Archive for the ‘User-generated answers’ Category

Mensa: secret joy, secret shame?

July 22, 2015


We’ve received the following email from A Dad:

My daughter’s school picked some of the students to sit the Mensa IQ test. The first we heard of this was when she received a letter saying she has a score of 159 and in the top 1% and she’s welcome to join. My daughter, who’s thirteen, is privately very pleased with herself but has no desire to tell anyone, likewise the wife and I have told no one apart from you right now in this email.

She enjoys school, is doing very well and has her path to university set in her sights and beyond. Now the three of us think it’s probably best to keep things low key and it’s just one tiny string to the bow, but answer me this: is there any time the Mensa bomb should be dropped eg gaining a place in 6th form or university? We suspect it could be a negative in the job market in future.

None of us have ever been Mensa members, so I defer to you readers:
i. When can you get the most mileage out of Mensa membership? I’m assuming when picking up people on Tinder.
ii. If you are a member, have you experienced negative side-effects? Eg the Sun describing you as a ‘boffin’ in an article about you?
iii. If you are an employer, would you think, “Ooh, a Mensa member? Top drawer!” or would you point and laugh at the boffin?


Bluetooth, blacktooth, boobshine

July 22, 2015


Let’s tidy away all our AMT318 business before AMT319 emerges tomorrow. Upon the matter of the origins of ‘Bluetooth’, Erik writes:

I just wanted to point out that the Blue in Harald Blåtand is nothing at all to do with blueberries. In the ancient Nordic dialects of the Germanic language there was no specific word for ‘black’, and in fact all dark colours were referred to as ‘blue’. King Harald had a black tooth which was presumably dead. I leave to you to guess what his breath was like.

While we’re imagining smells, let’s hear from Lisa:

So… Juliet’s balcony… I can in fact tell you something rather interesting. I went to Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls (yes, as in Stratford-upon-Avon, the very home of William Shakespeare) and our school was located in a very very old manor house.

In this very very old manor house, the dear bard himself was betrothed in the chapel (which was my Geography room). Even better? ‘The balcony on the outside of the manor is the very balcony that inspired Shakespeare to write the famous balcony scene from Romeo and Juilet.’ Google that shizz if you don’t believe me.

But trust me, this is not as cool as it sounds. Our school grounds were always invaded by Japanese and American tourists who wanted to visit.

That still sounds cooler than my school, but sluicing time on the bowel ward sounds cooler than my school.


new dough scraper; new old life

July 21, 2015


We love to hear how our questioneers have fared in the wake of our counsel. Here’s a brace of emails from questioneers of episodes long past, some happy, some sad. Let’s start happy, with Eleanor from the Isle of Man from AMT305:

You kindly answered my question in January as to whether I should steal my dad’s dough scraper that he clearly had no intention of using. So imagine my excitement this morning when opening my birthday presents from my husband and children to discover they got me not only a dough scraper, but also an Answer Me This apron! Problem solved!

FullSizeRender (1)

Aaah! Feast your eyes on that birthday joy, then bathe in the sorrow of AMT247‘s Emily:

A few years ago I messaged you about being caught by my boyfriend as I was smoking in the bath and how I tried to play it off as in fact me masturbating.

So, the development is that after 3 years together he has left me, as in ‘stood in the doorway with his bags packed when I got home from work’ left me. I didn’t see it coming and this is really shit.

My question is this: how, when you chose the city you inhabit, the flat you live in, the pets you have and the routine that fills your life for your partner, can you stop being constantly reminded of them once they have left you? Note: I now have a grad scheme job, friends here and am tied into a rental contract (foolishly just in my name) so can’t move away.

Comiserations, Emily. But at least now you can do whatever you want in the bath, without stoking his insecurities.

Readers, have you any ideas for Emily to reboot her life? Rearrange the furniture, take a different route into work, hang out with friends in places you haven’t been before? Not sure what you can do about the pets, but perhaps you could teach them to bark in a different key or swim around the little plastic castle in the opposite direction.


new relationship, old holiday

July 21, 2015


Here’s a conundrum from an anonymous man upon which, readers, I’d appreciate your input in the comments. He writes:

I went on holiday to Amsterdam last year with my now ex. I am now in a new relationship, and have booked a holiday to Amsterdam. So far it’s okay, my current girlfriend has no issues returning to the city for a ‘romantic city break’ despite knowing that the last time I went was with significant ex and (it did take me a long while to get over it blah blah).

However, Helen and Olly, answer me this: should I tell my new girlfriend that the hotel we’ve booked is the same as the one I went to with my ex?

I want to be honest, but at the same time I don’t want it to seem I am just reliving the past etc etc…

For the record, the reason for booking the same hotel is its good location, good price, good mix of guests and they do a really good breakfast…

Mm-hmm, and I’m sure it’s the ONLY hotel in Amsterdam capable of supplying those things.

You say ‘I don’t want it to seem I am just reliving the past’, so WHY ARE YOU RELIVING THE PAST? Or at the very least, rewriting it with a different woman playing the part of ‘girlfriend in Amsterdam’? There are plenty of romantic cities you could visit that you had not been to within the last year with somebody else. But you chose this one. The real question is “Why?” but I suspect you are unwilling to know that answer.

Alright, fine: your question was whether to tell your girlfriend. I don’t think you’ll need to. When she sees you trying to hug the hotel room wall and blubbering about how much you’ve missed it, she’ll probably figure it out.


Greggs: the geographical survey

July 9, 2015



If you would like to contribute to the geographical survey of variations in Greggs the Baker‘s offerings, please do so in the comments. Then we can commission an infographic. Following AMT317, Steven in Leeds writes:

Greggs do offer regional variation in their range – as a fat northerner, the lunchtime meal of choice in my native Warrington as a sixth former was the meat and potato pasty*, which I was astounded to discover was unavailable when I moved to Yorkshire in 2006. I got over this when I went back home and realised that their ‘meat and potato’ was in fact a kind of pinkish-greyish lumpy paste with no identifiable constituent parts…but I’ll still have one about once a year when I go back home.

*As a side note: They love a bit of meat and potato in the north-west: so much so that in that region Greggs actually do both a meat and potato pie (smaller diameter but thicker filled) and a potato and meat pie (larger diameter and thinly filled), with the respective first parts designating the primary ingredient.

You say potato (and meat), I say (meat and) potato…


cereal ethics

July 8, 2015



Readers, please go to the comments and share your views upon this question from Louis:

I have a moral dilemma, I recently discovered that my favourite breakfast cereal is made by a company who I’m informed I should be boycotting for ethical reasons.

So answer me this: should I stop eating the cereal? No other cereal grabs me in the same way, so I don’t really want to change my breakfast routine. Am I a bad person for knowingly paying a company who ultimately do a lot of evil?

Through the prism of your breakfast cereal, Louis, we face the perennial consumer choice pickle. Even if you do try to be a responsible consumer, if you follow a product up its chain, there’s usually evil money/practice SOMEwhere in a big company, riiight? Changing your breakfast routine might prove physically dangerous, riiiiight? Surely true love (of a cereal) trumps all other considerations, riiiiiiiight?

I mock because I know that right now, Louis is floating around in a paddling pool filled with his favourite cereal. ‘Who I’m informed I should be boycotting’ doesn’t suggest personal dedication to the cause.


manic pixie dream bloke

July 6, 2015


Dreaming of a male match for Zooey Deschanel, Natalie Portman in Garden State or, the original, Kirsten Dunst’s character in Elizabethtown, Drew from North Carolina asks:

Is there a male equivalent of a ‘manic pixie dream girl’?

For a while, the male equivalent was ‘Ryan Gosling‘. But now he seems to have stopped playing ukulele in the street, and started growing sinister facial hair, there is a gap in the lexicon. Manic pixie dream reader, please go to the comments and supply. ‘Jared Leto during his Oscar campaign’ is too long-winded.

PS Here’s Nathan Rabin, who concocted ‘manic pixie dream girl’, wishing he hadn’t.


wedding destroyers

June 24, 2015


It’s the annual appearance for the following wedding-related question, this time posed by Jamie in Rugby:

I was at a wedding recently, and this reminded me of the thing I always wonder at weddings, which is: has anyone EVER come forward at that point where the registrar/priest asks if anyone knows of a reason why these two may not be wed?

It seems like a bastardly thing to do – you would have thought if someone had inside knowledge, they might have piped up sooner – but has it ever actually happened?

Readers, have you ever witnessed this mythical event? Part of me would love to see such a spectacle, but in reality I’m usually fonder of the couple than I am of emotional cataclysms.


wedding plus one problems

June 24, 2015
A solution of sorts

A solution of sorts


Jake in London concurs with Olly’s advice in the last episode about the lineup in wedding photos:

Following the discussions in AMT316 about having couples in the official wedding photos who broke up shortly after, I thought I’d share the now comical story of the latter happening at my dad’s wedding a few years ago.

At the wedding me and my brother were asked to be joint best men, which we were pretty pleased with. Our girlfriends were also invited along: I will point out here that whilst me and my partner had been together for several years (and still are), my brother and his girlfriend had only been together a couple of months.

As they have loads of photos taken on the day, me and my brother were naturally in the majority of them. Some of the nicest ones were taken right outside the wedding venue, with my dad and his wife, me and my girlfriend and my brother and his girlfriend. As my brother’s girlfriend was the smallest person in this group of six she was naturally placed front and centre, she was also placed front and centre in all photographs she was in on the day – fucking loads!!!

Within a couple days of the wedding, my dad and his wife had decided on the photos that they liked the best and that they were going to get enlarged portraits of, the biggest of which being one of the photos of the six of us. In the time in between them ordering this blowup and getting it back, my brother and his girlfriend split up. As she was front and centre there was no way of cropping her out and there were no photos of just the 4 or 5 of us. As a result, the massive canvas print hangs proudly on my dads sitting room wall, with all six of us smiling out.

The final irony of this is that my brother has subsequently been in a long-term relationship for the past few years, and his new girlfriend has regularly frequented my dad’s house, meaning she’s always greeted with the smiling face of his ex-girlfriend eyeballing her in the sitting room.

The lesson is, if you are going to have people’s new partners come to your wedding, make sure they’re on the fringes of the photographs and not front and centre.

Also on the wedding tip, an anonymous lady from London writes:

I was just listening to AMT316 and I feel compelled to provide an alternative view on behalf of myself and other ‘expensive randoms’ who plague the existence of listeners like Elizabeth.

I am facing a summer of successive weddings with my boyfriend and I have barely met ANY of the couples whose nuptials I have been invited to celebrate. I do appreciate being thought of, but I haven’t really been given the option to turn the invites down (one of them my mother-out-law RSPVed to on my behalf before I was given the invitation, which doesn’t even have my last name on it because neither of the marriers knows who I am).

So answer me this: what can I do to entertain myself in a hotel in the middle of nowhere all day before I am required to turn up at these numerous receptions at 8pm (after my boyfriend and everyone else involved has spent all day drinking)?

Readers, can you go to the comments and give her some suggestions? Try to come up with something more ingenious than ‘masturbation’, ‘minibar’ and ‘reruns of Columbo‘, even though those are all decent ways to while away her time.


soul patch synonyms

June 22, 2015



Mouche, Van Dyke, jazz dab, goat tuft: in AMT315 we learned many synonyms for the reviled facial hair style commonly known as the soul patch. And there are even more! Martyn writes:

Is it only ‘oop North’ where the little bit of face fur that sits below the lower lip is referred to as a ‘taste keeper’, due to the probability of food getting caught up in there?

If you seek similarities, Martyn, look to the far south, towards Gemma in Tempe, Sydney, Australia:

In Australia the Soul Patch or Jazz Dab is often called a ‘flavour saver’. I assume because if you dribble your curry in it you can save it for Ron (later on).

Adele adds:

I’m surprised you didn’t cover the term ‘lady pleaser’. This is also used to describe a soul patch. That bit of friction just under the bottom lip.

That explains why so many people persist with them, because it can’t be for the look.

Do you have any vernacular terms for the jazz soul flavour pleaser? Let us know in the comments. If we get enough, we’ll compile a study of geographical differences and submit it as a masters.


family friends

June 9, 2015



Go to the comments and help out Brian in New Hampshire with the following issue:

Having moved long distances three times in three years for various reasons, I don’t have any friends.

I don’t find this to be an issue, but my parents have become busybody worrywarts about it. Their solution is to insert themselves in my life and try to be my friends. Obviously this is not a desired outcome.

So, answer me this, how do I tell my folks that they certainly would not be the type I would befriend without making things weirder than they already are?

The long term ramifications of telling your parents to fuck the fuck off are probably best avoided, so perhaps you should try the opposite route in order to repel them: incorporate them into your life MORE. Invite them to join you in activities – activities that they will hate. I don’t know your parents, Brian, but I’d imagine many would not enjoy a joint-testing day of bog running, a shopping spree at Ed Hardy, or a weekend conference by pick-up artists. They’ll soon be making their excuses and leaving you in peace.


cool cat

May 27, 2015



Frostbitten feedback from Rachel:

I just finished listening to AMT302 where you discuss a hamster sitter who froze the hamster that died on his watch. This reminded me of the time my mom’s cat died and she froze it in a shoebox rather than burying it straight away.

This cat ended up staying in her freezer for at least a year. So gross!

I wasn’t living at home during this but each time I went home to visit I refused to eat anything from the freezer for fear of cross contamination.

Answer me this: was I right to be concerned or am I just squeamish? Is a dead cat in your freezer, even though it’s wrapped in bags and in a shoebox, still a health concern?

Readers, what’s your opinion? Is a wrapped, boxed dead cat any more of a contamination threat than a shrinkwrapped joint of meat?

In my opinion, the greatest health concern in this scenario is the mental wellbeing of the woman who put her cat into the freezer for a year.