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Need A Tattoo Translated? Forget The British Foreign Office

The British Foreign Office is happy to assist its citizens, but officials want to make clear that there are some requests they won't fulfill.

Such as supplying Olympic tickets or doing a background check on that Swedish woman you met online.

Those are just a few of the "often good natured" but distracting requests that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) says it received over the past year, according to a press release issued Thursday.

Some others that no doubt provided stodgy British bureaucrats with some much-needed levity:

-- A man who required hospital treatment in Cambodia when a monkey dislodged a stone that hit him demanded help getting compensation and wanted assurance that it would not happen again.

-- A man asked FCO staff in Rome to translate a phrase for a tattoo that he wanted.

-- A woman requested that consular staff in Tel Aviv order her husband to get fit and eat healthily so that they could have children.

-- A man asked the consulate in Montreal for information to settle a 1,000-pound wager on the color of the British passport.

-- A number of British Consulates have been asked to book hotels or to advise on where to watch football.

"FCO staff help many thousands of British nationals facing serious difficulties around the world every year," says Mark Simmonds, minister of consular affairs. "We also receive over a million inquiries each year, so it is important that people understand what we can and cannot do to support them when they are abroad.

"We are not in a position to help people make travel arrangements or social plans, but we do help those who face real problems abroad. These can include victims of crime, bereaved families who have lost a loved one abroad or Britons who have been arrested or detained," Simmonds says.

"We aim to continue to focus on supporting those who really need our help in the coming year," he says.

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