Posted: 1:48 am ET
We are a huge fan of the UKFCO’s annual report on consular requests from British citizens overseas. We kept waiting for the State Department to release it own report. (See UKFCO: Straight Talk on Consular Work, and Consuls Don’t Do Chicken Coops, All right? and British Foreign Service Tackles Bizarre Requests: Monkey, Tattoo, Online Love and More).
On April 7, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office released the top ten weirdest consular calls it received this past year. Not quite as memorable as the listicle that the former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs once cited when he gave a speech on the role of the British consular service:
I have to say that we are not the people to turn to:
- if you can’t find your false teeth,
- if your sat nav is broken and you need directions,
- if you are unhappy with your plastic surgery,
- if your jam won’t set, if you are looking for a dog-minder while you are on holiday,
- if your livestock need checking on,
- if you would like advice about the weather,
- or if you want someone to throw a coin into the Trevi fountain for you because you forgot while you were on holiday and you want your marriage to succeed.
- And our commitment to good relations with our neighbours does not, I am afraid, extend to translating ‘I love you’ into Hungarian, as we were asked to do by one love-struck British tourist. There are easier ways to find a translation.
The list below seems pretty tame:
UK Foreign Office’s Top 10 Weirdest Consular Calls — Bacon, Butlers and Spanish Nudists via fco.gov.uk.
Confused callers looked to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for advice on bizarre issues ranging from where to buy English bacon in Europe, how to recruit a butler in Lebanon and how to avoid nudists in southern Spain, it has been revealed.
The FCO has released details of the ten weirdest consular calls it has received in the past year, as a reminder to the public that they should only look to use its services for genuine emergencies.
The calls included:
- a man planning to move to Spain who was worried he would encounter nudists walking through the streets
- a homesick expat asking where he could buy English bacon
- a lady in Lebanon looking for help to recruit an English butler
- a holidaymaker trying to find Travel Advice for a visit to Coventry
- a European filmmaker looking for an English pensioner to play a part in his new film
- a woman who was disappointed the British Embassy has not sent someone to give her a tour of St. Petersburg on her arrival in Russia
- a British man asking for assistance to get illegal employment in Singapore
- a mother asked for the contact details of a young British YouTuber, as her son was a fan of his Minecraft videos
- a confused businessman looking for information on the construction of plug sockets
- a man in South Korea asking what he could do with his old pound notes
Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister James Duddridge said:
Our consular staff are a helpful bunch and do an amazing job helping out Brits in trouble around the world – but it is important that people remember they are there to help with genuine emergencies and not as an alternative to directory enquiries.
Every minute they spend handling a call requesting advice on butlers or nudists is time taken away from dealing with life and death cases, so I urge the public to think before picking up the phone.
Latest FCO figures show that over the last year almost half a million calls were made to its consular service –which provides emergency help to Britons in trouble overseas.
The vast majority were from people with genuine requests and the FCO assisted with numerous cases, helping 3,250 Brits who were hospitalised, 4,770 who were arrested, and the families of 3,670 who died overseas. Almost 38,000 replacement travel documents were issued.
FCO staff are able to support Brits abroad in many ways – including arranging to visit Brits in hospital or in prison, advising on how to transfer money and helping those caught up in crisis situations. However, recent research* revealed that almost three quarters of Brits (74%) thought the FCO could get them out of jail if they were arrested, almost a quarter (22%) thought the FCO could arrange for them to get home if they lost their ticket and 15% presumed the FCO would lend them money if theirs was lost or stolen.