Notes & Queries
is a weekly column in The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...
which publishes readers' questions together with (often humorous) answers submitted by other readers.
The column first appeared on November 13, 1989, and was the idea of leader writer and columnist David McKie
David McKie is a British journalist and historian. He was deputy editor of The Guardian and continued to write a weekly column for that paper until 4 October 2007, with the byline "Elsewhere". Until 10 September 2005, he also wrote a second weekly column, under the pseudonym "Smallweed"...
and Alan Rusbridger
Alan Charles Rusbridger is the editor of the British newspaper The Guardian. He has also been a reporter and a columnist.-Early life:...
, then newly appointed as features editor of the paper. David McKie says he was inspired by seeing an information exchange notice board outside the poetry library at the Royal Festival Hall
The Royal Festival Hall is a 2,900-seat concert, dance and talks venue within Southbank Centre in London. It is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames, not far from Hungerford Bridge. It is a Grade I listed building - the first post-war building to become so protected...
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Although originally envisaged as a serious column, Notes & Queries
quickly became known for the bizarre and whimsical nature of its questions and the wit and humour of its answers. Spin offs from the column include six books and two BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...
television series. It has also given rise to various imitations and parodies.
The very first question to appear in Notes & Queries
- How do you stop a neighbour's cat scratching up your garden?
As well as serious answers, one reply was "Concrete one or the other
", thereby setting the tone for subsequent answers (and subsequently questions). Other notable questions that have been featured include:
- How can I weigh my head?
- Why is water wet?
- Are slugs edible?
- Is this a question?
Commenting on the continuing popularity of the column, its founding editor Brian Whitaker
Brian Whitaker has been a journalist for the British newspaper The Guardian since 1987 and its Middle East editor from 2000-2007. He is currently an editor on the paper's "Comment Is Free". He also writes articles for Guardian Unlimited, the internet edition of the paper...
- "If Notes & Queries has any serious purpose, it is surely to promote a healthy scepticism about what we see in print."
- The Weirdest Ever Notes & Queries edited by Joseph Harker (Forth Estate, 1997) ISBN 1-85702-778-7
- Notes & Queries: v. 4 edited by Brian Whitaker (Fourth Estate, 1993) ISBN 1-85702-160-6
- Notes & Queries: v. 3 edited by Brian Whitaker (Fourth Estate, 1992) ISBN 1-85702-052-9
- Notes & Queries: v. 2 edited by Brian Whitaker (Fourth Estate, 1992) ISBN 1-872180-34-5
- Notes & Queries: v. 1 edited by Brian Whitaker (Fourth Estate, 1992) ISBN 1-872180-22-1