QI (2003) Episode Scripts

N/A - Jargon

APPLAUSE Gooooood evening, good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening and welcome to an episode of QI that is jam-packed with J words.
Joining me to joust and jostle in tonight's J-themed jamboree are the jazzy Bill Bailey APPLAUSE .
the jest-propelled Jimmy Carr APPLAUSE .
the jasmine-scented Victoria Coren APPLAUSE .
and that jolly jackanapes, Alan Davies.
APPLAUSE We have fantastically obscure and recondite J buzzers.
Bill goes STRING MUSIC That's a jarana.
Oh, it's jarana, yes.
It's a Mexican percussive Yes, you strum it.
With a "Jheeurgh" Exactly.
Victoria goes STRING MUSIC That's a Finnish instrument called a jouhikko.
And Jimmy goes I don't imagine I'll get this.
Well, I think we both know.
Tell them.
It's actually a Russian instrument.
It's a jalalaika.
Finally, Alan goes BOING! LAUGHTER Jewish harp.
It is.
It was originally called a jaws harp because it's played in the mouth like that.
Anyway, to get you in the mood, what do these unfamiliar J words mean? There are lots of them.
I've heard of jankers.
That's an army thing, isn't it? Yes.
Jankers is an army punishment.
Cleaning latrines or peeling 10,000 spuds.
That's right, you're put on jankers.
It looks like lots of them are minced oaths.
Like a bowdlerised version of a swear word.
Like saying, "By carbonate of soda.
" Or, "Shut the front door!" LAUGHTER Or fu crying out loud! Have you ever said that? What, fu-crying Fu-crying out loud? It works very well.
Or fu-Christ's sake.
For photographers that follow you.
"Why don't you just f otograph someone else?" LAUGHTER A jollop? It's a juice, some sort of unguent.
Some sort of A jollop is actually a turkey's wattle.
I'm going to say, "Bluff.
" LAUGHTER Sorry, is it the wrong game? It's a good word, yeah.
Or it can mean a strong liquor.
Jollop - a strong liquor? Don't.
I didn't say anything.
I didn't say anything.
I was going to, but I didn't.
A jentacular, jentacular Is this what friends of Jennifer Aniston say how she looks before she goes out? LAUGHTER No.
It means, "pertaining to breakfast".
It does not.
BILL: Why? Why do you need that, though? In your life? Well, you have a lunchy word.
It's a lunchy type of thing.
It's a breakfasty type of thing.
What's a lunch word, then? LAUGHTER So you would say toast is a bit jentacular? Yeah.
This toast is jentacular! LAUGHTER When has anyone ever said that, ever? These are unusual words, I grant you.
It's like "pandiculate".
It means, "to yawn".
But you'd never use it in that sense.
You'd just say "yawn", cos we've got the word "yawn".
So we don't need to know that word, is what you're saying? No.
So I need to forget that now cos that's taken vital space I need for pin numbers, really useful things, in my brain.
Not what I should say about breakfast.
"Ooh, it's 11! "Oh, I said jentacular! What an idiot!" LAUGHTER Here to astonish you Go on.
One of these words on this board has 28 separate meanings.
I'm going to put those meanings up.
Tell me which word it is.
Back passage, vagina, penis.
AUDIENCE: Jobbie! Junt! Jobbie, you think? Jigger.
We're getting a lot of jiggering from the audience.
It must be jigger.
I'm with jigger.
Jigger is the right answer.
I'm going to share five points with Victoria and five points with the audience.
CHEERING The word jigger has all those definitions.
It's a measuring device - a jigger of rum.
A snooker rest, an odd-looking person, Bill.
Sorry, just an odd-looking person.
A distillery.
LAUGHTER Don't say vagina and point to me.
Penis and LAUGHTER .
woman's coat.
That's a nice thingummy.
People do complain that there aren't any good words for vagina.
There's no way of saying it that sounds nice.
Jigger is not the answer.
LAUGHTER I think twinkle cave.
LAUGHTER Twinkle cave? APPLAUSE It's a less offensive term for a fu-fu.
So jigger is back passage, vagina, penis Well, that's confusing right there.
Straight away.
"Just stick it in me jigger.
" "What?" "You're going to have to be more specific, love.
" "Do you mean jigger one or jigger two?" It's also a golf club.
So if you ask your caddy, "Do you think "I should pull my jigger out for this shot? What do you think?" Yeah, get your jigger out, rest it on your jigger, stick it in my jigger, mind the jigger.
What about Ouija board? You're at a party.
"Let's all put our fingers together on your jigger.
" LAUGHTER "It's moving.
Is it doing that by itself or are we making it?" LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE Potter's wheel.
That's what they used to put on the TV when they ran out of programmes.
"Put the jigger on.
A revolving jigger.
Certain words do double duty.
Certain words do triple duty.
Words like jigger seem to do multiple duty.
But what did Dr Johnson tie up with his padlock? Did he bury his cheese to stop it getting burnt in the fire? You're confusing him with Samuel Pepys Aw! LAUGHTER .
who did indeed bury a Parmesan cheese in his garden in 1666 They're very valuable.
which was 60 years before Johnson.
He's the guy that did the dictionary, right? One of the many things he did.
He wrote Rasselas.
He was one of the greatest literary figures of his age.
But he was physically I wouldn't say "disabled" exactly, but he was victim of many of the diseases of the age.
Gout? Scrofula, gout, yeah.
They all had gout, didn't they? Things like that.
What is scrofula? Scrofula used to be called "the king's evil".
Ooh! Inflammation of the jigger.
LAUGHTER That would more or less cover it! Sorry.
I'm a question late, but I'm suddenly thinking about those meanings of "jigger".
Do you think that's where "jiggery-pokery" comes from? Oh, my goodness! It really might.
That's true in both senses.
You could poke I think you'll find it's more Oh, well, it could be, I suppose.
It could, if you're having fun on the farm, be "piggery-jokery".
Yes, there's a thought.
JIMMY LAUGHS LAUGHTER But anyway Dr Johnson was half-blind and scarred by scrofula.
He also had the usual array of 18th-century maladies - palsy, dropsy, gout, flatulence.
He had massive white headphones.
LAUGHTER And he suffered from OCD and probably from Tourette's syndrome.
The man that wrote the dictionary had Tourette's? I've got to re-read that book.
He gestured wildly and it seemed to be a tic.
We would probably now call it Tourette's.
I think that's rather beautiful if somebody who suffered from Tourette's created the dictionary.
It is.
Total verbal control.
How lovely if Johnson, if he had that form of Tourette's where he couldn't control his spoken language, to make a dictionary.
That's very poetic.
It would be, wouldn't it? He was prone to seizures and outbursts.
VICTORIA: Himself? Yeah.
He went to live with Mrs Hester Thrale in Streatham.
He was deeply in love with Mrs Thrale and he basically said to her, "I have a padlock and chain, "and at any moment, when I seem to be out of control, "I'm now giving you permission in advance to chain me up.
" Wow.
I know a woman in Streatham that will still do that.
LAUGHTER She's surprisingly reasonable.
Sadly, what happened was that Mr Thrale died and instead of Hester Thrale marrying Johnson, she went off to Italy and married a very young, handsome Italian.
Is that sad for her? It sounds like that's gone quite well.
No, sad for Johnson.
Was he prone to just lash out? To flail.
He was prone to flail.
So, Dr Johnson liked to be tied up and padlocked.
When I say he liked to be, I can quote you what Mrs Thrale said.
This is quite surprising and advanced for its age.
Go on.
She said here, "Says Johnson, a woman has such power between the ages of 25 and 45 "that she may tie a man to a post and whip him if she will.
" And added the footnote, "This, he knew of himself, was literally and strictly true.
" So he obviously did like to be whipped.
Whilst tied up.
Yup, that's right.
So, there we are.
But what's the one thing we can all agree Hitler, Stalin and Franco got right and Mussolini got wrong? Mussolini surrendered.
Well, no, there's something the three moustachioed dictators loathed and detested but Mussolini rather liked.
Erm Pasta.
LAUGHTER Say what you want about Simon Schama, he'd never come up with that.
Let's stick with the letter J.
Jackets with jeans, like Clarkson.
Oh! Was it double denim? That again doesn't begin with J.
J, J, J, jizz The 20th century Yes! You're close.
I'm close? 20th century.
You only got one vowel out.
Jazz! Jazz! Jazz music.
APPLAUSE I disagree with this question.
Our very, very naughty people have suggested that Hitler, Stalin and Franco were right for disliking jazz.
I personally love jazz.
So you're saying that Hitler didn't like jazz? Not just didn't like it.
The more I hear about this guy, the less I like him.
I know.
I know.
I agree.
Jazz was, to the Germans, inimical.
They thought it was total evil.
It was completely against everything they stood for.
But people, presumably, did listen to it in great numbers.
There's a bit of yow! SNAPS FINGERS A bit of that of an evening, and then as soon as the SS come round, "Turn it off!" But Mussolini, oddly enough, for all his faults and let's face it, they were many and grievous he listened to jazz in private.
His son, Romano, was one of post-war Italy's most celebrated jazz musicians.
He played with Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and Chet Baker.
You can't get much higher than that in the jazz world.
I know what they mean.
Just Bill clicking his fingers there, I felt the urge to do very bad things.
You know I got the best seat this evening.
LAUGHTER BILL CLICKS FINGERS Is that how they would scare German machine gun outposts? They'd just creep up and go, "Zoo-babiddy-bow! "Bow-bow!" They're firing regularly and you fire syncopatively.
Boom-boom, boom-boom-boom! But it's quite important.
I read One For The Road, and also, I spent a little bit of time in South Africa.
Jazz clubs are very important, culturally Absolutely.
In South Africa, huge.
Underground, illegal, likely to be shut down with disastrous consequences for all who take part, but really quite important, so hard to imagine it being that now.
But like rock and roll, it became a symbol of defiance.
In Paris, it was hugely important.
Wasn't that Hitler's thing with comedy? He didn't like Jewish comedy cos if you laugh with someone - presumably the same with music if you enjoy their music, you couldn't hate them.
What you're experiencing there is cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is exactly right.
I think you'll find that's it.
Take the audience through cognitive dissonance.
Never mind them, take me through cognitive dissonance.
It's exactly what you described the ability to hold two opposing opinions at the same time.
They seem to contradict each other, but actually, humans can do that.
Here's cognitive dissonance.
Here I am on QI, like you see on the television.
It's quite nice, everyone seems nice, I'm having a nice time.
And yet, we've had the question, "What did Hitler get right?" Which is exactly what my grandmother told me would happen if I went on television.
LAUGHTER Last night, I had an anxiety dream about coming on here.
I was so terrified of it.
In the dream, I was sitting here.
I think I was on the other side.
An you were asking the question very sternly.
The question was, "Why was the March Hare so important to the Aztecs?" LAUGHTER I didn't know the answer.
And I said, "Do they worship it?" And the screens went, "Worship it! Worship it!" LAUGHTER Which was absolutely terrifying.
Stephen, ask the question.
Let's make it happen.
I'm such an amateur, I didn't even Google the answer.
That's an amazing dream.
That's very specific.
It's not like I dream, "Oh, I went up to the shops and bought some milk and bread.
" I wake up and go, "Where is it?" I thought, "I'm sure I went up the shop and got it but "That's a crazy dream.
Must have been that blue cheese I had last night.
" But that's really Yeah, definately the blue cheese was the issue.
"Blue cheese.
" Were you actually asleep? Or was this a sort of premonition? We'll find out.
Yes, we will.
Can we just confirm, this is happening now? Yes.
We're not in one of Vicky's dreams, cos that would be That'd be brilliant! You could be the March Hare.
I'll be the Aztecs Bring it on.
Let's get some blue cheese.
LAUGHTER Well, Maxim Gorky, the great Russian writer, wrote this on the subject of jazz "The dry knock of an idiotic hammer penetrates the utter stillness.
"One, two, three, ten, 20 strikes, "and afterwards, a wild whistling and squeaking, as if a ball of mud was falling into clear water.
"Then follows a rattling, howling and screaming, "like the clamour of a metal pig, the cry of a donkey, "or the amorous croaking of a monstrous frog.
"The offensive chaos of this insanity "combines into a compulsive, pulsing rhythm.
"Listen to this screaming for only a few minutes, "and one involuntarily pictures an orchestra "of sexually wound-up mad men, "conducted by a stallion-like creature "who is swinging his giant genitals.
" LAUGHTER I am now having an anxiety dream! That's a description of Jedward, isn't it? LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE Well, anyway, that's probably enough jazz.
Here are four J birds.
What immediately comes to mind when you look at them? Wings.
It's J I'm after.
There's something that allows you to recognise them that a bird-spotter would call their Jizz.
Yes! Yes.
You knew that? I'm a twitterer, aren't I? Yes! APPLAUSE Jizz is an acronym, not Don't think of where you might think it's going.
It's the General Impression, Size and Shape.
It came from being able to spot planes in the war.
You could spot the outline of planes from underneath.
It was a military term, Jizz, but birders use it, too.
Everything you say is believed by many but unfortunately, there's no evidence for that.
So while you got the word absolutely right and there are points pouring your way, the actual explanation is not proven.
So there'd be a book I could look up the internet at home, "Jizz on birds," and that is fine.
LAUGHTER Absolutely right.
I've got a lot of growing up to do, is all I know.
The pop etymology is that it might be "just is".
In other words, you can't say specifically why that aeroplane is Spitfire or that bird is a siskin.
It just is.
Or even "gist", the essence, the gist.
But no-one's quite sure.
The other kind of jizz is a contraction of the word jism.
What does that mean? Jism, jisar, jisat, jisarum.
I could tell you where it comes from.
I could show you! No! LAUGHTER You're not to do that.
Too late? Yes.
Jism has a meaning.
Can you imagine what jism might mean? It means spirit or energy.
"I withhold my jism.
I deny them" You shouldn't do that.
Is that meant to encourage us? What's that doing? LAUGHTER It's spiritual energy.
Oh, yeah, sure(!) That looks like we're trying to sell some sort of massage CD.
Here's a top jizz fact.
Go on.
Imagine one little sperm.
A tiny-winey little sperm.
Got it.
They're very, very small.
You couldn't see it with the naked eye.
No bigger than an acorn.
You know about computers and memories and things.
They have information on them, which is expressed in terms of bytes, kilobytes or megabytes.
How much information do you think is in the DNA of one little sperm? I think it just says, "Swim.
" So - what, one bit? One bit.
One bit.
One bit of information - swim that way.
Either one bit or one trillion bits.
It's 37.
5 megabytes.
Which means that a normal ejaculation Talk about your hard drive.
represents LAUGHTER Is this just after you've logged off? Just going to plug in my dongle, Bill.
How many more of these can we? Before we go home.
As long as it's not a floppy.
You can still hold a lot in a floppy.
A normal male ejaculation, if there is such a thing I came here to talk about the Aztecs! LAUGHTER Will you accept my personal apology, Victoria? .
is the equivalent of 15,875 gigabytes.
That's 15.
8 terabytes.
That's about 7,500 laptops' worth of information in one ejaculation.
It's gone to waste, just thrown away.
LAUGHTER Well, not necessarily.
Down the end of a sock.
What? He started it.
LAUGHTER Yes, jizz, as you knew as a bird-spotter, is that indefinable something, the shape, the gait, the outline that allows you to identify a bird.
But we have the four birds we showed you.
I thought you were going to say, "We have some jizz.
" No! "We have some birds you can identify here by their jizz.
" We literally do.
Oh, look.
They all begin with J, that's your clue.
I'm going to say that's a jayhawk.
That's not a hawk, is it? Look at it.
What are you saying?! That, swooping down and picking up a rabbit?! Look, that's it to scale, Bill.
That's the size of it.
Oh, right.
Oh, it's a long way off.
It's massive! Have you seen a hawk's beak and eye? A hawk's Yes! It's not the common hawk.
It's a raptor.
That's not a raptor, that's a flipping flycatcher or something.
You are very good, it's a flycatcher.
It's a flycatcher, there you go.
He's good, he's good.
Yeah, don't mess with the jizzmeister.
Hey, I was second on that.
No, you weren't, you weren't even close.
I came second.
A hawk? You just mentioned a type of bird, that's not coming second.
Stick up the next one.
I'll get it.
In medieval times, did they go out with one of them on a gauntlet? "Fly!" That is called a blacktail.
"Bring me a fly!" Shh! Just to finish it, that was a flycatcher, it was a Juan Fernandez tit-tyrant.
LAUGHTER A crested Oh, God, here we go again.
Wait a minute.
Oh, tit-tyrant, oh "A Juan Fernandez tit-tyrant.
" A crested, spotty-chested member of the tyrant flycatcher A spotty-chested member? There are points for knowing where the Juan Fernandez Islands are.
SPLUTTERS: Breast Cock Lane? That's the spirit! APPLAUSE Now you're getting it.
You are getting into it very much.
The Juan Fernandez Islands? Somewhere in South America.
Fair enough, OK.
The next bird, this black one here.
It's some sort of What is that, a bird of para? No.
It's got massive green feet.
It's a weaver bird, in fact.
If I tell you it's a weaver bird, you'll probably know it comes from? Yorkshire.
It's Jackson's widowbird.
Jackson's widowbird? The next one.
At least name the type of bird that it is.
Jabiru, it's a stork.
And it is a jabiru, correct answer.
Yes, of course.
Very good.
APPLAUSE This man is good.
That is a jabiru, it's a stork, and it can be five foot tall with a nine-foot wingspan.
It's a hell of a stork.
Well spotted.
This man is impressive.
Oh, thank you.
OK, and the last one.
Oh, it's very punk rock, it's from I would say it's from the '70s.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE We'll allow you that.
I think he could be called the Jedward bird from now on, it does have another J word.
Do you know what type of bird that is, Bill? It's, erm Hawk.
It's a hawk! Look at the size of its beak! How can it pick up a rabbit? Those are oranges! It's actually a waxwing.
It's a waxwing.
It's a Japanese waxwing.
Oh, it's a Japanese one! Japanese waxwing, found in Japan, China and Eastern Russia.
Very good.
What did Watson do twice as often as Holmes? Oh, I don't want to say now.
I guess he had more time on his hands.
Stick with it.
What did he do twice? Oh, I do know.
It's, er it's, er ejaculate.
Ejaculate is the right answer! APPLAUSE This is the one thing I know about Sherlock Homes because it's in the book.
It's an old term meaning to To exclaim, expostulate.
He constantly "'But, Holmes!' I ejaculated," you get a lot.
I mean, the books are brilliant anyway.
They are.
But every 20 pages, that happens and you go SNIGGERS Yes, there are 23 ejaculations in the canon, as it's known.
They call it the canon? Christ! The canon is the And one up the spout.
Oh, Christ.
As in the word "canonical".
I give to you the canon.
Stand back! There's approximately 23 ejaculations.
48 terabytes of information are coming your way.
Stand by! You're a very lucky lady.
Watson ejaculates 11 times.
Christ on a bike! Holmes, on one occasion, refers to Watson's ejaculations of wonder being invaluable to his art.
Watson does ejaculate from his very heart in the direction of his fiancee.
Holmes gives six, but there is one where it's quite hard to tell who it is.
So That can happen, Stephen, yeah.
Who's ejaculating here? Let's just, let's just imagine.
"So he sat as I dropped off to sleep, and so he sat, "when a sudden ejaculation caused me to wake up.
" LAUGHTER "I found" Have you ever been woken up by a sudden ejaculation? Stop! We've talked enough about your dreams.
There's a fellow called Phelps in the wonderful story The Naval Treaty.
He ejaculates three times, actually.
The only other ejaculator is Mrs Sinclair's husband, who ejaculates from a second-floor window.
LAUGHTER This is the most fun I've ever had on this show.
The funny thing is, it probably would be I'm not joining in with this, by the way.
Quite right.
This is genuinely a point about Sherlock Holmes.
He probably did ejaculate fewer times than Watson, in the other sense as well.
Obviously, they didn't exist.
They're invented.
He wasn't married.
But doesn't he seem like he's constantly taking it out on the violin? Yes.
And the injections of cocaine.
Drugs don't help, do they? Some of them do.
LAUGHTER Apparently.
The old blue cheese.
The "blue cheese".
LAUGHTER So, now, whose speech intones, harangues and declaims in a long, meandering cascade of sounds, syllables, stresses and intonations that might at first seem to be full of sense and meaning, but soon reveal itself to be an empty, vain, hollow, and completely meaningless stream of gibberish? JALALAIKA PLAYS You.
So, it's a stream of gibberish that sounds intelligent? This is a technical term, used by people who study such things, to describe a stage of speech.
BILL: Tongues? Speaking in tongues? Like a baby.
VICTORIA: A juvenile? Toddlers, babies, you're in the right area.
There are phases AUDIENCE: Aw! Aw, bless! Did they really need to add the little kittens there? Was it not cute enough? I know.
It's so sweet, isn't it? Look at the little babies! It's known as "jargon", oddly enough.
It's known as "toddler jargon", where the rhythms and the intonations are like the language that is going to become the one they speak.
If they're Japanese, it will sound like Japanese, but not actually be Japanese.
If they're Welsh, or German, or Peruvian, it will sound like their language.
So they get the structure, the syntax, before? Yeah, so it'll go like STEPHEN IMITATES A BABY AS A BABY: I told you he would come along and ruin our life! So basically small children are like Snoopy's teacher? Yes! That's right.
Long strings of syllables, having varied stress and intonation in the same rhythm and rise and fall, the same cadences as English speech.
They sound like whole sentences, but don't actually mean anything at all.
Like Eamonn Holmes.
LAUGHTER Don't all kids get it at the same age as well? Yes, more or less.
That's the extraordinary thing.
That's what Noam Chomsky discovered, the great linguist, was that language was pre-programmed.
If you're going to have a baby, you can go to a website, and put your due date in, and then they will send you emails weekly telling you what the development of the foetus is, and then after you have the baby, they will then send you emails weekly saying, "This is what your baby will be doing.
" Good Lord! There are phases where it will be blowing spit bubbles, and it's astonishing.
Every week, it's right.
But wouldn't it be disturbing if your baby was either ahead or behind? Would you not be freaked out? Yes, you would be.
It's in the early weeks, the early first three or four months, all the little developmental stages are the same for all infants.
It's really, really interesting.
Learning to point, things like that.
Oh, it's miraculous.
It is a phenomenal thing, the growth of a child, and as you say, the stages of inbuilt, programmed development of language and gesture, which seems to be predictable, as you say.
And between that 12 and 13 months, you get that babble.
Anyway, who first used the expression, "OMG?" Was it Hannah Montana? It wasn't Hannah Montana.
That was my guess.
It was a good guess, a reasonable guess.
I'm guessing that in the past, it's meant something else.
No, as "Oh, my God.
" "Oh, my God" Jesus.
Not J! LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE No, this is genuinely a use of OMG in a communication.
Is it going to be on a Morse Code? No, though funnily enough, you're in the right area.
Military? Kissinger? Not military, naval.
It was two of the great naval figures of the First World War.
Who was the First Lord of the Admiralty during the? Oh! Erm, I have no idea.
Winston Churchill.
But the great Lord Fisher, in 1917, wrote a letter to Winston Churchill saying, "I hear that a new order of knighthoods is on the tapis", meaning "on the carpet".
"OMG, shower it on the Admiralty.
" Hmm! So there you are - "Oh, my God.
" What year was that, sorry? 1917.
Yeah, OMG.
That's a really good fact.
That's a good fact, isn't it? Can we be certain he meant, "Oh, my God"? Yes, definitely, he put, "Oh, my God" in brackets afterwards.
He wrote, "OMG, brackets, Oh, my God.
" That rather ruined the point of abbreviating it to save time! As he was the first user, I guess he had to explain it.
"OMG, by which I mean, of course, the longer expression 'Oh, my God'.
" Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Abbreviations in 1942 contained dozens of SMS-friendly examples such as "agn" for again, "mth" for month and "gd" for good.
So they pre-existed.
But I heard someone vocalise "lol".
I actually heard Someone said "lol" as opposed to laugh.
It was two kids in the street, I told them a joke and she went "lol", like that.
Rather than laugh? Rather than laugh.
That's just some horrible post-Orwellian nightmare.
It is.
How amazing is that going to be at stand-up gigs? If people just An audience starts going "lol"? Let's just try it.
After three, just say the word "lol" with as little expression as you can.
Here we go.
One, two, three.
Tim Minchin has actually suggested that because people don't laugh out loud when they say "lol", he suggests "MAS - mildly amused smirk.
" Which could be quite good, because that's what happens.
Or "NELI" is another one you could have.
N-E-L-I, "Not even laughing inwardly.
" But you'll be impressed to know that in 1659 is the first use of "to unfriend.
" Which we thought was a modern Facebook phrase.
But "to unfriend" was used by Thomas Fuller, who wrote to theologist John Heylyn, "I hope, sir, that we are not mutually unfriended "by this difference which hath happened betwixt us.
" Yes, and then I believe his friend wrote back that he "liked" that message.
Yes, exactly.
Anyway, where do Arabic numbers come from? Ooh.
Idon't know.
Interesting fact, though, the oasis is about 110 miles that way.
No, that's the chart position.
in the Yemen.
They're not as big there, are they? Nah, they don't like it.
What do we mean by Arabic numbers? We mean the ones we use, don't we? I presume you mean how people who speak or write Arabic write numbers.
No, we call our numbers Arabic numbers.
Do we? I thought our numbers OK.
Roman alphabet and Arabic numerals.
And Gregorian chanting.
And French pastries.
Come on, you must know this.
Danish pastries, German mustard Is it Persia? No, it's not Persia.
It's not going to be in Arabia, is it? It's not Arabia.
It's just outside Arabia.
Arabia Parkway.
It's actually Hindu.
In Arabic, they call them Hindu numbers.
In fact, in Arabic numbers, we have very little in common.
You can see a car number plate here and you'll see that on the left is 29-5994 and on the right, that is the Arabic for 29-5994.
And as you see, it's only the 9 that is actually the same.
So they're not Arabic numbers at all.
No, we tend to call them that.
We should start Let's call them Hindu numbers.
We should call them Hindu numbers, exactly right.
Or we could call them "numbers".
Yeah, but what's the fun in that? Yeah, quite.
I want you to tell me, because it's quite interesting, and that's the name of the game, which is the only number in the English language which, when written out, is in alphabetical order? Erm eight.
OK, well, seven.
Eight is good, but I comes after G.
OK, I'm going to have to guess, because there's not enough time and I'm dyslexic.
O comes before T.
So they have to be in alphabetical order.
Oh, I see.
Yes! Well done.
APPLAUSE Very good.
Were you going through all the numbers? I bet I was going through all the numbers at the same time you were.
40 is the one.
Alan was on three when you got there.
You three were all talking and we're sitting going, MUTTERING: "No, not that one, no" All right.
What's the most difficult word to guess in hangman? Whatever you've got written there, I can tell you it's "cull".
Cull? It doesn't matter what you've got written.
In the number of letters you get in hangman, nobody ever says C or L.
They'll go for U when they've gone through the other vowels.
Then they've got blank U blank blank, and one turn left.
That's really good.
If you're going to play hangman and you want to have a bet on it OK.
Have you played hangman for money? Yes.
Who plays hangman for money?! Victoria Coren, she bets on anything.
I was about to say, "I've done everything for money," but I know what you'd do with that.
I really appreciate it! So, "cull".
I think it might be something without any vowels.
No! Because they go through the vowels and if it's not there, "Oh, no vowels.
Must be 'rhythm'.
" Yes, but this is a four-letter word.
So it might be "lynx" or "onyx" in that case.
There is someone who's been very scientific about this, which you'd appreciate as a games player.
This person designed an algorithm to arrive at this conclusion, and he basically simulated 50 hangman games for every word in the dictionary.
That's 90,000 words.
Nearly five million games.
He then took the thousand trickiest words, and ran the game 3,000 times on each.
In total, he played nearly 15 million games to reach the conclusion that, actually, the hardest is the word "jazz".
What? People just don't get the word "jazz".
Really? Or possibly "jizz", but no-one knows if he tried "jizz".
They never guess Z.
The other words were "hajj", H-A-J-J, which is a difficult one, "jazz", "lynx", apparently.
"Buzz" was also difficult, and "fuzz" because people just choose Z as the last resort.
Next time we're out in a bar, you play "jazz", I'll play "cull", we'll see who wins.
You've got it.
But you've rather given away your strategy.
LAUGHTER Anyway, why was the March Hare so important to the Aztecs? No! APPLAUSE You see? The thing is, Victoria, whatever you dreamt was the answer IS the right answer.
Yeah, but I know the answer isn't, "Did they worship it?" because BELL RINGS I think you'll find I said that's NOT the answer.
What the answer actually is, I don't know.
Why is a raven like a writing desk? It's that sort of question.
It is.
Maybe for years people will now debate this.
50 years from now, people will be asking, "Why was the March Hare important to the Aztecs?" There is a kind of answer that maybe your subconscious somehow knew.
They worshipped rabbits, not hares.
So some part of your brain knew that Aztecs worshipped rabbits.
They honestly? Aztecs worshipped rabbits? It's true.
I swear to you I didn't know that.
I swear, and I think they're going to believe me.
I'll go even further than this.
There are many people who believe that the rabbits that the Aztecs worshipped were jackrabbits, which are, in fact, technically a type of hare.
And a J word, which makes it even better.
And a J word.
This is spooky! So, Victoria Coren Burn the witch! APPLAUSE Witch! Absolutely spooky.
You didn't see that one coming, and yet you did.
I dreamt a thing that I didn't think I knew that you say is nearly a fact beginning with J? Yeah.
This world is far more mysterious than we give it credit for.
Isn't it just? Anyway, now we come to our exciting jolly jape.
I have a jigger device.
Alan, you're going to have to help me with this.
This is a device for fishing in the Inuit world of the Arctic, where, as you know, you think of ice fishing they pop a hole in the ice and they sit forlornly with a little fishing rod, hoping for a fish.
But a better way would be to have a net, but how can you put a net through thick ice? They've developed an extraordinary machine.
Now, you have to use your imagination here.
I've got this carpet, which I'm going to unroll.
And here I have my device.
Now, Alan, you're the one who's going to have to operate it.
There, you've got the string.
Now, this is actually used by the Inuits to connect two holes, distantly from each other, in such a way that they can thread between them and therefore lay a net down and catch lots of fish under ice.
That's it! Yeah.
You're pushing with the string, but imagine this is upside-down.
This is the bottom of the ice.
Oh, yeah.
So we're upside-down here.
Oh, wow! Now I feel weird.
Oh, whoa! I can't breathe! Yeah.
Be bolder, be bolder.
I'm not getting any purchase on the rug.
That is what all the girls say.
BILL: Ah, I see.
It's a really Now I'm getting a bit of grip.
Oh, yes.
Look at that! Look at me go now! You might want to watch it really as it works.
There's the real thing.
There's an Inuit.
The point is, it goes under the water.
He licks there, so he can see it through the ice.
Eugh! And he digs it and it is underneath.
By pulling it There we go.
Ooh, aah, eeh, aah! BILL: Yes? You see? Now, have a look this way.
There we go.
This is it under the ice.
How does it not sink? Exactly.
How does it not just plummet? It's wood so it floats.
Oh, I see.
How does his tongue not stick to the ice? LAUGHTER Like in Dumb And Dumber how is he not just going MUMBLED: "This was a terrible idea"? When it gets to the other end, he pulls up the rope, from which he can then hang the net which catches the fish.
When you think about it, there's no other way you could do that.
You couldn't just put a hole in the ice.
How do you get the string to the other hole? BILL: Devilishly clever, though.
When did they invent this? Is this a recent thing? About 100 years ago.
Wow! Anyway, that, ladies and gentlemen, is the Inuit fish jigger.
APPLAUSE I'm going to pop it away.
Which brings us to the scores! I don't know whether to do this backwards or forwards.
I'll go backwards, actually, with our last place.
It's noble but it's -22.
Jimmy Carr! APPLAUSE I took a few for the team! I took a couple for the team.
But I'm always happy to see, in somewhere as high as third place, Alan Davies with -6! Thank you very much.
APPLAUSE And this is astonishing.
With +10, Bill Bailey.
I never get +10.
Really? Really? No.
APPLAUSE And the mad woman who dreams of Aztecs and hares, Victoria Coren on +13! APPLAUSE Well, that's all from Victoria, Jimmy, Bill, Alan and me.
Be gloriously good to each other, thank you and goodnight.