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Here is the first of a series of video podcasts featuring interviews with people I met in the centre of London recently. I went into London on a Tuesday morning and politely asked members of the public if they would like to do a short interview for people around the world who are learning English and who are interested in listening to native speakers, and finding out about life in London. Some people didn’t want to be interviewed, and ignored me! But most people I asked were very friendly and happy to talk to me for a few minutes. This is the first video, and includes interviews with people outside Buckingham Palace (home of The Queen), in St. James’s Park and on The Mall (the road towards Buckingham Palace). I hope you enjoy them, and find them useful. There are more videos coming soon, featuring interviews in different parts of central London.
Watch the video and try to understand their comments.
Then use the transcript to help you understand what they said.
Try to guess the meaning of any expressions you don’t know.
You can find some definitions of vocabulary and expressions at the bottom of the transcript.
The people in the interviews come from different places. Listen carefully and see if you can identify differences in the accents they have.
London! Capital of Great Britain. Home to over 7 million people, including: The Queen, The Prime Minister, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond and Mr Bean.
Considered by some to be the home of the English language, it’s also one of the biggest and more important financial and cultural centres in the world. It has a rich cultural history, a diverse population and loads of cool stuff to do at the weekends.
But what is London really like for the people who live there?
Hi, well, I’ve got a video camera, I’ve got an Oyster card and I’ve got the day off, so I’m going to go into the centre of London, meet some real Londoners and ask them, “what’s London really like?” Why don’t you join me? Come on, let’s go shall we?
This man is from somewhere in the south of England, possibly in London or near London. He has a southern English accent.
Luke: So, um, what do you think of London? What’s it really like?
Man: London’s a very nice place to be, yeah.
Luke: What’s the best thing about it?
Man: The best thing is the architecture, the old stuff…
Luke: Yeah, yeah. Like Buckingham Palace
Man: Like Buckingham Palace, yeah
Luke: What about…
Man: Anything else, yeah?
Luke: What about the worst thing?
Man: The worst thing is… all the rest, I’m afraid.
Luke: Everything else?
Man: Everything else, gone to the dogs.
Luke: Really, it’s all gone to the dogs?
Man: With the country.
Luke: Ok. Alright, thank you very much. Cheers.
Man: Thank you.
These girls are from Hull, which is in Yorkshire in the north of England. They’re in London on holiday. They have Yorkshire accents.
Luke: So, where are you from?
Girls: Erm, Hull.
Luke: Hull? Ok, so how long have you been in London?
Blonde girl: We came yesterday
Luke: Ok, what do you think? What’s London like?
Redhead girl: Really good!
Blonde girl: It’s a bit busy
Brunette girl: busy
Luke: Right, okay. What’s, err, what’s the best thing about it?
Redhead girl: The weather, the last couple of days
Blonde girl: Yeah, it’s been hotter than it is back home
Redhead girl: It’s been really nice, yeah.
Luke: So it’s better here than it is in Hull, is it?
Redhead girl: It is
Blonde girl: Yeah, but we couldn’t live here all the time
Redhead girl: The worst thing about it is the tube, the underground
Luke: Why? What’s wrong with the tube?
Redhead girl: It’s too stressful
Brunette girl: It’s too hot and busy
Redhead girl: and grimy
Luke: Busy, grimy, stressful… ok. Anything else to say to the people of the world?
Blonde girl: Come to London!
Redhead girl: Hiiii! Come to Hull to go out with us
Blonde girl: Come to Hull
Redhead girl: We’ll have lots of fun
Luke: Great, thank you very much
This couple is from New York City in USA. They have New York accents.
Luke: Hello. So, where are you from?
American man: We’re from the good old USA, the biggest city in the world, New York…
Luke: Oh, amazing
American man: …which cannot compare to London.
USA man: I wanna just express our love for England, the people, and especially the British Airway[s] that brought us here. They were so polite and extended themselves to the best airline that I travelled [on] all over the world.
USA Man: Now coming to England, we stayed at the Holiday Inn, and the people and the experience at the Holiday Inn was super.
USA Man: We just came from the Holiday Inn to see the Buckingham Palace and now we’re going to from here to Picadilly Square [Circus]. Yeah, great.
USA man: Thank you
USA woman: A wonderful experience
USA man: A wonderful experience
Luke: I’m very glad, that’s great.
USA man: And where is this going?
Luke: This is going on a website for people who are learning English as a foreign language, so it’s just going to be on, err… I work for this school, The London School of English and also I’m going to put it on a kind of podcast website for people all over the world, so, that’s great.
USA man: Now, what is that over there? (pointing at the Queen Victoria Memorial)
Luke: That? Err, I’m not sure to be honest. Err, it’s…
USA woman: It’s a nice statue.
Luke: It’s a lovely statue, covered in gold.
USA man: Uh huh, okay
Luke: Err, it… I don’t really know who all these people are, to be honest with you.
USA man: Well, I’m gonna take a picture
Luke: Exactly. It’s big and it’s shiny, so just take a picture of it.
St. James’s Park:
The man is from Middlesex, which is to the west of London. He has quite a posh accent. The woman is from the German/Danish border and has a German sounding accent.
Luke: So, where are you from? First of all.
Man: Well, I’m from Pinner, in Middlesex, which is near enough London, and we just come up once a week. It’s a long time ago now, I’m talking about before the war, and during the war, yes. A long time. And madam…
Woman: I’m from Schleswig-Holstein [on the German/Danish border] but I love London. Love it. My son lives here and I need to go from time to time, because… it’s such a life city isn’t it?
Luke: it is
Man: Recharge your batteries
Woman: Yes, yes. And, so green too! All these lovely parks, you know? And I think it’s the most beautiful city in the world.
Man: Sounds as though she’s selling it
Luke: Is she… it does! Yes. What do you think, I mean, we, err, you think it’s the most beautiful city in the world, but, is there a, what about bad things? What’s the worst thing about London?
Man: Well, I used to work just down there in Victoria… Victoria Station House. Erm, no, I… it tends to be a little dirty, a lot of rubbish around. I have the impression that’s got a bit better lately. I don’t know whether that’s true.
Woman: I was in Rome, and I told them all that London was much more beautiful and they all shouted me down, so…
Luke: Oh really…
Woman: But when the sun shines, you know… and all these green places, and nothing drives me mad because you expect a bit of dirt and… don’t you?
Luke: Yes, in the city
, yes. And it has good communication, I mean you can go everywhere, and I love it
Man: You’ll never stop her, but I must
Woman: So, shall we go now?
Luke: Great, thank you very much
Man: Not at all
Luke: Have a lovely day
Woman: You have a lovely day
Luke: Thank you
Man: Don’t you sell that
Luke: I’m not selling it, don’t worry. Alright, cheers.
Girl 1 is from Blackpool, which is in Lancashire in the North West of England. She has a Lancashire accent. Girl 2 is from Reading which is about 30 mins or 1 hour west of London. She has a fairly typical southern English accent.
Girl 1: Hello
Luke: Where are you from?
Girl 1: I’m from Blackpool, which is up north
Girl 2: I’m from just near Reading, just near London
Luke: Ok. So, how long have you been here?
Girl 1: I’ve lived in London for about 2 weeks so far
Girl 2: And I’ve lived in London for probably the last 4 years
Luke: OK, right so what’s London like then?
Girl 1: So far London’s quite exciting. I’ve been surprised by how many things are going on all the time, sort of, day and night. There’s always something to do, always something free to do, and so far it’s not rained!
Luke: Eyy! Great. Err, yourself?
Girl 2: Err, yeah the same, like, it’s been a good place to live. I don’t know, because I’ve been here for so long, I probably don’t really take as much advantage of it as I should do.
Luke: Yep, what’s the worst thing about London?
Girl 2: Erm… Traffic, commuting, going around, I think… Price.
Luke: Yeah, it’s very expensive. Have you discovered a worst thing yet?
Girl 1: Erm, honestly, the worst thing is it’s quite difficult to meet people, and because a lot of people live so far away, it’s quite difficult to get to them, it’s quite hard to see your friends, so it can sometimes be quite lonely.
Luke: Ok, thank you very much. Cheers.
Definitions of some vocabulary and expressions
What’s London really like?
This question: “What is it like?” means “tell me about it” or “how is it?”. It does not mean: “What do you like about London?”
e.g. What is London like? – it’s busy
What do you like about it? – I like the theatres
It’s gone to the dogs = everything is much worse now than it was before
grimy = dirty
recharge your batteries = to give yourself some energy, by doing something pleasant and stimulating
to shout someone down = to disagree with someone loudly in order to stop them talking
to take advantage of something = to use something good which is available to you
commuting = travelling from home to work every day