A recent article in the Guardian listed the reasons people call local government. The information was compiled by the Local Government Association, and what journalist could resist? Other papers ran versions of the story as well. People asked:
What was the name of the James Bond baddie who liked cats? (That was for a crossword puzzle.)
What size pan does Mary Berry’s strawberry tart call for? (At least they didn’t ask what kind of fruit it calls for.)
How much water do you need to cook super noodles? (A lot. What are super noodles?)
What are the rules for mouse racing? (First you catch your mouse…)
What should you do if you eat an out-of-date pork pie? (Write your will. It’ll keep you busy until you come to terms with the fact that you’ll live.)
Would you take my cat? (No, for my cat is a jealous cat. My other cat probably is as well, but he’s young and can’t imagine other cats moving in on his territory.)
I don’t know if those are particularly British questions—except of course for the Mary Berry one. She keeps cropping up here. The emergency phone system fielded a call from someone who said Mary Berry had kidnapped her. The consensus among people who left comments here was that we should all be so lucky. We’d get a nice cup of tea and some homemade cake.
When you deal with the public, you hear and see pretty much everything. My dealings have been with the American public, but basically weird calls are weird calls. I used to work for a writers organization, and it ran a series of contests. Every time the rules confused someone and they called to ask for an explanation, the organization responded by making the rules more specific. And longer. Which confused more people. Which led to more calls. My favorite went like this. “I see it says to staple the submission in the upper left-hand corner. Whose left is that?”
As an organization, we never did seem to catch onto the connection between increased length and increased calls. So who, I ask you, should I be making fun of here?