May Ashworth’s grandson Ben John, a 25-year-old from Wigan, found her laptop open and took a photo of the unusually polite online request. She was asking for a translation of the Roman numerals MCMXCVIII. He then tweeted the photo which has been retweeted more than 11,000 times.
He told the BBC he and his boyfriend do not have a clothes dryer so they go to Ashworth’s house for their laundry.
“I asked my nan why she used ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and it seemed she thinks that there is someone – a physical person – at Google’s headquarters who looks after the searches.
“She thought that by being polite and using her manners, the search would be quicker,” he said.
Google tweeted back: ‘Dearest Ben's Nan. Hope you're well. In a world of billions of Searches, yours made us smile.
‘Oh, and it's 1998.’