Thursday Listening Party

July 2, 2015 by

Tyson Beckford Hosts Monster Headphones Launch Party

On the Thursdays with no new AMT, we crank up the spoken word audio and have a Thursday Listening Party.
Click here to attend all previous gatherings.

I’m about to go on holiday* for a fortnight, and I want to pack a load of new-to-me podcasts; so this Thursday Listening Party, what I’d love to know is: which podcasts have you recently discovered?

Or, if you prefer to stick to your old favourites, let me know what’s in your regular rotation. Mine changes every few months: there are a few hundred shows stacked up in my podcast app, and many of the ones I like the best are released sporadically; but every week I listen to the latest 99% Invisible, Bullseye and Dinner Party Download.

*But still doing the usual amount of work, so there will be a new AMT in your podbucket next week.

Right now, here’s how I’ll be spending my eartime:
1. Tomorrow is final episode of the second season of StartUp: the stakes seem a lot higher than they did in season one. Good luck, Dating Ring! Also, I thought this article comparing StartUp to reality TV was an interesting perspective.
2. Hooray, Pitch has returned! The first episode of the new season is about cover songs. I am all for this.
3. Since we seem to be on the theme of firsts and lasts, try the new podcast First Time Last Time. What was it like the first time YOU robbed a bank, kids? (Don’t tell me; tell an officer of the law, please.)
4. In the latest installment of ‘things which might be a bit like Serial’ is BBC Radio 4’s Who Killed Elsie Frost?, a fifty-year-old cold case being reinvestigated by a team of journalists and the victim’s brother and sister. It’s available on the BBC website and as a podcast.

We’ve made a few sounds this week: Olly helms the brand new episode of the Guardian’s Tech Weekly, and a fresh Media Podcast will appear tomorrow. In the new Allusionist, I learn about how words can become your worst enemy and how psychotherapy can put them back in their place. Listen at

Catch up with AMT316 to hear about the peace symbol, bridegrooms and Greggs the Baker, and rejoin us next Thursday for AMT318.


EPISODE 317: hot pack of Manns

June 25, 2015 by

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In Answer Me This! Episode 317, one questioneer is risking the beauty of his bottom for a bet; one appears to be too close to his sister; and another has an inferiority complex over his local multiplex (an inferiority multicomplex?). We also deal with:

Cornwall vs Greggs
Milton Keynes vs Merseyside
the Mercedes logo vs the peace symbol
Victoria, British Columbia
John Lahr’s remote working practices
dinner party gifts for the booze-free
unwanted text messages
D-BOX seats, not to be confused with these d-box seats (link NSFW)
movie premiere attendees
Matthew McConaughey’s norge.

There’s a double bill of childhood nostalgia-themed Bonus Bits of Crap on the App (available for iStuff, Android and Windows devices): Olly reminisces about another junior marketing exercise, and Helen about the Tunbridge Wells cinema now apparently known as a ‘grot spot’.

If you want more AMT, you can a) buy our old episodes; b) send us questions for future episodes: leave voicemails on the Question Line by calling 0208 123 5877 or Skyping answermethis, and send emails to Stay in touch between episodes at and; furthermore, you can vent your Ollyman(n)ia at Hey, if we’re plugging our extracurriculars, you can listen to and like Helen’s podcast The Allusionist via, and hear Martin’s music here.

AMT318 will appear on 9th July 2015. Stay cool.

Helen & Olly

••• AMT317 Child-Friendly Rating: 62%. To be honest, we can’t remember the swear-situation in this episode, so we’ll be cautious and assume there are some. No bawdy-talk, though. •••


wedding destroyers

June 24, 2015 by


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 by
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.


whole lotto fun

June 23, 2015 by
That's entertainment

That’s entertainment


Chris from Liverpool has solved an abiding mystery of entertainment:

In AMT315, Olly asked why a need was felt to build an entertainment show around the National Lottery draw.

The main reason is that TV ratings are not recorded for programmes under 15 minutes in length.

Therefore televising the draw on its own (which would take about two minutes) would not have any ratings attached.

Putting a terrible programme around it probably shows quite accurately how many people are tuning in for the draw itself, as who in their right mind would sit through half an hour of Dale Winton hosting a mind-numbingly boring quiz show…except maybe Olly?

And people who love balls, Chris; let’s not forget them.


soul patch synonyms

June 22, 2015 by



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.


iPad infidelity

June 22, 2015 by


in AMT315, Olly and I disagreed over procedure for questioneer C who, after some incriminating messages popped up on the iPad she’d borrowed, discovered that her boyfriend’s dad had been pursuing some extramarital interests. You lot seem to disagree too; DP writes:

I side with Olly re the inadvertent viewing of a private email on an iPad. If the dad-in-law is having a bit on the side that’s his affair (geddit?).

If the inadvertent email viewer is so shocked and feels she must blow the whistle she could torpedo what may be an otherwise happy marriage. Does she want that responsibility? If she shuts up nobody gets hurt. If she talks, she’s doing it out of a sense of moral outrage, pushing her values on other people.

And what if the in laws have an open marriage? She will look pretty silly. Adultery is a lot more common than people think. Isn’t there a saying: “What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over”?

Whereas, from my corner, Andy from Littlehampton writes:

Surely the only option she has is to speak to her partner about it. I can’t understand why you would suggest brushing it under the carpet and lying about it to her other half. It is only going to eat away at her, and if or when it does come out, which it probably will, and she hasn’t told anyone, she’d feel dreadful.

It is her partner’s decision to speak to his father, and find out if there is an innocent explanation.

My dad had an affair with another woman and if I found out that my wife had known earlier and hadn’t said anything, it would have caused serious problems in our relationship.

You don’t solve one lie, by telling another.

What do you think? Seems to me there’s no right answer – but perhaps you can come up with one in the comments.


Thursday Listening Party

June 18, 2015 by


On the Thursdays with no new AMT, we crank up the spoken word audio and have a Thursday Listening Party.
Click here to attend all previous gatherings.

We’ve been busy, churning out noises:

Olly has just laid a hot fresh episode of the Guardian’s Tech Weekly, in which he debates the future of your ear-tertainment what with Apple Music and Beats 1 entering the fray. Hear it here, and don’t forget to check back tomorrow for more Mann on The Media Podcast and his LBC show.

I make a tiny cameo on the new 99% Invisible, all about Sigmund Freud’s couch. And at MaxFunCon last weekend, I was a panellist in a particularly raucous edition of International Waters: under the jurisdiction of Dave Holmes, Nadia Kamil and I took on Paul F. Tompkins and his wife Janie Haddad Tompkins, and let me tell you, when you’re playing for Britain on American soil, they do NOT want you to win.

Almost certainly less raucous, but still fun and funny, is Radio 4’s News Quiz: I’ll be on it tomorrow night, 6.30pm.

In the new episode of the Allusionist, I reluctantly learn about emoji, and discover a world of misbehaving medieval nuns. Hear it at

Catch up with AMT316 to hear about dirty knickers, banana thrift and the undead Mike Oldfield, and rejoin us next Thursday for AMT317.

What have you been listening to, dear audiophiles? Tell me in the comments!


EPISODE 316: God’s packaging

June 11, 2015 by

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In Answer Me This! Episode 316, we have two very different questions concerning overpreparation for death. We also have:

cobbler problems
wedding +1s
retirement climates
free salad vs free prawn crackers
cat shit vs cat sick
Mike Oldfield
Metallica Monopoly
soiled lost property
popular onions.

Plus: Olly will go on a cruise, as long as it’s free; Helen’s first musical memory is of a cool saboteur; and Martin the Sound Man wants you to slice your own apples and peel your own bananas, you big babies.

In today’s Bonus Bit of Crap on the App (available for iStuff, Android and Windows devices), we continue AMT315‘s discussion of facial hair, and at long last hit on the format that’ll make Olly and Martin into YouTube stars. Or might have, ten years ago.

Thanks very much to for supporting this episode, and for giving you 10% off their website-building and -hosting services for a year if you use the code ‘ANSWER‘. If you’ve ever wanted to launch your own website/podcast/blog/online gallery, deploy the code and GET ON WITH IT.

Get on with sending us questions, too: leave voicemails on the Question Line – call 0208 123 5877 or Skype ID answermethis – and send emails to And commune with us between episodes at and

AMT317 will appear on 25th June 2015. Mark your calendars.

Helen & Olly

••• AMT316 Child-Friendly Rating: 87%. Minimal bawdy talk; just some sweaty undergarments, nothing alarming. A sprinkle of B-grade swears. •••


Mann’s Minecraft moonlighting

June 10, 2015 by

minecraft man


Graham‘s question paints a vivid picture:

I am currently sitting in my living room in Tunbridge Wells having a cup of tea. My daughter is also in here busily making a bizarre structure out of Lego. As a background soundtrack to her industry, she is listening to a generic music, video and internet device, tuned in to a Minecraft video blog on You Tube.

I am familiar with this turn of events, as she will often listen to these Minecraft vlogs (I think that’s the phrase) and I will tune out, allowing the voices to add to the ever growing cesspool of white noise that you build up a tolerance for.

This time, however, things are different! I heard the voice of the vlog and thought, “That’s familiar, who’s that?” Then it came to me: that is the voice of Olly Mann!

I asked my daughter (who had forgotten I was in the room with her, so deeply immersed in the Lego and Minecraft) who it was and she replied, “It is Mr Williamo.”

So, answer me this: is Olly Mann secretly moonlighting as a Minecraft Video Blogger going under the name of Mr Williamo?

I would love to hear from you on this, from what I understand the Minecraft video blogs can be quite lucrative.

They can? Dammit! Why are we bothering with this question-answering audio bullshit?

As far as I know, between AMT and his LBC show and Guardian Tech Weekly and the Media Podcast and trying to get his cat to love him back, Olly doesn’t have time to masquerade as Mr Williamo. But over the years he’s talked so much, it’s entirely possible someone has extracted every phoneme and created a Siri-style Olly Mann Universal Commentator, ready to be the voice of anything. If this hasn’t happened yet, prepare yourselves for the inevitable.


family friends

June 9, 2015 by



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.


nice and Nice

June 8, 2015 by


Here’s a nice question from Jo:

Is there any link between the English word ‘nice’ and the French city named Nice? Nice is very nice after all.

Yes, but no. Sorry to disappoint.

Nice the city was founded around 350BC by the Greeks, who named it ‘Nikaia’, meaning ‘victory’, after the Grecian winged goddess of victory, Nike. I’m guessing that ‘k’ probably morphed into a ‘c’ when the Romans were carousing around taking charge of that region in the subsequent centuries and spelt the name ‘Nicaea’.

The adjective ‘nice’ came from Latin and old French, in which it meant ‘stupid’. Not so nice after all.

PS Perhaps you’d like to revisit the classic Dave from Smethwick question in AMT145 about whether you’re supposed to pronounce Nice Biscuits like the place or the adjective.



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