Ruth Belville and Time Balls: Citation Needed LIVE, Part 1

This is the Technical Difficulties.
We’re playing Citation Needed. Joining me today:
He reads books, you know — it’s Chris Joel! Follow me on Twitter at toast @…! No, it’s bollocks. [Laughter] Everybody’s favourite Gary Brannan — Gary Brannan! [Sings] ‘Pull down your pants and s*** on the ants,
In an English country garden.’ I’m going to have to get the bleep out in the first minute! Thought I’d make it easy for you. And the bounciest man on stage — Matt Gray! We’re live! We can do visual gags! [Laughter] [Laughter] [Laughter] Like Bob Dylan before he went electric. In front of me I’ve got an article from Wikipedia
and these folks can’t see it. Every fact they get right is a point and a ding [DING], And there’s a special prize for
particularly good answers, which is… [Audience sings] MATT and TOM: Oh yeah. And today we are talking about Ruth Belville. MATT: Belville? GARY: Belville! A town of bells! TOM: I mean, I don’t imagine that’s the etymology… Well, you never know, do you? Oh! Is it a town of Ruth Bells? Oh! Ruth Bell-ville. Right.
Okay, sorry. That took me a second. No. Two words, one name. Is it a person or a place? TOM: It is definitely a person. MATT: It’s a person?
GARY: It’s a person. CHRIS: Is it a woman? TOM: Yes.
GARY: Get in! [DING] Point for that man! MATT: First point of the day. Is anyone keeping track of the points here?
Because I’m not. I’ll be honest. [Laughter] GARY: Well, we never do. TOM: Do you want to guess
whenabouts we’re talking about? The Victorian era! [DING] GARY: When we play our best.
CHRIS: Never fails. GARY: The time of big hats and iron! Does she have any iron? [Laughter] Careful answer! She has some silver. Used to be gold, it’s now silver. So she has no iron. She’s not massively anaemic,
if that’s what you’re saying. That’s not in here. Yeah, you know me, Tom.
I’m right there on the anaemia gags. Did she have a trouser press? TOM: She is famous for having a physical object. Oh great. So we’ve got a woman who has a thing. With silver, that was originally gold… GARY: A silver thing.
MATT: Was it a goblet? TOM: I’m sorry, was it a what? Was it a goblet? CHRIS: Hang on, a gold…? That’s not the gesture for ‘goblet’, Matt. MATT: One can cup a cup. Yeah! TOM: We’ve found the audience’s level. That’s good. And it’s down there! It is something that would come in silver and gold. It would have a silver or gold case on it. MATT: Was it a jewellery? Watch! TOM: Point! [DING]
MATT and GARY: Wahey! TOM: You’re absolutely right.
MATT: You’re our points man. Absolutely. It’s the beard that’s feared. Elizabeth Ruth Naomi Belville, 1854 to 1943, and known for carrying around a watch. Okay. Was she… I’m going to go with something answery. Something to do with trains and time zones? I mean, given it’s a watch — it’s to do with time. [Laughter] No! MATT: I’m not hearing a ding!
[DING] CHRIS: Official keeper of the Queen’s O’Clock. Oh, you know what… [DING] It’s not quite — it’s close. Official Keeper of
the Queen’s O’Clock… we’re getting closer. CHRIS: Corgi s***ting time. Greenwich Mean Time
certainly has something to do with it. Corgi S***ting Time… I’ve just realized I said that. It’s little used. It’s 37 minutes off the hour. MATT: CST. ‘Excuse me, Ma’am, I just need to take the corgis.’ [Queen voice] ‘Oh yes, it’s s***ting time.’ Just going to set my watch to Corgi S***ting Time. I tell you what, it is basically —
that 37 minutes is corgi s***ting time. ‘Finchley! They’re still in the parlour!’ Someone at Buckingham Palace somewhere is
pulling out the elaborate silver dish right now. CHRIS: Used to be gold, you know. It does tarnish so. GARY: Yes! Why would someone in Victorian London,
and later, up to World War Two, be going around with a watch? Was she an official clock-setter
for some town or borough? TOM: Hmm… I’ll give you a point for that. [DING] Certainly — I don’t think official. This was not… Unofficial. Going around setting it
to her own bloody time. She’s a guerrilla time setter. GARY: You can’t set time on a gorilla! They don’t wear watches! It’s like a s*** Banksy! ‘Ah ha ha! You thought it was
five minutes later than it is!’ GARY: Yeah, but would —
MATT: ‘But I *know* it’s wrong, ‘cos I have a watch!’ Ah! Now… Can I make the point, if the gorilla told you the time,
you wouldn’t disagree with it though, would you? Whatever time he says it is. TOM: I will point out, you’re getting very close there. This is how…
[Laughter] No, Gary isn’t. Matt is. This is someone who went round selling… MATT: Oh! Oh!
CHRIS: Time. ‘I know the time! Give me a fiver
and I’ll tell you the time’ — kind of person. [DING]
TOM: Yup. Oh my God. TOM: Absolutely right. Spot on. I bet you can do that in Leicester Square. I mean, you wouldn’t want to do it in Parliament Square,
because you’ve got Big Ben there, but Leicester Square… [Laughter] GARY: ‘It’s 11:55.’
DONGGG… ‘Trust me. That’s wrong.’ That’s not actually Big Ben.
That’s just Gary going ‘DONGGG…’ Which bit of me, remains open to be seen. If you do go to Parliament Square on a Thursday night, you can just see him standing in the corner
doing an impression of Big Ben. Yeah! I even put the pointy hat on and everything. And for some tourists, the very small / far away thing,
it does work as well. How big’s the pendulum, Gary? You don’t want to know. Hahey! All I’ll tell you is, it’s regulated by a penny every year. That’s true, innit? They regulate
the pendulum on the clock on Big Ben by putting pennies on or subtracting it,
to half a second or something? Something like that, yeah. Old pennies. Well, with the exchange rate at the moment,
it’s going to be pounds by the end of the year. We’re rich! And you wanted us to do the Brexit one. There you go. Yes. This was a woman called Ruth Belville,
who like her father and her father before her… Her father and *his* father before *him*…
[Laughter] GARY: Get a diagram! MATT: For generations. Pronouns are always difficult. MATT: Generations. You need the word ‘generations’. For generations, had sold the time to people
who needed to know it accurately. So where did she go to get that? Time Magazine. It’s a grudging Biscuits. But it’s a Biscuits. Oh, we’re not putting scales of biscuitry in here, are we? So where did she go to get the proper time
in Victorian London? This was originally 1836 when her father created it. The London Time Dump. [Laughter]
TOM: Now… That’s a good description for what this would be. GARY: Oh great! I win then. I’m not giving you a point for it… but where in London — GARY: Damn my short arms! Where would you go to get the time? Greenwich, I would assume. Yeah, Greenwich. Yep. [DING] Absolutely right. Greenwich Observatory. You see the nonchalance on that?
[Click] Yeah, it’s fine. Greenwich Observatory, you would go
to the clock that is outside it… Surely you’d go to its herb garden. — [Groans] Thyme!
— Oh, f*** you. Oh. I heard a muttering of discontent in the crowd there. GARY: That got the reaction
it purely deserved, which was ‘Ughh…’ That’s just the despair of 400 people in front of me. That is what my puns are worth! Ahh. That’s bat under the arm, back into the pavilion,
shaking your head — really, I’m sorry. Yes. There is a clock outside
called the Shephard Gate Clock… What’s unusual about it? MATT: It’s got sheep on it! No hands on it. Shepherds only can go under it! No to all of those things! Are you sure? I mean, it’s set on a wall, so if anyone
could get under it I’d be very surprised. Is it on a Viking street named Shepherd Street? Er, no. It’s by the Shephard Gate of the Observatory. Sheep work like sundials, don’t they? They all face the same way… TOM: Go on…? Yeah, ‘cos when you go past many fine Saxon churches, what you find engraved on it is four holes
for you to hook the hooves in. For a sheep. It’s twenty past Flossy. That kind of thing. Then they fall off, you get a goat,
causes all kinds of problems. They have to be recalibrated with
a penny on their back every few rounds, just to get them to within a few seconds. MATT: So I was wrong. TOM: Yes, you were. It is a fairly standard clock. There is something unusual about it,
particularly for that era, that you would need to tell the time, day, night… 24-hour? 24-hour! Have a point. [DING] Absolutely right. 24-hour clock, so you would go there —
or she would go there, would set her watch exactly, and then
go around to hundreds of clients… Why didn’t someone undercut her and just charge slightly less with a different watch? Ah! And there you have stumbled upon something,
so I’ll give you a point. [DING] Oh, lucky me! She came ‘under attack from St John Wynne,
a director of the Standard Time Company.’ Standard Time! ‘Twenty past three! Get out!’ What kind of criticism did he give
in a speech at the United Wards Club? ‘Oh! I will not take time from a woman!’ ‘This is not a place for her!’
Something horrific like that? You’re close enough. [DING] He said ‘she might have been using her femininity…’ Eh? TOM: Fe-mi-ni-ni-ty…
CHRIS: …ni-ni-nin… ALL: Femininininin… ‘… to gain business.’ Oh, I see. ‘D’you want to buy *my* time, luvvy?’ ‘Free some time?’ The speech was published in The Times… Ayyyy! [Applause] With both of you doing that impression,
because I’ve got a very vivid imagination, I’ve just got you in low-cut Victorian dresses
hanging round a pub in the East End… and really I can’t sleep for a fortni… oh no… Hiya, luv… Why are my hands still doing this?! Augh! So yes. Following the publication
of the comments, what happened? She got really pissed off and threw her watch at him. But it was on a chain, so she could keep doing it. MATT: Is that like a yo-yo? ‘Don’t! Criticize! My! Timekeeping!’ I hope it had a bell in it,
so every time it hit him, it was like, Ding! Ding! Ding! I just like the idea of,
‘What time is it?’ ‘I’ve got no idea…’ ‘You want to know what time it is? It’s whuppin’ time!’ Er, quite the opposite, actually. MATT: Nothing.
GARY: She took it in good humour. She did. It ‘resulted in an increase in sales’. And, er… [Laughter] What did she say about his comments? ‘T***.’ There was a little bit… a few more words in there —
Don’t. Don’t. He’d just given her free advertising. GARY: That’s nails! Love that. Yeah. ‘Er, excuse me, Miss.
I hear you provide… services of time…’ ‘I’d like to buy some of your… time.’ ‘All right. It’s 2:30. There you go.’ ‘That wasn’t quite what I had in mind.’ ‘But my watch is accurate now, so…’ ‘I can’t say I lost from this transaction. Good day!’ Yes. She lived to the age of 89… And she’d know that, ‘cos she’s got a watch. She… how long did she have
before that for her retirement? None at all. Because she’d just
keep going till she carked. Close. But a little bit. Twelve minutes exactly. They found a watch on the body. GARY: Till her w… CHRIS: Come on then. GARY: Matt Gray’s dead. Here we go. TOM: That’s the look that means
this is about to hit the cutting room floor. Everybody, roll up your sleeves. This one’s coming. [Rising] Ohhhh…! GO! This is terrible! Did she meet her untimely death at…? [Groans]
[Cheering] Oh, no! No! That wasn’t even the joke! I hadn’t noticed that! That was better! I was going to say, did she die at the third stroke? [Groans] No, but she got three years of retirement. GARY: Well, 1940 is Blitz. I think that’s the start of the Blitz.
So she’s walking through Blitz-torn London, telling the Nazzies to eff off while she’s
walking around with a clock in her hand. Hero! Actually, yeah. ‘It’s teatime,
they’ll be bombing in 15 minutes.’ How did she know that?! Ohhh! Just putting it out there. There is a reference to a buggy in here as well,
so I imagine there was something else… She may have been riding… GARY: She was on a go-kart? TOM: 19th — a Victorian-era go-kart? Oh come on, Gary. It’s an iron scooter! Ohhh. Designed by Brunel himself! And there…! First reference to Brunel… 20 minutes. If you’ve got your bingo cards,
that must be a line by now, it really must. Says the man in a Bob’s Full House hoodie. TOM: A reference which precisely thr… TOM: …one person in the audience —
thank you for that cheer — gets. That’s exactly the one in 400 people
this is aimed to appeal to. As am I, let’s face it. So, when she retired… after the generations of doing this, and it was clear that this was not necessary any more, because the Standard Time Company,
while they did not win, themselves, technology moved on.
What was the Standard Time Company selling? CHRIS: Substandard, shoddy time. Not collected
fresh from Greenwich every morning! ‘Just send ’em yesterday’s time.
It’ll be fine, it’s only slightly stale.’ GARY: Big buckets of time, lined up by the gates. Filling it from the hand-pump of chronology! CHRIS: ‘There ye go.’ CHRIS: ‘We’ve got some time back in the Devonian.’ CHRIS: Geology joke there… GARY: I imagine time being dispensed sounds like,
[Blows raspberry] Gary, that’s how you imagine most noises. Fair cop. Actually, we may as well,
while we’re doing bingo and Gary noises… Goose! [Honks] Goose on a train! [Two-tone train horn]
[Goose honk] Goose being hit by a train. [Train horn]
[Goose honk] It’s what they were all waiting for, Gary. That’s what you paid your money for. I know that. What was the Standard Time Company selling? How did they get their time to people? I realize I’m treating time as a physical thing here.
How did they tell people the time? MATT: Telephoning? Nah. Or telegramming? Or tele… communicating
in some kind of way on a wire? TOM: …there’s a word. There’s a word! Telegraph! Morse code! Text message! TOM: [Strangled noise] MATT: Skype! [DING] Gary gets the point. It was a
‘telegraphic time signal service’, But I’m giving Matt a point as well,
[DING] because he was *so* close. GARY: Bulls***! He got the idea, you got the word. GARY: In mill towns, in t’ north where we come from, they’d go round, basically a man with a great big stick, would just whack on the window to wake you up, and that was the knocker-upper,
because he was the only one with a watch. Yeah. He was the knock-her-upper. [Laughter] Lots of kids that looked suspiciously similar,
if you know what I mean. Yes, the Standard Time Company
sold a telegraphic time signal, but by that point, we had radio, we had military time… and the customers were starting to die out, essentially. Did you have the speaking clock by then as well? 19…36, so it did exist. There is one other signal at
the Royal Observatory in Greenwich… Obviously she went up, got it from the clock,
got it from the official source. What happens every day at the
Royal Observatory on the top of the hill? Someone gets their fingers trapped in a door
and yells, on the hour. No one’s ever got round to fixing it. GARY: ‘I’ll just get the milk — ‘ BOOM. GARY: ‘AAGH! JESUS WEPT!’ Set the clock… TOM: Where did that come from?! Where does it all come from, Tom? I don’t know. No… 1 pm at the top of the hill in
Greenwich Park, a thing happens. GARY: Somebody drops the balls! Point! [DING] [Tittering]
TOM: Do you want to explain that? That sounded worse than in my head… yeah. S***. Yeah. There’s the time… ball, isn’t there, that falls — TOM: See, this is one of those things
that sounds rubbish, but actually isn’t. Thank you. TOM: That’s actually a good mime. That’s Lord Time himself there. Do you want to explain the time ball? MATT: Please explain. I can’t understand the time ball! It’s a ball
on a stick that drops down at one o’clock. Is it something like so ships on the River Thames could synchronize their chronometers
before they set off, on a sail, so they knew it was one o’clock? A bit like the one o’clock gun in Edinburgh, where
they fire a big f***-off gun at the top of the castle, to scare all the tourists, ‘cos that’s
what it’s for these days, let’s face it. I was once at Edinburgh Castle… Hold on. [DING DING] Thank you! TOM: Carry on.
GARY: Thank you. There’s a third one needed. I was once at Edinburgh Castle on holiday. I was looking down through the telescope
as the one o’clock gun went off — You see them bastards duck, down on Princes Street! If you’re ever in Vienna — GARY: That means nothing to me.
MATT: [Sings] ‘Oh, Vienna!’ They test the air raid sirens
in the city once a month still. GARY: Ho ho!
CHRIS: Oooh. Which I imagine is just to annoy tourists now. GARY: Yeah. Like, it’s the three-minute warning,
the bomb’s about to drop… I want a helmet and to be able to run. [Laughter] Why are both those things unachievable for you? Congratulations Chris, you win this one! You win a gambling den for nocturnal birds of prey, run by the star of the Godfather
from the back of a ’59 Chevy. GARY: Oh, Jesus Christ, no. Someone just got that, I think. It’s Al Pacino’s El Camino Owl Casino. With that, we say thank you to… Chris Joel! To Gary Brannan! Matt Gray! Bye-bye, studio audience! We will see you in ten minutes after the interval!


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