small French lunch

September 2, 2014 by



Here’s un petit question from Amy:

We are having a debate in the office – how do French people say they’re having a small lunch, if that expression is already bagsied?

As in petit dejeuner, literally small lunch but meaning breakfast? Usually the adjective follows the noun in French, so would that make small lunch ‘un dejeuner petit’? Readers with working knowledge of French, am I right? Help me out in the comments, because I haven’t spoken French since 1994 and my memory is mauvais.


EPISODE 296 – Mammary Ridge

August 21, 2014 by

AMT legs
Are you ready to hear who’s the winner of AMT295‘s beauty pageant in which the only entrants are the knee-to-ankle portions of Olly and Martin? You ARE? Then waste no time – listen to Answer Me This! Episode 296 (which some would argue IS wasting time. Those people can shut their damn cake-holes):

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

Today we discuss:

having a kip
Kendal Mint Cake
The Great British Bake Off leftovers
Louis XIV
ballet vs gymnastics
Bill Callahan vs Barry Manilow
Catherine de Medici
Matthew Bourne
Barnoon Cemetery
Prague’s Old Jewish Cemetery
A Chorus Line‘s sweaty gussets
Mary Berry’s Lemon Curd Surge
extra nipples

Plus: Olly’s not taking trip advice from Tripadvisor; Helen admits to being a philistine about ballet; and Martin the Sound Man recommends a lovely holiday touring London’s most beautiful burial grounds.

In today’s Bit of Crap on the App (available for iDevices, Android or Windows gadgetry), we continue workshopping our Cynical Statistician Catches The Bride’s Bouquet film, with a little stop to revist Britney and Kevin: Chaotic. (Fun fact: they got married on the very same day as Helen’s brother Andy. Sadly, there’s no shitty reality show about Andy’s nuptuals.)

If you’re not too busy shanking people in the supermarket scrum for freeze-dried raspberries, send us QUESTIONS: call the Question Line on 0208 123 5877 or Skype ID answermethis, or email And be our imaginary friend at and

And finally, big thanks to this week’s episode sponsors, without whom website-building would be a far uglier business. For 10% off their services for a whole year, enter the code Answer.

We will return with AMT297 on 4th September, and we hope you do too.

Helen & Olly

••• AMT296 Child-Friendly Rating: 42%. Several swears. Intermission concerns waxen genitalia, but at least we use some long words in it. Saucy remarks about Mary Berry. •••

Ooh Mary, behave

Ooh Mary, behave


still Fresh after all these years

August 20, 2014 by



Here’s further comfort for Sammie, AMT295‘s mature student apprehensively awaiting Freshers’ Week. Ian, aged 28, writes:

I’ve just finished my degree as a ‘mature’ student, and like you said last week, there’s really nothing to worry about.

No one really cares how old you are, as long as you’re not a nob! You soon make friends (it’s a cliché… But true) and societies can be a great way of meeting people. Freshers’ Week is what you make of it. Getting smashed isn’t mandatory but getting involved will help your younger peers see that you are just a normal bloke (I assume) and aren’t going to be the weird older guy (I assume).

Just remember: they’re more scared of you (and the situation) than you are of them (cliché 2).

Aah, young students are just like house spiders! That’s reassuring, isn’t it, Sammie?

Freshers’ Week is just around the corner now, so any of you have further advice for freshers of any age, bestow it in the comments.


ulcers: due a comeback?

August 20, 2014 by


The following question from Joe got lost on its way to a nostalgia list show:

What happened to ulcers?

Growing up in Canada in the 70’s I remember hearing about people getting ulcers, or worrying about ulcers, but now nobody ever speaks of them. I have some hypotheses:

1. I’m wrong. People still get ulcers and worry about them just like they always have but I am a statistical anomaly living blissfully in an ulcer-free bubble of reality.

2. In the 70’s complaining about ulcers was code for “I need valium”. So nobody really had ulcers; it was all a grownup scam that my child brain didn’t understand. As the fashion in over-the-counter medications have shifted, so to did the disease to which they were attributed.

3. In the intervening years since my youth a cure for ulcers has been discovered so people are diagnosed with them at the same rate as always but they just take a pill and it goes away.

4. Ulcers are now better understood and what we though was one ailment is really a set of sypmtoms that can be atributed to various different causes. So the term itself has been dissolved because medical science has better way to describe the and diagnose the problem(s).

Be it the health of the company I keep, the place in which I live, or the topics deemed suitable for interesting conversations, I have been privy to a consistently small amount of ulcer-chat throughout my life. But readers: can you answer this for Joe? Are his observations correct or not?

Perhaps he’s right and ulcers have simply gone out of fashion in the way of other classic 70s things, like velour bell-bottoms, key parties and Brotherhood of Man.


shit on a dick

August 19, 2014 by



Here’s an appetite-suppressing question from Ciara from Dublin:

I’ve been trying to eat healthily for the past year to lose a bit of weight. Unfortunately that means bringing a lot of strange-looking and -smelling food into work, and getting a lot of weird stares and questions about my odd concoctions of quinoa and lentils.

Recently however, I have developed a food obsession that is rather obscene. I have become completely addicted to almond butter. That alone is ok, but the worst part of my addiction is that I like to eat it smeared on a banana. I lovingly call this “shit on a dick”.

This is fine when I freak my fiancée out at home eating my shit on a dick, banana smeared with almond butter. But I want to eat my banana-almond butter combo in work as well. I’ve taken to sneaking into the kitchen to eat it, but the worry that I’ll get caught is giving me an ulcer.

Answer me this:

Is there any way I can eat my shit on a dick in a socially acceptable manner?

You could start by giving it a name that DOES NOT INDUCE THE HEAVES.

Once you’ve done that, consider presentation. Which looks more pleasant: a whole banana smeared with a lumpy brown substance, or daintily-topped slices of banana that look like little beige canapes? Aesthetics may be the reason why a lot of people prefer to consume their banana and almond butter blended into a smoothie. But you’d just call that ‘diarrhoea’, Ciara, because you’re clearly not to be trusted.

Readers, have you suggestions for prettying up Ciara’s shitty dick snack? Share your classy ways in the comments.


Thursday Listening Party

August 14, 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.

This week, a lot of you will want to hear the 2010 episode of WTF where Marc Maron talks to Robin Williams. Here it is, with a new intro from a choked-up Marc. Get your hankie ready.

You might also want to hear Lauren Bacall tearing it up on Desert Island Discs from 1984, here. Now please excuse me while I get lost in the Desert Island Discs 60-year archive. Again.

Not a million miles from Desert Island Discs is BBC 6 Music’s The First Time With…, in which musicians talk about the songs that made them. Sorry if you were expecting a show in which famous people discuss losing their virginities. (Does such a show exist? Aside from this one?)

I’m intrigued to listen to this programme about the politics of Dr Seuss: Dr Seuss and the Butter Battle. And if you’re intrigued to hear the AMT take on Dr Seuss, you can find it in the Answer Me This! Christmas album. You may think it’s unseasonal to listen to a Christmas show in the middle of August, but there’re only 132 days to go! (‘Only’. That’s still more than a third of a year. But it doesn’t stop a film called Santa With Muscles being played on one of the more remote Freeview channels every damn day.)

Finally: if you’re keen to start making your own podcasts, you can learn everything you need to know at the Essentials of Podcasting Guardian Masterclass on 20th September. I’ll be there to share all my podcasting knowledge, which should take around five minutes; luckily you’ll also be taught all about hardware, software, editing, production, formatting, publicity etc from the likes of Bugle producer Chris Skinner, Guardian podcast producer Jason Phipps, and software inventor Drew White. Book your place here.

PS: if you’re at Green Man festival this weekend, say hi to me and Martin! I’ll be doing Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown at 1am on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Martin will be playing songs on the Solar Stage on Friday and Sunday, and demonstrating 3D printing in Einstein’s Garden every day. 3D printing at a folk festival? Apparently so.

Which shows have been delighting you lately? Recommend some in the comments.

Tune in to our various other gigs:

Catch up on AMT295 and the episodes preceding it.
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. At this time of year, whisk yourself away on the AMT Holiday – a bargain minibreak at only £2.49.
Olly’s on LBC every weekday 1am-4am. Set your alarm.
I host the monthly Sound Women podcast and am on Let’s Talk About Tech from BBC 5 Live.
Martin the Sound Man makes numerous other podcasts, including Brain Train, The Global Lab and The Sound of the Ladies.


August 13, 2014 by


Chris from Crystal Palace is puzzled:

In the last episode Helen mentioned a tangram and Martin asked what a tangram was but got no answer. Helen, answer me this: what is a Tangram?

It’s a puzzle, Chris.

No, I mean, it actually is a puzzle: invented in China, the tangram is a square divided into seven shapes, from which you build other shapes. Like this:


You can make your own tangram out of a piece of paper, then use it to make cute kitties:

tangram cats

Or a series of people larking around:


Or…oh dear no.



EPISODE 295 – the genetic lottery

August 7, 2014 by

AMT legs
Cor, get a load of those stems, listeners! This week, the men of AMT (that’s Olly and Martin the Sound Man, in case you couldn’t work it out) show off their shapely pins – but whose pins are shapelier? Cast your vote in the comments for the left or right pair of legs. Self-esteems depend upon it. Why? Find out in Answer Me This! Episode 295:

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

We also find out about:

OS maps
Freshers’ Week
the price of buses
Kent vs France
psoriasis vs Parkinson’s
Helen’s dad’s genes vs Helen’s dad’s jeans
bat detectors
human meat
William Seabrook
Andy Serkis
auctioneers’ patter
mature students
existential questions at Buckler’s Hard
corporate tangrams
Helen’s first teapot.

We also wonder whether Martin the Sound Man has gone completely batshit, as he tries to converse with bats, thinks jackets = character, and yet again airs his obsession with Holly Hunter. Turn off the lights and pretend you’re not home, Holly!

In today’s Bit of Crap on the App (available for iDevices, Android or Windows gadgetry), we tackle a question from Tori about rumours about teachers that swirled around school. In our cases, most of those rumours were cleaner than the reality.

Make AMT296 a reality by supplying some QUESTIONS: leave a message on the Question Line (call 0208 123 5877 or Skype answermethis), and/or email And be our imaginary friend at and

Thanks very much to our benevolent sponsers for supporting both this episode and your website-building endeavours: enter the code Answer for 10% off their website-hosting, -designing and -troubleshooting services for a whole year and build, build, build!

We shall return with AMT296 on 21st August, unless this leg rivalry means Olly and Martin will no longer agree to be in the same room as each other. It’s pretty serious.

Helen & Olly

••• AMT295 Child-Friendly Rating: 86%. A couple of swears, but no lascivious content. •••


rich man, poor man

August 7, 2014 by



It’s sad to see money coming between friends. Max in London writes:

In ATM294 you discussed the issue between two friends, one of whom made money on the advice of the other. I have a similar problem with my friend (let’s call him Tom) which I worry is going to to ruin our lifelong friendship.

My friend and I went to school together and have been lifelong companions with the same interests, sense of humour etc, and even now that we are grown up and married with children, we don’t live far apart. Until recently we spoke and got together several times a week. Our families always got along well, meeting up regularly, going for meals and we have even gone away for short breaks and on holiday together. Perfect, you might think.

After school Tom and I both went to university and I became a teacher soon after; Tom on the other hand opened his own business. He is a great entrepreneur and soon his business thrived and he now has several very successful operations around the country.

Here lies the crux of the problem. Tom with his success is now very wealthy, while my wife and I live on a very modest income. We struggle to make ends meet he has the best of everything. He has purchased a huge house, thankfully not too far from where we live, drives several expensive cars and so on. Please don’t get me wrong: I don’t begrudge him his success and he truly is the same guy as before, just with more money.

The problem occurs when we share activities together. Tom always wants to do things in style. The ordinary sorts of places we used to go no longer seem good enough so it is always fancy restaurants, expensive hotels etc. Frankly we cannot keep up with the expense. Whenever I we suggested going somewhere more modest he said he would rather not. I tried hinting that we couldn’t afford things he could but this went right over his head, so one day I confronted the issue explaining our position. Being the generous guy he is, Tom said he understood, but said that because he could now afford the best he would pay for me and my family at these places. Suggestions that we eat more modestly were always rejected. I told him that I would feel uncomfortable with him paying, so he told me to pay what we could and he would make up the rest.

My wife and I tried this arrangement for a while, though unhappy with it, even going away on holiday with them to the Bahamas (for which we felt we had to pay a lot more than we could afford and this has left us with many thousands on a credit card). Eventually I talked to Tom again and explained that I really felt uncomfortable with everything and really couldn’t carry on with it. Tom really couldn’t see my point and so there was no real resolution. He thinks I am being ‘proud’ about the money and that he doesn’t mind. Maybe this is the case, but the whole thing doesn’t sit well with me. One remark that really did cut deep was when he referred to me being ‘only a teacher’ and so he didn’t mind ‘subsidising’ things. Another thing that makes me uncomfortable is that my eldest child has remarked how their uncle Tom pays for everything and how we aren’t as rich as them. Am I being proud?

The result is that we see less and less of Tom and his family and our conversations on the phone are awkward. It feels like that we are at an impasse and that eventually we will drift apart.

What should I do?

This is a real pisser, Max. Let’s turn to popular entertainment for assistance:

1. Watch Friends series 2 episode 5, where the group is similarly divided in two by their income disparity. Unfortunately for you, the episode does not offer a proper solution to the problem; it merely resolves it by having Monica losing her job, meaning the poors outnumber the riches. However you may at least take comfort from the fact that your own friendship is not being tested by Hootie and the Blowfish.

2. Watch Trading Places. Go into a little reverie about how you would treat Tom if your situations were reversed, then in real life nudge Tom towards behaving like that. If/when that doesn’t work, consider an evil clandestine scheme for ruining his fortune. Also, look into obtaining a gorilla to help you out of tricky situations.

3. Read Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. The travails of Lily Bart may help you realise the folly of trying to keep up with people of significantly different means. Also, ‘Aunt Peniston’. Fnarrrr!

4. Give Tom a copy of Jane Austen’s Emma to show how twatty people are who let their wealth warp their relationships. Also that bloody novel is so horrifically nihilistic, enduring it will be a little punishment for him for making you unhappy.

Readers, can you go to the comments to offer Max some help that is more useful than mine/film and literature’s?

Also, do you think Tom is being a bit of a shitty friend by forcing Max to compromise all the time while never doing so himself? (Not to mention his ‘only a teacher’ twattery?)

Alternatively, is there a socialist paradise to which Max and Tom could relocate, thus erasing this inequality in an instant?


hen problems

August 6, 2014 by



As usual, weddings are festering piles of problems for our listeners. Mary from Doncaster writes:

I am chief bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding in September. It is the second wedding for them both so we’re all in our 40s (ish).

I have two young children and live a little way away so my friend has arranged for local friends to help organise the Hen Party. This was going really well and I was just left with the task of organising a few silly ideas for the night do, but now one of the party has started buying embarrassing dare games etc which really don’t suit our hen and will be quite embarrassing on the night.

Answer me this, how do I approach this friend and tell her to stop and leave the rest to me?!!

Er…don’t? With these things, it’s easier either to do the whole thing yourself, or stay out of it, and since logistics have steered you largely towards the latter, you can see how the local friends think the party is their domain.

Also, it is thoroughly occasion-appropriate for there to be at least one game to embarrass the hen. I mean, usually I wouldn’t voluntarily play the Mr and Mrs Game, but at my own hen party I understood that the gentle humiliation was all part of the ordealprocess. I’m not suggesting that the hen do ought to be some sort of emotional boot camp for the bride, but it is a ripe opportunity for normal form to be temporarily suspended. Penis-shaped straws, for instance: do you willingly drink through them at any other time? (“Yes Helen! Here at the urology department we refuse to imbibe through anything else.”)

Not convinced, Mary? Then collaboration rather than rivalry is the way to go. If you can’t meet up with the other organiser(s) face to face, have a fun phone chat where you can insinuate your concerns about the dare games, but suggest a suitable alternative with at least a dash of sauce. Even if you don’t want to, other members of the group may desire to make the most of this chance to kick back and forget their Proper Grown-Up Responsible Lives for one night.

But I admit I have never been a bridesmaid (whyyyyy, do all my friends hate me?) and I’m not much of a team player, so haven’t ever contended with this situation myself. Therefore I entreat you readers to deliver advice. Comments. Go. Now!


How Graham are you?

August 6, 2014 by


Competition time, dears! Time to fight each other to the death do a fun little quiz!

Our favourite chat show host, Eurovision commentator and Father Ted guest star, Graham Norton, has written a new memoir, The Life And Loves of a He Devil, and as it’s all about love, it promises to be a pretty lively and delightful read.

It’s not out till 23rd October, but you – YOU! Little old you! Sweet, innocent you! – can win a free copy AND the chance to meet The Graham himself. Here’s how:

Step 1: Play the How Graham Are You? Quiz, which is right here.

Step 2: Share your score – call your loved ones, shout it at passersby, confess it to your priest, embroider it on a cross-stitch sampler – but also by sending an email entitled ‘I am Graham!’ to us at

Step 3: There is no Step 3. It’s just a two-step process. You are free to go outside and play.

Disappointingly, this is what I scored:


Clearly I need to work on my Grahamness.


A brief history of band T-shirts

August 5, 2014 by



Thanks, Josh from Cambridge, New Zealand, for supplying a little book-learning:

Really enjoyed AMT294 and was intrigued by your segment on the first rock T shirts.

I thought you might be interested in the following timeline for the development of the rock T shirt, as we know it, as recorded by authors Amber Easby and Henry Oliver in their book The Art of the Band T-shirt (Simon & Schuster).

1956 Elvis Presley’s record company produces a shirt to promote four of his singles.

1964 The Beatles commemorate their US tour with a special T-shirt for fans.

1967 The Monkees produce T-shirts for their tours.

1970 The Allman Brothers make a T-shirt, not as merchandise but for family, band members and crew.

1971 Grateful Dead produce their tie-dye shirt – starting a 40-year tradition.

1973 Concert promoters produce a shirt for a festival, promoting three bands at once – The Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead and The Band.

1973 Promoters bring out a T-shirt for a Yes tour, and make $250,000 profit from them.

The T-shirt as merchandise is up and running!

Here’s a sweet gallery with people’s anecdotes about their band T-shirts; readers, which one do you treasure? I’ll come clean: I’ve never had one. But I do have a Pixies shopping bag.

PS For sweet AMT merch, visit our Cafepress store. My dad is a big fan of his AMT apron in yellow.



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