Sometimes I feel like I’m on QI and Mark is Stephen Fry and every time I make a statement that bloody klaxon goes off because I’ve got it wrong! I like QI but I hate it too because it undermines everything I’ve ever believed. I think I know the answer but I don’t; somebody says it and that bloody thing goes off again and Stephen Fry sits there smugly with his cards in his hand and says, ‘No. It isn’t that.’ And my life is ruined once more. I’m thinking of writing to the programme to suggest they make it more like ‘1066 and all that’. History is what you can remember; all other history defeats itself. I like that idea.
So the latest hellish truth to strike at the core of my self-belief is this: a billion is not what I thought it was. Now, I was always brought up to believe that a billion was a million million. That’s logical, right? A thousand is a hundred hundreds (hang on – all right, that’s wrong) but a million is a thousand thousands so it makes sense for a billion to be a million millions. But NO! The Americans have got hold of the jolly old concept and twisted it for their own sinister ends. So now, apparently, we have adopted the American billion which is something like a hundred million or some such nonsense. So all those billion pound bonuses we’ve been hearing about are in fact jolly reasonable, considering.
I mean how much more of this stuff are we going to be adopting? We already talk about 9/11 which in any sensible system would mean the ninth of November – but NO! it’s the eleventh of September. And now this! Whatever next?
I think we should be told.
I hate it when Mark’s right.