61. 127 Hours / ‘Hand’ Idioms


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Listen to an interview with Aaron Ralston, learn about the movie 127 Hours and pick up some useful idioms with the word ‘hand’.

Luke’s English Podcast is completely free and a great way to improve your English. Luke focusses on British English, specifically on natural language which is really used by people in Britain every day. You can learn vocabulary and cultural information.

In this episode, I talk about the film 127 Hours, we listen to an interview with Aaron Ralston (who is the subject of the film) and then I teach you some really useful idioms with the word ‘hand’.

True or False Statements. There is a video and transcript below.

1. The week of April 26 – May 1st 2003 divided his life into two parts.
2. The hike he went on was one of the most extreme and dangerous hikes he had ever done.
3. As he was hiking above a canyon he dislodged a boulder and they both fell into the canyon. The boulder landed on his arm and trapped him in the canyon.
4. He was 5 hours from civilisation.
5. He hadn’t informed anyone of his plan to trek in that area.
6. He realised almost immediately that he was going to starve to death.
7. By the 5th day he had already tried every possible way to escape.
8. By day 5 he was still not convinced that he was going to die there.
9. He wasn’t able to deal with regrets that he had about his life.
10. He had a dream about himself as a boy and he wanted to go back to apologise to himself.
11. He got really angry because he felt he had failed himself.
12. He made a controlled decision to break his bones and to cut his arm off.
13. He was very happy to cut off his arm despite the pain.
14. He took a really good quality photo of his hand before he left.
15. He fell 60ft into a pool of water.
16. He hiked 7 miles even though he was losing strength all the time.
17. He climbed 800ft to his truck and then contacted a helicopterto rescue him.
17. His experience in Blue John canyon totally changed his life forever.
Video (transcript below)

Transcript of the Aaron Ralston Interview

[5:56]
When I think about the week of April 26 – May 1st 2003, there was what came before and there is what came after. It was such a watershed for me that literally cleaved not only my arm, but my life into these this kind of before and after. This pre and post Blue John.

I walked into that canyon not only with two hands, but just as an adventurer on a day trip for kind of a vacation (of sorts). And midway through this hike that was pretty low-key for the kinds of things that I was doing at that time of my life. I got to a drop-off in a slot canyon in the middle of very remote desert in Southern Utah and I dislodged a boulder. I pulled it down as I was descending, this drop off and the boulder fell from my head as I was now underneath it. And as I put my hands up to try to block it from crashing into my skull that my hands, one got smashed and as the boulder ricocheted my right hand became trapped by this rock as it slammed into a new spot between these very narrow walls.

So this like bus-tire size boulder now is trapping me in a fifty foot deep slot canyon five miles from the nearest dirt road and hours from a phone or pavement or running water or help. I was by myself and told anyone where I was going, didn’t leave any kind of a itinerary and so it was just me stuck and trapped basically standing in my grave and without being able to get free I was definitely going to die there via one or the other kind of mechanisma, see either infection, dehydration or starvation, perhaps a flash flood or just by succumbing a hyperthermia during the very cold nights.

I suffered through all of these various bodily and mental degradations over not just one day and one night, but two days, two nights, three days and three nights, four days and four nights, five days and a fifth night I knew that at this point I’ve tried everything there is to try including trying to cut my arm off to get myself free and being there, I etched my name and my birth month and what I thought was my death month in the wall off the canyon above my shoulder. I used this hand-held video camera sat on a rock in front of me to strapping my hand and recorded my will and testament, I mean my goodbyes to my family, my loved ones and I was resigned perhaps or at peace with, maybe another way to say it, the fact that I was going to die here. There was no more life in front of me. I found a lot of regrets in my life too, but also I came to, I think, an understanding with myself about it to let some of those regrets, just let them be. But as a turned out it was not the end. I had a vision during that last night, that fifth night, that I was there, of a little boy. I saw myself in some point in the future with a handless right arm playing with this little blond-haired three-year-old and lifting him up and I’m holding him up on my head then, the eye contact that I had with him told me that this is my future son. And if I used to have a future son, that meant that I was going to have a future. I was going to get out of this place, a few hours later the sun came up yet again in the sixth day in the canyon, but this time with this renewed hope that I would get out of there. I actually fell into a rage of sorts. I lost control of what had previously being very controlled experience for me and in this rage I felt my bones bend and as they bent I realised that I might actually be able to break the bones. If I can break them I might be able to then use the knife which was too dull to cut through the bones, but to use that just on a soft tissues and this smile came over me. I was euphoric as I… went about first breaking one bone and then contorting my body to break the second bone and then using that knife to cut through the various tissues and cleaving the nerve which was a thousand times worse than having that boulder crashing my hand. But even when I got through that most intense pain, I knew that I was going to get out of there. I’m going to die at some point, but I’m not going to die here. I’m going to get out of this place and sure enough after about an hour and five minutes of working through the imputation I was free. It was euphoric, ecstasy that I’ll probably ever feel in my life. And I gathered myself after a few deep breaths and picked up my rope, picked up my climbing gear, picked up my water bottle that then was full of urine. I took the last photograph of this, this was good riddance photograph, but the hand that nearly tra… killed me and the boulder and I started hiking down the canyon. I made it through a few hundred yards of third and fourth class canyon until I got to a rappel that I set up and rappelled a 60 food drop and I got to a pool of water and drank from that for about fifteen minutes and then started hiking. Walked through almost 7 miles then. Slowly losing energy as the adrenaline and just the effects of all of these sleep deprivation and everything else had been mounting on me.

And at the end of this hike, I was just a mile away from my truck, where I had to leave the canyon bottom and about eight hundred vertical feet of climbing at this moment now a helicopter came out of the sky that had been searching for me plucked me out of the canyon and off we fly to the hospital.

This was such a remarkable synchronicity of me getting myself free and out in the open when I could be found and that helicopter being there within minutes when I was otherwise bled to death. It’s to me still an astonishing miracle that I did what I did, but actually that I survived and the effect of it, got to medical attention.

Putting my life back together after again this is before and after of everything that had happened leading me up to that place than that where I was go after that. It still stands even now with being married and having a little six-month old boy Leo that the experience back in the Blue John is still the defining moment in my life, what came before and what came after.

[13:20]

Answers to the true or false sentences
1. The week of April 26 – May 1st 2003 divided his life into two parts. [TRUE]
2. The hike he went on was one of the most extreme and dangerous hikes he had ever done. [FALSE – it was fairly low key]
3. As he was hiking above a canyon he dislodged a boulder and they both fell into the canyon. The boulder landed on his arm and trapped him in the canyon. [TRUE]
4. He was 5 hours from civilisation. [FALSE – he was ‘hours’ from civilisation]
5. He hadn’t informed anyone of his plan to trek in that area. [TRUE]
6. He realised almost immediately that he was going to starve to death. [FALSE – he realised he was going to die, but by many possible ways – infection, dehydration, flash flood, starvation]
7. By the 5th day he had already tried every possible way to escape. [TRUE]
8. By day 5 he was still not convinced that he was going to die there. [FALSE – he was convinced that he was going to die]
9. He wasn’t able to deal with regrets that he had about his life. [FALSE – he made peace with himself]
10. He had a dream about himself as a boy and he wanted to go back to apologise to himself. [FALSE – he had a dream about his future son]
11. He got really angry because he felt he had failed himself. [FALSE]
12. He made a controlled decision to break his bones and to cut his arm off. [FALSE – he was in a rage – out of control]
13. He was very happy to cut off his arm despite the pain. [TRUE]
14. He took a really good quality photo of his hand before he left. [FALSE – it was a ‘good riddance’ photo]
15. He fell 60ft into a pool of water. [FALSE – he rappelled 60ft and then found the water]
16. He hiked 7 miles even though he was losing strength all the time. [TRUE]
17. He climbed 800ft to his truck and then contacted a helicopterto rescue him. [FALSE – his truck was an 800ft climb away, but he got rescued by a helicopter]
17. His experience in Blue John canyon totally changed his life forever. [TRUE]

Hand Idioms
Here are the hand idioms from this podcast. Listen to the episode to get definitions and examples:

1. to be good with your hands
2. to get your hands dirty
3. (get your/keep your) hands off!
4. hands up!
5. to have your hands full
6. in someone’s hands
7. to be in safe hands / in good hands
8. many hands make light work
9. off someone’s hands
10. on someone’s hands
11. out of someone’s hands
12. take something off someone’s hands
13. with your bare hands
14. give him a (big) hand
15. you’ve got to hand it to him
16. to hand something to someone
17. to hand something out
18. a handout
19. a hand-me-down
20. handed down from generation to generation
21. handy (adj)
22. on the one hand / on the other hand
23. I know it like the back of my hand
24. to shake hands
25. holding hands / hand in hand

That’s it!

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8 thoughts on “61. 127 Hours / ‘Hand’ Idioms

  1. Wassim

    Wow… Mr. Thomson,

    Your podcasts can be life changing sometimes. I feel deeply moved by this whole story. For me it has a very important spiritual aspect related to the meaning of life and suffering in general. I hope I don’t have to experience anything so painful in my life or in my whole existence. I will never forget this story, and I don’t think I would ever watch the movie because I might not be able to sleep.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Teacher Luke’s lessons | Notes

  3. Dmitry Rotenberg

    I watched the film “27 hours” in 2010 year, but in my opinion the film is very boring. All the story of film takes a half an hour maximum. The film hasn’t excited me.
    I have watched the film “Buried”, it’s very similar. :))

    Reply

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