Quirky (if utterly useless) facts in the new QI book

David Attenborough INVENTED yellow tennis balls… and 85% of bikinis never get wet! Some of the quirky (if utterly useless) facts in the new QI book

Did you know that Princess Diana smuggled sweets into William and Harry’s school in their football socks? Or that £200,000 in loose change is found on public transport in London every year? Or that sarcasm is banned in North Korea?

These are just some of the weird and wonderful facts in a new book compiled by John Lloyd, James Harkin and Anne Miller — the team behind the QI TV series. Here is a selection of the best . . .

Postman Pat’s name is Patrick Clifton.

According to her last wishes, the actress Elizabeth Taylor arrived late for her own funeral.

Babies born in October are more likely to live to 100 than those born in March.

Australia is slightly wider than the Moon.

Legendary broadcaster Sir David Attenborough invented yellow tennis balls 

Holding hands causes heart rates, breathing and brainwaves to synchronise.

In the ten seasons of TV’s Friends, the six main characters drink 1,154 cups of coffee.

A glass of calvados (apple brandy) contains seven apples.

The word for the inside of the elbow is ‘chelidon’.

The Queen takes a monogrammed kettle with her on all foreign trips.

The thermostat knobs in most hotel bedrooms don’t work because they’re rigged to save electricity.

Mentioning guacamole in your dating profile gets you 144 per cent more responses.

Postman Pat, pictured with his black and white cat. His real name is Patrick Clifton

Yellow tennis balls, which look better on colour TV, were the idea of David Attenborough when he was Controller of BBC2. (They used to be white.)

Elephants can hear better with one foot off the ground.

Karl Marx spent more than half his life in England.


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Blowing out the candles on a birthday cake increases the number of bacteria on it by up to 1,400 per cent.

The ancient Greeks cured hangovers by wrapping their heads in cabbage leaves.

The world’s longest sausage was 39 miles long.

During World War II, fish-and-chip-shop managers were exempt from military service.

Emmanuel Macron, president of France, spends £24,000-a-year on make-up

Breathing the air in New Delhi is equivalent to smoking 45 cigarettes a day.

An Apple iPhone contains more than half the elements in the Periodic Table.

Winston Churchill’s last words were: ‘I’m bored with it all.’

Rolls-Royce Phantoms have Teflon-coated umbrellas in the doors.

The quinine in tonic water is effective against malaria, as long as you drink 300 gin and tonics

During World War II, London bookshop Foyles bomb-proofed itself by covering the roof with copies of Mein Kampf.

The Tour de France hasn’t been won by a Frenchman since 1985.

Publican Tim Martin, pictured, named his chain of bars JD Wetherspoon after JD Hogg from Dukes of Hazzard and his former geography teacher Mr Wetherspoon

Eating ice cream for breakfast can increase mental alertness.

The JD in JD Wetherspoon is from a character in TV’s The Dukes Of Hazzard; Wetherspoon was a geography teacher at the founder’s primary school.

The German for contraceptive pill is ‘Antibabypille’.

The Irish get through 50 beer mats per person per year.

The first James Bond film (Dr No) was released on the same day as the first Beatles single (Love Me Do).

Beyoncé has released more perfumes than albums.

Wounds sustained during the day heal twice as quickly as those sustained at night.

Lenin spoke English with an Irish accent.

The heatproof sleeve on the outside of a disposable coffee cup is called a ‘zarf ’.

The Ministry of Defence’s official Book Of Abbreviations is 373 pages long.

A ‘philodox’ is someone who loves their own opinion.

Australia is slightly wider than the moon

Valium is present in potatoes.

The Sun is closer to the Earth during the UK’s winter, not the summer.

George V had a dragon tattoo on his arm.

Sixty per cent of 1p and 2p coins are used once, then put in a jar.

Dogs see in blue and yellow.

There are more than 4,000 pubs in Britain called the Red Lion.

The risk of a heart attack increases by 25 pc the Monday after the clocks go back.

For each gallon of fuel, the QE2 liner can only travel the length of a Greyhound bus.

The dome of the Taj Mahal is held together with sugar, fruit juice and egg whites.

Eighty-five per cent of bikinis never get wet.

A million plastic bottles are bought every minute.

Chickens communicate using over 200 distinct noises.

At the age of 69, French writer Victor Hugo had sex with 40 different people in five months.

Sixty per cent of 1p and 2p coins are used once, then put in a jar 

Twenty-five per cent of the world’s prisoners are in the U.S.

The first Kleenex tissues were made from the same material as the gas-mask filters during World War I.

The exclamation mark was originally called the ‘point of admiration’.

Ten per cent of chipped teeth are caused by popcorn.

Vikings were buried with board games to combat boredom in the after-life.

Sloths can hold their breath for 40 minutes.

Ostriches have four kneecaps.

Woodpeckers bang their heads into trees at 15mph, 12,000 times a day.

Half of all the plastic that has ever existed was made in the past 13 years.

Haribo sweets contain nine of the ten amino acids essential to human life.

Only 52 per cent of the UK’s 2,838 speed cameras are switched on.

To ‘poon’ is to prop up a piece of wobbly furniture with a wedge under the leg.

Britain exports more than 50,000 boomerangs to Australia every year.

A rooster cannot hear how loud its own crowing is.

Mosquitoes are responsible for half the deaths in human history

Only female bees can sting.

The average plastic bag gets used for 12 minutes but takes up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.

As much Prosecco is drunk in the UK each year as the annual rainfall on Wembley Stadium.

Emmanuel Macron, president of France, spends £24,000-a-year on make-up.

Mosquitoes are responsible for half the deaths in human history.

After Apollo 11 landed, in 1969, the Moon’s temperature rose by 2c.

The first advert on Channel 5 was for Chanel No. 5.

Van Gogh’s Olive Trees has a dead grasshopper embedded in the paint.

Horror films are the only movie genre in which more women appear than men.

The smell of Play-Doh is trademarked.

Hitler’s nephew, William Hitler, served in the U.S. Navy.

Every year spent in secondary education adds 11 months to the length of your life.

Sprinkling black pepper into a load of laundry will stop it fading.

The U.S. uses more electricity for air-conditioning than the whole of Africa uses for everything.

Beer is more nutritious than bread.

Babies have half as much chance of developing asthma if there’s a cat in the house.

One-third of all flight delays in Europe are caused by French air traffic controllers.

  • Extracted from 2,024 QI Facts To Stop You In Your Tracks by John Lloyd, James Harkin and Anne Miller, published by Faber on October 18 at £9.99. © QI Ltd 2018
  • To order a copy for £7.99 (offer valid to October 18), visit www.mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640.

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