Friday, 4 June 2010

About six foot, incidentally.

A couple of days ago, because of the odd job I have, I needed to know roughly how long a giraffe's neck is. But, as a friend of mine has already brilliantly illustrated, when you're halfway through typing a phrase like that into Google, it starts suggesting the things that most people who start a question that way have gone on to ask, in a way that looks rather like a poem. It's quite an arresting snapshot of a world of curious people:

How long is a g-

How long is a generation?
How long is a governor's term?
How long is a giraffe's neck?
How long is a giraffe's tongue?
How long is a goldfish's memory?
How long is a girl's period?
How long is a great white shark?
How long is a good nap?

Did anyone else see the nap coming? I didn't. Until then, it was pretty clearly a precocious but bashful child trying to slip the question he really wants to ask in a barrage of camouflaging stuff about animals. But then right at the end, he suddenly becomes about 75. And sleepy.

Anyway, obviously I now had to go through the rest of the alphabet. Here are my two favourites. In both cases, as in the above, I've removed some obvious repetition, but otherwise left it untouched.

How long is a kilometer?
How long is a killer whale?
How long is a keg good for?
How long is a king size bed?
How long is a klick?
How long is a king cobra?
How long is a kitten a kitten?

See, once again, it saves the best till last - just as you're getting worried about what kind of grotesque stunt, or possibly illegal fight, these frat boys are planning to stage with their whale and their cobra and their beer and their bed... suddenly out of nowhere comes that adorable meditation on the precious transience of kittenhood. 

Ok, last one. For this one, I like to imagine it as a dialogue, with one person insistently asking the first seven questions, and the other finally answering with the eighth.

How long is a passport good for?
How long is a paragraph?
How long is a pregnancy?
How long is a patent good for?
How long is a prescription good for?
How long is a p90x workout?
How long is a platypus's bill?
How long is a piece of string?

6 comments:

Ross Bennett said...

I thoroughly enjoy your notion of reading these as conversations.

I've been reading Russell T. Davies notes on writing this week. One of his observations provoked a big light-bulb moment for me. He notes that "a conversation is really just a collision of two monologues." And "the opposite of talking isn't listening; it's waiting to talk." Your Google search conversations bear that out really well.

It's fun, this line of work you're in. It's fun to watch, as well. Especially when it puts further questions into one's head such as, Why on Earth would anyone be taking a giraffe to Fitton airfield? Wouldn't that be extremely dangerous? Would they make it wear some kind of vest?

Fitzboodle's Mum said...

...and all I googled was where to purchase recordings of 'Cabin Pressure' for, as yet, an unenlightened friend whose Radio 4 comedy moments have somehow bypassed this brilliant series. Now, alas, I too am reliving moments of red mist as the haphazardly placed apostrophes, italics and commas of the high street flood back to me. Ooh! it just shouldn't be allowed.

Ross Bennett said...

I just revisited Limerick and Fitton last night; two of the very best twelve ever. Twenty or more times I've listened to these, and they still catch me off guard and elicit a rare out-loud laugh.

While you're Googling, look for Episode 20 of the Rum Doings podcast (with guest John Finnemore) if you haven't already. The most insightful discussion on the nature and principles comedy since John Cleese's talk on the nature of comedy some twenty years ago.

Now. Who wants to trade recipes for Surprising Rice?

Geegee said...

My personal favourite on Google search at the moment is 'How do...'

how do you know when your in love
how do you make a group on facebook
how do u snog
how do you get pregnant
how do i vote
how do i find my ip address
how do i know if im pregnant
how do i delete google history
how do i register to vote
how do volcanoes erupt

... I'm sure there's a few good stories in there somewhere.

peter said...

My personal favourite on Google search at the moment is 'How do...'

how do you know when your in love
how do you make a group on facebook
how do u snog
how do you get pregnant
how do i vote
how do i find my ip address
how do i know if im pregnant
how do i delete google history
how do i register to vote
how do volcanoes erupt

... I'm sure there's a few good stories in there somewhere. http://basiclifeneed.blogspot.com/

Amelia said...

Many I've found include:
what is a foot?
how to boil water?
how to count to ten?
are there tigers in Africa?
are there unicorns in the Bible?
Why does an alarm clock go 'off' when it is actually 'on'?
Are unicorns just weaponised ponies?
And, probably my favourite:
What is Hitler's last name?