Posts Tagged ‘English’

EPISODE 287 – a very expensive potty

April 10, 2014

Hello! You still have one day to catch the first half of our Radio 4 documentary to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the word ‘podcast’. The second episode airs 11am tomorrow, Friday 11th April, and features money-making from Roman Mars, baby-making from Theresa Thorn, and something absolutely puke-making from Keith and the Girl. UPDATE: here’s Part 2.

So please do listen to that, and also to Answer Me This! Episode 287:

Subscribe to AMT! on iTunes listen to the MP3 through your computer soundcloud-icon our podcast feed on Libsyn Share with Facebook

Today we contemplate such topics as:

the Man from Del Monte
Tony Benn’s chair
human statues
snooze buttons
kissing gates
Miffy vs Hello Kitty
Telford vs Jamaica
pedantry with partners
The Pageant of the Masters
listener Jessy’s missing colon, part II

Plus: Olly details the specifications for choosing his new alarm clock, so set your own alarm clock to jolt you back into consciousness afterwards; Helen comes up with a Doctor Who reboot for Matt Smith and an amazing sit- for a sitcom, so TV commissioners, prepare a bucket of cash and call her in for a meeting; and Martin the Sound Man won’t let you through a gate until you give him a little somethin-somethin. APPROACH WITH CAUTION.

Today’s Bit of Crap on the App, Helen gets doorbell envy. To hear all about that grievous condition, push the button on your iDevices, Android or Windows gadgets.

No need to envy other people’s nice websites – now you can build your own through, who not only kindly funded today’s show, but are also offering you a 10% discount off their services for a whole year if you use the code answer. We used Squarespace to build and it was even easier to set up shop than it is to set up this shop.

Keep us in business by sending in your questions: call the Question Line (call 0208 123 5877 or Skype ID answermethis) or email

Back in a fortnight,

Helen & Olly

PS Get well soon, Dave from Smethwick!

AMT287 Child-Friendly Rating: 95%.
No unsuitable content, aside from the demystification of Hello Kitty. An F-bomb is detonated during the discussion of keyboard shortcuts, but thanks to the subject matter, there’s no way your kids will be paying attention.



November 14, 2013


Here’s a question of vernacular from Alex:

I’m from Sweden but I’ve lived in the UK for 10 years – which is is about a third of my life.

I have adjusted well and feel like I understand the British sense of humour, culture and got to grips with you poor dental care and MRSA-ridden hospitals, your crazy ass parliament (a bunch of posh old men shouting at each other?!), binge drinking, TOWIE etc.

One thing I still haven’t got to grips with is this:

When someone greets me by saying “alright?”

Do they mean “Hi!” or do they mean “How are you?”
I never know how to respond; do I say, “I’m good thanks, how are you?” do I say “hi” back, or do I say “alright”?

Also, my boss always says “you ok?” to me, rather than saying “hi” or even “alright?”. Does this mean the same thing i.e. a greeting, or is he genuinely concerned about my wellbeing?

So, in conclusion, how do I respond to “alright?” or “you ok?”

You’re right to suspect, Alex, that these people aren’t really too interested in your health. Think of these as greetings which are slightly more elaborate than “Hi”, in that they’re inviting you to respond, even if you’re responding in kind with meaningless small talk. “Fine thanks, how are you?” is always an appropriate response, regardless of whether you’re actually fine and interested in how the other person is.

The next step in the dance is more difficult to predict. Ideally, you’ll either move on to actual conversation rather than filler, or part company, but sometimes you can be trapped in a small talk volley for several minutes or even hours. So always have an exit strategy, because you don’t want to die from a ruptured bladder after being too polite to end a week-long exchange of casual greetings.



September 27, 2011

We’ve got a schoolboy moral dilemma to tackle, from somebody who, for his own good, had better remain nameless:

I have a confession to make.

This child – shall we call him “Fred” – he had his book of The Tempest which our teacher says we are required to bring every lesson on pain of detention, sadly I had forgotten mine.

So this boy “Fred” left his bag unattended with his copy of The Tempest in it; so I ripped it out of his bag and rubbed out his name, then I put mine in.

He returned and whilst looking through his bag he panicked and said he couldn’t find it. He received a detention and the teacher told him he needed to bring it or he would get another detention.

I felt as if I could not just laugh it off and say sorry then take the hit and get into major trouble, so I went home with the copy.

The next day our teacher told us that they were dealing with a theft and if anyone got caught with the book they would have detention for the rest of the week and the following week, so on the way home I threw his copy of The Tempest into someone’s garden.

Should I keep this as a dark secret, never to be revealed to anyone but AMT? Or do you think I will get caught as it is just a matter of time before they piece it together, as they have CCTV in our classrooms?

The Tempest is categorised amongst Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’, so it is little wonder that his epic problem has raised some questions of my own, namely:

1. What did Fred do to deserve this?
2. Depending upon the smallness of your hometown and the astuteness of the mystery garden owner, won’t the retrieval of a copy of The Tempest with your name written inside be fairly incriminating?
3. Why didn’t you just sneak it back into his bag at the end of the first day?
4. I know that schoolbook loss/theft isn’t to be encouraged, but isn’t your teacher rather overreacting? Or is your school actually run like a police state? I can’t believe your teachers would in reality be planning to frisk everybody for contraband copies of The Tempest. I also can’t quite believe your classrooms have CCTV, and that it would really be worth the school’s while, for the price of an out-of-copyright book, to plough through the footage.
5. Is it just me, or is The Tempest (whisper it) a bit rubbish?

Readers, I can’t raise a great deal of sympathy for this young fool, so please do my job for me and head for the comments to offer your advice for him. I worry that if we leave him to deal with it on his own, the situation will escalate to the point where he has to kill every member of his school and burn all books to cover his tracks.