating, being cheeky, being a nuisance,
-Bit of a smart arse?
-Being a smart arse.
-Bit too clever for your own good, that sort of thing?
Always telling everybody what was going on?
Well, they certainly beat that out of you, didn't they?
And I was beaten a great deal and it did me no harm...
It was common practice.
It was outlawed in state schools when?
When was it actually made law that you were not allowed to strike a child?
-Later than you think.
-I'd guess under New Labour.
-It was 1986.
1986 when it was made illegal in state schools to beat children,
and it was a very close vote.
-Under Margaret Thatcher?
-231 to 230.
-In state schools?
By just one. Do you know whom state school children have to thank
for the fact they were not beaten from that day forward? It's odd.
-Michael Howard or something?
-No. It's even weirder.
-No, it's just too weird to be believed.
Fergie, Fergie, Fergie. Dear Duchess of York, Fergie.
The manager of Manchester United?
No, the Duchess of York, Fergie, as I just said.
Black Eyed Peas?
That, I will repeat, Duchess of York, Fergie.
I hadn't finished my Fergie material.
A tractor? LAUGHTER
A massive Fergie, yes, you could say.
Well, it so happened the vote was on that day that she was marrowing...
-Marrowing? Marrowing Prince Andrew.
She loved to marrow Prince Andrew.
I think marrowing the prince is illegal.
What a great expression. "Have you time for some marrowing?"
I'm going to Google that when I get in.
Apparently, the traffic held-up enough Tory MPs,
who were likely to have voted to keep beating,
for the anti-beating measure to go through.
-Was this a whipped vote?
I thought you meant she campaigned for it?
No, no. It just so happened the vote, no, happened.
Entirely inadvertent, she did something useful.
By mistake. By mistake, she helped.
When was it, or is it, indeed, illegal in private schools?
You have to pay extra, though. LAUGHTER
-I think it isn't, now.
-It's very recent.
-Under the Human Rights Act, it must.
-Yes. In 1999, basically, is when that stopped being legal.
Until then, children were beaten.
They were beaten for making mistakes,
they were beaten for all kinds of reasons.
But there was this idea also that you learned better,
that things could literally be beaten into you, knowledge could be beaten into you.
So, what happened when it came to a prince?
You can't have a commoner, even their tutor, beating a prince
because he's made a mistake in his algebra.
-You beat his teddy?
-Well, you appointed someone.
A child, a friend of the prince, who,
when the prince made a mistake, you whipped him.
And that phrase, which is in common currency, is whipping boy.
-They become peer then, later on, don't they?
-Yes. That's the point.
It was actually a much sought-after post.
Fathers would want their sons to be whipping boy.
They were close to the Royal Family. Charles I, for example, had a whipping boy when he was a prince
and he raised him to the Earl of Dysart, a title that still exists.
They became quite powerful people.
The idea was, of course, they would be friends,
that the prince would like his whipping boy,
so that he would try hard.
Obviously sometimes they might think, "I don't bloody care!"
It's a most peculiar idea,
but that's where whipping boy comes from.
Is there an official title? There are titles like Silver Stick-in-Waiting.
This could be Crimson Bottom.
Gentleman of the Stool was an existing one, as you know.
It was the one who had to wipe the King's bottom under Henry VIII.
-Can't they do anything themselves?
-They seem not to be able to.
Um, erm, yes... There is a part of...
-I presume he'd have a long stick.
-Yes, I'd assume they would.
A stick with a rag, do it from a distance.
-There's a part of Germany...
-Sorry for all the mime.
-I've always wanted to be a mime.
This is the only opportunity I get.
It's more fun than walking into the wind.
I suppose you might be, I don't know!
You may think British schoolmasters are amongst the most sadistic,
but it's to Germany we turn
for really good examples of how to treat children.
In Swabia in west southern Germany,
there was a headmaster there who logged all his punishments in a book.
And over his career as headmaster at this school,
he logged 911,500 canings
as well as numerous other punishments during a 51 year career.
That's nearly 400 chastisements a week.
Some would have been delegated - he would've been exhausted.
Other punishments he logs include
700 boys being made to stand with peas in their shoes - not too bad -
and 6,000 made to kneel on the sharp edge of a stick.
-This was not a nice man.
-It's not about the education. There's something more going on there.
And Eton College had a famous headmaster called Dr Keate -
there's a Keate's Lane in Eton - who was known as Flogger Keate.
He once flogged the entire Eton cricket team
for losing to Winchester.
Including the scorer.
So that was the whipping boy.
There's a kind of religious equivalent. This poor boy who takes the sins of the prince,
what was there in the Jewish faith that was the equivalent?
You've got the lamb or the goat. The goat famously known as the...
-I was expecting the thing to go off there.
-No. That's exactly what they were.
Scapegoat. There's the famous Holman Hunt painting of The Scapegoat.
This was during the day of atonement, Yom Kippur, the goat would be sent out
to carry the sins of the people, it bore the sins of the people.
And then Christianity is just a refinement of that, where Christ bore the sins of the people.
It happens in a lot of religions that you offload your own
wickedness onto something else.
So, it is there from whipping boys to scapegoats.
They exist in the language still,
this idea of offloading one's own guilt.
In the Isle of Man, they had corporal punishment until 1976.
What type of wood did they administer it with?
Well, I know I'm going to get a buzz on this
because it's normally called birching.
It doesn't matter anyway!
So did it depend on how bad you'd been?
If you were really bad, it was holly, and they left the leaves on,
but if you weren't so bad, it would be like willow fronds.
-Or balsa wood.
-Hazel. Yeah, they used hazel.
In Britain, birching, as it was known,
was banned in 1948,
but they didn't stop it until the 1970s in the Isle of Man.
They tried to keep it by saying, "OK, what about if we let them keep their trousers on?"
In America there is still the tradition
in some parts of birthday spanking.
Yeah, where you go to school and because it's your special day,
as a special treat, the teacher takes the paddle out and you get a few.
Some people say, "We have to ban it. It's cruel."
Others say, "No, we can't. It's a tradition."
So they have to carry on thrashing the kids.
It's like family Christmas, no-one likes it,
still, because it's a tradition, everyone has to go through it.
We get the idea of bringing a tree in for Christmas, that's a German idea.
Yeah, I don't know. Did we invent Christmas?
A lot of elements of it.
I say, come on. Either we invented it or we didn't.
It's like that terrible joke, I'm sure you must have been told,
about the couple who adopt a German baby.
-You know it. You must know it.
Is there only one joke that involves a German baby?
It doesn't speak. Is that the one where he doesn't speak until he's about five?
-They take him to be tested.
-Want me to say the punchline?
-They think, "Is he stupid, deaf, dumb?"
-Everything functioning normally.
ALAN AND HENNING TOGETHER: Then one day...
We're all going to say it together!
Go on, Alan.
Then they give him, he has some apple strudel.
-And he says...
-"This apfelstrudel is a bit tepid."
And they say, "Wolfgang! You've never spoken before!
"After all these years, now you finally speak? Why haven't you spoken before?" And he says...
"Up until now, everything had been satisfactory."
It's a great joke.
-Like a relay joke.
This is the most fun a Danish person has had with a German since 1945.
DON'T MENTION THE WAR BUZZER
Oh, dear. There we go...
The war. I mean, I have to chip in now. The war.
It's always World War II, it's never any of the more current ones.
"The war". And everyone in Britain takes personal credit for Britain winning it.
Even people that weren't born at the time of World War II,
they still take personal credit for Britain winning it.
I'm personally a lot more annoyed by Brits that are now in their 70s
and they bang on about how they helped win the war.
Let's quickly do the maths. If you're in your 70s now,
how old were you at the end of World War II?
How did you help win the war when you were just 10-years-old?
-You did not help win the war.
-By not eating bananas.
You were nothing but a drain on British resources.
You've got to admire his guts, haven't you?
Effectively, effectively, every 70-year-old Brit
effectively fought on the side of Nazi Germany...
..and lost the war every little bit as much as we did!
-Yes, well. Moving on.
Manx birches were actually made from hazel wands.
Now for a bit more international injustice. Name a French book
that can never be translated into German.
This book was written with the express
orders of its author that it was never to be translated into German.
And, let's be honest, if this book originally was from France,
there will be a very, very small market in Germany for that anyway.
They can translate it at all they want, they will just would not find anyone who buys it.
Somebody who hates the Germans?
He heated Prussians. That might date him better. Why would a Frenchman hate Prussians?
Because of the Franco-Prussian War - another war, I'm afraid, we don't want to mention.
At least it's a different one!
And we weren't involved.
Well, we would've won it, had we been involved.
1870s is exactly the year the Franco-Prussian War. Very good.
-I remember that from school.
-Absolutely. Very good.
-He was a scientist, a great scientist.
Louis Pasteur is the right answer, who was responsible for...
He didn't invent pasteurisation, but it's named after him.
-Why did he take the Germans?
-I think it really was the occupation
and the attack into French territory. He just was very patriotic.
But, after the war, the Germans discovered a new form of yeast
that allowed them to store beer extremely well,
and the German for "to store" is?
-Lagen, and so they called the beer "lager" beer.
And it became hugely successful.
And this annoyed the hell out of Pasteur
that the Germans that he so hated
had basically started to conquer the world of beer.
-So he set about...
-He needed to move on!
Well, he set about studying how brewing worked -
the science of the yeasts and the whole business of making beer.
And he came up with some really, really, really good yeasts
that made even better beer. And he took them around the world.
He took them to America, to Belgium, to the Whitbread company,
he took them to the Carlsberg company in Denmark,
but he refused to take them to Germany. And he wrote a book all about it,
instructing that it must never be translated into German, that Germans
must never get their hands on the secrets of this new better beer.
-And, of course, the German beer industry collapsed.
Unfortunately it didn't work that well. It turned out rather nicely for the Carlsberg people.
There is an irony about the whole Pasteur thing.
When France wanted to get rid of its bullion
during the Second World War in case the Germans got hold of it...
Its bullion, not its bouillon - its gold, not its chicken stock.
No, not its chicken stock. That went as well -
..it all went to Canada on a single ocean liner
called the SS Pasteur.
-So, he kind of got his own back.
Back home to Britain, now.
From 1875 to 1956,
what was the next best thing to a first-class train ticket?
-Second-class train ticket.
That's the problem.
You weren't to know, being a cursed foreigner and all.
-They went from first to third.
-There was no second-class.
-But there were ladies only carriages.
-That would be quite nice.
And there were no smoking carriages, but mostly there were smoking ones.
-She's got no idea where she's going.
How it came about was that Gladstone insisted there be
a third-class service for poorer people and train companies hated it.
They ran these useless services that were third-class only, known as parliamentary trains.
They were no good to anybody, just to apply the law.
Then they had a smarter idea and they said,
"We'll upgrade the third-class to second-class
"but call it third-class and get rid of the second-class.
"So we're obeying the law by having a third-class,
"but it'll cost what second-class used to cost."
It's a very bizarre British solution.
They had an influence - I found this out making a documentary -
it had an influence on the way suburban housing developed in London.
Because the train companies wouldn't sell third-class tickets in the outer suburbs
because they didn't want the trains filling up with poor people, they didn't pay as much money
as the first-class people, so they wouldn't sell the tickets.
That's why London's developed, and that's why there are bigger houses
-on the outside, and smaller houses on the inside.
-I thought it was because of the smoke.
The big selling point for trains was you could move out of London
to a nice green field and get away from the dirt,
so people wanted to do that,
but all the development was along the line of the railways.
They didn't bother building cheap housing further out
cos no-one could get into London because the trains wouldn't let you on.
They had clever ways. How do you think they used chimney sweeps?
-On the railway?
Strapped to the front of the train, keeping the rails clean.
No, it was a very naughty trick.
They'd sit in third-class?
Yeah, what train companies hated were the genteel people, clerks,
who didn't have much money but had to be well-dressed.
What they would do is they would put chimney sweeps in
and put soot over them so third-class carriages
were so dirty, these people thought, "Oh, God. I've got to pay the first-class fare."
Don't say this out loud. I'm sure Ryanair will have an idea!
-Brilliant! We'll do the same thing!
Or easyJet, since you're in easyJet's colours.
I'm sure it didn't happen all over,
but these were some of the tricks they resorted to, apparently.
-Which one's Dick Van Dyke?
-They're really happy, aren't they?
They do look happy. Happy, lucky sweeps.
Now for some sporting iniquity.
What did cricketer Thomas White invent in 1771?
The Yorker. To hear a German say, "the Yorker" gives me great pleasure.
-I don't know what it means.
-It's a fully pitched-up ball.
-Great to hear a German say it.
-What's a googly, then?
-A googly is a...
A googly is a leg spinner's off-spin. It's disguised.
-Comes out the back of your hand.
-How does the Duckworth-Lewis method work?
Nobody knows that! Far too complicated.
No, he didn't invent any particular type of bowling or batting, but he looked at the laws of cricket
and he noted that there was a rather glaring omission and he thought, "Splendid."
-Oh, the big bat!
-Yes, he came up with a bat that was wider than the wicket.
-This enormous bat.
It was Chertsey Vs Hambledon, which is the equivalent of Surrey Vs Hampshire.
After 1774, they incorporated a law that said a bat must be
no wider than four and-a-half inches.
-Did you know there were special golf rules for the Second World War?
In Kent during the Battle of Britain.
-I can't remember exactly what it is...
-Sorry, Henning, the war's come up again.
The rule was,
if a player's stroke is interrupted by the simultaneous
explosion of a bomb or by machine gunfire,
they may take the stroke again.
But there's a penalty of one stroke.
They may take it again, if they are still there to take it.
I did a play with Paul Eddington
and he had a much-treasured thing from a hotel room in Bristol
during the war, which was a card with a little bit of cord and it said,
"Please hang outside your room if you wish to be awoken during an air-raid."
Do you now there was a game, I think, on St Helena,
and they were playing on a pitch which was by a cliff edge.
And the gentleman ran back to catch the ball, and did catch it
and then fell unfortunately, and it was put down as "caught (dead)".
That's got to be a six because it's over the boundary, isn't it?
There was a game in Norfolk played, and this is towards late summer.
People who play village cricket will be very familiar with the sight of late swooping swallows.
And a batsman played a shot
and the fielder leapt to his right and caught a swallow.
This fellow, Thomas White, I suppose you could call him a cheat,
but he was within the game's laws at the time.
There was an American footballer, Lester Hayes.
Does that ring any bells? Of the Oakland Raiders.
He had such success as a catcher in the late '70s
that he was the defensive player of the year. The reason was that he covered his hands
and gloves with an adhesive called Stickum.
He actually admitted, he said,
"Without Stickum, I couldn't catch a cold in Antarctica."
That's so clearly cheating. They must've spotted it.
There was no a rule against it. They had to introduce one, so there now is.
There's a very good PG Wodehouse story about cheating at boxing.
There was an American chap, I think called McCoy.
And his opponent was stone deaf.
The opponent said, "I won't hear when the bell goes, will you tell me?"
"Yes, absolutely." So they were boxing away and he said the bell had gone.
And the guy went, "OK," like that, and he just punched him.
That's taking advantage as well as cheating.
And in 1951, the St Louis Browns baseball team
brought a three foot seven inch tall player
called Eddie Gaedel out to bat
and crouched over at the plate.
His strike zone, which, as you know, the pitcher has to hit, was one and a half inches high.
The pitcher couldn't get anywhere near.
So, four balls, he walked to first base and was immediately subbed.
So it's kind of like cheating but isn't.
That's not cheating. You can scarcely have a rule that says...
Quite. That says you can't have people of restricted growth.
It's all very tricky.
There was a jockey at Belmont in New York who, in 1923,
died of a heart attack when on a horse and won.
-The horse won.
Of course, the bookies didn't want to pay out.
A rule said that a jockey had to be in the saddle
but there was no rule to say he had to be alive!
He was a brilliant jockey if he clung on even though he was dead!
-Exactly! Pretty amazing.
The lucky punters were paid out.
And so to that part of the show that's always
unfair at the very best of times, General Ignorance.
Fingers on buzzers, if you would. Here is the Old Bailey.
-What is the statue of Justice on top looking at?
-No, she's not.
No, you can see, there. No blindfold.
That particular statue is not blindfolded, but sometimes it is.
People often at the Old Bailey would say,
"Members of the jury, if you look up...
People would go, "He wasn't even telling the truth about that!"
There are many statues of Lady Justice,
some of which are blindfolded and some of which aren't.
What can you legally do if you come across a Welshman
in Chester after sunset?
These are all laws that got abolished 300 years ago.
-It's just always repeated.
You cannot shoot them.
Yes, as you rightly say,
one of these nonsensical things that people cling onto with great sort of pride,
which are nonsensical. Beautiful city, Chester, by the way.
There was an edict under Henry V at the time of Owain Glyndwr
that presumably he gave out, which is a wartime command.
It's not a law. In any case, any subsequent laws on manslaughter
and offensive weapons in public cancel out.
How? How would you know?
I know this as when I did a documentary on going round America,
one of the ideas we had before we started was
should I maybe break one of these stupid laws in each state?
The more we investigated them,
the more we found they were absolutely without foundation.
So you just talked to people instead?
I thought, "I'll go and wear a silly moustache and make someone laugh in a church."
They said, "That's nonsense. I don't know how that got in there."
It was made up by Mark Twain or somebody at some point. I hate to disappoint,
but a lot of these things are nonsense -
the idea that you can shoot arrows down Petty Cury in Cambridge as long as you're wearing Lincoln green.
The idea that an ancient law has to be repealed,
even if it allows you to do murder is nonsense.
What's the principle called there?
-I think we're talking of leges posteriores priores contrarias abrogant.
-Had you forgotten that, Clive?
-It was on the tip of my tongue.
If putting things on the tip of your tongue weren't illegal
-under some ancient statute.
-It's an established legal principle to the effect that
if a subsequent statute contradicts an existing law, the existing law is repealed by implication.
God, I'm glad I wasn't a lawyer.
Recently, they've tried to get rid of all these Latin things as well
-as it's confusing to people.
-But isn't that the point?
Yes, that has been the argument of the lawyers.
We like it if nobody knows what we're talking about.
Where are the enemy in this picture?
It's a good question.
-The guy on the right's definitely not sure.
Why you pointing over there?
-I'm with the reds!
-I read law at university
and was lucky enough to be taught by Lord Denning.
And I helped compile the index to his last book. Really dull.
I remember saying to him,
"Why is it so complicated to look up legal cases?"
He looked at me over his glasses and said,
"Well, we don't want just anyone doing it."
Why did lepers start carrying bells?
-DON'T MENTION THE WAR BUZZER
-I forgot about that.
LAUGHTER We haven't!
I don't know. Probably it wasn't their choice to wear the bells.
Probably it was more the other people telling them
to wear bells so they could escape.
-As a warning, you mean.
No, to keep people away.
It was to attract people to give them alms.
Not arms in that sense. To give them money.
"I've lost my arms, please give me some alms."
-No, to give them money.
-Come here and give me money.
After the Black Death and the extraordinary decimation of the population in Europe,
sickness become something people were much more worried about.
Then the bells were used as a warning, but they were originally used to attract people.
People were not that frightened of lepers, and for good reason.
Leprosy is nothing like as infectious as people think it is.
For a start, 90% of the human race is immune to it.
Most of us are unlikely ever to catch it,
even if we were to lick a leper.
LAUGHTER Now, there's a game show!
Why do I see Noel Edmonds presenting that?
Wish is father of the thought.
It's quite hard to catch, it's nothing like the jokes of bits falling off and so on.
You can get nerve damage, which, if not attended to,
can lead to necrosis of the ends of the fingers,
but the idea that bits fall off you is good for jokes but not true.
Well, unpleasant jokes.
Never let the truth stand in the way of a mediocre joke.
Exactly. A mediocre joke, exactly right.
Now, which of you has the fewest hairs on your head?
Well, may I just volunteer myself?
So it's me. I'm going to lose 10 points...
-..and even more hair, being annoyed about that.
-It's one of the strange things.
There's a splendid man, Dr George Cotsarelis
at the department of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania.
He has determined that, actually, you have the same number of hairs on the scalp as everyone else.
It's just some of them are only visible under a microscope.
So that's roughly like not having them, really.
By the same token, humans may look less hairy than chimpanzees,
but we've the same number of hair follicles, about five million,
on our bodies as chimpanzees.
But the whole thing of hair is very annoying.
If I'd never bought a pair of tweezers,
I'd have appeared down to here.
You get hair that grows in the places you don't want it
and then hair that doesn't grow where you do want it.
Hair that doesn't stop on your head. It keeps growing, so you have to get it cut.
And then your eyebrows, if you're a man, know when to stop
until you get a bit later in life and then it stops knowing when to stop.
You could comb them up over your bald patch.
I've tried that!
Looked a little odd, but, you know, it's an option.
Well, you never know.
And so we come to the scores.
These are very interesting, and it would be very unfair of me not to share them with you.
-So, that's all from Sandi, Henning, Clive, Alan and me.
Because, as William Goldman said,
"Life isn't fair, it's just fairer than death."
That's all. Goodnight.
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