Lateral with Tom Scott

Comedy panel game podcast about weird questions with wonderful answers, hosted by Tom Scott.

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Episode 64: Black and white bowties

Published 29th December, 2023

Daniel Peake, Lizzy Skrzypiec and Bill Sunderland face questions about shoe safes, safety signs and sinuous streets.

HOST: Tom Scott. QUESTION PRODUCER: David Bodycombe. RECORDED AT: The Podcast Studios, Dublin. EDITED BY: Julie Hassett. MUSIC: Karl-Ola Kjellholm ('Private Detective'/'Agrumes', courtesy of ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS: R.Y., RedCree & Klara, Rhea. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:As a regular traveller, Esther puts a shoe in the room safe every time she checks into a new hotel room. Why?

The answer to that at the end of the show. My name's Tom Scott, and this is Lateral.

Welcome to Lateral. We presume you're listening to this because you misswiped 'musical' and it auto-corrected on your keyboard. But while you're here, you might as well stay around to listen to these 'Guys and Dolls' attempt to make a song and dance of things. We have sort of a special episode today with a load of people who set questions for other people. So, I'm looking a little bit nervous, but not quite as nervous as they do from being on the other end of their usual jobs.

We start with puzzle editor at The Telegraph, and writer for quiz show Only Connect, Daniel Peake.
Daniel:Good time zones to you.
Tom:How are you doing?
Daniel:I'm not bad, and yourself?
Tom:(laughs) We're midway through this recording block.
Tom:I'm coping. Let's just say, I'm coping.
Daniel:The hair is still on the head. This is a good sign. You haven't torn it out.
Tom:Yeah, but as I get older.
Tom:How are you feeling about being on the other end of questions today?
Daniel:Oh, I'm always baffled by these. There will always come a lovely a-ha moment, but you're gonna see, for those of you watching, will see my face in a complete fuzz. Absolutely no idea what I'm doing here.
Tom:You are normally setting weird lateral thinking and puzzle questions anyway. Do you think that's gonna be a help, or do you think you're just kind of being set up here?
Daniel:Absolutely being set up. I love seeing people's baffled faces on Only Connect as they try and work out the clues. And all I can say, Tom, is have you got some clues that I can just... Just pass them to me.
Tom:(laughs) You got any bribes?
Daniel:Yeah, yeah, yeah. Do you like doughnuts?
Tom:Yes, yes.
Tom:And if this is ever done live as opposed to a remote call recording, I will absolutely accept the bribe then.
SFX:(both laugh)
Tom:Next up, we have a question producer for numerous quiz TV shows, and also the director of Murder, She Didn't Write. Please welcome Lizzy Skrzypiec.
Lizzy:Hello! Hi-hi.
Tom:How are you doing?
Lizzy:Very good, although I'm a little coldy, and I think it may affect my intelligence. So that's 100% why I might get stuff wrong today.
Tom:That's absolutely how it works. Yeah, everyone get their excuses in early.
Lizzy:Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Tom:How are you feeling about being on the receiving end of questions?
Lizzy:Well, I think I'll be disappointed if I don't get everything 100% correct, but I have seen the show, and that's not what happens.
SFX:(both laugh)
Lizzy:So, expect tears. There'll be tears.
Tom:Do you think the improvisation background's going to help?
Lizzy:It's quite hard to yes-and to an answer, but I will try.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:I will say what always helps is just saying something ridiculous that's in your head because it might prompt something in someone else's.
Lizzy:Oh, thank goodness. I've been doing that for years. So I'll just continue to do the same.
Tom:And rounding out our panel today, our first returning player, and someone who's been on this show, I think, more than anyone else has, possibly apart from Dani, the other half of Escape This Podcast, we have the other other half of Escape This Podcast, Bill Sunderland!
Bill:Hey, hey, thanks for having me back on! I'm excited, but I'm gonna bring... I'm gonna pull my energy down and bring a calm erudition to this one. I'm gonna just... I'm just gonna sit back And I think I'll just get them all straight away and just be very, very competent and confident.
Tom:Do I need to start a little timer here until the character work begins? 'Cause it's normally less than five minutes.
Bill:Hey, I— Don't you dare me.
Bill:'Cause I can do no characters. We have a very boring show. And there'll be at least one person@5 in the audience who will incredibly— who'll be so appreciative of the lack of the character work.
Tom:You're right, I should not risk setting up the guests for disaster like that. I apologise deeply, Bill. Good luck on today's show.

Unfortunately for our panel, the questions on this show don't have multiple choice options, other than A: try to guess the answer, or B: run away. And no, you can't phone a friend. So, assuming that you are all sticking around for question one, we start with this:

1898's International Urban Planning Conference in New York urgently discussed a major public health issue that largely sorted itself out 30 years later. What was it?

And I'll say that again.

1898's International Urban Planning Conference in New York urgently discussed a major public health issue that largely sorted itself out 30 years later. What was it?
Daniel:Commence the battlement.
SFX:(group snickering)
Daniel:Could it be something to do with the buildings of New York, maybe? Because it's a time when skyscrapers were starting to be a thing, I guess?
Bill:That's fair.
Lizzy:Yeah, then... Oh no, I do know this. 1930-something was the Empire State Building, right? But 1920-something was the Chrysler Building, right? Or the other way around?
Bill:Well, that's interesting. Do we think 1928, the 30 years later, when this problem resolved itself? Is there a connection there?
Daniel:Don't think the Chrysler Building took 30 years to build, but it feels like it could be something to do with heights of buildings. Or, things that you use to build a skyscraper with.
Lizzy:The urban— Was the sun in the way? (laughs) And then suddenly they've built a big, tall building that blocked it out, and they're like, "Thank goodness, some shade"? Well, how good are we at history? That is urban planning. Is this a pre-car thing? We all know when cars were invented, guys.
Bill:I think that's the thing, right? I think that's a very good thought, 'cause I was gonna say, it's a history question. So the first step for the history question is, we just start saying everything we know about 1898, about New York, and about... 1928, right? Once we have all of those facts, we'll just have the answer. But cars is a good thought. I like cars.
Daniel:Was it the first ever traffic jam? So none of the cars could go anywhere, so they couldn't go any faster than three miles an hour or something like that? Because there were too many cars.
Tom:I don't think New York sorted that out right now.
Bill:Oh, traffic in New York, it's great. You can drive everywhere.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Just very, very slowly. Can you take the Metro? No, probably broken. Can you take the bus? Uhmhm, if you're lucky. Can you— You can drive there.
Bill:You can drive.
Tom:Just very, very slowly.
Lizzy:Were there cars around then in New York City? Is this a thing?
Bill:Yeah, see, this is what I don't know. What was the status of a car in 1898? In 1910, I'm happy to say there's probably a car somewhere ...around New York City. 1898? I don't know my car-based chronology. Luckily, Daniel knows everything about cars.
Daniel:They've got wheels. Hopefully, they've got wheels.
Bill:(snickers) Good ones.
Tom:It's either that, or just suddenly, New York is taken over by military tanks and vehicles with treads. And I feel like at that point, there are bigger problems going on with both New York and the world.
Daniel:Ooh, maybe something to do with Central Park, then. Ah, ah, maybe this is the point where New York was slowly starting to get built up, and they were wanting to know, "Well, where do we— Where is Central Park?"
Tom:I've been keeping my mouth shut during this section. But I'll tell you, you were a lot closer with cars.
SFX:(group laughing)
Bill:"But I was feeling so much better about the buildings. I know what a building is."
Lizzy:So was it like a horse and cart problem? And then cars came along, they're like, "All these horse and carts. They're playing havoc with these New York streets."
Bill:By 1928, anything that you put in place to solve a horse problem is irrelevant, because the horses, they're gone.
Lizzy:Well, no, they're still there, but they're just not pulling—
Bill:They're hiding.
Daniel:Some in the restaurants rather than the streets.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:So what was the public health issue that sorted itself out, that was a desperate problem in 1898?
Daniel:Well, you know how car— You know how cars have emissions?
Tom:(snickers) Yes.
Bill:Yes, yes.
Daniel:So do horse and carts.
Tom:Yes, they do.
Daniel:And that's going to be the issue that would've been literally needed to be cleaned up. It's going to have to be the poop on the roads.
Tom:You're spot on. It was literally a problem that was piling up over time as New York got more and more and more horses and carriages. And then along came the horseless carriage, and sorted it all out.
Lizzy:Yes, cars don't poop, do they? And that's probably a bonus for them.
Bill:That's a good thing!
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Each of our guests has brought a question along with them. We're going to start today with Dan. Whenever you're ready.
Daniel:This question has been sent in by RY. So thank you very much.

During the creation of Carrie the musical, producer Fran Weissler wanted a dance number to have a 1950s feel. Her face fell when the director returned with designs showing teens wearing togas wandering around a temple. What happened?

So, during the creation of Carrie the musical, producer Fran Weissler wanted a dance number to have a 1950s feel. Her face fell when the director returned with designs showing teens wearing togas wandering around a temple. What happened?
Tom:My first thought was like, Oh, they turned the paper upside down, and it read something else. And then I turned '1950s' upside down, and it said 'SOSGI'. And I don't think that's...
Tom:I don't think that's right.
Daniel:I can confirm, not right.
Lizzy:1950s, did they mishear? Was it like, "Oh, I want this to have like a Nefertiti kind of feel"?
SFX:(both laugh)
Lizzy:That's Egyptian, isn't it? That's not Roman.
Daniel:What do you know about Carrie, the musical? Or just Carrie, what it was based on?
Lizzy:Oh, the cheerleader.
Tom:I assume it's based on the film. And the only thing I know about it is the scene with the bucket of blood. That's the iconic thing from Carrie, and I know nothing about it beyond that.
Daniel:So, book by Stephen King. Yes, you're right about the cheerleader, Lizzy. So it's in that sort of set... in a school. Or, there are scenes set in a school.
Tom:Have any of us seen the movie or read the book?
Lizzy:No. (laughs)
Tom:Or have—
Lizzy:I haven't seen it.
Bill:The only reference that I have for Carrie is: Carrie is a girl. She has pyrokinesis and can start fires with her mind, I believe. And also she gets covered in pig's blood at a school dance.
Bill:Which is terrible, and she then gets all mad, and she's like, "Ah, I'm covered in blood!" But, you know, as you would.
Tom:I realise that everything's being turned into a musical these days, because musicals are going the same way as Hollywood, and they're all like, "We must have some existing IP."

But, how do you turn that into a musical, first of all? And second, pity the poor cast member who's playing Carrie. Every single night.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Lizzy:I mean, I was once in a musical, called Reservoir Cats. Or Reservoir Mogs it was turned into, and at the end of the musical, I used to die. I was shot, many times, nine times in fact, because cats have nine lives.
Tom:Nine lives.
Lizzy:And I used to finish the show every day with my bottom in the air, face-down on the stairs.
SFX:(Tom and Daniel laugh)
Lizzy:And I never got to see the round of applause or who was in the audience.
Tom:(laughs empathetically)
Daniel:Did you not get to do the encore or the bowing or the... or anything?
Lizzy:They thought it'd be funny if I stayed on the stairs with my bottom in the air. 'Cause I used to walk through the audience, so I'd be like, "Is my mum in this one? I can't remember if she said she was coming today."
Daniel:So you're used to dying on stage then?
Lizzy:(sarcastic laugh) Perhaps a little too often, yeah.
Daniel:So 1950s is also an interesting point in this question.
Bill:So that is what I was thinking, 'cause obviously there's the Carrie side, but there's also, how do you say to someone, "Give it to me 1950s style", and they come back from the set in the— on the Acropolis, right? Or perhaps in Rome. I don't know who's wearing these togas.
Tom:Is it like 19— 1950 BC? That doesn't make sense, but... You wouldn't be that specific.
Daniel:No, 'tis AD, 'tis AD?
Tom:You wouldn't be that specific. You wouldn't say, "I want this to look exactly like 1950 before" —No, it doesn't.
Bill:Well, see, see, this— I reckon it must be the language. I reckon they didn't say "Give it to me in a 1950s..." See, I'm doing it every time, Tom. I'll do it differently for you. Here you go.
Tom:No, it's fine! It's just every time, Bill, that you suddenly say those words, I just, I'm gonna snicker a little bit at the words, "Give it to me 1950s style".
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:I don't know what that is. I don't know what that would be. But I'm gonna snicker at it.
Bill:Yeah, she didn't say "(bleep) me like it's post-war."
SFX:(group laughs uproariously)
Tom:60 something shows! No, 50 something shows, 60 something shows, and that's the first spit take. Well done, Bill.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom:That is the first spit take.
Tom:Precision F-bomb strike after all these, after all these. The producer's having kittens because he's got to work out whether to keep that one in, but bleep it, well...
Bill:That was just for Tom, everybody.
Bill:But I think the wording is the important part, 'cause I reckon it wasn't like, "Oh, I want to see this dance number like it is the 1950s." There'll be some words, some association like, "I want it to be—"
Daniel:She did not say 1950s. You're exactly right.
Bill:Exactly. So, what word? This is the question I think, is what word... would one person say, thinking 1950s, that another person would be like... Was there a 1950s triumvirate? And so you'd be like, "Oh, do it like the triumvirate times." Like, great, Rome, I'm good.
Tom:We are looking for a connection between the 1950s and Roman times from someone who sets questions about connections.
Lizzy:Was there Emperor Gilbert and Sullivan? That's what I'm asking.
SFX:(others laugh)
Lizzy:Did they exist? Was it a musical style of the 1950s?
Daniel:Eh, you can say that, I think. So we talked earlier that Carrie was set in a little bit of a school theme. So maybe that was what the producer might have been after.
Tom:Okay, 1950s American schools.
Lizzy:Oh, so like, not the school library, but the library of Alexandria.
Bill:That's it. It was an autocorrect.
Tom:I'm trying to think American school stereotypes, like varsity jackets, or... sports teams, or was the—
Lizzy:Toga party! Is it a toga party?
Tom:Hold on, hold on.
Bill:Toga party!
Tom:American high schools all have mascots. They're all named the Fighting Wildcats, and sometimes, it's like the Generals, or they could be the Romans, or something like that. Was it a nickname for the high school that Carrie was set at, or something like that?
Bill:The Senators.
Daniel:Not quite. The high school theme is good. Also, you're very fixated on togas being Roman.
Bill:Yes, I said there could have been Greek.
Lizzy:(gasp) Oh, is it a sorority thing? Like an alpha and omega?
SFX:(Bill and Tom clamor)
Lizzy:Is it sorority?
Tom:Because they call it the Greek system.
Lizzy:Is it that, though?
Bill:Greek societies. I want a Greek society thing.
Daniel:You're very close, but there's one—
Bill:No, we've got it, Daniel.
Lizzy:No, I really think I do have it.
Bill:I think we have it, Daniel. I think it makes sense.
Daniel:So, if she said, "Oh, I want this with a 1950s feel," what exactly could she have asked for, that then got misinterpreted?
Lizzy:Oh my god.
Daniel:You're really close, but maybe not use the word 'Greek'. But you're really close!
Bill:Classic, classical.
Tom:'Post-war', and they picked the Trojan War.
Bill:Post, commas, Peloponnesian War.
Daniel:So she was after something definitely set in a high school. Are there any other famous works that are set in a high school?
Lizzy:Greece. Is it— Is it the alpha-omega?
Lizzy:Is it called 'Alpha-Omega' or something?
Tom:She just—
Lizzy:Alpha Kappa?
Bill:No, it's—
Lizzy:What's it called?
Tom:No, it's just Grease. It's just the word Grease.
Bill:It's just Grease.
Lizzy:Oh, it's just Grease! (laughs uproariously)
Bill:It's gonna look like Grease!
Lizzy:It's just Grease. Oh wow.
Daniel:There you go.
Lizzy:That makes way more sense.
SFX:(group laughing)
Daniel:That's what she asked for.
Tom:See, sometimes you say a silly thing, and everyone else goes, "No, that's it. That's actually, that's the one."
Lizzy:"Stop your journey there, Lizzy." Yeah, I'm with you.
Bill:"I am mighty Zeus atop Olympus, throwing my greased lightning."
Daniel:Absolutely, so that is what was going on. Fran Weissler was wanting something with a Grease theme. "Think about Grease." But unfortunately, the director interpreted that as 'Greece', the country. And despite the confusion and Fran Weissler removing her investment from the show, the toga stayed in the production.
Daniel:It only ran for five shows, lost $8 million, this one, and was one of the biggest flops in Broadway history at the time.
Tom:Good luck, here's the next one.

While staying at a hotel in Indonesia, Sarah sees two emergency signs pointing in diametrically opposite directions. One has yellow and blue parts, while the other has red and white elements. What do they indicate?

I'll say that again.

While staying at a hotel in Indonesia, Sarah sees two emergency signs pointing in diametrically opposite directions. One has yellow and blue parts, while the other has red and white elements. What do they indicate?
Bill:I have a thought. But I'm in that terrible, terrible feeling that you get on Lateral. Because it's a terrible show.
SFX:(group laughing)
Bill:That terrible feeling where... you're pretty happy with your guess, so you don't know whether you say, I shouldn't say it because it might be right, or whether you should say it 'cause it won't be right. You don't know where the confidence is. So, I don't know what to do.
Tom:So, help me. Bill, you've set it up. You've gotta go for it.
Lizzy:Yeah, you kinda have.
Bill:No, I haven't!
Tom:You've gotta go for it now.
Lizzy:You kinda have.
Daniel:But before we—
Tom:This is a show with three guests who all set questions. Someone's gotta nail one of these.
Bill:Okay, I don't— Look, I'm— I don't think it's it, but it's my first thought.
Tom:If this is wrong, it's gonna be disastrous. You've gotta get this now. The pressure is on.
Bill:No, it should be fine. We're in Indonesia, right?
Bill:And it well may be that I've got two different ways to evacuate. Because I'm a hotel. I'm in Indonesia. I'm on the coast. You can't be Indonesia and not be on the coast. It's Indonesia. It's all coast.

So, one way is, "Oh no, there's a fire. Evacuate this way towards the ocean." Then the other one is, "Mate, it's a tsunami. You got to go the other way. You got to get away from the ocean. Go this way, away from the coast." And there are two sets of disasters, where one wants you to go to the water, and one wants you to get as far up a hill as you possibly can.
Daniel:That sounds like a really good idea. Which colour arrows would represent which though?
Tom:I'll tell you Bill, yes. It's tsunami and fire.
Tom:For exactly that reason. Question is, which directions?
Lizzy:Well, tsunami is In-donesia, and one's Out-donesia.
Bill:♪ Ba-da ba ba-da ba wop ♪
SFX:(group laughing)
Daniel:So, I'm assuming—
Tom:I'll be holding onto that one for a while.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom:Because that was solid, that was...
Daniel:I'm assuming yellow and blue will point inland, because that's sort of...
Bill:Oh, no, yellow and blue, that points to the beach, baby.
Daniel:But you want to get away from the beach if there's a tsunami coming towards you.
Bill:But that's a picture of the beach.
Daniel:So we've got now a fundamental...
Bill:Actually, that's a good point.
Daniel:Are we saying that this is where it's coming from or where you need to go to? So is it indicating where the danger is coming from, or where you need to go to? It makes more sense to go, "This is where the beach is, this is where the land is," actually, thinking about it. So this goes, right, you know what the danger is. If you can hear a volcanic rumbling, you know what the danger is.

So therefore you need to go towards the blue and yellow arrow towards the sea to get away from the volcanoes.
Bill:Oh no, I'm so confused! I'm gonna die in Indonesia!
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:You've actually not even got the direction of the arrows yet. So I'm gonna just keep going on this for a little while.
Daniel:Is it not inland and out to sea? Is it not that?
Tom:No, it's not.
Lizzy:Oh, that way! Up and down!
Tom:It's up and down.
Lizzy:Down to the sea, to the beach. And then up...
Daniel:Oh, that makes much more sense.
Bill:Above the waterline.
Daniel:Because then you need to get higher. If there's a tsunami coming, you need to go upwards, there you go.
Tom:These are actually on the stairs.
Bill:And fire goes up!
Tom:This is next to the stairs.
Bill:I love it.
Tom:If you've got a tsunami coming in, then you follow the yellow and blue sign that indicates that there is water incoming, and you go up. And if there's a fire, you follow the red and white sign with the fire logo on it, and you go downstairs to evacuate the building. If there is both at the same time, you have bigger problems.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Daniel:Your choice!
Tom:Lizzy, the next question is yours. Whenever you're ready.
Lizzy:Wallace and Barney went to the Vienna Opera Ball, a famous annual event in Austrian society. Wallace wore a white bow tie and had a great time. Barney wore a black bow tie and soon regretted it. Why?

Wallace and Barney went to the Vienna Opera Ball, a famous annual event in Austrian society. Wallace wore a white bow tie and had a great time. Barney wore a black bow tie and soon regretted it. Why?
Daniel:Is it because he had to socialise?
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom:There's just, the bow ties act like symbols for whether you want to socialise or not, like those university parties where you had coloured wristbands to indicate whether you're available or not. And just black bow tie. Oh, and everyone's talking to me.
Daniel:It's the only thing I'm wearing, black bow ties. Oh yeah, hang on.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Just three or four in strategic locations.
Daniel:(snickers) The hallway, the stairs. Okay, so my first question is, are the names important? Are they a famous Wallace and someone or other? Who are the names?
Tom:I feel like those might have just been picked because Wallace is wearing something white, and Barney is wearing something black.
Tom:But I could be wrong. It could also be the—
Bill:Could be Wallace Shawn.
Tom:I was thinking it was the worst animated character mashup there's ever been, which is just Wallace from Wallace and Gromit, matched up with Barney the Dinosaur, and... I'm sure that exists as fanfiction somewhere, and I never want to read it.
Bill:I love Wensleydale, you love Wensleydale.
SFX:(group laughing)
Bill:Do we need— Is this like a— Is this like the first question? Do we need to start listing all the facts that we know about the Viennese Opera?
Tom:Vienna Opera Ball.
Tom:Yeah, okay. I don't know any.
Daniel:Let's give it a whirl.
Bill:Has anyone been to Vienna?
Tom:Yes. And I can't remember much about it.
Daniel:I remember... I went about 15, 20 years ago, thinking the streets are very clean. So I liked Vienna. And I remember nothing else.
Bill:I went about 15 years ago. And I performed at the Vienna Festival of Music as a child. Not as an official performance. We just knew someone. And when they got us onto a stage, we're like, let's do a little song. And I remember nothing about it. So I'm in a similar boat in terms of my Viennese memories.
Lizzy:Well, have any of you ever been to a ball or an opera?
Daniel:I'm not that sort of person, Lizzy.
Lizzy:What is that sort of person?
Daniel:Oh, that's a good point. Okay, sort of...
Daniel:Rich, fancy.
Tom:I mean, it can't be that—
Bill:Wears a white bow tie.
Tom:It can't be that it was meant to be a white tie ball, and they got the dress code wrong. That feels like a very obvious answer to the question.
Bill:Or is it one of these things, like, it's white tie, so white tie would be a guest. Black tie, it didn't say he was a guest. Black tie is for...
Tom:The musician.
Bill:the staff. For the musicians. Maybe for a waiter at the ball. And it's a delineation of who wears what tie, so even if he was a guest, maybe he turned up wrong tie, And they went, "Get into the kitchen! We gotta get these hors d'oeuvres out right now! I'm Viennese!" Like that, you know.
Lizzy:I mean, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. That is it, yes.
Tom:It's a dress code difference. You go in white tie as a guest, and you go in a black tie as staff.
Lizzy:Yeah, exactly that, exactly. And Tom, if it's you, you keep the red T-shirt and you put a red tie.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:One thing I've learned is that red shirts, as in shirts with collars, never ever wear them because you look like a particularly naff magician.
SFX:(Lizzy and Bill laugh)
Bill:I get it.
Daniel:This does explain your terrible tricks, Tom.
Daniel:"The dove! It's no longer here! It was here! Honest! Look, it's—" Yeah, rubbish.
Bill:This is one of those things which is like, everybody who's a normal person thinks, "Black bow tie, fancy fancy, look at me, I'm so fancy." Unless you're really fancy where you go, "Black bow tie? Oh. Are you gonna bring the car around?" (ruff-laughs)
SFX:(others laughing)
Bill:There's a level above
Bill:...where black bow tie is so far beneath you.
Tom:Just for record, time to character work: about 23 minutes, more or less.
SFX:(group laughing)
Lizzy:Yes, that's it. Wallace was wearing the appropriate white tie. And Barney was mistaken for a waiter, because they're expected to wear black ties. Spot on.
Tom:Next question is from Rhea. Thank you very much.

In the 1990s, a large facility in Perth, Australia added unnecessary bends and roundabouts to a local road, even though nothing was obscuring the direct route, and it was safe for its many visitors to drive on. What was the safety reason?

I'll say that again.

In the 1990s, a large facility in Perth, Australia added unnecessary bends and roundabouts to a local road, even though nothing was obstructing the direct route, and it was safe for its many visitors to drive on. What was the safety reason?
Bill:I'm going to let somebody else start.
SFX:(Tom and Daniel laugh)
Lizzy:Well, it's in Perth. So, that's Australia. Very big place.
Lizzy:Very long roads, maybe.
Bill:That's true.
Lizzy:Quite hot. I'm suggesting.
Daniel:Thermal expansion during the wint— during the summer. And when they cool down during— They can't— Roads can't expand and shrink by that much, surely? We'd have serious problems with bridges.
Tom:We had a question on the show a long time ago now, which was about the British rail network gaining nine kilometres one summer. And it turns out that is just from expansion of the rails over the entire rail network in a heat wave. It's just— There's nine kilometers more track.
Daniel:And yet in a heat wave, there are far fewer trains, because they go, "Oh, it's too hot. We can't put trains on these, no!"
Tom:Also, I realised a lot later that a lot of that nine kilometers is from expansion joints that are meant to take that expansion. So it's a little bit of a fudge, but...
Daniel:Yeah, it's still good.
Tom:In this case, I'm not sure Australian thermal expansion – which must be a prog rock band –
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom:actually would have that much of a safety effect.
Daniel:Oh, I have ideas.
Bill:What are they? List them all.
SFX:(group laughing)
Daniel:Is it anything to do with animals? Let's start with A, animals.
Bill:Animals, I think, is a very good guess.
Bill:Because the biggest, to me, the biggest reason, if I see a road with unnecessary... twists and turns and extra roundabouts and things, I picture it like chicanes and things like that. It's designed to slow traffic. It's designed to stop people just zooming down. And, there was, and... Hey everybody. There's some of that tricky lateral wording in there, where it said there was no danger to the visitors to this thing. There was— It wasn't just no danger. It's specified to whom there was no danger. So I think there's something sneaky there.
Tom:There is something sneaky there.
Bill:Lizzy, Lizzy knows what it is.
Lizzy:Do I? (laughs)
Daniel:Perfect reaction.
Lizzy:So, if the cars are going— Is it to slow the traffic down? So, animals can cross the road freely and are seen by cars going slower, stopping at roundabouts?
Tom:It is a lovely and entirely self-consistent guess, and if this facility was the Australia Zoo, that might have been why. But it was not the Australia Zoo, and this was not animals.
Daniel:So it's a particular facility.
Bill:Yeah, what is the facility? See, the problem with things being in Perth is that there's nothing in Perth.
Tom:(snickers) Yeah.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom:I've been to Perth. There's really not much in Perth. Sorry to the residents of Perth, both of you.
Bill:Don't worry, there are no residents in Perth!
SFX:(group laughing)
Daniel:Exactly! So in terms of facility, are we talking a fenced-off area, that's owned privately, that has done this?
Tom:Yeah, yeah.
Bill:What are some facilities that exist? Let's list all facilities, and then we can narrow it down.
Daniel:Driving tests?
Lizzy:There are some observatories, aren't there, in Australia for looking at the sky?
Bill:Yeah, yeah, we've got a bunch of stars.
SFX:(group laughing)
Lizzy:Kylie Minogue, yeah. Is it to do with light pollution? Somewhere that would— Although that doesn't make sense, does it?
Daniel:You sort of angle the cars away from the... from the observatories.
Bill:Can't get away!
Tom:I went to one of the desert observatories to film a few months back now, and they have a no headlights policy for exactly that reason. But the road up the hill is twisting and turning. They just have a speed limit, and, you know, drivers get priority. The rule is that, in the daytime, yeah, pedestrians have priority. At night, if you're a pedestrian: Get off the road. They don't have headlights.
Tom:Specifically because it could interfere with the observations.
Bill:How funny. Well, then we've done it.
SFX:(group laughing)
Bill:We tricked Tom into giving us the exact answer because he loves that anecdote.
Tom:I do love that anecdote. I will take any excuse to drop in the Atacama Desert visit. You know, that's a namedrop I can put in.
Bill:Perfect. Is it a very flat area that we're talking about here?
Lizzy:I was thinking it of flatness.
Daniel:Is it something to do with a hill? Because of course all of a sudden, you can't just go directly overhill, you need to wiggle up it and wiggle down it.
Tom:Yeah, this would have to be a flat area.
Daniel:Ooh, have to be.
Tom:And the minute you work out what that facility is, and why it would need to be on flat land, then you have the whole question. There is a reason this says facility.
Daniel:Water park. Gotta go 'round the water park.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:"We've got all this water park, but someone's built a road in the middle of it!"
Bill:Ah, is it— Are we right with that earlier thought? Is it explicitly to slow down traffic to avoid high-speed cars just zooming past?
Bill:We've got nothing!
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom:You're not completely in the wrong ballpark there. But it's not—
Bill:It's a ballpark!
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:But the safety reason is not to slow down cars.
Bill:I don't want to slow down cars. I want to protect animals, we thought, but that doesn't matter.
Daniel:Maybe it's something— Maybe mirages are common then in open desert areas or something like that. If there's not a lot around, then this is maybe to keep you alert, to keep you...
Tom:Still safe to the drivers.
Tom:Still safe to the drivers.
Daniel:But mirages might confuse you about where you are. So it's more to make sure that you know...
Tom:It's not a mirage. But it's being confused about where you are. So if you can put that together with a large, flat facility that will have many visitors in Perth...
Bill:It's a big national park. It's a big...
Tom:Very flat.
Bill:Train station.
Tom:Absolutely flat, has to be.
Bill:What do you need to be flat for?
Lizzy:It's not like an F1 circuit or something, is it?
Bill:Is it a wind farm or a solar farm or a power thing?
Daniel:What do you need absolutely flat land for?
Lizzy:Ice rinks are flat, bowling greens are flat.
Bill:It's a speed testing— It's to drive cars real fast and set new land speed records.
Tom:Oh, something's going real fast down there.
Bill:It's a plane, it's a runway. It's a giant airport.
Tom:It's Perth Airport. So why is Perth Airport changing that long road to have curves and roundabouts?
Daniel:So that you know you're not on the planey bits!
SFX:(group laughing)
Bill:Planes don't land on it!
Daniel:I don't know what it's called, the planey bit, but you said that you're not on the planey bit.
Bill:The runway.
Tom:The runway. Over the years, several pilots on big international flights have mistaken the straight road next to the runway for the runway, and so they added a few bends and some roundabouts just so as they're lining up, they actually line up for the runway.
Bill:That's so cool.
Lizzy:I like that.
Tom:Bill, the final guest question is yours. Whenever you're ready.
Bill:Yes, alright. So this is a listener submitted question. This was sent in by RedCree and Klara. So thank you for sending in a question.

For over 30 years, red deer in Czechia have refused to breed with other red deer a short distance away. Why is this, given that there's only forest and open land between them?

And then one more time.

For over 30 years, red deer in Czechia have refused to breed with other red deer a short distance away. Why is this, given that there is only forest and open land between them?
Tom:I'm really... annoyed about the second part of that question, because I was gonna go, fences...
Daniel:Yeah, river.
Tom:Yeah. But it is only forest and open land between the other deer, okay.
Daniel:Oh deer. I don't know the answer.
Tom:There we go.
Daniel:Just getting that one out the way.
Tom:It's fine. Buck up. You'll be fine.
Bill:♪ Ba-ba-bwah ♪
Lizzy:Shall I round it off with a, doh?
Tom:Doe! Yeah, there we go.
SFX:(group laughing)
Daniel:I was trying to work out that.
Daniel:I don't know much about deer. I saw one in Richmond Park once. They're surprisingly big and scary, the male deers, the huge antlers. Oof!
Tom:Hold on, hold on. They're all male deer. They can't breed because there are no female deer in the entire forest.
Bill:I will say, clue number one for you, they could breed if they met up.
SFX:(group laughing)
Lizzy:If they met up.
Tom:It did say refused. Okay, fine.
Bill:Yeah, refused outright.
Daniel:So, is there a fundamental difference between the two groups? Do they intermingle? It sounds like they're separate groups. Sounds like they don't mingle, even though they might be able to.
Bill:Look, yeah, I would say they don't intermingle. But they are the same type of red deer. There's no... They're just two completely separate deer.
Lizzy:That answers my question about whether one and a half were robot deer meant to spy in a documentary sense on these.
Bill:That's it.
Tom:So what came to my head is there's been some kind of Pavlovian training in there. That the bit between them is a hunting ground, and so the deer refused to cross that ground because historically any time they do, they get shot. But it's not that hunters are permanently there 24/7, ready to take out any deer that dares cross into no man's land. So I don't think that's gonna be right.
Daniel:The area of Czechia is probably important though. You're right.
Lizzy:They're not related, are they? They're... two... Were they once one group of deer? Are we allowed to ask if they were one group that separated into two groups?
Tom:There has been a schism in the deer community.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:There is a long animated drama series about it that's harrowing from the creators of Watership Down, but... (guests crack up)
Bill:I will say that's not a— That's not a bad thought to have. It's an interesting thing to think about.
Daniel:Are the animals— Do we reckon that they're free animals, even though there might not be anything to stop them? Are they sort of captive in some way?
Lizzy:Oh, is it— So they're not like, the one side is old deer, and the other side are new deer. Do they always stay in their areas? They're not like, the kids are over there, that's why we're not mating with them.
SFX:(Tom and Daniel laugh)
Tom:Do deer have a season where they're in heat? And they have unsynchronised somehow? I don't think that makes sense, but I know very little about animal biology?
SFX:(group chuckles)
Bill:Look, I'm sure deer do have a season in which they're in heat. Not an issue in this case.
Bill:I will say, if you kind of just took the things that you were saying and jammed them together a little bit, you've had pretty much all the required ideas to get here.
Bill:So ignore the deer biology, but think about— but stay within the realm of what you've already talked about. And you're not getting too far.
Tom:Is there something that's external to the deer, that's maybe not preventing them, but psychologically, deer psychologically, stopping them from crossing the gap?
Bill:The deer psychology is stopping them from crossing the gap.
Tom:Someone released a load of mountain lions in that area, just in that specific bit of forest.
Daniel:Have they been playing Bambi on loop in open cinemas?
SFX:(others laughing)
Daniel:Outside cinemas?
Bill:I would say, there is nothing stopping them. If a deer right now wanted to go across, if it wanted to, it'd get there. It'd be fine, no worries.
Lizzy:Do deer hold grudges?
Tom:I was gonna say!
SFX:(group laughing)
Bill:You're on the right track.
Tom:It's like those two families in the folk story. You know, the ones that have been warring with each other for so long, they've forgotten what the original slight was about, but they still hate the MacFarlanes down the street.
Bill:You guys are getting really close.
Lizzy:Did something happen on a stag do?
Tom:Eyyy! Yes.
SFX:(Bill and Daniel laugh)
Tom:And anyone outside of the Commonwealth just went, "What's a stag do?"
SFX:(guests laughing)
Bill:In Australia, it's a buck's night.
Tom:Oh, so that still works?
Bill:Still works.
Tom:Bachelor party for North America.
Bill:You're right on the edge.
Bill:It's not about vengeance and grudges though. These aren't star-crossed deer.
Tom:We're all trying to think of a Romeo and Juliet deer pun now, aren't we? We really are, all of us.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:There was silence for several seconds while I was like, "Deer-cutio?" No it doesn't quite—
Bill:They're two houses both alike in dig... Dig— Dee—
SFX:(group clamouring)
Bill:It doesn't quite go.
Daniel:I never liked Shakespeare.
Tom:That's fine, he doesn't like you.
Daniel:(wheezes) It's nothing to do with The Sound of Music. All I've got is "A doe, a deer, a female deer" going around in my head. But that's not Czechia, is it? It's the Alps. Do they, do the deer look the same?
Bill:The deer are, for all intents and purposes, the same type of deer. They look the same. They act the same. In fact, they both have the same psychological holdover that's keeping them apart.
Daniel:So is it something like a bit of history about the particular piece of land?
Daniel:What happened?
Lizzy:Oh my god! Was a fence there originally? And then they just took the fence away, and then they were like, "Oh, shouldn't there be a fence there?" Have they remembered it?
Bill:Yeah, so... You've got it. There used— This used to be— Fun fact, here's the little hidden—
Tom:An electric fence?
Bill:An electric fence.
Daniel: Oh.
Lizzy:It is a bit Pavlovian then, is it?
Bill:It is fun. It is Pavlovian, but it's also generational. The fence has been gone longer than any of these deer have ever been alive. It is a learned behaviour from their parent deer, and their parent deer back from when the fence was there. And they have taught them, you know, anything the light touches is ours, but don't go into the shadowlands.

The fun little, for people playing along at home, the fun lateral trick in this question was it was red deer in Czechia have refused to de— breed with other deer a short distance away. This was a national border that used to have an electric fence between Czechia and Germany.
Tom:The final part of the show then. At the start, I asked:

As a regular traveller, Esther puts a shoe in the room safe each time she checks into a new hotel room. Why?

Does anyone want to take a quick shot at that?
Daniel:Shoe salesperson.
Bill:I was thinking maybe to make sure she doesn't leave without her stuff, because she can't— 'cause you'll notice a shoe.
Tom:Yep, absolutely right. She will notice she's missing a shoe, which will remind her to check the safe, which will remind her to get her valuables out of the safe when she leaves. Spot on, Bill. Congratulations.

With that, thank you to all three of our players. And Bill, we will start with you. What are you up to? Where can people find you?
Bill:Yeah, look, if you wanna check out Escape This Podcast, a show where we take guests and make them play through audio escape rooms, Google Escape This Podcast or go to Check it out.
Lizzy:Yep, I'm with Degrees of Error, doing my show Murder, She Didn't Write. So if you like murder mysteries that are different every time, come and check us out on the insta-socials, the internet.
Tom:And Dan.
Daniel:You can find me on Twitch at quizzydan. I stream a few evenings a week, various puzzles, quizzes and games.
Tom:And if you want to know more about this show, you can go to, where you can also send in your own ideas for questions. We are at @lateralcast basically everywhere, and there are video highlights three times a week at

With that, thank you very much to Daniel Peake.
Daniel:Thank you.
Tom:Lizzy Skrzypiec.
Lizzy:Thank you.
Tom:And Bill Sunderland.
Bill:Thank you.
Tom:I've been Tom Scott, and that's been Lateral.
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