Whale of a Time

I found this story on an episode of QI (series M, episode “Middle Muddle”). This is just a quick one today, but I hope what it lacks in length it makes up in bat-shit insanity.

Apparently in the late nineteenth century, there was a craze for standing inside a dead whale.

This started in 1896, when a drunken Australian stood in a hole in the carcass of a dead whale. As you do. For a lark. Because everything seems like a good idea when you’re drunk.

Evidently, this gentleman had been a long sufferer of rheumatism. After climbing out of the dead whale hole, he felt instantly better and claimed his rheumatism had been cured. There is no medical evidence to back this up in any way.

Regardless, it started a brief trend of people with rheumatism climbing in and out of dead whales for their magical healing properties.

I would give anything to be able to show the old photograph they had on the show, but I can’t find it. Anyone out there able to locate it?


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2 Responses to Whale of a Time

  1. Gillian B says:


    If you go to Trove and search the newspapers for Eden Whale Rheumatism and select Illustraed, you’ll get this and a bundle of others with drawings.


    (Yes, I’ve just found your blog and am procrastinating about going to bed. Can you tell?)


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