Category Archives: Personal

629. Do you ever … ? (with James) Strange Habits & Funny Observations

A funny conversation about strange habits that we don’t often talk about, with my brother James. Notes & scripts available below.

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Yes, this is a long episode…

…but remember the best way to listen to these episodes is by using a podcast app on your phone. That way you can listen to a bit, pause the episode and when you choose to listen again your app will remember where you previously stopped. If you’re wondering which podcast app to use, let me recommend the Luke’s English Podcast App, which contains the entire episode archive and loads of bonus stuff. Just search for Luke’s English Podcast App in the app store for Apple devices or Google Play store for Android, and yes it’s completely free. Using a podcast app means that you don’t have to listen to an entire episode in one sitting, which is the best way to listen to longer podcasts like this one.

Introduction (after the jingle)

In this episode, let’s just ask each other a bunch of “do you ever?” questions.

This is going to involve using present simple tense a lot. This is the most basic verb tense we have in English, and we use it to talk about permanent facts and habitual behaviour.

In lessons at school this tense is often taught to students at low levels because it’s a really important foundation for general English, but it tends to be a little bit dull – not the way students deal with the tense, but the way it’s presented in textbooks. Usually, materials based around present simple tense just involve daily routines, what time you normally get up, eat lunch, go to bed etc.

Students at that level lack the vocabulary to be able to talk about habits and routines in a more complex way. When they do have more vocabulary at higher levels, the course books always focus on other tenses – e.g. past tenses for telling stories about the past, future tenses for making predictions about the future, conditional sentences and modal verbs for speculating and so on.

The poor present simple tense is left with this boring reputation of just being a low-level bit of grammar which we only use to talk about what time we get up in the morning and how often we go to the gym.

So, let’s come back to present simple tense and see if we can use it to talk about slightly more unusual and fun things.

As a teacher, the main problem I have noticed when students are using present simple tense is just remembering to add ‘s’ or maybe ‘es’ (which often adds another syllable to the word – like ‘I wish’ and ‘he wishes’ for example). Often it’s just missing 3rd person forms. Like someone saying “He go” when it should be “he goes”. It’s so basic but it’s worth self-correcting if it happens.

Anyway, this episode is called “Do you ever?” and I’ve prepared a big list of unusual behaviour which I think we don’t often talk about, but which I think many of us do, or maybe it’s just me.

Now, I don’t necessarily do all of these things. They’re just based on observations I’ve made. Also, some of the things in this list were written by my brother during a conversation we had ages ago about weird little habits that we have.

Let’s see what happens in terms of the language that comes out. Will we switch to other tenses at any point? What kind of vocabulary will emerge? And do you ever do these slightly unusual things?

***Interruption***

I’m interrupting here because, before we go any further, I think it’s necessary to say a few things about this episode in order to help you understand it all a bit better.

First of all, you should know that this is quite a silly and rambling episode and it shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Most of what you’re going to hear is just for fun really and I hope you enjoy it.

There is quite a lot of rude language in the episode and by that I mean things like the F word (you mean the word “Fuck” – err, yes – OKay, thanks. Just checking. Wait – who are you? Never mind, carry on!) So there is some swearing but for me that’s quite normal in an informal situation but obviously – swearing is still not a good idea in polite company or at work for example. But for two people like James and me chatting informally at home, swearing might happen and, you know – I want this to be authentic, as if you’re sitting with us the whole time. So, that’s why there is swearing.

Also, I think it will probably be difficult for many of you to follow this conversation because we talk about some very specific and quite personal things, sometimes we talk quickly because we’re in a rush to say things before the other one interrupts us, we talk over each other sometimes and the topic of conversation changes a lot as we go through each question quite quickly.

So this is definitely going to be a difficult one, depending on your level of English of course. But sometimes you need a challenge!

Generally, I think I am quite easy to understand when I’m talking on my own, even when I’m speaking quickly. I just have a clear voice. But when I’m talking to friends on the podcast I think it becomes a lot more difficult to understand everything and that might demotivate you. But you need a bit of a challenge from time to time. I hope the bits that you understand will carry you through the bits that you don’t understand.

But I do want to help you understand as much as possible, so I’m now going to read out all the Do You Ever…? Questions that we answer in this episode. I’m going to read them all out now, just to give you a chance to understand them all in advance. This can make a big difference to your comprehension of this conversation.

If you have already had a chance to think about the different things that we talk about, you’ll be in a much better position to understand it all.

So, let me now go through this list of “Do you ever…?” questions and I’d like you to concentrate and just try to understand each one and then prepare to hear what we have to say about them in the rest of the conversation.

You should also consider whether you do these particular little things or not, and if you consider them to be normal, funny or weird.

Right, so listen carefully – these are the questions that James and I are going to discuss in this conversation. Here we go…

Do you ever…?

  • Get song lyrics stuck in your head (like an earworm)

  • Aim at things when you pee

  • Use a special system for getting to sleep

  • Have dreams or nightmares

  • Wave at people on boats

  • Look out of the window in a moving car and imagine that you’re running along next to the car like Mario or Sonic, jumping over obstacles, or that you’re cutting everything with a huge saw or laser as you move past

  • Shave your beard into a funny moustache for a moment when shaving

  • Talk to yourself in a different voice, when nobody else is around

  • Wipe while sitting or wipe while standing

  • Imagine doing an amazing performance in front of your old school during an assembly or something

  • Avoid stepping on the cracks in the pavement, or live by any other superstitions

  • Go to the hairdressers and have a really bad time but say nothing about it

  • Drink loads of tea or coffee at work just so you get more toilet breaks

  • Smoke cigarettes because you’re bored, or decide to smoke a cigarette because you see someone in a movie smoking

  • Imagine what you would do if a zombie apocalypse happened right now

  • Count the number of steps it takes you to get up a flight of stairs or go from the sofa to the toilet

  • Flip something, like a remote control, in the air over and over again until you drop it

  • Do fake bets with yourself or your friends

  • Badly need the loo on the way home

  • Listen to songs and completely misunderstand or mishear the lyrics

    Fugzi – Waiting Room

    The lyrics are, “I am a patient boy. I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait.”

    James thought it was, “I am a pastry boy. I weigh, I weigh, I weigh, I weigh.” 

  • Open toilet doors with your elbows

  • Use the back of your hand or certain fingers for touching your face, as if the back of your hand or your knuckle are ‘totally safe’

  • Think “that would be a good name for a band”

  • Fall asleep in public and then suddenly wake up because your head has suddenly moved, you’ve snored or you’ve made another noise, or your head has moved back and your mouth has hung open, or you’ve drooled out of your mouth

  • Throw a ball of paper at the bin, miss, pick up the ball and try again from the exact same spot as before

  • Eat any parts of yourself – e.g nails, dead skin or bogies

  • Tap your foot to the beat of other people’s music which you can overhear from their headphones, in order to show them that you can hear it (or because the music is actually good)

  • Walk past someone you know in the street and go to say hello, then realise they’ve chosen to blank you (to ignore you)

  • Not move down in public transport even though you could, because you want to save space for yourself and because you generally hate other people

  • Fall in love with a stranger on public transport and yet do absolutely nothing about it other than glance at them and hope they don’t notice

  • Add your own voiceover track to films or TV shows

  • Doodle particular things with a pen while you’re on the phone

  • Hate strangers on public transport for no reason

  • Put toast in the toaster, it comes up not done properly, then you put it back and then it’s burnt

  • Lie on your back and throw a ball or maybe an orange into the air, and fail to catch it

  • Walk for ages with a stone in your shoe – it feels massive, then you take it out and it’s tiny

  • Find everything totally fascinating, just before bedtime – especially if you promised yourself earlier in the day that you’d have an early night


Ending

That was the LEP Jingle Megamix that you heard at the end there. I haven’t played that on the podcast for a while. If you’d like to know where all those little samples in that jingle come from, check out the Jingles & Music category in the LEP App. There’s a full episode there in which I go through all the samples and explain where they all come from. It’s called “Deconstructing the LEP Jingle Megamix”.

Well done for listening to all of that. I wonder how many of you have made this far, and how many people just couldn’t handle it any longer for whatever reason, and how many skeletons there are with headphones on right now – skeletons that were perfectly healthy fresh-faced humans when they started listening to this, who slowly perished as the episode went on.

But not you – no, you made it all the way through and there’s a good chance you laughed with us, and perhaps were struck by a profound sense of shared experience when you realised that you also do some of the things we talked about.

But well done to you, in any case and I hope you also picked up some English along the way – because, after all, that is the main purpose of this whole thing, of course. I expect the lower level listeners or the more serious listeners probably stopped listening because they couldn’t keep up or because they felt that they didn’t have time. I’m not going to get into all the stuff about the pros and cons of long episodes vs shorter episodes and things like that. Anyway, the point is – if you made it this far then “nice one” and I wonder what your favourite moments were from this episode. You could share your thoughts in the comment section of course.

Let me thank James again for being on the podcast. I always enjoy our episodes together and I hope that that comes across in the recording.

Right, time to stop talking. There’s no time to mention that you should sign up to LEP Premium at www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium. No time to that, but you should anyway. There are now over 60 premium items available and more premium episodes are coming, I promise. They just take quite a lot of work and preparation. But there will be more coming before Christmas.

All I’ll say now is thank you again for listening and I will speak to you again on the podcast soon, but for now – goodbye!

What’s the music at the end of the episode, Luke?

The music you can hear at the end is called Wonderland and it was produced by James on his Akai MPC2000. You can check it out (and his other tunes) on his Soundcloud page here soundcloud.com/jt-2000

627. Emina’s Long Journey to English Proficiency

My friend Emina Tuzovic has learned English to a proficient level as a non-native speaker of the language. She says it has been “a long journey”. Let’s find out all about that journey of English learning in this conversation, recorded in London just a couple of days ago.

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Introduction

Today on the podcast I am talking to my friend Emina Tuzovic, who is an English teacher.

For ages and ages I have been meaning to have Emina on this podcast for 3 main reasons:

1. Emina is absolutely lovely and it’s just nice to spend time talking with her, plus there’s plenty I’d like to find out from her that I’ve never really asked her before. That’s a benefit of the podcast, it gives me a chance to have in-depth conversations that often just don’t happen otherwise.

2. She is a non-native speaker of English who has learned the language to a proficient level – good enough to do a masters, a PhD, and to teach English at a very high level, to deliver workshops and seminars and just to live in the UK for a good length of time. So, she must have some valuable insights and experiences about learning English because she’s done it herself, but also about the cultural experience of moving to London and living there for what must be about 15 years at least I think.

3. She is a very well-qualified and experienced English teacher and so I am sure she has loads of insights into learning English from that point of view too, including certain areas of specialist knowledge as a result of her academic studies, including things like the challenges faced by native speakers of Arabic when they learn English. I’ve never talked about Arabic speakers of English on the podcast, so hello to all my Arabic speaking listeners (or should that be marhabaan.

As I said, it’s been quite hard to pin Emina down and interview her – mainly because our timetables are different, I live in Paris, she lives in London and she goes to bed so early in the evening. Thankfully the universe has finally allowed it to happen, here at the London School of English in Holland Park, London. This is where I used to work and where Emina still does work.

So the aim here is to have a long(ish) and natural conversation with Emina, touching on topics like learning English, cultural differences in the UK, teaching English and her academic studies in linguistics.

622. General Ramble (Oct 2019) Learning English / Politics / Recording Setup / Book Recommendation / Beatles / Star Wars / Bill Bailey

Rambling on my own about all sorts of things including Brexit news, describing my recording setup and microphones, a book recommendation for you, comments about the Beatles Abbey Road 50th Anniversary, the latest Star Wars Episode 9 trailer and Bill Bailey dissecting music in a brilliant way.

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Episode Notes & Videos

Rick Thompson Report/Politics

🤷‍♂️

My Recording Setup

A Shure SM57 into a CL1 Cloudlifter then into a Behringer Q502 and then into the Zoom H5.

Book Recommendation

One Train Later by Andy Summers

The Beatles Abbey Road 50th Anniversary

Star Wars Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker

Episode 9 Trailer

RedLetterMedia predict the plot of Star Wars 9

Bill Bailey & Music

616. Can you find the 15 idioms? (with Paul Taylor)

Listen to Luke and Paul play a conversation game and try to spot 15 common idioms. All idioms are demonstrated, explained and listed on the website.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello everyone and welcome back to this podcast which is made by me in my flat in order to help you learn English and also enjoy learning English too!

If you heard the last episode, you’ll remember that I was planning to play an idioms game with Paul. That’s what you’re going to hear in this episode – a game with Paul in which we have to try to include some idioms into our conversation seamlessly.

What you can do in this episode is not only follow the conversation as usual, but also try to spot all the idioms as they crop up. There are 15 in total. Admittedly, about 3 of them are explained and defined at the beginning, but 12 others are slipped into the conversation and then explained and defined at the end.

So, can you spot all the idioms during the conversation? Do you know them already? Can you work out what they mean from context? This is good practice because it encourages you to pay attention and notice new language as it occurs in natural conversation. Noticing is actually an important skill which can really help with language acquisition.

This from the British Council’s website for teacher development, teachingenglish.org.uk

When learners “notice” new language, they pay special attention to its form, use and meaning. Noticing is regarded as an important part of the process of learning new language, especially in acquisition-driven accounts of language learning, when learners at some point in their acquisition, notice their errors in production. Noticing will only occur when the learner is ready to take on the new language.

Example
A learner might make an error in the use of a preposition, but “notice” its correct use by another learner, or in an authentic text. This might allow them to begin to use it correctly.

www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/noticing

It’s an important skill to develop – to be able to notice language, to identify certain bits of grammar, or certain fixed expressions like idioms, notice the form (all the individual words used to create the idiom) and the meaning. It helps you identify differences between your use of English and the way it is used by natives, and that comparison allows you to then adapt your English accordingly. This awareness of what kind of English you’re aiming for is vital.

Developing noticing skills is an important part of developing learner autonomy and your language acquisition skills. The better you are at noticing, the more you are able to learn English by just listening to audio that you enjoy, rather than going through a language coursebook which teaches you specific language items. So, I encourage you to pay special attention during this episode on idioms and fixed expressions. Obviously idioms are confusing because they’re not literal – the whole phrase means something different to the individual words being used.

About the idioms you will hear. These are all very common ones. Some of them you are bound to have heard before and will not be new to you. In a way though, if you have heard them before I’m not concerned. That just means that you’re starting to learn all our idioms, which is a good thing. Remember that you also have to be able to use these idioms, not just understand them. When you do use them, be extra sure that you’re using them 100% correct – for example you’re not using a wrong little word here or there, or perhaps collocating the phrase with the wrong verb or something.

The topic of conversation just happens to be Paul’s brother Kyle who we talk about on the podcast occasionally. In case you don’t know – Kyle Taylor is a professional footballer who plays for the Premiership team Bournemouth FC, although he is still yet to make his Premiership debut. A debut is your first game. So he hasn’t played in the Premiership yet (he’s only about 20) but he has played in the FA Cup.

Alright, so you can listen to Paul and I discussing Kyle and his footballing career, amongst other things, and you have to spot the idioms, which will all be explained at the end. All the idioms are listed on the page for this episode on the website, so check them out there if you want to see specific things like spellings, the specific form of the idioms and so on.

Right, without any further ado, let’s begin!


Ending

Remember, all those idioms are listed on the page for this episode. So check them out.

The Idioms List from this game

  1. (to go) back to the drawing board
  2. to mind your Ps and Qs
  3. to feel under the weather
  4. to be all ears
  5. to take the bull by the horns
  6. a hat-trick
  7. to save something for a rainy day
  8. to pull your socks up
  9. to be down in the dumps
  10. to let the cat out of the bag
  11. to bend over backwards
  12. to get your skates on
  13. to call a spade a spade
  14. to be full of beans
  15. not a sausage

What did you think of the episodes about the mystery game? I don’t know what you all thought of that? Did you enjoy it? Was it too difficult to follow? Give me your feedback. You can do that on the website.

Get in touch and let me know how it’s going for you.

 

615. Paul Taylor Became a Dad, and you won’t believe what happened next

Find out about Paul Taylor’s life now that he’s the father of a newborn baby. How’s the baby doing? How are Paul and his wife coping? What happened during the birth? How has Paul managed to create an entirely new 1-hour comedy show, while also moving house and dealing with the madness of parenthood? How does he feel about it all? What exactly is making him angry this time? Listen on to find out.

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LEP Meetup in London (Sat 28 Sept at 6pm – Fitzroy Tavern)

Calling all London LEPsters! Following on from the success of the last meetup, there’s going to be another one in London. The date is Saturday 28th September 2019. The venue is the same as before – the Firtzroy Tavern, 16 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LY. The time – 6pm.

The Fitzroy is a classic old London pub. Various famous writers and acclaimed people have spent time there, including George Orwell, the man who wrote 1984 and Animal Farm amongst other great work. Now it’s the location of LEP meetups in London. You can get drinks and food, Zdenek Lukas is organising it again, with his board games, and I think some of the gang from the last meetup are going to return but new people are very welcome too. There will be games, friendly conversation and laughs and a good chance to practice your English and make some new friends with like-minded people.

Saturday 28th September 2019. The Firtzroy Tavern, 16 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LY. The time – 6pm.

Introduction Transcript

Hi folks, how are you all doing? And how about you, yes specifically you? How’s that thing that’s been bothering you a bit? Has it cleared up? How did that thing go? You know the thing you had to do? Did it go ok? If you’re driving while listening to this, please keep your eyes on the road at all times. If you’re running while listening (maybe for exercise, or maybe in order to escape something, like a bear) then keep it up! Don’t stop running! If you’re walking somewhere, don’t forget the old combination – right foot, left foot , right foot, left foot etc. If you’re sitting still, then I hope you are nice and comfy. Good. Now that the conditions are right, let’s continue.

So, Paul Taylor is back on the podcast. I’ve been wondering what title to choose for this episode. I was considering “Baby Update with Paul” but I thought that sounded a bit boring and flat. I considered calling it “Down in the Dumps with Paul Taylor” but that won’t make much sense until you’ve heard the next episode. Having the right title on an episode can make all the difference. It’s the thing that entices people to actually click the play button and listen. Most people probably just listen regardless of the title, but nevertheless, the title is vital as the most direct way to market the episode to your listeners. So it is something that I find myself scratching my head over sometimes.

So that’s why, this time, I’ve gone with the most clickbait-y title I could think of. “Paul Taylor Became a Dad – and you won’t believe what happened next” is exactly the sort of title you get on those annoying online articles that you somehow can’t resist clicking on. So there it is. Now you will have to listen in order to decide if the “You won’t believe what happened next” part of the title is justifiable or not. But that’s it – the title is an experiment in clickbait and a kind of ironic joke too. Anyway, to get straight to the point – this episode is about Paul’s experience of becoming a father for the first time.

For this episode I originally had a plan to do an idioms game with Paul, which would involve us talking and trying to naturally add some idioms into our conversation, but I forgot to introduce the game at the start of the episode because we immediately went flying down the rabbit hole of Paul’s baby news. So, no idioms game – that’s going to be in the next one. And this episode is slightly shorter than normal, which makes a nice change. That’s because after half an hour we decided to start doing the game and I’ve decided to make that another episode of the podcast, which will be the next one. So, an idioms game with Paul is coming up in the next episode, which means that this episode is basically a catching up chat with Paul focusing on life as a new Dad.

You might have heard the episode I did nearly 2 years ago about the arrival of my daughter. It’s episode 502.

In that one I talked with my wife about what happened when our baby arrived, what it is like, how the baby is getting on and everything. My wife and I are lucky that we had no major issues, the baby was born healthy and happy and in the weeks and months afterwards we enjoyed the experience of having a third member of the family with us and it felt all loved up and sweet, but it’s not always like that. It depends on the child and the situation you’re in. One thing’s for sure though, having a baby is a bit like a bomb going off in your life. It can cause quite a lot of difficulty, chaos and fatigue in ways that you don’t expect.

So this time it’s the turn of Paul Taylor and his wife and I will let you listen to Paul describing his experiences of looking after their newborn, what happened during the birth, and whether it has been a fairly easy ride so far, or on the contrary – something of an exhausting ordeal.

In any case, I would like to wish them both a hearty congratulations, but let’s now find out how Paul has been getting on with it all.

Your job as ever is just to try and keep up with the chat and see if there are any new words or phrases you can spot. It might be worth revisiting some of my other episodes about having kids, especially ones in which I explain all the relevant vocab (ep162 was all about that). There’s a list of episodes on the page for this episode on the website (below).

Alright then, so without further ado – let’s find out how Paul’s been getting on.


Conversation with Paul begins – How does he feel about being a dad?


Ending Script

That’s the end of this part. I just want to say thanks again to Paul and to wish him and his wife well. To be honest it sounds like they’ve been having a really hard time with the baby crying constantly, which is horrible. When your child cries, it is a truly horrible feeling. It gets you right in your soul and it’s like torture. It can be very tough to be stuck indoors with a crying baby all day every day. It can drive you round the bend. I really hope it gets better soon and the two of them can start to enjoy parenthood properly.

It’s tough having kids, there’s no doubt about it. It can be horrible – but somehow the good things carry you through the bad things. I just hope they get to taste some of the good stuff soon, because there is a lot of joy in having kids. For me it got much better when our daughter started interacting with us more and now it’s very funny and entertaining trying to have conversations with her. I hope Paul can enjoy that too in the near future.

I must say I am very impressed that he’s managed to come up with an entirely new 1-hour comedy show during all of this. That is very difficult, especially when your first show was developed over 3 years and was a big hit. Now he has to do it all again, but he has done it. A new 1 hour show called “So British (ou presque)” and you can see it at a venue called FLOW in Paris from 18 October to 4 January. More details on the website (below).

www.francebillet.com/place-spectacle/manifestation/One-man-woman-show-PAUL-TAYLOR-FLTAY.htm#/calendrier/

Idioms Game (next episode)

You heard there that I mentioned the idioms card game I had intended to play during the conversation. That’s what’s going to happen in the next episode. A game in which you can try to spot various common idioms in our conversation, and we’ll explain and clarify them for you too.

Just a reminder, you can check out previous episodes I’ve done about parenthood if you’re interested in learning more vocabulary about the subject. Check out episode 161 which was a conversation with a heavily pregnant Amber Minogue about what it’s like being 8 months pregnant. The following episode (162) covers a lot of vocabulary relating to pregnancy, childbirth and childcare. Then there’s episode 502 which is wife and me chatting. And if you remember there are also several episodes with Ben and Andy from the London School, in which they both prepare me (and scare me) ahead of the birth of my daughter. (Links at the bottom of the page)

Raising Bilingual Children 

On the subject of having children and learning English, I have received quite a lot of requests about doing a podcast about how to raise children to be bilingual. I guess quite a lot of you out there are having children too and you really want them to grow up to be effective speakers of English. What’s the best way to achieve this? How do you bring up kids to speak another language?

This is actually a really complicated question and there are many different situations in which this might be a concern.

One parent speaks a different language, but the family lives in the home country of the other parent (my situation, same as many of my friends)

The two parents are from one country, but living in a different place now and bringing up a child there.

The two parents are non-natives living in a non-English speaking place, but they want their child to grow up speaking English.

How do you go about helping the child to learn English? Also, how do I talk to my daughter? What is the typical way to talk to children in English? Are there any particular phrases or words that we use.

So this is actually a pretty big project and to properly deal with it I think it’s necessary to perhaps get the benefit of qualified professionals who know about the various kinds of research into second language acquisition for kids and the ins and outs of bilingualism in children.

So, what I plan to do is interview my friends about their experiences of bringing up bilingual kids. I also would like to take advantage of my contacts at the BC and ask some of our staff for their professional opinions regarding bilingualism and how you can help your kids to learn English.

So this is a podcast series that requires some preparation but it’s one that I’m going to start working on soon.

In the meantime – I’m interested in your comments, if any of you out there has experience of raising a child to be bilingual – I want to hear from you. Let me know about techniques, experiences, challenges, methods – anything relating to bringing up kids who speak English. I am particularly interested in success stories of bringing up a child to speak English when English is not your native tongue, or the native tongue of your partner and you’re not living in an English speaking country. For example, Polish parents (who probably speak English a bit) bringing up a Polish child in Poland to speak good English from childhood. That might be you (but in a different country I expect). So, if you have things to say about this – send me a comment or an email. I’d like to gather together some thoughts, anecdotes and tips which I can make part of future episodes. So, have a think and get in touch with me via my website teacherluke.co.uk

Finally – London-based LEPsters, don’t forget about the official LEP meetup happening on Saturday 28th September 2019. The venue is the same as before – the Firtzroy Tavern, 16 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LY. The time – 6pm.

Reminders:

  • LEP Premium
  • Website mailing list
  • Download the app
  • Check out italki
  • Consider sending a donation to support the podcast

That’s it for this episode! Thank you for listening. The next one will feature a vocabulary game featuring about 15 different common English idioms for you to spot and learn. That’s coming soon. But for this episode it’s just time to say BYE BYE BYE!

Previous Episodes about Parenthood / Babies / Vocabulary

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

162. Having Babies: Vocabulary / A Male Perspective

502. The Birth of My Daughter

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

492. Becoming a Dad (with Andy & Ben) Part 2

Paul’s last (pre-baby) appearance on the podcast

597. Growing Up / Getting Older / Becoming a Father (with Paul Taylor)

Let me know your comments about raising bilingual children!

 

608. The Mass Observation (with Mum)

Listen to my mum talk about a social history project focusing on the lives of everyday people in the UK. Includes discussion of things like protests, plastic, identity, sex education, loneliness, and milk!

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Introduction Transcript

Hello everyone, this is LEP episode 608 and it’s called The Mass Observation (with Mum).

What’s that all about? You might be thinking. This sounds like some kind of Big Brother thing – like maybe the government observing everyone in some kind of dystopian future, and somehow my mum is involved in it.

Well, I’m afraid it’s far less dramatic than that.

In fact, the mass observation in the title is a social history project that has been going on in the UK, probably for 70 years or more. It’s a project that my mum has fairly recently got involved in.

Basically, the mass observation (now administered by the University of Sussex) aims to record everyday life in Britain through a panel of volunteer observers who either keep diaries or reply to open-ended questionnaires (known as directives). My mum is one of those volunteers and since this project is all about collecting information on everyday life in the UK we thought it might be an interesting episode of Luke’s English Podcast.

So that’s what you’re going to get here. A conversation with my mum on a variety of topics which have come up in the quarterly questionnaires from the Mass Observation.

So, you can expect some rambling conversation between the two of us on things like this:

  • protests
  • plastic
  • identity and gender identity
  • sex education in school
  • loneliness and belonging
  • and milk

There’s also some chat at the start about Prince Harry & Meghan Markle, following on from the last time my mum was on the podcast when we talked about the royal wedding.

So now you can enjoy about an hour’s worth of my mum’s nice voice and accent talking about a variety of issues relating to everyday life in the UK.

I hope you enjoy it. I’ll be back to talk a bit more on the other side of the conversation.

In terms of language learning, your task as ever is to just keep on listening. At the very least, that’s all you have to do here. Just listen, follow the conversation, see what you can learn from it and try to notice any features of English or vocabulary along the way. But the main thing, just enjoy this chat between my mum and me.


Ending

I hope you enjoyed that. I’d like to say a big thank you again to my mum for being on the podcast again, and to all members of my family who make a huge contribution every time they’re on.

So what’s up? Nearly the end of the summer holidays. We’re approaching the end of August.

I hope you’ve had a good summer.

Remember in July I mentioned a couple of times the LEP meetup that was happening in London? Well, I went to it and met about 25-30 LEPsters, had some drinks and conversation with them for a few hours, and what a pleasant experience that was!

In fact we recorded some samples of audio during the meetup, with everyone talking for a minute or two. I think I’ll be putting an episode together with that.

Speak to you again on the podcast soon! Bye!

 

605. Unexpected Road Trip (with James)

James and Luke go on an accidental road trip in the south-west of England and record a rambling podcast, while slowly going a bit mad. Will they make it to their destination before sunset? Listen to find out what happens and to learn some words and culture in the process. Photos below. 

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LEPSTER MEETUP IN LONDON

Where? The Fitzroy Tavern, 16 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LY (near Oxford Street/Tottenham Court Road)
When? Sunday 28 July from 2PM (and probably continuing into the afternoon)
Who? English teacher Zdenek Lukas is the host and all LEPsters (and non-LEPsters) are welcome! Also, Luke might be there with his brother and friends.
Email teacherzdenek@gmail.com to let him know you’re coming.
Come to chat, meet people, play board games in English and have fun!

Episode Introduction (after the jingle)

Hello, welcome back to the podcast everyone, I hope you’re all doing well and having a nice summer or winter depending on which hemisphere you are currently residing in.

I am currently in the middle of a very busy teaching schedule – teaching classes all day every day this week and next week, and of course in the evenings I’m looking after my daughter and dealing with all the usual aspects of life in general. So, I have not had a lot of time to work on podcast episodes. That’s why there’s been a delay and that might continue for a few more weeks, we’ll see. But here’s a new episode!

There are actually loads of things I’d like to talk about, including the fact that England are now World Cup winners – yes, we won the World Cup for the first time ever, so it finally came home! I’m not talking about football of course, nope – I’m talking about cricket (yes, that still counts! It’s still a big deal because let me remind you that it is the world’s second most popular spectator sport.) Yes, England are the champions of the world. Those of you who come from cricket-playing countries will know exactly what I’m talking about. Everyone else will probably be confused. And don’t you dare compare it to baseball. Anyway, England won the cricket in dramatic fashion, beating New Zealand in an incredibly close game which went right down to the wire. I’m not going to talk about it in this episode actually, but I did want to mention it because of course I am very proud and I’ve had plenty of requests from listeners in places like India and Pakistan who want me to talk about it. I’ll see if I can cover it in an upcoming episode. If you can’t wait and you want some cricket chat on the podcast, you could always listen to episode 473 in the archive which is a conversation with my dad all about cricket.

But anyway, this episode is all about an unexpected road trip that I went on with my brother recently.

Last week, I was on holiday with my family. We travelled to England and actually I did manage to record two episodes while I was there. This is the first one and it was completely unplanned and recorded on my brother’s phone during various parts of a long and quite frustrating day that we spent near the end of the holiday.

In fact, this episode is a sort of road trip diary, recorded on the road with James.

In this episode you will be able to hear…
Exactly what happened when I got a flat tyre while driving back from the holiday. A tyre is the rubber part of the wheel of a car or bike, in this case car – the black rubber part of the wheel which is full of air. So I got a flat tyre, which is where the tyre (or inner tube inside the tyre) gets punctured and all the air comes out. In fact I got two flat tyres in the same week, which I think is really unlucky. Anyway, the second one caused my brother and me to end up having to go on an unexpected journey through the lanes and roads of Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. On the way we recorded a series of rambling conversations covering the details of our trip and lots of other topics, and that is what you’re going to listen to.

So why don’t you join us on our accidental road trip and listen to us rambling on about…

  • The specific problem with the car, what happened and how it could be repaired
  • Different words and expressions for feeling angry (because I was very angry with the situation, certainly at the beginning, although you can’t really hear it in my voice because I’m so cool, calm and collected)
  • The dangers of drinking strong coffee and the phenomenon of “coffee rage”
  • The film Robocop and the 2014 Robocop Reboot (a very random tangent)
  • How and why cars might pull each other at nightclubs
  • Going insane while waiting to be rescued by roadside assistance
  • Different types of pub, including how to pick the right pub for a drink in England
  • The taste of beer, and different types of beer that you can get
  • A close encounter with a famous TV comedian at a motorway service station somewhere near Bristol
  • Fascinating details of the sandwiches that we bought to help sustain us on our adventure
  • The topic of going vegan or at least just eating less meat, and why eating meat is said to be bad for the environment
  • How to actually spell and pronounce the names of some English cities and counties on our trip, including Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Worcester, Worcestershire, Warwick and Warwickshire.

All that and more, coming up in this very rambling episode, spontaneously recorded on James’ mobile phone.

Listen on to find out all the details and to hear the voices of some other members of my family at the end, and by the way there is some strong language (swearing), the sound quality might not be up to the usual high standard because it was recorded on a mobile phone (but I think it’s ok) and also there is a lot of slightly mad rambly nonsense coming up – but I think you’ve probably come to expect that sort of thing from this podcast haven’t you?
YES WE HAVE LUKE – LET’S START!

OK here we go…

Photos

603. Queen / Freddie Mercury / Bohemian Rhapsody

A conversation with Queen fan Alex Love about one of the UK’s most famous and iconic bands. This episode has been requested many times by listeners, so finally – here it is!

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Notes, Links & Videos

No transcript for the intro to this episode, but there is a transcript for the ending (below)

Queen at Live Aid 1985

Alex Love “How to win a Pub Quiz: British Edition” at Edinburgh Fringe 2019

The Stand, Room 2. 12 o’clock noon, throughout August (but not 12 August).

Tickets here https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/alex-love-how-to-win-a-pub-quiz-british-edition

Ending Transcript

So that was Alex Love talking about one of his favourite bands, Queen.

I hope you managed to follow all of that. I understand that the sound quality wasn’t exactly perfect and Alex can be a bit of a mumbler sometimes, but this is good practice – not every conversation or bit of listening you’ll do will happen in completely perfect acoustic conditions. It’s good training to listen to conversations like this from time to time.

So I know that plenty of you out there are big fans of Queen and you might have things to say yourselves, so I’d like to invite you to leave your comments in the comment section.

You can write responses to any of the things that came up in this conversation and here are some questions for you too. These are pretty much the questions I asked Alex I think.

  1. How did you first get into Queen?
  2. What’s their appeal, to you and to everyone?
  3. How would you describe their sound?
  4. What’s the story of the band? Do you know their origins and how they went on to become such a huge band?
  5. What are your favourite songs of theirs and why?
  6. What’s Bohemian Rhapsody all about (the song)?
  7. What about the film Bohemian Rhapsody? Have you seen it? What did you think of it? And have you seen Rocketman the Elton John film?
  8. What can you tell me about the individual members of the band? What was the dynamic between them all? (Often seems to be the secret to every band’s magic)

So do feel free to write some things in the comment section in response to any of those questions.

If you’re heading to Edinburgh for the Fringe this year, why not check out Alex’s show, which is always a hit at the festival. It’s called How To Win a Pub Quiz and it is part stand up comedy show and part pub quiz. It’s described in the fringe website as being an interactive comedy game show. It is a lot of fun.

tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/alex-love-how-to-win-a-pub-quiz-british-edition

It’s on every day (except 12 August) at 12 noon at The Stand Comedy Club (room 2).

Tickets are available at tickets.edfrindge.com (check the link on the page for this episode).

Go along you will have fun!

That’s it for this episode.

Just a reminder about premium content. I’ve uploaded series 13 and series 14 is almost ready to go now. So, plenty of premium stuff available now and it’s all about repeating, demonstrating and clarifying language which has come up naturally in conversations on the podcast, and there are pronunciation drills focusing on different aspects of pronunciation each time. Episodes and PDFs available in the app and online. Go to teacherluke.co.uk/premium to get started.

Again, things might be a little bit quiet with the free podcast, but premium episodes are coming.

OK, I look forward to reading your comments as they come in.

No song from me, as Alex requested, just because I don’t feel really good enough to tackle a song by Queen. They’re all too technical and Freddy’s voice is so strong and has so much range to it that it’s hard to do covers of Queen songs, but perhaps if I somehow meet up with Alex we can do some kind of duet, which I’m sure would be absolutely horrible… but if that’s what the people want, that’s what I’ll do!

But for now…

Good bye…

599. Oliver Gee Returns with Stories to Tell

Australian journalist and podcaster Oliver Gee returns to LEP to tell us some stories about the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, meeting famous comedians as a journalist, learning Swedish and French and his honeymoon tour of France on a 50cc Vespa scooter.

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Introduction Transcript

Welcome to episode 599 of Luke’s English Podcast, a podcast for learners of English presented by me, Luke Thompson an English teacher and comedian from England now living in Paris.

In this episode you’re going to hear a conversation I recorded last week here in my flat. The conversation is with my friend Oliver Gee who is a journalist and podcaster, from Australia now also living in Paris.

As some of you will remember, Oliver has been on the podcast before, in episode 495, over 100 episodes ago. Can you believe it!? In that episode we talked all about Australian things, including Australian English, so while you’re listening to Oli’s voice and you’re wondering about his accent and other Australian things, check out episode 495.

Oliver is a podcaster and YouTuber who makes content about Paris and France, in English. Recently I joined Oliver on one of his live YouTube video walking tours in Paris, which you can find on the page for this episode and it was a lot of fun talking to him and I thought it was high time I invited him back on the podcast for a chat and to tell us some stories.

And, as a journalist, Oliver is very interested in stories. That’s what journalism is about a lot of the time – finding stories, covering stories, reporting stories and generally reporting events in the form of stories. So, that’s what I wanted from this conversation. I wanted Oliver to tell us some stories – not bedtime stories or fairy tales. I’m talking more about true stories of people’s lives, moments that people experience, big events that happen in the world, etc.

We communicate so much of what we do and see via stories – either in the media, or in the way we just talk to each other and describe things. Stories are central to the way we communicate with each other.

So, the focus for me in this conversation was to let Oliver tell us some of his stories, and I wanted to hear him speak about these things in particular:

The Notre Dame Cathedral fire

When the world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire recently (you must have seen it in the news) Oliver went down to the cathedral with his camera in order to see and record what was happening and to capture the moment. He also interviewed to a tour guide all about it for his podcast in which they described it in full detail. So, Oliver can tell us about what he saw that evening, generally what happened at the cathedral and what’s happening next and there are some pretty weird coincidences in his story too. In fact there are quite a of weird coincidences and special moments described during this episode.

Meeting famous comedians

I also wanted stories about Oliver’s time working as a journalist, how he started and particularly moments when he ended up meeting some famous people – especially comedians that we’re big fans of.

So listen on to find out who Oliver has met, how he met them and what they were really like in person. There’s one comedian who is particularly famous at the moment. Oliver got to meet him in really quite an intimate situation, and I love the story.

Learning Swedish & French

Oliver has lived in Sweden and now lives in France, so I wanted him to tell me about his experiences of learning languages, particularly moments when he felt challenged and when he’d made significant progress.

The honeymoon tour of France on a scooter

And finally, there’s the story of Oliver’s honeymoon road trip around France on the back of a scooter. Imagine two newly married people travelling all around France, even crossing over the alps, all on a small 50cc Vespa scooter. Listen on to find out what happened.

So those are the main topics – Notre Dame Cathedral, meeting famous people, learning languages and a honeymoon road trip. There’s also some chat at the start about my podcast as Oliver noticed that LEP has had over 50 million downloads in total and I’m approaching episode 600. So we talk a bit about podcasting vs using YouTube as different platforms for what we do.

We’re about to jump into the conversation now, just before we do let me prepare you a little bit because the conversation starts quite quickly.

In episode 495, if you remember, we said that the better people know Oliver, the shorter his name becomes. This is normal. It’s like nicknames. So, acquaintances probably call him Oliver, then friends call him Oli, then close friends might call him Ol, then really close friends might just call him O.

I just wanted to remind you of that, because it’s the first thing you’ll hear, so you might immediately get lost and go “Wait, what? I’m lost already!”

The better people know you, the shorter your name becomes. That’s how this begins.

Alright, so now you’re ready, let’s go!


Ending

So that was Oliver Gee on the podcast again. I really hope you enjoyed that conversation full of stories. If you struggled to understand everything that was said I just want to say congratulations and well done for listening all the way through to this point. I know sometimes it is difficult to follow these long, fast conversations on my podcast but I truly believe that you can make progress if you manage to just keep listening. Sometimes you’ll get lost and not understand, but try to tolerate the bits that you can’t understand and use the bits that you do understand to help you guess the rest and keep going. The best language learners persevere even when things aren’t completely clear.

Stay positive, keep it up.

As ever I look forward to reading your comments in the comment section if you have anything to share or any thoughts regarding any of the things that came up in this episode.

On the episode page you will find loads of links and videos relating to the things we talked about in this conversation, including… (links all listed below)

So this is the end of episode 599. Episode 600 will be the next one.

I hope you can join me for the YouTube live stream when I will be recording episode 600.

That is going to happen at 3PM (CET) on Friday 7 June on my YouTube channel. You’ll find the link to that on the front page of my website in the comment section.

If you can’t attend the live stream, then I am sorry! You will be able to watch the video later and obviously listen to the audio in episode 600.

The theme of the live stream is “Ask me anything” (although I do reserve the right not to answer questions if I don’t fancy it, like “what colour is your underwear?” “Mind your own business!” or “What are your credit card details?” etc. You can ask me questions about English or whatever comes to you and I will try to answer the questions as best I can, and as briefly as I can in the time we have available.

Also, premium subscribers – premium episodes are coming! I’m working on several premium series at the moment, and so June will see more premium stuff and less free stuff.

OK then, that’s it! Until episode 600 I will now say, good bye bye bye bye bye…


Links

Oliver’s episode about Notre Dame Cathedral (The Earful Tower Podcast)

theearfultower.com/2019/04/22/notre-dame-fire-what-happened-and-what-next/

Oliver’s tour of Notre Dame when it’s empty – before the fire (The Earful Tower)

When Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire (France 24 News)

Oliver’s video of Parisians singing hymns while Notre Dame burns (The Earful Tower)

My walking tour with Oliver in the Square des Batignolles (5 minute version)

Bill Bailey does comedy about minor and major keys in music

LEP #462 British Comedy: Bill Bailey

462. British Comedy: Bill Bailey

A clip from Russel Brand’s Netflix Special (I think this is the one that Oliver & his wife attended)

Oliver’s live walking tour / interview with French model/author/music producer Caroline de Maigret (The Earful Tower)

597. Growing Up / Getting Older / Becoming a Father (with Paul Taylor)

In this conversation Paul and I get a bit deep & meaningful and talk about where Paul is in his life at this point, including our thoughts about becoming a father, getting older and growing up.

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Introduction

Rambling about my birthday… My daughter is a toddler now. She toddles around.

Thank you so much for the lovely birthday messages that you sent to me.

I’d like to give a shout out to students in my class today who surprised me with presents, delicious cake and champagne – at 10.30 this morning!

We all drank champagne during the class, in the morning. It seems that champagne is the only alcohol that you can drink in the morning and it’s acceptable. You can’t really drink whiskey, wine, beer, vodka (although I’m sure in some places that a breakfast drink) – where I’m from, it’s not acceptable to drink those things in the morning and if you do you’re an alcoholic, but champagne – go for it!

It was pretty interesting for me to teach English after having drunk champagne, which was great.

Anyway, I am another year older, which I am fine with as I said in a recent episode.

But that brings me to this episode, which is a conversation with one of the pod-pals, Paul Taylor, and the conversation is all about growing up, getting older and becoming a father.

As you will know if you heard the previous episode, Paul is about to become a Dad for the first time. His wife is pregnant and the due date is at the end of June. Congrats to the two of them, on behalf of all the LEPsters! It’s a girl. Hopefully she’ll grow up to be friends with my daughter and the other kids from our circle of friends. We don’t know what the name will be yet. We’re all hoping that the rest of the pregnancy goes well, and the birth too.

Having a child can be a bit of a turning point in your life. I don’t know if you have children.

So, in this conversation Paul and I get a bit deep & meaningful and talk about where Paul is in his life at this point, including our thoughts about becoming a father, getting older and growing up.

All I have by way of an introduction at this stage, are some questions for you to consider in order to prepare you a bit for what you’re going to hear.

Questions to consider before you listen to the conversation

  • As you get older, does your perception of other people change?
  • For example, if you see a group of 18 year olds, how do you feel?
  • If you see people who are in their retirement, elderly people, how do you feel?
  • How do you feel about the passage of time and getting older?
  • How does life change as you move from being a teenager into a young adult and then into being middle-aged and retirement age and old age?
  • What do you think of the way society views old people? Are they looked after, represented or respected fully in your society?
  • What about having children? Does it change your life? How? Is it a change for the better? In what ways?
  • What about your lifestyle?
  • Are you good at looking after yourself?
  • Do you keep yourself fit and do enough exercise? If not, why not?
  • Have you managed to find a sport or exercise routine that suits you and that you enjoy?
  • How about your diet and eating habits? Do you manage your diet well? Do you make sure you’re staying healthy and eating the right things?
  • Daily routine
  • Do you manage to get enough stuff done in your average day?
  • What’s your daily routine? Could you improve it in any way? How much discipline do you have in your life?
  • How motivated and disciplined are you about doing things that don’t bring you instant results?
  • Do you think you need to change your lifestyle as you get older? Is that an easy thing to do?
    What influence did your parents have on your life? Do you ever judge the way your parents brought you up?
  • Do you ever compare yourself to your parents? Do you ever feel like you can’t live up to their expectations or the example they set for you?
  • Were either of your parents often not there when you were growing up? Maybe one of them or both of them worked a lot and wasn’t always there. How do you feel about that?
  • At what age do people leave home and become independent, in your country?
  • What kind of time should you spend with your child? Should you always be there, or is it ok to be absent sometimes as long as you are working hard and making money to help support them?
  • If you have kids or are planning to have kids, what kind of example should you show to your children? What aspects of your personality do you want them to inherit from you? Which aspects would you rather they didn’t learn?
  • Do you need to say “yes” more in your life? Or do you need to learn how to say “no” more?
  • As you get older do you feel that you are becoming more open-minded, or less open-minded? Are you still happy to meet and get to know new people and see new places in your life as you get older?
  • And, is Paul ready to be a Dad? Is he looking forward to it? Is he in the right stage of his life for parenthood?

These are the sorts of questions we are talking about in this episode.

So without any further ado, here is my conversation with Paul.


Ending

Congrats again to Paul and his wife Adi. Best of luck for the birth. We’re all looking forward to meeting the new Taylor when she arrives.

You heard us mention a book there.

“Yes Man” by Danny Wallace – a great, interesting and funny book written in modern plain English.

I know my listeners are always interested in finding new books to read. This one was very popular when it came out and I think it is not too difficult to read and should be full of the right kind of English. Everyday English in a plain and modern style.

There is an audiobook version which you might want to listen to. It’s available on Audible.

That’s almost it.

Podcast News / Admin

I have two more free episodes to publish before things go a bit quiet while I work on premium content.

Those next two episodes are also conversations with guests. Earlier this week I spoke to Oliver Gee, the Australian journalist and he told me lots of interesting stories about things like the recent fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral, meeting some famous people while working as a journalist and also his experiences of learning Swedish and French.

And the other conversation hasn’t been recorded yet, but it’s going to be with my Dad. We’re going to talk on Monday next week and the idea is to somehow describe the recent situation in UK politics and some other things like a recent conference that my Dad moderated about climate change, and hopefully we’ll have time to talk a bit more about football, because my Dad follows UK football very closely. That one isn’t recorded yet, but if all goes according to plan I’ll do the recording next week and publish it quickly afterwards, then the Oliver Gee episode should go up.

After that – things will go quiet for a while and there will be no free episodes probably for a couple of weeks, but I will be working hard on new premium content which should arrive steadily during that period.

To sign up to LEP premium go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium

Don’t forget also that Paul’s live 1hr stand up show is now available on YouTube. Search for Paul Taylor Franglais. The bits which are in French have English subtitles. It’s about 50% English and 50% French. You can check out Paul’s excellent French skills. It’s impressive.

Episode 600 – YouTube Live Stream – I’ve chosen a date and time!!

It’s going to be Friday 7 June at 3pm CET (Paris time)

That’s…

  • 6AM on the west coast of the USA
  • 9AM in New York
  • 8AM in Mexico City
  • 10AM in Rio, Brazil
  • 2PM in London
  • 4pm in Moscow
  • 4pm in Ankara, Turkey
  • 6.30pm in New Delhi
  • 9pm in Shanghai
  • 10pm in Tokyo
  • 11pm in Sydney
  • 1AM on the Saturday morning in Auckland, NZ

If it’s not at the perfect time for you, then I am sorry! There’s not much I can do about that I’m afraid. Whatever time I do it, there will be some people who won’t be able to attend.
Also, this is just when I’m free!

I will be announcing this again on the podcast, but here it is – 3PM Paris time on Friday 7 June.

I’ll also create a YouTube link for the live stream which I’ll share on my website and on social media. That’s how you’ll access the live stream.

OK, cool!

Song Lyrics: Neil Young – I Am a Child