“I think my date might be a vampire!” - the weirdest emergency phone calls of 2018
PUBLISHED: 13:44 03 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:47 03 January 2019
Don’t call the Foreign Office unless you’ve got a real emergency- which does not include asking what the plot of Braveheart is!
Vampires, Strictly Come Dancing and a Bangkok massage parlour last year featured in the oddest requests made by overseas Britons to embassy officials.
The Foreign Office has revealed some of the more unusual appeals for help it received in 2018, including a man asking if vampires were in Poland because a woman he was due to meet for a date asked for his blood type.
A caller from the USA asked which contestant had been voted off Strictly the previous night, someone in the Netherlands had questions about the plot of Braveheart, while a man in Argentina requested a list of women who he might be able to marry.
Another man in Thailand wanted help as he argued against paying for a massage after falling asleep during it.
Talk of the British High Commission in New Delhi selling vegetarian sausages prompted one man to call, and someone in the Canary Islands wanted help persuading his hotel to give him a new room after a stray cat had “broken into” his original one and urinated on his bed.
The Foreign Office said it received more than 330,000 calls from Britons who needed help between January and November this year, including 4,900 people who were arrested and more than 3,400 people who had been taken to hospital.
A spokesman said: “I can regretfully confirm that the Foreign Office isn’t able to offer advice on vampires, rogue stray cats or Strictly contestants. And our capacity to deploy veggie sausages remains sadly lacking. But in all seriousness, getting into trouble abroad can be daunting and upsetting. If you find yourself in an emergency in another country, contact the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate and our consular staff will do everything they can to help.”
It is a perennial feature of the work of the Foreign Office. In 2016 they were approached for help by:
■ A man planning to move to Spain who was worried there would be nudists walking through the streets
■ A holidaymaker trying to find Travel Advice for a visit to Coventry
■ A man in South Korea asking what he could do with his old pound notes
In 2011 a man called the consulate in Florida to report that there were ants in his holiday villa and asked for advice on what to do. Someone asked consular staff in Dubai to meet his dog on its arrival in the city and help it through the customs process. A caller asked staff in Malaga in September where she could get a Christmas lunch as everywhere was already booked up.
In some ways we might consider such daft requests as a mark of the trusted reputation of our Foreign Office. People clearly feel it is honest and reliable on topics as the presence of the undead in Poland and Strictly results.
It is not the only institution to suffer the consequences of accessibility, however.
In Canada, callers to the emergency services were similarly perplexed, ringing, for example, to complain a local fast food restaurant wasn’t open 24 hours a day, as advertised; to ask for help turning off their car lights; to ask if the clocks move forward or backward during the spring time change.
Mumsnet, the parents’ website, cites the occasion, a few years back, when a man called the emergency services because he had been splashed by a car driving through a puddle, and when a woman called because her new rabbit did not have the floppy ears promised in a newspaper ad.
Among the comments on the site was one from an paramedic who “had a guy ring up through careline because he had dropped his TV remote down the back of the sofa - when we refused to go they called the fire brigade!”
And only in America: Dispatcher: “9-1-1 What is your emergency?”
Caller: “I heard what sounded like gunshots coming from the brown house on the corner.”
Dispatcher: “Do you have an address?”
Caller: “No, I’m wearing a blouse and slacks, why?”
We can but scratch the surface of daft requests and general silliness here but they are obviously alive and well and living in all countries, worldwide.