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British diplomats reveal world of weird requests

London, May 16, 2013 (AFP)

British embassies were asked if they could silence a cockerel and order an unfit husband to shape up, among other "bizarre" requests for help in the last 12 months, the Foreign Office said today.

A man asked consular staff in Rome to translate a phrase for a tattoo he wanted, while another man asked the Stockholm embassy if they could check out the credentials of a woman he met online.

Diplomats in several countries were also asked where the best place to watch football was, while they were also pestered for London 2012 Olympics tickets and contact details for Beatles legend Paul McCartney's wife Nancy Shevell.

Beijing consular staff were asked to help a woman who had bought a pair of football boots that were "Made in China" but were poor quality.

One woman asked the Tel Aviv embassy to order her husband to get fit and eat healthily so they could have children.

A man who required hospital treatment in Cambodia when a monkey dislodged a stone that hit him demanded help getting compensation and wanted assurance that it would not happen again.

One man asked the Montreal consulate for information to settle a bet on the colour of the British passport.

Consular staff in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur were asked if they could help pay to send a couple's children to an international school.

In February 2011, the Foreign Office established a contact centre in Malaga on the southern Spanish coast to help cope with the volume of non-consular enquiries received by British missions in southern Europe.

Some 39 percent of the 131,211 calls it has received since then have been "lifestyle enquiries".

"Some of the enquiries we received from British nationals last year were bizarre to say the least," said the centre's head, Steve Jones.

"One customer contacted us to ask if we could provide the name of the watch that the Royal Navy sailors wore between the years 1942-1955."

Consular affairs minister Mark Simmonds said: "Foreign Office staff help many thousands of British nationals facing serious difficulties around the world every year.

"It is important that people understand what we can and cannot do to support them when they are abroad.

"We are not in a position to help people make travel arrangements or social plans, but we do help those who face real problems."


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