When staff at British embassies and consulates pick up the phone, they're prepared to help citizens grappling with problems, from arrests to serious injuries. Playing matchmaker or untangling movie plots aren't services they provide.
Yet among calls the Foreign Office fielded this year were questions about the plot of the 1995 Mel Gibson movie "Braveheart" and the BBC TV show "Strictly Come Dancing." Other callers inquired about vampires in Poland, the bill for a massage parlour in Bangkok and potential marriage partners in Argentina.
The bizarre requests are culled from the more than 330,000 calls from UK citizens needing help, including almost 5,000 who were arrested, more than 3,400 hospitalised and thousands more seeking emergency travel documents, according to a statement Sunday from the Foreign Office.
The man pursuing information about vampires explained that a woman he met online had asked about his blood type before meeting for a first date. In the Canary Islands, a caller wanted the office to intervene when a cat urinated on his hotel room bed, while a man in New Delhi heard the British High Commission was selling vegetarian sausages and wanted to buy some.
"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," a spokesman said. "But in all seriousness, getting into trouble abroad can be daunting and upsetting."
Staff will do what they can when UK citizens find themselves in an emergency away from home, according to the statement.