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'Oh', I lamented in my chair for the fourth time that fine summer's evening, 'Dear Jeeves.... - will you ever learn?'
Alas, no, it seems. Jeeves, my internet butler, far from serving me, his master, with any information from the internet I so desire, will be served himself with his P45.
I suspect Jeeves has had the tantalus keys copied: I'm sure I could detect the smell of sherry when he told me with a straight face I can buy curtains from an Irish Estate Agent.
This is the thing with Jeeves. The site makes a big play about the fact that Jeeves is an intelligent "being". Jeeves, apparently, exists to tame the Internet for you. His only wish is to make your experience of it more rewarding and therefore more enjoyable.
Lofty ideals, yet Jeeves proves somewhat challenged in the cranial department.
According to Jeeves himself (although he doesn't like to blow his own trumpet, naturally sir) HE is the web's foremost question answerer, and can answer questions that are difficult or easy, large or small, deadly serious or out of the ordinary, on subjects of every kind.
Jeeves is blessed with an unusually well-developed memory, and stows the answers to questions he has previously answered so that he can re-use these answers again. In this way, Jeeves aims to become more intelligent - and "know the answers to the questions before you even ask them" which would be quite a feat if it worked. Instead, Jeeves comes back with answers ranging from the sublime (Jeeves: 'Looking for sublime? Try Ebay') to the ridiculous (Jeeves: 'BBC News, UK Politics, GM Crop Code')
I've tried insulting my butler with antagonistic banter but like a true professional he won't rise to it. I volunteered the following to get a rise...
'You ridiculous butler', I said. He came back with 'How should a butler care for silver?' along with, lower down his list 'The Honorable Torpedo Joe', which I reckon must be an 'in' joke amoungst butlers.
'You're fired, Jeeves', I said. He returned (7th line) 'Where can I find encyclopedic resources on firewalking' - which I thought was quite witty for the old codger.
However my anger was not abated.
'You geriatric old sod!" I shouted at it (thumping the keys - IN CAPITALS!) Jeeves then played a very clever mind trick here, and asked himself: "Jeeves, what does the obscure word geriatrics mean?"
Sorry Jeeves, but I'm not going to play god damn mind games with a computer! Especially one that claims to know the answers to 7 million questions!!
Sometimes (OK, very frequently) Jeeves doesn't know the answer to the question you're asking, so he asks his friends at partner engines Mirago and ESpotting. These usually come back with something resembling what you're looking for.
Jeeves isn't google: it's nowhere near as fast and far less comprehensive. However there is something unique about Jeeves, and although the software and company was founded by an American, he is based on the celebrated PG Wodehouse valet Jeeves, butler to Bertie Wooster. For the very Britishness I think we, as a country, should back Jeeves.
He is the British Rail of search engines - slow, sporadically reliable and frequently nonsensical. But he's our Jeeves. Our good old British Jeeves. And remind me to read through this next time I'm cursing the useless old fool.