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Series 7, Episode 7

Transcript by: Glenn Campbell
Notes: This transcript has not been edited for style or content, but I'm sure it's jolly good.

TRANSCRIPT

Stephen
Gooooooood evening good evening good evening good evening and welcome to QI where tonight it's a battle of the sexes as QI looks at girls and boys and gender. Let's hear it for the girls!

[The female audience members applaud and shout]

And huddled under the glass ceiling, we have, sugar and spice, Ronni Ancona… and all things nice, Sandi Toksvig …

And what about a big hand for the boys?

[The male audience members applaud and shout]

Slugs and snails, Jack Dee … and a puppy dog's tail, Alan Davies.
Vivre, of course, la difference, let's hear our gender-specific buzzers. Sandi goes:

Sandi
[presses buzzer, which plays a woman singing a rising and falling scale]

Stephen
Ronni goes:

Ronni
[presses buzzer, which plays a harp glissando]

Stephen
Jack goes:

Jack
[presses buzzer, which plays a wolf-whistle]

Stephen
And Alan goes:

Alan
[presses buzzer, which plays a man shouting "'Ello darlin'!"]

Stephen
Aww. Well, tonight we're on the lookout for outrageous sexism so if any of you spot an example of it, you can pull me up short by using your buzzer… or ask one of the boys to do it for you, if you like.

Ronni
[presses buzzer, which plays a harp glissando]

Stephen
Yes, that's an example, very good.

Ronni
It's started.

Stephen
Exactly, you get points for that. Now, er, if you're right, you also might get a cuddle. Boys, obviously.

Sandi
[presses buzzer, which plays a woman singing a rising and falling scale]

Stephen
No, the boys might get… oh, alright. Yeah, that was an example too. Anyway, second time, round one. Who was traditionally dressed in pink? And called a girl?

Ronni
Was it Go Kwan?

Stephen
No, not Go Kwan.

Sandi
Is it Liberace? Is it a person from history, is it…

Stephen
No, traditionally a whole class of people.

Sandi
A whole class of people?

Stephen
Traditionally dressed in pink.

Sandi
The lower classes always dressed in pink, if you spot them.

Stephen
I don't mean class in that sense, a group of people. Who dressed in pink and called a girl?

Alan
A girl, as in a girl describing a group of people?

Stephen
No, but babies… which babies would you dress in pink?

Alan
Er, female babies.

Jack
Boys used to be.

Stephen
Boys were. Until the twentieth century, the colours were pink for a baby boy and blue for a baby girl.

Jack
How could they be wrong for so long?

Stephen
Maybe we took a wrong turn. But I'll give you an example of Dressmaker Magazine from 1900: "The preferred colour to dress young boys is in pink. Blue is reserved for girls as it's presumed paler and the more dainty of the two colours and pink is thought to be stronger." And as late as 1927, there was a report about Princess Astrid of Belgium who had been caught out when she gave birth to a girl because, quote, "The cradle had been optimistically outfitted in pink, the colour for boys." Isn't that strange, when now every shop has a whole, sort of, pink corner devoted to girls, I mean, when girls are…

Alan
When did this… when did this happen, when did we turn around the other way?

Stephen
Well that's what I'm saying, 1927 they were still talking about pink for boys.

Ronni
Is it something to do with blue being considered quite serene and is the colour of the Virgin Mary?

Stephen
I think that's all part of it, yes, they just though blue was a natural pale and female colour. But even more extraordinary is the word girl. Right up until mid-fifteenth century…

Alan
Boys were called girls?

Stephen
Yes. All children… You'll have to re-think everything, won't you?

Alan
This is the most extraordinary episode yet!

Stephen
All children were called girls, boy children…

Alan
"Come on, girls!"

Stephen
Boy children were called knave girls, and – this is even more confusing for us today – girl children were called gay girls.

Sandi
I have no problem with that.

Stephen
Gay girls and knave girls.

Sandi
I like pink… you see [pulls on her jacket] pink, pink. I like pink, pink make the boys wink. And I think that's right, I've known boys who've been complete winkers. I think it's a marvellous thing, pink.

Jack
I, er, sorry…
[presses buzzer, which plays a wolf-whistle]
That's a bit sexist, wasn't it?

Stephen
Yeah.

Sandi
Jack, I've only just started.

Stephen
Uh oh.

Sandi
This is the beginning, my dear.

Jack
I'm gonna come down on you…

Stephen
Hello?

Jack
… like a ton of bricks.

Sandi
Wouldn't be the first boy in my life who's done so.

Stephen
They can get a man on the moon but they can't get one on Sandi.

The word boy was only lately applied to a male child, before it just meant a servant. So you'd say "Boy" meaning, like, "waiter" or "servant".

Ronni
Oh, what the hell went wrong? Those were the days, eh?

Sandi
Yeah.

Stephen
It's a very strange thing, isn't it? Things do change. And the colour pink… I mean, everything has to have a pink version, mobile phones and…

Sandi
Is there anything to do with the fact that red used to be the colour for men? I mean, it was a, sort of, strong, Christian colour, and I'm wondering of pink like a, sort of, sibling of a men's colour.

Stephen
I think it was a mixture of that, that pink was, yes, considered strong and reddish and male, and, as you said, blue, the colour of the Virgin Mary and so on, was considered female and serene.

Ronni
I read somewhere that monkeys are attracted to pink, the females are attracted to pink because the infant primates have got little pink faces.

Stephen
Oh, that's very good. That's very likely.

Jack
Did you read that or did you see it on a children's television programme?

Stephen
It's certainly true that if you dress a baby in pink, mothers, when picking them up – if it's not their own child – will tend to have a pink dressed baby facing them when they hug it, and the blue dressed baby facing outward…

Alan
Throw it out the window.

Stephen
Or just facing outwards.

Sandi
All that information you've got, Stephen, and you're so unlikely to use it.

Alan
Someone called and they said that they tried an experiment with chimps, I think, and they gave them, er, dolls and trucks or engines to play with, and the boy ones all wanted to play with the trucks and the engines and the girl ones wanted to play with the dolls. How weird is that?

Stephen
That is odd.

Sandi
It is… I have to say, it is very strange. I've got two daughters and a son and my son's the last one and when he was born I thought "There are going to be no guns, no guns whatsoever." So we had no horrible toys and honestly, he was about two and a toilet roll immediately became a machine gun. It is the most…

Stephen
You can't fight it, can you?

Sandi
No, and he liked blue and they liked pink…

Ronni
Not with toilet rolls, no. Depends on the war. We don't have much hope.

Stephen
But pink… Do you know what the Traje de luces is?

Sandi
The what?

Stephen
The Traje de luces.

Sandi
I thought you were being unwell.

Stephen
The Suit of Lights?

Jack
South American thing, is it?

Stephen
No, it's a thing a matador wears, it's often pink, a matador's suit… the Suit of Lights

Viewscreens : A painful moment in a bullfight.

Sandi
Oh, and the lining of it is pink…

[The panellists and audience react to the picture with 'Ooh's and 'Ow's]

Stephen
That's a painful moment.

Alan
Something's going to be pink in a minute.

Stephen
That is…

Alan
"Tear me a new one."

Stephen
Ow. Yes, pink is a strange colour, too, because it, sort of, doesn't exist on the spectrum. It's an extra-spectral colour.

Sandi
But some girls… aren't girls more inclined toward the red end of the spectrum? I think that's true, I think there is a, sort of, a…

Ronni
Because of berries, foraging.

Sandi
…it's… It's, yes, having a little look on the savannah and boys running off toward the blue sky. Is it not some reason like that?

Stephen
Yes, I've heard something similar.

Ronni
Foraging for lipsticks. They would, on trees, in primal times…

Sandi
Do you know that they've done studies with the hunter-gatherer societies and nine-tenths of the food is provided by the women? Er, and one tenth is provided by the men. So, the women go "Oh we'll get some berries." and the men come back, "And honestly, the bison was this close."… "Yeah, yeah, your berry dinner."

Alan
"Well, we saw one, so…"

Stephen
That sort of counts

Alan
"We'll get him, yeah. You got any, er, any berries?"

Stephen
Well the truth is that pink used to be the colour for boys and boys used to be called girls anyway, so with all this confusion, what's the best way to get a girl?

Alan
[presses buzzer, which plays a man shouting "'Ello darlin'!"]
Usually works. You give any more than that and they're not interested.

Sandi
Is it anything to do with swimming badges? Swimming badges…

Stephen
Swimming badges?

Sandi
Yes, well, you know, how some people can swim and they're fantastically fast but they haven't got a lot of stamina. And then some people can swim and they, they're not very fast but they've got fantastic stamina. And boy sperm are the ones who…

Stephen
Ah, yes…

Sandi
Boy sperm swim fantastically fast but they die pretty quickly. And girl sperm take an awfully long time, so it's

Ronni
Can I just, there's a flaw in your argument. Girl sperm… we don't have sperm.

Jack
I didn't know girls had sperm.

Stephen
No.

Ronni
I was listening and, that's true, stamina.

Stephen
There are lots of theories about it.

Jack
Oh is it something to do with diet?

Stephen
Diet is the current one, yes. For example: calories. If you had a higher calorie intake before being impregnated, out of a hundred, fifty-six had boys.

Sandi
So you don't want to have cream cakes just before…

Stephen
If you want a girl, yeah, exactly. Also, women who ate at least one bowl of breakfast cereal a day were 87% more likely to have boys than those who ate no more than one bowl a week. Which is quite… That's a…

Sandi
No darling, that's tosh, that's put out my Kellogg 's.

Stephen
It does look rather extraordinary.

Sandi
It's ridiculous.

Stephen
Women who had boys ate about 400 calories more daily than those who had girls, on average.

Sandi
And those people who had Coco Pops had chimpanzees, I don't believe it.

Stephen
A very bizarre one, I don't know whom this would benefit commercially, women infected with Hepatitis-B virus and one and a half times more likely to give birth to a male.

Sandi
It's not a good reason to get it.

Stephen
No, we're certainly not encouraging it. But there is one sure way, which is embryo selection, of course, which in America and Thailand in particular is very popular. Costs about 18,000 U.S. dollars.

Sandi
Wow.

Alan
Friend of ours had a baby in Thailand, English couple, and, er, a Thai woman said to her, [Thai accent] "If you are look lovely when you're pregnant, you will have girl. If you look tired and ugly, dress badly, you will have boy." [normal voice] And she said "What do you think I'm going to have?"… "Boy".

Stephen
Outrageous!

Alan
And she did.

Stephen
She did? Oh my God. It works!

Sandi
They are different species, though, the boys and the girls. I was walking down the road with my two girls and my son, and we were walking along the High Street and my son suddenly went [adopts ninja pose] "Hah!" Like this, for no reason. And the girls and I both turned to him and went, "What?"

Stephen
Well there could be a secret agent around the corner, yeah?

Sandi
Actually, Ronni and I were talking about how wonderful boys are, that they live in this very, kind of, clear world about themselves, and when my son was about six he had a friend over. And his friend said, "What's it like having two mummies then?" and he said, "It's marvellous." And he said, "When one of them's poorly, you've still got one to do for you."

Stephen
Excellent. Well, I like.

Sandi
"To do for you"?

Ronni
Their glorious self-centred…

Stephen
Well there are other theories. Aristotle thought the diet of the mother and the sexual position used at conception made a difference, so he was half right, it seems, with the diet. Anaxagoras thought boys and girls came out of different testicles. So, you would tie off the testicle you didn't want the gender.

Alan
They're just making it up as they go along. Based on nothing at all.

Stephen
The Talmud suggests aligning the bed North-South before sex and then you get a boy.

Ronni
Why don't they all just wait and see?

Stephen
That's the best way, you're right. The French thought wearing boots to bed might help having a boy.

Sandi
What have the boots got to do with it?

Stephen
I've no idea. It does seem most strange.

Alan
Nowadays, if you've got the football on, you'll have a boy.

Stephen
Oh yes.

Alan
That works.

Stephen
That would, wouldn't it?

Alan
Yeah.

Stephen
That would definitely work.

Sandi
If you've got the football on, you'll be lucky to be having sex at all. That's a woman who's lost the will to live.

Alan
You'd be surprised how easy it is to get the football on without it being noticed. You don't always need the sound on… if you know who's playing.

Sandi
If you're work… er… if you're working the remote while you're doing the business…

Alan
We've all heard the rustle of a magazine from the other end…

Stephen
Oh dear.

Alan
"Are you reading a magazine?"… [pretends to close a magazine, quickly] "No, no, no…" [bounces about with bored expression]

Stephen
Anyway, sex selection is a tricky business. French folklore suggests wearing your boots in bed but modern research suggests it's much more to do with diet.

Now why don't we have more women as guests on QI? You may well ask.

Sandi
Oh I know this.

[Sandi and Ronni hit their buzzers at the same time. Ronni's buzzer alights and plays the harp glissando.]

Ronni
Sorry

Sandi
Sorry, so female… no, after you…

Ronni
After you…

Sandi
Er, is it because women are just not funny?

Stephen
[gasps] Ah!

Sandi
Yeah.

Ronni [parodied southern U.S. accent]
No, that's right, but we're good at other things. We're good at raisin' kittens and knittin' cakes.

Sandi
Oh, I've heard this a lot. I've heard that women aren't funny and I think there's a truth in this. I think that there is a scientific, possibly, relationship between a sense of humour and the male sex organ.

Alan
People are always laughing at mine.

Sandi
Yeah well there you are, you see?

Ronni
Is this to do with the fact that people always say there aren't as many female comedians as there are men? Because, you know what, there are loads of female comedians. It's just that we just don't see them because they're systematically rounded up and kept in a pen just outside Harridge.

Stephen
Harridge?

Ronni
Yes, Harridge. But you can go and see them and you can adopt them online. You can go and you can visit them and you can feed them lines… and you might get a joke back sometimes… and then sometimes some of them escape. And they disguise themselves as male comedians. But you can always tell which ones the male comedians… it's the ones with the beards. Just like Life of Brian.

Stephen
Bill Bailey

Ronni
Bill Bailey

Stephen
Clearly a woman.

Sandi
But you they very… It's really rare to be allowed to sit next to a female comedian – I don't know what they worry… that our cycles will suddenly synchronise or something -

Ronni
I'm not, I'm in disguise. I'm more… I'm actually…

Jack
[presses buzzer, which plays a wolf-whistle]

Stephen
Hello?

Jack
Is it because once you get them started, they don't shut up?

Stephen
Oh! I say. But recent studies appear to have shown an interesting thing, which is that women laugh more but they laugh less at women. Women laugh more at men. Audiences, generally, laugh more at men, but women themselves do more laughing.

Sandi
I… I don't know. I suppose men are more willing to make pratts of themselves.

Stephen
Yes, there is an element of that, I mean, the really, truly great female comedians do make pratts of themselves. Lucille Ball, people like that.

Sandi
And there's a strange division that girls have either got to be, sort of, fay or look slightly stupid or they can be, like myself, not terribly attractive, wear a pink jacket and go…

Stephen
You… now, stop it…

Sandi
But I mean, there's an interesting… if you think about the… Goldie Hawn, for example. Very… played ditsy, and is one of the most successful Hollywood producers of all time.

Stephen
Yes, very smart. But played stupid.

Ronni
But, just as Sandi says, as a woman, they want to, sort of, categorise you more…

Stephen
Yes.

Ronni
The men and the women, what is she doing here, is she doing the "fat man hater" thing, is she doing the fay… what is she…?

Stephen
Certainly in the early days, the modern standup, when it started in the eighties, almost all female comedians, their subject was being a woman. Whereas male comedians, their subject was not being a man. In other words, women were treating themselves as if they were a minority when in fact they're 51% of the population.

Ronni
Women don't have a history in comedy, you know, in the era of the great silent comics. We were all being tied to railway tracks while they were all being, you know…

Jack
Happy days.

Stephen
There was… I think it was Germaine Greer who said, "There are only two things that women don't do as well as men, and that's design dresses and cook." Which is kind of an amusing thing, that actually almost all the great chefs and all the great couturiers are men, and yet the one thing we used to think about women is, oh, put them in the kitchen and make them design dresses.

So, according to the American study, if we had more women on the show, the panel would laugh more but the audience would laugh less, perversely.

Now, where and when would you find the most violent women in history?

Alan
Basildon.

Jack
[presses buzzer, which plays a wolf-whistle]

Stephen
Basildon? Basildon !

Jack
I was going to say, first day of the sales.

Stephen
Ah, well…

Sandi
Ah, would there be lots of, er… There's a wonderful one called Princess Khutulun, who was the niece of Kublai Kahn, the great Mongol leader, and Marco Polo says she was the fiercest of all the warriors. And I love this, okay, the niece of Kublai Kahn … and she should get married. So she said, "Fair enough, I like being a soldier but tell you what, I will wrestle any man who wants to marry me and if he wins, he can marry me. And if he loses, he has to give me a hundred horses." And she ended up unmarried with ten thousand horses. How much do we love her?

Stephen
Wow.

Sandi
Yeah. But, I mean, Amazons and, er…

Stephen
Yes. The Amazons were a mythical race of warrior women, they were known as the…

Alan
Xena … Xena the warrior princess.

Stephen
There were… yes…

Alan
She was tough.

Stephen
She may… She may have been madey-uppey, though, Alan, I hate to say.

Alan
That was a documentary.

Stephen
I'm not going to be the one to destroy your…

Sandi
Doesn't Gadaffi have, er, Amazons… or he calls them Amazons?

Stephen
We're in the right continent. It's Benin.

Alan
Benin?

Stephen
Yeah.

Alan
Hardest women in the world?

Stephen
Yeah. It was called Dahomey before, and the army of Dahomey in the nineteenth century protected the king. And they were extraordinary.

Viewscreens: Picture of the Dahomian army.

Ronni
Wow.

Stephen
They were very extraordinary women, they had to be nominal wives of the king, although they had to be celibate.

Sandi
Do you not think they look like the wildcard on Britain's Got Talent?

Stephen
They were chosen for their aggression. The husband could actually nominate his wife if his wife was a nag, which seems rather unpleasant, but they carried a type of switchblade that was capable of cutting a man in two. Oddly enough, some people saw their plight as tragic and said they had to surrender their womanhood, turn into men and despise women, while others said they were venerated. When they walked through the streets they were accompanied by slave girls ringing a bell and all men had to avert their eyes.

Alan
Think that might be a better life? Like the eunuchs.

Stephen
Eunuchs, that's a good life.

Jack
Speak for yourself, Alan.

Stephen
Don't you sometimes wish?

Jack
No.

Sandi
I quite like the idea of a slave girl walking ahead of me ringing a bell.

Stephen
recent statistics have been rather astonishing. Female violent crime in this country has risen over the last three years by 25%.

Sandi
Is that to do with alcohol?

Stephen
Well, yes, probably. Because drunk women have 50% more testosterone coursing about their blood.

Ronni
They're drinking the wrong thing.

Stephen
Alcohol causes the stimulation and production of female… I mean, women have testosterone, just as men have, you know, lady things.

Jack
Estrogen.

Ronni
"Lady things".

Stephen
Yeah.

Alan
Nipples.

Stephen
Nipples, yeah.

Sandi
Well the basic human form is female, isn't it? Because you start out with two 'X's and then you get one broken one.

Ronni
Oh yes.

Stephen
That's right. Yup.

Jack
That's your basic model.

Sandi
Basic model, yeah.

Jack
If you want any of the, er, the extras…

Stephen
Add-ons.

Jack
…add-ons… sunroof… steering wheel, whatever.

Alan
Nice spokes, ABS. Yeah, let's talk about cars for a moment.

Jack
We got there in the end.

Stephen
But the… yes, that's right… 2% fall for boy violent crime and a 25% rise in girl violent crime.

Alan
So there's boys all over Britain going, "Leave it! It's not worth it!"

Stephen
Exactly.

Alan
"You know what she's like, she starts…"

Stephen
And girl bullying is not nice, is it? You're very good… I mean, if you wanted to be, you're very good at mental torture it has to be said.

Alan
Yeah, especially now with the mobile phone, they just keep texting you until you break down.

Stephen
Awww.

Alan
In the classroom, suddenly go: [acts out a crying fit]
[as onlooker] "What's happening?" [as weeping boy, showing his phone] "Texting me!"

Sandi
I arrived in this country at the age of fourteen, I'd been thrown out of school in the United States. It's hard to imagine now but I arrived with a very thick New York accent. And I was sent to boarding school and for six weeks nobody spoke to me. Six weeks… I know, it's like a therapy for me, this programme… and then one night we were watching – I thought, I have to change my accent – and one night we were watching, er Brief Encounter, er, with Trevor Hyde and Celia Johnston, and I thought, "I'm going to speak like that." And that's why I sound like I'm trapped in a black-and-white film, but it was… to do with bullying, to do with bullying at school. Well, you were in… your fair share of bullying at school Stephen, it's not, er…

Stephen
Yeah, well, sort of. But I found a very useful one, was if you were physically bullied, was to say, "No no no don't. You'll give me an erection."

Ronni
That's brilliant.

Stephen
It was really, really useful. Don't try… don't… I won't take responsibility… Oh, well, yeah. Yes, the fighting women of Dahomey were the bodyguard of the nineteenth century kings of Benin. Henpecked husbands used to volunteer their wives for the job.

But anyway, now we're off to China. What does Shu mean to Chinese women?

Sandi
Well Nunshu is writing, is it something to do with writing?

Stephen
It is. Do you know what kind of writing… Shu is a very particular kind of writing, it's from Jiangyong County in Hunan Province. It was invented entirely by women for…

Alan
It 's lady writing.

Stephen
It 's lady writing.

Sandi
Lady writing?

Alan
Only ladies can understand it.

Stephen
Yeah well because women were not educated formally at all. Not even taught how to read and write and over centuries they developed a secret code that they… which is actually a phonetic writing, unlike Chinese characters.

Alan
They'd come out with all these books, "How to poison your man."

Stephen
Well, kinda. It's called Shu and when one of them married, they would be given a book by the secret female friendship groups, and they'd each write in the book and leave a lot of blank pages so that they could write their secret thoughts down. And the men would never be able to read it, but only other women would.

Jack
It 's very sly, isn't it?

Ronni
But that's like… but that's like our culture, really. There's loads of words that women know but men don't have a clue about, you know, like "sorry".

Stephen
Ah … hee hee hee hee..

Ronni
"Fidelity"

Stephen
[gasps] Oh!

Ronni
"Responsibility"

Stephen
"Commitment"

Sandi
We have a secret language in this country, it's called an instruction manual.

Stephen
Ah, yes.

Sandi
If you want to hide something on your computer from a man, put it in a folder marked "instructions" and he will never open it. It's like a secret language.

Alan
[presses buzzer, which plays a man shouting "'Ello darlin'!"]
[pointing at Sandi] Sexist!

Stephen
Sexist, you're right. So points against. And they would send them because they couldn't take them to their women friends very often, for what reason? It's a horrible, gruesome reason.

Ronni
Oh, because… because of their feet.

Alan
They couldn't walk. Because of their bound feet.

Stephen
Because of their feet. Yes, what.. what do… Tell me about the bound feet.

Sandi
[gasps]

Ronni
Lotus… were they called lotus flowers… when they were bound? When they were very young…

Stephen
Five years old.

Ronni
… they used to break all the bones in the foot and they would bend it right round…

Stephen
Bend it underneath.

Ronni
… underneath the foot and be bound, so they'd be like little…

Stephen
Three inches was the ideal.

Ronni
… they'd be like, literally, bound little hoofs.

Stephen
They'd become stumps like hoofs. They'd be jammed into this… and many of them would rot. Some would die of gangrene. And this went on for almost a thousand years.

Sandi
How ironic, then, to come up with a system called Shu?

Stephen
It was a bit. It was a bit grim.

Jack
They would write in tapestry, messages to each other. Is that right?

Stephen
Yes, that's right.

Sandi
Yeah the Bayeaux Tapestry is not about the Battle of Hastings at all, it's a complex soup recipe. There are other separate languages, aren't there, I think in Africa there are… I'm trying to think whether it's the Bantu or the Souza people… but when women go to… Say you and I got married, Stephen …

Stephen
Yes, the contingency is a remote one.

Sandi
Er, I would no longer be allowed to use any syllable that's in your name. It's the language of respect that the women have to use. Er, so, say I wanted a Stevador over for a Fryup…

Stephen
Ayyy. You couldn't say…

Sandi
… just to please you, erm, I couldn't say…

Jack
Well actually you don't share any syllables.

Stephen
You'd have to say "Ador" and "Up". Without… you couldn't say…

Sandi
Yeah, I couldn't… I'd have to say "A doccer coming over for breakfast." I couldn't use any of the syllables that are in your…

Stephen
Wow.

Jack
Is that how Ronnie Barker got started?

Stephen
Well of course there are, there was pig latin as a secret language, where you take the first syllable and put it at the end, with an "ay" on the end…

Jack
Oh yes, I remember.

Stephen
So "Quite Interesting" would be "Whitekay"…

Jack
"Itequay Interestingay "

Stephen
Yes exactly.

Jack
"Esyay"

Stephen
Yes exactly.

Ronni [to Jack]
Ooh you scholar. [poses flirtatiously ]

Jack
Plenty more where that came from.

Stephen
The Germans have something called Löffelsprache which I think means something like "Spoon speak" and the French have Louchébem and there's Pileshki and the Japanese have Babibubebo which is their little amusing nonsense language. But there's loads of nonsense languages where you apply a very simple rule and it sounds very quickly nonsensical. Like, there's a very camp, sort of, High Church one where they call Holy Communion " Haggers Commagers " and that sort of thing. Weird. And they used to go, "Ooh, Jessica Christ !" Erm, it's odd, they do.

Jack
Teenagers sound the same in every language, I have noticed.

Stephen
Teenagers?

Jack
Yeah. They just go "Muuh". In any language, that means yes. "Muuh."
"Would you like some more croissant?"… "Muuh". "Muueh". It's always the same.

Ronni
If you ever say to a teenager "Look at me" they can't look… they can look everywhere else apart from at your face… [looks about, deliberately away from anyone]


… and when they do, eventually, concede to look at you, they go… [stares straight ahead with unmistakable purpose]

Stephen
That's very true indeed. There you go. Anyway, the women of Jiangyong had a secret language all of their own and talking of secrets, what does your granny have in common with a killer whale?

Ronni
[presses buzzer, which plays a harp glissando]

Stephen
Yes, Ronni?

Ronni
They've both got stomachs full of plastic bags that they've eaten by mistake. My granny is actually being hunted by the Japanese for research purposes.

Stephen
Did they base Free Willy on her?

Ronni
No, the thing is, actually, the Japanese always use the excuse of hunting whales, basically, "as research". What else do they need to know about a whale? What else? Can't they get another book out, or what should David Attenborough … What they mean is, they want to research how it tastes in a sandwich.

Sandi
If it's my Scandinavian granny, it's the ability to take a herring and stretch it into a meal for four.

Stephen
Oddly enough, you made reference to a particular stage that women go through, which grannies tend to have gone through, which you talk about flushes and things…

Alan
Menopause?

Sandi
Flushes, is it…

Stephen
Flushes are the menopause. The menopause is it.

Alan
Orca in the menopause?

Stephen
Well, oddly enough…

Alan
Make a good movie.

Sandi
Is that why she's jumping out the water? She thought "Oh, it's hot in there".

Stephen
Yes, possibly. Killer whales…. Killer whales are the only animals other than human beings that have this enormous gap between menopause and death. In other words, they have a menopause then a very active and useful and happy life.

Sandi
They're also matrilineal, aren't they, so that the granny would presumably be in charge, I would imagine.

Stephen
Yes, and it's thought that it's because – you mentioned this, oddly enough, when you talked about hunter-gatherers – and that it was the women who provided the nutrition, and it seems that it was often the elder women who gathered the berries and the nutrition that kept… And so it seems to be a survival, a slow human survival thing, that old women are actually – the grandmothers – keep the family going and therefore their own genes. Yeah.

Sandi
Grannies can be vicious, I have to say, a killer whale in captivity can kill it's handler and my granny got thrown out of three care homes, which I think is…

Stephen
What?

Sandi
I was so proud of her.

Stephen
Wow, what for?

Sandi
Bad behaviour. Couldn't have been prouder. They kept ringing up and saying, "We need another word." Oh granny, not again… try and be pleasant.

Stephen
It is interesting, when you see… when you see a big family, you see the grandmother and the children, and in the middle the poor mother… and the grandmother and the children are so alike… Yeah, the grandmother's being childish and bossy and greedy, and the children are being childish and bossy and greedy and the poor… We've got this terrible period in-between where we're not allowed to be either a child or a grandmother.

Sandi
My mother grew up in Maidstone in Kent during the Battle of Britain and their entire street of terraced houses was bombed apart from their house. And I said to my mother, "Why not your house?" and she said, "Oh, granny wouldn't have allowed it".

Stephen
Excellent. Maybe then, I think we might all agree, what Britain needs is more grannies. More power.

Alan
Britain 's got Grannies.

Stephen
Yeah, Britain 's got grannies.

Sandi
Don't you think it would be great if grannies were allowed to join the army? Do you not think it would be the most fabulous thing? Because, for a start, if you're going to invade somewhere, right, it would take a really long time to organise the coach. And then you'd finally get there and everyone would need a wee.

Ronni
And all the kit would be all crocheted, wouldn't it?

Sandi
And then you'd show pictures to the people, you know, you'd arrived to invade. You'd say, "Oh, look at my children." And there'd be a lot of… then you think, "Let's have a cup of tea while we've stopped" and a bit of a tidy, by which time your appetite for fighting would have been diminished, I would've thought.

Stephen
And then fiddle around with the gun… "Oh, it's not working, oh." And then "Oh, there must be a draught… ooh! Ooh!" They get so angry at draughts, "Ooh!" [looking about for the draught ] "Ooh! Ooh!"

Sandi
That's the answer to the world's problems, I think. Armies of grannies.

Stephen
Anyway, human females are the only mammals apart from killer whales known to pass through menopause.

Now, what's going on here?

Viewscreens: Picture of a chicken, half cockerel and half hen.

Sandi
Ooh.

Jack
[presses buzzer, which plays a wolf-whistle]

Stephen
Yeah?

Jack
Is it half hen, half cock?

Stephen
It is exactly half cock, yeah. It is exactly that, it's half hen half cock. Right down…

Alan
Is it a freakish accident?

Stephen
… down the middle. It is a freakish accident…

Alan
Or is it by design?

Stephen
It, no… it's not done by any kind of scientist, it's a rare…

Jack
I literally guessed that because of the theme of the programme.

Stephen
Well done. There, you see? Using your male intelligence for once.

Jack
Thank you.

Sandi
I feel so foolish now.

Stephen
It 's called bilateral gynandomorphic hermaphroditism

Jack
I was going to say that.

Stephen
Yeah. We're dealing with chromosomes again, all cells on one side of the animal male, all cells on the right, female. Doesn't happen in humans. [looks down] I don't know how that would work…

Alan
It would be quite good fun, though, wouldn't it?

Stephen
It would be.

Alan
[turns to his left] You stand like that at a party… [switches sides, then back again]

Stephen
But a Clownfish… do you remember… Did you ever see the film Finding Nemo?

Panellists in General
Yes.

Viewscreens : Video of a Clownfish in an anemone.

Stephen
A Clownfish …

Alan
They're fierce.

Stephen
They are. There you go.

Alan
I know a bit about them. They have a relationship with that anemone, so where that… anemone is normally poisonous to other fish but they are immune to it and they have their babies in there. And if you try and get near them, they come at ya.

Stephen
They're quite, erm…

Alan
They're quite fierce.

Stephen
They are.

Sandi
Territorial.

Stephen
Do you know about their gender assignations?

Alan
Up to them.

Sandi
Isn't it variable?

Stephen
It is, sort of, up to them. What happens is you have one female and one dominant male and the rest of them are all, very weakly, or not very fit or sexually active males. And if the female dies, the active male then becomes female and one of the weakling males becomes the alpha male. It's, sort of, really weird.

Ronni
I like it.

Stephen
Isn't that extraordinary?

Sandi
How extraordinary!

Stephen
Yeah they're very unusual like that. Rather splendid. So the story of Finding Nemo and his father would have been a very different… His father would have been his mother by the time he got to him. And then the whole thing would have been very odd.

Alan [motherly voice]
"Where've you been?"

Stephen
"What?" It would have been very strange.

Jack
Do you think these animals know that that's what's going to happen to them, or is that just instinct? Does he know, you know, "I hope you don't die because if you die then I have to have it off with all the other blokes… I'm not into that."?

Stephen
It's a very…

Alan
You wake up one morning, "Oh no!" [looks down] "What's happened to me?"
"I've changed."

Stephen
The change. It is a very strange thought. Yes, bilateral gynandomorphic hermaphrodites are male on one side, female on the other.

You think that's bizarre, what should you do if you meet a nun with hairy hands?

Alan
Whew… I would assume it was a man on the run.

Stephen
Yes.

Alan
Disguised as a nun.

Stephen
In the 1940's there was a big scare about hairy nuns.

Ronni
Something to do with the second World War.

Jack
Urban myth, now.

Stephen
It 's an urban myth. They thought that…

Ronni
Being parachuted?

Stephen
… Nazis would parachute in…

Alan
Nazis would come in dressed as…?

Stephen
Yes, basically.

Alan [in 1940's announcer voice]
"Now look out. We expect them to come as nuns. Beware of nuns. Check the hands."

Stephen
"If you see a nun… check the hands." Basically, that's right.

Alan
They're going up to nuns and going, "Halt!"

Stephen
Exactly. They were told that they could be spotted everywhere, buses, tubes and trains from the South Coast to the Scottish Islands. They were said to be given away when they reached out a hand to pay their fare or when they dropped something and stretched to pick it up, thus revealing the hairiness of their hands and forearms. In some cases, they might have had Hitler 's face tattooed on their arms.

Ronni
Would they not have covered that up? You'd have thought, wouldn't you?

Stephen
You'd think.

Alan
When they lifted their habit…

Jack
If she's driving a tank… that's a giveaway.

Sandi
Do you ever get women with… I've never seen a woman with hairy hands. Hairy everything else, but…

Ronni
Ooh, yes.

Sandi
Really?

Ronni
Well I'm sure I don't know any but there must be maidens with hairy hands.

Stephen
Because the moustaches, as you say, are common enough. And hairy legs, obviously. But you're right, back of hand I've not seen. [to Jack and Alan] Have you ever grown a moustache?

Jack [nods]

Alan
I tried to, for a thing.

Stephen
What? Didn't take?

Alan
Didn't really like it.

Stephen
Did you try it under glass?

Alan
Then I found… Then I had to do a part recently and they said, "Could you give it… We need a couple of weeks' growth." And it started to go grey.

Stephen
Oh! That is deeply upsetting, yes.

Alan
Unhappy about that.

Stephen
Oh no.

Alan
And then my wife told me that, "You have, already, got a grey pube".

Stephen [transfixed, mouth agape]

Alan
I said, "Have I?" She says, "Yes, you have".

Jack
"Or was that someone else?"

Alan
Good point. That's a fair point well made, I'll check properly.

Stephen
Because there were other things to test if someone was German, do you know what these things might have been? How do you… If they spoke very good English, but you wanted to check whether they were German? There were English words, particular words that are pronounced oddly.

Viewscreens: Surnames with peculiar pronunciation.

Stephen
Words of surnames. Here are some, for example. So what's the top one, how would you pronounce that?

Jack
"Fanshawe."

Stephen
"Fanshawe", yes. Did you know that was pronounced "Fanshawe"?

Sandi
No, I didn't know that at all.

Ronni
No.

Jack
"Chumley."

Stephen
"Chumley", the second one.

Ronni, Sandi and Jack
"Barkley".

Stephen
"Mannering" as in " Captain Mannering ".

Alan
"Dave"

Jack
And the bottom one is "Belvwa" is it?

Stephen
The bottom is "Beaver".

Ronni and Sandi
"Beaver"?

Stephen
The Veil of Belvoir.

Sandi
I am going to have that, if I ever became a dame or anything. "Dame… dame…" and I say, "No, it's pronounced beaver."

Alan
You could say that about Toksvig. "It's pronounced beaver."

Stephen
There was a member of the aristocratic family here, Tollemache, spelt T-O-double-L-E-M-A-C-H-E, Tollemache. There was the Tollemasche-Tollemasche family – double-barrelled – same name, but… each half was pronounced differently.

Alan
Oh no.

Stephen
It was pronounced " Toolmake Tollmash ". The Tollemasche-Tollemasches and they had the longest names in the British Army, one of their number, Leone Sextus Denys Oswolf Fraudatifilius Tollemache-Tollemache de Orellana Plantagenet Tollemache-Tollemache.

But his elder brother, right, was Lyulph Ydwallo Odin Nestor Egbert Lyonel Toedmag Hugh Erchenwyne Saxon Esa Cromwell Orma Neville Dysart Plantagenet Tollemache-Tollemache. That was his name, which… the initials spelt out "Lyonel the Second".

So, it was during World War Two, it was feared that the German paratroopers would be disguised as nuns.

Now to break down the walls of mutual misunderstanding with a look at general ignorance so dainty fingers and great big mitts on buzzers if you please. You're sitting in a dimly lit bar, girls and boys, with a saucy little poppet. How can you be sure she's not a bloke?

Alan
[presses buzzer, which plays a man shouting "'Ello darlin'!" ]
You ask her a question and if she asks you a question back, it's a woman.
No, as in, when you say to a bloke "Do you know where the post office is?" he'll say "It's down there" and if you say to a woman "Do you know where the post office is?" she'll say "Do you want to buy a stamp?". Trying to be helpful by asking you a question…

Stephen
That's true.

Sandi
Boys sit with their legs apart, don't they, on barstools?

Stephen
There are things like that. We were wondering if you might say "Adam's apple" and we would have forfeited you. Because women do have Adam 's apples. [to Ronni and Sandi ] Did you know you have an Adam's apple?

Sandi
It's not as big, it's…

Stephen
Not … Sometimes, on some women, it can be quite pronounced.

Viewscreens : Picture of a woman's Adam's apple.

Stephen
There 's a woman, a girl… a lady person with a… with quite an Adam's apple there. It's called the prominentia laryengia, is the medical name for it, and it's around the larynx…

Ronni
So that's what you're looking at when you think someone's a man?

Stephen
It 's no proof, is the point. Basically a good ladyboy can imitate almost anything female in terms of how they hold the legs and, you know, anything like that.

Ronni
Hands or feet?

Stephen
Well, some women, as you say, have large hands and large feet, you know? And a dainty ladyboy can easily fool and often has.

Alan [nods]

Stephen
As you know to your cost.

Alan
Ooh, quite an expensive night that was.

Stephen
Moving on, the truth is that without undressing them or testing their DNA you can't be sure what sex someone is, so be careful out there.

Why are men better than women at reading maps?

Jack
[presses buzzer, which plays a wolf-whistle]

Stephen
Yeah?

Jack
Um, I would say they're not… I would say they're not better than…

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the words "THEY'RE NOT"

Stephen
Oddly enough…

Jack
I was so trying to be…

Stephen
Your one attempt to be decent…

Jack
Yes.

Stephen
…backfired horribly.

Alan
Something to do with the brain…

Stephen
Spatial.

Alan
Spatial…

Sandi
Testosterone again… It's your old… isn't it testosterone again?

Stephen
It 's to do with grey matter and white matter in the brain. And MRI equipment has shown, oddly enough, that in a test group of men and women with average I.Q. scores amongst the two genders roughly equal, so…

Alan
Don't be absurd.

Stephen
Hey! When given a… whooh… when given intelligence tests, men use six and a half more times grey matter than women, women use nine times as much white matter. Grey matter is central to processing information, plays a vital role in aiding skills such as mathematics, map reading, intellectual thought. White matter connects the brain's processing centres central to emotional thinking, use of language, the ability to do more than one thing at once. I know they're all clichés, you know, words, emotional thinking, multitasking women are better at, but it does seem the evidence indicates that this is the case.

Jack [to Ronni and Sandi]
I'm so sorry.

Stephen
No, I would've said that…

Sandi
Is it the white matter that makes you think it's okay to wind the window down and ask the way?

Stephen
Yes. That's what… also, the superiority in language, which seems to be a female thing. You prefer to ask, whereas a man would prefer to look at visual cues.

Ronni
But that's just male pride…

Jack
The only reason we don't like asking is, you always get the idiot, don't you? When you stop and ask, "Do you know the way to Tesco?"… "Er… "

Stephen
And they say, "In two miles you come to a bridge. A mile before that, turn left."

Sandi
I once stopped in Ireland, stopped at… an elderly man, I was lost and I asked him the way, and I said – I can't remember the names of the places – I said, er, "Do you know the way to Duncannon?" and he said [Irish accent] "Did you not want to go to Castle Rae?" [normal voice] "No, I want to go to Duncannon". He said [Irish accent] "That's a pity because I know the way to Castle Rae."

Stephen
That is very Eccles isn't it? Superb. Well, it does seem that men are better at spatial awareness problems and women are better at vocabulary problems.

And finally, one last fanfare to unfairness. What is unfair about the prize money at Wimbledon?

Jack
[presses buzzer, which plays a wolf-whistle]

Stephen
Yes?

Jack
They only give it to you if you're really, really good at tennis.

Stephen
Damnably unfair.

Sandi
Er, nothing.

Stephen
Really?

Ronni
Not any more.

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the word "NOTHING"

Stephen
No it's damn unfair. Women get more money for playing than men.

Ronni
Oh, per set you mean. Are you talking per…

Stephen
Men play more tennis and get less money. I'll show you how it goes. When it started in 1884, the ladies' champion won a 20 guinea silver flower basket… aah… while the men got a 30 guinea gold trophy. By 2006, 625,000 for Amélie Mauresmo who played 142 games, versus just £30,000 more for Roger Federer who played 202 games. And the best women were earning more than the best men because the shorter matches allowed them to compete in both doubles tournaments as well as the singles.

The rate per game tell the story. 2005, the final eight women earned an average of £1,432 per game against the men's 993.

Ronni
How much do they win now, if they win?

Stephen
It 's equal for the first prize…

Ronni
Is it half a million?

Alan
It 's about three-quarters of a million pounds now.

Stephen
… the women's champion gets the same prize as the men's champion, but the men's champion plays a lot more tennis.

Sandi
Yeah but to be fair, the women have got to come off and make the tea as well.

Stephen
Women get more from sponsorship, oddly enough.

Ronni
And also, half a million, that's not that much when you consider half will go to tax, 15% will go to their agent, then they've got to buy all their balls and they've got to buy the sticky stuff to wrap round the racquet, that's very expensive…

Stephen
So do the men…

Ronni
Then it's the travelcard, that's zone six…

Stephen
So do the men.

Ronni
They're left with about one pound fifty after all that.

Stephen
Anyway, now that male and female tennis players get the same prize money, it's arguably unfair to men who work harder and longer for less money overall. Which brings us to the end of our hard work, erm, and the gleanings of our genders… oh my goodness me, let's discover who's wearing the trousers here…

Well, my heavens, the winners are the ladies team with, between them, plus eight! … That breaks down as three to Ronni and five for Sandi. But the boys, I'm afraid, have come last with minus five…

That's all from this edition of QI, so it's good night from Ronni, Sandi, Jack, Alan and me. Hopefully the real winner tonight has been mutual understanding and respect. I leave you with this thought from Canadian feminist Charlotte Whitten : "Whatever women do, they must do it twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, that isn't difficult." Good night.