The other day I very belatedly installed a programme that provides statistics on this site, telling me how many visitors have alighted here, which posts they have looked at, and so on. The most amusing feature is of course the list of search terms, typed into Google or some other engine, which have brought the innocent and unwitting to the big iron gates of Hooting Yard. I am preparing a post on this topic, which should appear in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, however, I was startled by one item in today’s list of “search terms people used to find your blog”. It is this:

is frank key will self? hooting yard

Well, to whomsoever typed that, the answer is a resounding: No, of course not.

Although I would like to add that towards the fag end of last year, I went to see an art installation called Seizure. It was located in a derelict and abandoned housing estate in southeast London and, because it had gained rather a lot of publicity, I thought it would be a good idea to arrive early to avoid being at the end of a long and straggly queue. On the morning of my visit, however, the rain was teeming down and Pansy Cradledew and I were only the second people to arrive. Ahead of us was a family group, and I recognised among them the tall lugubrious figure of Will Self. Shortly thereafter, I discovered that my cigarette lighter was kaput. So I asked Mr Self for a light. In the downpour, he twice tried unsuccessfully to light my cigarette, grumbled miserably about lighting his own cigarette first and, having done so, proceeded to light mine. I said thank you, and he carried on moaning to his family about the rain. So, although I am not Will Self, he did light my cigarette in a downpour.

13 thoughts on “Self-Realisation

  1. I have posted on my own search terms a few times, with some strange results. I was recently intrigued to find that the search term ‘baby swallowed tin foil’ led to my site (how I don’t know) – though not a little disturbed by the possibility that people might be trying to solve their baby-foil problems by scrolling through a website about obscure European literature. By drawing attention to this search term, however, I seem to have doubled the chances of people turning up at my blog after such an accident, since rising to no.4 on google for that particular term. Thanks to this, I am now beseiged daily by those seeking answers to tin-foil swallowing infants, fast becoming the world authority on something about which I know nothing.
    In light of this, I must advise caution when it comes to search-term stories: by drawing attention to the peculiar ways in which people arrive at your door you open up the possibility of more people entering that way.

  2. G Riecke : A cautionary tale indeed. It was suggested to me by the Hooting Yard Web Boffin – the person who actually installed the statistics programme for me – that I write a piece including all the more arcane search terms, to see what the effect would be. Your comment has pointed to the likely outcome.

    Meanwhile, I am tempted to insert the phrase “baby swallowed tin foil” into a story in an attempt to poach some of your visitors and perhaps eventually to compete with you as a world authority on this pressing issue.

  3. Your meeting with Mr. Self provoked me to remember ‘When Bodgett met Dobson’ and that Mr. Self is the only other writer, in my limited literary collection, to have have used the word ‘shibboleth’…
    I am tempted to seek out the meaning of this peculiar word but my pocket dictionary is an integral part of the support structure for the shelf that my limited literary collection is stood on…
    It’s a conundrum and no mistake…
    To die in ignorance or under a landslide of knowledge…


  4. I think I will have already directed some of the baby-foil traffic your way simply by commenting here, though you are quite welcome to use the phrase as often as you wish. It must be said that a fair few of my favourite search-terms have always seemed to me like readymade Frank Key story titles (to cite a couple of examples: ‘excerpt of a pig farm structure’ and ‘crocodile poo dung made counterfeit’)

    P.S. It turns out, on closer inspection, that the term to which I referred earlier was not ‘baby swallowed tin foil’ but ‘baby swallowed tin foil by mistake’ (for which I rank no. 1 in google). One warms to the notion that some babies might have swallowed tin-foil on purpose.

  5. Frank : Now that you are looking at search terms they can be used as a medium of communication! This many-to-one inverse of Twittering probably has a name already, but I propose calling it “Gibbering.” Gibbering is just a matter of typing a carefully crafted message into Google and visiting one of your pages from one the search results. A Gibber obviously has to be on a topic that you have already brought up or it has no way reach you. (Unless one thinks ahead and STEPHEN FRY MUNICIPAL WATER TANK plants the right keywords in a comment.)

  6. If people are searching for ‘baby swallowed tin foil by mistake’ it suggests that they are o.k. with a baby swallowing tin-foil on purpose?

    I find the metallurgical sloppiness of people calling “aluminum foil” “tin foil” somewhat galling. Do modern education hubs not teach people to identify these most common of base-metals?

    Had they simply google-searched for “aluminum toxicity” they would quickly learn that this lustrous metal is one of the most poisonous substances known to man. They would learn that ingestion usually leads to sudden and painful death… with foaming mouth and bogging-eyes.

    Google would most likely advise them to get their child baptized quickly least it’s tiny soul end up in purgatory for ever and ever.

    Yours in Christ,


  7. G Riecke, Hooting Yard is now the top Google search result for “baby swallowed tin foil by mistake” and in second place for “baby swallowed tin foil”. You didn’t bring up the subject just to pass on the burden did you?

  8. This makes perfect sense…
    I feel that should any infant, selflessly assisting with my research, ‘accidently’ ingest it’s aluminum foil cranial screening helmet, I would rather consult Hooting Yard, in the hope that Dobson had scribbled some misguided advice about how to deal with the situation, rather than the vast dusty tomes of obscure European literature…
    Excuse me while I fabricate a ‘Will Self Smoking Comestibles Igniter’…


  9. Outa_Spaceman, please fabricate Frank a hefty Tin Foil First Aid Kit first, it is far more urgent. Hooting Yard is now the first port of call for an unimaginable range of tin foil related disasters. If you do not believe me, type “Will Self swallowed my tin foil baby!” into Google and press I’m feeling Lucky.

  10. Glyn, your observation skills are in fine fettle today.

    May I also add that if you search for something and it takes you to Hooting Yard, always click on the green up-arrow you may see to the right of the search result. That will ensure that other searchers are propelled ineffably towards Hooting Yard.


  11. I’ve now got as far as the conceptual drawings for the ‘Will Self Tin Foil Baby Swallow Cigarette Lighting Lucifer’


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