Category Archives: Family

815. A River Avon Year: The Wildlife & History of Shakespeare’s Avon, by Rick Thompson (Dad’s New Book!)

My dad has written a new book and he’s come on the podcast to tell us about it. The book follows the path of the river Avon as it flows through the middle of England, telling stories of key moments in British history, nature and the current condition of Britain’s rivers.

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A River Avon Year: The Wildlife and History of Shakespeare’s Avon by Rick Thompson is available now! 👇

📖 Amazon

📖 Book Depository

📖 Goodreads

814. The Language of Children & Parenting (with Anna Tyrie / English Like a Native)

A conversation with Anna Tyrie from English Like a Native (YouTube, Podcast) about children, the way we talk to children, and vocabulary relating to children and childcare, and some special news from the Thompson family…!

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👉 Anna interviews Luke on her podcast https://www.buzzsprout.com/2038858/12353084


Introduction Transcript

Hello, welcome back to LEP.

Here is another episode with more English listening practice for you to get stuck into, and I have another guest on the show today.

This time it is Anna Tyrie from English Like a Native, the channel on YouTube. You might also know her from Instagram and TikTok.

Anna has recently set up a podcast too, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts. It’s called the English Like a Native Podcast.

In fact, on the same day we recorded the conversation for this episode of my show, Anna also interviewed me for her podcast and we had a good long conversation about all sorts of things. It was very nice to be interviewed by her. You should be able to find that episode on her show now. So if you enjoy this one, go ahead and listen to the one on Anna’s podcast too. You will find a link in the description 👆.

In this conversation: Get to know Anna a bit and talk a bit about her podcast and youtube channel and what the name really means.

The main subject – talking about children. We decided that we could talk about a particular topic for this episode and that topic ended up being children. I’ve had requests from listeners in the past for more on the subject of children and the English language, including the way we talk to children, the way we talk about children and the specific words for lots of things related to children.

We talk about our own kids, and specifically about how we communicate with them, typical things we say to them (in English of course), how we should be careful about the things we say to our kids, the ways adults adapt their English when talking to little children, including examples of so-called “baby talk” or “parentese” and then there is a sort of quiz at the end with questions about specific English words for lots of the different objects, toys and bits of useful equipment that we use with babies and little kids.

As you know I have a daughter and she is 5 so a lot of that baby stuff almost seems like a distant memory now, but, well, it’s high time I remembered all of that vocab again now because – drum roll… yes, my wife is pregnant again and we going to have another baby! 

Yes we are delighted.

Thank you – because at this moment of course you are now saying… 

“Wow, that’s fantastic! Congratulations! I’m so happy for you!” and then all the typical questions will come to mind, including:

  • Can I ask when the baby is due?
  • Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl? Would you like to know?
  • Are you ready?
  • Do you have any ideas for names?
  • How’s your wife doing, is she ok?
  • How does your little daughter feel about it? Is she excited?

Etc.

I’m sure I’ll talk about it again in another podcast, but I thought I would let you know now.

Of course the child hasn’t even been born yet, so there’s a long way to go.

But all being well, in July there will be a new Thompson arriving 😊

I don’t know how that will affect the podcast.

Of course it’s probably going to disrupt things to some extent as I will be busy at home, with my wife, looking after the baby, helping my wife with anything if she needs it, taking care of our daughter, trying to keep things ship shape and under control and generally just being at home focusing on the family. 

So I won’t be able to do much podcasting around the time of the birth and in the weeks after. Who knows, maybe I’ll disappear completely for July and August, or maybe I’ll find a way to keep podcasting.

Maybe, if I’m organised and industrious enough, by the time the baby arrives I will have recorded lots of episodes beforehand, which I will be able to publish over the summer, or maybe I’ll dig into my archives for some unpublished or lesser-known material, which a lot of people haven’t heard – like app-only episodes from the LEP App (which is now defunct by the way).

In any case, there might be some kind of disruption to the show. Thank you for your understanding and your patience and your lovely messages of congratulations and support, which you are welcome to write to me. 

Obviously, I’ve just said thank you for a thing you haven’t even done yet, which is kind of against the rules, but anyway. There it is. We’re very happy. We’re hoping everything goes well. I’ll probably talk about it a bit more in another episode later on.

So, now let’s get back down to earth here because this is a conversation with Anna from English Like a Native, getting to know Anna a bit and then talking about the English which we use with kids, about kids and for all the bits and pieces involved in looking after kids. 

By the way, this conversation was recorded in January, which is why I say “It’s January” at the start. I probably didn’t need to say this, did I? You probably have the deductive skills to work out that when I say to Anna “it’s January” it’s because we recorded that in January. But just in case you were worried that I don’t know what month it is, don’t worry, I do know what month it is, what year it is and generally where I am and what’s going on. OK, fine.

I will speak to you a bit again at the end, but now let’s get started with the interview right now.

Ending Transcript / Notes

Thanks again to Anna.

You can find a vocabulary list and notes on the page for this episode on my website if you want to check specific words.

A reminder – after recording this, Anna interviewed me on her podcast and as I said earlier we had a good long conversation about lots of things, with little stories and jokes and stuff. A long conversation. I think it was even longer than the one you just listened to. I’m wondering how Anna is going to deal with that, but you can find out for yourself by listening to that episode on Anna’s podcast- English Like a Native, which is available wherever you get your podcasts.

Thanks for listening everyone.

Have a lovely day, morning, evening or night etc. Goodbye!


Vocabulary Lists

Baby-talk in English

Examples of baby talk in English

  • Cutie-pie
  • Sweetie-pie
  • Munchkin
  • Cheeky-monkey
  • Wee / Wee-wee / pee / pee-pee
  • Poo / poo-poo
  • Potty
  • Dog / doggy
  • Cat / kitty
  • Jim-jams
  • Beddy-byes
  • Nighty-night
  • Sleepy-time
  • Nap-time (do-do)
  • Blankie 
  • Din-dins
  • Ickle (little)
  • Icky – disgusting
  • Bedtime stories / Story time
  • Tummy / Belly
  • Oopsy-daisy
  • Mama
  • Mummy / Daddy
  • Uncle Jamie
  • Grannie / Grandad
  • Yuk / yukky

Common words and phrases relating to babies/children/childcare

This list includes words and phrases which came up in the quiz.

  • Activity arch / baby arch / arch toy
  • Baby bouncer (like a small deck chair)
  • Baby carrier / sling
  • Baby jumper
  • Baby fence / play-pen / baby-gate
  • Baby monitor
  • Baby-grow (a one-piece outfit that babies wear)
  • Bib (to catch or protect against food that falls while they eat)
  • Blanket (a lot of children have a special blanket that they use as a comforter)
  • Bottle (for milk)
  • Breast pump (a device which allows the mother to pump her milk into a bottle)
  • Changing mat (where you change the baby’s nappy)
  • Cot (where the baby sleeps – a bed with high sides so the baby doesn’t crawl out of bed)
  • Drool bib (to absorb drool which comes out of the baby’s mouth when teething)
  • Dummy / pacifier (what the baby sucks while sleeping)
  • Flannel (an absorbant cloth)
  • High-chair (what the baby sits in while eating)
  • Mobile (the thing that hangs above the bed and gives the baby something to look at)
  • Nappy (US English: diaper)
  • Powdered milk
  • Pram / pushchair (UK) buggy / stroller (US)
  • Pyjamas
  • Rattle (a toy that the baby can shake to make a rattling noise)
  • Talcum powder / talc (powder which can be put on the baby’s bum to keep it dry)
  • Teddy bear / stuffed toy
  • Teether / Teething toy(for teething babies) (something the baby can chew while the teeth come through)
  • Thermometer (to check the baby’s temperature)
  • Wipes (to wipe up the… mess)

810. Discussing Ambient Music (with James)

A conversation with my brother about a specific musical genre, “ambient”. We discuss Brian Eno’s inspiration and approach to his first ambient albums, talk about the genre’s origins in French 19th century classical music, jazz and the avant-garde and describe ambient trance music from the 80s and 90s including artists like Aphex Twin, The KLF, The Orb and The Irresistible Force. Enter the ambient zone on LEP.

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Video version ⬇️ Some music had to be removed because it was blocked by YouTube. Listen to the audio version ⬆️ to hear all the musical samples.

Get James’ new EP “Ambient Mode” on BandCamp 🎧👇

Brian Eno’s first ambient album “Music for Airports” ⬇️

“Cowboys in space” ⬇️

SIDE 1
SIDE 2

What I listened to while walking through Paris the other day ⬇️

The French classics which were perhaps the first ambient music ⬇️

Take a road trip across your own mind with The KLF ⬇️

The album which I listened to on repeat while recovering in hospital in Japan ⬇️ A trip into space, and beyond

Aphex Twin, the mysterious master of ambient music ⬇️

The German duo ⬇️

Do yourself a favour and listen to Mixmaster Morris ⬇️

An absolute classic, by Mixmaster Morris ⬇️

Everything is music ⬇️ “Some people have often put their fingers in their ears. But I leave my ears open.”

The Legend of Zelda – Ambient Mode ⬇️

Andrew Weatherall’s Strange Story about Ambient Music ⬇️

SLEEVE NOTES FOR “THE POSITIVA AMBIENT COLLECTION” BY ANDREW WEATHERALL

808. James Harris returns to talk about his book 📖🗣

James Harris is a writer, comedian, English teacher and language learner (French, German, Chinese) from England. In this funny chat, we talk about learning Chinese, being married to a Chinese woman and his semi-autobiographical book, “Midlands” which tells several funny and touching stories about two ex-pats living in Germany; Stuart, who is a stand-up comedian trying to understand the Germans, and Doug who gets involved in a love affair. James reads several passages from the book during the episode.

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👉 Get James’ book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Midlands-James-Harris/dp/B0B38CX11P

👉 Sign up to James’ email newsletter “Stiff Upper Quip” for regular short articles in English & more https://stiffupperquip.substack.com/

👇 Listen to James’ first episode on LEP


Extracts from “Midlands” by James Harris 📖

From Chapter 2

Stuart describes his early days in Germany, learning German.

Then a chance meeting in a pub had earned him an invitation to Berlin. Laura, Danish and short, was staying there for the summer, rummaging around in the archives for information about a particular Jewish family who had gone on to achieve cultural success in post-war Denmark; 

Laura, a snub-nosed Danish girl with glasses who loved Israel and wheat beer. Stuart didn’t care much about her interests but did enjoy spending the days reading on her balcony and socializing with university friends at night; 

by the end of the summer his hair had lengthened and his German increased fifty-fold, meaning he now knew about a hundred words. ‘Hallo!’ he would say, then ‘Weltschmerz’ and following a further pause ‘Auf Wiedersehen,’ saying a final farewell to people he would see again the next day. 

He also hadn’t yet learnt to ask whether something was sugar or salt, leading to an evening eating some very sweet chips. But even speechless he wasn’t, at last, uneasy in Berlin – it seemed to him a gentle city, where the trains slid in and out and the open spaces pacified tourists drunker and rowdier elsewhere. 

It was like the Germans had become one of the peaceful races in Star Trek, the ones introduced by an insert screen of their orderly, verdant planet, Bajorans, say, or some other species permanently threatened by obliteration; and what a change after the tiny cubicles and traffic-jam living of the English, who could only ever be the Borg.

Surrounded by pacifists, Stuart revelled in the license of Englishness, his ability to voice the odd mildly aggressive opinion or wildly over-celebrate during that summer’s football tournament, until England lost. He swam in lakes, and bought a bicycle, and gradually stopped thinking of England and the ashes it had fed him. 

In Oxford, where he had been President of the University sketch revue, people had printed gossip about him in the student newspapers, asked him to leave parties, dealt with him as the man who had committed that deepest and most unforgivable of Oxford crimes: failure. 

He had failed, as a comedian and a young man, and now publicly; his country had rejected him. He had been humiliated in front of an audience of his contemporaries and sent into an internal exile. 

Afterwards, many of these young dilettantes, at the time apparently picturing future lives as bereft of unforeseen distress as possible, lives composed of simply an endless procession of success, successes occurring within a network of contacts which they had built up at University and which would continue to provide them with unstinting support throughout their adult lives, never violating the simple and essential principle that all was permissible as long as it did well – did not want his name on their social CV.


From Chapter 14

Stuart is on-stage doing stand up in Germany.

‘Don’t you sometimes get the feeling,’ said Stuart, years before on the stage in Heidelberg, ‘that if Barack Obama had been German it wouldn’t have been “Yes We Can” but ”Nein das geht nicht”? No you can’t. 

‘Everyone would have been chanting it – No you can’t! No you can’t! Of course in this version Obama would not have been black.’ 

Stuart was closing in on the kill. ‘And this very lack of optimism,’ he said, treading across the stage, limbering, into the really good stuff now, ‘is actually built into the German language itself. 

Like for example, when you’re really happy in English, you say “I’m on Cloud Nine.” But in Germany you say, “I’m on Cloud Seven.”

Does this mean that even in their happiest moments the Germans are two clouds less happy than English-speaking people?’ 

And after developing that bit, which meant moving into a depiction of an exemplary German, Hannes, in his German heaven, with an allotment, board games, juice and an Autobahn heading directly to Mallorca, he noting, somewhat wistfully, the celebratory Anglophones on Cloud Nine who were dancing to ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’, which was an excuse to sing it, following which they – the Anglophones – called down to Cloud Eight “Hey Hannes man! Come and join us here on Cloud Nine” and Hannes replying “No thank you. Everything on Cloud Seven is perfectly satisfactory” then moving on to speculation as to the occupants of the other clouds, the French on Cloud Eight living it up, their motor scooters floating off the cloud and down to Cloud Zero where the Greeks were and below them the Cypriots who’d had to sell the cloud, and were just falling – after all these and other jokes, Stuart had them where he wanted them. 

‘Isn’t it funny that, since the Second World War, the Germans have been like’, change voice, German accent, ‘”We Germans. We have done so many things wrong and there is no way we can ever put them right.” 

And now Greece is like,’ pause, turn of the head, “Well, actually…”’ 

They laughed, and laughed, and laughed. They got it.

👇 Follow James on Twitter

799. The True Story of a LEPster’s Waking Nightmare (and how LEP came to the rescue) Email Story

Sharing a disturbing true story sent in by a LEPster by email. This episode contains some slightly scary and graphic descriptions of nightmare scenarios, visions, hallucinations and bad dreams, but there is a happy ending. Video version also available.

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Video Version with text on screen

ELSA

👉 Free ELSA app download link (download ELSA free & get 7 days pro membership free): https://www.teacherluke.co.uk/elsa

👉 ELSA Discounts page – ELSA PRO (85% off lifetime & 40% off one year ELSA memberships): https://elsaspeak.com/inf/LukesEnglishPodcast/

Episode Transcript

Iñaki’s Nightmare (and how LEP came to the rescue)

Hello listeners, welcome back to the podcast. In this episode I’m going to tell you the terrifying true story of a LEPster who went through a horrible nightmare but was rescued thanks to LEP. 

This episode is based on an email I received a while ago (quite a long time ago now). I have been meaning to read this out on the podcast for some time now and I am glad to say that today is the day I am doing it. 

I feel compelled to share this story with you and I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

LEP Ninjas

I often talk about LEP Ninjas on this podcast and complain that the vast majority of my listeners never get in touch with me, and I wonder who you are, what you’re doing while you’re listening and what this all means to you. 

I often say that, but in fact I must say that I do get a lot of correspondence from listeners in various forms – episode comments, tweets, YouTube comments and emails. I love receiving your messages because it really helps me to know that there are people on the other end of this podcast – not just numbers but people, receiving my words and connecting with what I say. 

Every now and then I receive a message that I simply have to stop and respond to there and then, even if I’m in the street or something, and there are also some emails which I feel I must share on the podcast with my audience. This is one of those emails. 

I absolutely felt compelled to share this particular email with you, and felt it had to be in an episode of its own. So here we go.

It’s a compelling story which you might find fascinating, stories are good for learning English, as we know, I’m sure little bits of language teaching will come up here, and in this particular story I emerge as the hero who saves the day! So, naturally I am delighted to let the world hear it! (haha)

A slightly disturbing story

Some people might find this story a bit disturbing because it involves descriptions of surgery. So this is a heads up about that. 

There are references to some physical, body related stuff, but also some slightly disturbing mental images too – some nightmarish visions and bad dreams, let’s say. 

You’ll just have to listen to the story to understand what I’m referring to, but FYI the story has some slightly disturbing moments.

I should also say that this story has a happy ending. Things turn out fine in the end. So, if this makes you anxious, then don’t worry, the story ends in a happy place. 

So, without any further ado, let’s just get straight to the email which I received from a listener called Iñaki.

I’m going to read it out as it was sent to me. It’s very well-written, but I might make a few changes here and there – I will correct one or two little errors relating to vocabulary or grammar.

Also I will comment on certain words in this story to help you learn some things as we go.

Inaki’s Email

Email
Message: Hi Luke:
How are you doing? My name is Iñaki and I am writing from San Sebastian, in the north of Spain.

First of all I’d like to thank you for your podcast. I started listening to it some six months ago because my wife recommended it to me (she’s been a premium subscriber for a year or so). 
I have been listening to you ever since because I think what you do is very entertaining and interesting and I think that my English gets better too.

I know what I am about to tell you looks a bit boring in the beginning but please keep on reading because you show up in the middle of the story.

On the 29th of March I got a surgery operation to cure my apnea. 

For your information, this operation took around 6 hours while I had general anesthesia. 

They cut both sides of my jaw. Also they cut below my nose to move the position of my palate. Then they put everything together again in another (slightly different) position by using some screws. 

All of this sounds a big frightening but it is a very usual operation with very low risk. All the surgery is done from inside your mouth so it doesn’t leave scars. 

I took the decision to go ahead and everything went OK, and now I am fine at home and getting recovered but it is also true that when I woke up I felt a bit lost and my mind was not thinking straight and this was the most difficult part of my recovery.

So my operation was on a Monday at 08:00 and I woke up on Tuesday at 13:00. The doctor told me that the operation went fine. After, when my wife came to visit me she also said that the operation had gone right. 

So why did I think that this was not true? Why did I start to suspect that something very bad had occurred during the operation? 

I can’t quite explain since I don’t think I am such a negative person or I am not so hypochondriac. 

But the truth is that my mind freaked out quite seriously and my paranoia was that the doctor had committed a fatal mistake during surgery and now all the doctors and nurses were backing one another up to hide this mistake. 

Since this idea was on my mind I couldn’t let it go and it only went bigger and bigger. All of the things I heard or saw fitted perfectly in MY reality. For example, a nurse said to me “Iñaki, why are you so sad? The operation has been v… successful”. So my head went: “why successful? Why not VERY successful? Why did she start the word VERY but she didn’t finish it?”

And this went on and on without control. My wife was with me all the time and she did a great job but still she didn’t manage to get these ideas out of my head.
Monday night I was totally sedated with the anesthesia. 
Tuesday night I couldn’t sleep (and I mean not even a minute) because I was so frightened…
Tuesday and Wednesday I couldn’t eat anything.

So by Wednesday evening I was exhausted due to the lack of rest and food. This didn’t help my mind get stronger. So on Wednesday evening I was quite certain that their plan was to let me die on medication. 

I could feel that my wife had taken part in that decision. I thought that the idea was that since my life was not going to be worth living it onward, they decided to let me go. 
Of course, now I see that it didn’t make any sense at all but my mind was not able to work better than that on Wednesday evening.

I accepted this idea and I decided to be collaborative in the process. They gave me medication to calm me down and I could feel that my mind was even more clumsy. My wife told me once and again that the most important thing was to rest, to sleep. In this way the next day I would feel stronger. 

For me this was a soft way of saying: “If you calm down and you get to sleep soon, then your death will be more pleasant”. 

This sounds terrible to me now but I also think: in some situations in your life you need to lie to the ones you love in order to protect them, don’t you? 

I mean, what would my girl tell me in a situation where I really was about to die? Would she clearly say it? Would she tell me straight? I don’t know…

I tried to sleep but this was very difficult because when I closed my eyes I could see some horrible images. 

These images were not dreams. 

All the time I knew that I was in the hospital and my wife was beside me. So I guess the images were a result of the medication and also my lack of strength.

The images were really terrifying. All the scenarios were dark, humid and steamy. In many of these images there were thick fluids (black, brown, dark grey…) flowing in different directions. 

Among these ugly liquids there were macabre things floating: a pig’s mask, the face of my son in the 3D radiography when he was still in his mum’s belly, bones, parts of bodies…. 
I could also see parts of machinery like gears or parts of motors. These metal parts were broken and I was looking at them from very close and I had the feeling that they were looking at me, judging me… and it didn’t feel good. 

Also crazy things like a kid crawling on the ceiling (clearly inspired by the film Trainspotting) or even me crawling on the ceiling. In another moment I was like a video camera up in space and suddenly I went down to the earth, to England and I ended up inside Brian Jones’ swimming pool and I could see his corpse from the inside of the water. 

I also had to say no to entering inside tunnels with a light in the end. A couple of times I was brave enough to go inside the tunnels because I thought“OK, this must be it, let’s end it all now”. But then nothing happened….

With all these images in my mind I was not getting calmer, my breathing was out of control and I couldn’t sleep. This took like 2 or 3 hours, I think.

Then my wife came up with a new idea. She said: “Iñaki, what about listening to that episode of Luke’s podcast that you liked a lot? That one in which he read the short story by Roald Dahl? Maybe that’s going to calm you down….”. 

Honestly, I didn’t believe that this would work but at least it was something different and since I was desperate I agreed that it was worth giving it a try.

When I heard your voice, the images automatically changed to something different. I started listening to your words, but since the images where suddenly very nice I was paying more and more attention to them and even if I could hear your voice in the background I wasn’t listening to your words anymore. 

Now the images where very colourful ones. For example I saw some based on cartoons that my kids see on the TV. 

I remember seeing characters of the series “True and the Rainbow Kingdom” and “The Octonauts”. I also saw some very nice cartoons in the style of Sgt. Pepper’s artwork and the Yellow Submarine film. 

Among these “visions” I remember one in particular. It was very pleasant and it stayed for a while: there where some magic carpets with stripes of very beautiful colours. They were floating in the air and my 6 year old twins were jumping on them and using them as slides.

They were laughing and having so much fun. 

Mixed up with this action I could see pictures floating around in the air. These were pictures of the 4 members of the family together: my wife, the kids and me…..
When your voice stopped because the chapter ended I noticed it. I was conscious for the first time that my breathing was very calm. I also was conscious that I was thinking in a more positive way. I was thinking: “OK, maybe I don’t have to die tonight”. Since my breathing was calmer and my mind was calmer too I got more relaxed and I finally managed to get to sleep. 

That night I slept and woke up many times but I think I got to sleep a total of around 3 hours.
Early next morning, at around 6:00 am I listened to birds singing. It made me feel good because by then I was totally convinced that I would hear that sound many times in the future. 

I was also a bit ashamed that my mind had been so confused and I made my wife suffer so much. I thought a lot about you too and I felt grateful that you helped me in my recovery. 
I was also grateful that my wife came up with this great idea which really made the difference. 

But, of course, my mind was mainly with my kids. Can you imagine the infinite happiness of knowing that I would be able to hug them again when only a few hours back I thought the opposite?

All of these words are only to explain to you how I went through a very rough situation and how you helped me get out of it. The moment I heard your voice is the exact moment that I started to get out of this horrible hole I was locked up in. So in the end all of this is only to say thank you. Just because it makes me feel good to do so.
Thanks Luke!!!
Iñaki

Luke: Summarise the story in your own way, in your own words.

Iñaki and I exchanged a couple of emails after this and he said he was happy for me to read this out on the podcast. 

Here is my response.

Hi Iñaki,

I’m glad you’re ok with me reading out your story on the podcast. I think it’s absolutely fascinating, and of course I’m always happy to tell the world any story in which I emerge as the hero!! 

Joking aside, your experience must have been absolutely terrifying and horrendous and I am genuinely amazed and pleased that the sound of my voice was reassuring for you in those moments.

I don’t know if you’ve heard my Sick In Japan episode (episode 118 – I think). I ended up in hospital in Japan once. I felt dreadful and I didn’t really know why I was there because I didn’t really understand what the doctor was saying. Thankfully it turned out that I was not seriously ill, but the first couple of nights were very frightening because I felt very bad and my diagnosis was lost in translation. \

I thought I was seriously ill and was afraid that I might die. I felt very paranoid and had to work hard to keep my mind calm. Like I mentioned – my experience wasn’t quite as bad as yours, but still – I have a slight sense of what your experience must have been like, and it’s incredible to me that the sound of my voice helped you to get through it. It’s flattering to know that, but also very reassuring and encouraging that my podcast can bring comfort to someone.

I also think your story is very compelling and well-described, so I think it should be fascinating for the LEPsters to hear it. 

And, I truly believe that bad experiences become a little better in our minds when we turn them into stories which we can share. 

You certainly have a great story there, and I think my audience are the perfect people to appreciate it.

So, I’m very glad you’re happy to let me share it. Hopefully it will provide something gripping for the audience and I really hope you enjoy hearing me read it out on the podcast.
Congratulations on your English too by the way. You described the story very specifically and clearly. 

In any case, I’m glad to hear that you’re basically back to normal again.
Thank you for sharing your story with me. I read it again this morning and I found it very moving – especially the moments when the joy and colour came back into your mind when you listened to my episode, particularly the visions of your happy family. 

Have a great week, and all the best to you.

Some words & phrases to review

  • A compelling story
  • A waking nightmare
  • A vivid dream
  • To have surgery
  • To have an operation
  • To have a local anaesthetic
  • To have a general anaesthetic
  • An anaesthetist
  • To anaesthetise 
  • Jaw
  • Palate
  • Hypochondriac
  • Sedated
  • To (not) think straight
  • To suspect that something is happening/has happened
  • Paranoia / paranoid
  • To back someone up 
  • To manage to do something
  • To tell something/someone straight
  • Macabre
  • Breathing / breath

Ending

Thanks again to Inaki for providing that story.

Quite a scary one!

I often wonder where you are and what you’re doing while you’re listening to this podcast, and if you have a similar story, don’t be a ninja – let me know in the comment section.

But for now, it’s time to say bye bye bye bye bye

790. Chatting in the Garden with Mum (Listener Q&A)

My mum returns to the podcast to answer some questions from listeners about books, cooking, her relationship with Luke and her granddaughter, the war in Ukraine, the song Imagine by John Lennon, family games, the time she fell off a horse & more…

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Introduction Transcript & Notes

Hello listeners!

Welcome back to the podcast.

Today I am joined by my mum and we’re going to spend the episode chatting about this and that, and responding to some questions from LEPsters on Twitter. 

I hope you enjoy the episode everyone, Stick with us, and as usual you’ll find that the more you listen, the better it is for your English.

Hi Mum, how are you today?

Where are we?

It’s been ages since you’ve been on the podcast, with your own episode (April 2021 – 717. Gill’s Book Club). 

We were doing Gill’s Book Club (we did 3 or 4 of those) and every now and then we talk about doing another one, but we have found it a bit tricky to choose books that 

  1. Most other people probably have read
  2. That I have read too
  3. That would appeal to enough people
  4. That we remember clearly 

Plus you somehow got out of the habit of reading every day.

Anyway, it’s nice to be able to have you on the podcast again.

My aim for this is mainly to let people just listen to your voice, listen to your words and it sort of doesn’t matter too much what we talk about, as long as we just let the conversation flow and let the English happen naturally. We decided not to limit ourselves to any one specific topic here, preferring instead to cast our net quite wide in terms of things to talk about.

Yesterday evening, I Tweeted this:

It got about 26 replies.

I have a selection of questions from listeners on Twitter which we can explore. That’s probably a good starting point.


Book Recommendations

Kristýna Waicová @Elvea_Puff – Replying to @EnglishPodcast

Not a very original one but a classic: what book(s) did she enjoyed recently? I’m looking forward to listening to you two, it’s always such a treat. Please give your mum my best and as always, thanks for the podcast!

Aritz @aritz_js – Replying to @EnglishPodcast

Yes! Any books recommendations? I read The Five and A Month in the Country. Thanks.

Kam @ErkamUK – Replying to @EnglishPodcast

Could you please recommend us some books? and what do you think about Harry Potter?

Beniamino Bianco @Mire12374275 – Replying to @EnglishPodcast

Yes! What book dedicated to Winston Churchill can you recommend? Thanks from Ilario.

👇A list of books about Churchill → Skip to number 10 https://www.theguardian.com/books/2005/apr/11/top10s.churchill 

En-quête de culture @EmmaB2944 – Replying to @EnglishPodcast

So happy so hear for your mother ! I would like to know what is she currently reading of course. And if she thought you would become a journalist like your father ? When I listen to the Rick reports, I realise that journalism is not so far from your podcast… Many thanks !

Relationship with Luke

James Harris @JamesHarrisNow – Replying to @EnglishPodcast

No questions, but please compliment your mum on raising a fine boy.

Kam @ErkamUK

How does it feel to give birth to a famous podcaster?

Romário Alexandre @Lawter_ – Replying to @EnglishPodcast

How does it feel to know that people from many parts of the world know a little bit about your relationship with your son?

Kam @ErkamUK – Replying to @EnglishPodcast

Why did you name your son Luke?why not Dave?

Jinti Neog @JintiNeog

Why Thompson why not Rickson?

eslam @eslamaoao – Replying to @EnglishPodcast

Did you see signs of luke when he was a child that points to his currently career field?

Relationship with Granddaughter

teresa peltz @teresa_peltz – Replying to @EnglishPodcast

Yes.I’ve one maybe too personal. So you couldn’t take in account. How she feels as a Brit nanny ? Any special food for her niece as a British grandmother?

Gupse Uzun @uzun_gupse – Replying to @EnglishPodcast

So that she can see her grandchild more often, does she ever prefer that you with your family live in england?

Edier Rosa @RosaEdier Replying to @EnglishPodcast

I use both English and Portuguese when talking to my niece. I speak Portuguese, she answers in English and vice-versa. I wonder if she fears not being able to have a fluent comprehensible conversation with her granddaughter in future. That was my main motivation to study English.

Cooking

Jay Jia @JayJia1982 Replying to @EnglishPodcast

How is her cooking? What is her signature dish? Any secret family recipes?

Is it true that English people in general are not good cook? Gordon Ramsay is a great chef but he usually cook Asian food, his restaurant in London is Asian restaurant.

Luke: Ramsay has 53 restaurants (according to the list on his website, and they serve a variety of things – French fine dining, rustic English food, burgers, pizza, asian food and more…)

Other Topics

Денис Леонтьєв @xxxpdenis Replying to @EnglishPodcast

What does She think about war in Ukraine? By the way,if You like the question,like it in order to see if you have chosen it.

albee @archdeaconsnz – Replying to @EnglishPodcast

Could her tell us about some good memories about her childhood or teenage years?

Znad@znad9821 Replying to @EnglishPodcast

Why is your son obsessed with Betels?

Alex Replying to @EnglishPodcast

Yes, why after half a century the world still doesn’t understand the meaning of the song Imagine. Tnx

Paragraph about Imagine from https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/john-lennon-imagine-real-meaning-communism/

In an interview with David Sheff for Playboy Magazine, shortly before his death in December 1980, Lennon shared that Dick Gregory had given him and Ono a Christian Prayer-book which had inspired him to write the track. “The concept of positive prayer…If you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion – not without religion but without this my God-is-bigger-than-your-God thing – then it can be true.”

The Beatle continued, “The World Church called me once and asked, “Can we use the lyrics to ‘Imagine’ and just change it to ‘Imagine one religion’?” That showed [me] they didn’t understand it at all. It would defeat the whole purpose of the song, the whole idea.”

Kristýna Waicová@Elvea_Puff Replying to @EnglishPodcast

Does she play any word games? Or some other games? :)

Rei da Salsicha de Chicago @jam0rreu Replying to @EnglishPodcast

Ask her to talk about the horse story (You and James told us she fell off a horse when you were a kid).

The One Who Knocks @JaderLelis27 Replying to @EnglishPodcast

How does she feel about Margaret Thatcher

Sorry, we didn’t get time to answer this question! 👇

Alper @tdurdendi – Replying to @EnglishPodcast

I wonder who is her favourite British and/or non-British film director. 

Since I haven’t listened to all episodes, I apologize if she had already spoken of it.


Books & things discussed in the conversation

Pre-ending

Well then listeners, that was my mum in her own episode again, but hold on, we’re not done yet, there’s more.

As you just heard at the end, my wife and daughter just came back from the market so we thought we should stop recording and get ready to have lunch with everyone.

But then my daughter did come into the garden and she picked up the microphone, so here is a little interview with her. So you get 3 generations of the family in one episode. A cross generational podcast for you. 

So, I asked my daughter to describe what she had done at the market and before I managed to press record on my recorder, she started talking about how they had gone into the local museum in the town square, where they have various items including a large stuffed bear (a real one, stuffed – it’s quite odd and quite interesting), as well as other things, and I asked if she found the bear frightening or if she’d been traumatised by the bear, and then I asked her about the word traumatised, and she ended up describing how she’d been traumatised by a loud automatic hand dryer in a public toilet once (you know those hand dryers which you get on the wall in public toilets?), and that is where this 10 minute clip begins. 

So here we go with a bonus bit of chat with youngest member of the Thompson family.

Ending

There you go listeners.

A bit of wisdom there from the voice of the future.

  • Don’t fight.
  • You have to love each other.
  • You have to love le world.
  • Be excellent to each other.
  • Party on.
  • And sign up to LEP Premium on Acast+ for ad-free content and of course many many extra episodes in which I help you with your vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation 😅

Well, I hope you agree listeners, that that was a real treat, especially if you listened all the way until the end.

I really enjoyed that – being able to ask my mum those questions and get her responses, while sitting in the very nice surroundings of her garden, and I hope you enjoyed it too.

I must say I love making these recordings – in order to publish them for your listening pleasure and for your English listening practice (hopefully both) but also just as a record of family life – the voices of my family and my friends, stories, thoughts, memories, opinions and so on. How nice. 

I’m very grateful to my mum for this episode and generally for all my guests who contribute so much.

Send us your comments. It’s nice to read them and to get some human responses to our words.

Sorry if you weren’t able to send in a question. I put up the request on Twitter without much notice. I do that sometimes, in order to get opinions or podcast questions from my audience.

If you want to follow me on Twitter, please go ahead. @EnglishPodcast 

I’m also on Instagram but I hardly ever use it. In fact, at the moment I only use it to help me book and promote stand up comedy shows (because some of the comedy nights use Instagram to communicate with comedians), but I am there @lukesenglish

Thank you again for listening and for supporting the podcast. 

Do me a favour:

  • Like and subscribe
  • Leave a positive review on Apple Podcasts
  • Tell you friends
  • Support the show by becoming a premium lepster (and oh you’ll get all the premium content too and no ads) www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium 

I will speak to you again soon. I have loads of episode ideas and so many things I want to record, but I mustn’t overwhelm you.

Time to focus on some premium content now.

Until next time, good bye bye bye!

788. 50 Random British Facts (True or False Quiz) with James [Part 1]

Can you guess if these “facts” about the UK are true or false? James and Luke read out the facts and then discuss them one by one. Learn some odd things about the UK, pick up some vocabulary about laws and customs, and try not to laugh on the bus.

[DOWNLOAD AUDIO]

Video Version (with facts written on the screen) Try activating automatic subtitles

Episode Introduction

Hello everybody, before I play this episode I think I should give a kind of disclaimer about the content. I just want to say two things.

So this is an episode about Britain recorded with my brother in August, which is obviously before we all got the news that The Queen had been taken ill and had died, and we do talk about The Queen a few times during the episode, but of course she is no longer with us and now we have King Charles III.

So, firstly, the things we say about The Queen will be a bit anachronistic now as you listen to it – anachronistic, meaning belonging to the past, and a bit out of step with the present. So that’s the first thing – this was recorded when the Queen was still alive and when she was the head of state, which is now obviously no longer the case, so there are a few little anachronisms and we refer to The Queen in the present tense.

And secondly, when we do mention The Queen and a lot of other things, it’s done in a humorous way – and I’m aware that some people might find that inappropriate, but we aren’t really mocking her harshly or specifically. We copy her voice a bit and parts of the episode are just a bit silly and funny, but our intentions are decent. I don’t think we could be indicted for treason or anything like that. So, I hope you take it all in the spirit of good natured British humour, which is our intention, and let’s remember that The Queen has been praised a lot over the last week or so for her good sense of humour, so hopefully she would see the funny side (but who knows) In any case, I think it’s ok and I’ve decided to publish this. I hope you enjoy it, and actually I hope you see it as a sort of celebration of British stuff, for what it’s worth. 

Alright then, now I have said that. Let’s start the episode properly. Here we go.

— Jingle —

50 Random British Facts (True or False Quiz) with James [Part 1]

Hello listeners, welcome back to my podcast. 

Are you ready to do some more listening, to improve your English?

If the answer to that question is “Yes” then, good! Keep listening!

Here is a new episode featuring James, my older brother. This is a 2 part episode actually, and you’re listening to part 1. 

In this one you’re going to hear James and me discussing various facts about the UK, that’s the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of course. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A few weeks ago, James and I came up with a list of 50 facts about British life, customs, laws, history and culture, which we could talk about on this podcast. We thought you might find it interesting.

So that’s what you’ll hear. But the thing is – some of these facts are true and some of them are not true. They’re false, completely made up, invented by James and me.

So the game is, can you guess which of these facts are true and which ones are false?

Here’s how this is going to work. 

First, you’ll hear us reading out our list of so-called facts and you can decide if you think they’re true or not

and then we will discuss each fact, we’ll reveal if they are true or not and we’ll explain some bits of language and culture along the way.

On the subject of vocabulary, two things:

  1. You will find a list of all the “facts” on the page for this episode on my website. They’re all written there for you, so you can go and read them if you like. If you hear a word and you’re not sure what it is, you can check all the sentences there. Also, I recommend trying to read those sentences out loud. All the facts – try reading them out loud. It’s quite good pronunciation practice. You can then compare your version to the the way James and I read the sentences, and perhaps you can shadow us, or repeat the sentences after us. Some of them are actually quite challenging, quite difficult to say clearly as you’ll see. That’s just something you could try doing. There are always other ways to push your English with these podcasts beyond just listening, or if you prefer not really doing any extra practice or anything you can just sit back, listen, enjoy and eat a chocolate biscuit.
  1. Some of the facts presented here are about UK laws, and you might hear a few different words to describe laws – things like this:
  • A rule
  • A law
  • Legislation
  • To Ban / to be banned
  • An act of parliament
  • Provisions in an act
  • A royal decree
  • An initiative
  • A custom / to be customary 

I’ll go through those words briefly at the end of the episode, giving you a little tiny taste of LEP Premium, with definitions, explanations and a couple of examples, just to make sure you understood the full meaning and difference between them, because lots of words like that will just pop up in this episode and you might think “Hold on, how many words for laws and rules are there? What’s the difference between a law, an act, a decree and legislation? 

If that’s you – just listen on until end of this part to hear some vocabulary explanations from me, which no doubt will just be really helpful. 

This is an audio-only episode, but if you are listening on YouTube you will see that the facts are written on the screen with a few pictures to illustrate them in most cases, which again should help you not only understand everything but also to notice vocabulary, with your eyes, and your brain.

And you can always switch on the automatic subtitles in English on YouTube, which are surprisingly accurate these days.

But now, that’s enough waffle. Let’s get started with part 1 of this, recorded at my parents’ home in England a couple of weeks ago, during the summer holidays, just after we’d eaten a large lunch with the whole family. 

OK, so, this is part 1 of 50 Random British Facts, with James. 

Let’s go.

Random British Facts 1 – 25

True or False? 👉 Listen to the episode to find out the answers.

Section 1

  1. In a recent poll by The BBC, 71% of British people said that British food was the best in the world. Examples given included curry and lasagne.
  2. 8% of British people live in London.
  3. Work meetings in the UK often commence with a short joke before people get down to business. The joke is usually printed on slips of paper or distributed in advance by email.
  4. All pubs must have a picture of the Queen displayed somewhere behind the bar.
  5. Another way to say “thanks” in the UK is to say “Ta”
  6. Big Ben is the nickname of a large clock tower in Westminster.
  7. British people drink 100,000,000 cups of tea a day.
  8. Cockfighting is illegal, but heron fighting is still commonly practiced in rural areas.
  9. During the Second World War a fake “mock up” of London was built in the Kent countryside with an intricate system of lights, to confuse German bomber pilots during nighttime air-raids.
  10. Every year on the 5th November children burn an effigy of a Catholic terrorist who once attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament during the King’s visit.
  11. Every year the Mayor of London is given a dozen oxen as part of his annual pay packet. The livestock are usually donated to a charity of the Mayor’s choice, or slaughtered.
  12. A recent excavation of the site of Shakespeare’s former home in London turned up a number of clay pipes containing the residue of cannabis resin or “hashish”.

Section 2

  1. In the UK, by law, if one man’s dog gets bitten by another man’s dog, the owner of the dog that did the biting must buy the other man a pub lunch, or something else of equivalent value.
  2. If the UK flag is flying at Buckingham Palace it means the Queen is in the building. FALSE – It’s the Royal standard.
  3. If you live to be 100 years old you will receive a personal letter from The Queen in the post.
  4. In 2020, English winemakers Langham Wine Estate of Dorset won  the International Wine & Spirit Competition Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year, which is one of the most prestigious awards a winemaker can win. They beat every top French Champagne brand in the competition.
  5. In 1976 a huge rat was discovered in the London sewer system. The police lost 2 dogs in their attempt to capture and destroy the animal.
  6. In the UK we drive on the left side of the road, but in 1987 the UK government introduced plans to switch from driving on the left to driving on the right, to bring the country in line with European standards. The initiative, which was eventually scrapped, was to be phased in over a period of 6 months, with heavy goods vehicles and buses switching first, followed by cars and then motorbikes and bicycles.
  7. It is always raining, somewhere in the UK.
  8. It is customary to buy a packet of crisps to be shared while having a drink in a pub, and the crisp packet is often ripped open in a certain way to allow everyone to take crisps from the bag. (crisps, not chips)
  9. It is customary to make tea for any tradesmen (plumbers, decorators) who visit your house.
  10. When going to the pub with friends or colleagues, it is customary to order drinks in rounds.
  11. It is illegal in the UK to be drunk in charge of a horse.
  12. It is illegal in the UK to be drunk on licensed premises (a pub).
  13. It is illegal to carry a plank of wood along a road in the city of London.

To be continued in part 2…

Ending Transcript

So, that is the end of part 1. How many did you get right?

You are keeping track of your score, right? 

It might be tricky to keep track of your score, which is fine of course. 

To be honest, I don’t expect you to do that really. But I wonder if you generally managed to guess which of those things were true and which ones were bollocks. 

Did anything surprise you? Did anything amuse you?

Let us know by leaving your comments in the comment section.

That was only the first 25 facts of course. We’re not done yet. This will all continue in part 2 when we look at facts 26-50, in the same way. I guess you can just look forward to that. It will require all your patience to do so, but I believe in you. You can do it.

Vocabulary

Now, let me go through some vocabulary, as I said I would earlier.

A lot of these facts deal with things like laws, government actions and also traditions or customs and so I thought I would just clarify some words which relate to those things. Yet again I am doing this on the free podcast as a little taste of the kind of thing you usually get in episodes of LEP Premium these days. 

The words I’m going to talk about now are:

  • A rule
  • A law
  • Legislation / to legislate
  • To ban / to be banned
  • An act of parliament
  • Provisions in an act
  • A royal decree
  • An initiative
  • A custom / customary 

Words for different types of law or government action

  • A rule (countable noun)

A rule is just something which says whether you are allowed or not allowed to do something. The difference between a rule and a law is that the word rule is more general and is used in all sorts of situations, not just by governments and the police etc. 

Schools have rules (e.g. no chewing gum in the classroom), people’s homes have rules (e.g. no mobile phones at the dinner table). 

Also, sports and games have rules, like the offside rule in football.

  • A law (countable noun)

Laws are the rules which determine wether things are legal or illegal. They are made and introduced by the government and enforced by the police and justice system.

To break a law

We also have the word “law” (opposed to “a law”) which means the whole system of rules which determine what is allowed, not allowed, what people have the right and don’t have the right to do or have.

  • Legislation (uncountable noun)

Legislation is another word for law, but it is uncountable.

Here are some sentences which basically mean the same thing:

The government created legislation banning the possession of handguns.

The government created a law (or laws) banning the possession of handguns.

So it’s the same as the word law, but we don’t say “a legislation” because it’s uncountable. Instead we would say “a piece of legislation”.

The government introduced new legislation banning the use of diesel cars in urban areas.

The government introduced a new law banning the use of diesel cars in urban areas.

Legislate is a verb 

To legislate for or against something – which means to create laws to oblige people to do things, or to prohibit certain things. 

The government in 2007 legislated against smoking in indoor public places.

  • To ban something (verb)

This means to prohibit or stop something and it’s usually used in reference to government laws which make something prohibited.

Smoking was banned in public spaces in 2007.

The government banned smoking in 2007.

Sometimes the word ban is used in situations outside the legal system, for example – 

Mobile phones are banned in the classroom.

A person can also be banned from a certain place, for example, 

Dave has been banned from the golf club for starting a fight last week.

It can be a noun or a verb.

The smoking ban. There’s a ban on smoking. 

The government banned smoking.

  • An act of parliament

An act is a specific piece of legislation which creates law.

When politicians make laws, for example in the House of Commons in London, there’s a certain process and we use different words for that legislation during the process. 

First the law is introduced by a member of parliament as a bill which is a written proposal for a law. The bill is discussed by the MPs in the House of Commons and the House of Lords and is voted on, and when that bill has been approved (including being given the Royal Assent by the Queen) it is written into law in the form of an act. 

This act defines the law. It’s kind of like a contract. Each act, which contains various laws, has a name. For example, The Treason Felony Act 1848, which makes it an offence to do any action with the intention of deposing the monarch. This makes it illegal to plan or try to remove The Queen from the throne (or in fact to remove the crown from The Queen) and this includes planning and devising things in written form, spoken form and with the use of images etc. So that’s the Treason Felony Act, which was created in 1848, which makes it against the law to try to depose the monarch.

Another example is the The Data Protection Act 2018, which controls how your personal information is used by organisations, businesses or the government. The Data Protection Act 2018 is the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

And another example is the Homicide Act 1957, which makes it illegal to kill someone, or commit murder. By the way, it says 1957, but of course murder wasn’t legal before 1957, it’s just that in 1957 the law relating to murder or homicide would have been redefined somehow, and a new act was created, which contained provisions relating to all acts of homicide.

  • A provision (countable noun)

A statement within an agreement or a piece of legislation that a particular thing must happen or be done.

This is like a specific section of an act of parliament, or a specific detail in an act of parliament. You also get provisions in contracts between people.

  • A (royal) decree

A decree is an order that something must be done. A royal decree is when the king or queen orders that something must be done. These days it doesn’t happen in the UK, so royal decrees are only heard about when referring to history. 

King Edgar in 957 decreed that all settlements (towns) in England were restricted to having only one “alehouse” per settlement. This was a law to try to control the number of pubs or places selling ale across the country. The decree lasted until after the Norman conquest of England in 1066 after which more and more alehouses, inns and pubs started arriving. 

Here’s an example from The Bible, of a decree by a Roman Emperor.

The Gospel According to Luke, Chapter 2 Verse 1

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David). To be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

  • An initiative (countable noun)

A new plan or process to achieve something or solve a problem:

The peace initiative was welcomed by both sides.

  • A custom (countable noun)

This is a way of behaving or doing something which has existed for a long time. It’s like a tradition.

The adjective is “customary” and is often used in the phrase:
It is customary to do XXX.
It was customary to do XXX.

Examples

It is customary to bring a gift to someone’s house if you are invited to lunch or dinner.

It’s customary in Japan to remove your shoes when you enter someone’s house.

It’s customary in the UK to shake someone’s hand when you first meet them, especially in more formal contexts.

  • A crime
  • An offence

These two words 👆 are synonyms.

End of part 1. Part 2 coming soon…

787. The Rick & Gill Thompson Report: Queen Elizabeth II / King Charles III

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.

[DOWNLOAD]

YouTube version (Audio only, but try activating the automatic subtitles)

Introduction & Ending Transcript

Hello listeners, 

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

Coverage

The broadcasts in the media covering an event or series of events. Coverage means how a story is covered by the media.

Footage 

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.


Ending Transcript

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

780. The Customary Pre-Holiday Ramble (August 2022) Train of Thought / My Daughter’s Magic Pet Shop / 4 Songs on Guitar

An unedited ramble in which I talk without a specific plan, includes a recording of my daughter speaking English, and a few songs on the guitar. Video version available.

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[DOWNLOAD AUDIO]

Video Version (check for automatic subtitles)

Songs & Lyrics

Talking Heads – Heaven https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/talking-heads/heaven-chords-1761334

The Beatles – The Fool on the Hill https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/the-beatles/the-fool-on-the-hill-chords-169399

Beck – Sing It Again https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/beck/sing-it-again-chords-1212027

The Police – De Do Do Do De Da Da Da https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/the-police/de-do-do-do-de-da-da-da-chords-640646

Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense (full movie)

https://youtu.be/53dikqNZLgA

The Beatles – The Fool on the Hill (from Magical Mystery Tour)

Have a nice August!

Leave your comments (if you have any) in the comment section below.

I hope you enjoy the episodes which will arrive every week in August.

Sign up to LEP Premium on Acast+ here https://www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium

778. [1/2] Sir Gawain and The Green Knight (with Dad)

A conversation with my dad about a great medieval adventure story originally written in middle English and updated and translated into modern English by Simon Armitage. Dad talks about the origin of this story, its connection to the history of the English language, and the poetic devices used in the writing. In the second half I read a summarised version of the story and some verses from Armitage’s modernised version.

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Introduction Script

Hello there, how are you? Hope you’re well. Just before we start – a quick bit of news. 

So, my full time teaching schedule at school has ended now and I have about 1 week to work on LEP content, and upload it before the August summer holiday begins. I’m not sure if I will be able to work during August, because “hello” it’s holiday season – my daughter is off school, we’re going on holiday in France and in the UK, and I might not bring my computer with me and so on. So I might upload loads of content this week, which you can listen to during the summer. I don’t want to overload you, but also I don’t want to underload you (is that a word). 

In any case, it’ll be like waiting for a bus again – you wait ages and then 3 come at the same time. This includes premium content. An update about LEP Premium: New episodes will be arriving very soon, including P35 part 2, which is full of pronunciation practice. As you may know, LEP Premimum is still in a transition from Libsyn to Acast and during this time I can’t upload episodes because of a slight issue relating to transferring 6 and 12 month subscriptions, but this is going to be solved very soon, and as soon as it is solved, new premium content will arrive. If you are a premium subscriber on Libsyn (the old system) with a 6 or 12 month subscription, and you’re keen to move to Acast – I will be contacting you soon with a solution to the situation. Just hold on. If you don’t understand what’s happening, check my website for updates. But mainly – just hold on. 

If you are new to LEP Premium, you can go ahead and and sign up through Acast+ – it’s www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium or click the link in the description. If you do that you will be supporting this whole project and in return you will get access to all the LEP Premium episodes (well over 100 vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar practice lessons) PDFs, videos and also you get ad-free episodes of LEP. If you’re wondering how it all works, have a look at my website where you will find all the information you need, including how to access the PDFs and how to add LEP Premium episodes to your podcasting app of choice. 

— Jingle — 

Hello everyone,

In this episode, my dad is back, but it’s not the Rick Thompson Report, so no politics this time. Instead we’re doing an episode that we have been hoping to do since Christmas last year. 

In this one, Dad is going to tell us about an old story from the Arthurian legends – that’s a set of stories about the mythical King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. British legends and folklore. 

The story we’re talking about is in the form of a poem called Sir Gawain & The Green Knight. This long poem was probably first written down in the 14th century by an unknown poet, but the story is probably much older than that, and part of a long oral storytelling tradition.

What Dad is going to do is describe the significance of this story, give us a summary of the plot and also he will make some comments about the history of the English language, and the rhythmic and rhyming style used in the original 14th century version, which was written in what we now call middle English. My dad studied English literature at university in the 1960s and this was one of the texts that he studied, and so he knows it quite well. 

Recently the old 14th century version of this poem was updated by a modern poet called Simon Armitage (the current poet laureate in the UK). Armitage has managed to write a modern version of this poem using modern English vocabulary, but it retains many of the linguistic and poetic devices of the original, including certain forms of rhyme and rhythm that made the poem so effective.

My dad got that version for Christmas and that’s what inspired us to do this episode.

It should be interesting for you to hear the story, hear my dad’s comments about it and learn how this fits into the history of the English language.

In the second half of the episode I will read you a summarised version of the full story just to make sure you get to hear an uninterrupted version, plus I will read out a few verses of the Simon Armitage version of them poem, again, to give you a good chance to hear some the rhythm and rhyme of it uninterrupted.

So, if you are sitting comfortably, let’s begin. 


Ending Script

Well, how was that?

You might be keen to hear more of the story and to hear more samples of the poem. That’s what I’d like to do in this ending part.

I’m going to do a couple of readings for you now.

I thought it would be useful for you to hear a brief version of the whole story, just to give you an overview and to make sure you’ve understood the whole thing. Then I’ll read a few of verses from the Simon Armitage version, in order to give you a flavour of the poetry with its distinctive style: wonderfully descriptive language and a particular rhythm, which was originally used in the 14th century version, as my dad described. 

A Summary of the Story

This is a version of the story, from a TED Ed video by Dan Kwartler.

Credit for this version goes to Dan Kwartler and there’s an animated version of it here https://youtu.be/SaQImmPev2o I have adapted this version slightly.

This doesn’t have the rhythmic style of the original poem, or the richly descriptive language. 

But it does tell the story quite briefly. I’m not going to explain all the words here. I might do that in part 2 (If there is a part 2).

It was Christmas time in Camelot 

and King Arthur was throwing a party.

The entire court was invited, 

except for the evil sorceress Morgan le Fay.

The food and drink flowed freely.

But in the midst of all the revelry, 

the castle doors suddenly split open.

A tall knight riding an emerald horse 

burst into the room,

stunning the court into silence.

He was green from head to toe, 

including his skin, hair and clothes. 

Even his horse was green.

Then, in a deep bellowing voice, he proposed a game.

The Green Knight declared that he would allow

the bravest warrior present 

to attack him with his own axe.

If they could strike him down, they would win his powerful weapon.

However, the knight would be allowed to return that blow

in one year and one day.

Arthur and his knights were baffled.

No man could survive such a strike.

How would the Green Knight be able to return the blow in a year’s time?

The Green Knight began to mock their leader’s hesitance,

and Arthur stood up to defend his honour.

But as soon as he gripped the axe, 

another person leapt up to take his place.

It was Arthur’s nephew, 

Sir Gawain, 

who decided he could not let the king be drawn into such a macabre game.

Keen to prove himself as a worthy hero, 

Sir Gawain took the weapon instead.

The Green Knight knelt down to receive the blow from the axe, 

even moving his hair away to expose the naked green skin of his neck.

With one swift strike, Sir Gawain beheaded the knight.

But the moment his skull hit the ground, it began to laugh.

The Green Knight bent down,

collected his head 

and mounted his horse.

As he rode off, 

his severed head reminded Gawain of their contract

and told him to seek the Green Chapel 

one year and one day from that moment.

In the months that followed, Gawain tried to forget this bizarre vision.

But despite the strangeness of the knight’s game,

Sir Gawain was determined to act honourably and fulfil his promise.

When the following winter approached, 

he set out —

enduring foul weather 

and encounters with dangerous beasts

in his quest to find the mysterious Green Chapel.

Finally, on Christmas Eve, he saw a shimmering castle on the horizon.

The castle’s lord and lady were thrilled to help such an honourable guest,

and informed him that the Green Chapel was only a short ride away.

They implored Gawain to rest at their home until his meeting with the Green Knight.

Thrilled at this news, Gawain happily accepted their offer.

However, in exchange for this hospitality,

the lord made a strange request.

Over the next three days, he would go hunting 

and every night he would share whatever he caught with Gawain.

In return, Gawain must give him whatever he’d gained during his day at the castle.

At first, Gawain was perplexed by these strange terms.

But the lord’s meaning became quite clear the next day,

when his wife tried to seduce Gawain.

To rebuff the lady’s advances without offending her honour,

Gawain allowed one kiss —

which he then passed on to her husband in exchange for a slain deer.

The next day, Gawain allowed two kisses, 

which he gave to the lord for a dead boar.

But on the third day, 

the lady offered more than just three kisses.

She presented a magical sash that would protect Gawain

from the Green Knight’s blade.

Gawain accepted immediately, 

but that evening, 

when the lord returned,

Gawain offered only three kisses and did not mention the enchanted gift which he had received.

The next morning, 

Gawain rode out to the Green Chapel—

a simple mound of earth

where the Green Knight was waiting and ominously sharpening his axe.

With the sash’s protection, 

Gawain approached stoically —

determined to honour his agreement.

He bowed his head for the deadly blow.

He flinched twice, 

but then with a massive swing,

the Green Knight cut Gawain’s neck —

but inflicted nothing more than a flesh wound.

Once more, Gawain was bewildered.

Why hadn’t the sash protected him?

And why hadn’t the knight killed him?

Bursting into laughter, 

the Green Knight revealed himself to be the castle’s lord,

and that he’d been working with the sorcoress Morgan Le Fay

to test the honour and bravery of Arthur’s knights.

He was impressed with Gawain’s behavior,

and he’d planned to spare his neck entirely —

until Gawain concealed the sash, 

and this is when the Green Knight chose to inflict the fleshwound upon him.

Filled with shame, Gawain returned to Camelot.

But to his surprise, his companions absolved him of blame

and celebrated his valor.

Struggling to understand this strange journey,

it seemed to Gawain that perhaps the whole world was playing a game —

with rules more wild and bewildering than any man could understand.

Ok, so that’s the story. 

It’s a bit confusing and mysterious.

(Luke gives a quick summary again)

Reading Verses from the Simon Armitage version of Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

What you don’t get from that story summary (above) is the beautiful language.

  • Wonderfully descriptive vocabulary
  • Alliteration (the repetition of rhyming consonant sounds at the start of words)
  • The “Bob and Wheel” (a rhythmic device which ends each verse)

There are some extracts from the Simon Armitage version available in the preview of the book on Amazon (other bookshops are available) 

Let me read a couple of those initial pages. 

The way the Armitage version of this poem is presented is that it gives one page of the modernised version, and then on the next page you have the equivalent original text, so you can compare them side by side. 

I won’t read any of the original text because the English is so old fashioned that I frankly wouldn’t be able to pronounce it all. And before you fall out of your chair in disbelief that I don’t know my own language – hardly anyone is able to pronounce sentences written in middle English. Only academic experts can do that, and a lot of them disagree about how middle English should be pronounced. So, that’s not for us. Middle English is almost like another language, so there’s no need for me to read it to you. 

The modern version of this poem on the other hand, is much more appropriate for us, and Simon Armitage has done a fantastic job because as my dad said, his version of the poem manages to keep the same alliteration, the same rhythm, and the bob & wheel –  that structural device where after a few lines the verse comes to an end with a distinctive two syllable break (the bob) and then four lines which follow it (the wheel). You’ll have a chance to listen to examples of that again in a moment.

Simon Armitage, while managing to keep a lot of these literary and poetic devices from the original poem, has updated it using normal modern English words. So this is still written in a literary and poetic style, but these are words that are still regularly used by people today, more or less.

Listen carefully to the rhythm and sounds of this and you’ll see what I mean.

I’m now going to read the first few verses to you. This is very rich in terms of language. Again, I am not going to stop and explain everything here, or analyse the text. I’m just going to read it to you. 

I do plan to do another separate episode in which I just read out some of these verses again and then break them down for language. Hopefully I will be able to make a video version of that too. Perhaps it will be the next episode. We will see. If not, I will do my best to get it done at a later date.

But now, for your listening pleasure, have a listen to this.

Extracts from Sir Gawain & The Green Knight, by Simon Armitage.

There is no script for the verses, but you can check the Amazon page for this book, where you can preview the first pages of the book, including many of the lines I’m reading here.

What do you think? Leave your comments below 👇