Thursday Listening Party

May 21, 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.

Friends, this evening I’m on a new Radio 4 panel show, Best Behaviour. It’s hosted by (AMT jingle alum) Holly Walsh and is all about manners. Hear it on R4 at 6.30pm, or afterwards on the BBC website. And you might as well remain tuned in to Radio 4 for eight days, because on Friday 29th I’ll be on the News Quiz! Finally we can test whether I really can convincingly pass as a Sandi Toksvig soundalike…

I’m also on the latest episode of the bicontinental gameshow International Waters, hosted by Dave Holmes. Arnab Chanda and I were pitted against Paul Provenza and Brigid Ryan. We recorded pretty soon after the election, so were in an emotionally weakened state rather than 100% combat ready.

The new Allusionist tackles one of the most pressing questions of our time: what IS brunch? I’m joined by Dan Pashman of The Sporkful podcast, who champions something called ‘the porklift’. Racy! There’s more information and different ways to hear the show at

Sustain your ears over this weekend with Olly on the forthcoming Media Podcast and on LBC in the evenings.

My book club-style Podcast Club met again last week. The winners this time were this very intimate (NSFW) episode of The Heart and a Pitch episode about bands using backing tracks on live performances. I can thoroughly recommend this exercise – it’s proving to be very fun and interesting to meet with friends in the pub and argue about podcasts all evening.

What have you enjoyed listening to this week? Let us know in the comments! I’ve just started on Nocturne, which is really beautifully made audio essays about the night; and I’m catching up on ARRVLS before their second series begins next month. The Norjak episode will appeal to any of you who were into the DB Cooper theory of Mad Men. Backed the wrong horse, didn’t you? Maybe it’ll happen in one of the DVD extras.


EPISODE 314: respect the pine cones

May 14, 2015 by

Have you ever nicked a little something to remind you of a holiday? We’ve got a nice china cup pinched from a plane and YOU’LL NEVER TAKE US ALIVE, BRITISH AIRWAYS. What’s yours? One listener’s stolen souvenir came with fond memories and twenty years of guilt. Find out what and why in Answer Me This! Episode 314:

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

Today we tackle:

tinfoil hats
dumping your training-buddy
same-sex kisses
Kendal Mint Cake vs transubstantiation
royal tins of travel sweets vs the unstoppable march of time
stealing from castles vs pissing in a stream
the silent film Wings
a Milton Keynes-themed bar
heritage crime
The Grand Budapest Hotel IRL
mummy and daddy
giraffe heads.

Plus: though Olly prefers men to machines, he would prefer men to act like machines; Helen wouldn’t tune into a livestream of Princess Middleton giving birth; and Martin the Sound Man doesn’t have high hopes for his fellow academics on the ski slopes, unless the hopes are for a mild sprain rather than a broken arm.

As an addendum to the question about same sex kisses in films, today’s Bonus Bit of Crap on the App (available for iThings, Android and Windows devices) concerns the lost lesbians of Love Actually. Yes, they actually left material OUT of that sprawling collage of human emotions.

Share YOUR human emotions by sending us questions. Leave voicemails on the Question Line – call 0208 123 5877 or Skype ID answermethis – and send emails to And join the virtual cuddle-party at and

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‘. Generous!

We’ll return on 28th May 2015 with AMT315, prepare your tinfoil headphones.

Helen & Olly

••• AMT314 Child-Friendly Rating: 85%. Content clean. Swearing inventory: 2x ‘fuck’, 1x ‘shit’. 5% is deducted for each. •••

Martin the Sound Man sports a tinfoil hat at AMT100

Martin the Sound Man sports a tinfoil hat at AMT100



May 14, 2015 by


Here’s a question from Colm from London:

What happens after a bungee jump? You throw yourself off a bridge with an elastic band tied to your feet, then at the end you’re left down at the bottom, dangling. Does someone come and get you from there? Or are you slowly winched up back to the bridge? I’d find the latter much worse than the actual jump itself.

Readers, you’re going to have to jump into the comments to answer this question. None of us has ever done a bungee jump. Considering Olly managed to dislocate his shoulder walking to meet his ski instructor for his first lesson – not even from skiing itself! – if any of us attempted a bungee jump, it’s reasonable to assume that what would happen afterwards would involve an ambulance and months of physiotherapy.


The Royal vote

May 13, 2015 by

Queen Elizabeth II


We’ve had the following question from Almost Everybody in the past week:

Can the Queen vote?

According to, ‘The Queen can vote, but in practice it is considered unconstitutional for the Monarch to vote in an election.’

QE2’s own website expands the point: ‘As Head of State, The Queen must remain politically neutral, since her Government will be formed from whichever party can command a majority in the House of Commons. The Queen herself is part of the legislature and technically she cannot therefore vote for members of another part of the legislature.’

For those of you wondering about whether the rest of the royals can vote: ‘they also are required to preserve their political neutrality so as not to embarrass The Queen. Therefore, they too would not vote nor stand for election for the European Parliament.’

I’d love to see the list of things the royals are not supposed to do ‘so as not to embarrass The Queen’. Someone should also send a copy to Prince Andrew, what what?

However. My brother placed a consolation bet on the outcome of the election and won £600. We know the Queen loves to have a flutter. I reckon she will have ‘voted’ on the sly. Someone check her online William Hill account.

*** For more royal fun, check out the Answer Me This Jubilee ***


bum luxury

May 12, 2015 by


Regarding the luxurious arse-wiping asked about in AMT312, Phil from London writes:

I have great news, you too can shit like Simon Cowell and Russell Brand!

Black loo roll is available for a quid a roll.

They (Renova) do other colours as well (and kitchen roll). Lime green, orange, fuscia, yellow and brown.

I am not regular user but have used the black roll; it is a weird experience. The loo is good quality but very odd not being white.

Maybe try the yellow paper, Phil, so you can pretend you’re wiping your bum with a big Post-It Note.

The white loo roll is really striking a, er, bum note.

The white loo roll is really striking a, er, bum note.


a cheese in the hand

May 11, 2015 by



Remember the AMT303 question about an online dater seeking handjobs with cheese, and the feedback in AMT304 about the notorious aficionado of such, the Swiss Cheese Pervert?

Well, even if you don’t, the above paragraph probably filled in the blanks.

Kate from Pennsylvania has further news of such:

I was amazed that the local story of the legendary Cheese Pervert reached across the pond when Liz in Brooklyn asked how a cheese hand job would be performed. It seems this man cast a wide net on dating sites, as one of my best friends told me the same story about five years ago.

It turns out that the man in question grew quite desperate and was arrested in Philadelphia for, well, “presenting” himself to women with cheese in hand. The story made the local news, and it turns out that I actually have several friends who received similar messages, and there is a definitive answer to the question from the man himself.

Liz was correct, and his preference is slices of Swiss cheese.

Here’s an article that includes one of his dating site messages, with a link to his subsequent arrest.

Thanks for the confirmation, Kate, that the correct medium for the cheesy hand job is sliced Swiss cheese. It would be terribly embarrassing for our listeners if they greeted their online assignation with a Mini Babybel or luscious Vacherin. What a boner-killer.


Thursday Listening Party

May 7, 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.

Election Day! The Media Podcast election special, hosted by Olly, will be out tomorrow on

Meanwhile, I sought solace in etymology for the new Allusionist and found out the origins of lots of political words – visit to hear about hairy polls and ballsy ballots.

Election-unrelated: I was recently a guest on one of my favourite podcasts, The Sporkful! And I discovered that host Dan Pashman is possibly even more of a pedant than I am. Hear here.

In AMT313, we search for a foodstuff older than a questioneer and get stuck in poogatory. Catch up in time for AMT314 next Thursday.

A few shows I’ve enjoyed this week:

Radiotopia sibling Benjamen Walker just completed New York After Rent, a three-part series within his podcast Theory of Everything, and it’s a very interesting take on the gentrification of New York through the prism of rent, Rent and Airbnb. Hear at (On the subject of Radiotopia – if you’re in Dublin and free this evening, come along to the Radiotopia party and hang out with me and Nick van der Kolk from Love+Radio. Click here for details.)

I started listening to Millennial, in which recentish graduate Megan Tan negotiates the upward struggle that is so many of our twenties. (And thirties. And forties. Etc etc, up until one’s hundred-and-teens, at which point one probably has stopped worrying so much.) The show is pretty new, but is off to a very strong start. I had to check on this chart to find out whether I’m a Millennial, Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomer or Greatest Generation. Treat for Gen X-ers – Parker Posey was on WTF this week.

If you’re in need of some first person true stories that will punch you right in the emotional gut, let me steer you towards This Is Actually Happening.

What’s been in your ears this week? Share your recommendations in the comments.


EPISODE 313: Master of Big Bottom Studies

April 30, 2015 by

Trying times today, as a questioneer faces a choice between her dream job as a vet, and her debilitating allergy to animals. What to do? Listen to Answer Me This! Episode 313, of course!

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

In which we discuss:

food that is older than you
political posters
cleaning with booze
Boudin Bakery bread bacteria
Olly’s mum’s rack – spice rack, that is!
photographic memory
Jill Price
escalator speed
tortoise vets
licorice root

Plus: young Olly’s wish was to become Billy Baldwin in Sliver; Helen is desperate for someone – ANYone! – to invent a hoverbag; and Martin the Sound Man headbutted an escalator whilst still in utero, setting a precedent for a lifetime of clumsiness.

In today’s Bonus Bit of Crap on the App, there’s a question from Christine in Philadelphia whose Fitbit is bullying her into physical exertion. March on the spot as you listen via your iThings, Android and Windows phones.

Even if you don’t have a photographic memory, don’t forget to send us your questions: leave voicemails on the Question Line – call 0208 123 5877 or Skype ID answermethis – and send emails to And be our online pal at and

We’ll return on 14th May 2015 with AMT314, please return too!

Helen & Olly

••• AMT313 Child-Friendly Rating: 91%. One strong swear six minutes in, but it is politics-related therefore valid. Otherwise, clean. •••


Antarctica alum

April 30, 2015 by


AMT312 feedback JUST in from Troy Sexhammer:

Having literally just got back today from two and a half years working on a British Antarctic Survey base I was excited when I updated my podcasts to find AMT had a question on just this.

Firstly, there are plenty of non-scientist jobs on the British bases; builders and technicians, computer and communications specialists, boat teams, mountaineers, chefs and cleaning and maintenance crews.

Secondly, I had no psychological profiling before heading south and I’m fine.

Thirdly, am I weird for wanting to see penguins, albatrosses, whales and icesheets? I always laughed at the fact that Olly is a grown man who is into Disney, show tunes and a cat. Or are we two ends of some sort of interest bell-curve, pushed to the side by the sport and Top Gear-dominated middle ground?

But how did you get your job, Mr Sexhammer? That’s what questioneer S needs to know!

As for your bell curve: you and Olly can probably meet in the middle at the dancing penguins from Mary Poppins.


AMT312 corrections

April 29, 2015 by


Make the following amendments to your MP3 of AMT312. Jonathan writes:

I wanted to comment on your discussion of the word “yogurt”. The word indeed comes from Turkish, and is spelled “yoğurt” there, with the root of the word being the verb “yoğur”, which means “to create [something] by adding water to a condensed fermenting agent”. The suffix “-t” transforms this root to give it the meaning “a product of”. Thus the final word, i.e. yoğur + t, means “a foodstuff that is the product of curdling/condensing”.

In terms of the pronunciation, I’m afraid you were a little off. The accented g, i.e. “ğ”, which the Turks refer to as “soft g”, isn’t really a “g” sound at all, nor is it the harsh, throaty “chhh” sound (similar to the “ch” in “challah”) you made in the episode, which wouldn’t be a sound found naturally in the Turkish language (except in maybe a tiny handful of imported foreign words, and even then, in significantly softened down form).

Instead, the Turkish “soft g” is not at all assertive. In fact, it’s barely a sound. The closest approximation of “ğ” is like a soft throat “w” but without the lip-rounding. Often times, most foreigners pronouncing a “soft g” can away with simply lengthening the vowel that precedes it.

So the Turkish pronunciation of yogurt is simply yo-urt. You can hear this yourself at this link. Of the three pronunciations available, the best and most accurate one is the first, recorded by user “zlvrzz”.

Lee in London comments:

I felt the need to correct Olly on some of the things he said regarding the books/props in the House of Commons.

The books on display in the front are not bibles but are in fact the books listing the orders for the house, and the procedures that need to be followed for all debates and discussions in the chamber. Though he was correct that MPs do need to swear an oath on a bible which are also available in that massive central bit.

The burnt bible Olly referred to as having been damaged by WW2 bombs in actually in the dispatch box for the opposition side, and a fresh new bible is in the dispatch box for the Government side. This is I was told similar to the swearing to tell the truth as you would on a bible in court but on a simpler scale.

I know this little tidbits of information as I use to work in said building and knew people who had worked there for decades who imparted this knowledge to me as I impart it to you.

And now we impart it to you. Pass it on!


grower not a shower

April 29, 2015 by


A listener who asked to remain anonymous has shared this highlight(er) of her sex life:

I have some sage advice for Holly from Aberdeen in episode 312, who got in touch about the uninspiring length of her new lover’s schlong. I’d echo your advice in sticking with him, or at least looking beyond the end of his very short knob.

I too went through a very similar situation. The first time I slept with one excellent man last year (with whom I got on with famously and fancied the pants off), I was left deflated by not only by his small love muscle, but also the lacklustre performance he gave in the bedroom. While we got on so well, I did have doubts about whether I could continue seeing someone who couldn’t satisfy me sexually.

However, the next time we slept together – and every time thereafter – was EXTREMELY satisfying. His tallywhacker seemed to almost double in size. Although, I never whipped out the tape measure to verify this, but let’s say he didn’t leave me wanting.

I never questioned him about it, but in the end I put our first disastrous intercourse attempt down to the amount of alcohol we had drunk that evening (we’d had SO much to drink), lack of sleep and, dare I say it, nerves. Which may well have been the case for the “tall, handsome, strapping” fella who Holly has dismissed already.

Granted, me and this bloke I’m referring to aren’t together any more, but that’s not the moral of the story – the moral is that the first time you have sex with somebody doesn’t always give you a true perspective of what your sex life future will be.

I do hope Holly doesn’t dump him, but sticks with him a little longer (to see if he gets a little longer…).

P.S. When I listened to you discussing Holly’s conundrum, there was a man sitting in my eyeline, using a regular-sized Stabilo highlighter. I will never look at a Stabilo highlighter in the same way.

Nor will any of us, dear.


Innards in a jar

April 28, 2015 by



Another medical question arrives from Courtney, 34, in Omaha, Nebraska:

I have been lucky enough never to need surgery, but if I do ever need to have my appendix, tonsils, or several inches of my intestines removed…


Would the surgeon allow me to take my innards, rather, my newly outtards, home with me in an alcohol-filled jar?

Medics and surgery-alumni, please go to the comments to supply Courtney with her answer.

I know that after I had my gallbladder removed, in my post-surgical party bag was a little plastic jar filled with gallstones, or a spoonful of gravel off the pavement, difficult to call.



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