Sandi Toksvig considers some naval navigation matters with Johnny Vegas, Ronni Ancona, Jimmy Carr and Alan Davies.
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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Ahoy and welcome aboard the good ship QI,
where tonight we'll be splicing each other's timbers,
hoisting our mainbraces and giving the ship's cat a good kicking
in the naval navigation show. Let's meet the crew.
First of all, my old mate Ronni Ancona.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
And something of a figurehead, Johnny Vegas.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
A bit of a bottom feeder, Jimmy Carr.
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
One time, one time.
And Roger the cabin boy, it's Alan Davies.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Let's hear your naval noises. Ronni goes...
HIGH-PITCHED SHIP'S HOOTER
LOW-PITCHED SHIP'S HOOTER
RASPY SHIP'S HOOTER
That's Mexican food.
# Yummy, yummy, yummy
# I got love in my tummy
# And as silly as it may seem... #
Yeah, no, I meant N-A-V-A-L, not the other kind of navel.
First up, a question on nautical names.
Now, you each have got a hat. Put them on, there we go.
Sure. I mean, a lot of people would look stupid in this, but me...
So what I want to know is, as you look round the room,
how many of you are genuine ship names?
Banterer, we've got Ronni's Spanker.
-Flirt, we've got for Johnny, and Titan Uranus.
-When you said it out loud, then it all made sense.
Yes, sorry. Tried to be polite.
-What do we reckon?
-Spanker's got to be a ship
out of a Carry On film, hasn't it?
-Reporting for duty, everyone. Welcome aboard the Spanker!
Now, hands at the ready.
But I happen to know, because of an naval connection...
What is your naval connection?
I think I might have seen it online.
My brother is an admiral in the Navy.
-And my father was a commander.
-Your father was a commander in the Navy?
-So your brother's done rather better.
Yes, because he's got that insurance business on the side, hasn't he?
Yeah, my dad back-doored in through the Merchant Navy.
Did he? A lot of them do, I've heard.
I knew that was coming up.
That will Titan Uranus.
-If anything, the reverse, I find.
You look so innocent and then it says Titan Uranus.
Isn't that fantastic?
I could have hours of fun if I went out in this tonight.
What do you reckon, Johnny? You reckon yours, HMS Flirt,
do you reckon's the real thing?
Yeah, I reckon HMS Flirt could be the one.
-Yeah, could be the...
-The others might have been nicknames.
Ah, a bit of fun amongst the sailors.
In fact, Spanker, Banterer and Flirt were all,
or had been all, ships in the Royal Navy.
Titan Uranus was... There have been two merchant ships,
actually, there was an oil tanker and an ore carrier.
Lots named after animals -
there has been kangaroo, gnat, weasel, zebra.
Is the downside to this not the...?
I mean, obviously the Royal Navy, very proud history,
but occasionally ships get sunk and people die
and then you've got to report back.
"I'm afraid things did not go well, 60 souls lost on Titan Uranus."
Yeah, well, there are worse ones - Cockchafer.
That is how a lot of the sailors died.
And HMS Pansy.
JIMMY LAUGHS And...
-Oh, that's fantastic.
-..my favourite, Happy Entrance.
So, just to say.
So have a quick look, imagine you are at sea
and we've got, I don't know, say, HMS Cockchafer coming at you
in the dark or possibly going away from you in the dark, OK?
Can you tell which one it is?
Coming towards you or going away?
Well, green towards you, red away?
Erm, not quite.
Anybody? Your brother's an admiral, for goodness' sake!
-I know, I know!
-Is one port and the other starboard?
One is port and one is starboard, yes.
-Do you know which is which?
-It's quite good to know.
-Does anyone know?
-Red is port.
-Red is port, red is port.
Yes. Yeah, I could've told you that. OK...
That's how you remember, like, port is red.
And green is...sherry?
Green is starboard. And what you say is green to green, red to red,
perfect safety, go ahead.
So what you would know from this is that the boat is coming towards you,
and that would be important information to have
-when you're at sea.
-Oh, hang on!
-I definitely would have crashed into that.
There is one of my favourite books of all time that you could read
to avoid this happening.
It was published in 1992 and it is called How To Avoid Huge Ships.
-That's brilliant! That is so brilliant.
And who was this sold to? Small islands?
It went through several editions.
What worries me is that they may have left stuff out
in the first edition and then gone,
"Oh, that was the other thing I meant to put in."
It's ranked as the third oddest book title of all time.
Oh, go on, what are the other two?
The second, number two -
Greek Rural Postmen And Their Cancellation Numbers.
Yeah, the one about the urban postmen I found a bit ehhh.
Who's that bothered?
This is my favourite, number one, oddest book title of all time -
People Who Don't Know They're Dead,
How They Attach Themselves To Unsuspecting Bystanders
And What To Do About It.
Put your hats away, please.
Right, time for some salty language now.
Complete the nautical rhyme.
"A pig on the knee..."
A pig on the knee, I'm a Tory MP?
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
So, a pig on the knee is actually safety at sea.
Safety at sea, that old favourite.
The next one is, a cock on the right...
Transgender surgery doesn't always go right.
Put out the lights.
-Put out the lights?
-Don't take flight.
No. A cock on the right...
The parish priest is strolling tonight.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
That's poetry from you, Johnny.
I wonder if there are more
individual groups of society we can offend?
-Cock on the right, never lose a fight it is.
-Never lose a fight.
So, it was superstitious sailors.
They used to get tattoos of a pig on the left knee and a rooster,
or a cock, on the right foot.
So, pig on the knee, safety at sea.
A cock on the right, never lose a fight.
Because the idea was that pigs and cockerels were kept in crates
on the ships, and when the ships sank, the crates floated,
and the animals were associated with surviving shipwrecks.
I heard that because a pig and a cock can't swim,
so God would look at you benevolently
-and say, "I will take pity on you."
-"I'll save them."
-Can pigs not swim?
-But that's what...
Also, I'd heard that as well.
-I think famously pigs can't fly.
That's the one. You're thinking of the Royal Air Force.
They're full of salt. Surely that bobs, doesn't it, salt?
It's going to be a struggle. When I took my baby swimming
for the first time, I strapped two pigs to his hands.
And I'm banned from the local swimming pool.
-For bringing your own food in.
Two packs of bacon on here.
Chuck him in, he'll be fine!
God is smiling on him.
Lots of great women, tattooed ladies.
Nora Hildebrandt, she was America's very first
professional tattooed lady.
This is a wonderful drawing by my friend Sandy Nightingale
of Nora Hildebrandt. Doesn't she look fab?
She had 365 designs tattooed on her.
She claimed she had been captured by Sitting Bull and his tribe
and tied to a tree and tattooed every day for a year,
but, in fact, her dad did it.
-Slightly, it's a weirder story.
-I think she may have been trying to
detract from men staring at her nose.
She was likely his showcase, as it were, his window display,
to say, "These are the ones I can do."
Thank God he didn't own a garage,
or he would have just glued car parts to her.
-She would have looked like a Transformer.
How creepy is that? You walk into a tattooist's, say,
"I'm thinking about getting a tattoo," and he goes,
"Well, just look at my daughter for a while.
-"Pick anything you want."
When you have a tattoo lasered off, what happens to it?
-Do you know where it goes?
They can't recycle them, can they?
No. They don't scrape them off and give them to somebody else.
What happens to them? We laser off a tattoo, what...?
-It goes into your body.
-Yes, exactly right.
The beams of light heat the ink and breaks it down into little pieces.
It's absorbed into the blood and it is excreted.
So it comes out in your poo.
So, you see it in your poo and you go, "That's what I really wanted!"
Yeah, so if you loved somebody once...
-A tattoo poo.
-Yeah, you can poo them away, basically.
If it came out in the wee, you'd stand there going, "I'm an octopus!"
I now understand why boys make such a mess in the toilet,
because they're not holding on.
-Here's a naval question you'll know, if your brother's an admiral.
Why is the Navy salute different to the Army salute?
And you know how it's different?
-The Navy one's more of a, "Cooee!"
-That's right, that's the Navy.
-That's the Navy.
-And the Army?
Is like that, exactly right. Do you know why?
It's because Benny Hill wasn't in the Navy?
Because their hands were covered in grease and Queen Victoria
didn't like it, so she made them, instead of standing like that,
she made them stand like that
so she couldn't see how dirty their hands were.
So they were meeting the Queen? "Shall we wash our hands?"
"No, it's only the Queen coming aboard, don't worry about it."
There's a lot of weird Navy things.
They toast the Queen sitting down, the Navy, they don't stand up.
They're the only services that are allowed to do that.
I'm not sure why - it was either William IV or Charles II,
and he was coming back to England,
and he stood up during the toast and he bumped his head on a beam,
and he announced from then on the Navy would sit down when drinking.
And so now they do, toasting the king and queen.
They've got all sorts of very interesting language.
-Jack Tar speak.
-It's a bit rude, but the term for
premature ejaculation is getting off at Fratton,
because Fratton is the train station two before Portsmouth.
Which is your final destination, really.
Two before, so what's the station just one before?
Because sometimes it's not that bad.
Sometimes I fall asleep at the station and I'm there for ages.
That's almost too much information for me, really.
I go to Portsmouth all the time. I shall look at Fratton with new eyes.
Do you? Ooh!
-I do, yes.
-Same here, same here, yeah.
What, go to Portsmouth?
Oh, no, I thought we were talking about Fratton. Sorry.
I'm so sorry!
For some sailors, tattoos were thought to be a real life-saver.
Now, what are these men looking at?
-No, something higher up.
-It's higher than that.
-Their navels, they're navel-gazing.
Yes. They're engaged in omphaloskepsis, or navel-gazing.
So, the Greek for navel is omphalos,
and apparently it's an aid to meditation.
It doesn't look like what they're doing, does it?
But in some yoga practices, it's regarded as an aid to meditation.
It looks like they're thinking,
"These pills I bought on the internet are not working.
"I've been bloody ripped off, haven't I?"
You can never quite capture in a statue someone crying.
-That's true, that's true.
-And going, "Why me, God, why me?"
After having a couple of kids, I tell you, it's not meditative.
I just see blind panic when I look at mine.
We should all possibly panic when we look at our navels,
because the average human navel has about 50 species of bacteria in it.
That's one's got a peanut in it.
Never mind bacteria, that's a whole peanut.
They're very varied, aren't they?
An innie, an outie, and a kind of natural horizon.
Honestly, if you combine it with my man-breasts,
whenever I take my top off,
it looks like my midriff has been rejected for a loan.
It looks so depressed,
like it's filled out all the forms and everything.
But if you stand on your hands, does it look like it's got the loan?
Yeah, I can turn upside down and it looks like it's in tax exile.
Mine's got real passion.
It's got more range than this has.
Do you know why there are innies or outies?
Do you know what the reason is?
It's just where they tie it off, isn't it?
No, it's nothing to do with that at all.
So, after birth, the umbilical cord is cut to, whatever it is,
an inch or two from the newborn's belly,
and then it dries up and falls off as the muscles close up.
And the navel is just the scar left, basically,
from the base of the cord.
And usually it ends up slightly retracted,
but sometimes a bit of extra skin stays, that's all,
and it makes it stick out or the muscles don't close off,
and you're left with a little tiny protruding hernia.
That one's got a hand growing out of it.
A bloody disaster, that.
It is amazing, they can remove your kidney,
your gall bladder through the navel, now.
They don't have even any scarring.
They've got to ask, though, haven't they?
They do have to ask, yeah.
They'll do you a tattoo of a little door.
It beats waking up in a bath on holiday
with all that ice around you.
They can do everything now,
-they can turn you inside out through your navel.
-How can they turn you inside out?
Just put your hand... It's like a duvet cover.
My mum has got some loose skin at the back.
Next time she's holding drinks, I'm going to try the...
"My mum's got some loose skin at the back."
Well, I'm sure she's watching this, proud as ever.
"Oh, my Johnny's on television this evening, so proud of that boy."
Her phone's already ringing off the hook.
"What's this about loose skin on your back?
"It's the talk of the street!"
It's the only work I do that the girls from bingo watch.
But imagine if she were still holding the tray of drinks.
And suddenly looking ten years younger.
Contemplating your navel can bring you both innie and outie piece.
That's nice, isn't it? AUDIENCE GROANS
All right, back off!
-When I get angry...
What am I an inch and a half taller than?
-I'm five foot tall.
-The cast of Time Bandits.
Kylie Minogue. She's 4' 11", isn't she?
-She is tiny.
-You were an inch and a half -
God rest his soul - smaller than Ronnie Corbett.
-He was 5' 1.5".
-..Ronnie Corbett and I worked together often.
I remember playing golf with Ronnie, and he said,
"Dear God, darling, from a distance we must look like a condiment set."
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
I pay tribute to him, one of the funniest men I ever worked with.
-Is it a naval thing, anything to do with naval...?
It is about exploration, it's about travel,
but it's about travel in a different direction, away from...
-Is it roller-coasters?
-Space, yes, it's space.
Yes, it's the minimum height for Nasa. You need to be 4' 10.5".
And the maximum is 6' 4".
Basically, you need to be tall enough to reach the controls,
and not too tall to fit in the seat.
The weird thing is that in space... I'd quite like to go,
because you grow two inches because of the lack of gravity.
So you would go into space and exceed the height limit,
if you started out at 6' 4"...
Surely it all comes crashing down once you land?
As you're getting nearer and nearer the Earth...
Yeah, but what if you're up in space,
you're up in space and then they suddenly tell you
-you're too tall?
-Well, when astronaut Scott Kelly
came back from the International Space Station,
he had a twin brother. They had been the same height when he left,
and he was two inches taller than his brother when he got back.
Once you get back to Earth, you shrink back pretty quickly.
And the other thing... See, this would be very good,
you'd like this, Johnny - it's very good for your figure, OK?
Why would that be good for me, Sandi?
-I'm dying to know.
-Because your chest and navel might get a loan.
What happens is, in space, the internal organs move up
inside the torso, so your waist shrinks by several inches.
So on Earth, for example, the human leg muscles,
they pump blood into the upper body against gravity, but in space,
no gravity, so the blood and fluids get pumped upwards,
and you get this buffed-up torso.
Can you get breasts that sit above your clavicle, Sandi?
-That would be great.
-You sound like that's something that people want.
They go, "Oh!"
You could eat a pizza and keep it there for two weeks.
If you've just got bad acid indigestion, you could do that.
I'm used to reflux.
I'd quite like to see you in space, it'd be great.
-Would you like to go?
-I would love to go.
I wish they could send some poets and some artists up there,
so we can get a bit more of an idea of what it actually...
Because if you see anyone interviewed, they go,
"Yeah, it's very nice."
If they sent Will Self, do a video diary.
"The majestic splendour of Earth...
"..is a little disappointing."
"14 days without a cigarette now."
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
The minimum height for a Nasa astronaut is 4' 10.5",
so hope for me yet.
Now it's time for us to pull out at the bungs and immerse ourselves
in the murky waters of general ignorance,
so fingers on buzzers, please.
What is the fastest swimming stroke?
-RASPY HONK Jimmy.
Well, dolphins are jolly quick,
but even they can't do this stroke.
But they could probably beat whoever's doing it.
What they can do, which we can't do,
we create a bow wave when we're swimming
and dolphins are able to leap over it, so there's no water resistance.
So, points for that then. 100% right.
No. It isn't the fastest swimming stroke.
Are we looking for a human stroke?
It is a stroke that humans can do, but we got it from somewhere else.
-Oh, I like that we got it for the butterfly.
I like that.
No, it's not the butterfly, it's not the crawl.
-The tumble turn.
When they turn, and then they swim, do you know what they do then?
Oh, that sort of wiggling underwater bit?
The wiggling underwater thing, it's called the fish kick.
You know what else they call it? They call it "the dolphin".
Because that's exactly what a dolphin does.
Literally points, cos, I mean, that is a dolphin.
-He's doing the dolphin.
-In Jimmy's defence, they don't wear Speedos,
-but they look very similar.
-They do look very similar.
You're only allowed to swim underwater for the first 15m,
so that's why people don't do it in competitive swimming.
Now, what did Highland warriors wear at the Battle of Bannockburn?
No, not kilts, no.
-Here's a random Scandinavian fact.
The word kilt comes from the Danish word kilte, meaning tuck.
-So it's actually a Danish word.
Yes, that's rather fine.
But medieval Scottish warriors did not wear kilts
when they went into battle. What did they wear, anybody know?
-It was a yellow tunic.
A yellow tunic?!
A yellow tunic, called a leine croich.
I love the bloke on the left's got one of those
umbrella hats from the fair.
Yes, they're rather fine, aren't they?
He's trying to knock it off.
-"That's a stupid hat!"
"It's not even raining!"
What was weird, they used saffron to make them yellow.
But if they didn't have saffron, they used to use...
-Very keen on the yellow, then.
Urine was in all the tweeds as well,
because they used to use it to fix the colours of the tweeds.
Yeah, but still, you know,
"Can we not make it green from the grass?"
"No, keep on pissing on it."
That horse has got the hots for the painter.
Yeah, he's looking right at him, isn't he?
"Hello. Are you getting my best side?
"Don't paint the twat in the umbrella hat, for God's sake."
We do have an image, don't we, of the kilt being part of the attire?
-Very much so.
-But, in fact,
it was invented for a totally different reason, it was...
Invented for weddings. They're always in weddings.
-No, it was...
-Sometimes you can have too much material for a kilt.
"Just wrap it round here, don't worry about it."
"One day they'll invent scissors."
It was actually invented in the 1720s by an English Quaker
and industrialist, a man called Thomas Rawlinson,
and he wanted a safer item of clothing for his employees,
his Scottish employees, in his iron foundry.
Can I suggest you don't go north of the border and mention that fact?
Well, the word tartan comes from Middle French -
they won't like any of it, really.
The word kilt is Danish - none of it's good.
Did he have a shop for tourists in Edinburgh?
Was that why he was secretly...?
Have you ever been in one of those shops that says,
"We can find the tartan for any surname"?
Sorry, can you explain what you're wearing?
Ah, yes, the great Danish Toksvig tartan!
If you're so hungry you could eat a kilt, don't eat the yellow ones,
that's the advice.
Name a cold-blooded creature.
So, there are some, yes, but there are also...
That's why they like the sun to warm up.
-We've had it on here before, I learnt that on here!
He's spent ten years doing this show
for pieces of information like that!
-But I've arrived with new information!
There are in fact warm-blooded lizards,
and indeed warm-blooded fish.
Almost all reptiles, you're right.
-That's a horrible picture.
-It's not a good one, no.
That is a yacare caiman eating a catfish.
Or a catfish eating the caiman's tongue.
Almost all reptiles and fish are cold-blooded,
so they depend on their surroundings to heat them up.
However, in 2015, we have just new news -
scientists have discovered warm-blooded lizards and fish.
So that lizard there, on the left,
can heat itself up to ten degrees warmer than its environment
and nobody knows why.
And they both live together?
No, they don't.
They look surprised, the fish looks very surprised.
It's called an opah fish.
It's the only completely warm-blooded fish.
How is it the only one?
Is it just really awkward?
I'm sorry, how do you become the only fish that's warm-blooded
out of a whole...?
Or did it just have an overbearing mum who made it
a hot-water bottle and it just ate it and had an idea?
It's a really good question,
because the fact is we don't know how warm-bloodedness evolved.
Ate a hot-water bottle!
Looks like a hot-water bottle shape.
What's more prevalent, post the wipe-out of the dinosaurs?
Isn't there a theory they died
because of the change in temperature?
The thing is, dinosaurs were neither
warm-blooded nor cold-blooded, they were somewhere in between.
-There were just right, weren't they?
-They were just right!
They had lovely Goldilocks blood.
Because there are disadvantages to being warm-blooded, OK?
Because one of the things is you have to keep eating to get fuel
to maintain the constant body temperature.
So if, for example, a lion was as big as a Tyrannosaurus rex,
it probably wouldn't be able to eat enough to survive.
Isn't there a theory on the dinosaurs
where they died out because over a certain temperature
all the eggs hatched as male,
and below a certain temperature they all hatched as female,
and then the temperature went down and they all hatched as female,
and then there were no more... no-one to mate with?
Well, there are many theories about how the dinosaurs...
But that's the correct one.
The one that I can vaguely remember, I'm 90% sure it's 100% correct.
There's someone who's never watched King Kong.
Massive gorilla, mate. Twatted all of them.
Well, that's spoilt the end of that film. Now...
What was the name of the village where Napoleon was defeated in 1815?
Definitely was, I mean, 100%.
-It was Waterloo.
-It definitely was.
The Battle of Waterloo did not take place at Waterloo.
It is called that because it's where the Duke of Wellington
stayed the night after the battle,
and it's where he wrote to his superiors about the battle.
But in fact, most of the battle happened a few miles away
in the municipalities of Braine-l'Alleud and Lasne.
You'd be really pissed off if you were a little village
or a little town and your claim to fame was a massive victory,
and you have to spend all the time going, "No, it was here, with us."
-It's a few miles up...
-I'm going to write to ABBA now.
What should the song be called? What should it be called?
The municipality of Braine-l'Alleud and Lasne.
That's bit difficult to rhyme, but OK.
-That's going to ruin "Mamma Mia!", but fine, have it your way.
The Battle of Waterloo didn't happen in Waterloo.
And, finally, who wore the trousers in Britain in the 18th century?
Somebody did. One class of person.
Where have we been from the beginning?
-The sailors, absolutely right.
It was only sailors. Men wore britches and women wore skirts.
And trousers were specifically defined
in a 1718 nautical dictionary as a sort of loose britches of canvas,
worn by common sailors.
So what about your officer class?
-They'd have britches, wouldn't they?
-They'd have britches on, yes.
In fact, the Duke of Wellington was once thrown out of a club
-for wearing trousers.
-All been there, eh, Johnny?
"Why are you throwing me out?" "Because of your trousers!"
In the 18th century, the only people who wore trousers
were jolly Jack Tars.
And that's your lot for tonight - time to settle the old scores.
Well, it's an outright win.
With a magnificent seven points, it's Ronni.
Did I win?!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
In second place, and I'm very surprised,
because he had winner written all over him, but with one point,
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
In third place, with -2, it's Jimmy.
-2. What was the point?
What was the point of that?
And an epic fail, -36, Alan.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
That brings us to the end of our naval adventures.
Thanks to Ronni, Jimmy, Johnny and Alan.
And I leave you with this nautical headline
from the Western Daily Press -
"Fish rescued from a large pool of water."