Think of it as a stocking. (How did socks become stockings — and not sockings, eh? Blame belongs to the Old English, it seems, whoever they were.) Yes, a Christmas stocking just crammed with little goodies, the sort of things to keep you occupied while the rest of us sleep in for just a little bit longer, which is what we’ll be doing here at Slaw for the next little while, I imagine. (The Christmas stocking thing didn’t begin as a distraction, it turns out, but rather as boots with gifts for Odin’s flying horse, Sleipnir; Odin would be so gratified, he’d replace the straw with sweets or toys.)
I’m referring to QI. Which stands for Quite Interesting. Which, by turns, is a British TV show, a book, a website and a blog. And like a Christmas stocking, QI is crammed with little gems (or lumps of coal) that you’d likely not find anywhere else. The TV show is a BBC quiz/comedy show, MC’d by none other than the ubiquitous Stephen Fry and “panelled” with a quartet of funny folks. You can’t get it here, but you can watch dozens and dozens of snippets on YouTube. Fry tries to ask questions about trivia and the contestants ad lib.
Now, I was raised on a diet of The Goons, Beyond the Fringe, and Monty Python, so I have that peculiarly British sense of humour that leaves the Germans baffled and Americans thinking they’re missing something important. If you’ve not been similarly warped, QI as a quiz might not appeal to you. But that’s okay. Because there’s the website — which is filled to overflowing with quite interesting facts. (For example, on the site today is the startling revelation that General Franco owned an arm of St. Theresa of Avila and kept it with him his whole life; he died clutching it.) And who among us — even those with a sense of humour — doesn’t like a nifty fact? (You Halloween candy savers: play out the stocking stuffers across a whole year by following QI on Twitter as Quikipeida, and get a fact a day.)
There is more, as the man said — much, much more: books, DVDs, chat forum, blog…. So one way or another you’ll learn that Florence Nightingale owned sixty cats, kept a pet owl in her pocket, Nelson never wore an eyepatch, octopuses have six legs, there is no such thing as a fish…