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Consular news – Embassy 18 – July/August 2009

Consuls caught in pickle over jam

Have you ever been woken at 4am on weekend duty with a bizarre request from one of your nationals in need? If you have, take comfort that you are not alone. The Foreign Office recently released a list of the most exasperating demands that British holidaymakers make on UK consular staff.

Top marks for silliness is awarded to a woman who phoned the consulate to complain about her breast size after cosmetic surgery. Second prize goes to a Brit in a sticky situation who called to find out the ratio of sugar and fruit needed to make jam.

One mother even asked the consulate in Florida to help her teenage son pack his suitcase and give him a lift to the airport as he was feeling unwell. Another shopper visiting Italy demanded to know where a particular brand of shoes could be bought.

Britain’s 261 diplomatic missions around the world are increasingly frustrated at the unrealistic expectations of British holidaymakers, prompting the FCO to call on travellers to be better informed about the role of consulates which deal with 2.1 million inquiries annually.

Minister for Consular Affairs, Chris Bryant, said: “Our embassies are not there to provide weather reports or give advice on unruly children. Consular Staff are there to help Britons in real difficulty abroad – from victims of crime and bereaved families to those involved in accidents or who have lost their passports.”

Have you ever had a bizarre request from your nationals? Tell us about it by writing to: editor@embassymagazine.com

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