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Series 3, Episode 6

Transcript by: Sarah Falk and Kate Wiles
--with Kate contributing the linguistically-heavy middle third

Click here for an explanation of the Cockney rhyming slang used in this episode.

TRANSCRIPT

Stephen
Well, good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening, and a very hearty, cordial, and warm welcome to QI. Tonight, we're talking Cockney rhyming slang, so without further tea for, let's have a butcher's at our four bulletproofs. We have Phill Jupitus . . . Bill Bailey . . . Rory McGrath . . . and Alan Davies.

Woo. Well, they're all three stops down from Plaistow, but never mind; let's Georgie their orientals. If you would, please, Bill.

Alan
What are you talking about?

Bill
[moves hand up and down and looks at buzzer uncertainly]
You . . . you want to, er, Ursula . . . Ursula Andress me, er, Jensen?

Stephen
Well, no, actually, we're gonna start with Phill.

Phill
Would you like me to Eartha my Dingly?
[presses buzzer, which sings, "Henery the Eighth I am (That's Me)!"]
[winks at audience]

Stephen
And . . . Rory goes:

Rory
[presses buzzer, which sings, "Knees up, Mother Brown! Knees up, Mother Brown!"]

Stephen
And Bill goes:

Bill
[presses buzzer, which plays Patsy Cline's, "Bill Bailey, won't you please come on home?/Come home, Bill Bailey!"]
[rocks head in time to music]

Alan
That's very clever what they've done, there . . . 

Stephen
Has anyone ever pointed out to you that you have the name of a song?

Bill
No, no one's ever pointed that out before!

Stephen
Yeah.

Alan
It has the same name as your name!

Stephen
Yes.

Bill
Yeah . . . [rolls eyes]

Stephen
And, Alan.

Alan
[presses buzzer, which plays Dick van Dyke's, "Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee!"]

Stephen
Now, tonight, any flamencos you give in Pyong score Barney. And I'll also give you two Sundays--

Alan [staring at the Autocue]
What the fuck are you talking about?


Stephen
[laughs openly] It's Cockney rhyming slang!

Alan
What the f—

Stephen
"Any flamencos"--

Bill and Alan start reading Stephen's opening off the Autocue.

Bill
"Flamenco"--

Alan
"Flamenco . . . dancers": answers . . . 

Stephen
Answers. "In Pyong"--

Bill
Pyong Yang.

Rory
Pyong Yang.

Stephen
"Pyong Yang": slang.

Bill and Rory
"Score Barney"--

Bill
--Rubble. Double!

Stephen
Yes!

Bill
"I'll give you two Sunday"-- . . . Sunday roasts? Posts?

Stephen
"Sunday joints": points. "If, at any nickel and dime": time . . . you "woman"--

Bill
"Woman"?

Stephen
"Woman who does": buzz.

Bill
Buzz.

Phill
"Woman-who-does"?!

Stephen [laughing]
It's all I could think of!


Phill
Oh, oh. So we're doing middle-class Cockney rhyming slang!

Alan
[buries head on desk]
 
Phill [as Stephen]
"Woman who does"-- 


Alan
"Woman who does"--

Stephen
"Woman who does"--

Alan
 --"want to lubricant me"--

Stephen
Yeah. "Lubricant gel": tell. 

Alan
"Lubr—" [bursts out laughing]

Stephen
Who can tell me . . . what I'm on about. It's a whole new genre of argot.

Bill
"A Labrador groomer": rumour!

Stephen
What do you think your pantomimes would translate as?

Phill
"Pantomime dames": names.

Stephen
Yes.

Phill
Er, Phill Jupitus is cockney rhyming slang for, er, "hypochondriac". "Ill Dubious."

Stephen
"Ill Dubious!" Very good! I like it. Rory?

Rory
Well, there are two official Rory McGraths, apparently. There's "having a laugh": Rory McGrath: "He's having a Rory." And "I'm a Rory": that's a half.

Stephen
And . . . Bill.

Bill
Er, well, I imagine, the only . . . the only thing I can think of, probably, might be "scaly". Your . . . your skin's gone a bit "Bill Bailey": scaly, you know.

Stephen
That's good.

Bill
You've got a bit of an Arthur Ash, uh--[points to his back]--on your Roberta, er, you know. "It's gone a bit Bill Bailey."

Stephen
What would "Alan Davies" give us, I wonder?

Alan
Doesn't really rhyme with anything apart from Mavis. So unless you know someone called Mavis . . . 

Stephen
Yes . . . 

Alan
"Oh, look, there's Alan Davies!"

Rory
"Mavis" is the old word for "a thrush"--

Stephen
"A thrush," yeah. It's a thrush.

Rory
So I could say, "I've caught a bit of Alan."

Stephen
Yeah, that's true.

Bill
"It's gone a bit Bill Bailey!"

Stephen
Yeah. If you went to a restaurant for Sunday lunch, you could ask for several types of "Alan Davies": gravies, I suppose.

Bill
How many different types of gravies do you know?

Stephen
Well . . . it's quite good to go into a sushi bar and say, "Bring me several types of Japanese wine, and don't get all saki." But, erm . . . 

Phill
Oh, my God.

Stephen
Ah, well . . . you know! But what is the point of rhyming slang? Why did it arise? For points.

Rory
Wasn't it a way of deceiving very thick policemen?

Stephen
Yes.

Rory
Criminals in . . . in pubs sitting around, and thinking, if . . . In case there was a copper or a nark listening, they'd say, "We're planning a, erm . . . a snobbery." [touches his finger to his nose in mock cleverness]

"Oh . . . oh yeah? What . . . what are we planning to snob?"

"We thought a Jodrell."

"A Jodrell? Oh, which Jodrell?"

"Barclays. Lewisham High Street."

Stephen
Do you know where "Cockney" comes from? Where the word "Cockney"--

Rory
It means "a cocked egg," doesn't it? It's something you can't trust, like an egg laid by a cockerel.

Stephen
A "cokenei", in fact.

Rory
Cokenei.

Bill
Cokenei.

Stephen
An "ei" is the egg, yes. A cokenei was a cockerel's egg. And obviously, that can't exist. How can you decide if you're a cockney or not?

Alan
The sound of the bells.

Bill
Something about--

Stephen
Within the sound of the bells. That's not a trick question.

Bill
That's not a trick? Blimey.

Stephen
No. Where is the sound of--

Alan
It's in, erm . . . the Strand somewhere, isn't it?

Stephen
Ah, well done. This is not in the area of London called Bow, no.

Alan
Not in Bow.

Rory
St Mary-le-Bow Church, isn't it?

Stephen
St Mary-le-Bow Church.

Sometimes, people use them without knowing, like if you say to someone, "Scarper." That's rhyming slang.

Rory
Yeah . . . but is it, Stephen?

Stephen
[gasps slightly]

Rory
'Cause a lot of us think it actually comes from escapar, which is the old Spanish meaning "to flee", and--

Stephen
"To escape."

Rory
"To escape," yeah.

Stephen
Or is it Scapa Flow--

Rory
Scapa Flow in the Orkney islands.

Stephen
Opinion is, as you rightly say, divided.

Where do you think, erm, "My Old Dutch" . . . ? It's actually "Duchess of Fife".

Rory
Yes.

Bill
Really?

Stephen
Yeah. "Anchor"?

Alan
Butter?

Stephen
Nutter.

Alan
Nutter.

Stephen
Nutter. "He's a real Anchor."

Alan
[wiggles hand from side to side, judging the slang term to be so-so]

Stephen
But there's a more modern one, which means you don't believe something. "Anchor Spreadable": incredible. I know!

Degrees. If you do well in a degree, what do you get?

Rory
A Geoff Hurst.

Stephen
A Geoff Hurst. A first. And an upper-second or a 2:1 is an "Attila".

Rory
Attila the Hun.

Stephen
Attila the Hun.

Rory
And you got a "Desmond"--

Stephen
"Desmond" is the famous one for 2:2.

Rory
2:2. And I . . . I'm afraid I got a . . . I got a "Richard".

Stephen
A "Richard"?

Rory
A "Richard the Third".

Stephen
Oh. They call it a "Douglas" these days, in honor of the great and--

Rory
Oh, really?

Stephen
--manifestly marvellously charismatic and memorable Douglas Hurd. Erm . . . 

But one thing Cockneys have a taste for is rock salmon. Which is, in fact, dogfish. But that brings us neatly on to "Pin the Tastebud on the Catfish".

[The panellists take out cardboard catfish and small, circular stickers.]

Stephen
You each have a catfish, and you each have some little stickers. What you have to do is find out where they go

Alan
Not just in its mouth, then . . . ?

Phill
I've hypnotised mine.
[holds up his catfish, onto which he's placed a sticker as an eye, creating a dazed-looking catfish]

Alan
I put some on its little things, there, look. Just in case it might taste with those.
[holds up his catfish, which has stickers on the end of its whiskers]

Stephen
It's just something you'll be getting on with while we get onto the next question.

Alan
If you had a catfish--

Stephen
Yeah.

Alan
--would it come out of the pond and try and get in your bedroom at night by scratching on the window?

Stephen
Well, did it--

Alan
[waves catfish around] "Meow! Meow!"

Stephen
Look, this is not a kindergarten. I am not going to sit here for an hour . . .  while you get on with handicraft and I have to answer fatuous questions!

Rory
Please, sir. Can we do plasticine?

Stephen
No, you can't!

Anyway, now. Sticking to our "C" theme. How is "Cherokee" pronounced in the Cherokee language?

Bill
Oh, er . . . 
[presses buzzer, which sings "Come home, Bill Bailey!"]
[winces] Oh, no . . . 

Alan
Use mine if you like.

Bill
Can I? [reaches far over and presses Alan's buzzer, which sings, "Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee!"]
[sways to the music along with Alan]
Is it a trick question, and there is no word for "Cherokee" in the Cherokee language?

Rory
[presses buzzer, which plays an instrumental "Shave and a Haircut"]
I know that the sound , er, "t-s-h", which is the "ch-" sound, phonetically . . . like, if we were to pronounce the word "much"--

Stephen
Yeah.

Rory
--it would be the same as "m-u-t-s-h". "Much."

Stephen
Yeah. Right.

Rory
A lot of languages can't pronounce . . . the Chinese can't pronounce "ch-"--

Stephen
Yeah.

Rory
--so their word for "tea", which we call "chai", from the Chinese, is "tsa".

Stephen
Yeah.

Rory
Erm . . . 

Alan
"Ts."

Rory
R's and l's are notoriously interchangeable, outside Western Europe--

Stephen
You're absolutely right--

Rory
And . . . and k's can be voiced, so you can say that Cherokee can be pronounced "tsalee" . . . if you want a proper oxytonic stress. You might wanna . . . 'cause oxytonic stress is "tsalagi".

Bill
Yeah.

Stephen
Yep.

Rory
Or "tsalagi" if you want the oxytonic stress. I don't know which stress you want, ladies and gentlemen.

Bill
I'm suffering from pro-poxytonic stress, actually.

Stephen
Well, I have to give, er, Rory a lot of points there, because "Tsalagi" is exactly how they pronounce "Cherokee".

Bill
Oh.

Stephen
Exactly. Erm. They cannot, as you say, pronounce "ch-" or "-r-", so it becomes "tsa-la"--

What happened was, there was a man who felt very sorry for the Cherokees because they had given a great service to the American army, and, er, they couldn't get letters home, or send letters home because they had no alphabet and they had no written language. And there were many of them, and they were called Cherokee by the Cree; er, it meant "people with another language". Their actual name for themselves was Aniyunwiya, or something similar, which means "the principle people". Erm, but the man who found them the language, gave it to them . . . He decided on eighty-five different "leaves", he called them, which were these letters. And within a year, most of the entire nation of the Cherokee were literate.

And his name was Sequoia, which means "pig's foot": maybe because he was pink; maybe because he'd been injured when he was young; no-one quite knows. But giant sequoia trees, as you may well know, are the heaviest living things ever to have existed on Earth.

Rory
Apart from Fern Britton.

Stephen
That's cruel!

They can weigh more than 6,000 tonnes, and the tallest are as high as a 26-storey building. Their bark is up to four foot thick, but their seeds are one three-thousandth of an ounce--

Rory
Blimey.

Stephen
--each, approximately one billionth of the weight of the tree. So, the question is, how does the U.S. government look after its sequoia groves?

Bill
Er, lions and tigers are let loose to roam the surrounding areas.

Alan
Do they try and win the hearts and minds of the sequoia?

Stephen
What a lovely thought!

Alan
I mean, what's going to happen to the sequoia tree? Do people try and steal them?

Bill
Nick it!

Stephen
I'll tell you what did happen to them in the '50s and '60s is that they very nearly died out in . . . in their native--

Alan
California?

Stephen
California, correct. Erm, they just weren't breeding at all. No-one could understand why.

Phill
Did they start putting out forest fires?

Stephen
Yes!

Phill
Was it forest fires?

Stephen
Give the man a big, big bonus!

Phill
There we are.

Rory
Ahh! Excellent.

Stephen
The United States Forestry Commission started--and particularly their fire department--started in 1905, thinking they were doing good, stopped forest fires so completely, and the sequoias need forest fires, every 5, 10, 15 years at the most, in order to breed, because they need to clear all the other trees. They survive them--

Rory
Ah, right.

Stephen
--and all . . . It clears air and space and light for these tiny, tiny little seedlings to bear this enormous redwood fruit.

Alan
How does that work, then? 'Cause they must grow . . . Do they grow really fast? Or do they grow underground for a bit and then pop up when they're ready?

Stephen
They grow really fa— . . . They are the fastest growing trees on Earth.

Bill
Yes.

Alan
What, while we're talking now, one would just--[widens eyes and hums, lifting his hand to represent a sequoia growing].

Bill
Yep.

Phill
I had a neighbour who really got annoyed with some leylandii I . . . I didn't even plant! I mean, he went mental over them, so if there's a chance I can stick three or four sequoia in the back garden without him knowing--

Stephen
That would do it! Yeah.

Phill
--and then as an excuse ten years later, set light to his garden, I'm quids in! [flashes a double thumbs-up]

Stephen
Yes. That's very good indeed!

They don't grow as fast as bamboo, but bamboo isn't a tree, is it?

Phill
It's a grass.

Rory
It's an insect!

Stephen
[to Phill] Well done, you've learned. You've learned, little one! Oh!

Phill
"Little"?

Alan
"Little"?

Stephen
Even faster growing is kudzu. K-U-D-Z-U, we would spell it. It's the only plant that's actually measured in miles per hour in its growth. Its shoots grow sixty feet in a single season.

Bill
Really?

Stephen
It's a vine.

Bill
A vine.

Stephen
It's a m— . . . it's a member of the pea family, grown in China and Japan. So, anyway, the trees also rely, of course, on the heat of the fires to open their tough seed-cones. That's part of the business; exposes the bare soil. Now, coal, as everyone knows, is made from ancient forests. Have any of you used coal to brush your Bexleys?

Phill
[presses buzzer, which sings, "Henery the Eighth I am (That's Me!)"]

Phill
[obstinately] Never.

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the word "NO".

Stephen
Ooh, hullo.

Bill
Oh, hang on.

Alan
Are you doing "Bexley Heath"?

Stephen
Yes! That was teeth, yes. I know it's "Hampsteads" usually, but--

Phill
[moving to pinch the bridge of his nose]
Stephen, Stephen . . . oh, Stephen, my love, Stephen . . . 

Stephen
Yes?

Phill
The toothpaste is so twinkly and sparkling white. How can it have coal in it?

Stephen
[points at Phill] It doesn't!

Phill
[stares at Stephen]

Stephen
It's the brush.

Bill
The brush.

Stephen
What are the bristles made of?

Alan
Coal!

Stephen
Well, they are! They're made of something which is a mixture of coal and air and water.

Phill
Oh, it's all easy when I've set the siren off, isn't it?!

Rory
Are we talking about some complicated hydrocarbon which is a derivative of a petroleum . . . [trails off into nonsense words] . . . ?

Stephen
Not petroleum, no. No, coal.

Rory
Oh, yeah.

Stephen
It's a fossil fuel, which is coal, as we know--

Alan
Toothbrushes used to be alive? Millions of years ago?

Stephen
But the point is, we're looking for a substance, that man has developed, which he uses to--

Bill
Erm, nylon.

Stephen
--is the right answer. Well done.

Rory
Do I get points for saying it was developed in New York and London at the same time; therefore it--

Stephen
No, you get points taken away from you, because that's not why it's called--

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the words "NEW YORK" and "LONDON".

Rory
Ohh! Ohh! [holds his palms outward in front of him, as though scared]

Stephen
[laughs] Oh, you did fall into that one, Rory, thank you for that. No, it's a myth. It was originally called No-Run, er, by its inventor. He was called Carothers. Dupont, the company for whom he was developing it, wanted to call it Nylon, though they didn't trademark the name. You can use the word "nylon", unlike another of their famous products, one that is used quite often to describe human characteristics.

Bill
Tef—

Stephen
Teflon, exactly, the non-stick--

Rory
Ahh, nice.

Stephen
Teflon is a Dupont invention.

Alan
You'd have thought that you could just get a new head for your brush. You could have a handle . . . made for you! Perhaps--

Stephen
Just--

Bill
Yeah.

Alan
--perfectly moulded for your own grip--

Stephen
Yeah, so you use, ivory or s— . . . [stops and knots brow concernedly]. Oh, no, hang on, erm . . . erm, but . . . Yes, you could use . . . you . . . 

Alan
Rhino horn!

Stephen
Yes, or panda fur, or panda bear--

Bill
The beak of an osprey!

Stephen
Yeah!

Phill
"Stephen Fry's All-Endangered-Species Bathroom Cabinet."

Bill
Ooh, I'll use this coelacanth to rub my back! [uses his catfish to scrub at his back]

Stephen
No, poor old Carothers. He gave us Neoprene as well. Er, he was a Harvard professor at the age of 28--

Alan
Wetsuits.

Stephen
Wetsuits made of Neoprene, exactly. And he invented that, he . . . er, a very young man, and then, unfortunately, committed suicide by taking saliva when his wife was pregnant. He must have been very miserable.

Alan
[looks confusedly at Stephen]

Rory
Taking what?

Stephen
Did I say "saliva"?

Rory
He said "saliva"!

Phill
I think he did!

Stephen
[shamefacedly looks downward to gather himself]

Rory
A Freudian blowjob--[shakes head quickly]--er, slip, probably.

Stephen
[speaking carefully] The poor man Carothers took cyanide and killed himself, and . . . obviously, that's very funny!

Rory
Why, Stephen? Why did he take cyanide? Had he run out of saliva?

Stephen
I don't . . . !

Rory
"Where's the bottle of spit I've been saving?"

Stephen
Oh dear, I made a bit of an arse of myself.

Well, you've made me laugh! Now, one thing we can't tell is whether the Laughing Cavalier ever brushed his teeth because he's got his mouth firmly shut. But he seems pretty pleased about something. What's he on? What's he on?

Viewscreens: Painting of the Laughing Cavalier.



Rory
[presses buzzer, which plays an instrumental "Shave and a Haircut"]
He's on the wall of the Wallace collection in Manchester Square.

Stephen
That is literally true.

Rory
He's actually on nitrous oxide, isn't he, which is--

Stephen
Ah!

Rory
--laughing--

Stephen
Well, you're close. He's not on nitrous oxide; he's actually on cannabis.

Rory
You're kidding!

Bill
He spent eight hours doing that to his moustache. [mimes twirling his moustache upwards in a stoned haze] "Ye-es . . . Really nice . . . "

Stephen
I've been . . . Literally true. He is on cannabis.

Rory
Oh, are you saying that, actually, is he sitting on something that's made of hemp, like a cushion . . . 

Stephen
That painting is painted on hemp. On canvas. And the word "canvas" comes from the Greek "cannabis". But, in fact, the word "hemp" also derives from the Greek word "cannabis". It seems like an odd journey, but the Old Swedish is ħanap, from "cannabis", and ħanap became "hemp".

Rory
Oh, right.

Bill
Right.

Stephen
But, of course, the cannabinoids, or whatever the active constituent that makes one, apparently, very merry and then--

Bill
THC.

Stephen
--for some reason want to eat a lot of Lion Bars--

Rory
Which is what--

Stephen
--is erm . . . er, actually, erm . . . very, very little of it in that. Modern canvas, in case you are tempted to go and roll it and smoke it--

Alan
It's very overpriced.

Rory
Roll up some masterpieces.

Stephen
--is, (A) overpriced, and is made out of cotton, or linen, so, er, will not give you any kind of high.

Now, er, returning to our matters of special interest, Cockneys. What was the capital of England in the year 1381?

Rory
[presses buzzer, which plays an instrumental "Shave and a Haircut"]

Stephen
Rory.

Rory
Erm, it's gotta be Winchester or Chelms—Chelmsford? Winchester?

Stephen
Oh! Brilliant! It is indeed Chelmsford. Very good for knowing that. It was only the capital for five days! Did you know that?

But then, Rory, apart from being a very knowledgeable young man . . . Well, two out of three, erm . . . erm . . . You're also author of a series called "Chelmsford 123".

Rory
Indeed, yeah.

Stephen
--so you know . . . you should know about Chelmsford.

Rory
During the time you're writing about, Colchester was the capital of England, in fact--

Stephen
Yes, it was. It was.

Rory
--called, erm, Camilodunon, in those days.

Stephen
Camilodunon. And what was Chelmsford called by the Romans?

Rory
Caesaromagus.

Stephen
Caesaromagnus. Beauvais, in France, was also called that. But it's the only town, Chelmsford, in England, to be named after Julius Caesar. Do you know what Charles Dickens called it? He said it was "the dullest and most stupid spot on the face of the earth".

Why was it capital of England? Richard II--

Rory
Wasn't he the "Peasants' Revolt" Richard?

Stephen
The Peasants' Revolt was going on. He fled--

Rory
And he moved away from London because Wat Tyler and all his horrible people were coming from--

Stephen
He defeated the Peasants' Revolt at Billericay. Anything else interesting about Chelmsford? First ever factory making what, in the world?

Phill
Radios.

Stephen
Radios, well done. Five points.

Rory
Oh, well done.

Stephen
Marconi set up shop in Chelmsford. Er, Chelmsford has the largest Burns Unit in Europe. Oddly enough, the MP for Chelmsford West is called Simon Burns, though because he got a Douglas at university, he is known as . . . ? "Third Degree Burns"!

Audience in General
Ohh!

Stephen
Hey!

Phill
[laughs exaggeratedly]

Rory
That's very funny.

Alan
[waggles finger knowingly]

Stephen
It is now time, fortunately, for General Ignorance. So, it's fingers on buzzers, ladies and gentlemen. Now. What happened to Barbara Streisand's moustache?

Phill
[presses buzzer, which sings, "Henery the Eighth I am (That's Me!)"]

Phill
Yentl. Did . . . She played a young boy in Yentl? Did she have a--[rubs at his moustache]?

Rory
Oh yeah, that's--

Alan
It's in a display case in Planet Hollywood.

Phill
It is.

Stephen
If I were to tell you that she ate it, and then pooed it out . . . 

Audience in General
[groans]

Alan
[hides his face in his hand]

Bill
I'd be disgusted.

Rory
I want to see that video!

Stephen
Yeah, but . . . I want to tell you that Carol Vorderman also ate her moustache and excreted it. What's more, I happen to know that Alan Davies did the same thing. And I did it, and you did it, and everyone in the audience did, and everyone at home, in homeland did it.

Phill
But whoa, whoa, whoa. Look. Oi. [points at his moustache]

Rory
Yeah, come on.

Stephen
But you've already eaten it . . . you've already eaten your moustache and pooed it out.

Phill
Well, I beg to differ!

Rory
I've eaten Phill's moustache, but not--

Stephen
You've grown another one.

Phill
I've grown another one?

Stephen
Yes.

Phill
I've eaten it and pooed it out?

Stephen
Yes.

Phill
Now, when you're a baby in the womb, you have a full 'tache.

Stephen
Ye-es! When you're in a womb, you grow--

Phill
Groucho Marx number, and a cigar . . . 

Stephen
Hair starts on the upper lip--

Phill
Yeah?

Stephen
--and then the eyebrows, and then it covers the whole body. And it's called "lanugo", as in . . . as in "woolly"--

Bill
[lifts the front of his shirt to look underneath at this chest]

Stephen
--and then, during the last weeks of pregnancy, the baby sheds all its little wool and eats it.

Phill
Mmm! Lovely hair.

Stephen
It does, honestly. And the hair, along with mucous, and bile, and bits of intestine, and cells shed from the skin--

Rory
Ooh, wow. Can I have the recipe again, Stephen?
[starts writing on his notepad]

Stephen
--form--amniotic fluid and cells--form little baby's first stool. [smiles]

Bill
We, er . . . Yes, we laminated it.

Stephen
Put it in the baby book?

Bill
Yes.

Stephen
"Baby's first little turd."

Bill
W—w—

Stephen
Why Barbara Streisand?

Bill
Why Barbara Streisand?

Stephen
Well, why not? She's a person. It just seemed . . . 

Bill
[laughs] "'Cause she's a person!"

Stephen
"Barbara Streisand ate her moustache and pooed it." Seemed amusing to me.

Now, from one shocking image to another. Why shouldn't I strip Alan naked and cover him with gold paint?

Phill
[presses buzzer which sings, "Henery the Eighth I am (That's Me!)"]
[pointing pen accusingly] You, win your Oscar properly like everyone else!

Stephen
[laughs heartily]

Alan
In the film . . . in the film, she died from it.

Stephen
She died from it?

Alan
In the film, yeah.

Stephen
So it would kill you.

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the words "HE'D DIE".

Alan
Oh, come on! 'Cause the small of her back needed to be left exposed so she could breathe through it or something. Do you remember that?

Stephen
Exactly, that's right. And it's a complete--

Alan
It's bollocks.

Rory
Yeah.

Stephen
--load of old toss, I'm afraid.

Alan
Just like everything that happens in James Bond.

Stephen
From Ian Fleming, yeah.

Alan
He's shite.

Stephen
He does make things up. The skin does not breathe. You'd get very, very hot if I sprayed you, and couldn't sweat . . . Any other Ian Fleming, erm, peculiar opinions that, erm--

Alan
You can't kill someone with a flying bowler hat. That's rubbish.

Stephen
[laughs] Erm, yes. Erm, there are extraordinary ones. He says, at one point . . . he says homosexuals can't whistle.

Phill
But why? What did he have to back up--

Stephen
[blows outward in a purposely unsuccessful attempt to whistle]

It was also . . . Tiger Tanaka, in . . . in You Only Live Twice, tells him that . . . They go to see sumo wrestling. He says, [as Tanaka] "Well, Mr Bond, at the age of fourteen, junior sumos are taught that by assiduously massaging the appropriate organs, they can cause their testicles to re-enter the body via the inguinal canal from which they originally descended.

Alan
[looks extremely concerned]

Stephen
And it's just nonsense. I mean, it's--

Phill
It's fun for the sumos to give it a go, though, innit?

Stephen
Yes.

Bill
[Japanese accent] "He wins by pushing it back in-ny."

What's that . . . in "From Russia With Love", there's a scene where . . . where they . . . they go out to this, sort of, the gypsy encampment, and the two girls who have been fighting over the same man. And he says to Bond, "Yes, they will settle it . . . the Gypsy way." And it's just a lot of--[imitates a dramatised fight]--in a car park.

Phill
It's just like a normal fight, but near caravans.

Bill
Yes. And at one point, she just stops and sells someone a little bit of heather.

Stephen
Exactly. Er, fingers on buzzers.

Bill
Oh, no.

Stephen
How many senses do you have?

Alan
[presses buzzer, which sings, "Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee!"]

Bill
I sense a buzzer coming . . . 

Alan
[counts off all the fingers on one hand]
Five. Or three.

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the word "FIVE".

Stephen
No, Alan!

Alan
Six or seven, eight, nine, four, three, two, one. Ten, eleven.

Stephen
Nine . . . Anything between nine and twenty-one I'll give you points for.

Alan
Yeah.

Rory
Ooh.

Stephen
Just think about what one means by--

Alan
Seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching.

Stephen
Aristotle said "five" . . . Right. So what about balance? What about hunger? What about thirst? Why aren't they senses? Feedback from your relationship with the world. Pressure.

Bill
Disappointment.

Stephen
There are lots, and there are other ones. Feeling heat. Where do you feel heat? You don't . . . you don't touch heat. . . . So there is "thermoception". "Nociception", which is pain. "Equilibrioception", which is balance.

Alan
[wearily] So why did they teach me that there are five?

Stephen
Well, it was Aristotle who said it. He said there were four elements, but, you know . . . Earth, air, fire, and water, but we don't believe that now . . . But you--

Phill
I do!

Alan
I'd go along with that.

Stephen
There's also "proprioception", which is, if you--[demonstrating as he speaks]--close your eyes and move your hand about, you know where it is.

Alan
What about the "sixth sense"?
[waves hands spookily]

Stephen
That's right. Yeah, it's an old phrase, because in those days, they only thought of five senses.

Alan
So, what, it'd be . . . It should be the "twenty-second sense"?

Bill
[closes his eyes and moves his hand around]

Alan
How are you doing that?

Bill
I don't know! It's like some . . . some strange power! Where is my arm? I don't know!

I knew this bloke; he . . . he fell asleep drunk, and you know sometimes, you fall asleep and your arm does something a bit weird, like that--[raises his arm above his head]--

Stephen
Yes.

Bill
--and he fell asleep like that, and he woke up, and he went, "Oh . . . " like that--[looks up]--and his arm dropped down and broke his nose!

Stephen
There was this man who was mowing his lawn with--[circles hand in the air]--one of those things that move around--

Rory
Lawnmowers.

Stephen
--and . . . and, erm, and he was in open-toed sandals, and, er--

Audience in General
[groans in anticipation]

Stephen
--he cut his toe off, but . . . the thing is, it flew up and took his eye out! . . . [laughs] And why . . . Why is it so funny? I mean, a toe being cut off is kind of, "Ohh . . . " That's quite funny, but it's very . . . But the fact that the toe just--[projects his hand toward his face]--like that, it's just so . . . 

Bill
"How did the, erm, lawn mowing go?" "Don't ask."

Stephen
Now, lastly. Who's the oldest man in the Bible?

Alan
[presses buzzer, which "Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee!"]

Bill
Oh, here we go.

Alan
[shrugs] Noah.

Stephen
No, not Noah. He was quite old . . . 

Phill
[presses buzzer, which sings, "Henery the Eighth I am (That's Me!)"]
Methuselah.

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the name "METHUSELAH".

Stephen
Oh!

Rory
You just fell that one, didn't you?

Phill
I fell into the bear pit.

Alan
How old was Noah?

Stephen
Noah was 950.

Alan
Older than Adam, then?

Stephen
He was older than Adam. Oh, yes. Adam was 930 years old.

Phill
How old was Methuselah?

Stephen
Methuselah was 969 years.

Phill
Well, that just . . . sucks. Why do we go "As old as Methuselah"?

Stephen
Well, because Enoch . . . is still alive. Enoch never died. Enoch was 365 when it quite specifically says, in the Bible, that the Lord "took him". God decided that he would not give him death because he was a good man. Even Saint Paul wrote about him.

Phill
Stephen! . . . Bring him to me!

Alan
If you were on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"--

Phill
Oh, yeah.

Alan
--he'd be a very good phone-a-friend, wouldn't he?

Phill
Wouldn't it be great if you phone up . . . [in deep voice, as God] "Hang on. I'll see if he's in. . . . Enoch! It's your friend!"

Stephen
Well, no, that seems to be the case. The French philosopher Descartes believed that all humans could live as long as the "patriarchs", as those old, er, figures from the Bible are known, and he believed he was right on the brink of inventing a way that would make us live for at least a thousand years, when he died. Aged 54.

So, there you are. That would make Enoch 5,387 years old.

Finally, to the "Pin the Tastebud on the Catfish" competition. Would you like to show your work, please?

Phill
[holds up his catfish, which has a line of stickers down its length]
Would . . . wouldn't it be lovely if you were eating something and you tasted it right along your lovely body, there? "Mmm!"



Stephen
You have a lateral line, which catfish do have.

Bill
[holds up his catfish, which is stickered in clusters]



Stephen
And a kind of scattergun . . . Oh, you missed one.

Bill
[puts his last sticker on the tip of the catfish's fin]

Stephen
Ah, the dorsal fin, eh?

Alan
[holds up his catfish, onto which he has made the stickers spell out the word "CATFISH", with a couple stickers reserved for the ends of the whiskers]



Stephen
"Catfish." . . . "Alan's craftwork has really come on this term."

Rory
[holds up his catfish, which is uniformly covered with stickers]



Stephen
I have to say, the closest is, probably, Rory, because the fact is, there is no part of a catfish which is not covered in thousands of tastebuds. He is a . . . basically, a swimming tongue.

Rory
Me-ow.

Stephen
And that is rather close.

Viewscreens: Picture of a catfish with orange dots sprinkled over its body.

Bill
Whose is it?

Stephen
Show yours up.

Rory
[holds up his catfish to match the viewscreens]

Stephen
That is rather close! I have to say, that is eerie how close that is.

Rory
I'm very surprised, but . . . 

Stephen
Very good. Which brings us to the pancake of the Bobbies.

Alan
[laughs loudly]

Stephen
Erm, and, er . . . [to Alan] Which is . . . 

Alan
Bobby Mores . . . 

Stephen
Yes! "Pancake batter" . . . 

Phill
Pancake toss?

Stephen
The matter of the scores. But--

Rory
Ah, right.

Phill
[throws back his head and laughs]

Stephen
I don't think I'd ever really cut it as a Cockney, would I? Let's have a look at the British Home Store . . . 

In first place, with three points, Bill Bailey! In second place, with minus one, Rory McGrath! In third place, with minus twelve, Phill Jupitus. But our runaway not-winner this week, Alan Davies, with minus nineteen!

Oh. So, it's hi-dee-hi and baked potato from QI. My Tom Hanks go to Phill, Rory, Bill, and Alan. I leave you with this castle and fort on the origins of London slang. In the early years of the 20th century, children's construction sets, like Meccano, were sold in two kinds, labelled "Box Standard" and "Box Deluxe". And that, or so they say and persuade me, is where we get the two phrases "bog standard" and "dog's bollocks"! . . . Language is a strange thing, but she is my mistress. Good night.

__________

Kate, our resident linguist,
has a few things to say on the linguistic aspects of this episode. I credit (and blame) her for all the technical expertise in the language-related segments below; the quoted portions are in her words.

Transcription Notes
  • Tsalagi. With proper IPA characters, the word is "tsələɰi". "The two vowels are schwa, and the final consonant is a velar approximant.

  • Caesaromagnus. As Rory rightly said initially, the town was "Caesaromagus", without the "n".

  • Hanap. See larger for the proper IPA characters. "ħ is voiceless pharyngeal fricative." It's a cognate with the Old English /hænap/.
Episode Notes
  • Oxytonic stress. "While these are all perfectly valid rules for Rory to be using, there are many other variations that each of the phonemes of this word can undergo. It is this wide variety of possibilities that produces different language within a single family: Proto-Indo-European divided up in several ways, producing several differend sub-families, which then, through individual sound changes, divided up to get languages. One sound can change in so many different ways that language change is often unpredictable. Our Resident Linguist can see no serious, objective reason why Rory would have selected the rules he did."

  • An odd journey. "This is what I was talking about with the many variations one word can undergo. k and h are interchangeable, just as, as Rory says, k and g are: they’re all velar consonants, sounds produced by restricting the airflow on the velum. So, when Rory said /k/ can be voiced, he could equally have said /k/ can become an approximant, or a fricative. Similarly, the b and the m (or maybe the p) are probably related between cannabis and hemp: they’re all bilabials (two lips)."

  • Fern Britton. Stephen is surprisingly defensive of Fern, considering that when the subject of This Morning came up in 1x09, this exchange followed:
    • Stephen Fry: What's "fern" got to do with it?
    • Alan Davies: She presents it.
    • Stephen Fry: Oh, it's a person?
    • Jo Brand: No, Fern is a plant that presents a programme on ITV.
    • Stephen Fry: This is my show, and for all my oddity, I'm more interested in what Aristotle thought about flies than some fatuous bint who presents morning television . . . !

  • It's a grass. The classification of bamboo as a grass was first mentioned in 2x05, in which Alan, in rapid succession, suggested that it could be a "plant, tree, bark," or "wood", before Stephen corrected him.

  • Stephen Fry's All-Endangered-Species Bathroom Cabinet. This is similar to a joke in 3x01, in which Stephen, on the subject of squirrels, makes an odd correlation.
    • Alan Davies: The red squirrel can't live with the grey squirrel.
    • Stephen Fry: Ebony and ivory are together on my piano keyboard, so why can't they be?
    • Alan Davies: What, do you mean a kind of squirrel-fur keyboard?
    • Stephen Fry: It would be nice.
    • Rob Bryson: That's barbaric. Are you saying you want pianos clad in the pelt of a squirrel? Because if that's what you're saying, Fry: You should be stopped.

  • [speaking carefully] The thrust here is that Stephen was trying to record a clean read-through of the line for use in post-production, but for the laughter of the audience and panel, he was unsuccessful, especially when Rory proceeded to allude directly to his mistake.

  • Charles Dickens. We've already had this tidbit, in 1x04, on the subject of the most boring place in Britain (ostensibly, a field in Lincolnshire).
    • Stephen Fry: Charles Dickens, on the other hand, would not agree. He'd have voted for Chelmsford. He stayed there once, and described it as "the dullest and most stupid spot on the face of the earth". And Charles Dickens should know, because he actually invented the word "boredom".
  • Chelmsford.
    • The Daily Telegraph - 2 March 2007
      Upon the opening of the Telegraph's now-regular QI column, they ran an article in which producer John Lloyd was quoted to say:
      "When QI was starting out, we played a game called "Quite Boring". People had to nominate something about which nothing interesting could be said or discovered. I nominated Chelmsford, which I had always found exceptionally dull. Within literally days, I discovered that it was the only English town named after Julius Caesar, that it had been capital of England for a week in the 13th century and that the first music broadcast on radio by Marconi was relayed from there. I'd call that quite interesting, wouldn't you?"

  • Homosexuals can't whistle.
    • The Man with the Golden Gun - written by Ian Fleming - published 1965
      "Now it may only be a myth, and it is certainly not medical science, but there is a popular theory that a man who cannot whistle has homosexual tendencies."

    • This unusual belief of Fleming's had been previously mentioned by Stephen in 1x08. Alan promptly followed with an indecent joke, forcing Stephen to order him to stand in the corner.

  • Language is a strange thing, but she is my mistress.
    • A Bit of Fry and Laurie - 1x02 - 1989
      On a tongue-in-cheek sketch about language:
      • Hugh Laurie: So to you language is more than just a means of communication? 
      • Stephen Fry: Er, of course it is, of course it is, of course it is, of course it is! Language is my mother, my father, my husband, my brother, my sister, my whore, my mistress, my check-out girl; language is a complimentary moist lemon-scented cleansing square, or handy freshen-up wipette. Language is the breath of God, language is the dew on a fresh apple; it's the soft rain of dust that falls into a shaft of morning light as you pluck from an old bookshelf a half-forgotten book of erotic memoirs; language is the creak on the stair, it's a spluttering match held to a frosted pane, it's a half-remembered childhood birthday party, it's the warm, wet, trusting touch of a leaking nappy, the hulk of a charred Panzer, the underside of a granite boulder, the first downy growth on the upper lip of a Mediterranean girl; it's cobwebs long since overrun by an old Wellington boot. You can see the sketch here.

    • Moab is My Washpot - written by Stephen Fry - published 1997
      There are many sections of the book dedicated to the power of language in Stephen's life; this is merely one example, taken from a time in his life when he is young and taking lessons with a speech tutor to help him articulate more clearly.

      "I had discovered the beauty of speech. Suddenly I had an endless supply of toys: words. Meaningless phatic utterance for its own sake would become my equivalent of a Winnie the Pooh hum, my music. [. . .] As others get tunes on their brain, I get words or phrases on the brain. I will awaken, for example, with the sentence, 'Hoversmack tender estimate' on my lips. I will say it in the shower, while I wait for the kettle to boil, and as I open the morning post. Sometimes it will be with me all day. [. . .]

      "Language was something more than power then, it was more than my only resource in a world of tribal shouts and athleticism and them, the swimmers and singers, it was also a private gem collection, a sweet shop, a treasure chest." (pg. 89)
    • Stephen
      • Tonight, we're talking Cockney rhyming slang, so without further tea for [tea for two: ado], let's have a butcher's [butcher's hook: look] at our four bulletproofs [bulletproof vests: guests].
      • They're all three stops down from Plaistow [Barking (on the London Underground): mad], but never mind, let's Georgie [Georgie Best: test] their orientals [oriental bazaars: buzzers].
    • Bill
      • You want me to Ursula Andress [press] me Jenson [Jenson Button: button]?
    • Phill
      • Would you like me to Eartha [Eartha Kitt: hit] my Dingly [Dingly Dell: bell]?
    • Stephen
      • Now, tonight, any flamencos [flamenco dances: answers] you give in Pyong [Pyong Yang: slang] score Barney [Barney Rubble: double]. And I'll also give you two Sundays [Sunday joints: points] if, at any nickel and dime [time] . . . you woman [woman-who-does: buzz] in and want to lubricant [lubricant gel: tell] me . . . what I'm on about.
      • Have any of you used coal to brush your Bexleys [Bexleyheath: teeth]? I know it's "Hampsteads" [Hampstead Heath: teeth] usually, but . .
      • Which brings us to the pancake [pancake batter: matter] of the Bobbies [Bobby Mores: scores].
      • Let's have a look at the British Home Store [score(s)].
      • It's hi-dee-hi [good bye] and baked potato [see you later] from QI. My Tom Hanks [thanks] go to Phill, Rory, Bill, and Alan.