Category Archives: Humour

689. Baking Cakes, Telling Jokes & Speaking Chinese with Kate Billington

A funny chat with Kate who speaks multiple languages, makes delicious cakes, teaches English and does stand-up comedy. Enjoy!

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This episode of Luke’s English Podcast is sponsored by Luke’s English Podcast Premium. Premium LEPlanders, did you know that in the LEP App, as well as the category for premium audio episodes, there’s a category called Pronunciation Videos? Did you know that? There are currently 13 pronunciation videos in there with drills for you to repeat after me with annotations on the screen, plus a new video which I created and uploaded just the other day – a set of pronunciation drills for present perfect simple and continuous. I just thought I would let you know. I’m also working on a new premium audio series which is coming soon, so keep checking the premium category in your LEP App and also on my website. If you’d like to become a premium listener, then go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo  


Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, how are you today? I hope you’re basically doing alright.

Sometimes I get messages from people who say things like this:

“Luke, when you talk on the podcast, are you talking at your normal speed, because I can understand everything you say” and “Can you speak at your normal speaking speed on the podcast please? Because we want to hear natural, fast speech – like the way native speakers usually speak.”

OK then. Actually, I think I do speak at my normal speed on this podcast more or less, most of the time, but as I’ve said before it’s probably easier for you to understand me when I’m talking on my own than when I’m talking to a guest. My conversations with guests tend to speed up. As you may have noticed.

But if you are one of those listeners who is looking for English listening at a fast, natural speed, then this kind of episode (that’s this one, that you’re listening to right now) is for you, because the conversation I’m presenting this time goes at a really rapid pace. 

My guest and I got quite carried away during this conversation, which does happen when I speak to guests. We didn’t see the time passing and we covered a lot of different little topics with some bits of humour thrown in and we weren’t simplifying our English throughout. It’s just like when you’re talking to your friends in your native language I expect. 

Basically, listeners – are you up for another English listening challenge? If the answer is “yes” then, great. Here you are. Here is this episode.

But it might be difficult, so brace yourself. It depends on your level of English of course. Maybe you’ll have no problem understanding this at all. But I think for some people, it might be a challenge.

Nevertheless, I’m not going to explain all the main points you are going to hear in advance, like I do sometimes at the start of episodes – that kind of explaining can be very helpful, but I’m not doing it this time, mainly because I want to keep the episode length under control – I don’t want it to end up being tooooo long. In fact, I’m going to stop this introduction in a moment and just let you listen to the conversation in full without loads of support from me. You’ll be alright. You’ll be fine.

My guest this time is Kate Billington, who you haven’t heard on this podcast before – so another new voice for you to get to know. 

Kate does a lot of different things – she speaks multiple languages. British English is her mother tongue but she also speaks Chinese, French, Spanish too I believe. She is an English teacher like me. She makes cakes at a professional level (unlike me – I’m not great at making cakes but I’m very good at eating them) But Kate is a pro. I mean she is a professionally-qualified cake maker. She has a particular set of skills as you will hear – and watch out for some descriptions of some classic British cake recipes. Kate is a stand-up comedian (yes, another one), and she is interested in lots of other things too, as you will hear.

Kate and I really enjoyed this conversation. I hope you do too and that you just get really involved in listening to us and that you don’t see the time passing. If you do lose track of what we’re talking about at any point, which is quite possible, maybe use your podcasting app to skip back a bit and listen again.

If it is difficult, all I can do now is just encourage you to complete the episode from start to finish, even if you don’t get 100% of what we’re saying. It’s important when learning a language to persevere. It’s worth it. Anyway, if you simply enjoy the atmosphere and the things we say, hopefully that will make things much more pleasant for you.

Remember you don’t have to listen to the whole thing in one go. If you need to stop at any point, your podcast app will remember where you were and you can just carry on again later, which is one of the great things about podcasts. 

The icing on the cake

Juuuust before we start, I feel I should explain one idiom in English which comes up near the beginning. “The icing on the cake”

I was thinking of calling this episode “The Icing on the Cake with Kate Billingon” but then I thought “no, people don’t know what that means”. But I want to explain it anyway because it does come up and you’re here to learn English, right?

If you say that something is “the icing on the cake” it means that it is something extra that is added to an already good situation, which makes it even better.

You have a situation which is already good, and then you add a little extra something to make that situation even better.

“The episode was good – but that joke that Kate told at the end was the icing on the cake”.

This is an idiom in English of course. It’s not only used to refer to cakes.

Icing is a sugary frosting which is added as a thin layer on top of a cake. So, the icing on top of a cake is an extra little layer of yummy sweet stuff which is added, making it even better. A cake is already amazing, right? Well, adding icing on top makes it even more amazing.

For exmaple: “It was incredible seeing Neil Young doing a concert in Hyde Park but Paul McCartney arriving on stage at the end of the show was the icing on the cake.”

This idiom comes up at the start. Watch out for it.

OK, I’m going to stop this introduction now. So let’s meet Kate Billington for the first time on Luke’s English Podcast, and here we go…


Ending Transcript

So, that was Kate Billington in an epically long conversation. Thanks again to Kate.

Hello you! You made it until the end. Nice one. How was that for you? I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. 

If this episode was a cake, what kind of cake would it be?

Maybe a long fruit cake – rich, quite heavy, fruity, made in the run up to Christmas, very British and best enjoyed with copious amounts of brandy.

Or maybe you found it more like a Victoria sponge cake – light, fluffy, sweet and moreish.

Or perhaps a battenburg cake – it looks like one solid whole, but when you get into it you realise that it’s made up of different sections. 

Anyway, thank you for listening all the way up to this point. 

Let us know any thoughts or reactions you have by writing something in the comment section on the website. 

  • How was this episode for you?
  • Did you learn anything from it?
  • Do you have any specific questions about vocab that came up?
  • Do you have any thoughts that you’d like to share?
  • Do you have any thoughts in your head, generally? (I hope so) 

Check out the page for this episode on my website where you will see things like transcriptions for my introduction and this ending bit, plus pictures of most of the cake types and pastry types that we talked about → Victoria sponge, fruit cake, Battenberg cake (aka window cake) plus some lovely French things like croissants, pain au chocolate and more.

Kate Billington on Instagram

Check out Kate’s Instagram to see lots of lovely pictures of lovely delicious cakes that she has made – yum yum yum and indeed, yum.

www.instagram.com/cake_by_cake_paris 

See stand up comedy in Paris (covid-permitting)

Also you can check out Comedy Croissant on Instagram & Facebook, especially if you are in the Paris area and you’d like to come to one of the shows when they eventually come back. And as I record this ending bit France is again under strict lockdown measures, which means the comedy shows are not happening for the foreseeable future, but when they’re back, which they will be one day, you’ll know about it if you follow Comedy Croissant on Facebook.

You can find information about all the English comedy nights in Paris by going to www.englishcomedyinparis.com 

Bonus Audio in the LEP App

LEP App users – There is a little outtake in the app (extra audio – just in case you didn’t get enough from this episode) – tap the gift icon while listening to the episode and you’ll hear a couple of bonus minutes of Kate and me talking about some blue bookends that I have in my pod-room. Bookends are things you put on the end of shelves to stop the books falling off. Usually they are rectangular in shape, but also L shaped – because part of the bookend has to go under the books. My blue bookends, which you might have seen in my videos, look like the Tardis from the TV show Doctor Who. The Tardis looks like a blue telephone box. Doctor Who fans will know. If you’d like to hear us talking about my Tardis-shaped bookends and whether I am a proper Whovian (Doctor Who fan) or not, then find the gift icon for this episode in the LEP app and tap it!

The bookends in my pod-room which caught Kate’s eye. The bookends look like The Tardis. Listen to the bonus audio in the app to find out more.

Posh, or not posh? Gap yah, etc…

Another thing is, if you are wondering about posh people – how to know if someone is posh, what a posh accent sounds like, and that whole “Gap Yah” thing, then go to the episode archive and find the “Posh or not posh” episodes – 581, 582 and 584. They should explain everything relating to poshness and how posh people speak.

Thank you again to Kate for this episode. Thanks Kate.

Dear listener, I will speak to you again soon on the podcast in either a free episode or a premium one (I’m working on more content for you), and yes the next part of the WISBOLEP competition is on it’s way. I am working on that too.

Thank you for choosing to listen to my podcast.

If you are feeling up for it you could leave a nice review for LEP on iTunes – it helps the podcast appear in those recommended lists and things. Like and subscribe and  leave a comment if you’re listening on YouTube. Consider donating to support the podcast by clicking a donate button on my website. Download the Luke’s English Podcast app from the app store and consider becoming a premium lepster by going to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo 

And finally, please remember to be excellent to each other, stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive.

But for now, it’s just time to say, goodbye!

English Cakes

Again, check Kate’s Instagram, because her photos are much more appealing than these ones. www.instagram.com/cake_by_cake_paris/

Traditional English fruit cake
The Christmas version of an English fruit cake – probably “fed” with brandy and left in the cupboard for weeks.
Victoria Sponge Cake
Battenberg Cake (a.k.a “Window cake”) www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/battenburg_cake_60878

French Viennoiserie

“All butter” Croissant
Pain au chocolat (also known as a chocolatine in some parts of the country) 😋

684. Chasing the Tangent Train with Elspeth Graty

A conversation with English-teaching stand-up comedian Elspeth Graty, which covers lots of different topics including Elspeth’s background in England, teaching English, cultural differences, “French-bashing”, old-fashioned telephones and The Tellytubbies. Enjoy!

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This podcast is made possible thanks to donations from lovely listeners (click a yellow PayPal button on the website if you’re feeling generous) and also the premium subscription, which costs, per month, slightly less than a pack of 80 Yorkshire Gold Teabags from Sainsbury’s. So if you would like to make sure I never run out of tea, then consider signing up.

There are now well over 100 audio and video episodes in the premium archive and you can access them all, plus new ones that are coming. That’s what you get when you become a premium lepster. To get all the information, including how it works and exactly how wonderfully reasonable the prices are – go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo

Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners,

How are you today? Doing alright all things considered? I do hope you’re managing to keep calm and carry on during this weird and difficult period of history that we are all experiencing.

Shall we start the episode? OK.

Here’s the second in a series of interviews I’ve been doing lately featuring people I’ve been meaning to talk to on the podcast for quite a while (quite a while — is that a short time or a long time? Quick answer: It means a long time.)

I just wanted to record natural conversations with some new guests so you can hear their voices, their stories, their thoughts so you can notice bits of language and practise your English listening as usual.

The first of these recent interviews was with Marie Connolly from Australia, which was the last episode of course. I hope you all enjoyed it.

This conversation is with a friend of mine called Elspeth who is from England.

Elspeth is an English teacher and she also does stand-up comedy in the evenings, which is how we met each other. Yep, she’s another English-teaching comedian friend of mine.

Explaining this episode’s title

The title of this episode is “Chasing the Tangent Train with Elspeth”.

The title is just a metaphor – please don’t expect a conversation about train travel!

It’s just a metaphor to explain the fact that this conversation is full of tangents and I hope you can keep up with it. In fact, it’s mainly tangents.

What is “a tangent”?
Long term listeners should know this, but plenty of people won’t know so let me explain.

In a conversation, a tangent is when the topic changes to something quite different and seemingly not related to the main point of that conversation.

It’s when you digress from the main point, go away from the main point or get sidetracked.

“To go off on a tangent”

There are lots of tangents in this conversation. So, for the title of the episode, I was trying to think of a way to describe the experience that you will have of just following the changes in direction in a conversation and seeing where it goes.

I ended up with “chasing the train”, which is not actually an expression you will find in the dictionary – I made it up.

Let’s imagine, then, that this conversation is a train and it’s going down the tracks and every now and then it switches to new tracks and continues for a while, then it switches to another new track and then does it again, and again and so on. Can you keep up with the train? I think you get the idea.

My overall aim for this interview was mainly to get to know Elspeth in more depth and to capture an authentic conversation to help you learn English. That is the destination for this train journey. But as I said, the topics move around a bit, which is totally normal in a conversation. Just ask David Crystal, he wrote a book all about it and he’s a professor and definitely knows what he’s talking about.

What I’m getting at is that this might be hard for you to follow – depending on your level of English.

So you’ll have to focus.

Nevertheless, I can help you keep up with this if I let you know what the main changes will be in advance.

So I’m now going to give you a quick overview of the main changes in topic in this chat.

The main points in this conversation are, thus: (these aren’t spoilers)

We talk about

  • Where Elspeth comes from originally, and how her family moved around parts of England
  • Being the daughter of a vicar (that’s her, not me obviously) A vicar is a priest in the Anglican church – the church of England. The cliche of the typical English vicar is that they wear black with a little white collar, they’re often softly-spoken grey haired men with glasses who ride bicycles around their parish and love drinking tea, eating cake and generally worshipping god.
  • Our accents, which are not strongly affected by the region where we grew up (we actually come from the same general area in England)
  • Having harvest festivals at church when we were children
  • Then there’s a big, random tangent → Remembering the old dial telephones we had in our houses when we were children. Remember them? You had to put your finger in and turn numbers around a dial, and it went went kkkkkkkkk. You don’t remember? That must be because you’re young, or you’re old and you’ve lost your memory.
  • Services you could get on the old analogue telephones, like the operator (a person who you could speak to and who would deal with your telephone-related enquiries) and the talking clock (a recorded voice that was constantly telling the time and you could call a number and listen to it)
  • Coventry Cathedral in Coventry, which was almost destroyed during World War 2 but was rebuilt and is now definitely worth a visit if you’re in the city
  • Elspeth’s life in France, her French, and whether or not she feels French or English after living here for quite a long time
  • Some of the cultural differences between England and France that frustrate us a bit, like the usual things – being punctual, walking down the street and in particular, queueing – standing in line to wait for things in public
  • Teaching English to young engineers, and the challenges that French students have when learning English
  • Some of Elspeth’s experiences of learning French
  • How Elspeth can behave slightly differently in English and in French, especially when doing stand-up comedy in the two languages
  • Elspeth’s thoughts on her own clothing choices and fashion sense, and how people react to it, especially the Nike Air Max trainers that she wears
  • Teaching English online using Zoom – and what that is like
  • Doing stand-up (going on stage and telling people jokes and stories to make them laugh) and Elspeth’s favourite and least favourite things about doing that
    Where her inspiration for comedy material comes from and “flow activities” or being in a “flow state
  • If there is a connection between stand-up and English teaching
  • A little story about The Tellytubbies that Elspeth uses in her English lessons, which makes the students laugh (The Tellytubbies is a children’s TV show) The story involves The Tellytubbies, William Shakespeare, the county of Warwickshire in England and April Fool’s Day. Basically, the county council of Warwickshire played an April fool’s trick on the people of Warwickshire, and it involved The Tellytubbies and Shakespeare, and people didn’t like it.
  • Why English people get into rages – like road rage, or trolly rage in the supermarket
  • The concept of French-bashing (criticising or making fun of the French and French culture) and why Parisians seem to complain about each other’s behaviour quite a lot (Parisians are people living in Paris)
  • How people’s behaviour in public in Paris compares to behaviour in the UK and in Tokyo
  • Things we love about France – because there’s a lot to love about this country too
  • Finally, a bit at the end where we both conclude that Paul Taylor is basically a cake – a delicious British cake.

Actually, reading out that list – it doesn’t seem like there are that many tangents, but there are tangents ok? What I’ve just given you there is the main flow of the conversation.

Right. Now that you have an overview of the track layout, let’s get this train rolling.

Let’s just get started. Here is my conversation with Elspeth, and here we go.


Luke’s fuddy-duddy slippers (a Christmas present from a couple of years ago)

Ending Transcript

Right, so that was my conversation with Elspeth. I enjoyed it a lot, especially because we have quite a lot in common, not least because we are from the same neck of the woods (a local area where someone lives).

How did you get on? Did you manage to follow it ok? Well, you must have done, because you made it. You’ve caught up with the train. You can have a rest now. Well done for keeping up.

I expect you’re getting out your phone now. If that’s what you’re doing, open up Instagram on your phone and check out Elspeth’s page, which is @elslostinfrance which I now realise would have been the perfect name for this episode, right?

Elspeth on Instagram

www.instagram.com/elslostinfrance/

I could do a lot of rambling on now, about all sorts of things, like what’s been going on and the WISBOLEP competition (which is now closed by the way – no more entries please. The deadline has passed, unless maybe you’re in a part of the world where it is still the 15th October – in which case, you have until midnight).

I’ve received loads of entries and let me tell you – it is going to be difficult to choose just one winner. There are so many really interesting recordings and stories of how people learned English and all kids of other things. It will be hard to pick just one person. Also I’m now wondering how I’m going to manage the whole thing. I’ve had nearly 90 entries. I don’t know why I didn’t expect to get so many.
Each entry is about two minutes long and so – 180 minutes, even without my comments (and I really want to make even very short comments).

Shall I play them all on the podcast? That’s a lot, isn’t it?

I think the best way to do it might be to make a YouTube video of all the audio (if that makes sense) and then I can add time stamps for each person, which will make it much easier for everyone to find each recording.

In any case, I will find a way to manage this. It could take a while though, so be patient.

I do want to re-state that it has been amazing listening to all the recording (I’ve had brief listens to most of the recordings sent). There are some awesome people in my audience. I just want to give a shout out to anyone who sent in a recording. Well done for plucking up the courage to do that. The competition is going to be a bit of a celebration of my audience from around the world.

Not much more to add here, except the usual mention of LEP Premium which you can find out more about by going to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo I’ve been getting some very positive feedback about it. There are now over 100 episodes of LEPP now in audio and video form. Check it out to see what you’ve been missing.

I’ll be back again soon with another episode, perhaps one in which I just ramble on about all the stuff that I’ve been meaning to say on the podcast for a while, a few listener emails, some songs perhaps and more…

Let me say thank you again to Elspeth for her contribution to this episode. Thank you Elspeth.

Everyone: Hang in there. Keep your chin up.

Hey, do you want some anti-covid funk music to cheer you up? (Yeah)

OK. This is something that I recorded this morning. I probably should have been doing some work but after dropping off my daughter at school I suddenly felt compelled to play some bass, and one thing led to another and I ended up recording a little 2-minute funk groove. The drums are from a youtuber called Dimitri Fantini (link on the episode page). I needed a 90bpm 16-beat funk groove and he delivered. Credit to Dimitri for the drum track. I’ve added bass using my Mexican-made Fender P-Bass, some rhythm guitar with my Fender Stratocaster (also made in Mexico) as well as some string sounds which are from my Yamaha P-45 electric piano.

I called the track Funk in the Kitchen, because it’s supposed to make you dance in your kitchen, or indeed in any other location.

Brace yourselves – music is coming… In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, let the funk commence…

Thanks for listening… Speak to you again soon… Bye!!

683. Feelgood Stories of Flirting with Marie Connolly

Marie Connolly is an Australian stand-up comedian and TEFL teacher who has written a book of short stories about times when men (from various countries) have flirted with her. In this episode Marie shares some of those stories, tells us about English men vs French men vs Australian men and much more. Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD]

Transcripts & Vocabulary Notes for this episode (promos, introduction, ending)⤵

LEP Premium Promo

Before we start – a quick mention about LEP Premium. Premium LEPsters, I just want to let you know that P24 is now finished and uploaded. It is an epic series – homophones, jokes, building your vocabulary (which is so important) and also working on your pronunciation. I’ve also uploaded P25 which contains pronunciation drills for the previous free episode (LEP682) which was all about English accents. I said I’d do a pronunciation episode for that, and I’ve done it. You can practise saying the sentences with my normal accent, and also with several regional accents too. The aim being to strengthen both your listening skills and your speaking skills.

WISBOLEP Competition

Second thing – the WISBOLEP competition deadline is 15 October. Is that clear? Originally I said 31 October but the date has changed! The deadline is now the 15 October 2020. If you don’t know what the competition is, check out episode 681. But this is episode 683, and I’m keen to get started, so let’s go…

Introduction

Hello and welcome back to LEP. It’s new episode time again! This is an episode with a guest. So you’re going to be listening to another authentic conversation at natural speed in English which can be difficult to follow but is good training for your English. Before going any further, let me explain the title of this episode. “683. Feelgood Stories of Flirting with Marie Connolly” Feelgood is an adjective (one word) which we use to describe anything that makes you feel good! For example we can say a feelgood film, feelgood food and or feelgood stories, which would be stories that will make you feel good. Feelgood stories of flirting Flirting means interacting with someone in a way that shows that you fancy them, find them attractive, and are probably interested in perhaps getting ‘romantically involved’ with them, let’s say. Synonyms include ‘chatting someone up’ , ‘hitting on someone’ or perhaps ‘trying to pick someone up’. A person can be a flirt, and the adjective is flirtatious. Feelgood stories of flirting with Marie Connolly And Marie Connolly is my guest in this episode.

Marie Connolly

Marie is a stand-up comedian, a ski-instructor, an English teacher and writer. Her latest book is full of short stories about flirting with the opposite sex. Before we meet Marie, let me give you some context to help you understand this conversation, which can ultimately help you learn more English from it. Marie is from Australia but she has lived in a few different countries. It’s a bit of a stereotype that Aussies like to travel away from Australia (this is called Going on Walkabout), but in this case it’s true. Marie has spent time in various places including Brisbane, Syndey, London, Liverpool, The French Alps and now Paris. Marie was born in Australia but her dad was from Liverpool and her mum was from El Savlador in central America, which is quite an interesting combination. For those of you who are interested in accents and pronunciation – Marie has a slight Australian accent because that’s where she grew up. It’s not super strong, but you should be able to notice it a bit. Here are the main things you’re going to hear us talking about: As you might expect we chat a bit about stand-up comedy, what it’s like dealing with tough moments on stage and reasons why it can be hard to do stand-up in front of audiences of non-native speakers. I’m afraid to say that the infamous Russian Joke story makes yet another appearance, which is my fault because as you’ll hear, I’m the one who brings it up. I know, I know. I can’t believe I’m still talking about the Russian Joke, and some of you are now saying “Wait, what’s the Russian Joke?” Long-term listeners will know all about this. Clearly I have deep mental scars from this experience which still haven’t healed. Either that or I secretly love telling this story. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just keep listening because I am going to tell the story once more. Yes, I know. Marie gives some thoughts on Liverpool where some of her cousins live, and her favourite English shops for buying clothes, which leads to some chat about Marks & Spencer – the quintessentially English clothing and food shop, which also has branches in Paris where you can buy proper tea. (not property, no – they don’t sell flats and houses, no I mean “proper tea” good quality tea) ….I’m now pausing for laughter… Marie tells us about her time living and partying hard in London, and then her decision to move to France to work as a ski instructor at a ski resort in the Alps, while making trips to Paris to perform comedy gigs. You’ll hear some details of Marie’s comedy shows in English and French in Paris. At the moment she is doing her own one-woman show in English called “Sydney, London, Paris, Darling”. You can see it if you’re in town, COVID permitting of course. At the moment, in France, Theatres are still allowed to open and Marie’s show is in a theatre so it’s still on. If you’re in town why not come and check it out? She is very funny and has some great stories to share. Then we move on to talk about the latest book that Marie has written, called “40 Frenchie Feelgood Flirts”. It contains 40 short stories. This is yet another book recommendation on the podcast. I think it could be a really good thing to read, if this is your cup of tea. Short stories are perfect for learners of English, because they’re short – do I need to say more? It’s chick-lit, which means books primarily for women that usually include romantic themes. The stories in Marie’s book are all cute anecdotes about times when men have flirted with her, hit on her, or chatted her up. There’s no explicit sexual stuff in Marie’s book. As Marie says it’s just innocent fun. So it’s less “40 Shades of Grey” and more “40 Shades of Hey, How are you doing?” — I’m now pausing for more laughter and applause, thank you — The rest of the episode is mainly Marie sharing some of her stories of flirty moments with men who she has encountered. She also talks a bit about how French men are different to Australian or English men. What do you think the differences might be? What do you think Marie is going to say about the way a French man will approach her, compared to an English or Australian man? Hmmm, have I piqued your interest? I hope so. Listen on to find out the details.

VOCABULARY

Vocab hunters – Here is some language which you can simply notice as you listen. When you hear these things, take a mental note. I know you are keen to get to the conversation, but bear with me. This will be useful for your English, and that’s what this is all about at the end of the day (and the beginning of the day, and the middle of the day, etc) Trust me, I am a professional. I’m not explaining this all now, I’m just saying it so you can notice it yourself when it comes up naturally. If you don’t understand these phrases, don’t worry. I will explain it later in the episode. But you might be able to work it out from context as you listen. *There is some swearing*
  • To backtrack – “You can’t backtrack” [this one comes up twice]
  • To stick in someone’s craw – “It stuck in my craw. It bothered me.”
  • To be over it – “Maybe I’m not over it”
  • Deep scars – “Maybe there are deep scars”
  • To wilt – “I wilted in front of them”
  • To be sick to your stomach – “I was sick to my stomach”
  • To be swallowed up – “Can I please be swallowed up?”
  • A halterneck top (an item of women’s clothing that is quite revealing) “I was wearing a halterneck top”
  • To snuggle under the duvet – “If I could have, I would have snuggled under the duvet and just stayed in bed for a year.”
  • ______ by name, ______ by nature – “Alex Love, our mutual friend; lovely by name and lovely by nature.”
  • A coping strategy – “Every comedian has their own coping strategy”
  • To rectify – “Get back on stage as soon as possible and rectify”
  • Dainty / pastries – “I’m not used to French dainty pastries, I prefer the big fat Australian ones”
  • Self-soothing
  • To pay through the nose – “I will pay through the nose. I just want the best tea I can get.”
  • A hub / antipodeans – “It was a hub for antipodeans”
  • To be up shit creek (without a paddle) – “Because of Brexit I’m up shit creek.”
  • A snapshot of something – “It’s a snapshot of life in France”
  • To be hit on / to be picked up / to be complimented – “40 times I’ve been hit on, picked up or complimented by men”
  • Abs – “One was very white but he had super-fit abs”
  • White vs Pale (to describe a person)
  • Calf muscles
  • A sand castle
  • To blush – “He would blush and I would feel amazing.”
  • The contents (of a book) / to pique someone’s interest – “Can I read through the contents to pique people’s interest?”
  • To mime – “He started swimming with his hands. He was miming and I was laughing.”
  • A man bun – “He had long hair up in a man bun. I called him Mr Man bun.”
  • Chick-lit
Ok so try to notice those things, maybe try to guess what they mean and I’ll be explaining them on the other side of the conversation. But mainly, I hope you just enjoy listening to this chat. Now, get ready because things are going to speed up a bit, as we meet Marie Connolly…

Ending

Thank you again to Marie. After finishing the recording, we realised there were other stories we’d forgotten to tell, including the time Jerry Seinfeld turned up at one of our little comedy shows in Paris and performed in front of about 20 people including Marie and me, and how it was just a little bit awkward, but still amazing and quite surreal. Jerry Seinfeld at one of our shows? What are the odds? So Marie will have to come back for another episode in which we can describe that experience for you. Just a reminder about Marie’s comedy show (if you’re in Paris) and her books (which you can get anywhere in both paperback and Kindle versions). The One-Woman Comedy Show “Sydney Paris London Darling” you need to check her Facebook page – Marie Connolly Comedy. www.facebook.com/marieconnollycomedy/ Marie’s books, including “40 Frenchie Feelgood Flirts” Marie’s page on Amazon where you can find her books. The main one we talked about is “40 Frenchie Feelgood Flirts”. She writes under the pseudonym Muddy Frank (read the titles of the books available)

Explaining the Vocabulary

Let’s go through that vocabulary again, from the beginning of the episode. Did you notice any of the words and phrases I listed before? Did you get a sense of what they mean? Let me go through them again, and I’m going to clarify them as quickly as possible. I’m not giving these phrases the full LEP Premium treatment (because I like to go into lots of detail in those episodes) I might put them into an upcoming episode of LEP Premium so I can make sure you learn the vocabulary properly and we can do the usual memory tests and pronunciation drills as well. But now, this is the sort of quick version. Let’s call it the 10 peso version. The vocabulary is already listed above ⤴️ Still not sure about the meanings? Try using www.oxforddictionaries.com to check them out. Other online dictionaries are available.
And that is the end of this episode. What’s coming up in the future? Who knows – nobody can predict the future, except weather forecasters. As usual I have more episode ideas than time, but I do have a few interviews lined up, including some more friends you might not have heard on the podcast before, and some regular guests that you’re probably waiting to hear from too [yes episodes with Amber & Paul are in the pipeline, it’s just a bit tricky to find times when we are all free]. Basically – more conversations with guests are coming up as well as the usual episodes on my own on various topics. So, it’s going to be more of what you normally get with LEP! Right, I will let you go now. Thank you for listening. Check the episode page on my website where you’ll find transcripts for 95% of what I’m saying in the introduction and ending parts of this episode, plus other things like a photo of Marie and me (oh Luke, a photo!?) plus the comment section and things like that. I often put other things on the website page for you to check out as well, including little YouTube videos relating to the episode or other bits and pieces. I look forward to reading your comments on the website. Follow me on Twitter @englishpodcast which is where I am also quite active. Sign up to LEP Premium to access all the other episodes I make, all focused on helping you build your English in various ways. www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo Have a good one. Be excellent to each other, and party on in your own sweet way.

Speak to you soon. Bye bye bye…

676. David Crystal: Let’s Talk – How English Conversation Works

Professor David Crystal returns to talk about his latest books, and more. The first book is all about the art of conversation in English, and the second one is a spy thriller inspired by real events. David Crystal is one of the world’s leading linguists and an expert on the English language. He is also a national treasure and it’s a treat to be able to talk to him in this episode. Video version also available on the Luke’s English Podcast YouTube channel.

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YouTube Video Version

Recommended books

Some of his most popular books include:

  • The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language
  • The Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary
  • The Story of English in 100 Words
  • You Say Potato: The Story of English Accents (written with his son Ben)
  • Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist’s Guide to Britain (Written with his wife Hilary)
  • Txting: The Gr8 Db8
  • Pronouncing Shakespeare: The Globe Experiment – a fascinating project investigating how English was pronounced by the original actors in the Globe Theatre when Shakespeare was alive
  • Spell It Out: The Curious, Enthralling and Extraordinary Story of English Spelling
  • Just A Phrase I’m Going Through: My Life in Language (which is both his autobiography and a highly accessible introduction to the field of linguistics)
  • Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar

Many of those titles can be purchased as ebooks from David Crystal’s website – www.davidcrystal.com or from any good bookseller. There are also audiobook versions which are read out by the man himself.

Previous LEP episodes with David Crystal

teacherluke.co.uk/2017/05/31/454-david-crystal-interview-part-1-professor-of-linguistics/

teacherluke.co.uk/2017/06/06/455-david-crystal-interview-part-2-questions-from-listeners/

teacherluke.co.uk/2017/06/09/456-conclusions-about-language-learning-from-the-david-crystal-interview-part-1/

674. 19 Amusing Insurance Claims / Car Crash Vocabulary

Listen to some funny extracts from genuine insurance claims and learn some vocabulary to describe car crashes and driving (badly).

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Introduction Transcript / Episode Notes

Hello LEPsters, how are you today? The weather here is grey, overcast. The conditions are perfect for recording and listening to an episode of Luke’s English Podcast, so here we go.

In this episode I’m going to read through some insurance claims, which contain some very funny descriptions of people attempting to explain how they got into accidents while driving. I think it should be pretty amusing and as usual there’s lots of English to learn from it.

So we’re talking about driving and having accidents, collisions or crashes in a car. Have you ever been in a car crash? What happened? Did you have to do any insurance paperwork afterwards? Did you have to describe what happened in your crash?

If you have an accident while driving in the UK the insurance company sends you a claim form which you fill in, and often there’s a big space on the back that says “Give, in your own words, a description of how you think the accident occurred.”

So this is where people give their account of the accident.

And they always try to make it sound like it wasn’t their fault or they weren’t breaking any speed limits.

“I was driving down the road at 28mph…”

These are genuine claim form extracts from real people’s insurance claims.

I have to say that I got inspired to do this episode by Jasper Carrot, a comedian from the 70s, 80s and 90s in the UK.

Jasper Carrot (who used to live down the road from me, growing up) used to do a routine about funny insurance claims. He would basically read out the insurance claims on stage and bring them to life, make comments about them and stuff. He said all the claims were all true and I’d always been interested in finding some of those claim forms online, and after doing some searches I’ve managed to find loads of those real insurance claims so I’ve selected some and we’re going to go through them one by one. Some of these are the same ones that Jasper Carrot used to read out in his comedy shows.

The cool thing about this for learning English is not just that these are really funny and stupid descriptions, it’s that they include moments when the language becomes a bit ambiguous and can mean several things at the same time (like a joke) and also there are descriptions of movements and accidents that contain some nice bits of English.

And we’re going to go through all the vocab that comes up as we go along, including a vocab review at the end.

So if you don’t find these particularly funny, you can at least learn some English from it all.

And we’re talking about vocabulary for movements, accidents, collisions and driving, verb tenses for storytelling and all that kind of thing.

Just think about that for a second. How do you describe moments when accidents happen? They’re often quite difficult to describe.

Have you ever had an accident? Can you try to describe exactly what happened in English?

I was in a car accident once. Let me describe it to you.

I did end up with whiplash and I remember making an insurance claim for it, which I never applied for eventually, because I think I only missed about 2 shifts working at the pub and the whole thing didn’t seem worth it.

Anyway, what about these claims? Let’s go.

See if you can notice what is funny or strange about these claims, and also what is happening linguistically which makes it funny. It’s often due to slightly bad writing that these things end up sounding like something else.

Insurance Claims

Sources ackadia.com/humour/top-100-funny-motor-insurance-claims/

  1. “Going to work at 7am this morning I drove out of my drive straight into a bus. The bus was 5 minutes early.”
  2. “The accident happened because I had one eye on the lorry in front, one eye on the pedestrian and the other eye on the car behind.”
  3. “I didn’t think the speed limit applied after midnight”
  4. “The car in front hit the pedestrian but he got up so I hit him again”
  5. “I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment.”
  6. “I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way”
  7. “The pedestrian ran for the pavement, but I got him.”
  8. “In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.”
  9. “Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have.”
  10. “I thought my window was down, but I found it was up when I put my head through it.”
  11. “The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.”
  12. “I had been driving for forty years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.”
  13. “As I approached an intersection a sign suddenly appeared in a place where no stop sign had ever appeared before.”
  14. “To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front I struck a pedestrian.”
  15. “I saw a slow moving, sad faced old gentleman as he bounced off the bonnet of my car.”
  16. “No one was to blame for the accident but it would never have happened if the other driver had been alert.”
  17. “I bumped into a lamp-post which was obscured by human beings.”
  18. “The accident was caused by me waving to the man I hit last week.”
  19. “A house hit my car.”
    (A house was being moved by a large truck. My friend had his car parked on the side of the road correctly. The house began to tilt off the truck and eventually fell off the truck, landing on my friend’s car. He eventually had the insurance paid, after lengthy explanation and the moving company confirming the story.) (Ben Keirnan)

Now let’s go through them one by one and break them down

Things to consider

  • What’s funny? (in some cases it’s obvious, but sometimes more subtle)
  • In the case of ambiguously or badly worded sentences:
    • What is the writer trying to say?
    • What does the writer seem to say?
    • How could it be rewritten?
  1. “Going to work at 7am this morning I drove out of my drive straight into a bus. The bus was 5 minutes early.”
    Fairly clear. It’s funny because he blames the bus for being early, as if he doesn’t look, just judges traffic by the bus schedule.

2. “The accident happened because I had one eye on the lorry in front, one eye on the pedestrian and the other eye on the car behind.”
How many eyes do you have?

3. “I didn’t think the speed limit applied after midnight”
Just dumb.

4. “The car in front hit the pedestrian but he got up so I hit him again”
Sounds like it was intentional. He hit him again because he got up.
“So I couldn’t avoid hitting him” “He got up and I couldn’t avoid him”

5. “I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment.”
Again, it sounds like it was intentional and that he did it because of his mother in law. I think it should be “I lost track of where I was going when I glanced at my mother in law and then went over the embankment”. Headed sounds like he chose to do it, maybe.

6. “I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way”
Technically the truck couldn’t have been coming the other way because it was stationary.
The whole “coming the other way” thing should be dropped.

7. “The pedestrian ran for the pavement, but I got him.”
Haha. This sounds like he’s glad or that he intended to do it. Bad choice of words.
He ran for the pavement but I still couldn’t avoid hitting him.

8. “In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.”
Sounds like the fly was on the telephone pole.
I was trying to kill a fly that was in my car and I hit a telephone pole.

9. “Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have.”
I accidentally drove into the wrong drive and hit a tree I didn’t expect to be there.

10. “I thought my window was down, but I found it was up when I put my head through it.”
Self explanatory really.

11. “The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.”
Again, it sounds like he did it on purpose.
The guy was driving very erratically and I had already had to swerve a few times to avoid him before I eventually hit him.

12. “I had been driving for forty years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.”
I was a very experienced driver who had never had an accident until one day I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.

13. “As I approached an intersection a sign suddenly appeared in a place where no stop sign had ever appeared before.”
Self explanatory? I didn’t expect to see a new stop sign in a spot where there had previously been none.

14. “To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front I struck a pedestrian.”
I accidentally struck a pedestrian while I was attempting to avoid hitting another car.

15. “I saw a slow moving, sad faced old gentleman as he bounced off the bonnet of my car.”
No comment.

16. “No one was to blame for the accident but it would never have happened if the other driver had been alert.”
Contradiction in terms and sounds very petty and vindictive.

17. “I bumped into a lamp-post which was obscured by human beings.”
Sounds like The Day Today
Sounds like he might have hit some people.
It’s just weird to call them human beings, why not people?

18. “The accident was caused by me waving to the man I hit last week.”
Haha.

19. “A house hit my car.”
Actually true (as we heard before)

Vocabulary

  • The bumper – the front of the back or car – the part which might bump against another car when you’re parking (badly)
  • The bonnet (USA – the hood) – the part at the front which covers the engine
  • The boot (USA – the trunk) the part at the back where you put your luggage
  • To drive straight into something – “I drove straight into a bus”
  • A lorry = a big truck for transporting goods. “I drove out of my house and crashed into a lorry”
  • To have one eye on this and the other eye on that – “I had one eye on the lorry and the other eye on a pedestrian”
  • A pedestrian = someone walking on the pavement
  • To pull away / pull off = drive away from a stationary position
  • To pull over / pull up = stop at the side of the road in a car
  • To glance something = 1. look at something quickly “I glanced at my mother in law” 2. hit slightly – “The bullet glanced his helmet and didn’t harm him”
  • To head = go in that direction – head for, head to, head off, head over – “I glanced at my mother in law and headed over the embankment”
  • To collide with / a collision = crash – “I collided with a stationary lorry.” “There was a huge collision today on the M6 outside Manchester”
  • To crash into / a crash = collide – “I crashed into my own house.” “During the escape I collided with a police truck and had to murder them all before escaping on a motorbike while I threw grenades at an army van and stole an ambulance from a crime scene. That’s right, I was playing Grand Theft Auto 5.”
  • To drive into something = could mean crash, or could mean enter somewhere in your car. “I drove into the vicarage. I drove into the vicar.”
  • To swerve = turn suddenly, maybe to avoid something – “I had to swerve three times to avoid Tom Cruise, until I finally got him.”
  • To do it on purpose = to do something intentionally “I hit the pedestrian three times but not on purpose.”
  • To do it by accident = do something unintentionally “I drove into the bank, unlocked the safe, took all the money, shot 3 cops and drove off, but I did it by accident.”
  • To fall asleep at the wheel = to fall asleep while driving – “Be careful not to fall asleep at the wheel. Take regular breaks. Tiredness kills.”
  • To bump into something / someone = to meet someone by chance, to collide with something but in a small way = “I bumped into Tony the other day, he says hello.” “I bumped into a Rover in the car park. The owner was not happy. He had a Rover.”
  • Erratic / erratically = moving or behaving in an irregular or unpredictable way

Hotel California Chords

tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/eagles/hotel-california-chords-46190

Have you ever had a car crash? What happened?

673. Conspiracies / UFOs / Life Hacks (with James)

Talking to my brother about some click-bait topics, with stories, beliefs and a few celebrity impressions. Links, transcripts and videos available.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, how are you?

This episode is called CONSPIRACIES / UFOs / LIFE HACKS with James and I’m going for the full Joe Rogan clickbait title here, as you will see later.

I’ve said before that I wonder if clickbait titles actually work (I think they do) and whether I should use them (still not sure). I guess we will find out with this episode, which is a rambling conversation with my brother.

Clickbait, by the way, is any content on the internet which is designed just to get you to click it – usually with some sensational title or a promise of amazing exclusive information which is often not actually included. Usually they’re there as bait for clicks which ultimately will be turned into advertising revenue.

E.g. (for example)
“Dermatologists hate her new skin care routine that will save you thousands”
“Why Jabba The Hutt is the key to the Skywalker bloodline in ways you couldn’t imagine”
“10 Life Hacks guaranteed to change the way you live forever”
“Proof that aliens have already landed, and are living among us”
“7 Secrets about COVID-19 that the government don’t want you to know”
“These simple Language Hacks will help you speak like a native OVERNIGHT”

I hate clickbait but as an online content creator I am drawn to and fascinated by the impact of attention grabbing, wildly sensational titles. They obviously work, that’s the thing, because they’re everywhere. But a lot of the time I find clickbait titles annoying and even depressing because it’s so devious and also hackneyed. Anyway…

I’ve gone with the simple: “Conspiracies / UFOs / Life Hacks” as a title. It’s clickbait-ish, with certain buzzwords that seem to attract attention. But really this is just a bit of a joke as you will hear in the episode.

Let’s see if it makes any difference.

Anyway…

What are you going to listen to in this episode then?

The other evening I called my brother James and I started recording our conversation before he answered the call, which I probably shouldn’t have done because he wasn’t expecting a podcast recording this time. But I pressed record before he’d picked up and what resulted was a spontaneous chat that ended up going all Joe Rogan as we talked about UFOs, conspiracy theories and life hacks.

First of all there’s a bit of a catch up and a chat about the COVID situation and how James has been handling it, and then we get on to some of the major topics of our time, including whether we are alone in the universe, how to cook poached eggs, how to walk up stairs, how not to make “British Tea”, The Beatles meeting Elvis, some sketchy impressions of celebrities, a dodgy chair and what you should do with overripe bananas.

I hope you enjoy it. I will be back at the end to chat to you again with some music going in the background as usual.

But now, let’s call my brother and see what happens…


Ending

I hope you enjoyed that. It was really silly in the most fun way possible. I’m glad I recorded it.

This tune in the background is one of James’ own, made on the Akai MPC2000. Those of you who work for the Akai consumer electronics company – James’ MPC2000 is currently on the floor of his living room, with the top off and all the circuits and boards visible. It’s not looking good. There’s something wrong with it and he needs a new one. So, if you’re in a position to provide him with an Akai MPC1 that would definitely help him to help the podcast by providing more background music. Just get in touch with the show if you’d like to help out and we will dedicate a special episode just to the wonderful Akai company and their delightful music making machines!

If you like James’ stuff check out his Soundcloud page where you can hear most of them

As you may know, James is also a DJ and since his MPC broke, he did a brand new LEP DJ set using his record decks and some new vinyl that he got recently. That special, exclusive DJ mix is now available on the page for this episode, it’s also available on the Music Mixes page on my website. Check it out there and have a listen. You’ll hear James introducing the tunes, speaking to you and DJing some music. Alternatively, get the Mixcloud app for your phone and listen to it there.

Here’s a link to James’ Mixcloud page with music mixes across various genres, including Drum & Bass, dub, punk, hip hop and so on

Music and comedy mixes (mostly done by me) on my website

MUSIC MIXES

Includes these shows:

  • The Classic Breaks Megamix
  • Moto Mix
  • Luke’s Radio Show
  • Walkman Mix
  • And some of James’ mixes too

Moto Mix (with plenty of silly improvisations, characters and voices by James and me)


Leave your comments below

Have you heard any conspiracies about COVID-19?
Have you ever seen a UFO?
Do you believe aliens exist?
Do you think they’ve made contact with us yet?
Who do you think might be posing as an alien in the world?
Do you think I might be an alien?
Do you have any good life hacks?

More Life Hacks (to justify the title)

OK, here are a few more life hacks. 5 fairly good ones I just found online, just in case you feel there weren’t enough life hacks in this episode.

This meaning of “hack” is something that makes your life easier – it’s like a solution to a problem in life. We talk about life hacks, learning hacks for language learners – simple little tricks you can apply that make your learning more successful.

I think you know what life hacks are then, so here are 5 more half-decent ones just to make sure you don’t feel undersold by the title of the episode, which is not a sentence that many internet content creator feel the need to say very often is it. “Oh yes, after all this video doesn’t quite live up to the promise of its title, sorry about that” – something you never hear. But I like to be different, so here we go.

  • Use a pillow case from a sheet set to keep the sheets in
  • When You Have To Hang Something With Exact Holes, Photocopy The Back And Use As A Template
  • Put a post it note on the wall when you’re drilling a hole
  • The Pomodoro Technique (dunno why it’s called that)
    Work for 25 mins then take a 5 min break. After doing this 4 times, take a 30 minute break. This will dramatically increase your productivity. (I definitely agree – when I was marking exams – 200 or more – I would set the clock for 10 minutes, blast as many as possible in 10 minutes and then perhaps mess around for a few minutes, then do it again. It made a huge difference, compared to just trying to sit and work constantly. Just focus for 10 minutes at a time.
  • Put your phone on airplane mode to charge it faster (but you knew that one already)
  • Dangle a fork into an opened bottle of champagne to keep it fizzy (This is an old myth I think. Apparently it makes no difference).

Noel Gallagher story about champagne
“Arr kid” means his brother Liam

(Liam had a fork in a pint of milk because he thought it would keep it fresh)

That’s the end of this episode, have a lovely morning, day, afternoon or night and I’ll speak to you next time!

667. Four Way Call (with Alex, Moz & Paul)

A lockdown Zoom call with my friends Alex, Paul and Moz which should be a fun but challenging listening exercise. Intro & ending transcripts available.

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Transcript (Intro & Ending)

Hello dear listeners and welcome back to the podcast. This episode features a 4-way conversation between three of my friends and me, recorded on Zoom recently (other video conferencing platforms are available), and it’s basically us asking each other questions in a sort of 4-way interview scenario. I think it should be a fun conversation to listen to but I also think it will probably be a challenge for your listening skills. That is what I expect but I will let you find out for yourself.

Upcoming YouTube Live Stream

Before we get started on that, I just want to remind you about the YouTube live stream I’m doing on Wednesday 10 June at 3PM CET.

Did you hear the announcement episode I published at the weekend? Well, if you did, then you’ll know all about this.

I’m doing another YouTube Live Stream on Wednesday 10 June at 3PM Paris time, and you are invited to join me. I’m going to be messing around, answering questions from listeners in the chat, maybe singing a couple of songs with the guitar, and generally just hanging out with my audience on YouTube.

If you can’t make it, the video (and audio) will be published later so you will still be able to watch it or hear it. I’m doing it at 3PM on a Wednesday because my daughter will be in the nursery (or creche as they call it in France – the daycare centre) and so I’m free to get up to some online antics, and at the weekend it’s family time – so, midweek and in the afternoon (my time) is just the right time for me to do it.

Anyway, join me on Wednesday 10 June at 3PM for a YouTube Live “Ask Me Anything / Hang Out with Luke”. To find the specific location on YouTube, check the show notes for this episode and you’ll find a YouTube link or just subscribe to my YouTube channel – that’s Luke’s English Podcast and click the bell icon to receive a notification when I go live.

OK, so that’s that…

This is number 667, and here is my introduction…

This intro is quite long but I’ve done that on purpose to help you understand what I think will be a difficult episode, but if you really prefer, you can skip forward to approximately 22mins but of course if you skip forward you won’t know what you’ve missed and you’ll live the rest of your life thinking “I wonder what Luke said in that introduction to episode 667? What did I miss? And when you’re old and grey and near the end of your life and you’re asked by a grandchild one day, “Do you have any regrets?” you might manage to say “If I have one regret, it’s that I skipped that introduction to episode 667, that’s …that is my only regret in life. I skipped the introduction and I didn’t fully understand that conversation with his friends. I didn’t have sufficient context. A lot of jokes went over my head. Oh, it was confusing and I just gave up on learning English. And that’s when it all went wrong for me. I’m sorry children. It still haunts me to this day. What did he say? What did I miss…? I suppose I’ll never know.” So, if you want that to be you, just skip ahead to 22mins now.

Ok so you’re still with me. You didn’t skip ahead. Excellent choice. You’ll be fine now, for the rest of your life. Everything in your life is just going to slot into place now, just right. It’s going to be perfect from now on. You’ll have no regrets and it’s all going to be roses. Just remember though, when you are sipping cocktails on your own private yacht somewhere in the future. Just remember to thank me, OK.

Introduction

One of the only good things about the coronavirus pandemic lockdown confinement social distancing isolation situation is that it has encouraged people to get in contact with each other more than they normally would. Maybe this is because we’re unable to get together physically (if you know what I mean), so we’re making up for it by calling each other more, or we’re just aware that it’s important to stay connected during this weird time, in order to make ourselves feel a bit better.

I don’t know if it’s the same for you but I’ve been in touch with friends and family more than usual during this time, including my mates Paul Langton, Alex Love and Moz. We’ve had a few Zoom calls together recently just to have fun chatting and also to generally keep our spirits up. Paul, Alex and Moz have all been on the podcast before so I thought it might be fun during one of our Zoom calls for us to reunite on the podcast again, for the first time in years. And that’s what you’re going to hear today. This episode was recorded during the lockdown with me in Paris and the others in their homes in England.

This was recorded 2 or 3 weeks ago when the lockdown was fully in place both in France and the UK.

The four of us first recorded podcasts together at the Brighton Fringe Festival in episodes 104, 105 and 106, then there was the Slightly Drunk Episode (ep 109) and On a Boat (ep226), recorded on Moz’s narrow boat. I wonder if you’ve heard those episodes? Let me know if you remember Paul, Alex, Moz and me sitting on the beach in Brighton and the creation of Luke Johnson, my evil clone. Do you remember us sharing beers inside Moz’s boat one summer evening and talking nonsense in my flat and other weird moments from deep in the episode archive?

Super-duper long term listeners will remember those episodes, but for those that don’t know here is a quick summary of some background context to help you understand this episode a lot more.

Forgive me for rambling on in this introduction (as usual). I know this is long but this kind of context is essential to help language learners understand a conversation between four friends, and listening to a group of friends chatting can be really hard in another language.

So this is all necessary context to help you piece together what you’re going to hear in this episode which will help you enjoy it more and learn more from listening to it.

Background Context

We all first met each other doing comedy in London in 2009 when we did the Amused Moose stand up comedy course run by Logan Murray, which I have mentioned before. That was a series of comedy workshops designed to help us develop basic skills for doing stand up comedy.

After doing that course, we did various comedy gigs together in London and also shows at the Brighton Fringe Festival from 2010 to 2012. That’s a comedy festival in Brighton, a bit like the Edinburgh Fringe but smaller, and in Brighton. Paul, Alex and I were in a show together called Snigger Happy, and Moz did his own shows, in the same venue as us.

Here’s some intel on each person in this conversation.

Paul Langton
Paul was born and brought up in central London and has a London accent. As a stand up comedian in London, Paul used to regularly MC one of London’s best open mic comedy shows, called “Comedy Virgins” at the Cavendish Arms in Stockwell, South London, and he was also the host of one of the first live-streamed comedy/music shows that I know of, which was called Teaserama (and that was at least 10 years ago), but more recently Paul decided to stop doing stand up comedy. He made a fairly big career move and became a police officer for London’s Metropolitan Police Service, which is what he now does on a full time basis, working on London’s streets, fighting crime, a bit like Robocop, if Robocop was actually an Irish man called Rob O’Cop who liked drinking lots of Guinness during his time off.

Paul was on the podcast on his own in episode 349 talking about Marvel and DC superheroes, as he is something of an expert in that kind of thing – basically, he’s a tall police geek with a London accent and a penchant for Guinness.

Alex Love
Alex grew up near Stroud, which is in Gloucestershire, which is in The Cotswolds, which is in the south west midlands, in England. As well as working as a freelance journalist writing articles for newspapers, Alex continues to do stand-up comedy (although not during the lockdown of course). Recently he has been doing a successful show called “How to Win a Pub Quiz” which he has performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to sold out rooms in recent years. Unfortunately Edinburgh is cancelled this year, leaving Alex with a huge August sized gap in his summer. I say Edinburgh is cancelled. I mean the festival, not the city. The city still exists as far as I’m aware. Alex has also brought his pub quiz show to various other places including a recent trip to Australia and New Zealand. He managed to get back home to Stroud in England just before New Zealand closed its borders because of the coronavirus outbreak. This sounded like quite a dramatic escape, which I imagine was pretty much as exciting as that moment in The Empire Strikes Back when Han Solo manages to escape from the belly of a huge space worm just before it closes its mouth. Remember that scene? I’m sure taking off in a plane from New Zealand in the nick of time, was exactly like that.

Alex has been on the podcast a few times before, talking about his Edinburgh show, doing a pub quiz with me, and talking about Queen the rock band.

Moz 
Moz used to work for the BBC as a producer of comedy TV shows, and he worked on various shows including one memorable flop called Horne and Corden, a sketch show with James Corden who you might know these days as the presenter of The Late Late Show with James Corden on TV in America. A few years ago Moz changed career a bit and became a writer, podcaster and tour guide, setting up Murder Mile Walks and the Murder Mile True Crime Podcast, both of which are about real murders which occurred in various parts of London. On his tours he takes people round various parts of the city and tells them true stories of grisly murders that happened there in the past. You might remember his previous appearances on this podcast telling the gruesome stories of some of those killings. Moz does loads of research into these crimes using court and police records, in order to describe what really happened in proper detail. This level of research is one of the things that makes Moz’s work unique. The other things are of course Moz’s animal magnetism and his captivating storytelling abilities.

You can hear these stories by listening to the Murder Mile True Crime Podcast (link in the show notes) or by going on one of Moz’s walking tours of London (link also in the show notes). More recently Moz started doing storytelling shows on stage in front of live audiences (rather than dead audiences) that’s until COVID-19 came along of course, putting a stop to those live shows, but his podcast continues. Moz also used to do stand-up comedy with Alex, Paul and me, but his performances were a bit different. In stand up it is normal to be yourself on stage. But Moz always performed in character. He also used a lot of pre-recorded audio. He would record an audio track beforehand and then while the audio played through speakers he would stand on stage in costume and mime his performance without speaking, except maybe for a few noises here and there. One of the characters he used to do was called Sloppy Party Bottom, who was a sort of surreal clown (in the proper French clowning tradition) but that description doesn’t really do it justice at all. It was very funny and very weird. These days Moz lives on a narrow boat on London’s canal network, and yes, he does have a toilet and a shower on his boat, which I assume he uses. I hope he uses them anyway.

Luke
I think you know who I am, but I should remind you that I also do stand-up comedy, although not as regularly as I should and not at all since COVID-19 came along of course. I performed at the Brighton Fringe Festival 3 years running with Alex and Paul in a show that we called Snigger Happy. In 2010 our show was reviewed by Steve Bennet, who is probably the UK’s most well-known comedy reviewer, certainly among comedians. I had a good gig and got quite a good review. Bennet said I had a promising future. Ooh, exciting. 2 years later Bennet unexpectedly reviewed our show again, but I had a truly awful gig that day and died on my arse in front of him and the rest of the audience. Naturally, his 2nd review was not positive at all, quite the opposite. This still stings to this day, when I think about. I promised Steve Bennet that I would have a bright future as a stand up comedian, and I then two years later when the future arrived I spectacularly failed to deliver on that promise. I think I have told the story of what happened during that awful performance before, so I won’t explain it now. Perhaps I’ll tell the story again some time. Suffice to say, it was bad, and I will never really live it down, meaning, it is an embarrassing comedy failure that may haunt me for years to come, especially if Alex, Paul and Moz keep reminding me of it, which they often do, because it amuses them.

I wanted to interview Alex, Paul and Moz all at the same time so what we’re going to do in this episode is take turns to be interviewed by each other. We’re all going to be cross examined by each other one by one. It’s a bit hard to explain this idea, but you’ll see.

Basically you’ll hear us talking about a variety of topics like our lives, our comedy stuff, how our careers have been affected by coronavirus, regrets we have about our pasts, little anecdotes, criticisms we’ve faced over the years and of course the occasional bit of toilet humour.

What’s the purpose for learning English, you might ask? Well, just the usual thing, which is that it’s vital to regularly listen to authentic conversations in English. It’s this kind of immersion, exposure and input which can make a crucial difference to your learning of English. Obviously the episode is long but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you don’t have to listen to this in one go. Pause, take a break, come back and your podcast app will remember where you stopped.

One issue – audio quality

This episode was recorded online via Zoom and despite my best efforts I couldn’t get any of the others to use proper USB microphones. I even sent one by international post to Alex, but unfortunately his laptop is basically kaput so he had to use his phone. Not everyone is a teched up podcaster with a plethora of microphones at his disposal you know. So if you struggle to understand this conversation, then you can blame them for not having state of the art microphones, or blame me for choosing to do this whole project in the first place, or blame your old English teachers at school who didn’t give you enough listening practice, or blame yourself, or just don’t blame anyone. Probably the last one would be best.

Anyway, the main difficulty that I expect you will have with this is the sound quality. It’s going to sound like it was recorded online during a 4-way Zoom call, and that’s because it was recorded online during a 4-way Zoom call, and because there are 4 of us and you might not know Alex, Paul and Moz that well, and because nobody is speaking super slowly to help you understand them, this could definitely be a challenging episode. So, brace yourself. But then again, for all I know, this will be fine for you.

Some of you will be fine with that, but others will find it tricky. But, rarely in the real world do we get the luxury of perfect sound conditions, especially when doing video conferencing which is becoming more and more commonplace during these times.

OK, I don’t want to waffle on any longer. Instead I will say now that it’s time to join me as I chat with my friends. I hope you enjoy it.

Your tasks are:

  • a) to be able to identify who is talking (basically, can you differentiate between Paul, Moz and Alex’s voices and
  • b) can you actually understand what we’re all talking about?
  • c) Can you use your imagination a little bit and imagine that the whole coronavirus thing isn’t actually happening and that we’re all in fact all sitting around a table sharing a beer or soft drink in the pub and you’re there with us and everything is fine in the world.

OK, that is all. Now let’s get started, and here we go!


Questions

Round 1

  • What is your name?
  • What do you do? 
  • How has that been affected by the coronavirus?

Round 2

Questions for Paul

  • Luke: When questioning a suspect in the police station, have you ever thrown a chair against a wall or slapped a cigarette out of someone’s mouth?
  • Alex: What is your biggest regret from your time doing comedy?
  • Moz: Why do you love Rick Mayall?

Questions for Alex

  • Luke: In the episode we recorded together about the rock band Queen, one listener said “I don’t understand any words in this conversation. This guy speaks like alien.” How do you respond to this claim?
  • Moz: What advice would you give to 8-year old Alex Love?
  • Paul: As the only one of us who regularly still gigs, what advice would you give to your younger self just before you got on stage many moons ago?

Questions for Luke

  • Paul: What do you most miss about London?
  • Moz: What part of your body annoys you the most and why?
  • Alex: You were once predicted a bright future in comedy? What happened?

Questions for Moz

  • Luke: You live on a narrowboat on the canal network. What’s the most annoying behaviour that you’ve observed and experienced from others on the canal network?
  • Alex: In your time at the BBC, what’s the worst TV show you worked on and why?
  • Paul: Have you ever been tempted to get back on stage as one of your old characters?

Round 3

Questions for Paul

  • Alex: How close have you been to pooing your pants on duty as a police officer?
  • Moz: If you had to go shopping at the supermarket right now, what would you buy?
  • Luke: What’s the best way to talk to a police officer, to avoid being arrested? (inspired by this Adam & Joe video – below)

Questions for Moz

  • Alex: You did a lot of pre-taped audio tracks with your comedy. Why did you never do stand up as yourself?
  • Paul: You do your murder mile walks in London. What is the funniest crack-head story you have from your tours?
  • Luke: What’s the wettest you’ve ever been?

Questions for Luke

  • Alex: When you were young, what job did you want to do when you grew up?
  • Paul: What is the most surreal review or comment you’ve received in the 10 years you’ve been doing this podcast?

Questions for Alex

  • Moz: Why would you make a great or a shit astronaut?
  • Luke: What is the worst or best gig you’ve ever had?
  • Paul: What’s the worst heckle you’ve received on stage?

At the end: Some stories of awful gigs, including stories of weird audience members – a woman with a glass eye, a deaf man, a poor man who had a seizure during a show, another poor man who was a burns victim, a scouser who just didn’t like me and more…


Ending

OK everyone, that’s it. I would just like to thank Paul, Moz and Alex for being on the podcast today. I hope you enjoyed joining us on our Zoom call. I know the audio quality might have made it a bit tricky for you to follow all of it. Let me know. I expect someone will comment that my friends sound like alien or something. But they don’t to me.

Remember, check out Moz’s podcast. It’s called The Murder Mile True Crime Podcast and it’s available on all good podcast apps.

Alex doesn’t have a podcast but he is still writing a blog, which you can find at alexlove.co.uk

If you want to find Paul, just commit a crime in the London area and he will probably find you and then you might end up having a one on one sit down interview with him in a police station. There’s an interesting approach to finding ways to talk to native speakers – just get arrested! The police will ask you lots of questions, and you’ll have lots of people to talk to in prison too! Yey!

By the way, I did have a lovely birthday, thank you for asking. I’m recording this bit about a week after doing the call, so yes I had a nice birthday and thank you for those of you who sent me birthday wishes. That was very nice of you. Those of you who didn’t, I will still accept your birthday messages quite gladly, and I am still open to gifts, flowers, chocolate, gold bullion and cash donations in most currencies but especially pounds sterling. If you don’t know my age, I wonder how old you think I am, perhaps just based on the sound of my voice.

If you’re wondering about my gifts, I got some new trainers from my wife and also I got a multi-track recorder for making music. If I actually have any time, I plan to record some music so I got a digital muti-track which will allow me to record guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals. Now, all I need is some actual musical talent and I might be able to create something half-decent. We will see.

I was also treated to a birthday cake of pancakes in bed – that’s a cake made of pancakes, with honey – a pancake cake, with candles and decorations and the candles set the decorations on fire and so they were fully ablaze by the time the cake got to me, so essentially my wife brought me a fire hazard directly to my bed first thing in the morning, which was actually very funny and not as dangerous as it sounds. Anyway I had a nice birthday, if you’re interested.

How about you? Are you ok? I sincerely wonder how this episode was for you. I really enjoyed getting together with Paul, Moz and Alex again on the podcast, and I hope you did too, but I expect it was difficult to follow. Let me know in the comment section.

You know, difficult to follow isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That’s the sort of episode that challenges you a bit and pushes your English skills a bit further, in theory anyway.

Well, in any case, it’s time to draw this all to a close. Thanks for listening and speak to you soon, but for now — good bye!


Links

The Murder Mile True Crime Podcast 

Murder Mile Walks

Alex Love’s Blog

665. A Chinwag with Sebastian Marx / 18+ British slang phrases that Americans don’t understand

Chatting to Sebastian Marx from New York and testing his knowledge of British English slang phrases. Slang vocabulary list available below.

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Introduction

This episode features a chinwag (that’s a conversation by the way) with Sebastian Marx – a friend of mine who is originally from New York (he’s an American) but who has been living in France for the last 15 years. Long term listeners might remember him from his past appearances on this podcast. You’ll see links to those episodes on the page for this episode.

Sebastian is a stand up comedian who performs both in English and French, and he was the one who first started doing stand up in English in Paris. So all of us comedians who perform on stage here in English, including Amber, Paul, Sarah Donnelly and others – we all have Sebastian to thank for originally giving us that opportunity as he is the one who got the whole scene started in the first place with the New York Comedy Night which he set up years ago.

I invited Seb onto the podcast just for a bit of a chat, but also to test his knowledge of British English slang. I’m always interested to see how much my American friends know about my version of English.

The Chinwag

In terms of the general chinwag – we talk for the first 25 minutes or so about a few topics, including:

  • What he thinks of the Trump presidency
  • His learning of French
  • Speaking French or English to French people, like waiters in cafes

Then, after about 25 minutes of jibber-jabber, we decide to focus on language and you’ll hear me testing Seb’s knowledge of British English slang – informal spoken English phrases that most Brits know but which Americans are probably unfamiliar with.

This is slang so you should know that things get a bit rude later in the episode with some references to sexual acts – you know, sexual stuff, and also a few other fairly lewd and crude things like bodily functions and so on.

Some of you are probably delighted to hear that and have no problem with it at all but I feel I should give you a heads up about rude content, just in case you’re a teacher listening to this in class or something (I can imagine getting a message from a teacher who’s heard it, or perhaps even having a conversation, like this: Luke, I used an episode of your podcast in my young learners’ class the other day and oh, you started talking about… arseholes and chests, it was quite awkward — Oh dear I’m terribly sorry Mrs Crawly, I should have provided a warning of some kind. I trust that this will not affect my daughter’s entry into the Royal Academy in September. Perhaps you should come for tea and we can discuss it at length. I have one or two things to say to you about your conduct and how this is affecting your reputation among the staff at Downton. Oh, I’m terribly sorry to put you out Lady Crawley… etc… Sorry, I accidentally slipped into an episode of Downton Abbey there. Papa and Mama would be awfully disappointed, and we’ve just received a telegram that the first world war has started and we’re all terribly worried about how this might affect life at Downton and blah blah blah).

I dunno, maybe you’re a teacher or you’re listening to this with children, or maybe you just don’t like rude things of that nature. Basically – there’s some rude stuff in the second half of this episode. Alright? No big deal.

*it’s ok Luke – we fucking love rude stuff, don’t worry*

Alright, steady on…

OK, I promised myself I wouldn’t ramble too much at the start of this one so let’s crack on now, and here is the jingle….

The Slang you can hear in the episode

(listen to hear the full descriptions, examples and American English equivalents)

✔️= Sebastian knew it or guessed it correctly
❌= Sebastian didn’t know it or guessed it wrong

❌“Pants” (adjective) “That film was pants” = not great, rubbish
✔️“Knackered” (adjective”) “I’m absolutely knackered today” = exhausted, really tired / American English equivalent: “beat”
❌”Gobsmacked” (adjective) “I was absolutely gobsmacked” = shocked, surprised
Also: “shut your gob” = shut up, stop talking (gob = mouth)
✔️“a slash” (noun) “Hold on, I’m going for a slash” = I’m going to go and urinate
❌“On the lash” (prepositional phrase) “I’m going out on the lash tonight” = to go out drinking alcohol
✔️“To pull” (verb) “Hopefully I’m going to pull” = to score, get lucky, to get laid, to have sex with someone
On the pull” = trying to ‘get lucky’ with someone
To go out on the pull
To chat someone up” = to talk to someone to make them like you (sexually) to try to pull someone by talking
❌“To get off with someone” (phrasal verb) “I got off with her” = to kiss passionately on the lips (USA: to make out with someone)
To get on with someone” = to have a good relationship with someone, to “hit it off with someone”
✔️“A plonker” (noun) “You are such a plonker” (not a swear word) = an idiot
❌”A tosser” (noun) “Stop being such a tosser” (synonym of “wanker” but less rude) an idiot, a person you don’t like
a wanker” is a mean nasty unpleasant man that you’re angry with
To wank” = to masturbate
Asshole” (US English)
Arsehole” (UK English)
✔️“A fag” (noun) “I’m just having a fag” = a cigarette (in US English it’s a very rude term of abuse meaning a homosexual)
❌“A wind up” (noun) “He’s a wind up merchant” “Is this a wind up?” = a joke, a piss-take, teasing, making fun of someone, playing a trick on someone, a con, a prank, lying to someone as a joke
To wind someone up” = to annoy someone
❌“whingeing / to whinge” (verb) “Stop whingeing! You’re always whingeing.” = to complain, to moan, to whine, in an annoying way
✔️“Smart” (adjective) “You’re looking smart today. What’s the big occasion?” = to be well dressed, to be wearing formal clothing, to look clean and tidy (opposite = casual) (USA: smart = intelligent)
❌“Lush” (adjective) “Oh that’s lush” “Those trainers are lush” “Oh she is lush isn’t she?” = good, attractive (for a person), cool, great, awesome
❌“Grotty” (adjective) “I smoked a cigarette earlier and I’m feeling dead grotty now.” = unpleasant, dirty, feeling a bit unwell or under the weather
❌“Ta” (exclamation) “Could you pass me the sugar? Ta.” = thanks
✔️”A chinwag” (noun) “We’ve had a good chinwag” = conversation
❌“It’s all gone pear shaped” (idiom) “We did a Zoom call but everything went pear shaped because of technical problems” = to go wrong

Schlep (verb – US slang, from Yiddish) to carry something with difficulty, to carry something heavy – “I’ve been schlepping this bag around all day”
Schlep (noun – US slang, from Yiddish) a long and arduous journey – “I work on the other side of town and getting there is a real schlep!”

50 British phrases that Americans just don’t understand (MatadorNetwork)
matadornetwork.com/notebook/50-british-phrases-americans-just-dont-understand/

Ending

Music: Sippin’ Gin by Jim Thompson

Righty-ho, that was Sebastian Marx (thanks Sebastian) and 18 bits of British English slang.

How many did he get right? He predicted 50% I think. Well, out of 18 he identified 7. And my criteria for getting it right was whether he knew the word or phrase already or if he worked it out correctly, first guess, from my example. 7 out of 18. What’s that as a percentage? Some of the mathematicians are already on that, but I need a calculator to work that one out, unless you want to listen to me working that out in my head. Trust me, you don’t want to listen to that. I don’t think I can do it. Anyway, the result is… 38.88888888889 Let’s round that up to 39% which is a clear fail I think everyone can agree.

What does this mean? I’m not sure, except that it proves something about American and British culture and language. Sebastian made the point during the episode and I think I’ve said it before previously, like in that slang game I did with Jennifer from English Across the Pond last year.

Brits are way more familiar with American English than Americans (and of course I mean people from the USA) are with British English because we are exposed to a lot more American culture through TV and film than Americans are exposed to British culture.

America produces tons of TV and film of course and exports a massive amount too, but it doesn’t import as much TV and film as it exports. Basically, most Americans don’t get exposed to that much British English, certainly not the kind of local informal slang stuff that we touched on in this episode. Big surprise eh! Not really! We know this about the USA – big place, quite loud on the world’s stage, exports a lot of stuff, but to a large extent doesn’t look beyond its own borders all that much, relatively speaking. We all knew that though didn’t we!

Anyway, never mind all that geo-political stuff. I just enjoyed chatting with Sebastian in this episode and sharing some of my version of English with him. That is more interesting and fun for me.

What about you? How much of the slang in this episode did you know? I’ve definitely talked about some of those things before, but I bet there were one or two new things in there too.
But how much of it did you know and how much did you learn from me in previous episodes? And if you didn’t get it from me, where have you learned British slang? Let us know in the comment section!

Also, feel free to add other bits of British slang that you think is especially, quintessentially British in the comment section.

All the slang I tested Seb on is listed on the page for this episode on the website, so check it out. That’s where you can see specific spellings of words and phrases, and you can check some example sentences and definitions that I’ve given for you.

Talking of British English expressions – I must finish that series I started last autumn – 88 English expressions that will confuse everyone. Remember that? I still have about 25 expressions left to cover I think! I must get round to doing that.

My podcast is a bit like a big, slow moving ship. Sometimes I miss something or forget something and kind of sail past it, but for some reason it’s very hard to stop the ship or turn it round and go back. So, if I don’t do a specific episode I was planning to do at one point, general momentum keeps pushing me forwards and it’s difficult to turn the ship around and go back. I’m not sure why this is.

Stuff to mention at the end

Lovely comments from listeners on the last episode (in different locations like YouTube, website, twitter, email) My wife said that the comments were cute and lovely.

Something evil this way comes… Episode 666 is next.

666 → often described as the number of the beast. The mark of the devil.

Lots of people have been asking if I’m planning anything special for that.

Well, you’ll have to wait and see…

Previous episodes with Sebastian

130. A Cup of Tea with… Sebastian Marx

183. Luke’s D-Day Diary (Part 1)

247. Understanding The USA

298. The Bank Robbery (Part 1)

299. The Bank Robbery (Part 2)

388. US Presidential Election 2016 – Trump vs Clinton (with Sarah & Sebastian) Part 1

389. US Presidential Election 2016 – Trump vs Clinton (with Sarah & Sebastian) Part 2

663. The Lockdown Lying Game with Amber & Paul

Listen to three more stories told by Amber, Paul and Luke – can you guess if they are true or lies?

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Introduction Transcript

Hello ladies and gents, welcome back to the podcast. Are you ready for your regular dose of English listening practice? Here we go.

This is episode number 663 and it is another Lying Game with Amber & Paul, this time recorded remotely during the lockdown, fairly late in the evening, recently.

The Lying Game is something Amber, Paul and I have been playing for years on this podcast. Basically it involves us telling each other stories about our lives, but we can choose to either tell the truth or tell a lie. The others then have to ask questions about those stories and then try to guess if they are made up or not. Points can be won or lost accordingly.

Before we start I just want to point out some bits of language for you to notice while you listen.

Grammar: Watch out for the narrative Tenses

Essentially this game is about storytelling and most of the time the stories take place in the past, so there are lots of descriptions of past events and questions in past tenses. If you wanted to, you could look out for things like the grammatical tenses being used.

Past simple tense is definitely the most common one (“I jumped into the water” “I didn’t jump into the water” or “Did you jump into the water?” or “Why did you jump into the water?” ) , but also watch out for instances of the other narrative tenses that we know and love – past continuous and past perfect and how they’re used in combination with past simple to build a narrative.

Past perfect (had + past participle –> I was going to Ireland because Alice had invited me to stay) is used to show that certain things happened before the main events of the story. It doesn’t just mean “things that happened a long time ago” (a common mistake) but rather it’s used to show background events – things that happened before the main events of the story. It’s not as common as past simple or past continuous but it is definitely used, although it can be quite hard to hear the ‘had’ part.

Also, we use past continuous (was/were +ing –> I was living in Brighton at the time) to show the situation or context at the time the main events happened, or to show things that happened over and over again.

For example, watch out for these sentences in the episode. (these ones mainly contain past perfect) Watch out also for the pronunciation. Can you hear the “had” in these sentences?

  • “[We went to Greece.] It was the first time that we’d ever been on holiday together.” [First time in their lives at that point. No previous trip to Greece before then.]
  • “We’d never been together outside the UK or Paris.”
  • “[At the time] I was living in Brighton, it was the summer holidays and Alice had invited me to stay with her in Ireland which is where she is from.” [Alice invited Amber earlier than the main events of this story]
  • “Alice had already gone home for the holidays and I was joining her.” [Alice went home before the main events of this story]
  • “They were making us drink cocktails that I’d never heard of before” [Never before in our lives at that point]

So if you are up for it you can listen out for bits of grammar like that but you can also just listen to the stories without worrying about grammar and play the game with us. Do you think these stories are true or are they untrue? Are they fact or fiction? All real events, or completely made up? Try and work it out as you listen. You get one point for every story you guess correctly. That’s a maximum of 3 points for you. For us playing the game, the points system is equally simple for some reason we always manage to get a bit confused by it.

The stories this time all involve drunken nights out. There’s also some swearing in this, which you might want to bear in mind if you’re using this in class or something.

Vocabulary

I want to just highlight some vocab in advance, just to help you a bit. These are things you might not know but which are pretty important for understanding the stories.

  • a stag do / a stag party = a party a man has before he gets married, usually involving going out with best friends – one of whom will be the best man at the wedding, lots of drinking, a trip to another city or country, some humiliation of the groom-to-be, maybe a trip to a strip club. “I was on my cousin’s stag do” – you heard me mention my cousin’s stag do in a recent episode, when the two of us were dressed as a pantomime horse. It’s called a bachelor party in the USA.
  • a hen do / a hen party = (not mentioned in the story, but if you learn stag do you’ve got to learn hen do as well, they go together as a pair) basically a hen do is the same as a stag do but for girls – it usually involves going out with a big group of girls, including the bridesmaids, but they’ve got fancy dress on or they’re all wearing angel wings or something, or special T shirts with the bride’s face on, lots of drinking and fairly lewd behaviour, and maybe a male stripper. Stag dos and hen dos, that’s the kind of rich, deep cultural heritage which makes me proud to be an Englishman. “It’s Emma’s hen do at the weekend.” Bachelorette party in US English.
  • What the Fuck France! This a comedy TV show that Paul Taylor made on French TV, which made him quite famous among the French (French people).
  • Boxers / boxer shorts = a kind of men’s underwear, similar to those worn by boxers.
  • To get whacked – to get assassinated by the mafia (this is Italian American slang that you might hear in a Martin Scorsese film)
That's how it happens. That's how fast it takes for a guy to get whacked.
Goodfellas (1990)
  • Frolicking – playing, jumping, dancing around –> frolicking around in the water
  • Lax = not caring enough about security or rules, being lazy about security, a lax approach to air travel, very lax security at the hotel
  • A maze = Something you might find in the garden of an old English stately home. Imagine the garden of an English stately home – an old house in the countryside, like Downton Abbey or Hampton Court or something. In a maze there are hedges which have been grown to form a series of interconnected paths, and for fun you have to find your way from one end to the other or find the middle, without getting lost.


I will let you discover what actually happens in the stories and how all that language is actually featured.

So that’s it for the introduction and a little pre-teaching of language. Now you can just sit back and listen on as we let the game begin!


Outtro

So that was the late night lockdown lying game with Amber and Paul. I hope you enjoyed it.

I think I’ve found the cure for hiccups.

Happy Hour with Paul Taylor – 6PM CET weekdays on YouTube and Facebook.

There are lots of other lying game episodes in the archive. Head over to teacherluke.co.uk and do a search of the archive for “lying game”. You can also search in the app that way. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve done this on the podcast now. We’ve had stories about working on Keanu Reeves films, being bullied by members of Coldplay, meeting rock stars at buddhist temples, seeing famous French film stars on my roof, working as a pole dancer in Paris, stabbing yourself in the face accidentally, rolling cars on country roads, knocking down walls in Japanese apartments, getting offered threesomes, and all kinds of other things. It could be a whole podcast of its own.

656. British Comedy: Karl Pilkington’s Monkey News / The Ricky Gervais Show

Listen to a funny story told in a Manchester accent, and learn various bits of English in the process including vocabulary and pronunciation. Improve your understanding of regional British accents. Story transcript & vocabulary notes available.

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Episode aims

To understand a funny story in English to the same level as a native English speaker
To become more familiar with a Manchester accent (mancunian) and to practise listening to colloquial speech in English
To learn vocabulary relating to working on a building site, and more

Listen to the story – Monkey News / Builder

What are the main events in the story?
What’s going on?
What does the builder do?
What does he see?

A quick summary of the story

A man gets a new job on a building site. He’s just told to get to work and to not ask any questions. He sees another guy working at the top of the building who seems to work really well. He’s efficient, he doesn’t take breaks, he seems to take risks and be a hard worker. He asks the other builders and they say not to worry about it. Never mind. Don’t ask questions. He notices this guy at the top doesn’t have lunch, except for a bucket of nuts which is sent up to him. Peanuts. He gets v suspicious and asks the boss what’s going on. The boss just tells him to get back to work and not ask questions. Ultimately the guy clocks what’s going on and works out that it’s a chimpanzee working on the building and he complains, but the boss gives him the sack. So it turns out that a chimp was working on a building site and he was actually a more valuable worker than this experienced builder. Well, fancy that.

Vocabulary

Go through it quickly, just giving quick definitions and pronunciation pointers.

A bloke
A builder (person)
A building (noun)
To build / building (verb / -ing form of verb)
To get going on it = start doing something
To get on with it = hurry up, continue doing something
Bricks
Cement
Girders
The spire = the pointed top part of a building
The foundations
A fella
To take someone on
The work rate
Scared of heights (scared of the heights which are up there)
Riveting (verb)
Riveting (adjective) “This is really riveting stuff, Luke”
Nuts (that you eat)
Nuts and bolts
To hook something (on)
To check someone out
To stare
A tyre
To be wise to what’s going on
To clock something
It’s not on
Don’t get involved
Don’t interfere
You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
A good grafter
To graft (verb)
Graft (noun)
To let someone go
To be made redundant
To be laid off
A chip off the old block

Monkey News – Transcript

Ricky: Ooh, chimpanzee that! Monkey news, you fff…

Karl: There was this bloke who was a builder, right?

Steve: Oh yeah

K: And, er, you know what builders are like. They sort of move about, don’t they, from, from sort of building to building just building.

R: Well yeah. Once they’ve built it, the building’s done and they move on to build some more.

K: So he goes to his next job and that, right?

S: Who does, the builder?

K: The builder

S: Yep. The new building.

K: He goes to, like, the boss of this building who’s building it.

S: OK, yeah.

K: And he says what unto him?

K: Do you need anything building?

S: OK, yeah

K: So anyway, so he says, err, he says “Yeah yeah there’s plenty of work and that going about”. He says “We’re working on this one here”. He said, err, “Get going on it, like. There’s your bricks and cement and stuff. Get on with it.”

R: Any plans? Nah, JUST BUILD.

S: Just start building.

R: GO UP

K: They’re getting on with it and stuff. It’s all going well. But he notices that there’s someone working high up, on the top bit.

S: Sure

K: Because you know how, like, there’s girders and stuff on these big buildings

R: And he’s still building the bottom bit, which is weird.

K: And he’s still… Yeah well that’s, that’s the way they do it there apparently, just to sort of speed it up. Work from top to middle, from top to bottom

S: Sure. And that’s where? That’s in imaginary land.

R: We put the spire on and then we’d better do the foundations, and then put some stuff in the middle to keep it up there.

K: So anyway, he’s saying to, like, the other workers, he’s going “What’s… Who’s that up there? …

S: Who’s that up there?

K: … He’s working on his own.

R: What? Little fella was he?

S: Little hairy fella up there.

R: The little hairy fella up there with the hard hat

K: The other fellas are going “Look, you know, don’t ask questions, you know. The boss decides who he takes on. We’re happy to be getting paid here.”

R: [Laughing] DON’T ASK QUESTIONS?? Well I’ll see him when he comes down.

K: So he said, “Well he’s pretty impressive, you know. The work rate is pretty impressive, the work that he’s doing, the way he’s getting from one girder to the other “

S: Haha, he’s swinging is he?

K: “He doesn’t seem to be scared of the heights of anything.” He said “no, we just let him get on with it, you know. We work well as a team.” Lunch time comes. They’re all sat there. Sat on a little wall having their sandwiches. He’s just thinking that he’ll come down in a bit. [But] He’s just carrying on.

S: Is he? He’s just still going.

K: He’s still going and that, right? So, the fella says to the boss man, he says “Isn’t that fella up there going to come down and join us for lunch?” He said, “Err, like I said mate, don’t worry about him, right?” So he said “Oh, anyway, you’ve reminded me that he’s up there. He’s doing a lot of riveting and stuff up there. He probably needs some more nuts, to err…

S: Right, sure, and what kind of nuts is that? Is that nuts the food, or…?

K: So he said “What? Nuts?” He says “Yeah, just… There’s a bag full of them there, just just put them on the hook. Send them up and he can get on with his job.” So, anyway, he picks these nuts up

S: Nuts, yep.

K: Just hooks them on and thinks “They’re not that heavy, considering, you know, they’re normally pretty heavy aren’t they like nuts and bolts and stuff.

S: A big bag of nuts, yeah.

K: Anyway, he has a little glance in

S: Ah no, what’s in there?

K: Nuts

S: What, you mean nuts you can eat?

K: Nuts that you can eat.

S: Ah

K: So they send the bag up and he’s thinking “What’s all that about?” He checks him out. Starts to stare. Worked it out. He can see that… It’s a little chimp running about. So he goes, “I’m not happy with this.”

R: Why isn’t he? Is the boss sitting in a tyre?

K: He said “All them lot out there might not be wise to what’s going on here, but I’ve clocked it, and you’re sending nuts up to it. It’s a monkey, it’s not on.” So he goes, “Look, you know, we’re all just trying to earn a living here.” He said, err “Don’t get involved in it. I’m happy to pay you, but I’m paying him. Don’t interfere.”

R: He’s paying him?

K: He’s saying “Look, I’m just not happy with this. It’s not allowed.” So the boss was saying…

R: We pay peanuts, we get monkeys.

K: He said “To be honest mate, you know, err, he’s a great worker. He’s known for doing what he does. He’s a good grafter. If one of you is going to go, right, I’m afraid I’ll have to let you go because he’s been here longer and that.

S: Blimey. He was made redundant.

R: None of that happened.

K: He was laid off

R: None of that happened.

K: He’s laid off and that. And that’s where that saying, about, err, you know how there’s a lot of tower blocks and that in America, it’s not like, err… ‘a chimp off the old block’, is where…

R: [Laughs hysterically]

K: And that’s monkey news.

Can I still listen to the Ricky Gervais Podcast?

Yes, you can.

Some episodes are still available on
The Ricky Gervais Podcast (find it on iTunes and wherever you get your podcasts, and just scroll back through the archive to find some “best of” stuff)
The Ricky Gervais Show website www.therickygervaisshow.com/podcasts
YouTube (Search or Monkey News and you’ll find full compilations of them)

Another Monkey News – Chimp Goes Into Space

Links & More

A full page listing all instances of Monkey News, with summaries, and time codes for where they appear in episodes of the Ricky Gervais Podcast.

pilkipedia.co.uk/wiki/index.php?title=Monkey_News

A compilation of almost all the Monkey News segments from the RGP. Over 3 hours of Monkey News!