Category Archives: Art

761. Why we love The Beatles (Recorded Live at The British Council) + Public Speaking Tips

This is a presentation I did at the British Council in Paris recently, in front of a live audience. First I talk about public speaking and my approach to doing presentations and then you can hear the recording of my talk. The Beatles were a global phenomenon when they first appeared in the 1960s and their appeal continues to this day. The world still loves The Beatles. But why is this? Join me as I take a deeper look at the social, cultural and psychological factors that make The Beatles story so compelling even after all these years.

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Introduction & Ending Transcripts

Hello listeners,

Another day, another new podcast episode. Let’s keep calm and carry on, shall we?

This is episode 761 and most of this one was recorded live at the British Council in Paris in front of an audience of people. I think it is the first podcast I’ve ever recorded with a live audience there and it sounds a bit different because you can hear the audience reacting to things I’m saying and there are some moments of interaction with the crowd and some jokes and stuff. I hope you enjoy it.

As you may know, I teach English to classes of adults at the BC in Paris but also we have some extra events there in the evening. The talk you can hear me doing in this episode was one of those extra events. I’m hoping to do more of this kind of thing in the future – podcasting in front of a live audience. 

Private Online English Lessons with the British Council

Just before we start properly I want to tell you something about taking English lessons with the British Council, which is something that you can do online. Did you realise that?

Are you interested in having private English lessons online with a British Council teacher? Because you can. 

Sometimes people ask me if I am available for private lessons, and unfortunately my answer to that question is usually no. I just spend my time making episodes of my podcast and teaching group classes in the real world so if you wanted lessons with me you’d need to be in Paris and you’d need to become a student at the BC there using the normal registration process and just hope that you end up in one of my classes. 

But, other British Council teachers are available and they are online.

So if you are looking for an English teacher for private lessons, I just want to let you know that the British Council does offer this service now – personalised one to one lessons with a British Council teacher online

And this is great because you can do it anywhere in the world, you can choose the date and time for lessons, it’s totally flexible, you can choose the teacher and you can basically have classes which are designed around your needs completely, whenever and wherever you want, basically.

Want to practise your speaking and have your errors corrected – you can.

Want to work on your grammar and vocabulary. You can.

Want to develop your pronunciation to be a clearer speaker or to work on a more British-sounding accent if you like. You can do that too.

Also, you can have lessons for specific purposes such as for exams, for job interviews, for specific work arrangements, to prepare for IELTS. It’s all possible with these private online lessons because they’re all based around what you want to do and the British Council teachers will design the lessons based on your priorities.

I’ve always said that listening to my podcast regularly (or any podcast for that matter) is an important part of your learning process – the 5 Ls – listening, listening, listening, listening, listening but of course you need to be doing plenty of speaking too and to practise all the other things – the other language systems and skills.

One to one lessons are a really great way to achieve that and doing them online with an actual human teacher face to face is now a completely normal, tried and tested way to do this. All you need is just the right service.

And the British Council does offer that service. 

It’s called British Council English Score Tutors. (Click the pic below for the details)

It’s the official 1 to 1 tutoring service from the British Council.

It’s quite new but they already have 12,500 learners of English using the platform.

There are currently over 150 teachers there.

The tutors on English Score have an average rating of 4.9 stars (out of 5), which is reassuring.

The teachers are all British Council approved and a lot of them are in the UK but there are also British Council teachers living in other countries all over the world so you can find teachers in most time zones, which means, basically, there are teachers available 24/7. So you’ll be able to find someone to match your timetable.

So, why not go ahead and find a teacher for you and book some lessons to really push your English further and gain more confidence. There’s an offer for you because you listen to this podcast by the way – I’ll tell you about it in a moment.

Maybe you listen to me regularly and you’re happy that you can understand me or that you’ve got to the stage where you’re understanding most of what I say, which is a very good sign – why not build on that and get your speaking up to a similar standard. 

If you’re working on your listening and making progress, there’s a good chance you can convert that to speaking and make progress there too. Activate your English.

Work on your fluency and accuracy and clarity and general confidence. 

The 5 Ss  – speaking speaking speaking speaking speaking.

You’re asking – What about that special offer for us Luke?
Yes.

The BC is offering you a first introductory session for just $1, just so you can see if you like it.

So the first session is just $1. 

You can try it and see if you like it.

There’s no pressure or obligation to continue after that.

But if you do choose to buy a pack of lessons (normally about 20 hours or something) the BC will throw in a free lesson for you because you’re a LEPster.

So, the first lesson is just $1. 

If you like it you can buy a pack of lessons with a teacher, and get a free lesson included because you’re a LEPster.

Sounds pretty good right?

This could be your way to really work on your speaking as well as your listening.

Think about it. Could be a really good move.

Young learners – they do young learners too. There are classes available for 13-17 year olds and you get the same deal.

To find out more and to get that special offer of the free lesson go to teacherluke.co.uk/english or click the PRIVATE LESSONS button on my website menu.

The link is also in the description of this episode.

You’ll only get that free lesson if you enter the website through my link though.

So, obviously, do that then.

teacherluke.co.uk/english

All right then. Let’s begin the episode properly. Here’s the jingle.


761. Why we love The Beatles (Recorded Live at The British Council)

Hello listeners! Welcome back to the podcast. Let’s get back to some normal podcasting, shall we? OK then.

This is #761 Why we love The Beatles (Recorded Live at The British Council).

As you can tell from the title, this episode was recorded live at The British Council in front of an actual audience of people, as I mentioned earlier. 

I’ll play the recording to you in a few minutes. First I want to tell you about the talk I did and how I prepared for it in order to perhaps share some personal tips I have about public speaking. This might seem like another one of my epically long introductions, but it’s not. In fact, let’s imagine that the introduction is over now and here we are in the main body of the episode, and I’m giving you some comments and advice about how to speak to an audience of people – public speaking.

Public speaking is a slightly different skill to normal podcast recording and so it might be interesting for you to hear me doing it in this episode. 

Here’s some context.

The British Council in Paris, where I work part-time, is essentially a language school in a nice building not far from the Eiffel Tower. We teach classes to adults and children and there’s also a exam centre for the IELTS test.

The BC in Paris also offers some special evening events including regular Talks In English. This is when a guest is invited to come and talk about a specific topic at the school in one of our nice big rooms on the 2nd floor. 

Everyone is invited to attend at that means students at the school but anyone else too – friends, staff in the school, other teachers, just anyone who’s interested in attending. 

The speaker does their talk and afterwards there’s a chance to socialise, drink some wine and talk in English together. 

Our marketing manager Phil is always on the lookout for people to do one of these Talks in English, and a couple of months ago he asked me if I’d like to do a talk about anything. I immediately thought of The Beatles, because it’s one of my favourite topics and it’s a very British topic, relevant to British culture and it’s the sort of thing that would probably attract some people. Also the series produced by Peter Jackson called “Get Back” had just been released on Disney+. Phil happily agreed and we put it in the diary.

I decided the title of my talk would be Why We Love The Beatles and basically I wanted to try and explain why The Beatles were and still are so popular. What is the appeal of this group? Why are they so adored by people even 60 years after they first came onto the scene? 

I also decided I’d try and record it as an episode of this podcast.

Now, I know this is another episode about The Beatles and some of you might not be that interested or keen. My talk is called Why We Love The Beatles – but some of you probably don’t Love The Beatles that much, or you just don’t know. That’s totally fine of course. I get it. I’m not here to convince you that they’re the best band. Music is subjective. It’s a question of personal taste.

But I still hope you listen to this, because I might be able to help you understand why people love them.

Public Speaking – Talking to an Audience (Some tips and comments)

I’m now going to give some tips and comments about public speaking and how I prepared for my presentation but if you’d rather just skip straight to the recording of my Beatles talk, then you can move forward to 30:00 (the 30 minute mark).

Let’s think about public speaking then, and doing a presentation to an audience. I just want to mention a couple of things about how I prepared to do this talk. 

Maybe this can help you learn a little bit about public speaking.

So I had to prepare to talk to a room full of people for about 45 minutes. 

It was a fairly small audience to be fair – about 50 people.

Is that a small number or a big number? I don’t know. I’ll let you decide.

Imagine you had to do that. 

  • What would you be thinking? 
  • How would you do it? 
  • How would you prepare? 
  • What are the important things to consider?

I knew the audience would be a mix of adult learners of English (mostly French people and maybe some other nationalities) with an English level at intermediate and above and also some native English speakers.

I didn’t want to write a script, because I wanted to keep the presentation spontaneous. I find that if I write a script then I just get stressed during the talk because I’m trying to remember everything I’ve written and that’s impossible, and reading from a script can take the life out of a presentation. It can take away a certain spark, especially if the person is actually reading from the script on paper and they have to keep glancing up at the room but not really connecting with anyone. 

It depends, of course. Sometimes you need a script because in some cases every single word is vital, and you might have a prompter or something (that’s a screen which shows you your script without the audience seeing it – like in those big political speeches) or maybe if you are doing a best man’s speech at a wedding it can help to have the script in your hand. It depends on the situation of course. But for me, I decided that I didn’t want a script.

Also I didn’t want to use presentation slides on a screen with lots of words or information on them. Slides can be good, but they can also be very distracting. It’s human nature for the audience to just stare at the slides and then you lose the connection with them, and an old rule from stand-up comedy is: if it’s not adding anything, then it’s taking something away. 

Sometimes slides are not really adding anything to your talk, and so they just take away the focus from you and cause the audience to get distracted, especially when there’s lots of text and they end up reading rather than listening to you. No thanks.

Nothing is better than just trying to establish a good connection with the people in front of you. So I decided to do it without a script and without any slides, just like in a stand-up comedy who.

Doing it without a script can seem a bit daunting though, because you think “How can I get it right? How can I be sure that I’m going to say the right things?” 

Basically, in my experience, you have to just try to get to know your subject really well, create a simple structure for your talk, practice a lot and then trust yourself to be able to do it. So that’s what I tried to do. (I’m talking like I’m some expert public speaker here – I’m not, but I do have some experience from teaching and from doing comedy, so I’m just trying to share my experience with you).

In the weeks leading up to the talk I just thought about it a lot, thought about the specific focus of the talk “Why do people love The Beatles?” wrote some ideas down when they came to me, asked friends and family for their advice, talked out loud to myself a bit, imagining I was doing the talk and eventually worked out a general plan for what the content and structure should be. I did write some things down as a script but then I boiled it all down to a list of simple one or two word prompts. I then printed those prompts on some cards which I held in my hands during the talk. The idea was that I could just glance at the card in my hand and then ramble on that topic, hopefully remembering the main things I wanted to say. I also wanted to leave myself room to improvise and respond to what was happening in the room because in my experience, that’s the best way to keep things entertaining and to stop the audience falling asleep at all. 

I also wrote a few other things on the cards in pencil. Just some names, dates and quotes in case I forgot them while talking.

So that’s what I did as preparation and in a moment you can hear how it went.

Let me just say a couple of very basic facts about The Beatles for listeners who are new to the subject, just so you don’t get lost. 

The people in the room for my talk were probably already fans of The Beatles, but you might be new to them.

The Beatles

They were a group of musicians (a band) from Liverpool in England who recorded and released music together from 1962 to 1970 more or less. 

Members:

  • John Lennon (guitar & vocals)
  • Paul McCartney (bass guitar & vocals)
  • George Harrison (lead guitar & vocals)
  • Ringo Star (drums & vocals sometimes)

Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe were members of the band before they became really famous.

They formed in the late 1950s and played live concerts together from the early days in Liverpool and Hamburg until the year 1966 when they were playing stadiums and huge theatres around the world. Then they stopped performing live and concentrated on making music in the studio.

The band broke up officially in 1970 and went their separate ways.

John Lennon was killed in 1980 meaning that the four members could never reunite again as a band.

The Beatles were not just commercially successful. They represented a huge cultural shift and also were groundbreaking in many ways beyond just their influence on popular music. They were also just very funny, stylish and charming and their message was ultimately one of peace and love.

So, “Why we love The Beatles” that’s the title of my talk, that’s what I talked about a couple of weeks ago, and that’s what you can hear now in this first episode of LEP recorded in front of a live audience. I hope you enjoy it…


Ending

So, there you have it. That was my talk about The Beatles at The British Council. 

I am not completely sure if I managed to answer the question of why people love them so much, but ultimately I think I managed to entertain my small audience and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and maybe that’s the most important thing at the end of the day, and the beginning of the day, and the middle of the day…

I wonder how that was for you listening in podcastland.

A couple of questions for you. 

  1. Did I manage to tell you something new about The Beatles that you didn’t know before?
  2. If you’re not a fan of the band, did I give you a sense of why people love them so much, including the fact that it’s not just about the music, and there’s more to them than just Yellow Submarine, Yesterday, Hey Jude and Let It Be?
  3. What was it like listening to a podcast episode that was recorded live in front of an audience, and should I do more episodes like that in the future?

Actually, I have sort of already decided that I would like to do more stuff like this in the future and I would like to do talks at the British Council that can also be published as podcasts. 

One idea is that I re-record some old episodes but in front of an audience, especially episodes which are essentially stories. For example, I would love to do the Sick In Japan story because I think it’s long enough, has enough funny moments and drama in it and it’s been a long time since I published the episode (10 years in fact – omg).  

So look out for more stuff like this in the future and maybe a live version of Sick In Japan or something like that. We will see.

Anyway, let me know how it was listening to this as a podcast episode.

Thank you for listening all the way until the end.

If you got this far, let’s think of a code word you could use to show that you’ve listened until the end. Let’s say that if you got this far, you have to use the word “LOVE” in your comment, especially in a Beatles lyric such as “Love is all you need” or “All you need is love” or “The love you take is equal to the love you make” – or in fact, quote ANY Beatles lyric in the comments to show that you have listened all the way until the end, and if you mention that a semolina pilchard was climbing up the Eiffel Tower during the episode, you will get bonus points. More than just 10.

Thank you for listening.

More podcast episodes will be coming towards your ears soon.

Just a reminder – Private Lessons with British Council English Score Tutors

If you’re looking for private one-to-one lessons online with a teacher, check out British Council English Score Tutors.

At least 150 BC Approved teachers to choose from.

Classes adapted to your needs.

All from the comfort of your own home.

$1 for the first lesson so you can check it out.

Then if you pay for a pack of lessons, you’ll get one lesson free because you’re a LEPster.

For the details and to get the offer – www.teacherluke.co.uk/english

Link in the episode description.

Nice one.

Thank you for listening! I hope you loved this episode. 

My pod room is nearly ready, for goodness sake. There’s still no electricity connection! A guy came to fit plugs around the room, and to connect it to the earth. He just needs to come back to do a bit of paperwork but of course he keeps texting saying it’s not possible today and then the next day, then he says he can come on Friday afternoon which is a full week after he actually did the main part of the job. Why does everything take so bloody long? Then it’s just a few clicks and switches and I need another hard working motivated guy to come and connect the room to the fibre optic internet and then I will be able to actually get installed and start working properly again. Damn, I can’t wait! I’m buying a second-hand desk from a local company tomorrow (it was supposed to be today but yep – she had to cancel and postpone). I’m looking for a decent office chair at a good price. I will podcast standing up if I have to!

Speak to you soon but for now it’s just time to say, good bye bye bye bye bye bye

753. Visiting the Louvre Museum with Amber & Paul

Join Amber, Paul and me as we take a tour of the famous Louvre museum in Paris and describe some of the world’s most amazing artwork and artefacts, including stunning Greek sculptures like Venus de Milo, fascinating renaissance paintings by Leonardo da Vinci such as the Mona Lisa and many more incredible pieces. The video version has photos of all the work being described. Photos are also shown on the website page.

Audio Version

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Video Version with Photos of all the artwork in the episode

Introduction Transcript

Hello dear listeners and welcome back to the podcast!

Let me just say a few words before we begin. This is not going to be a massive introduction, but I do need to say a couple of things before we start, in order to prepare you for what you are going to hear in this episode, so you can understand it better and really make the most of it.

The pod-pals Amber & Paul are back! Just in case you don’t know – Amber Minogue and Paul Taylor are my English comedian friends who also live in Paris. They’ve been on the podcast many times in the past, but not since May this year. But now they’re back. 

This episode was recorded a couple of weeks ago, not in my flat as usual, but on location at one of the world’s most famous museums – The Louvre in Paris. You probably know it. “The Louvre” – that’s how we say it in English. In French it sounds like this *Mme Google says the word*. 

During the episode you will hear the three of us walking around parts of the museum, describing the the things we are looking at, including some very famous pieces that you will definitely know. 

The art that we talk about comes from 4 main periods. There are marble sculptures from the Hellanistic period of Ancient Greece (about 2000 years ago), some French medieval paintings (from about 1000 years ago), and then some Reneissance-era paintings (from about 500 years ago) mainly by Italian artists – including a certain portrait by Leonardo da Vinci – I think you know which one I mean – The Mona Lisa of course – and yes, we will be talking about that painting in some detail. We mention it briefly as we walk past it, but then we come back to talk about it more – so keep listening for that. We also talk about some impressive French paintings from the early 19th century too (about 100 years ago).

So, watch out for descriptive language and also general knowledge about the various periods of art on display, the ways they were created, what they mean and how they fit into history. 

This might be challenging for you, depending on your level of English, so be prepared!

It all goes quite quickly, we talk quite fast, there’s background noise and also references to specific art work that you can’t see unless you’re looking at them too. 

If you’d like to see the sculptures and paintings, then have a look at the episode page where I’ve added photos, or the video version. It’s not a full video – I didn’t have a camera, but I’ve added photos into the video, which will appear as you listen.

I do recommend looking at pictures of the work we are describing. It’ll help you understand this and will help you contextualise the language we’re using, which is obviously important.

Some strong language and swearing

Also, watch out – There is some strong language – I mean, some swearing – rude words. Of course – it’s an Amber & Paul episode! There’s usually a bit of swearing. Most of you are fine with that because you know it’s what happens when friends chat together, but, if you are sensitive to strong language, or you’re listening to this with a group of young learners maybe – be warned, there is some strong language ahead, including at least one use of the C word. If you’re not sure what that is, listen to episode 83 of my podcast, which is a complete guide to swearing in English.

Thanks to Amber & Paul

I must say thanks to the podpals for their involvement here, especially Amber who was our tourguide for this trip, and she brings a lot to the table here as she has a lot of knowledge about this museum and the artefacts that can be found there.

Check out Amber’s podcast – panamepodcast.com

Just a reminder – if you like Amber’s voice and want to listen to her talking more about the history of Paris, you’re in luck because she has her own podcast. It’s called Paname Podcast (spell it) and each episode is about a different aspect of Parisian history. There are loads of fascinating stories and atmospheric sound effects and it’s all written and recorded by Amber herself. Paname Podcast is the name and the website is www.panamepodcast.com 

Also, if you want more Amber, Paul and Luke action – then check out Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live – specifically the episode recorded on Monday 6 December. This is Paul’s weekly YouTube livestream, and on Monday 6 December, his guests were Amber and me. 

Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live from Monday 6 December. Watch it here.

You will be able to see the replay on Paul’s channel (and here).

OK that’s enough from me now, except that I really hope you enjoy coming with us on this cultural trip, that you are able to follow it, and that like Paul and me, you learn some things from the experience.

I’ll chat to you again briefly at the end, but now, let’s head down to The Louvre – just a 10 minute bike ride from my flat here in Paris, to meet up with Amber & Paul, and here we go. 

Vocabulary Definitions added during the episode

A fresco is a type of wall painting. The term comes from the Italian word for fresh because plaster is applied to the walls while still wet. (National Gallery website definition)

A sculpture is a work of art that is produced by carving or shaping stone, wood, clay, or other materials (CollinsDictionary.com)

A sculpture which is atteched to a flat piece of stone which can be displayed on a wall – that’s a relief.

Phew, that is a relief, I mean – I’m glad we cleared that up.

Photos of Artwork

Here are pictures of almost all the things we described in this episode. The YouTube video version also contains these images.

Ending Transcript

Well, there you are. That was a whirlwind tour wasn’t it! There was a lot packed into that one. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe learned one or two things.

Remember, you can see pictures of everything (I think) that we saw and talked about – you can see all those pictures on the page for this episode on my website and also on the YouTube version. Don’t forget to whack that like button with a hammer.

Thank you again to the pod-pals. It’s always great to have them on the show.

Now, if you liked this, then you must listen to Amber’s Podcast, which she is still doing by the way. It’s called Paname Podcast and you can get it wherever you get your podcasts. Also, her website is panamepodcast.com

In her episodes you can hear Amber telling some fascinating stories about the history of Paris. Check it out!

Amber and I were on Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live – Monday 6 December. (Video available above

Thank you for joining us. Let me know your thoughts, comments and responses to this episode. 

Speak to you soon, but for now – good bye bye bye  bye bye!

752. Creating Award-Winning Books for Children (with Penny Dale)

Author and illustrator Penny Dale talks about the process of creating successful books for children, including some of her most popular books such as Ten In The Bed and the Dinosaur series. Video version available. Audio version has 30mins extra rambling.

Audio Version (with 30mins extra rambling at the end)

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Video Version

www.pennydale.co.uk

Episode Introduction

Hi listeners, welcome back to the podcast.

Just before I introduce the episode properly, I have some Amber & Paul news for you. First of all, Amber and Paul will be back on the podcast very soon. It’s been a while since they made an appearance, but probably the next episode will be with them, which is nice. But also, Amber and I will be on Paul’s YouTube live show on Monday 6 December at 8pm Paris time.

Every Monday Paul does a live show called Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live – you can find that by searching for it on YouTube. In the show he features guests and they respond to comments from the audience and generally talk and have fun. His next guests will be Amber and me (finally – we’re both going to be on it together) and that’s on Monday 6 December at 8pm Paris time. If you’re listening to this after that date and you’ve already missed it or if you can’t watch it live, you will be able to see the replay on Paul’s YouTube channel.

OK? So, if you’re keen for more Amber, Paul and Luke action – check out Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live on Monday 6 December at 8pm, either live or on replay.

Another thing – my merch stores are currently offering discounts, so if you’d like to get an LEP t-shirt or mug or hoodie or something – for yourself or as a Christmas present for another LEPster, now might be a good time because of discounts. Just go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/merch to find the merch stores.

Also, I hope you enjoyed the previous episode of this podcast – also with Penny Dale. I just wanted to let Premium LEPsters know that there is a premium episode in the pipeline, which will be called “What did Penny say?” and that’s going to cover vocabulary from our conversation about the Bath Arts Workshop. So, that’s coming. For all the info about LEP Premium, go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo

~ Jingle ~

Hello, so, let me tell you about his episode, briefly. In this one I am talking again to Penny Dale. This time we focus on her work as an author and illustrator of children’s books – and she’s had a very successful career doing that, which is quite rare.

I think this conversation is absolutely lovely – and I hope you agree. It’s just nice listening to Penny talking about her work, especially as the work itself is so thoughtful and done with a lot of care and attention, and it’s all for children.

Just to give you an overview, you are going to hear Penny talking about these things:

  • The process of creating successful books for children
  • Collaborating with editors and other writers 
  • Adapting an old nursery rhyme into one of her most popular books
  • Inspiration vs craft
  • Managing to create a coherent story which would appeal to children (and publishers) within just 12 page spreads (usually)
  • Applying her fine art training to her work
  • The way language is used in children’s books – incorporating rhythm, rhyme, repetition, storytelling and perspectives – the point of view from which the story is told.
  • How she uses models in her illustration process to create the hyperreal and very detailed style that she is known for – in fact, several of the models she has used in the past are toys that she borrowed from a certain bedroom in a certain house.

This conversation includes references to some of her most popular titles, including Ten In The Bed, Dinosaur Dig, Dinosaur Farm and Dinosaur Rocket.

The video version includes some pictures – that’s mostly Penny showing pages from her books, but she describes the images in some detail so even without the video version you should still get you a good idea of what her work actually looks like. But you can see the work in the video version. The audio version of this, which you listening to now, has more content in it – this introduction and there will an ending ramble from me of some kind too, so – take your pick. Video version on YouTube, audio podcast version, or both!

OK then, without any further ado, let’s find out about how Penny has created successful books for children.

Ending Ramble

Luke rambles about some upcoming content, the new Beatles documentary, and a few other things.

Amber & Paul on location in a famous museum – talking about some amazing works of art from various periods, including the Mona Lisa – that famous portrait by Leonardo da Vinci.

Don’t forget Paul Tayor’s Happy Hour Live (watch the replay if you missed the live stream) Monday 6 December at 8PM CET.

Andy Johnson will be back on the podcast soon (long term listeners might remember Andy)

I’m desperate to talk about the new Beatles documentary, and I think I will – when I get the chance!

Talks in English at the British Council in Paris – “Why we love The Beatles” <– my talk, which is scheduled for Thursday 27 January 2022 – 19.00

Link to reserve your seat www.britishcouncil.fr/en/events/talks-english-beatles or just go to britishcouncil.fr and then What’s On.

If you’re in Paris – come along to that. I’m going to record a podcast while doing it, I hope.

I’ve still got a lot on my plate! I will upload as regularly as possible, but we will see if the podcast gets disrupted by the move which is still yet to happen. New pod-room.

LEP Merch – Christmas present ideas? All the designs, including competition winners – they’re all there. Watch out for discounts in the merch stores.

751. Bath Arts Workshop: Counterculture in the 1970s (with Penny Dale)

Chatting to English author & illustrator Penny Dale about her involvement in a counterculture arts movement from the 1970s, the Bath Arts Workshop. Video version and vocabulary list available.

Audio Version (with 30mins extra ramble at the end)

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Video Version

Transcripts and Vocabulary Notes

Intro 1 (audio – pre jingle)

Hello everyone and welcome back to Luke’s English Podcast – a podcast for people learning English. British English in this case. My name is Luke. Welcome.

Here is a brand new episode for you. I hope you enjoy it! There’s a video version too on YouTube.

Yes, hello listeners! You might be able to hear my computer’s fan. There’s hiss in the background because my computer is working hard to encode the video version of this. *Luke rambles for a few sentences* 

“Luke you’re rambling again!”

This is an interview episode with a guest. I should say that this might be a difficult one, depending on your level of English of course! My guest and I are talking about a specific artistic and cultural movement that happened in England in the 1970s. I say specific, but it included many different types of art, theatre performance, music and community work – all packaged together in one movement, a movement which was quite revolutionary at the time, but revolutionary in the nicest possible way. That should become clear as you listen to this. Anyway – an alternative, subversive, counterculture arts movement. 

The reasons I think this might be difficult for you to follow are: language (there’s a lot of vocabulary used to describe and discuss art & culture of various kinds) also the fact that there are references to things you might not know about already, including the names of artists, poets, musicians and specific locations in England (obviously, if you don’t know those reference points then things might get confusing), and simply the fact that this is  quite a difficult arts movement to understand for anyone – native and non native speakers alike. Also, my guest and I aren’t really grading our English or slowing down a lot, and I’m aware of that. I am presenting this to you as a piece of authentic listening practise, which, can be really good for your English if you’re willing to tolerate the bits you don’t fully understand.

So it might be tricky to follow, but I do hope you persevere. I think that as you continue to listen, the concepts and events we are discussing will become clearer to you and really exploring things that you might not be familiar with can be a great way to pick up new language

So, this should be a chance to learn about culture and by extension the words we use to describe that culture. 

The video version has some annotations on the screen (with vocabulary and pictures), and the notes on the website will also include a vocabulary list, which will help you if you check it.

Right,  let’s get straight into it then. There will be another little introduction from me, but that’s what I do isn’t it? I’m only trying to help. 

Leave your thoughts and responses in the comment section. I will chat to you again near the end of this conversation, but now it’s time for the jingle, and here it is.

JINGLE

Intro 2 😂 (after the jingle) 

Hello listeners, hello video viewers,

As you know, in episodes of my podcast I often talk about language learning, and I often I teach you specific things such as vocabulary, grammar or pronunciation (especially in Premium episodes), but also on this podcast I do episodes which are not specifically about the English language or about learning or teaching English. I also like to present you with things that I hope are simply interesting to listen to, or episodes which focus on culture rather than language, and this episode is one of those. This is a conversation which focuses on British culture and art and it is an interview about an artistic movement which took place in England in the 1970s. So, it’s not about English, but it is all in English of course and I’m presenting it to you as part of your regular English listening practice.

This is an interview with artist, illustrator and author Penny Dale, who was one of the members of the Bath Arts Workshop.

Let me give you some context to explain how this interview was set up. This will not take 15 minutes, I promise. 

First of all, there is a new book available – it’s just been published. It’s called “Bath Arts Workshop – Counterculture in the 1970s” and as the title suggests it is all about a counterculture arts movement which took place in the South West of England in the 1970s. We’ll explain what a counterculture arts movement means in a few minutes.

One of the people involved in that artistic movement, and also involved in the publishing of this book is Penny Dale. Penny is an illustrator and also an author of children’s books – an award-winning author, I might add. She’s illustrated and written some very popular kids’ books in the UK and we have a lot of them at home – my daughter loves them, but back in the 1970s she hadn’t begun that part of her career yet and was involved in this conceptual and subversive arts movement – The Bath Arts Workshop. 

Penny is a friend of the family. She is a very good friend of my mum and dad, and in fact it was my mum who suggested that Penny could be a good person for me to interview and that both the Bath Arts Workshop and her career as a childrens’ author would be interesting things to ask her about.

So that’s the plan. This will be two separate episodes I think – one about the arts movement, and another one about the writing of childrens’ books. Part 1 and part 2. This is part 1 of course, so let’s focus on the Bath Arts Workshop.

And by the way – Bath is a town in the South West of England – we’re not talking about bath tubs where you go to wash yourself and play with yellow rubber ducks and little boats. No, this isn’t an art movement that involved people sitting in bathtubs – but then again it was the 1970s so that isn’t completely far-fetched.

Ok that’s probably enough of an introduction from me. Let’s now meet Penny and start the interview properly.

Vocabulary list for the Interview

[A premium episode about this language is in the pipeline]

  • Counterculture
  • A workshop
  • Inclusion / inclusivity
  • Countering the elitism of modern art
  • A hub for alternative technology, alternative art, alternative artists
  • Students had grants that they didn’t have to pay back
  • There was time and breathing space
  • Being critical of the current state of affairs
  • It was open to everyone, accessible. That was the ethos
  • Inclusivity was the thing.
  • The workshop had sprung out of the London Arts Lab.
  • He’d written letters to councils from all over the uk.
  • Bath is a medium- size, fairly touristy city but full of incredible Georgian architecture.
  • People coalesced really quickly
  • Some finance was eventually achieved through grants from the local council
  • The first event had been rained off
  • We encountered these events before we knew what the workshop were (yes, “were” for a workshop – a collective noun, like team, government, group, police)
  • A pastiche group
  • I went along to a gig, just to help with costumes and props ostensibly and it was an eye-popping experience.
  • It was a really tight outfit (a band, not clothes)
  • Really glittery clothes
  • You brushed shoulders with the likes of Roxy Music
  • Conventional / unconventional
  • We made domes out of scaffolding. Geodesic domes. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geodesic_dome 
  • Windmills, solar panels.
  • Allen Ginsburg came and he was a real trooper.
  • A pivotal figure in what came to be known as the counterculture.
  • I’m flagging up these names that are well known, but there were also… the breadth of the programme in these festivals was huge.
  • A wide variety of different things
  • It seems like quite a large and complex organism. It can seem like a chaotic kind of thing. It’s all a bit vague and nebulous.
  • It was potentially quite chaotic, but it wasn’t. It was quite a strong, central hub for arts and community. 
  • One thing was – premises. We had a really good premises for a while, that was a rehearsal space were you could cook and have an office and everything. 
  • premises = the building and land used by a business or organisation
    – It is always wrtten with an S
    – ⚠️ People say “a premises“, 
    – “the premises is” or “the premises are
    – All☝️are considered correct
  • I found the music part the bit I was most intrigued by, myself.
  • It was very all-consuming and busy, but fun.
  • Maybe we can talk about impact. What about the impact of the BAW?
  • Legacy is the word now, isn’t it?

Ending (with a bonus ramble in the audio version)

[This is a transcript of some of the things I said, but there’s a lot of extra, spontaneous talking in the audio version.]

So that was Penny Dale talking about the Bath Arts Workshop. Thanks again to Penny for that. I found it very interesting and it makes me think about my parents’ generation and the approach many of them had to things. That whole baby boom generation and the counterculture movement in general which I suppose includes things like the beat poets, hippies and all that stuff. I especially think of the music and the general ethos, which was that they could change the world with love. Were they idealistic and naive? Or not? I don’t see what’s wrong with a bit of peace, love and understanding myself. Love is all you need, right? Yes, but a bit of cash, a nice car, a decent apartment and maybe a new computer, and to have someone fix our washing machine, oh and a pair of shoes that fit me just right and don’t squeeze the sides of my toes – all those things would definitely help. I don’t know really, but I do think that the Bath Arts Workshop sounds like quite a beautiful venture, if you ask me, and it sounds like they had some great fun while doing it, and so on and so forth. I could go on.

You can leave your comments in the comment section as usual, if you have them. 

Hello there! You’re still listening to the podcast. Nice one! Did you manage to follow this conversation? 

Remember I said at the beginning that I’d put a vocabulary list on the website page for this episode. Well, I’ve done that, with some words or phrases that I think might have been hard, or which are worth picking up from the conversation. 

I’m planning to do a premium episode in which I fly though them, just clarifying them a bit. 

Sometimes I think I might go into too much detail in those premium episodes, and it’s ok to just say a few things about each bit of target language each time. So I will aim to do a kind of express premium episode as a way to recap and highlight some nice language from this conversation. 

Let’s have a mini ramble here – and this is one of those times when I’m doing a written ramble – writing things down which I will record when the time is right. I like to mix up spontaneous speech and pre-written speech on this podcast. There are good and bad points of both. Mainly – the advantage of spontaneous speech is that it’s more natural and authentic and therefore a bit more human and engaging, but the advantage of pre-written stuff is that I can get some more control over what I’m saying. Anyway, I am still rambling here – pre-written or not.

My computer has stopped making that loud noise – it failed to encode the video, because there wasn’t enough storage space left on the hard drive. I’m sure you know the problem. Hard drive storage just gets eaten up so easily. Not only do I have to keep my flat tidy and organised, I also have to keep my computer tidy and organised and free of clutter, and my phone too for that matter! This is the world we live in. I will try encoding the video again later, after throwing a load of unwanted files into the trash – or rubbish bin as it should be called, if computers were British.

What’s going on in podcastland? Well, I’m recording this late on a Friday evening – maybe because I’ve got nothing better to do! Well, I could be watching TV or reading a book, playing the guitar or something else, but my wife and daughter are both asleep downstairs and so I thought I’d take this opportunity to catch up on a bit of podcasting.

I’m recording this probably before recording episode 750. This is episode 751 I think, which I will upload after 750, because that’s how numbers work, but I haven’t recorded 750 yet. 

Does that make sense?  I have a vague plan for episode 750 – probably something about being busy.

I like to record and publish in the same order, so there’s at least some sense of continuity. I know some podcasters will record something and then leave it for ages and kind of publish things in a different order to how they recorded, but I prefer to just publish and record as soon as possible.

I don’t know what I will say in episode 750, which means I don’t know what you have already heard me say, because even though right now I haven’t recorded that episode yet, there’s a good chance you are listening to this later and in your world you might have listened to episode 750 – I wonder what I said in that episode, or should that be, I wonder what I will say, or even, I wonder what I will have said? I’m in that weird limbo land where all those different verb tenses are possible. (Some people are confused now – even more confused than they were earlier). 

Anyway, I think I will call it a day here. In a moment. I said before that things are a bit intense in my life at the moment – I am certainly not complaining, not at all, but I have a lot on my plate which means I’ve got less time for recording, editing etc. This means that I have lots of ideas building up in my head – podcast ideas – they sort of come to me at various moments, like when I’m teaching or when I’m walking to work, but then I can’t really turn those ideas into podcasts because of time constraints, but I’m trying to note them down for later. 

I expect I’m repeating myself here, because I have a vague idea that I’ll talk about being busy and having things on your plate in episode 750. So, no need to continue at the risk of repeating myself, which is obviously a shocking crime that must be met with the harshest of punishments. 

OK, the next episode will also be with Penny and it’s all about how she creates books for children, and this is actually a bit of a scoop because Penny is a really successful author of children’s books. They have won awards. They are in all the bookshops. One of her books was read out on BBCTV by Rob Delaney – a popular comedian. And her work is really great. Her illustrations in particular are absolutely lovely – very cute and adorable. So in episode 752 we can hear her talk about her process of creating these books, and it’s a nice cosy topic and I think it should be of interest to most LEPsters. So that’s something to look forward to.

So, I think this is a good moment to stop. Thank you so much for listening!

Speak to you again soon, but now it’s time to say good bye bye bye!

749. LEP DESIGN COMPETITION 2021: Discussing the Entries & Choosing the Winners with James

James and Luke discuss designs sent in by listeners, and choose the winner(s). The prize: to have your design featured in the LEP Merch Store, plus an £80 reward! Listen for plenty of descriptive language, diplomatic language and ways of giving positive and feedback in English. Video version also available (with all the designs on screen) below.

Audio Version

Small Donate Button

[DOWNLOAD AUDIO]

Video Version (with all the designs on the screen, automatic subtitles and chapters for each section of the episode)

LEP Merch – available here: www.teacherluke.co.uk/merch

Do you want an LEP t-shirt, mug or something else? Could be a good Christmas present idea for a LEPster that you know.

DESIGNS FROM LISTENERS 1-18

All designs are presented in the order in which they arrived in my email inbox.

Listen to hear all our comments and to discover the winners.

1. Iwona

2. Kyoungjin Lee

3. Francisca

4. Silvia & Sara

Design 1
Design 2

5. Giuliana

6. Adel

7. Lenka

8. Evgeniya

9. Alyona

10. Denis

Design 1
Design 2

11. Jakub

13. All4Band.com team

14. Sia

15. Andrey

16. Max

17. Sophia

18. Julie

Who won? Listen to the episode to find out!

Thank you to everyone who threw their hat in the ring!

Congratulations to the winners. You will receive emails from me with the next steps.

James’ Music

Click here to find James’ recent music on Bandcamp.

734. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells [Part 1] Learn English with Stories

Luke reads extracts from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. This is a classic bit of science fiction writing from the Victorian era, with some thrilling passages and scary descriptions. It’s one of my favourite books of all time and I hope you enjoy it too and learn some English from it. Full transcript available and YouTube version too.

Audio Version

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[DOWNLOAD AUDIO]

Video Version

Click here for part 2

Click here for part 3

Full Episode Transcript (starts after the jingle)

Hello listeners,

It’s story time in this episode because I’m going to tell you a classic English science fiction story.

The story is called War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells the classic storyteller who also wrote The Invisible Man and The Time Machine, and you have probably heard of War Of The Worlds because it is definitely one of the most famous and most influential science fiction stories ever written.

Now, I know that science fiction is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I do hope you stick around and listen to this story because I think this is just particularly good writing and the story is very exciting, immersive and memorable so it should be a really enjoyable way to pick up some more English.

I won’t be reading the whole book of course but I will be reading some selected extracts and giving you a summary of the key details in the first part of the story.

The aims of this episode

To entertain you with a really engaging story in English.
Stories are a great way to get more English into your head and if they are exciting and immersive, then that’s even better.

To show you a slightly old-fashioned version of English, which is really rich in descriptive language and more formal in style than today’s English.
It’s good to be exposed to diverse versions of the language.
Old fashioned English is much more like modern formal English, so it’s a good lesson in style.
This can really strengthen your English in various ways.

To help you notice some nice bits of vocabulary along the way.
Having a broad range of vocabulary is essential in achieving truly advanced English. This story is very rich in descriptive language.

To inspire you perhaps to read the rest of the book.
Reading is such an important thing to do for your English, and maybe you’re looking for interesting books to read. You could consider this one. It’s not too long.

This is also available as a video episode on YouTube and if you watch you can see me recording the podcast with the text on the screen next to my face. So you can listen and read at the same time and see me telling the story.

You can read the entire text I am reading from on the page for this episode at teacherluke.co.uk.

Context of the story and the writing style

War of the Worlds has been adapted lots of times – in films (most famously the 2005 Stephen Spielberg film with Tom Cruise – which you might have seen) and another film version in the 1950s set in Los Angeles, an audiobook musical version read by Richard Burton and an infamous dramatised radio series by Orson Welles.

This is the original alien invasion story. This book was one of the very first stories to ever explore these themes and to describe these kinds of things in such a realistic way.

This is the one that has inspired so many others and in my opinion, none of the other versions of this story or copies of this story can compare to this original version from 1897.

The writing is very realistic and journalistic in style, written from the first person perspective of a guy just experiencing the events as they happened and describing everything in great detail.

A note about the language and the writing style

The language is pretty old fashioned (1897) but it’s really well written and it should be interesting for you and useful for your English to explore another version of this language. Exposure to different types of English makes your English stronger I think.

As we go through this I will point out particular words or phrases as we go and perhaps compare this to normal modern plain English.

Comparing the styles of languages actually gives you more perspective on normal modern English and how formal written English today still retains some aspects of old fashioned language.

There is quite a lot of language you might find in legal documents or other very formal situations.

Words like therein, hereby, forthwith and things like that are quite common, as well as certain structures, longer sentences and choices of words which mark this out in a particular style.

This is very descriptive literary language from over 100 years ago. It’s more complex than today’s English, more formal than today’s English and very specific in its descriptions.

This will probably be a challenge for you but I’m here to help and I will explain things as we go.

This is quite scary stuff

I have to add actually, that having re-read some of this story in preparation for this episode, I hadn’t realised just how terrifying this story is.

Personally I really enjoy the thrills you get from a story like this, but if you are feeling a bit force-sensitive today you might want to get a pillow or hide behind the sofa or something.

Useful Links & Sources

Here are a couple of links I have found useful in making this episode.

Project Gutenberg
I have several paperback copies of this book, but I also found it on www.gutenberg.org – a website which shares stories and books which are now in the public domain.

Link to War of the Worlds html version
www.gutenberg.org/files/36/36-h/36-h.htm

CourseHero Study Notes
Also there’s a website called coursehero.com which has useful summaries of the story and other useful information.
www.coursehero.com/lit/The-War-of-the-Worlds/

Summarising the opening chapters

These are the opening paragraphs of the book, which set the scene in which the events take place. Note the sombre tone and specific choice of language.

Main Character

The story is told by an unnamed narrator.

He is a middle-class educated man who writes philosophical papers and is interested in science. That’s all we know. The story is written in the past tense, as if he is looking back on those events and has written a full account of what happened.

I.
THE EVE OF THE WAR.

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. [one sentence!]

With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same.

No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable.

It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most, terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise.

Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.

And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.

Summary of the story up until Chapter 4: The Cylinder Opens

That opening chapter describes how a species of intelligent creatures on Mars had been observing us for many years before the events of this story. The opening chapter goes on to explain that the Martians were planning to invade earth because their home planet was steadily getting cooler year after year due to the fact that it is further from the sun than the earth. They faced extinction on their own planet, and so they set their sights on their nearest neighbour – Earth – with its warmer atmosphere and closer position to the sun, and with their superior mathematical knowledge and technology they decided they would colonise earth in order to survive. They spent years observing us and planning the invasion.

Note: I am using present tenses from now on to describe this story. This is a normal way to retell the plot of a book, film, or play. It’s because the events of the story are permanent because they never change, they are written that way. So we can use present tenses to summarise the story of a book or film.

Ogilvy the Astronomer

The narrator has a friend called Ogilvy who is a respected astronomer. He has a telescope and uses it to observe the night sky, including the surface of Mars, our nearest neighbour.

So Ogilvy is our friend and he’s an astronomer.

6 years before the main events of the story Ogilvy invites the narrator to an observatory to study Mars after another astronomer reported a dramatic explosion of gas on the surface of the planet, which seems to be directed toward Earth. The narrator observes a similar explosion as he watches through the telescope.

Ogilvy doubts the existence of life on Mars and speculates the phenomenon may be related to meteorites or volcanoes. Many other people witness the phenomenon, which repeats itself at midnight over a total of 10 days.

Nobody at the time is concerned or worried about the explosions on Mars.

6 years later some people see a falling star – a meteorite which flies through the night sky with a bright green flash and lands nearby on Horsell Common – a large area of grass, meadows and trees. Again, nobody assumes there is anything weird going on. Ogilvy the astronomer is interested in the meteorite and finds it on the common.

As it has landed it has formed a large crater of sand. So the object is lying at the bottom of a kind of large sand pit in the middle of an open area of grassland surrounded by buildings and trees.

The meteorite that he finds is quite odd. It’s in a cylindrical shape – like a long can of coke, but he thinks its made of rock as it is covered in a kind of crusty layer. It’s also extremely hot and he can’t get near it, but he notices there are weird sounds coming from inside it. He assumes these are noises caused by the object cooling, but as he continues to observe it he realises that something funny is going on.

The crusty layer is slowly falling off as the object cools, revealing a kind of metallic surface underneath, and even weirder than that, the end of the cylinder appears to be turning, as if it is unscrewing very slowly. Ogilvy suddenly assumes that the cylinder has people inside it and decides to get help, but nobody believes him.

Eventually he finds a journalist who is willing to check the cylinder. A crowd of people begins to gather as word spreads about “men from space stuck inside a cylinder on the common”. People don’t quite realise what’s going on but they are incredibly curious. Normal life continues, with people stopping by to have a look at the object in the sand pit, before continuing their normal routines.

The narrator goes down to Horsell Common to check out what’s going on. A larger crowd has gathered there. He manages to squeeze through the crowd which is getting more and more excited and agitated. A small group of scientists, including the narrator’s friend Ogilvy are in the pit attempting to work out what is happening.

The narrator observes what is going on and comments on how most people are not really educated about this kind of thing and they haven’t worked out what’s going on, but he assumes that the cylinder must be extra-terrestrial. He observes the end of the cylinder moving and as it turns it’s revealing a kind of shining metal thread.

The next chapter describes what happens when the end of the cylinder finally drops off, revealing what is inside.

Reading chapters 4 and 5 with comments and explanations

The narrator approaches the pit containing the cylinder.
Crowds of people are all around the pit, trying to see what’s happening. They’re pushing each other a bit, and things are quite tense. (You know, when a large crowd forms, people start pushing and shoving and it’s stressful)
Ogilvy and some other scientists are in the pit.

IV.
THE CYLINDER OPENS.
The crowd about the pit had increased, and stood out black against the lemon yellow of the sky—a couple of hundred people, perhaps. There were raised voices, and some sort of struggle appeared to be going on about the pit. Strange imaginings passed through my mind. As I drew nearer I heard Stent’s voice:
“Keep back! Keep back!”
A boy came running towards me.
“It’s a-movin’,” he said to me as he passed; “a-screwin’ and a-screwin’ out. I don’t like it. I’m a-goin’ ’ome, I am.”
I went on to the crowd. There were really, I should think, two or three hundred people elbowing and jostling one another, the one or two ladies there being by no means the least active.
“He’s fallen in the pit!” cried some one.
“Keep back!” said several.
The crowd swayed a little, and I elbowed my way through. Every one seemed greatly excited. I heard a peculiar humming sound from the pit.
“I say!” said Ogilvy; “help keep these idiots back. We don’t know what’s in the confounded thing, you know!”
I saw a young man, a shop assistant in Woking I believe he was, standing on the cylinder and trying to scramble out of the hole again. The crowd had pushed him in.
The end of the cylinder was being screwed out from within. Nearly two feet of shining screw projected. Somebody blundered against me, and I narrowly missed being pitched onto the top of the screw. I turned, and as I did so the screw must have come out, for the lid of the cylinder fell upon the gravel with a ringing concussion. I stuck my elbow into the person behind me, and turned my head towards the Thing again. For a moment that circular cavity seemed perfectly black. I had the sunset in my eyes.
I think everyone expected to see a man emerge—possibly something a little unlike us terrestrial men, but in all essentials a man. I know I did. But, looking, I presently saw something stirring within the shadow: greyish billowy movements, one above another, and then two luminous disks—like eyes. Then something resembling a little grey snake, about the thickness of a walking stick, coiled up out of the writhing middle, and wriggled in the air towards me—and then another.
A sudden chill came over me. There was a loud shriek from a woman behind. I half turned, keeping my eyes fixed upon the cylinder still, from which other tentacles were now projecting, and began pushing my way back from the edge of the pit. I saw astonishment giving place to horror on the faces of the people about me. I heard inarticulate exclamations on all sides. There was a general movement backwards. I saw the shopman struggling still on the edge of the pit. I found myself alone, and saw the people on the other side of the pit running off, Stent among them. I looked again at the cylinder, and ungovernable terror gripped me. I stood petrified and staring.
A big greyish rounded bulk, the size, perhaps, of a bear, was rising slowly and painfully out of the cylinder. As it bulged up and caught the light, it glistened like wet leather.
Two large dark-coloured eyes were regarding me steadfastly. The mass that framed them, the head of the thing, was rounded, and had, one might say, a face. There was a mouth under the eyes, the lipless brim of which quivered and panted, and dropped saliva. The whole creature heaved and pulsated convulsively. A lank tentacular appendage gripped the edge of the cylinder, another swayed in the air.
Those who have never seen a living Martian can scarcely imagine the strange horror of its appearance. The peculiar V-shaped mouth with its pointed upper lip, the absence of brow ridges, the absence of a chin beneath the wedgelike lower lip, the incessant quivering of this mouth, the Gorgon groups of tentacles, the tumultuous breathing of the lungs in a strange atmosphere, the evident heaviness and painfulness of movement due to the greater gravitational energy of the earth—above all, the extraordinary intensity of the immense eyes—were at once vital, intense, inhuman, crippled and monstrous. There was something fungoid in the oily brown skin, something in the clumsy deliberation of the tedious movements unspeakably nasty. Even at this first encounter, this first glimpse, I was overcome with disgust and dread.
[It’s a bit like if you spend any length of time staring at a nasty looking insect, or even just staring at a picture of one]
Suddenly the monster vanished. It had toppled over the brim of the cylinder and fallen into the pit, with a thud like the fall of a great mass of leather. I heard it give a peculiar thick cry, and forthwith another of these creatures appeared darkly in the deep shadow of the aperture.
I turned and, running madly, made for the first group of trees, perhaps a hundred yards away; but I ran slantingly and stumbling, for I could not avert my face from these things.
There, among some young pine trees and furze bushes, I stopped, panting, and waited further developments. The common round the sand-pits was dotted with people, standing like myself in a half-fascinated terror, staring at these creatures, or rather at the heaped gravel at the edge of the pit in which they lay. And then, with a renewed horror, I saw a round, black object bobbing up and down on the edge of the pit. It was the head of the shopman who had fallen in, but showing as a little black object against the hot western sun. Now he got his shoulder and knee up, and again he seemed to slip back until only his head was visible. Suddenly he vanished, and I could have fancied a faint shriek had reached me. I had a momentary impulse to go back and help him that my fears overruled.
Everything was then quite invisible, hidden by the deep pit and the heap of sand that the fall of the cylinder had made. Anyone coming along the road from Chobham or Woking would have been amazed at the sight—a dwindling multitude of perhaps a hundred people or more standing in a great irregular circle, in ditches, behind bushes, behind gates and hedges, saying little to one another in short, excited shouts, and staring, staring hard at a few heaps of sand. A barrow of ginger beer stood, a queer derelict, black against the burning sky, and in the sand-pits was a row of deserted vehicles with their horses feeding out of nosebags or pawing the ground.

Summary of Chapter 4

As the sun sets, the narrator returns to the pit, where a few hundred people have gathered.
A boy warns the narrator that the end of the cylinder has unscrewed itself, and the narrator forces his way to the front of the crowd to get a better view.
Ogilvy warns the people to stay away and reminds them of its unknown contents.
One man is pushed into the pit by the jostling of the crowd.
The end of the cylinder comes off and falls into the pit.
The narrator and the crowd are horrified by the grotesque octopus-like appearance of an alien who slowly and painstakingly emerges from the cylinder. They seem heavy and struggling to breathe in the atmosphere.
The narrator and the crowd run away from the pit, but many, including the narrator, stop to watch the aliens from the nearby tree line.
The sun sets, leaving enough light to just see the silhouette of the shopkeeper as he tries and fails to get out of the pit alive.

To be continued in part 2…

731. Beatles Song Lyrics / Idioms & Expressions (with Antony Rotunno)

Learn English with The Beatles as we explore lyrics from Beatles songs and pick out some idioms, descriptive language and other vocabulary for you to learn. Featuring Antony Rotunno from the Glass Onion: On John Lennon podcast.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello everyone,

In this episode you can learn English with The Beatles as we look at specific bits of English which appear in the lyrics of their songs.

I’m joined again by Antony Rotunno from the Glass Onion on John Lennon Podcast. Antony is also an English teacher and something of a John Lennon expert. He is also a musician, and a lot of the credit for this episode goes to him, because he did most of the preparation, going through lyrics of Beatles songs and picking out specific use of English, including certain phrases and idioms.

This is like a quiz actually. Can you name the songs when Antony plays them? 

Can you beat me?

Can you name the songs from the lyrics and from the music?

There are a few references to The Rutles and Neil Innes of course, but for us those songs are all part of The Beatles extended universe.

I’ll chat to you again at the end of the episode and will sum up some of the bits of language that come up, but now let’s get started.


Phrases / Vocabualry

  • Using lots of pronouns, me, you, us, I etc
  • Using more imagery in the lyrics
  • I’m going to love her until the cows come home
  • A chip on my shoulder
  • My heart went boom when I crossed that room
  • Buzz, hum, boom (Onomatopoeia)
  • It won’t be long ‘til I belong to you
  • I don’t know why she’s riding so high
  • To be on your high horse
  • I’ll make a point of taking her away from you
  • I sat on her rug biding my time, drinking her wine
  • This bird has flown
  • Please don’t spoil my day, I’m miles away, and after all, I’m only sleeping
  • If she’s gone I can’t go on, feeling two foot small
  • Feeling 10 foot tall
  • Ouch, you’re breaking my heart
  • To upset the applecart
  • Where there’s a will there’s a way
  • He was like a wolf in sheep’s clothing
  • Or an iron hand in a velvet glove
  • Working like a dog
  • Sleeping like a log
  • Sleeping like a baby
  • If you need a shoulder to cry on
  • To give someone a shoulder to cry on
  • To open up the doors
  • My independence seems to vanish in the haze
  • It was another string to their bow

Colours

  • There is a place, where I can go, when I feel low, when I feel blue
  • To feel blue
  • Everybody’s green because I’m the one who won your love
  • Green = 1. Jealous 2. inexperienced 
  • Oh dear what can I do, baby’s in black and I’m feeling blue

Imagery

  • When the sun shines they slip into the shade, and sip their lemonade
  • With tangerine trees and marmalade skies, cellophane flowers of yellow and green
  • No-one I think is in my tree
  • Nobody is on my wavelength
  • Semolina pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower
  • The clouds will be a daisy chain, so let me see you smile again
  • Her hair of floating sky is shimmering, glimmering, in the sun
  • My mother was of the sky, my father was of the earth but I am of the universe and you know what it’s worth
  • Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
  • Pools of sorrow, waves of joy
  • Don’t need a gun to blow your mind
  • No longer riding on the merry go round, I just had to let it go
  • Mother, you had me, but I never had you

Links to Antony’s Podcasts

Glass Onion: On John Lennon

Film Gold

Life and Life Only

727. Describing John Lennon / Adjectives of Personality J-Z (with Antony Rotunno)

The second part of my conversation with Antony Rotunno (John Lennon podcaster, English teacher) in which we discuss adjectives of personality, with John Lennon as a case study. Vocabulary list available.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners,

Welcome to this brand new episode of Luke’s English Podcast. Here it is, another episode of my podcast, from me to you, in which I help you try to learn this wonderful language that we call English, and I am here to try to help you do it, in ways that I hope you will find interesting and motivating.

So, how are you doing out there in podcastland today? I hope things are pretty good all things considered.

You are now listening to the fourth in my Beatles mini-series and the second part of this double episode I’m doing about describing John Lennon using various adjectives of personality.

I’m assuming here that you have heard the first part of this. If you haven’t heard the first part of this double episode then you need to go and listen to that. It’s probably the previous episode to this one, ok?

I’m still talking to Antony Rotunno from the Glass Onion: On John Lennon podcast. Antony is also an English teacher with plenty of experience. So I think he’s the perfect guest for this podcast series, and let’s continue going through this list of adjectives we compiled, and let’s see if we can use them to discuss John Lennon’s life, his psychology, his personality.

In the last episode we covered adjectives from A to I. It’s a sort of a rough A-Z, and we did A to I last time so let’s do the rest of the alphabet, more or less.

We might skip a few letters here and there but I’m sure that you’ll forgive us.

Just before we continue, let me read out the list of adjectives. Like last time, we don’t go into full detail about all of these, but have a listen and consider these things: whether you know these words, whether you don’t know them, whether you use them and whether you don’t and also what’s the word stress for these adjectives? How many syllables are there and which syllables are the stressed ones? It can also be useful to consider what the noun or verb forms of these adjectives are, if they have them, and sometimes you’ll hear us using the different forms of these words in these word families as well.

Adjectives of Personality J-Z

O o o <—- these symbols show the number of syllables and word stress in a word. For example, “podcast” = O o (two syllables, the first syllable is stressed)

  • Jealous O o, Jittery O o o (Also: to have the jitters, to be on edge, to be nervous, to be anxious)
  • Knackered O o, Kind-hearted o O o
  • Lovable O o o
  • Misunderstood o o o O, Multi-faceted o o O o o
  • Narcissistic o o O o, Nasty O o, Nervous O o, No-nonsense o O o
  • Open O o, Original o O o o
  • Paranoid O o o, Progressive o O o
  • Questioning O o o, Quick-witted O- O o (Also: to have the gift of the gab)
  • Reclusive o O o, Restless O o, Revered o O
  • Sensitive O o o, Sensible O o o, Sentimental o o O o, Superstitious o o O o
  • Talented O o o, Tragic O o, Traumatised O o o, Troubled O o
  • Uncompromising o O o o o, Unconventional o o O o o
  • Violent O o
  • Warm-hearted o O o, Well-read o O, Wise, Witty O o
  • (not) Xenophobic o o O o (this is the only adjective I could think of that begins with an X!) (xylophone and x-ray are other words beginning with x – but they’re not adjectives of personality)
  • Yellow O o / Yellow-bellied O o – O o (cowardly), Youthful O o
  • Zealous O o, Zen

Also: Childish O o / childlike O o

We also cover a few common false friends in this episode, so listen out for those.

False friends

  • Embarrassed o O o
  • Suburbs O o / slums
  • Sensitive O o o / sensible O o o

That entire list is available for you to see on the page for this episode on my website. The link is in the description.

Now, I read that list of adjectives pretty quickly. If you didn’t catch the word stress, or in fact if you feel you need to explore these words more slowly, you can always just check the word list on the website page … and copy+paste them into an online dictionary, where you’ll see phonemic transcriptions of the words (so you’ll know how they are pronounced, including word stress) you’ll be able to hear someone say the words, and you’ll get definitions and examples and so on.

OK, so – I always encourage you to check words that you discover in episodes of this podcast in your own time, and I refer you back to episode 720 for more information about how to do that.

OK, so without any further ado, let’s jump back into my conversation with Antony about John Lennon, and here we go.


Ending Transcript

Thank you again to Antony for his contribution to this episode.

Let me suggest again that you check out Antony’s podcast if you’d like to hear more in depth discussions about John Lennon. It’s called Glass Onion: On John Lennon and you can get it wherever you get your podcasts. I must say, it is an excellent listen.

Right, so that’s not quite it for Beatle-themed episodes. The last in the series is with Antony too, and that’s where we turn to look at the music (or should I say listen to the music?) In any case, the next part of this series is all about the music and lyrics, especially the lyrics and Antony is going to guide us through a little exploration of words and phrases in Beatles songs, looking at nice idioms, uses of metaphor and other features that you should find interesting from a language learning point of view. And Antony got his guitar out for that too, so we also get treated to little snippets of songs as we go.

So, you can look forward to the final episode in the series, coming soon.

I say final episode, there’s nothing stopping me from doing more episodes with Beatle themes in the future, and I do plan to do that actually. I’d like to do some specific song breakdowns in which I could explore the story behind a particular song, then play the song for you and analyse the lyrics. That could be great.

Anyway, thank you for listening as usual! I hope this has been interesting and useful, and I will speak to you very soon in the next episode of this podcast. BUt for now it’s time to say, good bye bye bye bye bye.

726. Describing John Lennon / Adjectives of Personality A-I (with Antony Rotunno)

Learn useful adjectives for describing personality traits with John Lennon as a case study. Episode 3/5 in my Beatles series, with returning guest Antony Rotunno from the podcast “Glass Onion: On John Lennon”. 

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners and welcome back to LEP.

Here is the next episode in my Beatles season, and this is where we look at some language too.

In this episode I’m joined again by Antony Rotunno who is a podcaster and English teacher from England. Antony’s main podcast is called Glass Onion: On John Lennon and as the title suggests it is all about John Lennon, particularly his psychology and his life story. Antony’s other podcasts are called Film Gold, a film review series and Life & Life Only which is about personal development and psychology, so Antony knows a thing or two about psychology and John Lennon, and of course as an English teacher he’s well experienced in helping learners to conquer this language of English.

In this one we’re going through a big list of adjectives which I prepared earlier. All the adjectives are words you could use to describe someone’s personality. We have loads of these adjectives, so Antony and I made a list of words which could be used to describe John Lennon. It’s an ABC in fact. Now we didn’t manage to talk about every single adjective in the list, but we certainly had a good go at them, and what you’re going to get in this episode is a sort of English lesson with John Lennon as a case study.

Here are the adjectives (I’m going to read them out)

  • Consider which ones you know
  • Which ones you use
  • Which ones you don’t know
  • Which ones you don’t use
  • Word stress

Adjectives of Personality

  • Abrasive, Aggressive, Ambitious, Anti-authoritarian, Anti-social, Articulate, Artistic
  • Bad-tempered, Brave
  • Charismatic, Charming, Contradictory, Creative, Cruel, Curious, Cutting, Cynical
  • Damaged, Disobedient, Disturbed
  • Egotistical, Experimental, Eccentric
  • Fearless, Fragile, Funny
  • Generous, Gentle, Gregarious (sometimes!)
  • Headstrong, Honest
  • Imaginative, Indulgent, Inquisitive, Intelligent, Inspiring, Irreverent

I’ll let you discover which ones we actually talk about in detail in this episode. The rest of the list will come up in the next part.

Also, I’ve collected a set of other expressions from this conversation, not using adjectives of personality, but just useful expressions and examples of language you could use, and I’m planning to use that set in an upcoming premium episode.

teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo if you want to sign up to LEP Premium to get all the premium content unlocked.

Now, let’s consider John Lennon’s personality, things he did and said in his life and try to work out what kind of person he was, with a few useful adjectives in the process.

Links to Antony’s Podcasts

Glass Onion: On John Lennon

Film Gold

Life and Life Only

Ending Notes

Thank you again to Antony. 

We will be back in the next part of this series. I’m not sure when that’s going to arrive. 

It might be the next episode, or it might arrive in a short while.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

Don’t be a ninja. 

If you were a ninja and then you left 1 comment, and went back to being a ninja, you’re 2nd level ninja now, ok?

1st level ninjas are the ones who never comment

2nd level ninjas are ones that commented and then disappeared

You don’t want to know what makes a 3rd level ninja.

I will speak to you soon but now it’s time to say goodbye…

722. Discussing John Lennon with Antony Rotunno

The second in a short series about The Beatles, this one focuses on the life of John Lennon, with an overview of his life story, some thoughts about his psychology and some rambling discussion questions about this iconic British musician, with podcaster, English teacher and musician Antony Rotunno.

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Links to Antony’s Podcasts

Glass Onion: On John Lennon

Film Gold

Life and Life Only

Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, I hope you’re doing well today and that you are ready for this new episode of my podcast. You join me here in my pod-room as the rain falls down above my head. Conditions are perfect for learning British English. Let’s get started.

This is a continuation of this short series of episodes I’m doing about The Beatles and this one focuses mostly on John Lennon. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about this iconic British musician then this episode is for you. Also, if you’re already a Beatles fan or a John Lennon fan then I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear this conversation too.

My guest for this episode is Antony Rotunno from England and Antony is very knowledgeable about John Lennon and his life. In fact I feel like I couldn’t have found a better person to talk to about this subject.

One of the reasons for that is that Antony is also an English teacher. He’s been teaching English as a foreign language to adults for over 18 years, and for obvious reasons it’s always useful to have a guest who has experience of working with learners of English.

Antony is also a podcaster so he is used to talking to audiences over the internet from his home in England. Antony’s podcast is all about John Lennon.

And he probably knows all there is to know about John Lennon because he’s read everything out there on the subject and for his podcast he has interviewed lots of people connected to Lennon, including authors and people who actually knew John himself – people with first-hand accounts of meeting him.

So Antony really knows a lot about John Lennon.

And we had a really good, really long conversation for this podcast, covering various things like John Lennon’s life story. This is the first part of that conversation.

Let me just explain my reasons for doing this series of episodes about the Beatles. I probably don’t need to explain this, but allow me to give my reasons.

So, this is a 5 part series actually. I published the first part with my mum in episode 717, which was a review of a book about The Beatles, followed by a general Beatles ramble.

The rest of the series will be this conversation I had with Antony divided into 4 parts. But it’s not just going to be us rambling on about Lennon for all that time. I’ve also decided to employ some of Antony’s English teaching skills in order to cover some language too, specifically in parts 3, 4 and 5 of this series as we focus on descriptive adjectives for describing personality traits, and then some analysis of the lyrics from Beatles songs, with various nice phrases and idioms to learn. So there should be plenty of English learning opportunities to take from this whole series.

John Lennon is a hugely significant person in terms of modern history, and of course being English he is very much part of our culture, and as we move forwards in time it seems that the significance of the Beatles and everyone’s interest in them is not waning. If anything, they continue to grow in stature. 

And even if you’re not into the Beatles, hopefully this can be a chance to learn some new things about this band that is held in such high esteem by so many people.

I promise you – I’m willing to say I promise you here, that if you listen to this, you will know more about John Lennon than before you listened to it.

And if you’re wondering when we’re going to get to the music, part 5 will be all about Beatles lyrics and there will be some guitar playing as well.

First we will get to know Antony a bit and ask him about his podcasts, and then you’ll hear him talk about how he got into The Beatles and John Lennon in particular, then Antony is going to give a brief overview of John’s life and career and finally I’m going to ask Antony a few John Lennon discussion questions.

Let’s get started.

Ending Transcript

So that was episode 2 in this 5 part Beatles mini series, all about John Lennon.

Thanks again to Antony for his expertise. 

The other John Lennon episodes will follow over the next few weeks.

Do you feel that you know more about John Lennon than you did before you  listened to this?

I hope so.

I wonder what new things you learned from this. Feel free to leave your comments below.

I won’t say much more here, except that it’s been really interesting to talk to Antony and I look forward to the next few episodes in which we go into teacher mode and look at some descriptive adjectives and then song lyrics.

But that’s it for this episode. Thanks for listening. Be excellent to each other and I will speak to you soon.