YouTube version (Automatic subtitles should be available soon)
Hello listeners and welcome to the podcast. This is episode 773 “What do British people think of The Queen and The Royal Family (with James)”.
Yesterday I came back from my trip to London where I was staying with my brother for a few days. I mentioned it in the last episode. My weekend with James coincided with the celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. You might have seen reports of the celebrations on the TV or online wherever you are.
The celebrations involved a kind of military procession called the trooping of the colour, the lighting of Platinum Jubilee beacons across the country (a series of large flaming torches which are lit as part of a long tradition at this kind of celebration), a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, The Derby at Epsom on Friday (a horse racing event usually attended by the Royals), The Platinum Jubilee Party at The Palace (a big entertainment show with live music and celebrity appearances), Jubilee lunches and street parties which happened across the country (although I didn’t see any in the areas where I was visiting in South London) and The Platinum Jubilee pageant which is a sort of procession through the streets led by the Queen’s Golden Carriage. The Queen wasn’t actually in the carriage and so a sort of digital version of her was visible inside the carriage instead (this was a kind of animated projection of her waving from inside the carriage – a bit like a hologram but not, technically, a hologram).
I was planning to record an episode with James over the weekend anyway, and I felt we couldn’t avoid talking about The Royal Family because people are interested in it and so we decided to make a whole episode on this subject. The plan was to try and answer the question “What do British people think of the Queen and the Royal Family”. It’s hard to sum up what all British people feel about this, and so we decided we could only give our own opinions really, so it should really be “What do James and I think about the Queen and Royal Family” – but we are British people after all, so the original title still works.
As you’ll hear we tried to be objective and to weigh up the arguments for and against, or maybe to just express the complex feelings that we have about this – complex, mixed feelings because we can see both good and bad things about the whole thing.
So we just tried to express our feelings, but also to deal with the different points of view, and to refer to some surveys and public opinion polls that seem to show how British people in general feel about the Royals.
After recording we were slightly worried that we came across as a bit too negative or cynical towards the Royals and that perhaps we should have had a Royalist on for balance.
So here is a sort of disclaimer for the episode: We’re just two people taking and this is just how we feel. Our comments represent a very small sample of public opinion in the UK. We don’t hate the Royals or the Queen but instead we are just not completely sure about the arrangement.
As you listen you can see whether we think the monarchy should be abolished completely, or maintained, or some kind of third way. In any case, I hope you enjoy this episode and that you find that we were able to express ourselves clearly and that you understand exactly what we actually think about this subject.
I also want to say that after having published episode 772 (the one previous to this) in which I made some comments about other recent episodes like Spinal Tap and Sick In Japan – I received a lot of messages from listeners which put my mind at rest – namely that they loved the episode about Spinal Tap and they thought the audience were fine at my talk at the BC.
I do respond to a couple of those comments at the start of this, but then after 5 or 10 minutes we get properly into the topic of what we think of the Queen and The Royal Family, in quite a lot of depth. I hope you enjoy this conversation and find it informative.
Please leave your comments as usual. What do you think of the Queen and the Royal Family from your point of view. Maybe you observe these Royal events from a distance in another country, or maybe you are living in the UK and see it much more closely. In any case, let us know what you think too.
That’s it for my introduction. Let’s now travel through space and time into my brother’s living room on Friday 3 June in the middle of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Make yourself a nice cup of tea, get comfortable and let’s get started.
An episode with my friend Moz from the Murder Mile True Crime Podcast. Moz returns to tell us some true stories of crimes in the London area. Expect some smalltalk about living on a boat, some murder stories and an interactive detective game in which we have to solve a murder.
Gabriel Clark from clarkandmiller.com joins me to discuss a short history of teaching methodology in the world of TEFL. The direct method, the grammar translation method, The Audio Lingual Method, the Structural Approach, Suggestopedia, Total Physical Response, Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), The Silent Way, Community Language Learning, Task Based Language Learning, The Lexical Approach and dogme style – all these get described and discussed. Learn how English teachers teach you English!
Any listeners in the Paris area – This is just a reminder about the talk I am doing at the British Council at the Invalides centre in Paris on Thursday 19 May at 7pm. I will be doing some storytelling in front of a live audience and you can be there if you want. It’ll be sort of a mix of stand up, storytelling and podcasting at the same time as well as a social gathering afterwards, all in English of course.
I will be on the stage telling the story of how I ended up sick in a Japanese hospital bed, scared out of my mind because I thought I was going to die or something – now, that sounds quite scary but the idea is to make it funny and entertaining.
It is a true, personal story of travelling, living in another country, and how things can sometimes get completely lost in translation, leading to some rather dramatic experiences.
If you want to come and be part of the audience – you can. It’s free. Everyone is invited. I will be recording it for the podcast, but if you want to actually be there in the room and have a drink afterwards, socialise in English and so on – then you are welcome. You need to book a seat though, and you can do that at britishcouncil.fr and then click evenements – my event is the one called Talks in English : Le choc culturel – humoriste
This is a presentation I did at the British Council in Paris recently, in front of a live audience. First I talk about public speaking and my approach to doing presentations and then you can hear the recording of my talk. The Beatles were a global phenomenon when they first appeared in the 1960s and their appeal continues to this day. The world still loves The Beatles. But why is this? Join me as I take a deeper look at the social, cultural and psychological factors that make The Beatles story so compelling even after all these years.
Another day, another new podcast episode. Let’s keep calm and carry on, shall we?
This is episode 761 and most of this one was recorded live at the British Council in Paris in front of an audience of people. I think it is the first podcast I’ve ever recorded with a live audience there and it sounds a bit different because you can hear the audience reacting to things I’m saying and there are some moments of interaction with the crowd and some jokes and stuff. I hope you enjoy it.
As you may know, I teach English to classes of adults at the BC in Paris but also we have some extra events there in the evening. The talk you can hear me doing in this episode was one of those extra events. I’m hoping to do more of this kind of thing in the future – podcasting in front of a live audience.
Private Online English Lessons with the British Council
Just before we start properly I want to tell you something about taking English lessons with the British Council, which is something that you can do online. Did you realise that?
Are you interested in having private English lessons online with a British Council teacher? Because you can.
Sometimes people ask me if I am available for private lessons, and unfortunately my answer to that question is usually no. I just spend my time making episodes of my podcast and teaching group classes in the real world so if you wanted lessons with me you’d need to be in Paris and you’d need to become a student at the BC there using the normal registration process and just hope that you end up in one of my classes.
But, other British Council teachers are available and they are online.
So if you are looking for an English teacher for private lessons, I just want to let you know that the British Council does offer this service now – personalised one to one lessons with a British Council teacher online
And this is great because you can do it anywhere in the world, you can choose the date and time for lessons, it’s totally flexible, you can choose the teacher and you can basically have classes which are designed around your needs completely, whenever and wherever you want, basically.
Want to practise your speaking and have your errors corrected – you can.
Want to work on your grammar and vocabulary. You can.
Want to develop your pronunciation to be a clearer speaker or to work on a more British-sounding accent if you like. You can do that too.
Also, you can have lessons for specific purposes such as for exams, for job interviews, for specific work arrangements, to prepare for IELTS. It’s all possible with these private online lessons because they’re all based around what you want to do and the British Council teachers will design the lessons based on your priorities.
I’ve always said that listening to my podcast regularly (or any podcast for that matter) is an important part of your learning process – the 5 Ls – listening, listening, listening, listening, listening but of course you need to be doing plenty of speaking too and to practise all the other things – the other language systems and skills.
One to one lessons are a really great way to achieve that and doing them online with an actual human teacher face to face is now a completely normal, tried and tested way to do this. All you need is just the right service.
And the British Council does offer that service.
It’s called British Council English Score Tutors. (Click the pic below for the details)
It’s the official 1 to 1 tutoring service from the British Council.
It’s quite new but they already have 12,500 learners of English using the platform.
There are currently over 150 teachers there.
The tutors on English Score have an average rating of 4.9 stars (out of 5), which is reassuring.
The teachers are all British Council approved and a lot of them are in the UK but there are also British Council teachers living in other countries all over the world so you can find teachers in most time zones, which means, basically, there are teachers available 24/7. So you’ll be able to find someone to match your timetable.
So, why not go ahead and find a teacher for you and book some lessons to really push your English further and gain more confidence. There’s an offer for you because you listen to this podcast by the way – I’ll tell you about it in a moment.
Maybe you listen to me regularly and you’re happy that you can understand me or that you’ve got to the stage where you’re understanding most of what I say, which is a very good sign – why not build on that and get your speaking up to a similar standard.
If you’re working on your listening and making progress, there’s a good chance you can convert that to speaking and make progress there too. Activate your English.
Work on your fluency and accuracy and clarity and general confidence.
The 5 Ss – speaking speaking speaking speaking speaking.
You’re asking – What about that special offer for us Luke? Yes.
The BC is offering you a first introductory session for just $1, just so you can see if you like it.
So the first session is just $1.
You can try it and see if you like it.
There’s no pressure or obligation to continue after that.
But if you do choose to buy a pack of lessons (normally about 20 hours or something) the BC will throw in a free lesson for you because you’re a LEPster.
So, the first lesson is just $1.
If you like it you can buy a pack of lessons with a teacher, and get a free lesson included because you’re a LEPster.
Sounds pretty good right?
This could be your way to really work on your speaking as well as your listening.
Think about it. Could be a really good move.
Young learners – they do young learners too. There are classes available for 13-17 year olds and you get the same deal.
To find out more and to get that special offer of the free lesson go to teacherluke.co.uk/english or click the PRIVATE LESSONS button on my website menu.
The link is also in the description of this episode.
You’ll only get that free lesson if you enter the website through my link though.
All right then. Let’s begin the episode properly. Here’s the jingle.
761. Why we love The Beatles (Recorded Live at The British Council)
Hello listeners! Welcome back to the podcast. Let’s get back to some normal podcasting, shall we? OK then.
This is #761 Why we love The Beatles (Recorded Live at The British Council).
As you can tell from the title, this episode was recorded live at The British Council in front of an actual audience of people, as I mentioned earlier.
I’ll play the recording to you in a few minutes. First I want to tell you about the talk I did and how I prepared for it in order to perhaps share some personal tips I have about public speaking. This might seem like another one of my epically long introductions, but it’s not. In fact, let’s imagine that the introduction is over now and here we are in the main body of the episode, and I’m giving you some comments and advice about how to speak to an audience of people – public speaking.
Public speaking is a slightly different skill to normal podcast recording and so it might be interesting for you to hear me doing it in this episode.
Here’s some context.
The British Council in Paris, where I work part-time, is essentially a language school in a nice building not far from the Eiffel Tower. We teach classes to adults and children and there’s also a exam centre for the IELTS test.
The BC in Paris also offers some special evening events including regular Talks In English. This is when a guest is invited to come and talk about a specific topic at the school in one of our nice big rooms on the 2nd floor.
Everyone is invited to attend at that means students at the school but anyone else too – friends, staff in the school, other teachers, just anyone who’s interested in attending.
The speaker does their talk and afterwards there’s a chance to socialise, drink some wine and talk in English together.
Our marketing manager Phil is always on the lookout for people to do one of these Talks in English, and a couple of months ago he asked me if I’d like to do a talk about anything. I immediately thought of The Beatles, because it’s one of my favourite topics and it’s a very British topic, relevant to British culture and it’s the sort of thing that would probably attract some people. Also the series produced by Peter Jackson called “Get Back” had just been released on Disney+. Phil happily agreed and we put it in the diary.
I decided the title of my talk would be Why We Love The Beatles and basically I wanted to try and explain why The Beatles were and still are so popular. What is the appeal of this group? Why are they so adored by people even 60 years after they first came onto the scene?
I also decided I’d try and record it as an episode of this podcast.
Now, I know this is another episode about The Beatles and some of you might not be that interested or keen. My talk is called Why We Love The Beatles – but some of you probably don’t Love The Beatles that much, or you just don’t know. That’s totally fine of course. I get it. I’m not here to convince you that they’re the best band. Music is subjective. It’s a question of personal taste.
But I still hope you listen to this, because I might be able to help you understand why people love them.
Public Speaking – Talking to an Audience (Some tips and comments)
I’m now going to give some tips and comments about public speaking and how I prepared for my presentation but if you’d rather just skip straight to the recording of my Beatles talk, then you can move forward to 30:00 (the 30 minute mark).
Let’s think about public speaking then, and doing a presentation to an audience. I just want to mention a couple of things about how I prepared to do this talk.
Maybe this can help you learn a little bit about public speaking.
So I had to prepare to talk to a room full of people for about 45 minutes.
It was a fairly small audience to be fair – about 50 people.
Is that a small number or a big number? I don’t know. I’ll let you decide.
Imagine you had to do that.
What would you be thinking?
How would you do it?
How would you prepare?
What are the important things to consider?
I knew the audience would be a mix of adult learners of English (mostly French people and maybe some other nationalities) with an English level at intermediate and above and also some native English speakers.
I didn’t want to write a script, because I wanted to keep the presentation spontaneous. I find that if I write a script then I just get stressed during the talk because I’m trying to remember everything I’ve written and that’s impossible, and reading from a script can take the life out of a presentation. It can take away a certain spark, especially if the person is actually reading from the script on paper and they have to keep glancing up at the room but not really connecting with anyone.
It depends, of course. Sometimes you need a script because in some cases every single word is vital, and you might have a prompter or something (that’s a screen which shows you your script without the audience seeing it – like in those big political speeches) or maybe if you are doing a best man’s speech at a wedding it can help to have the script in your hand. It depends on the situation of course. But for me, I decided that I didn’t want a script.
Also I didn’t want to use presentation slides on a screen with lots of words or information on them. Slides can be good, but they can also be very distracting. It’s human nature for the audience to just stare at the slides and then you lose the connection with them, and an old rule from stand-up comedy is: if it’s not adding anything, then it’s taking something away.
Sometimes slides are not really adding anything to your talk, and so they just take away the focus from you and cause the audience to get distracted, especially when there’s lots of text and they end up reading rather than listening to you. No thanks.
Nothing is better than just trying to establish a good connection with the people in front of you. So I decided to do it without a script and without any slides, just like in a stand-up comedy who.
Doing it without a script can seem a bit daunting though, because you think “How can I get it right? How can I be sure that I’m going to say the right things?”
Basically, in my experience, you have to just try to get to know your subject really well, create a simple structure for your talk, practice a lot and then trust yourself to be able to do it. So that’s what I tried to do. (I’m talking like I’m some expert public speaker here – I’m not, but I do have some experience from teaching and from doing comedy, so I’m just trying to share my experience with you).
In the weeks leading up to the talk I just thought about it a lot, thought about the specific focus of the talk “Why do people love The Beatles?” wrote some ideas down when they came to me, asked friends and family for their advice, talked out loud to myself a bit, imagining I was doing the talk and eventually worked out a general plan for what the content and structure should be. I did write some things down as a script but then I boiled it all down to a list of simple one or two word prompts. I then printed those prompts on some cards which I held in my hands during the talk. The idea was that I could just glance at the card in my hand and then ramble on that topic, hopefully remembering the main things I wanted to say. I also wanted to leave myself room to improvise and respond to what was happening in the room because in my experience, that’s the best way to keep things entertaining and to stop the audience falling asleep at all.
I also wrote a few other things on the cards in pencil. Just some names, dates and quotes in case I forgot them while talking.
So that’s what I did as preparation and in a moment you can hear how it went.
Let me just say a couple of very basic facts about The Beatles for listeners who are new to the subject, just so you don’t get lost.
The people in the room for my talk were probably already fans of The Beatles, but you might be new to them.
They were a group of musicians (a band) from Liverpool in England who recorded and released music together from 1962 to 1970 more or less.
John Lennon (guitar & vocals)
Paul McCartney (bass guitar & vocals)
George Harrison (lead guitar & vocals)
Ringo Star (drums & vocals sometimes)
Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe were members of the band before they became really famous.
They formed in the late 1950s and played live concerts together from the early days in Liverpool and Hamburg until the year 1966 when they were playing stadiums and huge theatres around the world. Then they stopped performing live and concentrated on making music in the studio.
The band broke up officially in 1970 and went their separate ways.
John Lennon was killed in 1980 meaning that the four members could never reunite again as a band.
The Beatles were not just commercially successful. They represented a huge cultural shift and also were groundbreaking in many ways beyond just their influence on popular music. They were also just very funny, stylish and charming and their message was ultimately one of peace and love.
So, “Why we love The Beatles” that’s the title of my talk, that’s what I talked about a couple of weeks ago, and that’s what you can hear now in this first episode of LEP recorded in front of a live audience. I hope you enjoy it…
So, there you have it. That was my talk about The Beatles at The British Council.
I am not completely sure if I managed to answer the question of why people love them so much, but ultimately I think I managed to entertain my small audience and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and maybe that’s the most important thing at the end of the day, and the beginning of the day, and the middle of the day…
I wonder how that was for you listening in podcastland.
A couple of questions for you.
Did I manage to tell you something new about The Beatles that you didn’t know before?
If you’re not a fan of the band, did I give you a sense of why people love them so much, including the fact that it’s not just about the music, and there’s more to them than just Yellow Submarine, Yesterday, Hey Jude and Let It Be?
What was it like listening to a podcast episode that was recorded live in front of an audience, and should I do more episodes like that in the future?
Actually, I have sort of already decided that I would like to do more stuff like this in the future and I would like to do talks at the British Council that can also be published as podcasts.
One idea is that I re-record some old episodes but in front of an audience, especially episodes which are essentially stories. For example, I would love to do the Sick In Japan story because I think it’s long enough, has enough funny moments and drama in it and it’s been a long time since I published the episode (10 years in fact – omg).
So look out for more stuff like this in the future and maybe a live version of Sick In Japan or something like that. We will see.
Anyway, let me know how it was listening to this as a podcast episode.
Thank you for listening all the way until the end.
If you got this far, let’s think of a code word you could use to show that you’ve listened until the end. Let’s say that if you got this far, you have to use the word “LOVE” in your comment, especially in a Beatles lyric such as “Love is all you need” or “All you need is love” or “The love you take is equal to the love you make” – or in fact, quote ANY Beatles lyric in the comments to show that you have listened all the way until the end, and if you mention that a semolina pilchard was climbing up the Eiffel Tower during the episode, you will get bonus points. More than just 10.
Thank you for listening.
More podcast episodes will be coming towards your ears soon.
Just a reminder – Private Lessons with British Council English Score Tutors
If you’re looking for private one-to-one lessons online with a teacher, check out British Council English Score Tutors.
At least 150 BC Approved teachers to choose from.
Classes adapted to your needs.
All from the comfort of your own home.
$1 for the first lesson so you can check it out.
Then if you pay for a pack of lessons, you’ll get one lesson free because you’re a LEPster.
Thank you for listening! I hope you loved this episode.
My pod room is nearly ready, for goodness sake. There’s still no electricity connection! A guy came to fit plugs around the room, and to connect it to the earth. He just needs to come back to do a bit of paperwork but of course he keeps texting saying it’s not possible today and then the next day, then he says he can come on Friday afternoon which is a full week after he actually did the main part of the job. Why does everything take so bloody long? Then it’s just a few clicks and switches and I need another hard working motivated guy to come and connect the room to the fibre optic internet and then I will be able to actually get installed and start working properly again. Damn, I can’t wait! I’m buying a second-hand desk from a local company tomorrow (it was supposed to be today but yep – she had to cancel and postpone). I’m looking for a decent office chair at a good price. I will podcast standing up if I have to!
Speak to you soon but for now it’s just time to say, good bye bye bye bye bye bye
Join Amber, Paul and me as we take a tour of the famous Louvre museum in Paris and describe some of the world’s most amazing artwork and artefacts, including stunning Greek sculptures like Venus de Milo, fascinating renaissance paintings by Leonardo da Vinci such as the Mona Lisa and many more incredible pieces. The video version has photos of all the work being described. Photos are also shown on the website page.
Video Version with Photos of all the artwork in the episode
Hello dear listeners and welcome back to the podcast!
Let me just say a few words before we begin. This is not going to be a massive introduction, but I do need to say a couple of things before we start, in order to prepare you for what you are going to hear in this episode, so you can understand it better and really make the most of it.
The pod-pals Amber & Paul are back! Just in case you don’t know – Amber Minogue and Paul Taylor are my English comedian friends who also live in Paris. They’ve been on the podcast many times in the past, but not since May this year. But now they’re back.
This episode was recorded a couple of weeks ago, not in my flat as usual, but on location at one of the world’s most famous museums – The Louvre in Paris. You probably know it. “The Louvre” – that’s how we say it in English. In French it sounds like this *Mme Google says the word*.
During the episode you will hear the three of us walking around parts of the museum, describing the the things we are looking at, including some very famous pieces that you will definitely know.
The art that we talk about comes from 4 main periods. There are marble sculptures from the Hellanistic period of Ancient Greece (about 2000 years ago), some French medieval paintings (from about 1000 years ago), and then some Reneissance-era paintings (from about 500 years ago) mainly by Italian artists – including a certain portrait by Leonardo da Vinci – I think you know which one I mean – The Mona Lisa of course – and yes, we will be talking about that painting in some detail. We mention it briefly as we walk past it, but then we come back to talk about it more – so keep listening for that. We also talk about some impressive French paintings from the early 19th century too (about 100 years ago).
So, watch out for descriptive language and also general knowledge about the various periods of art on display, the ways they were created, what they mean and how they fit into history.
This might be challenging for you, depending on your level of English, so be prepared!
It all goes quite quickly, we talk quite fast, there’s background noise and also references to specific art work that you can’t see unless you’re looking at them too.
If you’d like to see the sculptures and paintings, then have a look at the episode page where I’ve added photos, or the video version. It’s not a full video – I didn’t have a camera, but I’ve added photos into the video, which will appear as you listen.
I do recommend looking at pictures of the work we are describing. It’ll help you understand this and will help you contextualise the language we’re using, which is obviously important.
Some strong language and swearing
Also, watch out – There is some strong language – I mean, some swearing – rude words. Of course – it’s an Amber & Paul episode! There’s usually a bit of swearing. Most of you are fine with that because you know it’s what happens when friends chat together, but, if you are sensitive to strong language, or you’re listening to this with a group of young learners maybe – be warned, there is some strong language ahead, including at least one use of the C word. If you’re not sure what that is, listen to episode 83 of my podcast, which is a complete guide to swearing in English.
Thanks to Amber & Paul
I must say thanks to the podpals for their involvement here, especially Amber who was our tourguide for this trip, and she brings a lot to the table here as she has a lot of knowledge about this museum and the artefacts that can be found there.
Just a reminder – if you like Amber’s voice and want to listen to her talking more about the history of Paris, you’re in luck because she has her own podcast. It’s called Paname Podcast (spell it) and each episode is about a different aspect of Parisian history. There are loads of fascinating stories and atmospheric sound effects and it’s all written and recorded by Amber herself. Paname Podcast is the name and the website is www.panamepodcast.com
Also, if you want more Amber, Paul and Luke action – then check out Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live – specifically the episode recorded on Monday 6 December. This is Paul’s weekly YouTube livestream, and on Monday 6 December, his guests were Amber and me.
Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live from Monday 6 December. Watch it here.
You will be able to see the replay on Paul’s channel (and here).
OK that’s enough from me now, except that I really hope you enjoy coming with us on this cultural trip, that you are able to follow it, and that like Paul and me, you learn some things from the experience.
I’ll chat to you again briefly at the end, but now, let’s head down to The Louvre – just a 10 minute bike ride from my flat here in Paris, to meet up with Amber & Paul, and here we go.
Vocabulary Definitions added during the episode
A fresco is a type of wall painting. The term comes from the Italian word for fresh because plaster is applied to the walls while still wet. (National Gallery website definition)
A sculpture is a work of art that is produced by carving or shaping stone, wood, clay, or other materials (CollinsDictionary.com)
A sculpture which is atteched to a flat piece of stone which can be displayed on a wall – that’s a relief.
Phew, that is a relief, I mean – I’m glad we cleared that up.
Photos of Artwork
Here are pictures of almost all the things we described in this episode. The YouTube video version also contains these images.
Well, there you are. That was a whirlwind tour wasn’t it! There was a lot packed into that one. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe learned one or two things.
Remember, you can see pictures of everything (I think) that we saw and talked about – you can see all those pictures on the page for this episode on my website and also on the YouTube version. Don’t forget to whack that like button with a hammer.
Thank you again to the pod-pals. It’s always great to have them on the show.
Now, if you liked this, then you must listen to Amber’s Podcast, which she is still doing by the way. It’s called Paname Podcast and you can get it wherever you get your podcasts. Also, her website is panamepodcast.com
In her episodes you can hear Amber telling some fascinating stories about the history of Paris. Check it out!
Amber and I were on Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live – Monday 6 December. (Video available above
Thank you for joining us. Let me know your thoughts, comments and responses to this episode.
Speak to you soon, but for now – good bye bye bye bye bye!
Hello everyone and welcome back to Luke’s English Podcast – a podcast for people learning English. British English in this case. My name is Luke. Welcome.
Here is a brand new episode for you. I hope you enjoy it! There’s a video version too on YouTube.
Yes, hello listeners! You might be able to hear my computer’s fan. There’s hiss in the background because my computer is working hard to encode the video version of this. *Luke rambles for a few sentences*
“Luke you’re rambling again!”
This is an interview episode with a guest. I should say that this might be a difficult one, depending on your level of English of course! My guest and I are talking about a specific artistic and cultural movement that happened in England in the 1970s. I say specific, but it included many different types of art, theatre performance, music and community work – all packaged together in one movement, a movement which was quite revolutionary at the time, but revolutionary in the nicest possible way. That should become clear as you listen to this. Anyway – an alternative, subversive, counterculture arts movement.
The reasons I think this might be difficult for you to follow are: language (there’s a lot of vocabulary used to describe and discuss art & culture of various kinds) also the fact that there are references to things you might not know about already, including the names of artists, poets, musicians and specific locations in England (obviously, if you don’t know those reference points then things might get confusing), and simply the fact that this is quite a difficult arts movement to understand for anyone – native and non native speakers alike. Also, my guest and I aren’t really grading our English or slowing down a lot, and I’m aware of that. I am presenting this to you as a piece of authentic listening practise, which, can be really good for your English if you’re willing to tolerate the bits you don’t fully understand.
So it might be tricky to follow, but I do hope you persevere. I think that as you continue to listen, the concepts and events we are discussing will become clearer to you and really exploring things that you might not be familiar with can be a great way to pick up new language
So, this should be a chance to learn about culture and by extension the words we use to describe that culture.
The video version has some annotations on the screen (with vocabulary and pictures), and the notes on the website will also include a vocabulary list, which will help you if you check it.
Right, let’s get straight into it then. There will be another little introduction from me, but that’s what I do isn’t it? I’m only trying to help.
Leave your thoughts and responses in the comment section. I will chat to you again near the end of this conversation, but now it’s time for the jingle, and here it is.
Intro 2 😂 (after the jingle)
Hello listeners, hello video viewers,
As you know, in episodes of my podcast I often talk about language learning, and I often I teach you specific things such as vocabulary, grammar or pronunciation (especially in Premium episodes), but also on this podcast I do episodes which are not specifically about the English language or about learning or teaching English. I also like to present you with things that I hope are simply interesting to listen to, or episodes which focus on culture rather than language, and this episode is one of those. This is a conversation which focuses on British culture and art and it is an interview about an artistic movement which took place in England in the 1970s. So, it’s not about English, but it is all in English of course and I’m presenting it to you as part of your regular English listening practice.
This is an interview with artist, illustrator and author Penny Dale, who was one of the members of the Bath Arts Workshop.
Let me give you some context to explain how this interview was set up. This will not take 15 minutes, I promise.
First of all, there is a new book available – it’s just been published. It’s called “Bath Arts Workshop – Counterculture in the 1970s” and as the title suggests it is all about a counterculture arts movement which took place in the South West of England in the 1970s. We’ll explain what a counterculture arts movement means in a few minutes.
One of the people involved in that artistic movement, and also involved in the publishing of this book is Penny Dale. Penny is an illustrator and also an author of children’s books – an award-winning author, I might add. She’s illustrated and written some very popular kids’ books in the UK and we have a lot of them at home – my daughter loves them, but back in the 1970s she hadn’t begun that part of her career yet and was involved in this conceptual and subversive arts movement – The Bath Arts Workshop.
Penny is a friend of the family. She is a very good friend of my mum and dad, and in fact it was my mum who suggested that Penny could be a good person for me to interview and that both the Bath Arts Workshop and her career as a childrens’ author would be interesting things to ask her about.
So that’s the plan. This will be two separate episodes I think – one about the arts movement, and another one about the writing of childrens’ books. Part 1 and part 2. This is part 1 of course, so let’s focus on the Bath Arts Workshop.
And by the way – Bath is a town in the South West of England – we’re not talking about bath tubs where you go to wash yourself and play with yellow rubber ducks and little boats. No, this isn’t an art movement that involved people sitting in bathtubs – but then again it was the 1970s so that isn’t completely far-fetched.
Ok that’s probably enough of an introduction from me. Let’s now meet Penny and start the interview properly.
Vocabulary list for the Interview
[A premium episode about this language is in the pipeline]
Inclusion / inclusivity
Countering the elitism of modern art
A hub for alternative technology, alternative art, alternative artists
Students had grants that they didn’t have to pay back
There was time and breathing space
Being critical of the current state of affairs
It was open to everyone, accessible. That was the ethos.
Inclusivity was the thing.
The workshop had sprung out of the London Arts Lab.
He’d written letters to councils from all over the uk.
Bath is a medium- size, fairly touristy city but full of incredible Georgianarchitecture.
People coalesced really quickly
Some finance was eventually achieved through grants from the local council
The first event had been rained off
We encountered these events before we knew what the workshop were (yes, “were” for a workshop – a collective noun, like team, government, group, police)
A pastiche group
I went along to a gig, just to help with costumes and propsostensibly and it was an eye-popping experience.
It was a really tight outfit (a band, not clothes)
A pivotalfigure in what came to be known as the counterculture.
I’m flagging up these names that are well known, but there were also… the breadth of the programme in these festivals was huge.
A wide variety of different things
It seems like quite a large and complex organism. It can seem like a chaotic kind of thing. It’s all a bit vague and nebulous.
It was potentially quite chaotic, but it wasn’t. It was quite a strong, centralhub for arts and community.
One thing was – premises. We had a really good premises for a while, that was a rehearsal space were you could cook and have an office and everything.
premises = the building and land used by a business or organisation – It is always wrtten with an S – ⚠️ People say “a premises“, – “the premises is” or “the premises are“ – All☝️are considered correct
I found the music part the bit I was most intrigued by, myself.
It was very all-consuming and busy, but fun.
Maybe we can talk about impact. What about the impact of the BAW?
Legacy is the word now, isn’t it?
Ending (with a bonus ramble in the audio version)
[This is a transcript of some of the things I said, but there’s a lot of extra, spontaneous talking in the audio version.]
So that was Penny Dale talking about the Bath Arts Workshop. Thanks again to Penny for that. I found it very interesting and it makes me think about my parents’ generation and the approach many of them had to things. That whole baby boom generation and the counterculture movement in general which I suppose includes things like the beat poets, hippies and all that stuff. I especially think of the music and the general ethos, which was that they could change the world with love. Were they idealistic and naive? Or not? I don’t see what’s wrong with a bit of peace, love and understanding myself. Love is all you need, right? Yes, but a bit of cash, a nice car, a decent apartment and maybe a new computer, and to have someone fix our washing machine, oh and a pair of shoes that fit me just right and don’t squeeze the sides of my toes – all those things would definitely help. I don’t know really, but I do think that the Bath Arts Workshop sounds like quite a beautiful venture, if you ask me, and it sounds like they had some great fun while doing it, and so on and so forth. I could go on.
You can leave your comments in the comment section as usual, if you have them.
Hello there! You’re still listening to the podcast. Nice one! Did you manage to follow this conversation?
Remember I said at the beginning that I’d put a vocabulary list on the website page for this episode. Well, I’ve done that, with some words or phrases that I think might have been hard, or which are worth picking up from the conversation.
I’m planning to do a premium episode in which I fly though them, just clarifying them a bit.
Sometimes I think I might go into too much detail in those premium episodes, and it’s ok to just say a few things about each bit of target language each time. So I will aim to do a kind of express premium episode as a way to recap and highlight some nice language from this conversation.
Let’s have a mini ramble here – and this is one of those times when I’m doing a written ramble – writing things down which I will record when the time is right. I like to mix up spontaneous speech and pre-written speech on this podcast. There are good and bad points of both. Mainly – the advantage of spontaneous speech is that it’s more natural and authentic and therefore a bit more human and engaging, but the advantage of pre-written stuff is that I can get some more control over what I’m saying. Anyway, I am still rambling here – pre-written or not.
My computer has stopped making that loud noise – it failed to encode the video, because there wasn’t enough storage space left on the hard drive. I’m sure you know the problem. Hard drive storage just gets eaten up so easily. Not only do I have to keep my flat tidy and organised, I also have to keep my computer tidy and organised and free of clutter, and my phone too for that matter! This is the world we live in. I will try encoding the video again later, after throwing a load of unwanted files into the trash – or rubbish bin as it should be called, if computers were British.
What’s going on in podcastland? Well, I’m recording this late on a Friday evening – maybe because I’ve got nothing better to do! Well, I could be watching TV or reading a book, playing the guitar or something else, but my wife and daughter are both asleep downstairs and so I thought I’d take this opportunity to catch up on a bit of podcasting.
I’m recording this probably before recording episode 750. This is episode 751 I think, which I will upload after 750, because that’s how numbers work, but I haven’t recorded 750 yet.
Does that make sense? I have a vague plan for episode 750 – probably something about being busy.
I like to record and publish in the same order, so there’s at least some sense of continuity. I know some podcasters will record something and then leave it for ages and kind of publish things in a different order to how they recorded, but I prefer to just publish and record as soon as possible.
I don’t know what I will say in episode 750, which means I don’t know what you have already heard me say, because even though right now I haven’t recorded that episode yet, there’s a good chance you are listening to this later and in your world you might have listened to episode 750 – I wonder what I said in that episode, or should that be, I wonder what I will say, or even, I wonder what I will have said? I’m in that weird limbo land where all those different verb tenses are possible. (Some people are confused now – even more confused than they were earlier).
Anyway, I think I will call it a day here. In a moment. I said before that things are a bit intense in my life at the moment – I am certainly not complaining, not at all, but I have a lot on my plate which means I’ve got less time for recording, editing etc. This means that I have lots of ideas building up in my head – podcast ideas – they sort of come to me at various moments, like when I’m teaching or when I’m walking to work, but then I can’t really turn those ideas into podcasts because of time constraints, but I’m trying to note them down for later.
I expect I’m repeating myself here, because I have a vague idea that I’ll talk about being busy and having things on your plate in episode 750. So, no need to continue at the risk of repeating myself, which is obviously a shocking crime that must be met with the harshest of punishments.
OK, the next episode will also be with Penny and it’s all about how she creates books for children, and this is actually a bit of a scoop because Penny is a really successful author of children’s books. They have won awards. They are in all the bookshops. One of her books was read out on BBCTV by Rob Delaney – a popular comedian. And her work is really great. Her illustrations in particular are absolutely lovely – very cute and adorable. So in episode 752 we can hear her talk about her process of creating these books, and it’s a nice cosy topic and I think it should be of interest to most LEPsters. So that’s something to look forward to.
So, I think this is a good moment to stop. Thank you so much for listening!
Speak to you again soon, but now it’s time to say good bye bye bye!
Understand English as it is spoken by native speakers. Let’s listen to Karl Pilkington rambling about life, the universe & everything, and see what we can understand and learn. Karl is from Manchester, so we’ll be looking at some features of his accent, picking up plenty of vocabulary and having a bit of a laugh along the way.
Welcome back to the podcast. How are you doing today?
In this episode we’re going to do some intensive listening and use it as a chance to learn some vocabulary and pronunciation.
This episode should be a bit of a laugh as we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of Karl Pilkington and listen to his thoughts on some big issues like health, food, animals, holidays and just existence itself.
We’ll be looking at the different features of his Manchester accent, and there will be lots of vocabulary to pick up too as we are covering a range of different topics. You can also consider this as a little intensive listening test, as I will be setting questions that you have to find answers to, then going through each clip in detail and breaking it all down for language.
We last heard about Karl Pilkington on my podcast in episode 656 in which we listened to a couple of his Monkey News stories about a chimp that works on a building site and another chimp that pilots a space rocket.
Do you remember that? If you don’t, then get the LEP app and listen to episode 656. It was a very popular episode and it should make you laugh out loud on a bus maybe.
That was pretty funny stuff, and Karl is very funny even though he’s not actually a comedian.
Who is Karl Pilkington?
To be honest, Karl Pilkington was most well-known about 10 years ago and these days he’s not in the public eye as much as he used to be, but he’s still a fairly well-known person in the UK, especially for Ricky Gervais fans.
Karl is just an ordinary bloke from Manchester who met comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant when he worked for them as a radio producer in London.
Later, Ricky invited Karl to be on his podcast in order to broadcast his weird ideas and inane ramblings to the whole world, and the rest is history.
The Ricky Gervais Podcast became a world record-breaker with over 300,000,000 downloads.
In episodes, Ricky, Steve & Karl would talk about big topics like religion, evolution, philosophy, nature, birth and death and Karl would often say some bizarre and hilarious things, apparently without intending to be funny.
Ricky was always slightly obsessed with Karl, and he always described him as “an idiot with a perfectly round head like an orange”.
After being on Ricky’s podcast, Karl went on to become a fairly well-known figure in the UK, doing more podcasts with Ricky, then TV shows, books and documentaries like “An Idiot Abroad”.
Karl is known for his funny and slightly odd musings and observations about life.
He comes from a working class background in the Manchester area, and his accent has many of the features that you would expect from that.
Accent / Pronunciation
We will be going into the specific features of his accent in more detail as we go and this kind of follows on from episode 682 which was all about common features of pronunciation in England which are different to RP.
Which accent should you have?
So this episode is about one of the UK’s regional accents.
You might be thinking – Luke, by doing this episode are you saying that we should all learn to speak like Karl?
I’m not saying that. You can choose your accent, and many learners choose a neutral accent to learn, but it’s not all about learning an accent, it’s also about learning to understand different accents, and learning about the varieties of English that are out there.
So, you might not want to speak like Karl, but I certainly want you to understand Karl and the many millions of other people who speak English in a non-standard way.
So this episode is all about understanding an accent, rather than copying it. But of course you can copy Karl’s Mancunian accent if you like.
There will also be plenty of vocabulary coming up too as we pick apart the things that Karl says and the way he says them.
You’ll find it listed on the screen on the video version and also presented in text form on the page for this episode on my website.
We’re going to be using a series available on youtube in which Karl ponders certain big questions in just 3 minutes of video, originally broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK as part of their “3 Minute Wonders” series.
These are short videos in which Karl talks about his fridge, health, food, animals and holidays, covering each topic with his usual ramblings, all delivered in that Manchester accent, know what I mean?
I have about 6 recordings, which are about 3 minutes each (this could become two episodes).
Before I play the recording I’ll give you a little bit of context and I’ll set some questions.
Then you listen and try to get the answers.
Then I’ll break it down – listening to each bit again, with some explanations if necessary.
We’ll also pay attention to pronunciation – specifically his Mancunian accent. I’m going to break that down too, exploring the main features of that particular accent.
And I’ll sum up some of the vocab from each clip before moving on to the next one.
#1 Karl on Life
Karl goes around a museum looking at meteorites, dinosaur skeletons and endangered animals (stuffed ones or models) and muses about life in general medical science.
What does Karl wonder about the big bang?
What makes the meteorite room a bit disappointing?
What’s Karl’s main criticism of humanity today?
What does Karl think would happen if a dinosaur got loose and started to “run riot”?
What’s Karl’s main point?
The big bang
Did it only seem big because there was no other noise to drown it out at the time?
Meteorites (on earth)
Meteors (flying in earth’s atmosphere)
Asteroids (flying in space)
The edge is taken off it because that isn’t the only one.
I’m not surprised they went extinct, they’re all in here.
Enough’s enough. If your body is that done in, call it a day.
The more we know, the more we interfere.
Don’t interfere with nature and that.
Even if it was going round running riot they’d go “We don’t want it to go extinct”
The panda is dying out.
Notes on Karl’s accent
Here’s a summary of the main points regarding Karl’s Manchester accent.
Many of these features are common in people from the Manchester area, although not all people from Manchester will speak like this, and there are different degrees of it.
This is certainly Karl’s Manchester accent in any case.
A lot of what I’m about to say will include things brought up in the episode I did about Key Features of English accents, episode 682.
Look, how many do you need?
I’m not surprised they went extinct, they’re all in here.
She’d had a new lung, a new heart
He puts his hand in and goes “Yep, it’s broke”
They weren’t doing anything. They weren’t jumping through hoops. (talking about animals in a zoo)
I don’t know if it’s cruel or not, to have them in there.
I’m 32, I think I’ve got the hang of it.
Glottal stops (/t/ sounds get replaced by /ʔ/ )
I’ll have a look at the meteorites.
If you’re going to eat a live animal, don’t eat one that’s got eight arms that can get hold of your neck.
Let me see them again when they’re better.
Go back to my episode called 682. Features of English Accents, Explained to find out more about glottal stops.
#2 Karl on Health
Karl recounts a conversation he had with a woman about going to the gym.
Does Karl go to the gym?
What does he think of the idea of breathing classes?
What does he think of drinking 7 pints of water a day?
What’s Karl’s argument for not going to the gym? Heart beats, tortoise
I know what’s probably putting you off – the fact that it’s hard work.
Breathing classes – I’m 32 I think I’ve got the hang of it.
My Dad’s like 60-odd. I’ve never seen him drink a pint of water, yet they’re telling us we should have, like, 7 pints a day or something, and then they wonder why there’s a water drought on.
They keep coming up withdaft ways of keeping fit.
Chucking paint at each other.
/æ/ not /ɑː/ (the “bath/trap split”, again)
Short A sound /æ/ in bath, podcast
(gas and glass have the same vowel sound in Karl’s Manchester accent).
This is normal across all northern accents, and many accents in the midlands. I would use /ɑː/ because although I lived in the midlands for many years (half my childhood), my accent is mostly from the south because I’ve lived there more and my parents don’t have strong regional accents.
Come to my class. We do breathing classes.
/ʊ/ not /ʌ/
The U sound in but, enough and much.
I pronounce it /ʌ/ but Karl pronounces it more like /ʊ/
Do you go to the gym much?
#3 Karl on Food
Karl talks about a new trend – eating things which shouldn’t be eaten.
Coming from England, Karl thinks it’s weird to eat certain things that might be eaten in other cultures, like live octopus, insects, frogs, snails, probably raw meat, raw fish and sushi.
What is the danger of eating a live octopus?
What’s Karl’s issue with kids and food today?
What does Karl think about eating dog?
They choke you. Why would you want to eat that?
If we’re eating octopuses, why are dogs getting away with it?
In this episode I am happy to present to you a conversation with my mum, dad and brother all about old family stories and anecdotes from the past.
The episode is called Do you remember…? And that’s the title of the activity I chose for this episode. The idea is that we could generate some stories about things that happened in the past and you can follow along and see if you can pick up some English in the process, or simply enjoy a bit of storytelling on the podcast.
So you’re going to hear stories of little accidents, moments when James and I got into trouble, learning to drive and failed driving tests, how my parents first met each other and how my bottom lip was always left trembling at the end of every story.
We recorded this in my parents’ living room, sitting around after dinner and if you like you can imagine that you’re there too, listening into the conversation – not taking part though. For some reason you’re not allowed to speak, you can only listen like a weird audience in our living room just lurking in the background. Anyway, you can imagine that you’re there if you like, if it helps you to tune into the conversation and follow along more easily.
I will now leave you to enjoy this relaxed conversation, follow the stories and little jokes and I will speak to you again at the end of this episode.
So, that was my family, recorded in the living room recently while I was on holiday in England. I hope you enjoyed that.
Apologies if we repeated any stories you had heard before (perhaps all of them?) but then again it can be really helpful to hear the same stories over and over when learning English. You could even try to tell the stories yourself, and then compare your story to the recorded version.
If you want other, similar episodes from the archive, check out these ones.
79. Family Arguments & Debates (Debating things like language and politics)
Luke reads extracts from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. This is a classic bit of science fiction writing from the Victorian era, with some thrilling passages and scary descriptions. It’s one of my favourite books of all time and I hope you enjoy it too and learn some English from it. Full transcript available and YouTube version too.
It’s story time in this episode because I’m going to tell you a classic English science fiction story.
The story is called War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells the classic storyteller who also wrote The Invisible Man and The Time Machine, and you have probably heard of War Of The Worlds because it is definitely one of the most famous and most influential science fiction stories ever written.
Now, I know that science fiction is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I do hope you stick around and listen to this story because I think this is just particularly good writing and the story is very exciting, immersive and memorable so it should be a really enjoyable way to pick up some more English.
I won’t be reading the whole book of course but I will be reading some selected extracts and giving you a summary of the key details in the first part of the story.
The aims of this episode
To entertain you with a really engaging story in English. Stories are a great way to get more English into your head and if they are exciting and immersive, then that’s even better.
To show you a slightly old-fashioned version of English, which is really rich in descriptive language and more formal in style than today’s English. It’s good to be exposed to diverse versions of the language. Old fashioned English is much more like modern formal English, so it’s a good lesson in style. This can really strengthen your English in various ways.
To help you notice some nice bits of vocabulary along the way. Having a broad range of vocabulary is essential in achieving truly advanced English. This story is very rich in descriptive language.
To inspire you perhaps to read the rest of the book. Reading is such an important thing to do for your English, and maybe you’re looking for interesting books to read. You could consider this one. It’s not too long.
This is also available as a video episode on YouTube and if you watch you can see me recording the podcast with the text on the screen next to my face. So you can listen and read at the same time and see me telling the story.
You can read the entire text I am reading from on the page for this episode at teacherluke.co.uk.
Context of the story and the writing style
War of the Worlds has been adapted lots of times – in films (most famously the 2005 Stephen Spielberg film with Tom Cruise – which you might have seen) and another film version in the 1950s set in Los Angeles, an audiobook musical version read by Richard Burton and an infamous dramatised radio series by Orson Welles.
This is the original alien invasion story. This book was one of the very first stories to ever explore these themes and to describe these kinds of things in such a realistic way.
This is the one that has inspired so many others and in my opinion, none of the other versions of this story or copies of this story can compare to this original version from 1897.
The writing is very realistic and journalistic in style, written from the first person perspective of a guy just experiencing the events as they happened and describing everything in great detail.
A note about the language and the writing style
The language is pretty old fashioned (1897) but it’s really well written and it should be interesting for you and useful for your English to explore another version of this language. Exposure to different types of English makes your English stronger I think.
As we go through this I will point out particular words or phrases as we go and perhaps compare this to normal modern plain English.
Comparing the styles of languages actually gives you more perspective on normal modern English and how formal written English today still retains some aspects of old fashioned language.
There is quite a lot of language you might find in legal documents or other very formal situations.
Words like therein, hereby, forthwith and things like that are quite common, as well as certain structures, longer sentences and choices of words which mark this out in a particular style.
This is very descriptive literary language from over 100 years ago. It’s more complex than today’s English, more formal than today’s English and very specific in its descriptions.
This will probably be a challenge for you but I’m here to help and I will explain things as we go.
This is quite scary stuff
I have to add actually, that having re-read some of this story in preparation for this episode, I hadn’t realised just how terrifying this story is.
Personally I really enjoy the thrills you get from a story like this, but if you are feeling a bit force-sensitive today you might want to get a pillow or hide behind the sofa or something.
Useful Links & Sources
Here are a couple of links I have found useful in making this episode.
Project Gutenberg I have several paperback copies of this book, but I also found it on www.gutenberg.org – a website which shares stories and books which are now in the public domain.
These are the opening paragraphs of the book, which set the scene in which the events take place. Note the sombre tone and specific choice of language.
The story is told by an unnamed narrator.
He is a middle-class educated man who writes philosophical papers and is interested in science. That’s all we know. The story is written in the past tense, as if he is looking back on those events and has written a full account of what happened.
I. THE EVE OF THE WAR.
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. [one sentence!]
With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same.
No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable.
It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most, terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise.
Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.
And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.
Summary of the story up until Chapter 4: The Cylinder Opens
That opening chapter describes how a species of intelligent creatures on Mars had been observing us for many years before the events of this story. The opening chapter goes on to explain that the Martians were planning to invade earth because their home planet was steadily getting cooler year after year due to the fact that it is further from the sun than the earth. They faced extinction on their own planet, and so they set their sights on their nearest neighbour – Earth – with its warmer atmosphere and closer position to the sun, and with their superior mathematical knowledge and technology they decided they would colonise earth in order to survive. They spent years observing us and planning the invasion.
Note: I am using present tenses from now on to describe this story. This is a normal way to retell the plot of a book, film, or play. It’s because the events of the story are permanent because they never change, they are written that way. So we can use present tenses to summarise the story of a book or film.
Ogilvy the Astronomer
The narrator has a friend called Ogilvy who is a respected astronomer. He has a telescope and uses it to observe the night sky, including the surface of Mars, our nearest neighbour.
So Ogilvy is our friend and he’s an astronomer.
6 years before the main events of the story Ogilvy invites the narrator to an observatory to study Mars after another astronomer reported a dramatic explosion of gas on the surface of the planet, which seems to be directed toward Earth. The narrator observes a similar explosion as he watches through the telescope.
Ogilvy doubts the existence of life on Mars and speculates the phenomenon may be related to meteorites or volcanoes. Many other people witness the phenomenon, which repeats itself at midnight over a total of 10 days.
Nobody at the time is concerned or worried about the explosions on Mars.
6 years later some people see a falling star – a meteorite which flies through the night sky with a bright green flash and lands nearby on Horsell Common – a large area of grass, meadows and trees. Again, nobody assumes there is anything weird going on. Ogilvy the astronomer is interested in the meteorite and finds it on the common.
As it has landed it has formed a large crater of sand. So the object is lying at the bottom of a kind of large sand pit in the middle of an open area of grassland surrounded by buildings and trees.
The meteorite that he finds is quite odd. It’s in a cylindrical shape – like a long can of coke, but he thinks its made of rock as it is covered in a kind of crusty layer. It’s also extremely hot and he can’t get near it, but he notices there are weird sounds coming from inside it. He assumes these are noises caused by the object cooling, but as he continues to observe it he realises that something funny is going on.
The crusty layer is slowly falling off as the object cools, revealing a kind of metallic surface underneath, and even weirder than that, the end of the cylinder appears to be turning, as if it is unscrewing very slowly. Ogilvy suddenly assumes that the cylinder has people inside it and decides to get help, but nobody believes him.
Eventually he finds a journalist who is willing to check the cylinder. A crowd of people begins to gather as word spreads about “men from space stuck inside a cylinder on the common”. People don’t quite realise what’s going on but they are incredibly curious. Normal life continues, with people stopping by to have a look at the object in the sand pit, before continuing their normal routines.
The narrator goes down to Horsell Common to check out what’s going on. A larger crowd has gathered there. He manages to squeeze through the crowd which is getting more and more excited and agitated. A small group of scientists, including the narrator’s friend Ogilvy are in the pit attempting to work out what is happening.
The narrator observes what is going on and comments on how most people are not really educated about this kind of thing and they haven’t worked out what’s going on, but he assumes that the cylinder must be extra-terrestrial. He observes the end of the cylinder moving and as it turns it’s revealing a kind of shining metal thread.
The next chapter describes what happens when the end of the cylinder finally drops off, revealing what is inside.
Reading chapters 4 and 5 with comments and explanations
The narrator approaches the pit containing the cylinder. Crowds of people are all around the pit, trying to see what’s happening. They’re pushing each other a bit, and things are quite tense. (You know, when a large crowd forms, people start pushing and shoving and it’s stressful) Ogilvy and some other scientists are in the pit.
IV. THE CYLINDER OPENS. The crowd about the pit had increased, and stood out black against the lemon yellow of the sky—a couple of hundred people, perhaps. There were raised voices, and some sort of struggle appeared to be going on about the pit. Strange imaginings passed through my mind. As I drew nearer I heard Stent’s voice: “Keep back! Keep back!” A boy came running towards me. “It’s a-movin’,” he said to me as he passed; “a-screwin’ and a-screwin’ out. I don’t like it. I’m a-goin’ ’ome, I am.” I went on to the crowd. There were really, I should think, two or three hundred people elbowing and jostling one another, the one or two ladies there being by no means the least active. “He’s fallen in the pit!” cried some one. “Keep back!” said several. The crowd swayed a little, and I elbowed my way through. Every one seemed greatly excited. I heard a peculiar humming sound from the pit. “I say!” said Ogilvy; “help keep these idiots back. We don’t know what’s in the confounded thing, you know!” I saw a young man, a shop assistant in Woking I believe he was, standing on the cylinder and trying to scramble out of the hole again. The crowd had pushed him in. The end of the cylinder was being screwed out from within. Nearly two feet of shining screw projected. Somebody blundered against me, and I narrowly missed being pitched onto the top of the screw. I turned, and as I did so the screw must have come out, for the lid of the cylinder fell upon the gravel with a ringing concussion. I stuck my elbow into the person behind me, and turned my head towards the Thing again. For a moment that circular cavity seemed perfectly black. I had the sunset in my eyes. I think everyone expected to see a man emerge—possibly something a little unlike us terrestrial men, but in all essentials a man. I know I did. But, looking, I presently saw something stirring within the shadow: greyish billowy movements, one above another, and then two luminous disks—like eyes. Then something resembling a little grey snake, about the thickness of a walking stick, coiled up out of the writhing middle, and wriggled in the air towards me—and then another. A sudden chill came over me. There was a loud shriek from a woman behind. I half turned, keeping my eyes fixed upon the cylinder still, from which other tentacles were now projecting, and began pushing my way back from the edge of the pit. I saw astonishment giving place to horror on the faces of the people about me. I heard inarticulate exclamations on all sides. There was a general movement backwards. I saw the shopman struggling still on the edge of the pit. I found myself alone, and saw the people on the other side of the pit running off, Stent among them. I looked again at the cylinder, and ungovernable terror gripped me. I stood petrified and staring. A big greyish rounded bulk, the size, perhaps, of a bear, was rising slowly and painfully out of the cylinder. As it bulged up and caught the light, it glistened like wet leather. Two large dark-coloured eyes were regarding me steadfastly. The mass that framed them, the head of the thing, was rounded, and had, one might say, a face. There was a mouth under the eyes, the lipless brim of which quivered and panted, and dropped saliva. The whole creature heaved and pulsated convulsively. A lank tentacular appendage gripped the edge of the cylinder, another swayed in the air. Those who have never seen a living Martian can scarcely imagine the strange horror of its appearance. The peculiar V-shaped mouth with its pointed upper lip, the absence of brow ridges, the absence of a chin beneath the wedgelike lower lip, the incessant quivering of this mouth, the Gorgon groups of tentacles, the tumultuous breathing of the lungs in a strange atmosphere, the evident heaviness and painfulness of movement due to the greater gravitational energy of the earth—above all, the extraordinary intensity of the immense eyes—were at once vital, intense, inhuman, crippled and monstrous. There was something fungoid in the oily brown skin, something in the clumsy deliberation of the tedious movements unspeakably nasty. Even at this first encounter, this first glimpse, I was overcome with disgust and dread. [It’s a bit like if you spend any length of time staring at a nasty looking insect, or even just staring at a picture of one] Suddenly the monster vanished. It had toppled over the brim of the cylinder and fallen into the pit, with a thud like the fall of a great mass of leather. I heard it give a peculiar thick cry, and forthwith another of these creatures appeared darkly in the deep shadow of the aperture. I turned and, running madly, made for the first group of trees, perhaps a hundred yards away; but I ran slantingly and stumbling, for I could not avert my face from these things. There, among some young pine trees and furze bushes, I stopped, panting, and waited further developments. The common round the sand-pits was dotted with people, standing like myself in a half-fascinated terror, staring at these creatures, or rather at the heaped gravel at the edge of the pit in which they lay. And then, with a renewed horror, I saw a round, black object bobbing up and down on the edge of the pit. It was the head of the shopman who had fallen in, but showing as a little black object against the hot western sun. Now he got his shoulder and knee up, and again he seemed to slip back until only his head was visible. Suddenly he vanished, and I could have fancied a faint shriek had reached me. I had a momentary impulse to go back and help him that my fears overruled. Everything was then quite invisible, hidden by the deep pit and the heap of sand that the fall of the cylinder had made. Anyone coming along the road from Chobham or Woking would have been amazed at the sight—a dwindling multitude of perhaps a hundred people or more standing in a great irregular circle, in ditches, behind bushes, behind gates and hedges, saying little to one another in short, excited shouts, and staring, staring hard at a few heaps of sand. A barrow of ginger beer stood, a queer derelict, black against the burning sky, and in the sand-pits was a row of deserted vehicles with their horses feeding out of nosebags or pawing the ground.
Summary of Chapter 4
As the sun sets, the narrator returns to the pit, where a few hundred people have gathered. A boy warns the narrator that the end of the cylinder has unscrewed itself, and the narrator forces his way to the front of the crowd to get a better view. Ogilvy warns the people to stay away and reminds them of its unknown contents. One man is pushed into the pit by the jostling of the crowd. The end of the cylinder comes off and falls into the pit. The narrator and the crowd are horrified by the grotesque octopus-like appearance of an alien who slowly and painstakingly emerges from the cylinder. They seem heavy and struggling to breathe in the atmosphere. The narrator and the crowd run away from the pit, but many, including the narrator, stop to watch the aliens from the nearby tree line. The sun sets, leaving enough light to just see the silhouette of the shopkeeper as he tries and fails to get out of the pit alive.
Learn English with The Beatles as we explore lyrics from Beatles songs and pick out some idioms, descriptive language and other vocabulary for you to learn. Featuring Antony Rotunno from the Glass Onion: On John Lennon podcast.
In this episode you can learn English with The Beatles as we look at specific bits of English which appear in the lyrics of their songs.
I’m joined again by Antony Rotunno from the Glass Onion on John Lennon Podcast. Antony is also an English teacher and something of a John Lennon expert. He is also a musician, and a lot of the credit for this episode goes to him, because he did most of the preparation, going through lyrics of Beatles songs and picking out specific use of English, including certain phrases and idioms.
This is like a quiz actually. Can you name the songs when Antony plays them?
Can you beat me?
Can you name the songs from the lyrics and from the music?
There are a few references to The Rutles and Neil Innes of course, but for us those songs are all part of The Beatles extended universe.
I’ll chat to you again at the end of the episode and will sum up some of the bits of language that come up, but now let’s get started.
Phrases / Vocabualry
Using lots of pronouns, me, you, us, I etc
Using more imagery in the lyrics
I’m going to love her until the cows come home
A chip on my shoulder
My heart went boom when I crossed that room
Buzz, hum, boom (Onomatopoeia)
It won’t be long ‘til I belong to you
I don’t know why she’s riding so high
To be on your high horse
I’ll make a point of taking her away from you
I sat on her rug biding my time, drinking her wine
This bird has flown
Please don’t spoil my day, I’m miles away, and after all, I’m only sleeping
If she’s gone I can’t go on, feeling two foot small
Feeling 10 foot tall
Ouch, you’re breaking my heart
To upset the applecart
Where there’s a will there’s a way
He was like a wolf in sheep’s clothing
Or an iron hand in a velvet glove
Working like a dog
Sleeping like a log
Sleeping like a baby
If you need a shoulder to cry on
To give someone a shoulder to cry on
To open up the doors
My independence seems to vanish in the haze
It was anotherstring to their bow
There is a place, where I can go, when I feel low, when I feel blue
To feel blue
Everybody’s green because I’m the one who won your love
Green = 1. Jealous 2. inexperienced
Oh dear what can I do, baby’s in black and I’m feeling blue
When the sun shines they slip into the shade, and sip their lemonade
With tangerinetrees and marmaladeskies, cellophane flowers of yellow and green
No-one I think is in my tree
Nobody is on my wavelength
Semolina pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower
The clouds will be a daisy chain, so let me see you smile again
Her hair of floating sky is shimmering, glimmering, in the sun
My mother was of the sky, my father was of the earth but I am of the universe and you know what it’s worth
Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy
Don’t need a gun to blow your mind
No longer riding on the merry go round, I just had to let it go