Thursday Listening Party

October 23, 2014 by

On the Thursdays we don’t release a new AMT, we crank up the spoken word audio and have a Thursday Listening Party.
Click here to attend all previous gatherings.

Shhhhhhhhhh!!! Keep the noise down, people, I’m trying to have a quiet nap here… Not because I’m still recovering from the AMT300 rager (though I probably am, a bit), but I just got back from a Very Exciting Podcasting Trip Abroad and now am in a jetlagged fugue state. So have a listen to the AMT300 bumper bonus track while I just rest my head on the keyboard for a few minutexcnxgnxjvcvxddsdsdddddddddddddddddd

Wake me up for an episode or two of Radio 4’s 21st-Century Mythologies, which in classic ‘Only on Radio 4′ tradition manages to perform such feats as linking Roland Barthes with screw-top wine. The episode comparing the Kardashians to Ancient Greek gods is particularly priceless. “Physiological paganism” is rarely a phrase the tabloids use when writing about them.

Heal Thyself, a little series about self help by Robin Ince, has made me heal my sleepy self quite a bit, so mission accomplished, Robin. [nods off again standing up]

It was impossible for even me to nap through the Dinner Party Download bonus podcast. Warning: severe bawdy talk!

What else would you recommend to distract me from the mallets of jetlag whacking into my skull? Recommend shows in the comments, please!

Tune in to our various other gigs:

Olly’s on LBC every weekday 1am-4am. Keep pinching yourself to stay awake and join him.
I host the monthly Sound Women podcast, and the latest episode is all about my fantastically irresponsible career path: freelancing.
Martin the Sound Man makes numerous other podcasts, including Brain Train about clever things, The Global Lab about cities and stuff, and The Sound of the Ladies music podcast.
AMT episodes 1-170 and the special AMT albums are all available for a piddling little price at, and if you buy any of them you’re bankrolling the podcast, for which we are extremely grateful.
Catch up on AMT299 and the episodes preceding it.



October 16, 2014 by


THE DAY HAS ARRIVED! Answer Me This! Episode 300 is here, in all its tricentennial glory!

You’ve deluged us with questions about AMT300, for example:
“Will it be your last episode?”
“Is it going to feature Gerard Butler and be directed by Zack Snyder?”
“Did you guys ever…you know…?”
“Is it possible to polish a turd?”
“Yeah but seriously guys, is it going to be your last episode?”

Discover all these answers, and many more surprises, by listening to the episode right now via one or all of the following methods:

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

Don’t read below this point if you don’t want spoilers! Listen to the episode first, then come back here and revise its contents.


On the slate for AMT300 are such topics as:

our alternate realities if AMT had never existed
evidence of our life of crime
long-term relationships
bumhole problems
mashed potato vs nutmeg
Peter Jackson vs Raymond Carver
nasal honking
hiding your rubber fetish gear

And the wonderful special guest answerers bending their wisdom to your questions are:

Adam Buxton, the man who made us want to do this podcast. He doles out excellent advice on giving your children The Talk, ridding your kitchen of mouse turds, and changing your whole life to avoid minor annoyances. Enjoy more of Adam’s work on YouTube, on Twitter, and at live shows including BUG.

Sarah Millican, who even manages to make questions about anal fissures sound charming and wholesome. It’s a gift! Her new DVD Home Bird is available for pre-order; she’s writing for the new online magazine Standard Issue, and she dispenses Sarahmillicandour at

Jesse and Theresa Thorn, the first couple of podcasting, the power behind the Maximum Fun throne (at MaxFun, they record everything sitting on thrones). Tackling questions upon Americana and parental embarrassment, it’s a rare treat to hear them on a podcast together – but it’s a regular treat to hear them on their own podcasts, which include One Bad Mother, Bullseye, Jordan, Jesse, Go!, Judge John Hodgman… Yeah, it took us nearly eight years to churn out 300 podcasts; they probably do more than that a month. And just in case you needed even more podcast-related excitement on top of this, it’s MaxFunWeek right now, so you can have maximum fun with other podcast aficionados around the world.

Josie Long, who delighted you in AMT84 and returns to do the same, on such matters as losing your virginity, beating procrastination and Lord of the Rings – the latter with the help of her boyfriend Simon of the Picturehouse Podcast. We hope this important matter doesn’t come between them… As well as seeing Josie on stage, you can hear her on her Lost Treasures of the Black Heart podcast, and the new series of Radio 4’s Short Cuts.

Tony Blackburn. TONY. BLACKBURN! Answering YOUR questions and sounding off about wandering eyes, Hobbits and nutmeg! He was the first voice on Radio 1 in 1967, and he currently has shows on Radio 2, BBC Berkshire, BBC London, BBC Three Counties, KMFM, Magic…phew! Switch on a radio, and Blackburn will probably be talking on it. You can also read him at

AMT sibling Andy Zaltzman and his Bugle cohort John Oliver, offering advice on christenings, garlic and hanging onto a long term relationship. You can see Andy on tour with his show Satirist for Hire, and you can see John presenting Last Week Tonight on HBO and/or approximately fifteen times a day in your Facebook feed.

Today’s new email jingle is by the Hackney Colliery Band – because there are few things more stirring than a brass band. To see them live and listen to their records, including their new EP Common Decency, visit

Our special guest answerers supplied such a lot of marvellous material, there’s a bumper tricentennial Bit of Crap on the App today – extra questions about tattoos, pineapples, balloon animals, taramasalata, adventures, wedgies, and there’s even a cameo from AMT190 superstar Jon Ronson. The app is available for your iDevices, Android or Windows playthings, but since it’s an ‘appy day, you appless can also stream or download it via SoundCloud. Or just play it here:

We could not have done these 300 episodes without you, listeners: without your attention; without your support, financial and emotional; and particularly without your questions. Please keep sending those in: call the Question Line on 0208 123 5877 or Skype ID answermethis, or email And do celebrate with us at or

Thanks so much for joining us today! We’ll be back with business-as-usual non-landmark AMT301 on 30th October 2014.

Helen & Olly

••• AMT300 Child-Friendly Rating: 1%. No way. •••


The scales fall from our eyes, and eggs

October 15, 2014 by



Kodi and Matt write:

We are on a long road trip, and the other day while in New Mexico or Arizona on I-10, we were in a gas station and saw rattlesnake eggs for sale.

Why would you buy rattlesnake eggs? What purpose would they serve?

Also, a note on the packaging said to keep cool to prevent hatching. They were on the counter in a hot room.

Firstly, what purpose is served by almost any souvenir? I never got any use out of the gold plastic gondola from Venice or the tiny furry drum from South Africa or the kangaroo scrote purse from Sydney. The rattlesnake eggs are on sale so that you can buy them, dump them on a shelf at home, then wait for someone to say, “What are those?” whereupon you say, “Rattlesnake eggs!” and they say, “Ooh! I hope they don’t hatch!” then you carry on watching Take Me Out.


Here’s the real sting in the tail:

Rattlesnakes give birth to LIVE YOUNG.

Which means…


Pull a handbrake turn, zoom back up the I-10, and launch a full inquiry at this gas station. You clearly can’t trust their tourist tat, so what else are they fraudulently selling? Their ‘gas’ is probably watered down Bisto.

On the plus side, you don’t have to worry about that hot room making those fake eggs hatch.


Wendy house

October 15, 2014 by


Mark is full of questions today:

We’ve just put up a playhouse thingy for our nipper* and wonder why they are called Wendy houses**?

From Peter Pan, innit. After Wendy [SPOILER!] is shot upon arriving in Neverland:


*Also why are kids called nippers?

‘Nipper’ is old slang for ‘pickpocket’. Because all children are THIEVES.

**Ours is on the allotment and is officially a Wendy shed to get it past the committee.

Your secret’s safe with us, Mark.


get a mouthful of Ole Man

October 15, 2014 by


Many of you already think Olly Mann is a bit of a dish, but listener Matt has sent confirmation:

This is a dish served in a restaurant called Angelica Kitchen across the street from where I live.


Technically I think the accent makes it not ‘Olly’, but I like to think of it as Olly when I’m waiting for takeaway listening to you.

Good enough for me! Now keep an eye out for dishes that sound a bit like the rest of the AMT crew – Melon Salt-spam, Martin Ostrich…


hitchhiking tales

October 14, 2014 by



In AMT299 we revealed how, in the matter of hitchhiking, none of us have ever given or received. But Jezz has written in with first-hand tales from the road:

Back in the early 1990s I spent about a year in total (over 4 years) hitchhiking around Southern Africa, Europe and Asia. During that time I had some lifts with some very interesting people, including a wealthy witch doctor from Lesotho.

The place where my girlfriend of the time and I got the strangest lifts was during our 3 weeks in Turkey. Whilst there we got a lift off a school bus full of children and a speedboat (we were trying for a car, but the speedboat did the trick). But the strangest of all was when a fire engine stopped for us. They told us to get on quickly (we did), and just few miles later we were told to get off quickly again (we did). We then watched the fire engine turn down a side road towards some smoke in the distance!

The easiest places to hitchhike, in my opinion, are Turkey, New Zealand – where there are no towns, and friendly people, so when you get picked up, you will usually go all the way to your destination – and Japan, where the locals don’t understand the rules. I once got a lift just outside the place where I was living, and was taken for about a 2-hour ride to the city I was intending to go to. When I was dropped off, I asked my lift where they were heading to next. It turned out that they were only planning to drive around the corner, and so had done a 4-hour round trip for no reason, other than that was where I said I was going to.

One last point: I got my first post-university job from hitchhiking. I had a 2-hour lift in France with an English guy, who turned out to be a metal trader. By the end of the lift, I had a job, and got to travel around the world on business trips – and also led me to getting my longest ever hitch of 13 days, when I went from the UK to Almaty, Kazakhstan to buy some Indium, but to have the experience of seeing Russia along the way. This was back in 1994, and it was a *very* interesting time to do that route.

Does anyone else have happy hitchhiking stories (ie ones which didn’t end with them being murdered by Rutger Hauer) to share in the comments?

And does anyone else feel, like me, that they’d rather pay to travel via some other method just so they don’t have to make chat for four hours with a stranger.


get some ink in your pen with Viagra

October 14, 2014 by
Is that a pen in your pocket, or...

Is that a pen in your pocket, or…


Simon in Elephant and Castle writes:

In AMT299 you spoke of a Rohypnol tea towel, and Olly mentioned medical trade shows. As the child of a medical professional our home was often filled with promotional tat from conferences my mother attended, including two Viagra pens.

My mother used to crack out one of these pens (the more chunky one as I remember) to sign cheques with when doing the weekly shop, something that caused great embarrassment to my elder sister. My mother found this hilarious, and at the time I thought it was because of the branding of the pen, but now looking back I can only think she chose this pen on purpose, as there is nothing funnier than an embarrassed teen.

That is true! Do you have your own surefire technique for making your teenage offspring cringe – or have you been the teenage victim of a parent’s mischievous mortification? Please let us know in the comments. In a few short years, I’ll be the aunt of teenagers, and I want to be fully prepared.


Thursday Listening Party

October 9, 2014 by


On the Thursdays we don’t release a new AMT, we crank up the spoken word audio and have a Thursday Listening Party.
Click here to attend all previous gatherings.

I am giddy with excitement about AMT300! I hope you like it as much as/even more than I do. I guess we’ll all find out next week.

Until then, alternative entertainments.

From home:

Earlier this year, I spoke at the Boring Conference. Martin’s talk about eggs was on the playlist at a previous Thursday Listening Party; now, here’s mine, about the disgusting and depressing contents of cookery books:

Something else which alternately delights and horrifies me is being a freelancer. I’ve been one for nearly ten years, and I still haven’t figured out how to even up the boom-or-bust cycle. So for this month’s Sound Women podcast, I gathered together with some excellent freelancers to discover their secrets (one of them used to work as an official Mrs Potato Head!), and to consolegratulate each other:

If you want, you can also hear me in the new history podcast Z List Dead List, and you can read me banging on (again!) about podcasting in this interview with Podcaster News.

From elsewhere:

To accompany his question about the demise of hitchhiking in AMT299, questioneer Toby in Cheshire alerted us to this episode of Four Thought from Radio 4, in defence of hitchhiking. It’s refreshing to hear someone speaking positively about the MOBILE MURDER NETWORK.

On the subject of journeys, I’m working my way through the winners of the 2014 Third Coast Audio Festival, and thanks to Linda Lutton’s Chicago to Mexico – By Bus, I’m having flashbacks to a 36-hour coach journey I endured in 2002 – a mere blink of an eye compared to hers!

The new podcast in everyone’s ears this week is Serial, the long-form investigation of a murder case by This American Life producers Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder. I chained the first three episodes and now I NEED MORE.

And finally: early this morning I received an email from Olly saying, “It’s 5:43am. Just watched all of this.”

Fill your boots.

Tune in to our various other gigs:

After four delightful years, my gig on <a href="BBC 5 Live’s Saturday Edition” target=”_blank”>BBC 5 Live’s Saturday Edition just came to an end. Listen to the podcast of the final episode here.
Olly’s on LBC every weekday 1am-4am. Keep pinching yourself to stay awake and join him.
Martin the Sound Man makes numerous other podcasts, including Brain Train about clever things, The Global Lab about cities and stuff, and The Sound of the Ladies music podcast.
AMT episodes 1-170 and the special AMT albums are all available for a piddling little price at, and if you buy any of them you’re bankrolling the podcast, for which we are extremely grateful.
Catch up on AMT299 and the episodes preceding it.


EPISODE 299 – I’m available to be murdered

October 2, 2014 by

Hi listeners! Are you looking to get rid of any household items, or are you looking for something that Freecycle cannot supply? We ask because it seems in Answer Me This! Episode 299, the show has become the audio equivalent of Loot. It’s been a long time coming.

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

On today’s agenda:

hitchhiking vs Megabus
Points of View‘s mailbag vs AMT’s inbox
exercise vs the Olly Mann diet
1lb vs 454g
personal trainers
soft landings in playgrounds
The Loneliest Road In America
papal pocket money
accommodating the Dalai Lama
adult spring riders/rockers/animals/vehicles
Alfred Molina

Plus: Olly has a HUGE…collection of tea towels; Helen doesn’t want to ride in your helicopter, unless it’s too embarrassing to say no; and can anyone explain what Martin the Sound Man meant by ‘Godwin Filter’? We pretended we knew what he was talking about, but really were shrugging inside.

In case you’ve been anxious for the past two months to find out how Helen is faring in her mission to learn to love The Great British Bake Off, you can end that anxiety by listening to today’s Bit of Crap on the App, which is available for iDevices old and new, Android or Windows playthings.

If you’re anxious about how to build a super-nice website, relax! Visit, have a fiddle with their easy web-building tools, and while you’re at it get 10% off their services for a whole year by using the code Answer.

It can’t have escaped your notice that if today is Episode 299, the next episode is AMT300!!!!111!!!ZOMG!!!!! We wouldn’t have got past one episode without your questions, so please keep sending them in: call the Question Line on 0208 123 5877 or Skype ID answermethis, or email And do let us know what is the best thing you’ve learned from Answer Me This! over the years (interpret ‘best’ and ‘learned’ as you will) in a comment here or over on or

We will return on 16th October with AMT300 (aka #AMT300)! Be sure to join us!

Helen & Olly

••• AMT299 Child-Friendly Rating: 64%. Quite a few cusswords but little vulgar content until the very end, when Olly shoots his load. •••



October 2, 2014 by


Apologies to Malc from Beaminster, and all the Beaminster buddies:

Just listened to episode 298, which although excellent as usual did have me shout obscenities at one point regarding the article about Henry vacuum cleaners.

Olly mentioned the history of the little happy robots and gave a shout out to my hometown, unfortunately as everyone who has never been there does HE WRONGLY PRONOUNCED IT.

The small Dorset market town in question is pronounced Bem-minster and not Bee-minster as Olly said.

It drives the locals mad, as no-one except the local news ever gets it right (including Mel Smith who mis-named it in a Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch).

Although a small dwelling of only about 3,000 people, it is famous as not only the birthplace of the Henry but has the home of Clipper Teas, national treasure Martin Clunes (who lives there), author Lynne Reid Banks (The L-Shaped Room, The Indian in The Cupboard) birthplace of Thomas Hine (of Hine cognac fame) and as Emminster in the Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

Carry on.

The curse of British place names strikes again. Let’s all memorise this list to try to avoid future slip-ups.


Roomba: Rise of the Machines

October 1, 2014 by


Choco has been in touch:

Just thought I would email you after listening to AMT 298 and hearing your suggestion that Roombas could have cute little faces on them to make them more appealing. My good friend Nic has stuck little googly eyes onto his Roomba, which does indeed look very cute.


However, it does not disguise the fact that the Roomba is EVIL. Whenever I stay at his flat, anytime Nic goes out, literally within 30 seconds of him leaving the flat and me remaining inside, the Roomba will “wake up”, leave its docking station and zoom directly towards me. When I run away it will follow me around, attempting to eat my toes, unless I get up onto the sofa, at which point it will trundle around a corner and wait for me to get up again and walk past it.

Once Nic went out while I was in the shower, and when I got out and opened the bathroom door the Roomba was directly outside waiting for me! When Nic gets back and checks it, it always turns out that Roomba is not even programmed to run on that day or at the particular time it woke up.

OK, so Roombas might be convenient if you don’t want to vacuum your flat manually, but at least regular hoovers aren’t sentient and vicious…

Two options, Choco:
1. Your ‘friend’ Nic is having a great time fucking with you;
2. You are living in the film Hardware. Escape while you still can!



October 1, 2014 by



We godparentless asked you to provide godparenting advice to questioneer Cathy in AMT298, and we knew that such upstanding citizens as godparents would of course supply. Bruno sent us this touching email:

I was asked to be godfather to a baby girl when I was twenty, about the same age as Cathy is now. I certainly didn’t have a reputation as someone worthy of being a spiritual guide (and I daresay that reputation hasn’t improved much in the intervening thirteen years), but I was chosen because I suppose the parents liked me, and perhaps they thought that it would bring something out in me that hadn’t found a chance for expression otherwise.

I can say with certainty that it’s been one of the most positive experiences of my adult life. It’s incredibly easy, really – you just drop into someone’s life, give them thoughtfully chosen gifts and encouragement and then shoot off again before the grind of any real parental duties set in.

But I feel that I have gained at least as much from this as my goddaughter has, because (as a single guy) I have had a proximal experience to real fatherhood, a sort of dummy run including mistakes, let-downs and all, by which I have learned a great deal how I would approach the real thing. Being godfather has given and continues to give me great – even close to spiritual – satisfaction. So I feel Cathy should reflect that being a godparent is a gift as well as a responsibility.

Also, of course, by presenting the godchild with your own choice of books/films/etc you are able to mould an impressionable mind into one that agrees with your own sensibility (to tutor them, as Withnail once said, in the ways of righteousness) which is also very gratifying. I’m extremely pleased that my goddaughter, now thirteen, is well versed in the films of Studio Ghibli and the novels of Neil Gaiman a full ten years before I came across them. And has completed Portal 2.

As to the gift for the christening – who cares. Just show up. If the parents aren’t insane they won’t give a monkeys who gives what at a christening.

Luckily, Bruno, Tom from Derby has sent in a sterling idea for a christening gift:

We got our niece and goddaughter an engraved silver frame (to blah blah, from blah blah, on your christening, and then the date).

It felt like the correct sort of amount to spend as well as the correct amount of gravitas and useful longevity. Her mum has put a picture of us inside it which sits in her room.

Winning gift all round!

The only trouble was we felt it had to be matched when our other niece was christened despite not being her godparents. We got her a silver engraved keepsake box.

Classy, Tom. But what will you do if your goddaughter receives further siblings? The third will receive what – a silver toothpick, or a silver fish-slice? And if the family becomes very big, you’ll end up giving the later children silver nasal hair trimmers and those sticking plasters containing antibacterial silver.



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