Category Archives: Health

491. Becoming a Dad (with Andy & Ben) Part 1

A conversation and vocabulary lesson about childbirth and becoming a father, with Andy Johnson and Ben Butler from The London School of English. Listen to Andy and Ben talking about their experiences of becoming parents, how their babies were born and more. Vocabulary is explained in the second half of the episode. Vocabulary list available.

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Introduction Transcript

This episode is all about becoming a Dad.

If you have heard the podcast recently you’ll know that my wife and I are expecting a child… (expecting a child to do what Luke…?) Well, expecting a child to be born… we’re having a baby, well she’s having a baby, as I said before, I will mainly be just standing there, hoping for the best.

“Expecting a child” is just the phrase we use for that – when you’re going to have a baby. We’re going to have a baby daughter in December. Thank you if you have sent me messages saying congratulations, that’s very nice of you.

I don’t plan to talk about children all the time on this podcast. Having a child is a big deal, but I don’t want to sound like a broken record by going on about it all the time, although it’s bound to come into the things I say because it will be major part of my life.

But I thought that it would be worth talking about it in some depth in at least one or two episodes because it is something that a lot of people experience (many of you will have had children, or will go on to have children and if not you then your friends or family – or at least it’s the sort of thing that people talk about a lot) and since this is happening to me I think talking about it could bring some authenticity to an episode, and that can really make it more interesting and therefore more engaging for you to listen to . Also there’s quite a lot of specific vocabulary that will come up that you can learn.

I did record a conversation with Amber nearly 4 years ago when she was pregnant with her son Hugo. She talked about what it was like for her to be pregnant and I did a follow-up episode with vocabulary of the subject too. You can find those two episodes in the episode archive – episodes 161 and 162. That was quite a long time ago, so let’s revisit the subject, and see if any of the same language comes up again.

161. She’s Having a Baby (with Amber Minogue)

162. Having Babies: Vocabulary / A Male Perspective

This time I thought I’d talk to Andy Johnson and Ben Butler about their experiences of becoming parents, to see if they can give me some general advice as I am just about to become a dad for the first time.

They’ve both had several children now, so they’re very experienced at the sort of thing I’m going to start going through in a matter of weeks.

So I’m going to do a lot of listening and learning in this episode, and you can join me too. Let’s see how much we can learn from this.

Watch out for some nice language relating to the whole subject of childbirth, parenting, and so on.

This episode is in two parts – that’s because I’ve decided to spend the second half of each episode explaining some of the vocabulary that comes up in the conversation.

What’s going to happen is that I’ll play you the first part of the conversation in a moment. Just try to follow it. I think it might be difficult for a lot of you. I think that there could be quite a lot of detail that you won’t catch. There are 3 of us, talking on skype, fairly quickly about quite a specific and detailed subject. So, remember, if you don’t understand it all – you should keep listening and hold on because I will be going through a lot of the language and clarifying it afterwards.

That should help you understand more and also turn this into more than just a conversation – it’ll become an English lesson and a chance to learn some natural English expressions. So, don’t worry if you don’t understand it all. I expect to catch a lot of that stuff in the second half.

There’s also a vocabulary list on the page for this episode and the next one.

Now, having children is wonderful and fantastic and all that – but it can also be quite scary – I mean, it’s fairly serious business, especially the moment of birth. I think we’re going to get into some fairly personal details in this conversation, and there will probably be a few descriptions of childbirth experiences which were quite emotional and even frightening at the time so please just bear that in mind if this is a sensitive topic for you for any reason.

Another thing I’m aware of is the fact that there are various cultural differences around childbirth and so the things you will hear about in this conversation might be different to how it is in your country. I’m quite curious to read your comments and to know if things are done at all differently where you are from.

Anyway, let’s now talk to Andy and Ben now and see what they can tell me about becoming a dad, and by the way – this conversation was recorded on Skype. I was at home in Paris and they were in a classroom at the London School of English, which is just next door to where I used to live in my flat in London. In fact, from some of the classrooms there it is possible to see my old flat through the windows. In fact, that’s the first thing that is mentioned in this conversation…

—————————- Part 1 ——————————–

Ok that’s the end of part 1 of the conversation!

What I’m going to do now is go through some of the language you just heard but may have missed. You can hear the rest of the conversation in part 2, which should be available soon.

Now, a lot of the language in this list for this episode is about childbirth and parenting – but not all of this language is about those things. There’s also plenty of vocabulary that you can use to talk about things in general, for example there are a few football analogies that Andy and Ben used as well.

Check out the page for this episode where you’ll see a the word list that I’m going through here. You can take those phrases, put them in your word lists, your flashcard apps, and so on.

Create your own word lists

By the way, it might be a good idea to create a word list of your own. It’s so easy with the internet today. When you find new words online, copy + paste them into a list (maybe on a spreadsheet, a word doc or a google doc or something). Add examples, definitions, pronunciation, even links to podcast episodes or whatever, and also any details that will help you remember the word. That’s so easy to do, right? Just copy + paste and bob’s your uncle. Use an online dictionary like Oxford Dictionary online to get examples and definitions. Then you can keep going back to your list, testing yourself and making sure that you remember these phrases and that you don’t just immediately forget them.

Just a tip there for how you can use word lists, notes or scripts on my website to help expand your active vocabulary with this podcast.

Vocabulary list

  • It’s exciting and slightly nerve-wracking
  • Football expressions (to describe the sequence in which Andy & Ben had kids – as if it was a football match)
    Ben, you went first with your baby and then Andy you came next.
    Andy: I equalised.
    It was 1 – 1.
    It was 1 – 0 (one – nil) and then Andy equalised.
    Then Ben took the lead again.
    Then more recently you drew level again.
    We’re both on a hat trick now but it’s more likely that the match has been abandoned now.
    It’s full time (no more kids!)
    Match abandonedinclement weather.
  • We’re going to call it quits at two.
  • The scans tell us that she’s healthy
  • How am I going to change a nappy?
  • Those kinds of things are easy in hindsight.
  • There was quite a lot of apprehension around the birth.
  • The midwife is talking about the birth in French.
  • Whether you want to have a caesarean section.
  • A natural birth – (in the UK this means a birth in the conventional sense, not a cesarean) but I use it to mean a birth involving no epidural (or pain reducing medication)
    So, here in France, when people say “a natural birth” they mean one with no pain killers.
    In the UK “a natural birth” just means “not a cesarean”.
  • So, will it be a c-section?
  • An epidural – a nerve blocker which goes into the spine
  • She had an epidural and she said it was a game changer
  • We conceived on Valentine’s Day
  • We had IVF so we know exactly when it happened
  • With the second one we were induced
  • My wife would certainly advocate having an epidural because it makes things so much easier
  • A chemical induced state
  • A numb state
  • My wife is pretty hardcore, she’s hard as nails
  • She’s got no qualms about that. She’s happy to just have the epidural.
  • We tried for 3 years and never fell pregnant again
  • In the end we went through IVF
  • They take the eggs out and inseminate them in a test tube and then they go back in
  • Talk about taking the fun out of it! (Talk about… = a way of emphasising something)
  • Our friends were plying us with champagne
  • Did your wives have morning sickness?
  • It’s the first trimester when they get sick
  • She was narcoleptic
  • Her body was generating new cells and it took it out of her
  • When is your due date?
  • You’re almost in the drop zone mate
  • By the time this has been published the sprog might have even arrived
  • Think about your social commitments and try and scale those back

— Part 2 Available Soon —

472. Andy Johnson at The London School (Part 2) Why Andy runs marathons

Talking to Andy about why he runs marathons, including vocabulary relating to doing exercise, health, fitness, technique, injuries and medical care.


Intro Transcript

Here’s the next part of my conversation with Andy Johnson, recorded at The London School of English a few days ago.

Andy is an English teacher, a father of 2 kids, and also a regular runner. He’s done at least one marathon and a few half marathons, and I thought since many of you listening to this podcast will also be runners (in fact some people will be running right now while listening to this) that it might be interesting to hear Andy talking about his reasons for running, the way he does it, the benefits, the difficulties and all the rest of it. So here’s a conversation about running.

If you’re not into running I would still recommend that you listen to this. You might be surprised at how personal it gets when Andy explains his reasons for training for the London marathon 10 years ago. It turns out that running has special significance for Andy and that running the London marathon was a key moment in his life as it marked a significant milestone for him – and running acts as a regular reminder of a particularly difficult experience Andy had when he was younger.

So, this episode is about running, but it’s also about much more than that. I’d like to thank Andy again for taking part in another episode of the podcast and for sharing so much of his story.

Vocab hunters: Watch out for vocabulary relating to doing exercise, health, fitness, technique, injuries and medical care.

So, without further ado you can now listen to our conversation about running.

Outtro Transcript

I just want to thank Andy again for coming on the podcast and telling us about his story. It was a very interesting conversation and I think the closest we’ve come to having tears on the podcast – it was a moving story but no tears this time! I wonder if you held it together out there in podcast land, or did you start welling up at any moment?

Don’t forget that Andy would like you to take his survey about self-directed learning. You can find a link to that on the page for this episode. Andy just wants to know about how you learn English on your own, outside of the classroom environment, and that includes how you use LEP to help with your English.


Click the link, the questionnaire will take a couple of minutes and you’ll help Andy with research for his next IATEFL conference talk.

That’s it for this episode. Watch out for some website-only content coming soon. Subscribe to the mailing list to get informed when that is released.

I hope you are continuing to have a good August, if indeed it is August as you listen to this. I’m still on holiday, relaxing and having a lovely time, I hope – I’m actually recording this before I went on holiday, so this is a very weird time situation. Which tense should I be using here, because I’m actually recording right now, in the past, but as I’m talking it’s the future, so my present is your past and your present is my future, so that’s the present past perfect future continuous or something. I am will have been being having a great time and I will have been had been hoped that you will be being having a wonderful time too, in the future.

Thanks for listening to this episode and I’ll speak to you again soon. Bye!

420. Anyone fancy a brew? Let’s have a nice cup of tea!

Everything you need to know about the culture of tea-drinking in the UK, including a full guide to how to make a nice cup of tea, English style.

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In episode 420 I have chosen to talk about my favourite herb, which like millions of other British people, and countless others around the world, I consume on a daily basis. It calms my nerves, it raises my morale, and it helps me to socialise. Queen Victoria famously used it, and the Beatles took it regularly during the recording of their most inspired music and even sang about it in a few of their songs. I’m talking of course, about tea.

As everyone knows, tea is very popular with people all over the UK, from all regions, backgrounds and social classes, whether you’re the Queen herself, or you’re the guy who cleans the road outside her massive house, everyone loves a brew. The British Empire was built on tea, wasn’t it? Goodness knows I’ve made enough references to it in my episodes – I’m even drinking a cup right now. Mmm.

Why an episode all about tea?

I just want to celebrate tea, but also I want to tell you everything I think you need to know about this subject including these things:
– Stereotypes about tea drinking in the UK
– Different ways to make and drink tea – Afternoon tea vs just having a cuppa
– My personal way to make a nice cup of tea
– The history of tea in the UK
– Facts about tea, including its health benefits
– George Orwell’s essay on tea – considered a kind of reliable guide to the ins and outs of the potentially controversial subject of how to make tea.
– References to tea in Beatle music

What are the stereotypes about drinking tea in the UK? Are they true?

Smashing a few stereotypes – let’s talk about how most people drink tea in the UK these days, not how people seem to think we do it (that’s quite hard because it depends who you are).

*Tea is for the upper classes and is a posh affair full of uptight rules – nope, all types of people drink tea and it’s often a very casual and informal moment.
*Drinking tea is a mystical, spiritual kind of experience that takes you on a journey into a colonial dreamland where you have a profound moment of higher understanding while visiting the distant lands full of oriental mystery – nope, we’re not that pretentious about it! It’s just a nice hot drink!

Here’s that annoying advert for Special T with Diane Kruger

*Tea is only drunk at tea time – nope, people drink it at all hours of the day
*All British people like tea –  not everyone likes it, of course
*Tea contains more caffeine than coffee – see below

Does tea contain more caffeine than coffee?

Unmade tea contains more than unmade coffee – but when you brew the tea most of the caffeine is not transferred to the water – it’s discarded with the leaves. With coffee the caffeine is transferred to the water more, so the drink is more caffeinated.,5753,-25502,00.html

What’s your specific method for making a good cup of tea, Luke?

I’ll tell you about 3 typical situations in which make tea, and the different ways I do it.

  1. A quick cuppa when I’m on my own.
  2. Making a pot of tea to share with a couple of friends.
  3. Preparing tea for a special occasion, like when grandparents come to visit.

What are your preferred tea brands?

PG Tips (pyramid bags), Yorkshire Tea (“like tea used to be”), M&S Gold, or fancy brands that you find in Wholefoods or little cafes – never Lipton and not Twinnings either.

Apparently it’s best to use loose leaf tea, but I usually just use tea bags. I use loose leaf tea for making sencha in a Japanese tea-pot.

Why do people drink tea so much in the UK? What’s the history of Britain and tea?

It’s all to do with our colonial past and the East India Trading Company! If you want to know more, just Wikipedia it!

What do people eat with tea?

Biscuits or cake!

Click here to see pictures of popular biscuits in the UK.

Click here for typical cakes which we eat with tea. YUM YUM YUM

What are the health benefits of tea?

There are  loads of benefits, apparently. Have a look: The Evening Standard – “5 Reasons Why Drinking Breakfast Tea is Scientifically Good For You”

George Orwell – A Nice Cup of Tea

George Orwell’s well-known essay about how to make a good cup of tea, first published in the Evening Standard in 1946. It’s hard to argue with his approach and the clear and lucid way it is described.

References to tea in songs by The Beatles

“Without doubt tea was the Beatles’ top tipple of choice! In one 3-month period in 1967 when they were ostensibly at the height of their drug period – they actually recorded no less than five songs referring to this most English of habits! (“Lovely Rita,” “Good Morning, Good Morning,” “A Day In The Life,” “All Together Now” and “It’s All Too Much.”) They actually recorded more overt references to tea than to drugs!” [Martin Lewis, Beatles scholar and humourist]

The Rutles – Wild Tea Parties

Talking with Richard McNeff about making a perfect cup of tea – recorded 6 years ago before I had a tea-pot!

Do you prefer tea or coffee? How do you like to make it?

beatles tea 10

336. Drinking Scottish Whisky at a German Business Meeting While Wearing a Kilt and Playing a Flute… and other stories (with Carrick Cameron)

This episode features another natural conversation with a native English speaker. This time I’m talking to my mate Carrick, who I’ve known for about 10 years now. He is a teacher who used to work in the same school as me, back in London. We have a few things in common, like the fact that we’ve both had strange travelling experiences as English teachers, including the time when he once attended a meeting in Germany that involved not only the usual business work but also the drinking of some very rare and expensive scotch whiskies, which meant that the meeting turned into a kind of musical party with guitar and flute playing, quite a lot of whisky drinking, a late night and then, unsurprisingly, a bit of a hangover the next day. Listen to hear a few anecdotes, some authentic English conversation and more.

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All this took place in Germany as I said, so you could say that he had a “hangover in Hanover” (Hanover is a city in Germany). Although to be honest he was actually in Frankfurt not Hanover – yeah, I just wanted to use the line “a hangover in Hanover”. Yes, that was supposed to be clever and funny, but never mind. :P


We also share a few other anecdotes about travelling experiences we’ve had, including the time when I ended up being invited to my Japanese doctor’s house on New Year’s Day to make a kind of traditional cake by bashing a ball of wet rice over and over again with a big wooden mallet while being laughed at by a group of small children. Does that sound familiar at all? Have you ever done that? You might have, if you’re Japanese, or if you’ve spent new year in Japan. Do you have any idea what I’m talking about? Well, keep listening to find out.

Sound Quality

Another quick thing to say now is that admittedly the sound quality during the interview is a bit poor. I recorded it over Skype because I’m in France and Carrick is in England, and Carrick wasn’t able to get to a computer with a good microphone because he was (and still is) completely stuck to his sofa with a very bad back, the poor guy. He’s got a nasty slipped disc in his back which means he can’t move. So during this conversation he was basically lying on his back, talking to me over Skype with his phone in his hand.

So, yes, I know the sound is not 100% great and it might be difficult to hear his words at times, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s actually very common these days to speak English over Skype or on conference calls – like for example if you’re in an international business meeting talking to someone who’s in another country. The sound isn’t always perfect in those situations, is it? So, I think you need to get used to hearing English in less than perfect conditions. So, Audio quality is a bit bad, but don’t give up – you’ll get used to it after a while. It’s good practice.

While You Listen

As you listen, watch out for these things: the moments when Carrick (intentionally) switches from an English accent to a Scottish accent and back again, the way he describes different types of Scotch Whisky including words to describe their tastes and where they are made. So be mindful of vocabulary and grammar that you’re hearing, but above all – just enjoy being able to listen in on this conversation between a couple of mates. You can imagine you’re in the room with me listening to the conversation on speakerphone.

Ok, that’s it for my introduction. I’ll now get out of the way and let you listen to conversation in full. I’ll speak to you again when the conversation is over.

*Conversation Begins*

Talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking.

*Conversation Ends*

So, that was Carrick. I really hope his back gets better soon because it must be pretty miserable for him to be just lying there all the time. I expect all of us sometimes think “Ooh, I’d love to spend 3-4 weeks lying on my back all day watching TV, high on a cocktail of prescription drugs.” (well, not everyone thinks that but you know what I mean) but when that lifestyle is forced on you as a result of an accident, it’s not that much fun is it. So, I hope Carrick gets well soon for his own sake, but also I hope he gets well soon for the sake of his wife and kids too, who might want to actually sit on that sofa and watch TV themselves at some point, and I also hope Carrick gets back on his feet soon for the sake of the kids in his school who are probably missing Mr Cameron in their classes!

More Stuff about Sound Quality (actually, it wasn’t that bad, was it?)

So, this is nearly the end of the episode. I wonder how the sound quality was for you? I expect it was a bit difficult to hear every word but you got used to it. Is that right? What’s that? It was difficult at the start but you got used to it? Ah good, I thought so. Sorry? You couldn’t understand everything – it was difficult and possibly a bit frustrating at times? Ah, sorry about that, but I think it’s good practice because your brain has to work a bit harder to guess the things you don’t understand. It’s good training. What was that you said? You’d expect the audio quality to be much higher in future please. Oh, alright, well – sorry but this is a free podcast right? So, you get what you pay for ok?

No, I agree. It would be better if the quality was always perfect, but that’s not always going to happen. Sometimes when I interview people on Skype the sound might be less than perfect, but as I said before – that’s normal in the real world, sometimes the sound quality will not be perfect when you’re using English over the phone or on a conference call. It’s good for you to get used to it.

Things to remember about learning a language (encouragement)

Just remember these things: learning a language is a long-term project and you will encounter various obstacles but you mustn’t give up. One of those obstacles might be that you can’t understand every word in an episode of Luke’s English Podcast, or in a conference call. So, even if you didn’t understand all of that. Don’t give up. I realise I’m preaching to the converted here, because if you’re listening to this it means that you listened to the whole conversation and you didn’t stop. So, well done you.

Shall I do an episode in which I explain the vocab, like in episode 335?

But really, I wonder if you’d like me to record a follow-up to this conversation in which I explain and clarify the content, like I did after the Craig Wealand interview. If you would like me to do that, let me know by leaving a comment or giving me an email at I value your feedback.

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Don’t forget to use italki to find a native speaker for conversations or a teacher for lessons. It really is a great way to push your English to higher and higher levels. Visit to get started and when you make a purchase italki will give you 100 free credits which you can spend on lessons in the future.

One tip: use the “search teachers” function to find the right teacher for you, and that includes special skills like Cambridge Exam preparation and business English. or click an italki logo on my website.

italki teacher search page

A couple of comments at the end, just before we finish up here.

  • If you’ve sent me an email recently, or ever, and I haven’t responded I am sorry. I can’t respond to them all but I do read them all I promise! I also send emails to people and don’t get responses and I know how it feels. I’m a huge fan of Greg Proops and Adam Buxton. I met Greg Proops at a book signing in Paris, shook his hand and exchanged a few words (I told him I was a comedian and he nodded sagely). I wanted to talk to him for hours, but I just said “nice one” and left. I then wrote him a long email, telling him how much I enjoyed his podcast called “The Smartest Man in the World” and I wrote a very British invitation to join me on an episode of LEP some time. I never got a reply. I also tweet comments to Adam Buxton all the time, who I am sure is an absolutely lovely person but I never get a reply or a retweet or anything, but that’s ok of course, I don’t mind, but I feel a little bit ignored, you know? Again, I don’t feel entitled to a reply or any attention at all because his part of the deal has already been done – he’s already given me hours of lovely talking on his podcast so he can’t be expected to respond to every tweet or email. Totally fine with it. So, anyway, thanks for your comments, messages, emails, tweets and so on – I appreciate your thoughts very very much.
  • Again, thank you to my Japanese doctor if he’s listening (I doubt it) for not only saving my skin when I was sick by taking care of me, giving me medicine and arranging for me to spend two weeks in Kinugasa hospital. I liked the video you played to me when we were both drunk on that New Year’s Day (at about 4.30pm I believe) in which you and your band were playing a live version of “Listen to the Music” by The Doobie Brothers. It was awesome.
  • Hello to anyone who likes whisky – I hope you enjoyed this episode.
  • Hello to the people of Scotland – I hope you choose to stay in the UK, but I’d understand if you choose to leave. I hope you don’t though. (I didn’t ask Carrick about Scottish Independence – maybe that can be a future episode)
  • Hello to a Japanese LEPster called Satomi who recently came to one of my shows here in Paris. Satomi, it was very nice to meet you and your friends after the show and I am very glad that you chose to introduce yourself to me. Give my regards to Yoshi – that’s a French guy who she was with, who called himself Yoshi, and not the cute dinosaur who is friends with Super Mario. Yes, I had a Yoshi at my show. In fact, not long ago I had a Luigi at the show too. I’m yet to have a Mario there, but let’s hope so. I wonder what it would be like to have Mario in my audience. I wonder how he would laugh. Maybe he’d go “wawawawawa” (Mario noise), or maybe if I talked for too long without making a joke he’d heckle me by saying “Letsa GO!” and I’d say – “can you stop heckling?” and he’d say “It’s MARIO time!” and I’d say, “*securty* remove this man from the room please he’s disturbing the performance”.
  • Hello to the lovely Argentinian couple who listen to this podcast and who also came to another one of my recent comedy shows. It was lovely to meet you too!
  • Let’s go back to Japan for a moment – Hello to all my Japanese listeners. I love Japan very much and I miss it a lot. Whenever I see pics of Japan on Facebook or listen to music from that I used to listen to when I was there I always think “ah 懐かしい” – “Nihon Natukashii ne!” which roughly translates as “Ah, good old Japan!” That phrase is used to express feelings of nostalgia. You know those waves of nostalgia that you feel when you remember something? You might see a photo, or perhaps smell some food that brings you right back, or you might actually go to the place and immediately feel a kind of comfort in being there. That’s exactly how I feel when I drink a really good cup of Yorkshire tea or something, like “Ah, good old Yorkshire tea”, or “Yookusha tea natsukashii da-yo ne?” So, hello Japan, I know you’re listening – “O genki desu ka?” which is a bit like saying “alright?” in English. I do plan to visit Japan with my wife – I must show her around the place a bit, I think she’d love it and I’d be able to say “natsukashii”, “heeee” and “hooooo” all the time. It would be nice to go drinking (in moderation of course) in an izakaya or something. And perhaps someone might go red in the face and fall asleep after having a couple of beers. Look after yourselves, ok!
  • Photos – check below to see some pics of Carrick’s funny experience at the German business meeting in Frankfurt at Deutche Bahn. If you work at Deutche Bahn – get in touch! Perhaps you know someone who was at the meeting. It’s possible. You should also find a pic of me hammering a ball of rice with a wooden mallet to make mochi, while wondering what was going on in my life! (I now realise what was going on – I was having a lot of fun indeed).
  • You’ll also find the names of Carrick’s favourite whiskies and the other brand name whiskies we mentioned in the episode, in case you want to check them out.
  • Thanks again for listening. :)

Carrick’s Top 3 Single-Malt Scotch Whiskies

1. Lagavulin
– from the island of Islay
– It’s delicious
– It’s smokey
– It’s filtered through peat

2. Macallan
– It’s from the Highlands
– It’s got a smooth, creamy texture
– It’s like very alcoholic milk (although it doesn’t look like milk of course)

3. Caol Ila
– It has a subtle flavour
– It’s like Lagavulin but more delicate

Other types of whisky
Blended scotch whisky – it’s made from a blend of different whiskies, it’s cheaper and is easy to find in supermarkets. Typical brands: Teacher’s, Bell’s, Famous Grouse, Chivas Regal.

American brands of bourbon whiskey (they’re not Carrick’s ‘bag’ = he doesn’t really like them, they’re not his cup of tea)
Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark.

That Japanese “best whisky in the world”
I think Carrick was talking about this one – Nikka Whisky (it doesn’t begin with a Y, unless you mean “Why?” – and the answer is – “Because it tastes so good!”)


Other useful episodes of LEP

This episode featured several anecdotes. Click here to listen to an episode about how to tell anecdotes in English.

Click here to listen to the full story of how I got sick in Japan. 

325. Catching Up with Oli / Future Predictions (Part 1)

Here’s a 2-part episode featuring a conversation with my cousin Oliver in which we talk about first some challenges he faced over the last few years (including dramatic things like a scooter crash, a tropical disease, a burglary and how he completely flooded his own house) and then some more positive things about being a father and predictions for how society will be different in the future. Also, listen for some general news and announcements about Luke’s English Podcast.

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Announcements & News

  • I hope you enjoyed the episodes I recorded as a tribute to David Bowie. Unfortunately, so soon after we lost Bowie, the news came that another great person has died – the British actor Alan Rickman, who like Bowie was 69 years old and died from cancer. He’s most famous for playing the part of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, and the part of Hans Gruber the bad guy in the film Die Hard with Bruce Willis – both very enjoyable and distinguished performances, but he played many other roles too. Alan Rickman was known for his sardonic humour, his wonderfully rich and unique voice, and for bringing a great amount of weight and humanity as well as humour to his roles. He will be missed too.
  • And, I haven’t even mentioned Lemmy – the lead singer of the group Motorhead, who also died recently. Lemmy played a massive part in the invention of heavy metal music, and was generally a huge personality in the world of British rock. He was on the scene all the way from the 60s until this year when he passed away due to cancer. Lemmy was known for his gravelly voice, his appearance (he looked like a biker dressed in leather with big mutton-chop sideburns and moles on his face – he wasn’t a pretty guy like Bowie by any means), his hard-drinking speed fuelled lifestyle and his bizarre obsession with Nazi regalia – clothing, weapons and so on from the Nazi era. He wasn’t a bad guy, he just liked the designs and imagery from that time – it had nothing to do with the ideology, and at heart he was just committed to playing loud and fast music and living a loud and fast lifestyle – and he will surely go down in history as a true legend of the music world. So, that’s three people, at least. So, can famous British people stop dying please!? If we carry on at this rate there’ll be none left by the end of the year.
  • But let’s not dwell on these dark things any more! I’m glad to present you this episode today because this one is all about the future, and new life because my cousin Oli is going to be a Dad for the first time – his wife is expecting a baby daughter at any time, so let’s look to the future, with new life and positivity and all that stuff! We’ll start that in just a minute, but first – a little bit of admin…
  • The comments issue on the website is fixed. I just needed to do a few updates. You can now post comments on the homepage again. No worries!
  • Email subscribers – are you still receiving emails when I post new episodes? I had a couple of messages from listeners recently who said they hadn’t received emails with new episodes. How about you? If you’re an email subscriber, could you let me know if you received emails for the David Bowie episodes, the episode called With the Thompsons, and the Star Wars spoiler review.
  • Picture comp is finished – so, don’t send me any more photos please! Thank you for the photos I have received in my email account, and, of course, I have loads of pictures. They’ll go up on the website soon and you can pick your favourite. I’m a little bit concerned about how that’s going to work because there are about a billion photos, but I’ll work something out.
  • I’ll be meeting Paul and Amber again soon. Firstly to catch up with them both – because quite a lot has happened since we last spoke on the podcast. Amber went to Costa Rica, and Paul Taylor is now something of a celebrity as his comedy video about kissing in France went super-viral over the last few weeks. His video, “Paul Taylor – La Bise” is about his frustration with the French custom of kissing people when you meet them. It was uploaded onto Robert Hoehn’s YouTube channel French Fried TV on new year’s day and within the space of just a few days it got over 1 million views. He was featured on lots of French websites, radio and TV, and then the video went global on the BBC’s website and more. Paul also has a new solo comedy show every Saturday (as well as the one with me on Thursdays) and it’s completely sold out for the next 10 weeks or something. Wow! Remember when he was on this podcast talking about how he quit his job to do comedy? Remember how difficult it was in Edinburgh? Well, things seem to be working out for him now! Good news!

  • Also, I hope to get Amber and him on this podcast again (if he’ll come on now that he’s such a big celebrity) in order to do that interactive version of the Lying Game – remember that? Listen to “318. The Rematch (Part 2)” to find out the details. Basically, this is a chance for you to get involved in another version of the lying game.  All three of us said some statements, and you now have to write questions in the comments section for episode 318. IN the episode we’ll ask each other your questions, and answer them. Then you can decide if they’re true or lies. Again, listen to 318. The Rematch (Part 2) for all the details (listen until the end).

Introduction to this Episode

As you know at Chrimbo I want back to the UK and stayed with my family, and with my cousin at his home in Bristol. It’s been a while since he was last on the podcast, and quite a lot has changed with him. In our conversation we talk about lots of things and I really think this is an interesting episode, and a very valuable one from a language point of view. The topics we talk about are diverse and quite in-depth and as a result we use lots of different features of grammar and vocabulary. I always encourage you to notice language while listening to native speakers on this podcast, so try to do that in this episode if you can. First we talk about what happened to Oli since the last time he was on the podcast, so watch out for the ways in which we talk about the past – tenses, and other forms. Oli faced a few difficulties and challenges, so watch out for the ways he describes those things. Essentially, he tells me a few anecdotes about some of his difficulties in London, watch out for past tenses and so on. Then we talk about the future, and about various predictions for the next 10-20 years, so naturally you can try to notice the specific language, tenses and modal verbs that we use to describe the future, make predictions and make judgements about the future. As well as that, there’s a lot of vocabulary related to technology, transport and communication.

In my opinion this is a very useful conversation for you to listen to. I loved catching up with Oli and I sincerely hope you enjoy listening to it, and by the way, listen all the way to the end to hear Oli play a bit of guitar – and he’s a really good guitarist.

That’s it!


314. Luke’s Guided Sleep Meditation

Fancy brushing up on some grammar while getting a really good night’s sleep? Yes? Well, this episode is for you. It’s a guided sleep meditation to make you feel all drowsy and relaxed, with added hypnopedia – that’s hypnosis and sleep learning both at the same time. So, kick off your shoes, turn down the lights, lie back, relax and drift off into an ambient dream state, while learning some English in the process. Don’t listen to this while driving. Transcript below. zzzzzzzzzZZZZZzzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzz

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Hello everyone, I’m speaking in a slightly different voice today. I’m close to the microphone and I’m speaking a little more softly and calmly than usual. That’s because this episode of LEP is designed to help you fall asleep while listening. Don’t listen to it while driving or operating heavy machinery. If you listen to this carefully, and follow all the instructions I say, then you should be asleep by the end of the episode.

Some people tell me that they listen to LEP while falling asleep. Apparently I’m so boring that it’s the perfect way to help them doze off at night.

I’m just kidding of course, I don’t get that many messages saying that I’m boring, but I know that some people fall asleep while listening to my podcast. I too like to listen to podcasts at night while lying in bed and it’s a lovely experience to drift off while listening to someone’s words.

Something my wife and I have been doing recently, is to find ways to help ourselves go to sleep. Sometimes we feel a bit stressed because of work or whatever and one thing we’ve been doing is to take turns to guide ourselves through a relaxation meditation with the aim of putting each other into a relaxed state that ensures we get a really good night of sleep.

The guided meditation usually involves giving some instructions for relaxation which you both follow step by step. Simply following the instructions allows you to switch off your mind and allow your body to relax fully, and then you drift off into a truly restful and healing slumber.

I find this really helps me, not just to drift off to sleep at night, but also because it relaxes me generally in my life, and the next day I find I have better concentration and sharpness. In fact this kind of relaxation exercise is said to have a cumulative effect. The more you do it, the more relaxed and stress-free you become long term.

Also, there is a theory that you can learn things subconsciously in your sleep. Listening to things while you drift off and while you are in a sleep state has been said to be a good way to internalise information. Is this true? Apparently research on the subject of sleep-learning or hypnopædia have been inconclusive, but studies have shown that the brain does react to stimulation while we are sleeping.

So, what I’m going to do in this episode is to guide you through a relaxation meditation with the aim of helping you to fall into a comfortable deep sleep. Then, once you’re in that sleep state I’m going to read some grammar rules to you. The aim of that is to either a) help you learn the grammatical rules, and b) ensure that you definitely don’t wake up and that you continue to sleep really well.

So this episode is completely devoted to helping you fall asleep. I’m going to try really hard to help you drift off into a state of nourishing and refreshing rest. So, I advise you to listen to this episode while you are lying in bed, or lying on a sofa, prepared to get a really good night’s sleep, somewhere that you can comfortably sleep for a long time. So, not on the bus or train on the way to work, and certainly not while driving. If you have insomnia, this could really help you. Or if you just want to get the full benefit of a good night’s sleep, then this is also for you.

I suggest that this is one of those episodes that you can listen to over and over again, whenever you feel like you want to relax or get a good night of sleep.

However, if you’re driving, operating heavy machinery or simply in charge of a nuclear power station or something I would warn you not to listen to this because, seriously, I’m going to make you fall asleep.

I’m quite serious. I’ve done lots of reading about suggestion and hypnosis techniques, and I am really going to work quite specifically on making you fall asleep in this episode. So, if you are driving a car or doing something that requires you to be fully awake and aware of your surroundings, do not listen to this episode. I must be clear about that – do not listen to this episode while driving. Wait until you are home or in a hotel room, or at work – some place where you don’t need to be fully conscious –  then put the headphones on, lie back and drift away…

OK. Are you clear what’s going to happen?

I’ll guide you through various stages of relaxation, and then into a sleep state. We’ll go down down down through various levels of meditation until you are hopefully completely asleep, or at least so relaxed that you can’t be bothered to open your eyes and do something else. Then when you’re down in the deeper relaxation zone, I’ll read some grammar rules to you. From that point I will add some hypnotic suggestions to ensure that when you wake up you’ll be in a fully positive and energised state, ready to take on whatever life throws at you that day. At the end the episode will slowly drift away into silence, letting you continue your sleep until the next morning when you will wake up refreshed and positive. The main thing is this: As long as you follow my guidance step by step, you will be asleep by the end of this episode.

OK. So the first thing is to prepare the environment around you.
Make sure you’re in relaxing surroundings. Ideally you’ll be in a tidy place, not too disorganised and messy. Oh, that’s a pity you seem to be in your home and, well, it’s not very tidy. Perhaps you should stop listening to this and just clean up a bit and then carry on. Ok good, you’re back, and the room is much neater now, well done. Oh, I see that some of you didn’t bother to do any tidying up. Ok that’s your choice. It doesn’t really matter that much anyway. It’s still possible to get the full benefit of this relaxation exercise without being in a tidy place. But really though, you should think about being more hygienic, that’s , well that’s just not very civilised, especially all that stuff in the corner, and the dust. And would it kill you to do a bit of laundry sometimes? Seriously.

Anyway. Make sure the ambient temperature is the room right. Not too warm, not too cold. If you live in a very cold place, you might consider moving to a different country. Somewhere with a better climate. Not England. No, go to the Mediterranean or something. If that’s not practical right now, not to worry. Just put on an extra jumper or get a blanket or something.

Make sure that you’re either sitting in a relaxed position or ideally you’re lying down comfortably. The best is to be in bed, or at least on a bed. Next to the bed, or just near a bed isn’t good enough. To get maximum benefit you need to be actually on or ideally in a bed. Your bed, preferably. Don’t just get into someone else’s bed, especially without their permission. People tend not to like that sort of thing, unless they fancy you and then they might be glad. I’d say, to be on the safe side, it’s better if you stick to your own bed, in order to avoid confusion or at worst, violence and strong language. “What the hell are you doing in my bed?” or “Who are you? Why are you in my house?? Get OUT!” “I’m sorry, I… I’m just listening to LEP – Luke told me to. it’s the sleep episode, I’m, I’m sorry!” That kind of conversation is not conducive to a relaxing night of sleep, so stay in your own bed. That’s the best thing to do.

Don’t forget to take off your shoes. That’s right.

You might want to draw the curtains as well.
No, put the pencil down, I don’t mean that. No, draw the curtains means, close the curtains. Yes, it’s a homonym. Oh you already knew that. Well done. Yes, very clever. Now don’t get cocky alright. Ok.

I’d also suggest that you take your mobile phone and put it on silent, and if possible just turn it off, or even better, just throw it out of the window. You shouldn’t be distracted by it. Statistics have shown that we think about touching or looking at our phone every 2.35 seconds. Don’t ask me where I got that information, because, frankly I just made it up now on the spot. But it doesn’t matter. Don’t be distracted by your phone. Also, don’t be distracted by this episode of the podcast. In fact, it’s probably better to just stop listening, take the headphones out of your ears and do something else. Me talking to you is probably just going to distract you from the relaxation exercise and keep you awake to be honest.

Only joking. Don’t stop listening that would defeat the purpose of this. But do try to reduce the number of distractions that you have around you. Put your phone on silent and put it on the side, out of the way. Obviously if you’re using your phone to listen to this, it’s better if you keep it near you. Turn down the lights. Maybe light a few candles.

OK so now you’ve prepared the room you’re ready to fall asleep.
get into a comfortable position. I quite like lying on my back with my arms and legs spread out like a star fish. Or sometimes I lie in a straight line with my arms by my sides like a penguin, or perhaps curled up like a snake on my side, or just generally spread out along the bed like some sort of slug. Whatever animal you’d like to copy that’s just great. Animals sleep too and that’s the point of this whole exercise after all isn’t it! Yes it is.

So now you’re comfortable, I’ll start leading you through the initial relaxation stage. I hope you’re not too sleepy yet because we haven’t started properly. If you’re already drifting off then perhaps you should get up and have a bit of a walk around the building or drink a black coffee – we haven’t started yet, so wake up a bit, you don’t want to miss the more important bits do you?

OK let’s begin the initial relaxation stage.

The first thing to do is to fully tighten all the muscles in your body. Clench all the muscles together. That’s it. Pull them all tight so you’re stiff like a board. Hold it! Keep holding it!

Oh, wait, ow! I think I’ve got cramp. OW! Cramp, in my foot… hold on…

Sorry about that I got a bit of cramp.

OK, so hold your muscles tight and then gradually relax them all. Not yet! I haven’t said the magic word, which is “release”. So, keep holding, keep those muscles tight! Don’t relax yet I haven’t said “release”. That wasn’t it by the way… Ok keep holding, and then gradually “releeeeeeeease”.


Let’s do that again. Tighten all your muscles like you’re made of wood or something. Hold them tight, and then gradually, “releeeeeeease”.

Don’t forget to breathe, that’s very important.
You need to breathe in order to supply oxygen to all your vital organs, especially the brain. And you need oxygen in order to be alive. This isn’t going to work if you’re not alive. So breathe.

In fact, let’s concentrate on your breathing.

Take a deep breath through your nose. Breathe deep into your lungs, and then slowly release it through your mouth, like you’re smoking a big spliff with Bob Marley. Gwan take a deep hit o dat sensimelia man, tek it deep into ya lungs rude bwoy, da ‘erb gwan relax ya mind and tek ya into a deep state a meditation and relaxation maaan, rude bwoy bombaclart rasta, jah, ire feelin jah know, I and I know dat all dem yoot are gonna witness the day that babylaaan gwan faaaaalllll.

Sorry, I just went to Jamaica for a moment. Of my own accord.

Anyway, when you breathe deeply, focus on breathing from your diaphragm. That’s a muscle that sits below your lungs, dividing the thorax from the abdomen. Focus on breathing from there, or from your stomach. That’s the key to drawing in the maximum amount of breath into your body. Don’t just let the ribcage rise, focus on letting your stomach swell first, then the ribs. You’ll find you’re pulling more oxygen deep into your lungs that way, and it will relax you more.

Do this a few times. Take a deep breath in, from the diaphragm, through your nose. Then slowly exhale through the mouth.
Deep breath in… exhale through the mouth.
Deep breath in… exhale through the mouth.
Deep breath in… exhale through the mouth.

Now you can continue normal breathing, but for a moment I’d like you to just be aware of the air passing slowly through your nose and then out through your mouth. Don’t force it to go at a particular pace. Just let it happen, being aware of the sensation of the cool air moving in and then out of your face. In, and then out of your face. In, and then out of your face. In and then out again.

Let any thoughts that appear in your mind go by, without attempting to control them or focus on them. Just let your mind be like an open window and the thoughts are like a cool breeze flowing through in a relaxed way. Just observe the feeling of the air passing through your mouth, and the thoughts just drifting through your head, without any need to stop them. Let them continue on their way, just like a breeze through an open window. The window is like your mind. Open, peaceful. There’s blue sky, and the sun is lazily setting in the distance, as the curtains sway in the breeze. They’re slightly old curtains. You’ll need to change them before long.. but never mind that now… just let yourself breathe slowly and allow your mind to wander without feeling the need to control it. Just let yourself go completely…

Now, let’s take you further into a state of relaxation.

*the relaxing every body part bit (even obscure body parts that they might not know, including the area behind the knees that doesn’t really have a name)
Your toenails, your toes, the arch of your foot, your heel, the Achilles heel, your ankle, your uncle, your shins, your calf muscle, your knee cap, your knee in general, the space at the back of your leg behind the knee that nobody has a name for, your thighs, your quadriceps, your groin, your private parts, your bum (both cheeks), the private area of your bum (between the cheeks), your waist, your hips, your navel, your tummy button (the same thing as your navel), your stomach, your abdominal muscles, your solar plexus, your sides, the small of your back, your spine from bottom to top, all your ribs, your chest, your nipples, your arm pits, your shoulder blades, your shoulders in general, your biceps and triceps, your forearms, your wrists, the backs of your hands, the palms of your hands, your knuckles, your fingers, your thumbs, your fingernails, the bits of skin next to your fingernails that you might bite if you get nervous, the cuticles (Those are those bits at the base of your fingernails that women scrape off when they get a manicure), your fingertips, your fingerprints, the back of your neck, your throat, your jaw, your cheeks, your teeth (molars, canines, incisors) your gums, your tongue, your alveolar ridge, your philtrum, your nostrils, the bridge of your nose, the tip of your nose, your nasal hair, your cheekbones, your ears (including your ear lobes and your ear drums) the bit behind your ears that your parents always remind you to wash, your temples, your eyebags, your eyeballs, your eyebrows, your eyelids, your eyelashes, your retinas, your pupils, your optic nerve, your forehead, your monobrow if you’ve got one, your hairline, your scalp, your follicles, your hair, your crown, and last but not least – your brain. It’s all totally relaxed…

* I’d like you to imagine that you are slowly walking down a long corridor towards some steps, and with every step you’re getting more and more sleepy.
* Eventually you walk through a doorway. The door says the word SLEEP on it in blue letters. It’s all fluffy and made of cotton wool. You pass through the door and into the realm of sleep.
*This is where your brain goes when you’re sleeping
*It’s all made of cotton wool clouds under your feet. Everything’s blue and white and smells of fresh blankets.
*Up in the sky you see the clouds twinkling in the distance. It’s a perfectly calm night. Under your feet there are lovely soft blankets, pillows and duvets. You could lie down anywhere and sleep like a baby, but you keep moving, looking for the perfect spot.
*You see some sheep made of cotton wool. “Baaa” one of them says. “Baaa” you say in return. The sheep lazily approach a gate and begin to leap over it, but instead of landing on the other side, these fluffy sheep just continue drifting up into the sky, eventually becoming little fluffy clouds that slowly drift across the night sky into the distance. “Baaa” you hear one go in the distance.
*Every step takes you deeper and deeper into a restful slumber.
*You come across a river – dark, black water. Just going near it makes you drowsy. You lean over to take a drink, and take a couple of drops into your mouth, and slowly you drift off as the water envelopes you, pulling you down into the cool dark waters of deep sleep. As you slowly enter the water each part of you from head to toe enters a deep restful sleep. Under you go, with the lazy fish drifting by, and an old boot on the bottom and a tin can. It’s nice down here, and there’s a blanket which you wrap around you. You can breathe down here. In fact it’s a lot easier to breathe than it was before. Even though you’re safe under the water the air is fresh and healthy, but the water makes you drowsy. There’s a sand bank that looks comfortable with a bunch of clean pillows piled up next to it.
*Next to the sand bank on the bottom the bottom of the river you find a door and you pass through it. It’s wonderfully warm and protective inside. It’s an old school classroom with windows at the top of the walls, and wooden panelling and old wooden desks. The room is surrounded by old radiators that make the room really warm and comfy. All the kids have hung their jackets and coats on the wall and their sitting at their desks, wearing wooden jumpers, shirts and ties. There’s an old man at the front of the school classroom. He invites you to sit. It’s early morning, so early that it’s not light yet and you sit at the old desk. You’re so sleepy that you can hardly stay awake. It’s like when you were a kid and you couldn’t stop falling asleep in those very early morning classes in winter when the room was so warm and you were still sleepy from your night. You sit next to one of the old radiators which keeps your lovely and cosy. It’s safe here. You’re here to learn English from this old man in a tweed suit, with a beard. He looks a bit like god, or father christmas, or the guy at the end of The Matrix Reloaded, or Colonel Sanders from KFC.

He tells you and the other children to take some notes as he reads you some grammar rules. You hold a pencil in your hand and try to write notes in a notebook, but your head is nodding and you just want to lie down on the floor there next to the radiator where it’s lovely and warm, but you can’t. You have to hold this pencil and listen to the wise words of this old teacher. Your eyes are rolling in your head and your head is tipping forwards and backwards as you try to listen to the teacher. The room seems to be spinning. You just want to put your head down and sleep. Your eyes sting, and they feel better when you close them. It would be better if you could just keep your eyes closed and you could just fly away to total peaceful sleep. You manage to look at the other kids. They’re all asleep with their heads on the desks, their eyes firmly closed, breathing deeply. They look so peaceful. You turn your attention to the teacher again and despite your desperate desire to put your head on the table to sleep a sleep of the ancient kings, you try to listen and take notes. This is what the teacher says…

Boring grammar: Relative clauses

Finally, at the end of the lecture, the teacher says to the class “You may now put down your pencil, put your head on your book, and go to sleep, but make sure your head goes on your book so the words can go in and stay there forever, because every word you have heard in this episode of Luke’s English Podcast, you will remember forever as you sleep, sleep, sleep.

As he’s saying this you manage to look up at the teacher, but he’s sitting back in his chair, his head back, fast asleep and no doubt dreaming of his bed.

Now, finally it’s the time for you to get the rest you desired. You kick off your shoes and curl up on the warm floor next to the radiator. There’s a small mattress and a blanket. It’s so comfortable, better than you ever expected.

And as you feel yourself breathe slowly, and you feel the warmth of the bed you’re lying on, you feel yourself drifting back into a deep sleep again, deeper and deeper, more and more relaxed, and as you listen to these words you know that this is a sleep which will allow you to fully rest, with nothing but slow deep energy growing inside you as you breathe the oxygen in, deeper and deeper, and let it out again without thinking, the fresh air nourishing your warm body as you go further and further into a sleep, and when you wake up in the morning on the other side you will be so refreshed and so healed by this sleep that your brain will be so bright and ready to speak English with total clarity and you’ll remember all the words and all the grammar and all the structures and all the rhythm and all the intonation and pronunciation and vocabulary and expressions will be stored in your mind forever and ever and will always be ready for you to use at any time wherever you are whenever you open the window, and open your mouth and let the words come out like a mountain river on a clear blue day, as the water flows on and on and you sleep steadily, deeper and deeper, longer and longer, letting yourself go further and further into this state of wonderful nourishing and healing sleeeep. Thanks for listening to another episode of Luke’s English Podcast. Good night, and good bye bye bye bye bye!

302. Bad Dentist / Star Wars / Adam Buxton / Headphone Jams / Jarvis Cocker

Hi, this is the second part of a two part episode in which I’m telling you a few things about recent trending news stories, some anecdotes and other things that are in my head at the moment. There’s no specific language focus this time. Instead I’m focusing on general cultural information. Last time I talked about David Cameron and the pig, a story of a bad gig, and who the hell is Ronnie Pickering? In this one I’m going to ramble on about a bad trip to the dentist, some rising excitement about the new Star Wars film, Adam Buxton’s new podcast, some music that has been bouncing around inside my head, some news about a new jingle which is in the pipeline and how I want to hunt Jarvis Cocker for my podcast but I don’t know how to do it! If you don’t really understand those things, then listen on! All will be explained! All you have to do is listen. :)

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In the previous episode:
1. The UK political situation, and trending news relating to it – this is less boring than you might expect because it seems from recent reports that our Prime Minister David Cameron once had sex with a dead pig. Seriously. (Did PM David Cameron really have sex with a pig? What’s all this about Jeremy Corbyn? What’s going on?)
2. “Sorry, we’re English”
3. Tell a story or anecdote about something.
4. Who is Ronnie Pickering?

In this episode:
5. A trip to the dentist in Paris.
6. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – I can hardly contain my excitement, but I am attempting to avoid the hype.
7. OPP: The Adam Buxton Podcast
8. In my headphones recently: The Juan MacLean “A Simple Design”, The Who: “Who Are You?”, Erland Oye: “Lies become part of who you are”, DJ Krush & Ronny Jordan: “Bad Brothers”, Leyla McCalla: “Heart of Gold”. (Plus, the intro song: “Groove Holmes” by Beastie Boys)
9. Jingle news: Possible new jingle in the pipeline
10. Jarvis Cocker
11. That’s probably it, isn’t it?
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263. Past, Present & Future – Verb Tenses

LEP is back! You might be wondering where I’ve been, or what’s going on at LEP headquarters. In this episode I’m going to explain my absence, fill you in on what’s going on at the moment, and also talk a bit about what’s coming up in the future. [RIGHT-CLICK TO DOWNLOAD]

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As I talk during this episode I’m going to use a range of different language (some tenses and vocabulary) that relates to the past, the present and the future. See if you can notice the different language I use. What are the different ways that I refer to the past, present and future? I’m trying not to plan this language too much, I’m just going to see what expressions and phrases come out of my mouth naturally. At the end of the episode I’ll review that language so that you can pick it up and start using it yourselves, broadening your English in the process. So, not only am I giving you some news, we’re also doing some language study. You could say that we’re killing two birds with one stone (and not for the first time on LEP).

Here’s the plan for this episode
– Explain why I disappeared for about a month (The past)
– Talk about what’s going on at the moment (The present)
– Mention a few plans, intentions and upcoming events (The future)
– Present and review some grammar & vocabulary

Listen to Everything!
Please listen to the full episode to get the complete experience – remember, this is a podcast and not a blog. It’s all about listening!

Where have you been Luke? (The Past)
– I’ve been super-busy and I haven’t had a chance to get into the sky pod to record anything for a month. I’ve had to focus on other things. It’s been a busy and important time.
– First of all, I got sick with flu. That knocked me off my feet for quite a few days. I lost my voice etc. The #1 priority was to get better and rest! So, everything stopped.
– I had to take time off work – and all those cancelled classes had to be replaced. So, I worked way more than normal. No free time! Also, when I wasn’t working I was knackered and needed to rest!
– I got over the flu, but the cold came back. I’ve still got it now. :(
– By the way – I’m not complaining! I promise! I’m just explaining why I disappeared and I’m being transparent. I think if you understand my situation more clearly it can help you understand my service better.
– Also – I got married! (part 1 – explain a little bit)
So, that’s why I haven’t done a podcast for a while! Sometimes, life is just completely full. Remember, it takes a few hours in total to prepare, record, upload and distribute episodes of LEP. That time is rather precious.

What’s going on at the moment? (The Present)
– I’m still getting over the flu
– I’m doing exams this week (which means that I’m going to have tons of marking to do).
– I’m dealing with the other courses I’m teaching.
– I’m enjoying the extra hours of daylight and sunshine that we’re having.
– I’m enjoying married life very much (although it’s not that different to normal life to be honest)
– My online teaching colleague Gabby Wallace (of Go Natural English) is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund a book she’d like to write. Click here to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign. When she gets enough money she’ll publish the book. It looks good, and this is something I have been intending to do for ages. If it works for her, there’s a good chance I’ll be doing it too! This is a new (and very cool) model of publishing learning-English materials and for it to work we need everyone’s support – from teachers, but also from you the learners too.

Don’t forget, that Audible offer still stands. If you go to you can sign up to a free 30 day free trial which includes a free download of any audiobook of your choice, and they have over 150,000 titles to choose from. So, check out or just click one of the audible buttons on my website. You can find all the details and frequently asked questions about this audiobook offer on my website.

What’s coming up over the next few weeks and months? (The Future)
– Wedding part 2 (the big one) is planned for July and that’s fast approaching! So the madness is going to start up again soon. We’ve got loads of things that still need to be done. There are quite a lot of of loose ends that need to be tied up. Ultimately, we’re both just really looking forward to being able to celebrate with our friends and family, and we are keeping our fingers crossed for good weather.
– I’m going to have loads of marking to do, which means I might not have much time in the next few weeks either.
– The end of the university term is in sight, and then I’ll have a bit more breathing space. The thing is, my working plans are still undecided. I’m not completely sure how much I will be working. Will I give up one of my jobs to allow me to focus on online projects? Which one? Will I be able to get by? I’m not sure, but let’s see.
– By the way, I realise that sometimes these podcast episodes are a bit self-centred and I don’t really like that. But sometimes it’s just necessary to explain what’s going on in my life as a way of contextualising the service, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
– The spring holidays are just around the corner. The university will be closed for a couple of weeks. So, I’ve got some time off coming up but I’ll be focusing on marking.
– Preparations for my stag do are underway. The plan is to stay in a house in the countryside, do some outdoor activities and adventure stuff, and no-doubt spend a good deal of time in the pub. My brother is in charge. I’ll just have to wait and see what’s in store for me.
– I’m seeing Kings of Convenience with my wife in May. I can’t believe I’m finally seeing them. They’re probably my (our) favourite group and they don’t tour much.
– I’ve got a few gigs in the diary. I’d like to work on new material. We will have to see about that. The Paris stand-up scene in English is developing more and more all the time. One of these days I will fulfil my dream of having my own one man show, but that requires time for marketing and publicising. I’d love to do two things: Develop a strong one hour show of written material, and regularly record podcast episodes live in front of an audience (interviews, improvised stuff and so on).
– After all this work I’m hoping to devote more time to LEP and LEP related projects – not just doing new episodes but producing other content with a view to giving you opportunities to improve your English in other ways – cool ways that will be beneficial to both you and me.
– Summer is well on its way. In fact, we’re having a little taste of it here and it’s about time!
– A bunch of new Star Wars movies are in the pipeline. In fact, the first one is due this December. I’m trying not to get too drawn into the hype.
– The next big Marvel movie is about to be released, and that will be followed by loads of others. If you thought you’d already seen enough superhero movies, well you ain’t seen nothing yet!
– The UK general election is nearly upon us.
– The EU referendum is on the horizon.

Language Review – Structures and Vocabulary for Talking About The Past, Present & Future
Did you notice the language I used? Let’s re-cap. This might not be everything. If you noticed other stuff then add it in the comments section. Also, try repeating these lines after me, and try using them when you speak English too. That’s the best way to actually add these phrases to your active vocabulary. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

The Past
Present perfect and present perfect continuous – these are both used to refer to actions in a time period that starts in the past and ends now. It’s used to explain recent news. The actions may be finished, but the time period is connected to now because it’s from the recent past until now. We use this tense for ‘catching up on someone’s news’. We often use present perfect with time expressions like ‘for ages’ and ‘for a while’, especially in the negative form.
“I haven’t seen you for ages!”
“How have you been?”
“I’ve been meaning to call you for a while now”
“What have you been up to?”
“What have you been doing?”
“I’ve been super-busy and I haven’t had a chance to get into the skypod to record anything for a month. I’ve had to focus on other things. It’s been a really busy time.”

Past simple tense for actions in a sequence.
These are finished actions that are not connected to now. It’s a sequence of events. It’s not connected to now. The whole sequence is finished. Finished actions – finished time.
“- First of all, I got sick with flu. That knocked me off my feet for quite a few days. I lost my voice etc. The #1 priority was to get better and rest! So, everything stopped.
– I had to take time off work – and all those cancelled classes had to be replaced. So, I worked way more than normal. No free time! Also, when I wasn’t working I was knackered and needed to rest!
– I got over the flu, but the cold came back. I’ve still got it now.”

The Present
Present continuous – be + -ing
This is the most common way to talk about temporary actions and situations right now.
– I’m still getting over the flu
– I’m doing exams this week (which means that I’m going to have tons of marking to do)
– I’m dealing with the other courses I’m teaching
– I’m enjoying the extra hours of daylight and sunshine that we’re having

Obviously, we have present simple for permanent facts and situations too. No need to go into that.

Other language:
Preparations for my stag do are underway.

The Future
In terms of tenses, there’s:
‘will’  (predictions, promises, facts, judgements about the future)
“I’ll have a bit more breathing space.”
‘going to’ (intentions, plans, things you’ve decided to do, predictions based on evidence)
‘present continuous’ (also plans, future plans which are fixed)
“I’m seeing Kings of Convenience with my wife in May”
Modal verbs for different levels of certainty about the future:
“I might not have much time in the next few weeks either”
Future continuous ‘will + be + -ing’ (a bit like ‘going to’ for fixed plans)
“I’ll be focusing on marking”

Other language for talking about the future:
it’s planned
it’s fast approaching
we’ve got things which need to be done
there are lots of loose ends that need to be tied up
we’re both just really looking forward to being able to celebrate with our friends and family
we are keeping our fingers crossed for good weather
The end of the university term is in sight
let’s see
The spring holidays are just around the corner
I’ve got some time off coming up
The plan is to stay in a house in the countryside
I’ll just have to wait and see what’s in store for me
I’ve got a few gigs in the diary
We will have to see about that
One of these days I will fulfil my dream of having my own one man show
I’m hoping to devote more time to LEP
Summer is well on its way
A bunch of new Star Wars movies are in the pipeline. In fact, the first one is due this December
The next big Marvel movie is about to be released
you ain’t seen nothing yet
The UK general election is nearly upon us.
The EU referendum is on the horizon.

Song – You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet by Bachman Turner Overdrive

Click here for the lyrics


Please leave your comments, thoughts and questions below!

244. Urban Myths

This episode is all about urban myths. Get your thinking hat on in this episode because it’s time to evaluate a few stories and beliefs and decide if they are based in reality or if they’re just the product of an overactive imagination, or rumours, or just plain old-fashioned bullcr*p! I will also teach you some very useful language connected to expressing if you think something is true or not. There are vocabulary notes, transcriptions and more details below. [Download]

Small Donate ButtonIn This Episode we will:
Consider what an urban myth actually is
Look at a news story about a commonly held belief from another country (and decide if it’s really true or not)
Look at some useful language – phrases and sentences we use to say “That’s true” or “That’s not true” – useful, natural vocabulary!
Consider some commonly told and surprising ‘facts’ and decide if they’re true
Talk about some of the UK’s favourite superstitions (if we have time – if not, that will be another episode in the future some time)

What’s an urban myth?
Essentially, this is a story or a fact which people spread around as if it is true, but in fact it is probably just made up. Often these urban myths or urban legends are personal stories or anecdotes, typically 2nd hand ones (like, “this happened to a friend of my brother’s girlfriend’s cousin and it’s absolutely true!”) and often involve something horrible, scary and shocking. Urban myths may also be just commonly held beliefs about something which are not based on any real evidence or fact, but are perpetuated out of misinformation, or as a hoax.

Superstitions on the other hand are similar but not the same. A superstition is the widely held belief that certain actions are lucky or unlucky, like the idea that the number 13 carries some magic power, or that not making eye contact when you take a drink and say “cheers” with someone, you’ll have 7 years of bad sex. Where’s the evidence that this is true? There is none, and yet many rational people still hold on to these ideas. In fact, many rational people still have that element of suspicion in the backs of their minds whenever they do some potentially unlucky behaviour, like walking under a ladder or opening an umbrella inside a house. Perhaps some of these superstitions are grounded in truth, but in many cases they’re just weird little glitches in our thinking. Every culture has its own unique urban myths and superstitions. In this episode we’re going to explore a few urban myths – one from Korea, some from The UK or America. I’ll tell you some things and you can use your critical thinking to decide if they’re really true or just a myth.

Then if we have time I’ll tell you about some of the most commonly held superstitions in the UK.

Examples of urban myths?
I’ll tell you a couple of stories that I remember being told by kids at school as if they were true.
The caller
The worm
The spider’s nest

All those stories are supposed to make you go “Oh my god!” and people make them true just to add some extra horror. None of them are true.

1. Do you believe everything you read in the papers?
2. What about things you read on the internet?
3. How about things you hear by word of mouth?
4. Where does misinformation come from? Is it always shared by word of mouth or online?
5. How do you know if a story is true or just an urban myth?

Believe it or not? Truth or Urban Legend?
1. Look at the newspaper headline “The Cool Chill of Death” (The Metro, Monday 14th July) What is the article about? Make some predictions.

Vocabulary (before we read the article)
2. Match these words with their synonyms & definitions before you read the text.
Words & Expressions in the Article
1. on the loose (c)
2. humble (g)
3. rumble & grumble (b)
4. to be convinced that… (d)
5. a vacuum (e)
6. hypothermia (a)
7. an urban myth (f)

Synonyms & Definitions
a. a fatal condition caused by low body temperature
b. scary noises (e.g. made by thunder or a monster)
c. not in prison – free
d. be sure/certain that…
e. a space with no air in it
f. a story which is not true, but which people think is true
g. modest

3. Read the first paragraph & check your predictions.

Reading Comprehension Questions
4. Now read the rest of the article and find answers to these questions.
a. What is fan death?
b. What are two explanations of fan death?
c. Which of these is a realistic explanation?
d. According to Dr Yeon Dong-Su, what two factors could cause hypothermia to occur?
e. According to the article, why is fan death unlikely to be real?
f. What did Robin Prime do?
g. What two things shocked him?
h. How do tall stories become widely held beliefs?
i. Could a fan suck all the air out of a room? Why/why not?

The Metro, 14 July
Be afraid, be very afraid. For as summer continues, there’s a new killer on the loose. It rumbles and it grumbles and it is the humble electric fan. For in South Korea from Seoul to Seongnam, people are convinced you can die by leaving one turned on in your bedroom overnight.
Various explanations have been given for how the fans kill people – from their cooling effect resulting in hypothermia to the vacuum created around the victim’s face. These explanations fly in the face of medical opinion, yet Korean newspapers report an annual average of ten fan deaths and some Korean doctors are convinced of the hazards of sleeping with a fan switched on.
Clinical support
Dr Yeon Dong-su, dean of Kwandong University’s medical school, has investigated dozens of cases of fan death and insists they do occur. ‘Many people say these victims die from lack of oxygen but that is not true,’ he says. ‘Hypothermia does not only occur in the winter when it is cold. The symptoms can also take place if a person has been drinking and turns on a fan in a closed room. Most people wake up when they feel cold but if you are drunk, you will not wake up, even if your body temperature drops to below 35°C (95 °F), at which point you can die from hypothermia.’
It seems more likely than not that fan death is actually little more than an urban myth – most of the newspaper reports omit other causes of death from heart attack to gunshot wound – but it’s very hard to find a Korean who doesn’t believe in the phenomena – to the point where fans in Korea are fitted with timer switches to ensure their owners avoid certain death.
Possible ‘cot death’
A spokesperson for the Korean tourist board says: ‘This is certainly a serious and widely held belief in Korea. It appears to come from reports of people dying in the night and the common factor is the fan was running. The actual cause of death could have been something totally different, including cases of what people in the West would call cot death.’
Fan death has also become a cult internet phenomenon, thanks to message boards populated by English teachers in Korea who are baffled by their students’ belief in this notion. Robin Prime, who set up the website, says: ‘I was shocked at how powerful my Korean friends’ and students’ belief was and at the lack of critical thinking about the issue.’
Urban myth expert Dr Robert Matthews of Aston University explained how a shaggy dog story becomes a widely held belief across a country. ‘Urban myths often have a grain of truth in them that then suffers from the ‘Chinese whisper’ effect, with the facts being lost behind ever more embellishment,’ he says. ‘Clearly, it’s true that an extractor fan could suck all the air from an airtight box. And it’s also true that people sometimes die from inadequate ventilation. It’s a safe bet that many of those deaths will also have occurred in homes fitted with fans simply because many homes in South Korea have them. Hey, presto! You’ve a dodgy link, plus an irrelevant scientific fact to back it up. The truth is, of course, that buildings are notoriously leaky, and fans don’t have a hope of sucking out all the air.

To be clear: Some Koreans (not all) believe that if you go to sleep in a closed room with a fan blowing directly on you, that you can die.

I have spoken about it with numerous Korean students, and many of them were adamant that it is true. But is this true or just a myth? Is this something that happens everywhere, or just something that affects Koreans?

5. Discuss the Article
What do you think of the article?
Do you think the writer is being a bit snobbish about South Koreans?
Do you believe in fan-death?
Do you ever sleep with a fan on at night?
Fan death is said to be just an ‘urban myth’. Do you know any other urban myths like this?

Arguments For Fan Death (by people who say it really is real!)
It slices the oxygen molecules in half, you can’t breathe them and then you suffocate to death.
You can die of hypothermia because the fan prevents you from sweating and then you freeze to death.
It creates an air-sucking vortex, like the eye of a tornado, which creates a vortex/vacuum and then you can’t breathe.

More details & opinion on the Wikipedia page

Useful Language For Saying “It’s true” or “It’s not true”
Do we use these expressions to say we think something is true or not true?

That’s not true
There’s no way that’s true
That is so obviously made up
It can’t be true
It sounds pretty far-fetched to me
I think it’s not true
It smells a bit fishy to me
It’s possible, but unlikely

That’s true
I reckon that’s definitely true
There’s a good chance that’s true
That sounds pretty likely to me
I’d say that’s probably true
It sounds pretty convincing to me
That might/could be true

More Stories – Are they TRUE or just URBAN MYTHS? – You decide!
You are going to listen to descriptions of 6 stories which people talk about, but which may or may not be true.

Are the stories true, or just myths? You decide.

  1. Coca-Cola used to contain cocaine
  2. If you give alka seltzer to a seagull, it will explode
  3. Walt Disney’s body is cryogenically frozen
  4. There are albino crocodiles living in the New York sewer system
  5. Red Bull contains extracts from bull’s testicles
  6. Santa Claus was invented by Coca-Cola company

Remember the useful language above.


Coke used to have cocaine in it
Luke: Hi Deb. Do you like coca-cola?
Deb: It’s ok, it’s very very sweet.
Luke: Yes, but it’s quite moreish don’t you think?
Deb: Yeah, well when I open a bottle I tend to drink most of it in a night.
Luke: Right, which is probably the caffeine.
Deb: Yeah
Luke: There is a lot of caffeine in Coca-Cola, which makes it quite addictive, but apparently there used to be more than just caffeine in it.
Deb: Well, like what?
Luke: Well, apparently in the early days it used to contain cocaine.
Deb: No!
Luke: Yep. Now, as we all known cocaine is a, kind of, an illegal drug, and actually you could find cocaine in Coca-Cola, right?
Deb: So is that, does that explain its name then, where it gets its name from?
Luke: Well, perhaps yeah. I mean, the… Cocaine comes from coca leaves. That’s where it’s derived from, and if you look at the ingredients on a can of Coca-Cola you’ll see coca leaves there, but these days they actually extract the cocaine from the coca leaves before they make the Coca-Cola.
Deb: So you’re not going to get high when you drink Coke nowadays.
Luke: Unfortunately not, but it used to contain cocaine. There you go. So…
Deb: I didn’t know that.

Feed Alka Seltzer to a seagull and it will explode
Luke: Right, Deb, you know Alka Seltzer, right?
Deb: Yeah, that’s the stuff you take if you’ve got a bit of a dodgy stomach, right? Dissolve it in water and it makes you feel better.
Luke: Yep, that’s it, exactly.
Deb: What about it?
Luke: Well, have you ever fed alka seltzer to a seagull?
Deb: No. Why, should I?
Luke: No you shouldn’t.
Deb: Why not?
Luke: Because it’ll, kind of, go off like a bomb. Now, apparently, right, the chemicals and stuff inside a seagull’s stomach react to the Alka Seltzer. There’s a strong reaction and it produces lots of carbon dioxide, and because seagulls can’t burp or fart there’s nowhere for the gas to go and it just builds up inside the seagull until eventually “boom” it just explodes everywhere.
Deb: So the seagull just gets bigger and bigger and bigger and then bang, gone…
Luke: Exploded, splat. Exactly.

Walt Disney is cryogenically frozen
Luke: OK Deb, right, here’s a good one.
Deb: OK
Luke: You know Walt Disney?
Deb: Yes, he created Disneyland, didn’t he?
Luke: That’s right. He was the founder of Disney, the very well-known film studio. Well, apparently, he used to be a very very rich man, you know, when he was alive, of course. He was a very private man, and quite a strange man, right? And actually when he died, yeah, people say that his body was frozen.
Deb: What do you mean, frozen?
Luke: Well, put into liquid nitrogen, in a cryogenic chamber.
Deb: Why would he do something like that?
Luke: Well, it’s that his body could be perfectly preserved in ice so that in the future when the technology is ready, scientists can bring him back to life. He thought when he died that in the future there would be the technology to allow him to be brought back to life.
Deb: It sounds like the kind of film that he would have created.
Luke: It does. It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie.
Deb: Yeah totally.
Luke: It’s pretty strange. If you can imagine Walt Disney frozen in a chamber somewhere in a big castle in Disneyland. It’s a bit like Dracula or something.
Deb: Or sleeping beauty, but you know, he’s not probably…
Luke: I don’t know whether he was good looking or not. Let’s stick with Dracula, it sounds cooler.

There are albino crocodiles living in the New York sewer system
Luke: Right, okay Deb, now, you know New York.
Deb: Yep, Big Apple, big city on the east coast of America.
Luke: That’s right, they call it The Big Apple. I don’t know why. Anyway…
Deb: Maybe they have big apples there.
Luke: Who knows. Apparently New York has a massive sewer system under the city. Huge underground tunnels with big reservoirs of water. There’s, like, lakes of drinking water and tunnel filled with water that run under the whole city.
Deb: It’s all connected to the Hudson isn’t it.
Luke: It’s connected to the Hudson River. It may also be connected to the sea as well in some way. Right, now according to this website that I was looking at, yeah? There are loads of things, like, living down there.
Deb: What, rats and stuff?
Luke: Yeah, but more than rats. I’m talking about alligators.
Deb: Rubbish!
Luke: Well, apparently there’s, like, quite a few down there, and they’ve been there since the 1930s. Originally what happened was, rich families from New York would go on holiday to Florida. There are loads of alligators in Florida, and they’d bring back tiny little baby alligators as pets for the kids, and then when the alligators got too big, yeah, this is like in New York… Once the alligators got too big…
Deb: And then became a bit dangerous I suppose.
Luke: Yeah!
Deb: They might eat the kids.
Luke: Exactly, yeah! Well, once the… even about a foot or two long they’re difficult to keep. They would flush them down the toilet.
Deb: Oh, that’s really mean!
Luke: It is mean, but what happened to those alligators is that they didn’t die. They just went into the sewer system and then survived down there, because apparently it’s quite warm, there’s lots of water, lots of food for them to eat like rats and things, and so they managed to survive, yeah. So, apparently there are reports of sightings of these things by sewer workers, but they’ve never been caught. But what’s interesting about these things is, because they’ve never actually seen the light
Deb: OK because it’s always dark down there
Luke: Because it’s always dark. They’ve gone blind, and the colour of their skin has changed. They’re actually albino.
Deb: So they’re white.
Luke: They’re white with red eyes, and they eat babies.

Red Bull contains extracts from bull’s testicles
Luke: Do you ever drink Red Bull?
Deb: No I can’t stand the stuff. I got drunk on it once, with vodka and it now makes me very ill.
Luke: OK, well apparently, it’s got loads of caffeine in it, which kind of gives you that energy.
Deb: It gives you a high doesn’t it?
Luke: It gives you wings. But apparently, caffeine is not the only thing in Red Bull.
Deb: Water?
Luke: There’s also, well, water and sugar and stuff, but also there’s another ingredient called taurine.
Deb: Taurine.
Luke: Well, taurine basically is extracted from bulls’ testicles. It’s like a magic ingredient which gives you energy and vitality and it comes from bulls’ balls, bulls’ testicles.
Deb: Don’t the bulls mind, people sneaking up on them and taking their taurine!?
Luke: Well, I expect so. I don’t know how they get the stuff out of the bulls’ testicles.
Deb: I wouldn’t want to do that job.
Luke: I wouldn’t want to do that job either! But apparently the taurine is extracted from the testicles, and this is one of the ingredients that gives you the energy. If you think about it, yeah, the word taurine comes from the latin word taurus, which actually means bull, and we know that bulls have a lot of energy and a high sex drive, and they get the taurine from the bull’s testicles and put it in the drink and the result is you get more energy and you become, sort of, more powerful and maybe a better lover.
Deb: GOh so it can affect your sex drive too.
Luke: Yeah, haven’t you ever…? Well,…
Deb: Well I might start drinking it again.

Santa Claus was invented by Coca-Cola
Luke: Ok, Deb, here’s a well-known one.
Deb: OK, go ahead
Luke: We all know the image of Santa Claus, right?
Deb: Yeah, big fat guy, red clothes, big beard.
Luke: White hair, yeah red clothes, very jolly.
Deb: Big rosy cheeks.
Luke: Says “ho ho ho” a lot. He’s the symbol of Christmas.
Deb: Yeah
Luke: Now, what’s the history of Santa?
Deb: It’s got something to do with Germany, hasn’t it? Something to do with Saint Nicholas?
Luke: Yeah, that’s what people say. Some connection to Christianity perhaps. Well, the fact is, it’s actually related to Coca-Cola. Apparently, the Santa that we know today was just created by Coca-Cola for their advertising campaigns.
Deb: Really?
Luke: Yep. It has nothing to do with old folklore or traditional stories or Christianity. It was actually just designed by an artist in the 1930s to sell Coca-Cola. Now, if you think about it, he’s wearing Coke’s corporate colours.
Deb: The red and white.
Luke: Red and white, and Coke have always done big advertising campaigns at Christmas.
Deb: Yeah
Luke: So he was just invented by Coca-Cola.
Deb: Oh that’s really sad. I thought it had a bit more history and tradition to it.
Luke: No, it’s just an advertising campaign.
Deb: Oh, that’s rubbish.

So, which ones do you think are true, and which are not true?
Leave your comments below this episode. Use some of the language in this episode.
I will post the answers here later.

That’s it, thanks for listening!

Share your thoughts by leaving comments below this episode, and by completing this massive poll!
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Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 00.40.58Hi everyone,

For a while now, we’ve been using the word LEPPERS to refer to fans of Luke’s English Podcast. It’s quite a catchy word and people keep using it, including me of course. However, I think it’s quite important that you are aware that the word also has another meaning.

Yesterday I donated money to a charity called Lepra. Their mission is to help people trapped by disease, poverty and prejudice and much of their work focuses on areas in India and Bangladesh where many people suffer from one of the world’s oldest diseases: leprosy. People who suffer from leprosy are traditionally known as lepers. So, that’s the other meaning of that word – a leper is someone who suffers from leprosy.

I just thought you should know that the word has this other, rather serious and sombre meaning.

I’ve always known this, and I always assumed that my listeners knew it too. In fact, I’ve always been pretty sure that I mentioned the meaning of the word leper some time ago on the podcast. In fact, when I first used the word LEPPER I was looking for a catchy title for listeners to the podcast. “Luke’s English Podcast People or LEPPERS” – it made me laugh although I didn’t mean it to be a joke, it was more a coincidence, but the name stuck and now people keep using it all the time, including me.

I never planned it to be a sick joke or anything like that. I’m not making fun of anyone by allowing my listeners to call themselves LEPPERS. I’m not taking the mickey out of you and certainly not out of sufferers of the disease. That’s not what LEP is all about, as you know.

In fact, I think it’s completely appropriate for me to use this opportunity to ask all of my listeners/fans/readers/followers to strongly consider donating to Your donations can help make a huge difference to the lives of many people suffering from not only leprosy but numerous other diseases and hardships. If you’d like to make a donation, it’s simple. Just visit and click the big yellow “donate” button. You could save lives and make a huge difference. Please consider it.

Also, I don’t think we should stop referring to each others as LEPPERS, but it’s completely up to you. If you’d rather not use it – that’s cool, but if you think it’s okay because it’s actually another word, with a different spelling, then go ahead and keep using it. Personally I think it’s okay as long as you’re aware of the double meaning. I just hope that now you’re all completely clued-up about the other meaning of this word.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. Have a nice weekend.