NEED help with your packing? Want to know the best fishing spots in Greece, the size of Prince Charles’s feet or how to stop the buzzing noise in your apartment? Well, don’t treat the UK Foreign Office as a “concierge service” – British holidaymakers and expats have been warned.
FO consular staff, who featured in a recent UK television series, offer invaluable help to travellers abroad who encounter serious issues as the victims or perpetrators of crime.
But that doesn’t seem to stop people from contacting them about weather forecasts, booking tickets and what clothes to take on holiday.
Or asking for Phil Collins’ phone number (Spain), selling a house (Sofia), how to get rid of ants (Florida) or how to build a chicken coop (Greece).
One man in Spain even asked if staff could contact a dominatrix who had left him stranded at an airport. (I bet that caused a bit of an, er, backlash … )
Now, some see these weird requests as yet another example of the Nanny State in which dumbing down has plumbed new depths.
But I don’t agree. In this increasingly chaotic, fast-changing world, we need all the help we can get.
That’s why I take every official pronouncement most seriously and follow every piece of advice most rigorously.
Which I’m happy now to pass on to you. Always make sure you eat six, or maybe seven…or is it eight … no wait, …five pieces of fruit and vegetables each day. Never, ever drink more than one small glass of low-alcohol wine a day. Keep your daily coffee intake under two cups.
Hang on,… make that one cup, just to be totally safe.
Be extremely careful when making ‘jokes’. It is very likely you will offend someone which could be dangerous both for you and society at large.
If in doubt, seek advice from the approved website “It’s healthy to laugh, but not at others”.
Ensure you always wear a name badge – it’s so easy to lose your identity.
Just think: Greece could by now be the world’s greatest exporter of chicken coops and thus have single-handedly saved itself from the Eurozone crisis and never-ending bailouts, had it not been for whoever was manning the phones that day at the British Consulate …
Nora Johnson’s novels, Soul Stealer & The De Clerambault Code (www.nora-johnson.com) now also available at Amazon.es in paperback and eBook (€0.89; Amazon UK: £0.77). Profits to Cudeca