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British embassies tired of bizarre requests

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British embassies tired of bizarre requests

Old 13th Aug 2009, 14:35
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British embassies tired of bizarre requests

Hilarious

LONDON (AFP) - Help! I've just had my breasts enlarged and I don't like the new size. British embassy -- sort out my boobs!

Along with tips on jam-making and how best to discipline naughty boys, these are just a few of the bonkers requests being fired at British embassies around the world, the Foreign Office said on Thursday.

The country's 261 diplomatic missions across the globe are getting fed up of bizarre demands for help from Brits abroad, some of whom seem to think the British embassy is an agency for finding lost sunglasses and paying bills.

"If you have a serious problem abroad -- maybe you've been involved in an accident, have lost your passport or are a victim of crime -- we can help you," said Juliet Maric, the British Consul in Alicante on the Spanish east coast.

"But we can't tell you who is allowed to use your swimming pool, pay your taxi fares for you -- or do anything about the exchange rate.

"We regularly get enquiries from people who think we're a one-stop-shop for any problem they might encounter while abroad; this can be frustrating as we need to focus resources on the serious cases that we're there to help with."

One lady, unhappy with the size of her newly-boosted breasts following surgery, asked if the embassy could help.

A mother asked the Florida consulate to help her teenage son pack his suitcase and give him a lift to the airport as he was feeling unwell.

One person called in consular assistance to find out what ratio of fruit to sugar should be used when making jam.

A holidaymaker in Italy asked the embassy where a particular brand of shoes could be bought.

Other requests have included asking for embassy staff to pay a bill when a credit card had "maxed out" and a traveller asking "Can you tell me how to make my naughty son behave?"

"Our embassies are not there to provide weather reports or give advice on unruly children," said consular affairs minister Chris Bryant.

"It's important that British nationals understand what the Foreign Office can and can't do for them."
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 14:50
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"If you have a serious problem abroad -- maybe you've been involved in an accident, have lost your passport or are a victim of crime -- we can help you," said Juliet Maric, the British Consul in Alicante on the Spanish east coast.
Having been 'stuck' in warzones with a very young Miss ZFT and received sod all assistance and various other genuine 'mishaps' over the past 40 or so years I can assure you the very LAST place one should ever go for assistance is a British Embassy. They are all a bunch of overpaid and underworked civil servants.
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 14:52
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The staff at the embassy in Thailand didn't cover themselves with glory in the 2004 tsunami aftermath.

Although some of these requests are patently ridiculous there are certainly some people in the FO (good acronym) who need to cut back on the gin and get their sh*t together!
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 14:54
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They never came to help me whenever I got thrown in a
cell for being drunk. Despite repeated calls!!!!

Bl**dy Useless.

Drove me to give up drinking.
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 15:03
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British boobs

Help! I've just had my breasts enlarged and I don't like the new size. British embassy -- sort out my boobs!
Not exactly the same thing but an American colleague of mine had one her breasts deflate (implant issue).

American embassy worked swiftly to help expedite her repatriation to the tender care of her cosmetic surgeon!

Imagine trying to swing that one with one of the boobies at a British Embassy?
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 15:05
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They'd have let the other one down to match it.
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 15:07
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I bet she never tyres of hearing that one.

Suffice it to say she came in for quite a bit of ribbing when her equilibrium was restored.
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 15:27
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Storminnorm,

"Drove me to give up drinking."

Don't be silly old chap - nothing would do that apart from death by liver failure.
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 15:30
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Lightning, Just joking old chap, dontcherknow.
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 16:54
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A few years ago:

Wife renews UK passport at Madrid Embassy.

Next time thru Stansted she gets arrested.

After hours in the clink she's allowed to go - sans passport. Never told why she was held, why her passport was confiscated.

VERY helpful and friendly lady in UK Passport Office gets her a replacement in a few days.

Sniffing around, I couldn't get any official answer but it seems a worker in Madrid had been flogging off blank passports, all with the same name/details pre-inserted but you insert your own photograph and wrap the magic transparent film over it. Does that make sense ?

Probably not. But there were at least three duplicates floating around Europe....

Of course this could NEVER happen nowadays with the chip-and-coil on the back of the details page. You know, the chip that absolutely never never can be read at a distance by Dutch university hackers.

Trust me. You're better off with a fake Polish passport...
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 19:05
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My Passport was issued In Madrid. I pass through the UK frequently.

It is the only country in the world where my passport gets a double taker along with a squint, enquiring glance from the UK Border staff, every single time bar none.

I have asked several times what the problem is, the reply is always the same.
" Nothing really, nothing to worry about"
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 19:32
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El Grifo: my passport was issued at Madrid a couple of years ago and I get the same attention as you after it's been scanned by UK passport control. Strange...
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 20:08
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Well, I was nearly a full time resident of lovely Great Britain once and not by choice.

When we moved to England my brother and I traveled internationally with our pictures on our mother's passport, we had no individual passport because of our age. While in England I became of age to have my own passport, I believe then it was the age of ten. So my father and I went to the US Embassy and I received my own passport. So, everything is good, right?

No. About two months after I received my passport we decided to go the Continent for a two week vacation. Back then you had to clear in and out of the country. So my father flew us Dover so we could clear customs on our way to France, we were in a single engine aircraft and Dover to Calais was obviously the shortest over-water crossing from England to France and that is why my father choose there to cross the Channel.

We land in Dover, go the customs shed to be processed out of country. I was allowed to go to the front of the rest of the family because I anxious to receive my first custom's stamp in my brand new passport. All I really remember of the custom's officer was an unsmiling face and a very officious attitude. He looked through the pages of my passport two or three times. Then he puts my passport on his desk, looks at my father and declares that I will not be allowed to leave England.

My father had a history of, well let's us say, not suffering fools or petty low level officious civilian government employees gladly. My father in a WTF are you talking about tone of voice, inquired just as to the reason his son, referring to a now very frightened young boy, me, cannot in fact leave England? The reply from the custom's officer was that the reason I would not be allowed to leave England was because, wait for it,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I did not have an entry visa/stamp in my passport. Well duh, it was issued by the US Embassy in London, 'of course there was no entry visa/stamp in his blasted passport' my father responded. My father did not use the term blasted by the way, the words he used would not be appropriate or suitable for young ears.

Now compounding this problem, it was a Sunday. There was no higher customs official on duty and only a skeleton staff on duty at the Embassy. After a few more minutes of discussions with the custom's officer my father decided that he was wasting his time. So he went to a phone that hanging on the wall next to where my mother, little brother and I were sitting and started making phone calls.

Now on the first few calls the language my father used forced my mother to cover the ears of my little brother, look at me and roll her eyes. Finally the tone of my father's voice changed and there were a lot "Yes sir, correct sir," and finally a relieved "Thank you Sir!" My father hangs up the phone, walks back to the custom's officer with a smile on his face that I had learn to know very well, the famous 'your a$$ is grass and I have a very big lawn mower' meaning.

My father leans over the desk, picks up my passport and tells the custom's officer something in a low voice that we cannot hear. When Dad comes back to us my mother asks what did he say to the officer, my father replied, 'I just told him that the phone on his desk would ring in three minutes' with a sh!t eating grin on his face.

Sure enough the phone on the desk rings about two minutes later. For the first time in my young life I saw a person's face go from a normal completion, to a bright red face and then turn totally pale.

Needless to say, my passport was stamped and we headed across the Channel to France.

Oh, as we were walking back out to our aircraft my mother asked just who had my father called, he replied 'Henry', my mother stopped and incredulously asked, "You called the Ambassador, the Ambassador?" My father just kept walking and replied, 'Yup, he owes me some favors and I cashed one in, let's go or we'll miss happy hour in France'.

We made happy hour in France.


(Oh, one more thing, I learned a lot of new neat words that day. However, I did get into lot of trouble when caught using them by an adult.)
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 20:35
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I am unimpressed by border officials here in the UK but the ones in the US are just as bad and, in my experience, can ruder than the UK variety.

On entry to Miami once I was questioned at length as to why I had so little luggage!

Fortunately I managed to muster up more humour than luggage and I was allowed on my way after getting a grilling that Pablo Escobar might have warranted.

I guess it takes a special kind of mentality to man borders anywhere in the world!
 
Old 13th Aug 2009, 22:01
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I am unimpressed by border officials here in the UK but the ones in the US are just as bad and, in my experience, can ruder than the UK variety.
In my extensive travels all over the world I have encountered rudeness when I was not expecting it and very friendly professional service where I least expected it. My story was not directed at the UK Customs service as a typical example, in fact in my experiences since then with UK Customs officers (some 50 years of such now) had been nothing but quick and very friendly service.

The only time I ever had any trouble in China was once when we were leaving China going to Singapore. At first we had a young guy that was upset with us, our interpreter told me that the customs officer was telling her that we had overstayed our visa, which of course was total nonsense. The customs guy made a phone call and kept scowling at us while he was on the phone. A few minutes later this very attractive Chinese lady comes up, dressed in the same type uniform as the guy was but with a lot more stars on her shoulder boards, she gives us a rather indifferent look and looks at our paperwork. After she finishes looking she takes the guy with her into an office that was right next to where we were standing.

No sooner than the door had closed we could her yelling at the guy, it went on so long I was beginning to feel sorry for the guy, after about three minutes she comes out of the office alone and then in excellent English, apologizes to us, stamps all of the paper work and then with a pleasant smile on her face wishes us a safe trip.

As we were leaving the terminal I asked our interpreter if could hear what the lady custom's officer had said to the young guy for those three of four minutes. In typical inscrutable Oriental fashion she replied, "The superior officer informed the young officer that he was wrong."

"For three minutes?" I asked. She just kept looking at me, so I said, "Okay."
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 22:38
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On balance, Miami is probably one of the worst there is.

In the months after 9/11 (11/9) it was staffed by a bunch of buzzcut blackshirts who would have been the envy of Adolf and his boys any day.

As time went on, they re-staffed with avuncular old souls who brought a sense of humanity back to transiting through MIA.

That did not last long. I promised I would never transit throught that most facist of airports again. It was a handy transit from Europe to the Caribbean however.

Earlier this year I had to travel from Dom Rep to Jamaica.

I had very little choice other than to transit through MIA once more.

I was met by the blackshirt, buzzcut lot again, this time with serious attitude.

I am forced to carry a selection of photo gear on my travels, which occasionally attracts attention.

Rather than declare my real intentions, I always declare "Camera Nutjob" It makes my life easier.

On this particular occasion the blackshirt, buzzcut, facist took umbrage that I could apparently travel the world at my whim, snapping snaps to my hearts content without the normal restrictions of a normal job.

The little prick ordered a full search, which of course produced nothing out of the ordinary.

As I departed the area, he subtly flicked me the bird.

Give me the squint look and the double passport scan of the UK anytime.

Psycho, Blackshirt, Buzzcut facists, I can do without

Cheers
El G.
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 22:38
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Con, I wonder if it took her 3 minutes to explain to the young customs officer that the US writes the day and month in numbers in dates a different way to most other countries.
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 22:50
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As I departed the area, he subtly flicked me the bird.
Wait, politely, until all of their work is done.

Then, politely, ask to speak with his supervisor.

If there's no time, ask, politely, for his name and TSA credentials. A nice, polite letter to the TSA, copied on the letter to, say, the Miami Chamber of Commerce, or a news outlet, might just ruin this turd's day a little later.

If he won't do any of those, then it's a gut check on how big a scene you want and what future asspain such a scene could cost you in future transits.
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 23:02
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Many years ago I had my passport stolen when visiting Rome. This happened on the Saturday evening. On Monday, having been to the Italian police to report the theft I went to the British Embassy to get replacement documents as I was returning to London on the Tuesday evening. They explained that as there was passport office strike on they could only issue me with a single use/return to UK document, at the sme price as a ten year passport. I accepted this and the next afternoon collected the document on the way to the airport. The palaver when I reached Heathrow was unbelievable. I spent about an hour with some little immigration officer being asked continually "why did I have my passport stolen?".In the end I just lost my temper and said that it seemed like a good idea at the time as I had always wanted to spend an hour of my life being asked stupid questions by a 'public servant'. To which the reply was "Oh. thank you, you may go now".

When my new passort arrived it was marked as being a 'replacement for passport number ......., reported stolen in Rome'. I then spent the next ten years being asked why I had arranged for my passport to be stolen. This was only when passing through immigration in the UK, it was never asked anywhere els in the world. I am not a lover of the UK's border controls.
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Old 13th Aug 2009, 23:19
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If he won't do any of those, then it's a gut check on how big a scene you want and what future asspain such a scene could cost you in future transits.
Thanks Brick. That is why I avoid MIA like the plague. But you know, sometimes it is not so easy in my daft little job.

I refuse even to be drawn into the time when I asked a particular blackshirt yada yada ya to explain his attitude, only for him to pat his sidearm and tell me I shouldn't ought to ask that kind of question.

Cheers
El G.
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