Here’s the final part in this trilogy of episodes recorded at my parents’ house on Boxing Day. In this one my mum, dad and brother tell us a few more anecdotes about their encounters with some well-known people.
The conversation you’re about to hear was recorded with my family on the same day as the last couple of episodes. It was quite late in the evening, after my uncle and aunt had gone home and after dinner and number drinks had been consumed. Picture a very warm and cosy living room with a wood burning stove going in the background.
After listening to Nic describing his encounters with some famous rock stars earlier in the day, the other members of my family wanted to get in on the action too with their stories about brushing shoulders with the stars. So here are a few other anecdotes from my dad, my brother and my mum.
It turns out that my family have met some genuine legends. I didn’t even realise that a couple of these things had happened. You’ll have to wait and see who they are. But here are some slightly cryptic clues.
Can you guess which people I’m talking about?
One of the UK’s favourite authors who wrote a series of beloved books which have also been made into successful films.
A British comic actor who likes eating ice-creams and fighting zombies, criminals and aliens, in his movies (not real life of course).
A small but very important woman who often appears in public but is also a very private person.
A nonagenarian who once said that he was “the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children.” A nonagenerian is someone in their nineties – also, septuagenarian (70s) and octogenarian (80s).
There are others too, including an American punk rock star with lots of tattoos and muscles, a Shakespearean actor who has become a successful film director and an actor who had a bit part in the British TV series The Office.
I should perhaps remind you of several other anecdotes which you might have heard on this podcast before, which are mentioned in this conversation.
The time I met comedian Eddie Izzard and was a bit lost for words. I sort of went to pieces a bit and made it really awkward and weird by saying “You’re in my head!” – not the right thing to say at all. Originally told be me in this episode teacherluke.co.uk/2014/06/10/184-lukes-d-day-diary-part-2/
Anyway, you can now sit back and enjoy some more time with The Thompsons.
Outro Transcript + ad-libs
Funny, isn’t he? My brother. I would like him to be on the podcast more often, if he’s up for it. The thing is that he’s a bit modest really and isn’t the sort of outgoing person who likes to broadcast his thoughts and opinions over the internet, although he obviously should because he’s got a lot to offer. He ought to do a podcast or something like that, right? He does have a YouTube channel but it’s mainly skateboarding. www.youtube.com/user/VideoDaze/videos
*All the background music in this episode was also made by James*
I had a lovely Christmas and New Year. We played games, ate loads of food, went to the pub, took walks and generally had a good time with each other, as planned.
My uncle Nic (my mum’s younger brother) and my auntie Rose (Nic’s wife) were with us too, which was really nice because it’s always great to spend time with them, and I’m glad to say that I managed to get Nic on the podcast, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages because he’s great and he has some good stories to tell, as you will hear.
I didn’t get a chance to do a lot of recording with my family because it was the holiday period and I didn’t want to stick microphones in people’s faces too much.
But on Boxing Day I managed to do some recordings with my uncle, my mum, my brother and my dad.
I’m going to play those recordings to you over the course of the next two episodes.
In this episode you’ll hear these things:
My mum and my uncle talking about specific methods of cooking a really good Christmas dinner
Some vocabulary explanations – because there are loads of good words and phrases relating to cooking and food preparation, and also some other general bits of vocab that crop up in the conversation that are worth learning.
A bit of rambling at the end of the episode about the holiday period, including a quick report about the Christmas Olympic games that my Dad organised for us and some other bits and pieces
Part 1 (overview)
We start with James and Uncle Nic talking about how early in the morning it is, because we recorded this before breakfast on Boxing Day. This is probably the first pre-breakfast podcast I’ve ever done.
My wife accidentally spills some coffee down the back of one of the armchairs in the living room and you’ll hear that there’s a bit of commotion and disturbance in the background as people run around and she desperately tries to clean it up.
My uncle and I ask my mum about the secret to cooking a succulent, moist turkey, which apparently is done using a process called basting.
My uncle expresses some concern about the cleanliness of the microphone covers I’m using, asking if they have been sterilized, and that leads to a slight tangent about Health & Safety in the workplace.
We then get back to talking about my mum’s turkey technique with some explanations of exactly how to make sure the meat stays moist all the way through the cooking process. Moist is the key word here obviously, as the word is repeated a few times until my brother interrupts by shouting “stop saying moist!”
We then turn to the vegetables and go on a bit about how my Mum prepared the sprouts, carrots, potatoes and parsnips. There are a couple of other interruptions from James, including a joke about the secret of comedy and then an explosive sneeze. Throughout all of this my wife is still rushing around in the background and searching the internet for “how to get coffee stains out of an armchair”.
We talk briefly about the complications of preparing Christmas lunch with a vegetarian at the table, as my auntie Rose is a veggie.
Talk then turns naturally to sweet food and my uncle Nic expresses some disappointment about the lack of a traditional Christmas pudding at the table the evening before.
Finally, my Auntie Rose arrives in the room and sits in the chair that my wife spilled coffee onto, but thankfully my wife has already managed to clean it all up, without my help, there’s no evidence of a spillage, so it looks like my wife got away with it.
So, now you can actually listen to that conversation as it happened and when it’s over I’ll go through some of the vocabulary in more detail so you can not only understand everything my family say but also so you can actually learn loads of vocabulary properly and add it to your active English.
That was quite a short bit of conversation, wasn’t it! By the usual standards of LEP, it was quite short. But there’s more coming in the next episode.
I said before that I would go through some of the words and phrases in that conversation in order to help to boost your learning process.
A lot of phrases related to specific ways of cooking and preparing food were in there. There were also lots of other nice bits of vocab too.
So, this is the language section of the podcast. As I am explaining the vocabulary, you can think about these things:
Did you notice these words and phrases while you listened?
Did you already know them or are they new to you?
Did you misunderstand or mishear any of them?
What other words go with these words? Try to notice words in groups, chunks or phrases.
How exactly are these words and phrases pronounced? How is the pronunciation different from the spelling. Remember to check the page for the episode to see the words written down in order to check their spelling.
After my help, would you be able to use these words in your own conversations?
And will you use these expressions? That’s a question, but also a request! I wonder if you will use them, and I suggest that you use them too because that’s how you will make them a part of your active vocabulary.
As I’m going through this list you can test your knowledge – see if you really know these words and phrases properly.
You could repeat some of this language after me as well. Do some shadowing.
And I suggest that after listening to me explain all this vocab that you go back and listen to that conversation extract again, try to notice the vocabulary when you hear it and see how much more you understand.
You can tell what time it is based on the rapidity of his response. (rapid – adj / rapidly – adv / rapidity – noun)
My wife’s just spilled/spilt tea all over the armchair.
To spill / spilt / spilt (UK spelling)
To spill / spilled / spilled (US spelling)
A spillage (noun)
The secret to a succulent, moist turkey is basting. Succulent (adj) = tender, juicy and tasty (for meat) Moist (adj) = slightly wet (can be used to describe food, e.g. moist turkey or moist cake, but it also can describe anything else which is slightly wet and for that reason the word is a bit suggestive and rude-sounding) Moist / moisture / moisturise Paul Foot – Moist Cake bit. Essentially he’s making the observation that when someone serves you some home-made cake you have to compliment the person by saying how moist it is! Even if it’s not that moist. “Oh, this cake is so moist! How did you get it so moist!” There’s social etiquette which dictates that you have to compliment the person on how moist their cake is, and you have to do it quite quickly. “Mmm, it’s lovely this cake – so moist! How did you get it so lovely and moist! Whenever I make cake it’s so dry! I’m an awful cook, but your cake is so moist!” – it’s polite to compliment the person who made the cake.
A ladle (noun) / to ladle (verb)
They make a heck of a din. (the bells) A hell of a … A heck of a …
A din = a loud and unpleasant noise “You’ll be the judge of that” – a way to emphasise that someone has to make their own judgement about something.
Also: “I’ll be the judge of that” – used to express some anger while saying “I will make that judgement – not you!” e.g. “I make the best tea in London”, “We’ll I’ll be the judge of that!”
Have these microphone covers been sterilised?
To sterilise something (verb) Health & Safety legislation Fire extinguishers are in good order.
To trip over the carpet.
To sue you for a lot of money. To sue the shop. Line the dish with lots of foil and then put some turkey stock in the base of the dish. Giblets Sprouts
She sliced the sprouts.
I saw it in a recipe book.
It cuts the cooking time down. Stove / oven / cooker / cook Oven = a large metal device with a door in which you cook food at high temperature.
Stove = an oven, with gas or electric hobs on the top where you can cook things over heat
It’s also something which heats your room. You burn wood and coal in it. E.g. a wood-buring stove in the living room. Cooker = a device which cooks things – it can be an oven, a stove, or just an electric pot, slow cooker etc.
“What’s the secret of comedy?” …Timing. Parsnips (root vegetable)
“Tatties and neeps” (Scotland) = potatoes and parsnips
You have to parboil them, drain the water off, roast them in hot oil in the oven (just a little bit).
You mean like, deep-fry them?
No, just roast them.
In the last minute rush and fluster I forgot about the potatoes.
Gill took it upon herself to do poached pears and caramelised oranges.
She’s sitting in the chair that Luke’s wife spilt coffee on so it might be a wee bit damp.
wee = little (typical word in Scotland)
In forthcoming episodes…
More conversations with my family, including some anecdotes about meeting famous people – with stories about meeting members of the royal family, some legends of TV comedy and perhaps the biggest rock and roll star on the planet right now. Who do you think that is? Well, my uncle met him once. You can hear that story and others in an upcoming episode.
Also on the podcast soon I’m hoping to record a ramble about some general stuff that happened over the Christmas period, including some words about a few books I received as presents, some comments about the well-loved celebrities that we lost in 2016 including, notably Carrie Fisher and George Michael during the Christmas holiday. We lost some great people at regular intervals during the year. Let’s hope 2017 doesn’t continue that trend.
Also, I’ve seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and I will be doing a full episode about that too.
Amber & I teach you 12 idiomatic English phrases while attending the filming of an episode of Paul’s TV show on the street in Paris. See below for videos and photos, and a list of the idioms with definitions.
In the last couple of episodes do you remember what happened? Do you remember what our plans were? Yes, Amber & I talked about Christmas and all that. But also, you might remember that we were planning to go and visit Paul on the set of his TV show and record a podcast while we were doing it, and that’s what we did last Thursday afternoon. We went to the 7th Arrondissement – a rather posh district on the left bank of the river Seine. We saw the film crew, a few scenes being filmed and Amber & I even appeared in one of those scenes as extras in the background. When the video is released you’ll be able to see us, briefly! It will be the one about French cinema, when that is released. By the way Paul’s TV show is broadcast on Saturday evenings on French TV station Canal+ and then released onto YouTube the following week. His YouTube channel is called “What the Fuck, France?”
Unfortunately they weren’t filming in the English pub as expected because they did that in the morning – so no beer or crisps or warmth or beer. Instead we joined them while they were filming in the street outside a little church. So, a street, a church and no warmth or beer.
Despite the harsh conditions and lack of beer I brought my recording equipment and we did a podcast while standing around with the film crew there, and all the local Parisian people in the street going about their lives, walking past us and even talking to us at certain moments.
You’re going to hear descriptions of what was happening during the recording, and some general chat with Amber. There were also a couple of moments where Paul stopped shooting and came over to join us, with a few other people too in some cases, including Robert Hoehn who you might remember from the “Have you ever…?” episode recently.
As well as the conversation and descriptions, there’s some English teaching in this episode because while standing there on the street I realised I had 12 idioms in my pocket, written on little bits of paper. Of course I did because as an English teacher that’s the kind of thing I have in my pocket – a bunch of idioms in pieces of paper. It pays to always be prepared as an English teacher! I sometimes have teaching materials in my pocket or up my sleeve! I actually had the idioms on me for another podcast episode that I’d planned ages ago but didn’t do – but the idioms came in handy this time and provided us with some teaching content for you.
All of the idioms you’re going to hear were taken from the Oxford Idioms Dictionary and I chose them quite carefully because I think they’re all expressions which are commonly used today.
You can find the list of those idioms on the page for this episode. I wonder if you know them all. You might know some, but do you know them all, and do you use them?
Now, I could list them all for you here in the introduction in advance, and even teach them to you in advance, but I’m not going to do that because I want to encourage you to notice them for yourselves. That’s a good skill to develop if you can. You should always be on the lookout for bits of language which you can identify and eventually make part of your active vocabulary. So, listen carefully to notice the idioms, and then keep listening because in the second part of the lesson Amber & I explain all the idioms for you.
So, that’s what you’re going to get – a podcast recorded in the street in Paris, with all the sound effects of what was happening around us, a couple of guest appearances, and then 12 common English idioms taught by Amber and me!
So, I hope you are feeling comfortable and that you’re cosy and warm – because it was bitterly cold on the streets of Paris when we recorded this! I recommend listening to this one when you are indoors, with the heating turned on and a hot drink nearby, or if you are outside make sure you’re wearing a pair of thick woolen mittens or gloves and a warm hat – unless of course you’re in a hot place like Australia or something, in which case you can just bask in the hot weather and try to avoid being bitten by a snake or spider or something. If you’re in Brazil then go to the beach or something like that and get ready for that big party you’re going to have on Christmas Eve.
Anyway, now let’s go back in time to last Thursday afternoon on the very chilly streets of the 7th Arrondissement of Paris with a film crew and rich old Parisian ladies walking around, and let’s begin the episode, and remember – can you spot the 12 idioms, do you know them and can you use them? Here we go.
The 12 Idioms
To cost an arm and a leg = to be expensive (those cameras must have cost an arm and a leg)
As a rule of thumb = as a general rule
To flog a dead horse = to be futile
To get back to the drawing board = to start again
To be over the moon = to be delighted
To hit the nail on the head = to say something which is totally accurate
To drive someone up the wall = to drive someone mad / to make someone very annoyed
To find your feet = to establish yourself
Break a leg! = good luck! (for performers)
Hold your horses! = hold on! Wait! Slow down!
To go the extra mile = make an extra effort
The ball is in your court = it’s your turn to make a decision
To get fired / to be let go
A housewarming party
To see red
To have your cake and eat it too
Over to you!
What is your version of the idiom “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”?
Photos & Videos
On the street
From left to right: Rob, Amber, Luke, Josephine (costume lady), Paul
with Josephine (costume lady), Vlad (Director of Photography) & Robert Hoehn
Outro (with mistakes & no edits!)
Message from a Chinese LEPster about “Pudong” near China
I’d like to just clarify something that was said on the podcast in episode 408 when Paul and I made some silly jokes about the word “Pudong” and we talked about Pudong area near Shanghai in China. Paul brought it up when we were talking about pudding and none of us were too sure about the name Pudong and what it really means. I got a message which clarifies that.
Here’s the message from Sylvia from China. I was a bit worried that she was offended by our crappy jokes (particularly mine), but she assures me that she’s not offended and that she still loves us, so that’s alright. In any case I wanted to read this out because it’s got proper information about Pudong. If you remember, Paul said that he wasn’t sure exactly what the name meant and that one of our listeners could clear it up. Well, here is that clarification.
I want to make several things clear here in episode 408, in which Paul talked about Pudong in Shanghai. I live in Shanghai now, and the content of the conversation made me a bit uncomfortable.
1. It’s not ‘Pudong River’, it’s called ‘Huangpu River’. 2. It is ‘Pu’, not ‘Poo’. 3. ‘dong’ in Chinese means ‘east’, Chinese character ‘东’. 4. ‘Pudong’ is an area, which is on the east bank of the Huangpu River. Pudong is situated on the east coast of the Huangpu River of Shanghai, and sits at the intersection of China’s coastal belt for international trade and the Yangtze River estuary. It is backed up by the Yangtze River Delta urban megalopolis and faces the boundless Pacific.
Pudong New Area (“Pudong” or the “New Area”), in eastern Shanghai, is named because it is located to the east of the Huangpu River.
Now Pudong New Area has become the economic, financial, trade and shipping center regionally and internationally. In 20 short years, a dramatic change has taken place in Pudong, changing from farmlands into high buildings and from out-of-the-way villages into a prosperous urban area. Pudong has become the “Pearl of the Orient” with world attention, acclaimed as the “epitome of Shanghai’s modernization” and the “symbol of China’s reform and opening up”.
Cruising on the Huangpu River, you can see many European style buildings on the western bank, because Shanghai used to be a foreign concession before 1949. At that time, Shanghai was known as the ‘paradise of foreign adventures’. Many foreigners, mostly Europeans, came to try their luck here. That’s why you can see buildings of different architectural styles here, Spanish, Greek, Roman and Russian. While on the other bank, skyscrapers in the Pudong New Area rear high into the sky, which were all built by Chinese people after 1990.
Luke, welcome to China, welcome to Shanghai, welcome to Pudong. And I hope when Paul comes to your place again, you can show him this, and let him make it clear.
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!
I’m sorry this made you uncomfortable. No offence intended – I was just making a joke, and failing (as usual). I appreciate the information about Shanghai – would you mind if I read out your message on the podcast?
Sylvia hello Luke I knew it was a joke, that’s okay. It’s just that Pudong New Area has alway been a prosperous Area in my mind, but from now on everytime i think of it or come to there it will remind me of those jokes you made…Haha… It would be great if you could read it on the podcast. Because i don’t want Paul to mislead people around the world thinking that China has a ‘poo dong river’. You can say my name, that’s okay. And I know Amber And Paul didn’t mean any offence. Always love you! Sylvia
Don’t forget to check out Spoken. 2 free lessons and then 20% off! English lessons for Professionals on WhatsApp, sent straight to your phone by an English teacher. www.getspoken.com/lep
Amber & Paul are back on the podcast and we do the usual catching-up session and go off on a few tangents about Amber’s play, Paul’s showbiz life, marshmallows, microphones, tea & coffee, accents and more. There are videos for the intro and outro of this episode (below).
This episode sees the return of pod PALs Amber Minogue and Paul Taylor, which means that The Talkative Trio are reunited on the podcast once more.
Time was pretty tight for this conversation because Paul was working to a very strict schedule on the day it was recorded, which was yesterday in my flat.
As you’ll hear, Paul arrives a little bit late because he was having lunch with some TV industry people and then he has to leave before the end of the recording to be interviewed on the radio, because he’s so hot right now in the world of showbiz.
Amber has also been very busy recently doing various things including writing and rehearsing a play, so it’s been hard to get the three of us in a room together all at the same time.
As a result this episode was arranged at the last-minute and the conversation was completely unplanned. All I wanted to do was to catch up with the two of them and ask the usual question: What have you been doing?
You’ll hear that things carry on quite rapidly and there are plenty of the usual tangents – those moments when the topic suddenly goes off in a different direction.
It might be hard to follow, so to help you keep up, here’s a basic summary of the main things that we talk about. You’ll find these notes written on the page for this episode, including some words that you might hear in the conversation but not know. You might want to check these notes to see words that you might have missed, to check their spelling etc.
First of all Amber tells me about the play for children that she’s been working on with our friend James Simpson.
Paul then arrives, you hear the buzzer buzzing and he comes in carrying a bag containing a new iPhone 7, still in its box, which he collected from the shop earlier in the day. It’s a present which all his friends bought for him a few months ago for his 30th birthday, organised by his girlfriend. We all chipped in some money and got him a new phone.
Amber tells us some more things about her play, including how it contains a few slapstick moments, meaning some funny scenes of fairly violent physical comedy involving a first-aid box and some marshmallows. Apparently at one point in the play James hits Amber over the head with the first aid box. By the way, a first-aid box is a box that contains basic medical supplies for administering first-aid, that’s why it’s called a first-aid box. It contains, things like plasters, bandages, antiseptic, tiny scissors, and maybe some other little medical things that you don’t understand etc.
Also in the play they also fight over a marshmallow, which Amber wants to dip into her tea.
This leads us to talk about dipping things into cups of tea, like marshmallows and biscuits, which then causes us to talk about what you put in your tea when you’ve run out of milk, which actually happened to Paul the other day. His solution was to use whipped cream as a substitute.
That leads me to ask the question of whether you really can put cream in tea, and we agree that you can definitely put cream in coffee, especially a particular type of coffee which is served with whipped cream on top, which in France is called café Viennois – which I think translates as a Viennese coffee – or a coffee from Vienna.
That causes me to ask what they call a Viennese coffee in Vienna, speculating that they might just call it a coffee, which leads to a similar question about the French phrase “creme anglais”, which translates literally as “English cream” – but in the UK we just call it “custard”.
I then ask Paul and Amber to explain to you my audience what custard is, and Paul suggests that instead of us explaining it at great length, you could just ‘google’ it.
I remind Amber & Paul that it is necessary to explain some words sometimes, like the word ‘custard’, because this is Luke’s English Podcast and it’s probably a good idea to explain words sometimes.
This prompts Amber to comment on the way that I seem to choose to explain words quite randomly in my episodes – like when I recently spent quite a lot of time explaining the word ‘flea’ in a recent conversation I had with my Dad on the podcast.
We then go back to food and talk about typical English puddings which can be served with custard, including crumble, sticky toffee pudding and the oddly named ‘spotted dick’.
I refer to spotted dick as a dessert, which causes Amber to comment that this is the wrong choice of word and that I should say that it’s a “pudding” not a “dessert”.
This brings up the slightly confusing and long-running debate about the correct choice of words to describe certain things in Britain, especially in relation to the dinner table. This all relates to British rules of etiquette and language in polite society, perhaps relating to French vocabulary we sometimes use in English. We don’t talk about this very clearly and it might be a bit confusing for you, and really the whole subject of the rules of British etiquette and social class deserves an episode of it’s own.
Nevertheless, in order to clear it up a bit, here’s a quote from a book called “Watching the English” by Kate Fox. Kate Fox is a social commentator who writes about social behaviour in England, and “Watching the English” is a good book that explains many things about English life. This is what Kate has to say about the words “pudding” and “dessert” in English. By the way, both these words are used to refer generally to sweet food which is served after the main course. You have the starter, then main course, then the pudding/dessert. Your choice of the word ‘pudding’ or ‘dessert’ seems to depend on your level of class, and apparently according to upper-class culture the word “dessert” is vulgar. Kate Fox: ‘The upper-middle and upper classes insist that the sweet course at the end of the meal is called the ‘pudding’ – never the ‘sweet’, or ‘afters’, or ‘dessert’, all of which are déclassé and unacceptable’ (Fox, 2005, p79). So, according to upper-class etiquette, pudding is the correct term for the sweet course that comes at the end of the meal. Fine. Amber seems to think this is because the word “dessert” is of French origin, but I’m not sure. By the way, in some places (e.g. France and Japan) pudding is a specific kind of dish. For example in Japan ‘pudding’ is a sort of caramel or custard creme dish. In the UK it just means the sweet course at the end of the meal and can include all kinds of things, like cakes, pies, ice-cream, trifle, Eton mess, bread and butter pudding or even jelly. “What’s for pudding?” for example.
I try to explain all of this, but I can’t manage it, instead saying “This is tangent city” when I realise that we keep going off on mad tangents and it’s probably quite confusing for the audience – that’s you.
Our talk of pudding then causes us to start talking about Pudong, an area in Shanghai, and specifically the Pudong River in Shanghai. Paul tells us a bit about that and then there are a couple of references to the slightly rude sounding English words ‘poo’ and ‘dong’ before things settle down a bit and we start talking about Paul’s recent showbiz news, including how he is going to be interviewed on a radio station called “Oui FM” later in the afternoon, so we go from poo to wee in just a few sentences.
At one point Paul nearly uses quite a clever word – ‘concise’ but then doesn’t use it, preferring instead to choose a more simple way of putting things “using the least words possible” (which means to be concise).
We talk about responses to Paul’s recent videos including a few YouTube comments & some criticism he received from a serious person in an email (the criticism was in the email, not the person – you can’t put a person in an email).
Things get quite geeky when I then start talking about cameras and microphones and the challenges of capturing good audio when you’re recording videos.
There’s some talk of different types of microphone, including boom mics, lapel mics, dynamic mics and shotgun mics but then Amber decides it’s all getting a bit too geeky and we move onto something else.
We make plans to hang out again on Thursday on the set of Paul’s TV show while they’re doing some filming, and we decide to record a podcast while we’re there.
Following on from my recent episodes about accents, I ask Paul & Amber what their accents are, and what they think my Dad’s accent is, and Amber declares her love for my Dad.
Then Paul has to go for his radio interview on “Oui FM” and leaves, and Amber & I carry on and talk a bit more about her play before having a massive conversation about Christmas which will probably be uploaded in a forthcoming episode.
So, I hope that helps you understand what you are about to hear from the Tangential Trio. But, now, without any further explaining – here is that conversation as it actually happened!
JINGLE + CONVERSATION
Amber and I started talking about Christmas there and we went on to talk about it for ages – like over an hour of chat about Christmas shopping, games, food, family traditions and everything else relating to the festive time of year. That conversation will continue in the next episode, maybe the episode after.
We talked a little bit about Paul’s English in that conversation.
People sometimes say “Paul’s accent/English is influenced by his French”.
It isn’t. Certainly not his accent anyway.
That’s one of the interesting things about Paul. When he speaks French there is pretty much no trace of an English accent in his speech, and when he speaks English there is no trace of a French accent.
LEP Moscow Get-Together Hey Luke! Well, the very first LEP Moscow GET-TOGETHER has just happened! The first of it’s kind, it seems to be a historical :) event in Russia! Everything went great, it was awesome to chat in ENGLISH with like-minded people!!! Personally I felt as if I had known all of the participants for ages – open, nice and smiley friends! I hope somebody else could feel a similar thing. First, we got to know each other, which was the main achievement! It was interesting to know when and how everyone had found LEP one day, which episodes were our favourite ones, which experiences in English language learning we had (useful Internet resources, grammar books, pronunciation etc.) A couple of pics and a short audio message from us to you are attached. Thanks again and again for that announcement and actually for everything you do!!! We hope to provide more listeners with a chance to meet and speak regularly and one more way to let them know is to “friend” your group on FB with ours www.facebook.com/groups/734996946664425/ and VK vk.com/clubnu1 . Have a nice Monday, Jedi-Podmaster! Dmitry
Here are those Moscow LEPsters saying hello!
~ well done everyone!
Thank you especially this month to Antonio for managing everything.
There is an email now for the Orion team. Just write a comment on the page for the transcript collaboration and Antonio will let you know what to do.
Make sure you read the rules. Transcript collaboration page:teacherluke.co.uk/episodes-with-transcripts/transcripts/
Zdenek’s English Podcast
Also, on the subject of LEPster podcasts – Zdenek Lukas continues to do his show, called Zdenek’s English Podcast. Recently he’s been doing episodes about his experiences studying for the DELTA (Diploma in English Language Teaching for Adults) which is a seriously challenging postgraduate qualification in English teaching, which involves not only a lot of writing about linguistics and teaching methodologies, but also plenty of assessed teaching sessions too. It’s a difficult course with many challenges and many things to learn. You can listen to Zdenek talking about it on his podcast in some recent episodes.
Get it here audioboom.com/channel/zdeneks-english-podcast
Join the mailing list for direct access to the page for every episode, and for any other content I put up, including videos that I might start doing with my new camera soon.
That’s it! Cheers!
Here’s one of Paul’s “What the F*ck France?” videos. This one’s about how it’s difficult to learn French.
Here are a couple of bonus videos of me recording the introduction to this episode, and a failed attempt at recording the outro too (I forgot to press ‘record’ on my audio device!)
They’re in black & white because I think it looks cool. The gorilla ↴ is pink, ok!
Thanks for watching. I’m just experimenting with videos at the moment, but if you like them, I might do more.
The Russian Joke appeared in US TV show Parks & Recreation – watch until the end
In this episode I’m talking about recent things I’ve been teaching in my classes including some grammar and some social English. There’s an absolutely massive amount of grammar crammed into this episode and quite a lot of silly improvisation too!
I’ll give an overview of the groups I’m teaching,and what I’m teaching them including some grammar and vocab. Essentially you can learn what my students have been learning. I’ll also talk about some considerations I make as a teacher and activities I use.
The classes are quite low, probably lower than the average listener of this podcast.
Two classes – A2 (pre-intermediate) and B1.2 (good intermediate)
CEFR A0 – A1 – A2 – B1 – B2 – C1 – C2
Needs of the groups
Gradable and ungradable adjectives
I’ve been using Cutting Edge Intermediate 3rd edition, but a little bit of googling reveals several pages online with good sources of info and some exercises, such as this one from Espresso English . net, which I am paraphrasing.
a little, a bit, slightly, fairly, rather
very, extremely, immensely, intensely, hugely
Extreme Adjective (absolutely, completely)
awful, terrible, horrible
huge, gigantic, massive, enormous
wonderful, fantastic, excellent
Another type of extreme adjective is called an “absolute” adjective.
These are words that are either “yes or no.” It’s binary, black and white, there’s no grading – not even with words like ‘completely’. For example, dead – you can’t be “a little bit dead” or “very dead” – either YES, you are dead, or NO, you’re not dead.
Here’s a list of some absolute adjectives and their opposites:
It’s fun to play with these ones. I find it funny to grade these absolute adjectives and when you do it knowingly it starts to reveal how you can bend the language to make it humourous or ironic.
In this episode you are going to hear part 2 of my conversation with Ian Moore and I’ve decided to call this one “More Ian Moore” – do you see what I’ve done there? “more Ian Moore” I bet nobody has ever made that joke about his name before, right? Before we listen to Ian Moore, I just want to mention a few things… (notes continue below)
[DOWNLOAD] My voice – I’ve got a sore throat. It’s not too bad but I can’t talk a lot. I did an episode a few years ago about feeling sick and common symptoms. You can listen to it here (below).
Anecdote Competition. I know it’s challenging because you can’t read from a script.
More Ian Moore
Here is some more Ian Moore for you to listen to. You might want to listen to episode 382 before you hear this one. I know it’s a bit difficult to follow these conversations and I’m not explaining everything for you but here is a quick run-down of what you’ll hear us discussing in this episode.
Things we talk about
Making chutney – Chutney: A condiment (a condiment is something you have on the table when you eat food – e.g. salt, pepper, mustard, ketchup) of Indian origin, made of fruits or vegetables with vinegar, spices, and sugar. (Oxford Dictionary)
The challenges of living in the French countryside, including the time when he had a run-in with some hunters armed with shotguns (a run-in is like a disagreement or fight, or collision)
Doing Michael Caine impressions on stage (Michael Caine is a UK actor famous for lots of film roles, including Alfred in the Christopher Nolan Batman films, and some iconic roles from the 1960s in which he wore some very sharp suits, which is why he’s a bit of a style icon for the mod movement, and for young British men in general. Also, he has a particular way of talking)
The significance of Michael Caine in UK culture
Developing his comedy voice
How he started doing stand up comedy
Gigging in different places around the country
Performing comedy in French
The origin of the term “break a leg“, which is something you say to a performer to wish them luck before they go onstage
Visit the page for the episode for links to his books, his blog and for some video footage of Ian on stage. (Hello!)
Thanks for listening, and I hope you enjoy this conversation, recorded for your listening pleasure. I know that it might be difficult to follow this because you’re listening to two native speakers talking at natural speed. All I can do there is encourage you not to give up because the more you listen, the more you will understand in the long-term, and you certainly won’t improve your English at all by giving up and not listening. So, whenever you do understand something – give yourself a pat on the back and keep going!
*CONVERSATION STARTS AT ABOUT 18:00*
So there you go. That was Ian Moore. Let me know how it was for you. Did you manage to keep up with it all?
As he said, he does perform internationally sometimes, so check his website to find out if he is doing comedy in your area soon. In fact, you should find out if there is any English language comedy happening in your area, and go to see it. Many cities around the world have English comedy scenes these days. It might be a small scene, with amateur comics still developing their comedy skills, or it could be a more advanced scene with professionals like Ian, who will always make you laugh. In any case, going to see comedy can be a good thing to do for your English and you might end up meeting some people and making friends, all in English. Don’t be shy, give it a try – and remember not to get demotivated if you don’t understand all the jokes, like if a comedian goes on for 3 minutes about “rushing to the venue” and you don’t understand what he’s talking about. Don’t be bothered by the things you don’t understand, just do your best to work them out and keep going.
Ian Moore performs in French (yes, it’s in French)
Today on the podcast I’m talking to Ian Moore, who is a professional stand up comedian, published author and mod from London. Ian is probably the best dressed man ever to appear on this podcast. He is also a professional talker with many things to say.
Hello listeners, this episode of Luke’s English Podcast is sponsored by italki which is a really convenient way to develop your fluency in English by talking to native speakers online – to claim your voucher worth 100ITC just go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/talk or click an italki logo on my website.
This episode features a conversation with English writer and comedian Ian Moore and in this part we talk mainly about mod, which is a British subculture involving clothing and music, but before the interview there is about a 15 minute introduction in which I explain a few things that will help you to fully understand the conversation. This podcast is for learners of English so sometimes it is necessary to give support to my listeners in advance of hearing a natural conversation in order to help them understand it all. My 15 minute intro to this episode is mainly an overview of the history of mod culture, with a few other short explanations. If you want to skip the intro, just move forwards by about 15 minutes and you can jump straight to the conversation. However, the introduction is there to help you to understand the cultural references, some history and other details in our conversation. OK, so that’s my intro before the intro, and now that this intro is nearly finished, I’ll let you listen to the other main intro which is going to come after this intro when this intro is finished, which is now so here is the proper intro, after the jingle, which is going to start as soon as I stop talking which is right about now.
Introduction and Explaining (Skip forwards 15 mins if you don’t want some explanations)
Today on the podcast I’m talking to Ian Moore, who is a professional stand-up comedian, published author and mod from London. Ian is probably the best dressed man ever to appear on this podcast. He is also a professional talker with many things to say.
I first met Ian a few months ago. He was in Paris for a few days and was the headline act at a comedy show where I was also performing. We got talking and our conversation was suitably rambling for me to consider Ian a good guest for this podcast. Also, there are some specific things I wanted to ask Ian, which I thought might be interesting for you my audience to hear.
First, Ian is a mod. He’s a proper full-time mod. He dresses in all the correct mod clothing and has done for years. That might not mean anything to you and in fact that’s one of the reasons I wanted Ian to talk about it in this episode. Mod culture is quintessentially English. Basically, Mod is a fashion style, a way of life and a whole subculture of its own, and it’s uniquely English I think. Mod is one of the first genuine youth subcultures of the modern era. Nowadays there are many many subcultures (e.g. punk, skinhead, hippy, raver, indie kid, rocker, metal head, skater, etc) to the point that they don’t really mean anything, but back in the late 1950s and early 1960s there weren’t many youth subcultures. Everyone basically dressed the same except between different social classes in society. Certainly young people just dressed and acted like adults. Then in the postwar period young people became more independent and developed their own alternative cultures which were separate from mainstream lifestyles. Young people began to associate themselves with these alternative cultural movements as an expression of their individuality particularly in the form of the clothes they wore and the music they listened to.
Mod culture first became well-known in the UK as a result of a story in the newspapers about rival gangs of ‘mods’ and ‘rockers’ fighting each other on the beach in Brighton in 1964. These were the two main youth subcultures of the time and they hated each other. The rockers wore leather jackets, had their hair quite long and unclean, and rode motorbikes. They listened to rock and roll music. The mods were very sharply dressed in well fitted suits and ties, wore smart leather shoes, had a particular haircut (a bit like the Beatle cut) and rode Italian scooters. They listened to modern jazz, black American rhythm and blues or Jamaican ska. Their rivalry came to a head in the well-documented fighting that happened on the beaches in Brighton. The fight between the mods and the rockers was all over the newspapers and it shocked everyone, causing a kind of moral panic about young people. At that time it was the equivalent of something like the London riots of 2011. Most people couldn’t understand the violence and it was considered a sign of the breakdown of society. It was also the first time that most people became aware of the mod movement.
Since then, Mod has drifted in and out of fashion, going away in the early 70s when it was replaced by things like glam, soul boy and skinhead movements to be revived again at the end of the decade, in the 1980s and again in the 1990s. Being a mod is a way of life and it revolves mostly around the clothing you wear and the music you listen to, but there is a certain philosophy which underpins the movement too and that seems to be based on certain kinds of European existentialist thinking and a kind of open-mindedness to outside influences combined with a great attention to detail in clothing choices. In order to identify a mod, you need to be aware of the right details in the person’s clothing. A certain type of suit, cut in a specific way. Certain brands, types of shoe or coat, and a particular hair cut. The most famous mods are probably people like the musician Paul Weller of The Jam, the groups The Small Faces and The Who (early period), and these days the actor Martin Freeman who likes to wear mod clothing when he’s not acting in a movie or TV show.
While mod culture borrows from many other cultures it is very specifically British and therefore I think it is worth exploring on this podcast.
So, first – Ian is a mod. Secondly, he lives abroad – specifically on a farm in rural France, despite being a very well-dressed city boy from London, and he has lots of stories to tell about this, which form the basis of several books which he has written and which have been published. Both books tell funny true stories of his life as a mod living on a farm in the French countryside, they’re well-reviewed on Amazon and are definitely well-worth a read. They’re amusing, not challenging to read and are full of very entertaining little anecdotes and tales of his double life as a comedian working in London and a farmer in the French countryside. I thought it would be interesting to hear him talk about that on the podcast, and if you’re looking for appropriate books to read in English – I really recommend these ones. There are also audiobook versions read by Ian himself. The first book is called A la Mod, and the second is called C’est Modnifique.
And thirdly, Ian is a professional stand-up comedian – in fact The Guardian newspaper describe him as “One of the country’s top comedians”, which may account for why he’s able to write such funny stories in his books. Ian has been performing in the UK professionally for about 20 years and has travelled all around the country doing big gigs everywhere, including at London’s best venue The Comedy Store in Leicester Square. Ian has also performed in many locations around the world, so naturally I wanted to find out about that too.
So all in all, Ian Moore is a great guest for this podcast and we had a very enjoyable rambling conversation upstairs on my terrace on a very sunny morning this week. This is going to be two episodes, because we talked for over an hour together.
This might be a tricky episode for you to follow because our conversation includes quite a lot of tangents and references to things you might not be familiar with, so let me just give you an overview of the main things you’ll hear.
At the start we talk about the view from my terrace, including the Sacre Coeur basilica, which we can see.
Then we talk about how he met his wife on the steps of the Sacre Coeur when he first moved to France. Then we go on to chat about his first experiences in France and why he fell in love with the country. (He talks about buying a vinyl copy of “Complete Madness” in a supermarket in Nice – Madness are a band which has a large mod and skinhead following).
Then we talk about where Ian comes from, and how he describes his accent. (Basically, he’s got a typical south east / London accent, cockney or ‘mockney’ even though as a child he used to live up north in Blackburn and also in the east in Norfolk. He spent most of his time in London.)
We discuss his level of French, and then move on to talk about being a mod and what that means, including quite a lot of specific descriptions of his clothing and mod style in general, so watch out for some vocabulary to describe clothing in this episode.
But now, without any further ado, let’s join the conversation with Ian Moore and you will first hear us talking about the views of Paris which we can see from my terrace.
We talk mainly about mod culture. The podcast pauses after about 40 minutes.
So, that’s the end of part one of this conversation, in which we mainly covered mod culture. Check out the page for this episode where you’ll find some videos of mod-related things and also some stand-up footage of Ian Moore on stage.
How was that for you? Did you manage to understand what we were saying? I expect it might be a bit tough because we’re talking about things that you might never have heard about before. THat’s one of the main reasons why it’s hard to understand native speakers sometimes. It might be because of the pronunciation – specifically connected speech and the way some sounds are not fully pronounced, it might be the vocabulary being used, but also it’s because of the cultural references being made and the general mindset of the conversation. These are all factors that influence your ability to understand native speakers. Certainly the cultural aspect is very important. If you’re on the same wavelength as the people you’re listening to, or talking to, it makes it far more likely that you’ll understand them. This will help you work out the meaning of words that you don’t know and fill in the words that you didn’t hear. You have to try to tune in to not just the language, but the way of thinking of the people talking and then you’ll understand more and ultimately pick up more of the English yourself. So, listening to conversations like this is vital, even if it’s difficult.
Don’t forget that you also have to activate the English you hear in the podcast by having similar conversations yourselves, perhaps with a language partner on italki. Don’t forget to take advantage of my italki offer by visiting www.teacherluke.co.uk/talk
OK, part 2 of this episode will be available soon and then you can hear Ian talking about his funny experiences of being a mod in the French countryside, dealing with animals of all shapes and sizes, the challenges of living on a farm and the life of a professional stand up comedian. Thanks for listening to this episode, I look forward to reading comments on the website. Have a great day, morning, afternoon, evening or night and I’ll speak to you soon.
In this episode I’m talking to my friends Amber and Paul about cultural differences, particularly in the ways we communicate with each other in different countries.
You should know that there is a bit of swearing in this one as well as a few dodgy jokes and references to previous episodes of the podcast, which you should probably listen to before you listen to this one in order to understand a couple of references and in-jokes. The previous episode is number 380. As for the swearing, I see it as just evidence of the fact we are all talking in a totally relaxed, genuine and natural manner, like we normally do in this social situation.
I just want to say that our aim in this conversation was to compare different cultures and not to criticise other cultures. We’re just expressing our own personal experiences from our point of view. Since we all live in France and we’re from England, there are quite a lot of comments about differences between French and English culture. If you’re French I’d love to read your points of view on many of the things we’re talking about and I am sure that you could make loads of similar comments about life in England – like, why the hell do we have separate taps in the bathroom? Or, why do girls go out on a Friday night with hardly any clothes on? Don’t they get freezing cold? And why do Brits drink so much? These are all things that might seem strange to visitors to the UK. So, I’m well aware that all cultures and behaviours can seem strange from the outside and it’s all just a matter of context.
In fact, I have already done several podcast episodes all about culture shock experiences of people moving to the UK (specifically London) from foreign countries. Check out the links to listen to those episodes.
I am sure you have points of view on this that you would like to express, so feel free to leave comments on the page for this episode. Don’t forget to join the mailing list on the website to get easy access to the page for every new episode when it is uploaded.
So without any further ado, here’s a podcast about cultural differences with Amber and Paul.
Discussing Cultural Differences
Although we are all the same, we’re also different.
Ways we’re the same:
We all fall in love, go to the loo, get hungry, get tired, like laughing, listen to LEP.
But we’re all different – individually we are all unique, but we are also different as groups, tribes, nationalities or cultures.
Although it’s bad to generalise, it seems that cultures – like ethnicities or nationalities, tend to have certain shared behaviours and customs that mark them out as different to others. For example, although the English and French share a lot of things in common there are certain things which mark us out as different. Not just the language we speak, but the way we behave and the things we think are important. Like the way we queue.
So anyway, that’s just an example of culture shock I suppose. But it shows that there are cultural differences. Of course there are! Everyone knows it.
If you’ve ever been abroad or had contact with other cultures you’ll know that sometimes it’s incredibly obvious that our cultures are different. Sometimes it’s shockingly obvious, sometimes it’s hilarious, sometimes it’s frustrating, sometimes it’s just weird, but we have to remember that they’re just differences and while they can be confusing, frustrating and also funny, ultimately we need to find ways to look beyond these differences and not let them become a barrier to things like communication, understanding, business, diplomacy and relationships.
In this episode I’d like to have a discussion about cultural differences that we’ve noticed around the world. These could be different types of behaviour, like certain customs and habits, or just different values – like, what people seem to think is important, and how those values reveal themselves in the way things are done.
Amber & Paul
What are your credentials in terms of your cross cultural experiences?
How long have you lived in France?
Have you visited many other places? Which other places have you been to?
Have you had cross cultural experiences?
Have you been in a relationship with someone from another culture?
Have you done business with people from other cultures?
I have a list of different behaviours and values. Just stuff I’ve noticed or heard about. Well go through the list.
We can answer these questions:
Where do they do this?
Do we do this in the UK?
Do we consider this to be weird behaviour or not? Is there a reason for this behaviour?
Do you have any experiences of this? Would you like it if we introduced this into our culture?
The list: (please note that we are not talking about ‘two-taps in the bathroom’)
Kissing or hugging someone when you meet them (Paul did a successful video about this)
Looking people in the eye
Indirectness/diplomacy/politeness (or hypocrisy) vs directness/straightness/clarity (or rudeness) – e.g. certain cultures tend to be indirect when giving negative feedback, other cultures favour direct negative feedback
conflict vs non-conflict
Smiling in public
For discussion in future episodes… PLEASE ADD MORE CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN THE COMMENT SECTION SO WE CAN DISCUSS THEM IN THE FUTURE :)
Eating early vs eating late in the evening
Having milk in tea
Eating scorpions / spiders / toads / frogs
Eating with your hands / chopsticks / a knife and fork / not your left hand
Burping or farting after eating
Girls wearing miniskirts in the middle of winter
Hawking / spitting in the street
Saying “good morning” or “good afternoon” in shops/post offices before you can get anything done
Kissing in public
Crossing the road – waiting for cars to stop vs just walking into the street vs using pedestrian crossings
Driving on the left
Queuing in an organised and patient way vs Not queuing – “every man for himself” (or something in between)
Public transport – following the rules vs no rules (e.g. queueing, letting people off before getting on, etc)
Falling asleep on public transport
Talking to strangers on public transport
Having a strict attitude towards health and safety (e.g. wearing safety belts in cars) vs Having a relaxed attitude towards health and safety (e.g. not wearing safety belts, overtaking on corners)
Bribing police or other people
Having more than one wife, or having affairs
Saying “yes” in order to save face
Having carpet in the bathroom
Wearing shoes indoors
Sitting down to go to the toilet vs Squatting on the floor when you go to the toilet (or any other toilet related comments)
Putting The UK at the centre of the map
Is there anything else you’ve found to be weird or different?
In this episode the PODPALS Amber and Paul are back and we’re going to have the normal catching up session in which they talk about what they have been up to recently. As usual we sit on the terrace and get interrupted by insects, the sun, neighbours on their balconies around us (including a naked man eating his lunch) and the inevitable references to a certain Russian joke that always comes up in our conversations.
[DOWNLOAD] You should know that there is quite a lot of swearing and rude content in this episode, so be warned if you’re playing this in public or something. I have swearing on this podcast because I am trying to present you with real English – the kind of English I would normally speak with my friends, and the sort of English that isn’t necessarily taught to you in language classrooms. That’s the benefit of podcasting and that’s why the swearing stays in the podcast.
You’ll find a lot of my notes and questions written on the page on the website. Join the mailing list to get a direct link in your inbox every time I upload an episode.
Now, let’s enter the conversation on the terrace. At first Amber and I remind Paul of the last time he was on the podcast, which was in an episode called Would you rather? In that one we asked each other ridiculous questions and talked about things like having accordions for legs. If that sounds a bit strange, check out that episode and it should make a bit more sense.
Then we all catch up with each other and talk about holidays in August, Amber’s son Hugo who is potty training and Paul’s new TV show which is currently showing on French television. Listen for more anecdotes and spontaneous speaking between friends.
And here we go…
Can you describe the scene?
What have you been up to since you were last on the podcast?
Did you go away anywhere? Where did you go?
How is little Hugo?
Are you planning any shows for the coming year?
When are you going to start your own podcast for goodness sake?
Did you go away anywhere?
How was Louis CK?
What about your TV show?
You stopped doing the French podcast, but the English one is still going (and that was my plan for my French – to listen to you in French)