220. A Cup of Tea with Corneliu Dragomirescu

aka “The Son of the Dragon Tamer!” or “The guy with the longest name ever on LEP”
*The conversation starts at 11.39 – so please skip my introduction if you like* Right-click here to download.

Small Donate ButtonThis is one of those episodes in which I invite a friend onto the podcast and we chat about various things. I like these episodes because it gives me a chance to get to know someone on the podcast, and you can listen to some natural free-flowing conversation in English.

Let me tell you a bit about Corneliu. He is a film maker and comedian originally from Romania. He lives in France now where he writes, directs, produces and acts in films and television projects. Corneliu is a polyglot (he speaks Romanian, French and English), he’s a movie-buff and an he’s an all-round great conversationalist and therefore is the perfect guest for another episode of LEP.

Corneliu also has the longest name of anyone ever to appear on LEP so far. His name (first name and surname, but not including middle names) has 9 syllables in it. As far as I know, that’s longest so far on LEP. It’s not a competition or anything – I mean, that’s not the purpose of LEP – to find the guy with the longest name, but still, it’s an achievement of sorts.

Speaking of competitions – thank you for voting for your favourite recordings in the YEP! series of podcasts – episodes 211-218. I’m getting votes all the time. Voting closes at midnight Paris time on 30th September of this year, that’s 2014. I’ll then count the votes and announce the winners – yes, winners. I’ve decided that there will be a winner from each episode. That’s how I roll, okay? Also, if you were wondering about how I will be counting votes, and if I can prevent people voting for themselves again and again – I can see unique codes for every person who comments, so I know when comments are coming from the same computer again and again. I’m not going to count votes which are obviously repeated votes from the same computer, either intentional ones or accidental ones. So, you can put your mind at rest on that one, if indeed you had been thinking about it.

Thank you too if you have left a comment on my last episode which was about Scottish Independence. It’s great to see that lots of people are interested in this subject, and can see parallels with the situations in their countries too in some cases. The referendum is going to take place tomorrow. We’re all waiting with bated breath to see what happens. Will Scotland leave the union? Is the UK as we know it going to change forever? Will the Scottish people make the right decision? Only time will tell.

Now, let’s get back to this episode. Corneliu is an awesome bloke with a proficient level of English and I’m really happy to have him on the podcast. I invited him into the flat and onto the podcast with the intention of asking him some of the usual questions, such as “What do you do?”, “How did you manage to learn English to your current level?”, “Could you tell us about the common myths around your home country?” We ended up chatting for something like 2 hours and got sidetracked by all kinds of interesting things including films, his son, the fall of communism in Romania and 90s pop music. In fact, it felt like it was hard to contain the inspiration in this episode, and the conversation flowed very freely. I hope that comes through in this episode.

Sometimes I find it a bit tricky to begin an episode, and I have to work out a little introduction, but in this one we had already been chatting over a pot of tea for about half an hour and I just hit the record button mid conversation, so we just hit the ground running at the beginning. If you “hit the ground running” it means you start when you’re already moving or in progress. Imagine running in the air, and then you fall, you’d hit the ground running and you’d immediately be off at some speed. That’s what happened in this episode – we hit the ground running because we were already quite deep in conversation and I just hit the record button. That’s why the episode begins quite abruptly.

You will hear a bit of strong language at the beginning – so be prepared for that. I say the “F” word quite early on. What’s the “F” word? Well… it’s the word “Fuck” isn’t it? It’s a bit silly to call it the “F” word – but I suppose it’s a way of referring to the word without actually saying it, because, you know that is a very rude word which you shouldn’t use because it’s not big and it’s not clever. I realise that I’ve just said the word, just a second ago, which defeats the purpose of warning you about the word in the first place… Anyway, you’ll hear me say it in a moment, in the form of the noun phrase “a fuck up” or “a couple of fuck ups”. “to make a fuck up” (noun phrase) = a mistake or “to fuck something up” (verb phrase) = to do something badly, to make a mess of something, to make an error and ruin something. It’s a versatile word – but remember, just because you’ve heard it on LEP it doesn’t mean you should start throwing it around in conversation. Ok, I don’t mean to patronise you, I just felt it was necessary to say that. Anyway, let’s now join my conversation with my mate Corneliu. And here it is…

In Part 1:
– Hitting the ground running, and talking about the challenges of beginning an episode of LEP
– How to say Corneliu’s full name, and how it actually means ‘son of the dragon tamer’, and how awesome that is
– How we know each other
– My (slight) obsession with the film “Taken” starring Liam Neeson
– Fatherhood, Star Wars and how lack of sleep caused Darth Vader turned to the dark side of the force
– The birth of Corneliu’s son Alexander
– The fall of communism in Romania and the film “Independence Day”
– The shock of discovering that Milli Vanilli were fake
– The effect of pop music & capitalist culture on Romania after communism
– Throwing a TV out of a window
– Seeing Hollywood films in Romania in the early 90s
– “Chaplin” by Richard Attenborough, starring Robert Downey Junior
– Martin Scorsese
– Summarising what we’ve said in part 1 so far!

Coming Up In Part 2 (soon):
– The difference “pleasshure” and “pleasure”, “bio” and “B.O.”
– The importance of ‘passion’ in France
– Jamie Oliver’s (fake?) cockney accent
– British & American English
– Corneliu’s experiences in America, his acting and his accent
– Corneliu’s learning experiences with a great teacher when he was a child
– The interesting course-book which Corneliu used in his English lessons
– The myth of ‘the English gentleman’
– Depictions of Englishness in films
– Stereotypes of Romania
– Romania & Bulgaria’s entry into the EU and the media panic related to migrant workers
– Vampires, Dracula and Romania

Please leave your comments in response to this episode! We want to read your thoughts here. Thank you!