Guests: Jo Brand, Phill Jupitus, David Mitchell
Aired: 2nd December 2011, BBC Two
Contrary to popular belief, the clock face on the Palace of Westminster is not the biggest in Britain. That honour goes to Shell Mex House, on the Victoria Embankment of the Thames. Completed in 1931 to house the joint venture of Shell Mex and BP Ltd, the building is instantly recognizable from the river thanks to the clock, which was known for a time as ‘Big Benzene’. The clock tower element was crucial for the building’s height as it allowed them to circumvent the height limits of the time that existed for fire safety reasons by defining it as an uninhabited part of the building. After the height restrictions were repealed following the Second World War, the company had an area near the clock built on, with a two-storey office extension that that increased the floor area to what it is to today. The clock's diameter is 25 feet and 6 inches, compared to the 23-foot diameter of the clock commonly referred to as Big Ben. Outside of London, the clock faces on Liverpool’s Royal Liver Building are also bigger than those of Big Ben, at 25 feet in diameter.
If you stand at the bottom of the clock tower that houses Big Ben with a radio, you hear the chimes on the radio marginally before you hear the actual sound, because the radio waves travel so much faster than sound.
‘Time Immemorial’ is a specific legal term which originally meant the 6th of July 1189. This was the first day of the reign of Richard I. The First Statute of Westminster in 1275 defined his reign as the limit of legal memory – in other words, if a custom, a possession or a right had been continuously held since before that date, it was legally valid and the right to it didn’t have to be re-established.
In 1832 the law was changed and re-defined time immemorial as 'time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary'. This meant that rights which had been enjoyed for 20 years (or 30 years against the Crown) shouldn’t be forbidden merely because it could be proved that they hadn’t been enjoyed before that.
For any serious purpose, intelligence is a very minor gift.
A dog is not intelligent. Never trust an animal that's surprised by its own farts.
There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.