Join me as I meet and get to know Rhiannon, an English coach whose mission is to help you feel awesome about your English. I had never met Rhiannon before this interview, so listen as I get to know her and we chat about her English & Welsh roots, moving to Edinburgh, studying theology at university, early experiences as an English teacher, why learners often feel ashamed of their English, and how she can help. We also discuss the wonders of fish & chips and deep fried Mars bars which you can buy on the streets of Edinburgh.
Here is a list of curious mysteries, jokes and observations about the English language and life in general. I talk about each interesting point, give some funny comments and explain bits of English vocabulary in the process. Expect to learn a few things, and have a bit of a laugh in the process.
☝️Audio version has 15+ extra minutes, with some grammar and vocabulary explanations.
Episode Transcript / Notes
Mini-Mysteries, Jokes & Observations about The English Language (and Life in General)
Aka “Things that make you go “Hmmm”🤔😅
A while ago I got an email from a listener called Hana (hello Hana!)
In the email Hana sent me a list of little jokes, funny observations about life and some peculiarities and ‘mysteries’ of the English language.
A collection of whimsical and amusing questions and jokes.
To give you an idea of the kind of thing I’m talking about, it’s stuff like this:
English is funny – a ‘fat chance’ and a ‘slim chance’ are the same thing.
When you’re a child, you don’t realise that you’re also watching your mum and dad grow up.
The word QUEUE is just the letter Q followed by four completely unnecessary letters.
The last 10% of a tube of toothpaste lasts about as long as the first 90%.
Every time you check your pockets for your wallet, keys, and phone, you do 25% of the Macarena.
We have all, at one point, kicked a pregnant woman.
You get the idea.
Hana said the list had been sent to her by someone on WhatsApp so she forwarded them to me, just for fun.
Well, thanks Hana. This is all useful stuff I could use to make an episode of my podcast.
It’s all just a bit of light-hearted fun (in theory) and I’m sure there’s English to learn from this too.
So, while you are listening, watch out for vocabulary which comes up during this episode.
Let’s get started.
|Hello Luke,I just received these jokes on my WhatsApp and I thought of you. Best wishes, Hana|
*When you have nothing better to do*
*Just try to find answers for these*
1. If poison expires; is it more poisonous or is it no longer poisonous? 🤔
The expiry date
The sell-by date
The use-by date
2. Which letter is silent in the word “Scent” (perfume) the S or the C? 🤔
3. Do twins ever realise that one of them is “unplanned”? 🤔
4. Why is the letter W, in English, called double U? Shouldn’t it be called double V?
5. Every time you clean something, you just make something else dirty.
We’re just moving dirt from one thing to another thing.
Where does all the dirt end up?
6. The word “swims” upside-down is still “swims” 🤔
7. 100 years ago everyone owned a horse and only the rich had cars.
Today everyone has cars and only the rich own horses. 🤔
8. If you replace “W” with “T” in the words “What, Where and When“, you get the answer to each one 🤔
What? → That
Where? → There
When? → Then
*Still have time for fun..?*
*Let’s try this*
Four Great Confusions
Which are still unresolved
1. At a movie theatre (cinema), which arm rest is yours?
2. If people evolved from monkeys, why are monkeys still around?
*this is not unresolved – evolutionary biology has the answer
3. Why is there a ‘D’ in ‘fridge’, but not in ‘refrigerator’?
4. Who knew what time it was, when the first clock was made?
*Well, try this now*
Ambiguities of the English Language! Enjoy.!!!
1. I wonder why the word “Funeral” starts with FUN?
Saderall would be better, because you’re all sad.
2. Why isn’t a Fireman called a Water-man?
3. How come Lipstick doesn’t do what it says?
Lipstick – it’s a stick for your lips
It’s not stuff that “sticks to your lips”.
Also, it isn’t a stick made of lips. That would be weird.
4. If money doesn’t grow on trees, how come Banks have Branches?
5. If a Vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a Humanitarian eat?
6. How do you get off a non-stop Flight?
7. Why are goods sent by *ship* called CARGO, and those sent by *truck* SHIPMENT?
ChatGPT has the answer (smartypants)
Goods that are shipped by boat are called cargo because the word “cargo” comes from the Spanish word “cargar,” which means “to load.” This makes sense because when goods are shipped by boat, they are loaded onto the vessel.
In contrast, goods that are shipped by truck are called a shipment because they are being shipped from one place to another. The word “shipment” comes from the Old French word “envoiement,” which means “the act of sending.” So, a shipment is a collection of goods that are being sent from one place to another, regardless of the mode of transportation.
8. Why do we put cups in the “Dishwasher” and the dishes in the “Cupboard“?
The word “cupboard” originated in the Middle English word “cubbert,” which came from the Old French word “couvert,” meaning “covered.” A cupboard is a type of cabinet or closet with shelves or drawers for storing household items.
The name “cupboard” likely comes from the fact that these types of storage units were originally used to store cups and other dishware. Over time, the meaning of the word “cupboard” has expanded to include any type of cabinet or closet used for storage. (yes, ChatGPT again)
9. Why do doctors “practise” medicine?
I don’t want a doctor who practises medicine, I want one who has learned how to do it!
10. Why is it called “Rush Hour” when traffic moves at its slowest at that time?
11. How come noses run and feet smell?
Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
12. Why do they call it a TV ‘set’ when there is only one?
The know-it-all ChatGPT has the answer *yawn*
The word “set” in this context refers to a complete television system, not just the physical television itself. A television set includes the television, as well as any additional components or accessories that are required to receive and display television signals.
In the past, television sets often included components such as a VCR, DVD player, or cable box, and these additional components were often referred to as “attachments.” Even though most modern televisions are self-contained and do not require additional components, the term “television set” is still used to refer to the entire system.
13. What are you vacating when you go on a “vacation“?
We can never find the answers
If you have the *Spirit* of understanding everything in a positive manner – You’ll enjoy every moment in LIFE, whether it’s *PRESSURE or PLEASURE*
So just enjoy the PUN and FUN of the English language.
Enjoy and have fun.😘👍
Hana Fakhoury Hajeer, PhD.
A Note about the words “STUFF” and “THINGS”
Also, just at the end here I thought I could explain a couple of points about the words “stuff” and “thing(s)”.
So, here is a note about that.
Of course you are aware of these words. People use them all the time. They certainly came up in this episode.
For example, at the beginning of the episode I said “Let’s talk about some stuff. Here’s some more stuff to help you learn English” and I think the episode is in fact going to be called
“Things that make you go ‘Hmmm’.”
So what about these words? I often notice that my learners of English don’t use them very much, but I think they are very useful.
Of course you shouldn’t overdo it and use them all the time, when a more specific word is appropriate, but still, they are useful and very common.
The main thing here, the main point, is that the word thing is a countable noun, and the word stuff is uncountable.
That’s the only difference really.
In English, countable and uncountable nouns have different rules regarding their usage. Here’s a general overview.
1. Countable nouns refer to items that can be counted as individual units.
2. They can be used in both singular and plural forms.
3. Singular countable nouns are typically preceded by an article (a/an) or a specific determiner (e.g., this, that, my).
4. Plural countable nouns usually take an “s” at the end, but irregular plural forms exist as well.
5. Countable nouns can be quantified using numbers or words like “many,” “few,” “some,” etc.
6. They can be used with “a few,” “several,” or “many” to indicate a specific quantity.
– “I have two cats.”
– “She bought some books.”
– “He needs a new car.”
– “There are many students in the classroom.”
1. Uncountable nouns refer to substances, concepts, or ideas that cannot be counted as separate units.
2. They are typically singular and do not have a plural form.
3. Uncountable nouns do not usually take an indefinite article (a/an) but can take a definite article (the) when specified.
4. They cannot be quantified directly with numbers, but words like “some,” “a little,” “a lot of,” etc., can be used.
5. To express a specific quantity, you can use measurement words like “a cup of,” “a bottle of,” “a piece of,” etc.
– “I need to buy some milk.”
– “She has a lot of experience.”
– “Could you pass me the salt, please?”
– “He drank a glass of water.”
It’s important to note that some nouns can be both countable and uncountable, depending on the context. For example, “water” can be uncountable (as in “I need water”) or countable (as in “There are three waters on the table”).
Just as a quick test, which word would you use to complete these sentences?
Thing / things or stuff?
- There is just one _______ I need to tell you before you go.
- Can you pass me one of those _______ on that box over there?
- Can I have some more of that _______? It was really good.
- Ugh, what’s all that sticky _______ on the table?
- I need to go into town to buy one or two _______ for dinner, would you like to come?
- Your bag is so heavy. How many _______ do you have in here?
- There’s too much _______ in the back of the car. I can’t see out of the window.
- How much _______ did you bring with you? You don’t need all of those _______.
- Sit down, we have some important _______/_______ to tell you.
- There is just one thing I need to tell you before you go.
- Can you pass me one of those things on that box over there?
- Can I have some more of that stuff? It was really good.
- Ugh, what’s all that sticky stuff on the table?
- I need to go into town to buy one or two things for dinner, would you like to come?
- Your bag is so heavy. How many things do you have in here?
- There’s too much stuff in the back of the car. I can’t see out of the window.
- How much stuff did you bring with you? You don’t need all of those things.
- Sit down, we have some important things/stuff to tell you.
- ❌There are some amazing stuff in this shop.
✅There are some amazing things / There is some amazing stuff
- ❌Can you pass me that stuff on the table? (talking about one object)
✅Can you pass me that thing on the table?
- ❌We need to get some more stuffs from the shop.
✅We need to get some more stuff…
✅We need to get some more things…
Since recording part 1 of this conversation, Antony caught COVID-19 and lost a bit of weight, but he managed to talk for about 100 minutes here about more topics he has previously covered in episodes of his podcast “Life & Life Only”. Here we discuss diverse things, including the extraordinary feats of endurance by David Blaine 🕴🏻, food and dieting 🍔, Stanley Kubrik’s film “The Shining” 🪓, the term “conspiracy theory” 🤫, the ways that comedy shows can reveal the truth 🎭, and the complex art of happiness 🙂.
☝️The audio version includes some extra content at the end, including a song on the guitar
Topics covered in this episode
- Who is David Blaine?
- What can we learn from his tricks?
- Do you watch what you eat or have a particular diet?
- What are your favourite films?
- What’s so interesting about The Shining?
- What’s wrong with the phrase “conspiracy theory”?
- What’s your favourite comedy show?
- Is British and American comedy different?
- What is the art of happiness?
Song Lyrics – “Coffee & TV” by Blur
Luke & Antony talk about the film “Sorcerer” (1977) on the Film Gold podcast
Antony is an English teacher, podcaster, life-coach and writer and he returns to LEP today for a conversation about topics which he has discussed in episodes of his podcast called “Life & Life Only”. Listen to us chat about why cats are good for your health 🐱, what the Titanic disaster tells us about social class 🚢, how losing his backpack while travelling taught Antony a valuable life lesson 🎒, how psychology is involved in English teaching 🧠 and more.
Antony’s Podcast 👉 Subscribe to Life & Life Only wherever you get your podcasts https://plinkhq.com/i/1549021296?to=page
Topics for discussion in this episode
Life & Life Only (the podcast)
- What is Life & Life Only, and what’s it all about?
- What do you like about cats?
- Why are you interested in the Titanic?
- Can you give us a quick version of the story?
- Tell me about your travelling experiences.
- Where have you been?
- Did the experience change you at all?
- What about losing your luggage? What happened?
- How have you found the group dynamics and interpersonal dynamics of teaching?
- Have you had good and bad groups? What’s the difference?
- What have you done in order to try to get the right atmosphere in a classroom?
- Have you ever had bad or difficult experiences with students?
- What are some of the weirdest situations in which you have taught English?
- What is life coaching and how do you do it?
Antony & Luke talk about the film “Sorcerer” (1977) on Antony’s Film Gold podcast
Talking to my parents about the coronation ceremony of King Charles III which happened in Westminster, London on Saturday 6 May. Includes descriptions of the ceremony and discussion of some of the issues related to it, plus a few dodgy jokes along the way 👑.
Listen to the audio version for 15+ minutes extra rambling from Luke at the end! ☝️
Learn English with another short story. In fact, this episode contains two stories. Listen until the end for the 2nd one. Repeat after me to practise your pronunciation. Learn some vocabulary & grammar in the second half of the episode, with an explanation of modal verbs of deduction in the past and present. Video version available.
Video Version (with on-screen text)
Welcome back to the podcast. How are you doing out there in podcast land? Surviving?
Here’s a new episode. It’s time to do some more English learning with a story.
In this episode, I’m going to read another short story to you, and use it to teach you some English.
I recommend that as well as listening to me read the story out loud to you today, that you read this story out loud too, and I will give you a chance to do that by repeating after me.
We’ll also look at some vocabulary and grammar from the story during the episode. And if you listen until the end, I will tell you another story too.
That’s all going to come later in the episode. If you’re watching the video version – hello. Don’t forget to like & subscribe.
If you are listening to the audio version. Click the link in the description to visit the page for this episode where you will be able to read a transcript for the whole things. You’re welcome.
Recently I have been looking for short stories to help me teach English, the shorter the better, and I found lots of 100-word stories on several websites. A 100-word story is a story with no more than 100 words.
Anyone can submit a story to these sites. The stories are then checked by the website editors and then published for everyone to read.
The only rule for the writers, is that the stories have a 100-word limit. I think the minimum is 75 words, but the maximum is 100. So, a story with no more than 100 words.
That’s quite a challenge.
The writers need to be very disciplined. They have to choose their words carefully, and as a result these stories are very minimal and manage to convey descriptions and emotions using only a few words.
As a teacher of English, I think these stories are great because it gives us compelling and concise samples of English to work with.
Get the book
I want to just point out that there is a book full of these very short stories, which you could buy.
It’s called Nothing Short of 100: Selected tales from 100 Word Story
It is a collection of stories from the https://100wordstory.org/ website.
There’s a Kindle version or a print version.
It is published by OUTPOST 19 and it was put together by the team behind the website, including Grant Faulkner, Lynn Mundell and Joshua Michael Stewart.
It is available for you to purchase and I recommend it if you are looking for bite size stories to use for learning or teaching English.
OK so let’s start with a story which I’ve selected from the Nothing Short of 100 book.
This story is called DOPPELGÄNGER
By the way, we don’t usually use an umlaut in English → ä
What is a doppleganger?
A doppelganger is someone who looks exactly like someone else, but it’s creepy and scary, like a ghostly copy of someone.
I think the word has its origins in German (hence the umlaut in the title), and translates directly as “double goer”. So your doppelganger is your double, a copy of you, who looks exactly like you and who goes around, walking the earth.
In my case, that would be Luka Modric, the Croatian footballer. That’s what people say anyway, that Luka Modric is my doppelganger.
Yes, he is my doppelganger. I’m not his doppelganger, ok? He’s my doppelganger. I was here first!
We do use the word in conversational English.
We say things like “Oh, I saw your doppelganger in the street today!” (meaning, “I saw someone who looked just like you”)
or “It’s amazing, he’s your complete doppelganger!” etc.
I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that. Has it ever happened to you? Have you ever seen someone who looks exactly like someone you know? Have you ever done a double take and been confused for a split second? Has anyone told you that they’d seen your doppelganger?
OK, I’m now going to read the story
Just one question 👇
- How did the person feel at the end of the story? Why?
Answer: She felt shocked, upset, sad, surprised and possibly heartbroken. Maybe she couldn’t believe her eyes, because she saw her lover with another woman, or she saw someone who looked exactly like her lover with another woman.
Listen to the episode to hear me summarise and explain the story.
Let me give my comments and explanations, line by line (listen to get my comments)
I almost didn’t see the you who wasn’t you.
I was walking past the outdoor tables of the French café, and just at the last second, I caught a familiar hand gesture, and looked again.
It couldn’t have been you though, my love, because your other hand was clasping the hand of the woman opposite.
Your heads were too close.
She was laughing, that abandoned laughing you do when you’re totally in the moment, totally in love.
I walked on, heels tapping out a staccato rhythm, as I no longer wanted to look at the you who wasn’t you.
- It was her husband/boyfriend, cheating on her, having an affair with another woman.
- It wasn’t her husband/boyfriend. It was just someone who looked like him, but it still disturbed her because she’s terrified that he could cheat on her.
- It was her ex, someone she is still in love with. They’re not together any more. He’s moved on, but she hasn’t.
- It was a guy who she loves but they’re not together and she can’t bear the fact that he’s with someone else.
- Perhaps she lost her husband (he died) and she just saw someone who reminded her of him.
- Something else?
Vocabulary & Grammar
- The you who wasn’t you
(Although you normally takes are/were, it is not plural, and so the relative pronoun who is singular)
- Just at the last second
- on time
- in time
- A gesture
- To catch (a look at) something (to get a glimpse of something)
- Clasping her hand
- Abandoned laughing
- To be totally in the moment
- To walk on
- A staccato rhythm
- It couldn’t have been you, my love 👇
Modal Verbs of Deduction
Who is that?
|I’m sure/certain it’s Dave||It must be Dave|
|It’s possible (that) it’s Dave-not sure||It could be DaveIt might be DaveIt may be Dave|
|It’s impossible (that) it’s Dave||It can’t be DaveIt couldn’t be Dave|
Who was that?
|I’m sure/certain it was Dave||It must have been Dave|
|It’s possible (that) it was Dave-not sure||It could have been DaveIt might have been DaveIt may have been Dave|
|It’s impossible (that) it was Dave||It can’t have been DaveIt couldn’t have been Dave|
- Repeat the story after me, line by line.
- Try to say each line with no pauses between words.
- Notice which word has the main emphasis (stress) in each line.
- Don’t sound like a robot! 🤖
I almost didn’t see the you who wasn’t you.
I was walking past the outdoor tables of the French café,
and just at the last second,
I caught a familiar hand gesture,
and looked again.
It couldn’t have been you though, my love,
because your other hand
was clasping the hand of the woman opposite.
Your heads were too close.
She was laughing,
that abandoned laughing you do when you’re totally in the moment,
totally in love.
I walked on,
tapping out a staccato rhythm,
as I no longer wanted to look
at the you
who wasn’t you.
Do you want more of this kind of thing?
Sign up to LEP Premium www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium
I do language analysis, vocab & grammar explanations and pronunciation practice.
There are stories and language reviews for conversations which have appeared in episodes of LEP.
If you sign up you can add all the premium episodes to your podcast app of choice, and also get links for video versions and PDF worksheets.
🔗 Link in the description 🔗
How about another story?
We’re not finished yet.
I’m going to read you another story. This one is also about a doppelganger.
I’ll just read the story to you, and then I’m going to do language work in a premium episode which is coming soon to the premium subscription.
OK, I am trying to persuade you to sign up to my premium subscription, but I think it’s worth it, and if you do you’ll be supporting the podcast. No pressure though.
If you don’t want to sign up or you can’t, no worries.
I’m still going to read the story to you in this free episode, now.
I hope you enjoy it.
I’ll quickly summarise it at the end (in case you don’t understand), but I’ll do the detailed language teaching in premium series, coming soon.
|Doppelganger, by Sue Clayton |
From → www.FridayFlashFiction.com and adapted slightly by me.
“This book says everyone has a doppelganger, a mirror image, and if you meet yours face to face, you’ll die.”
Janice, my flatmate, closed the book, finished her tea and toast, and slammed out of the door for her A&E shift at St. Margaret’s hospital just down the road. She loved any kind of fantasy literature, always immersed in some supernatural genre book. Not my cup of tea at all. Give me a good Nordic Noir mystery anytime.
After taking a shower I went to brush my teeth. If you meet your doppelganger face to face you’ll die, my reflection in the bathroom mirror laughed as I recited the words, but they’d begun to worm their subliminal way into my subconscious, waiting to claw their way to the surface and pounce.
One day, a couple of weeks later, I headed for the front door ready to set off into town where I worked at a music store. Doppelganger, I froze as my mind hissed the insidious word. What if I saw me on the train? Or stood behind me in the line at the coffee place? What if I came into the shop to buy a record and had to serve myself? The words shot through my mind. I let go of the door handle as if I had been electrocuted, and phoned in sick.
“Do you fancy a night out at that new wine bar down the street?”
Janice bounced through the front door one afternoon, chirpy as a blue bird, her shift trauma-free for once.
“Not tonight, Janice, I’m still not feeling very good.” The image of my other self perched on a stool at the far end of the bar, possibly raising a toast, was too hard to stomach.
‘You haven’t been outside for ages, Natalie, not even for work…you’ll end up getting fired. What’s going on with you?” Janice pressed.
“I’ll meet my doppelganger and die if I go outside,” I burst into tears, knowing how ridiculous I sounded.
“You know there’s no such thing. You need to get help, Natalie. I’ve got a therapist friend who works at the hospital. I’ll fix you up an appointment.” She wrapped me in a comfort hug.
“You’re booked in for ten o’clock this morning.” Two days later Janice grabbed my arm and pulled me through the front door; I didn’t stand a chance.
“You won’t meet yourself between here and St. Margaret’s.” She smiled reassuringly and we set off down the street.
“Excuse me,” a hand tapped my shoulder as we waited to cross the busy main road. I turned around and my shriek froze the blood of everyone close by, before I stepped backwards off the footpath into the path of an articulated lorry.
“I didn’t mean to frighten her,” tears ran down the anguished face of one of the two men who’d been standing behind me. He was holding a large six-feet square mirror which they were carrying across to the framing workshop across the road. “I just wanted to ask her to step to one side.”
Summary of Story 2
The narrator, let’s call her Sue (although I realised after recording this that she’s actually called Nathalie in the story!) lives with her flatmate Janice.
One day Janice reads a line from a scary book she’s reading. It says that if you ever meet your doppelganger, you’ll die.
Sue doesn’t usually believe that kind of thing, but the idea gets into her head and as she is leaving the house one day, she suddenly gets scared that she might meet her doppelganger, and die.
So she decides to stay at home.
In fact she keeps staying at home, every day. The idea of meeting her doppelganger has made her too terrified to leave the house.
Janice gets worried about Sue and arranges for her to meet a therapist, and assures Sue that nothing can happen to her on the way.
Sue agrees to leave the house, but at the main road someone taps her on the shoulder.
Sue turns around and sees her own reflection.
The man who tapped her on the shoulder was trying to carry a mirror across the road.
He wanted to ask her to step to one side, to make space.
But Sue turned around and saw her doppelganger – her reflection in the mirror and screamed!
Then she stepped back, into the road, and was hit by a large lorry.
That’s the end of the episode, but check out LEP Premium.
I’m going to do a premium episode all about this second doppelganger story.
All the vocabulary (with a memory test), some grammar, some pronunciation practice.
I’ll go through the vocabulary and some grammar and I’ll do some pronunciation practice with it too, just like I did with the 100-word story.
Amber and Paul join me in my pod room again for a rambling discussion about everything! Includes a language point about adjective + preposition collocations. Notice the phrases and try to find examples of them in context. Video version available.
Video Version (Automatic subtitles available)
Check out the premium series which accompanies this episode (P39 parts 1-3) 👇
Sign up to LEP Premium to get the 3-part series of episodes (audio, video, PDFs) about the language point in this episode.
- P39 Part 1 – All about the grammar of prepositions and how they fit into sentences, including plenty of vocabulary and a quick pronunciation exercise at the end
- P39 Part 2 – Let’s go through my list of adjective + preposition phrases from the conversation with Amber & Paul. I’ll test your memory and help you notice the target language, while clarifying some of the adjectives. Also includes discussion questions for free practise.
- P39 Part 3 – Pronunciation, pronunciation, pronunciation, pronunciation, pronunciation. The 5 Ps. There’s a focus on weak forms of prepositions, -ed endings of adjectives and 40 sentences to repeat after me.
Sign up for LEP Premium here and then add LEP Premium episodes to an app on your phone.
Some vocabulary in the episode
Here are a few words and phrases that you will hear us saying at the start of the episode.
- Let’s do a wager. How long do you think it’s going to be?
- I think he’s probably written a short introduction. The problem is he gets waylaid.
- To go down a rabbit hole.
- There is room for random rambling and tangents. I have factored that into the exercise. That’s all been factored in.
- If I’d been left to my own devices I think I would have cracked that in about 2 minutes, but because I kept getting interrupted by you two, it took longer!
- Zero rigour. I’m not rigorous enough.
Talking to my mum and dad about events in the UK following the death of The Queen on 9 September, including the media coverage, the proclamation of King Charles III, comments about Charles as King and a discussion of the role of the monarch in the UK’s constitution. Also includes some comments about the new Prime Minister Liz Truss and the future of the UK government over the next 18 months.
YouTube version (Audio only, but try activating the automatic subtitles)
Introduction & Ending Transcript
Welcome back to the podcast. Here is another episode, published only a few days after the last one. As you can see from the title it is another episode talking about the big news of the moment in the UK, the death of The Queen, but also this episode is about the new King, Charles III.
Thank you for the messages which you wrote in the comment section in response to the last episode in which I gave my instant reaction to the news. It is very interesting to read your thoughts, and to see how people have reacted to the news in other parts of the world. There’s been a fairly diverse response but overall most people have expressed their sorrow or their sympathy, with lots of people writing things like “Sorry for your loss” and that’s “loss” not “lost”. Quite a lot of people made that little error. Lost is an adjective and the noun is loss. So, “sorry for your loss”.
As I suggested in the last episode, this one is a conversation with my dad in the form of a Rick Thompson report, but my mum is joining us this time as well. So you’ve got the two of them. Two Thompsons for the price of none. Three in fact including me.
So, if you were wondering what’s been going on in the UK and how it is from the point of view of British people, here we are.
My parents are not flag waving royalists exactly. Long term listeners will probably be aware of their general views on the monarchy. My mum is probably a bit more sceptical about it than my dad, but I think they both think and care deeply about it all and have a critical yet balanced view of the system and the royals as people, overall.
Here is an overview of the things we talk about in this episode.
- What’s been happening since The Queen’s death – descriptions of the media coverage.
Vocabulary → Two words: coverage and footage
The broadcasts in the media covering an event or series of events. Coverage means how a story is covered by the media.
This is video of something, for example footage of William, Kate, Harry and Meghan meeting the crowds of people outside Windsor Castle. If someone takes a video of that on their phone or something, they then have some footage in their phone. If it’s filmed with a camera, then the footage is probably on an SD card and can be put into a news report, uploaded, broadcasted on TV as part of the coverage.
Footage – actually refers to “rolls” or “lengths” of video tape, measured traditionally in feet (12 inches or 30 centimetres). Nowadays it’s all digital of course and not measured by length, but it’s still called footage.
Coverage – the way in which events are covered with all the news programmes and news reports of the event – this is media coverage and it includes the broadcasting of footage with commentary etc.
- Why people say The Queen was extraordinary and that her 70-year reign was so significant
- Details of the ascension of Charles to the throne, to become King Charles III.
- How this was officially pronounced as part of a ceremonial “proclamation” – a sort of traditional ceremony which took place in London over the weekend in which Charles signed legal papers and the news was announced to important people in the government. It was all filmed and broadcast on television for the first time in history. Charles had to sign official documents stating that he was willing and able to take on the role – all part of the legal and constitutional process.
- Mum’s observations of how Charles handled the pressure of this momentous occasion, especially certain moments when he had to sign some papers and he didn’t quite have enough room on the table to do it, which must have been a very stressful moment for him.
- How they feel about Charles and if he will be a good king, plus the challenge he has ahead of him, following in the footsteps of his mother, who was such a successful monarch.
- This leads to a sort of debate or at least an exchange about the nature of that challenge and what it really means to be a successful king or queen in the UK, and the personal sacrifices which must be made in order to fulfil the duty of the role, and how this fits into the democratic process.
- We also talk a bit about Charles’ health and some of the images going around the internet of his swollen fingers, and what might be causing that. It’s just speculation really and we are not doctors of course.
- We do turn our attention away from the monarchy and towards the government nearer the end of the conversation, and the new Prime Minister Liz Truss who replaced Boris Johnson very recently, and what they’re all actually doing, the cost of living crisis in the UK and what the future might be for Liz Truss and for the government over the next 18 months.
As I ever I hope you find this useful as a way of finding out what’s going on in the UK at this moment in time, and also as a way of practising your listening in English and as a way to notice and pick up bits of English as it is spoken.
One thing – I had the wrong microphone selected in my recording software during this conversation, which is a bit annoying, so without realising it I was recording myself using the inbuilt microphone on my laptop, so the sound quality isn’t up to the same standard as usual. My voice is a bit muffled basically, but it should be ok.
Right, without further ado, let’s get started.
So that was the Rick and Gill Thompson report. I hope you found that interesting and useful.
Overall I think that the effect on the country of The Queen’s death has not been quite as profound as I predicted in previous episodes. I think I said I thought that the entire country would stop and that everything would be cancelled. Of course it means different things to different people and a lot of people will be very affected by it, but as far as I can tell to a large extent things are pretty much carrying on as normal this week except that the story is definitely dominating the news on TV. Over the weekend it was pretty much around the clock coverage of everything relating to the event and we’ve all been getting lots of notifications on our phones of news stories about it. But people are largely getting on with normal life and work and people aren’t mentioning it in their work emails and everything. Anyway, that’s just how I see it from my position.
As always, leave your comments in the comment section. I am always curious to know what you are thinking as you listen to this.
To end the episode here I thought I would play you the audio from King Charles’s video message to the nation, which was published by Buckingham Palace on Friday, the day after it was announced that The Queen had died. I was going to play just the second half of this, where he gives his promise to uphold his constitutional duty and then describes the new roles and duties of the other members of the family. I was going to play just that part, but in fact I’ve decided just to play you the whole thing. So this is 9 minutes of King Charles III addressing the nation, expressing grief at the passing of The Queen and the promising to fulfil his duties as the king.
This is a chance for you to listen to his statement, but also to notice how he does it. Pay attention to his accent, his choice of words and structures, the way he delivers it all and also the more emotional and personal tone which he uses, especially nearer the end of the message.
I’ll also put this video on the page for this episode on my website and you can activate subtitles on that by the way.
So this is King Charles III addressing the nation in a recorded message published on Friday 9 September.
That was King Charles III.
What’s next for the podcast?
I think I won’t publish more episodes about this now for a while, unless I manage to record interviews with people in London when I am there at the weekend. But we’ll see. I don’t want to do too much on this subject. Probably these two episodes are enough. But as I said, if I end up interviewing some local people on Saturday or Sunday, then I will probably publish that, but we’ll see. I don’t want to overdo it.
The official period of national mourning last until The Queen’s funeral which is on 19 September. I think I will wait until then before publishing any more content. That’s about a week away anyway so it’s the usual period between episodes.
So, I will speak to you again in about a week.
About my choice for what to publish next, I think that I don’t need to be too precious about it and I reckon I will probably publish those episodes I did with James, with a little disclaimer at the start stating that they were recorded before The Queen passed away, and any references to her were not meant to be disrespectful, and I hope people don’t take offence or consider the general tone of the episode to be disrespectful at all. Apparently The Queen had a good sense of humour anyway.
All right. Thank you for listening. Thank you to my parents for their contribution this time.
Do take care, and I will speak to you again in about a week.
But for now, good bye bye bye
Queen Elizabeth II died today. Here are my thoughts and feelings about the significance and symbolism of her life and death, recorded just an hour after I first saw the news.