Tag Archives: accent

370. In Conversation with Rob Ager from Liverpool (PART 1: Life in Liverpool / Interest in Film Analysis)

Today on the podcast I’m talking to Rob Ager from Liverpool, who is probably best known for his film analysis videos on YouTube in which he discusses classic Hollywood thrillers, sci-fi and action movies in quite astonishing levels of detail, often focusing on deep psychological and political themes and hidden messages that most viewers probably wouldn’t even notice. His videos are carefully constructed documentaries, made for educational purposes and all of them feature a voice-over commentary by Rob in which he analyses the film and gives his observations.

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Click here to visit Rob Ager’s website collatedlearning.com

I think I first came across Rob’s work on YouTube about 5 or 6 years ago. Sometimes I start watching YouTube and I get sucked into a kind of YouTube worm hole. That’s where you start watching one video, and that leads you to watch another one and then another one and eventually you find yourself watching something really fascinating and unexpected and that you wouldn’t normally have come across. I think that’s what happened with Rob’s videos. I think I first came across a short documentary he made about a horror movie called The Thing by John Carpenter, which is one of my favourite films. It’s really scary, tense and well directed, and it has a terrifying monster in it. Also it has a complicated story line which creates an eerie sense of paranoia that invites the viewer to speculate on who is or who isn’t a monster. It was really interesting to listen to Rob talking about The Thing in so much detail and it made me think about the movie in ways that I hadn’t considered before.

Then after that I kept noticing other videos by Rob and I would always watch them with interest. He has videos about The Matrix, Star Wars, The Shining, Alien and more.

Sometimes I find his comments to be a bit too specific, like he is perhaps over-analysing the films, but then again I think this is what’s great about movies – that everyone can interpret them in any way they want – and that a film might mean one thing to you, but mean a completely different thing to someone else. Even the director of the film might have a very specific message in the movie, that most of us don’t even notice. I think most modern film makers understand these ideas and they often leave their movies open to interpretation. Think, for example about the ending of Inception starring Leonardo DiCaprio – what does it really mean? We’re supposed to imagine and discuss our own interpretations of it, and I think it’s one of the strengths of the film and one of the reasons it is so popular. Everyone can leave the movie with their own theory on what it was about and what had happened at the end. Rob Ager takes this principle – that there are multiple readings of a movie – and really runs with it in his documentaries, suggesting that many of these great films that we love could in fact be about political events in the real world, our deep desires and psychological motivations or even about hidden power structures.

Another interesting thing for me is that Rob comes from Liverpool. He’s a scouser (that’s the word for people who come from Liverpool) and he speaks with a scouse accent, which really reminds me of the people I used to meet, talk to and work with when I lived in Liverpool years ago. The Liverpool accent is really distinctive, and I always want to feature different British accents on this podcast, so on this one you’ve got the chance to get used to listening to a scouse accent, or Liverpool accent.

Also, I think Liverpool is a fascinating city and not enough people know about it. Most people know The Beatles or Liverpool and Everton football clubs, but there’s more to Liverpool than that. I’m hoping that Rob will tell me a few things about what it’s really like to live and grow up in this important English city.

His website – CollativeLearning.com reveals all sorts of interesting things – like that fact that Rob is a filmmaker himself and he is very prolific with his analysis videos. He has loads of documentaries which you can download from the website. What becomes clear after reading and watching his work is that Rob is a very observant and articulate person with a great interest in film, but he is also knowledgeable about a wide range of academic theories and he incorporates ideas from psychology, sociology and philosophy in his film analysis. All of that reminds me a lot of the things I read and wrote about while doing my Media & Cultural Studies degree at university in Liverpool. What’s also notable about Rob though is that he has received no formal academic education or training in all of these subjects – he’s completely self-educated.

I’ve never spoken to Rob before, and I’m recording this introduction before our interview, which is due to start in just a few moments. I’ve got no idea how the conversation will go or what directions our conversation will take but I really hope it’s an insightful and engaging listening experience and that Rob and I get on with each other. I suggest that you listen out for differences between my standard Southern British RP accent and Rob’s accent, and let’s see what kind of vocabulary emerges from our talk.

Alright, it’s time to speak to Rob now. So, here we go.

*Conversations starts (after I remembered to press ‘record’ on my device)*

Links & Videos

Rob’s website www.collativelearning.com

Some interesting videos from Rob’s YouTube channel

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342. Paul’s “La Bise” Video Success / Audition Story (with Amber & Paul)

In this episode I’m joined by podcast pals Amber & Paul and we talk about Paul’s hit youtube video about French kissing habits, his newfound success as a stand-up (he’s the hottest kid in town), some online abuse he’s had and then an anecdote about an audition that we attended recently, which involved a surprising misunderstanding about accents. There’s also a brief language focus on using relative clauses with ‘which’ to extend your sentences when speaking. Enjoy!

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Image: c/o Robert Hoehn French Fried TV

Transcript for the intro and outro to this episode

Intro

Hello, welcome back to the podcast. This is episode 342. First of all I’d like to say thanks if you’ve recently left comments on my website, written positive reviews on iTunes or especially if you’ve sent a donation to the podcast. I appreciate all of those things very very much indeed and I hope that you feel like you’ve invested in this podcast, even in a small way. Every little helps. So thank you very much.

In this episode I’m joined again by podcast pals Amber and Paul

If you are a brand new listener and you don’t know them then here are the basics: Essentially, they’re both from the south-east of England, I know them from the stand-up comedy scene here in Paris and they both have super-powers, yes that’s right – super-powers.

Amber is a voice-over artist, actress and tour guide. She has a little 2-year-old son called Hugo (who has featured on the podcast before, making dinosaur noises in episode 297), and Amber’s super power is that she has loveliest voice in the world. Her voice is so lovely it could melt the heart of even the toughest person – like anyone at all. Even Vladimir Putin or Batman would be reduced to a little puppy when listening to Amber’s voice, right listeners? If Amber’s voice was on Darth Vader’s iPod and he listened to her talking, he would immediately give up his devotion to the dark side and turn into an ewok or something. That’s Amber.

Paul used to work for Apple – the company, not the fruit. It would be weird if he worked for an Apple. Anyway, last year he took the brave decision to quit his job in order to focus on becoming a full-time stand-up comedian, performing both in English and in French. Paul has a weekly one-man show called #franglais which he performs every week and he also performs a two-man comedy show with me every Thursday, and that one’s called “Sorry, we’re English”. He has his own podcast, called “Becoming a Comedian”, which you can find at paultaylorcomedy.com. Paul’s super-power is his infectious laugh, which causes podcast listeners to randomly split their sides in different countries around the world, which is nice. I imagine if he had to do battle with Darth Vader, he’d just laugh in his face and Vader would turn into Jar-Jar Binks or something.

The conversation you’re going to hear in this episode was recorded the other day when we were sitting upstairs on my little terrace enjoying some sunshine. We recorded about 3 episodes-worth of stuff that day. Two in the sunshine and one indoors because after a few hours it went cloudy and then started raining, which is typical for April in this part of the world. You already heard the first part of that conversation in episode 341.

Click here to check out a list of other episodes featuring Amber & Paul

But in this conversation Amber and I talk to Paul about recent success in his stand-up career, there’s a surprise phone call from Robert Hoehn, we talk about some online abuse Paul’s received, and then Paul and I tell Amber about an audition we had for a TV show recently, which involved a bit of a misunderstanding about our British accents.

One thing I just want to let you know right now is that I’m aware that this conversation is quite quick and you might not get absolutely every single word that we say, but that’s fine because as we know, listening to native speakers at natural speed is a valuable thing for you to do even if it’s difficult to understand every little thing. Just try to fill in the blanks, tolerate the stuff you don’t understand, read between the lines and keep going. Listening several times will help, but the main thing is to relax and just enjoy spending 45 minutes in the sunshine with us.

Where were we?

Where were we in the conversation at the end of the last episode?

There was a bit of a cliffhanger of sorts. Paul was about to tell us what happened in January, and it’s something about his progress as a comedian. Let’s get an update on how it’s all going.

A bit of language analysis – Paul’s long sentence – using ‘which’

In just a moment I’m going to start playing our conversation to you and it’ll carry on from where it ended last time.

The first you’re going to hear is me saying to Paul, “Give us an update on what happened in January” and then you’ll hear Paul speaking pretty quickly, and producing perhaps the longest sentence in the history of humanity. Actually, long sentences with lots of additional clauses are pretty common in spoken English, especially in spontaneous talking. In writing I think it’s best to keep your sentences short and clear but in speaking we often find ways to extend our sentences to include new thoughts and to keep the rhythm going, particularly with words like ‘and’ or ‘but’ (simple ways) but also with relative pronouns, particularly ‘which’, which we add to nouns and even whole clauses in order to extend sentences (like I just did there – did you notice?) Check out the way Paul uses ‘which’ to extend his sentences and add ideas, adding fluency to his speech.

Here’s the first sentence you’ll hear from Paul in this episode:
“Yeah, I think the last time we spoke, I don’t know if we talked about it but I was gearing up for the start of my own show, which was like an hour, my first hour-long solo show, which was starting on January 9th and I was excited (and) nervous because I’d never been on-stage for an hour (and) it was going to be cool, whatever, and then during the month of December, Robert Hoehn, who has been on the podcast previously, he runs an English comedy night and he’s, I guess, seen me do comedy for the last three years and he suggested to me that I make a video out of one of my sketches which I’d been doing on stage, which was around the French, their kissing and saying hello and it’s called La Bise, in France.”

Wow. There are a few examples of ‘which’ in there and also a ‘who’, after he mentions Robert Hoehn, who has been on the podcast previously. Also, there’s the phrase “gearing up for” which means “getting ready for”. OK. Now I’ll let you listen to that sentence in full, spoken by Paul.

One question: How many times does he say “which” and what’s the most common word that comes after it?

*Paul’s long sentence*

Answers:
He says ‘which’ four times and it’s most commonly followed by ‘was’ (3 times) and once it’s followed by ‘had been doing’.

This is often how we add information to stories. I mentioned this language point in the photo competition episode too. That’s episode 327. In Paul’s sentence, “which was” comes after a noun every time, but sometimes it comes after a clause. Question: What is the noun or clause that is followed by ‘which’ in these examples?

“He suggested that I make a video of one of my sketches which I’d been doing on stage which was around the French way of saying hello”.

Answer: Both times it’s ‘one of my sketches’

and “So, we sat on the terrace and just talked for about 2 hours, which was nice”.

Answer: it’s the whole clause ‘we sat on the terrace and just talked for about 2 hours’.

So, there was a little bit of language analysis. But that’s enough of that. I will now let you listen to the rest of the conversation properly, and enjoy another chat with podcast pals Amber & Paul, and by the way, just to let you know in advance – there is a little bit of swearing in this conversation.

*conversation starts*

Watch Paul’s Video about “La Bise”

A France24 TV news report about Paul

Outro – Transcript

We will be back, speaking more ‘crapola’ soon, because we’ll be playing the interactive lying game and that should be the next episode of this podcast.

What’s crapola? It’s just another way of saying ‘crap’ or ‘nonsense’. Crap is poo by the way. Crap is a swear word but it’s not as bad as ‘shit’. Crapola is not such a common word – it’s a variation on the word ‘crap’ and it means ‘nonsense’ or ‘stupid talking’.

Accents

Now, at the end there you heard us talking about accents. That was a slightly heated conversation and since this is my podcast I’d like to try and clarify what I was trying to say.

So, first of all we went for the audition and it was nice, but one of the producers said, “Can you speak with less of a British accent?” and we asked, “You mean you want us to use an American accent?” and she said “Not American, just less British. You know, like the way they speak in New York, because they don’t have an American accent in New York” and we were a bit stunned that doesn’t mean anything. So, first of all I think it’s not possible to have no accent. Everyone has an accent, but you might feel like your accent is the normal, standard position for the language and that every other version is an accent. Even accents which are considered to be the neutral forms are still an accent. So it doesn’t make sense to say that you don’t have an accent or that the people of a particular place don’t have an accent. If they pronounce words, using certain sounds, that’s an accent. Some accents are considered the standard forms, and in the UK and in the USA there are, broadly speaking, two standard accents. There’s Received Pronunciation in the UK, which is generally how I speak (although I have inflections from the midlands and the South East, reflecting the places where I grew up) and in the USA there’s an accent called Standard American, which is a kind of regionless accent. So maybe what the girl meant to say was, can you speak with a standard American accent, or a more trans-Atlantic accent? But then she realised that it could be taken as a bit rude, because it’s like she suggested that there was something wrong with our British accents or something. She didn’t mean any offence of course.

Another thing I often read online is the sentence, “There’s no such thing as a British accent”, which is a bit misleading. Generally people write that in response to comments on Youtube or Reddit or something when an American person has said something like “OMG I love the British accent”, or equally “OH my god the British accent sucks” or something. Then someone gets pissed off and writes a response, like “there’s no such thing as a British accent!” But that’s a bit stupid too. If an accent comes from a part of Britain, it’s a British accent. Obviously British accents exist, but the point is there is not just one British accent – there are many accents from different regions and it’s a bit short-sighted to just imagine there is only one “British accent” when in fact it’s so much more diverse than that, and I suppose that comment “There’s no such thing as a British accent” is the British person’s way of expressing annoyance or frustration over the lack of awareness of the diversity of British accents.

In the UK today we are very sensitive to accents, as Amber mentioned in the conversation. There are many many variations on the way people speak, and those variations indicate things like regional origin and social status. We shouldn’t judge people by their accents, but we do. We also are very affectionate about accents and generally very positive about regional accent variations. We love the diversity of accents in our country and generally it is considered inappropriate and snobbish to laugh at an accent or to suggest that there’s something wrong with speaking in a different way. Being snobbish about regional accents is now quite unfashionable in the UK. Regional accents are generally celebrated these days – and when you watch TV, including the BBC news, you’ll hear lots of different accents being spoken by presenters from around the country, because TV viewers appreciate the regional flavours of the different accents.

So, I suppose part of our surprise at the girl at the audition was just about her lack of awareness of accent variation, but also the slightly clumsy way she talked about the whole subject, suggesting that people in New York had no accent, or that our British way of speaking was just a regional variation of an accent that has its neutral base in Manhattan. But, I understand that identifying regional accents can be very hard when you’re not native to that language, so we didn’t take offence at the girl and it was fine, but we did find it amusing and interesting from a linguistic point of view. So, that’s that.

I must do more episodes about different regional accents on this podcast. There is just so much content to cover and it’s really important that you get a sense of the different accent variations. I have dealt with accents before a bit, but there’s so much more to do on that subject. We’ve only really scratched the surface.

Listen to Adam & Joe talking about British and American actors doing different accents, particularly Ray Winstone (UK – London) pretending to be an American in the film Fool’s Gold. 😂

And this one about Leonardo DiCaprio’s Irish accent and how Hollywood helps actors perform in different accents.

Oh, and remember Tracy Goodwin the American voice coach from Episode 20 of Luke’s English Podcast? Here are Adam & Joe talking about that…

Using Apps to listen to this podcast

This is turning into another longish episode. It happens so easily, but you heard Paul earlier talking about the ‘pause’ button. I wonder if you use that, because as I’ve said before – you don’t have to listen to these episodes in one go, you can pause and listen to the rest later. If you’re using podcasting software like an app on your phone, it will remember where you were when you paused, even if you close the app or switch off your phone or computer.

Here are some recommended apps: There’s the standard Apple Podcasts app, which is fine. I use PocketCasts which is available on iPhone and android. You can also get it on your computer. There’s Acast which is good. Also, try the Audioboom app. All of them let you listen via an internet connection (wifi or data) and the also let you download episodes onto your phone so you can listen when you’re not online. All those apps will save your position in an episode so you can listen, pause, listen again, pause, come back later and listen to more etc.

You can still just download the files from the website and put them on your mp3 player – just check if there’s a folder in your player for podcasts because if you use that folder the mp3 player will probably save your position, just like the smartphone apps do.

Thanks for listening – speak to you soon, bye!

 

279. Marcus Keeley / Northern Ireland / Accent (Part 3)

Welcome back to part 3 of this short series. In parts 1 and 2 we got to know my guest a bit, and talked about Northern Ireland. Now in part 3 we are going to have a good listen to Marcus’s Northern Irish accent, compare the way he and I speak, and also learn a few common phrases and slang from Northern Ireland. Enjoy!

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3. Belfast accent (Check out this page on English in Northern Ireland from the fantastic British Library website)
I want my listeners to at least be aware of the accent(s) in Northern Ireland. Ideally they’ll be able to recognise it, or even copy it (just for fun). I also would like to find out about some of the specific phrases that are used in that part of the English speaking world.
– Is there a variety of accents in Northern Ireland?
– What is Ulster Scots?
– How would you describe your accent?
– Do people judge each other on their accents?
– What do you think of other accents from the UK? What do you assume about a person when you hear their accents? Is it fair to judge people by their accent?
Say some specific things: (These may be stereotypes)
“How now brown cow”
“Sit down”
“How are you?”
“I’m feeling a lot better now thank you”
“This is the first farm in the whole country to produce such excellent cheeses”
“She wanted to pull me into the pool”
“Can’t you see that the lift is completely full, you fool!”
“I can’t get this boot on my foot”
“I love coming to Paris because of the good food”
“I’m from Northern Ireland”
“I took the ferry to Derry and it just cost a penny”

How would you say these things, with specific phrases? (Check out this page with a list of common phrases spoken in Northern Ireland)
– Alright mate?
– I’m going to the shop, do you want anything.
– It’s a really hot day, isn’t it?
– I’m going to bed.
– Oh, go on!
– Look at her face! She’s got a weird looking face.
– Yes. (like, “yes, I’ll have a pint if you’re buying”)
– Come on, now.
– “Get a hold of yourself!”, “Wise up!”
– That film was really great. (or just, That was really great wasn’t it?)
– I agree, totally, good, etc. E.g. “Come on, this isn’t working. Let’s go to the pub” – “Yeah, totally”
– You stupid idiot!
– Could you give me a fag/cigarette?
– The police.
– Have you finished (your tea)?
– Are you mad?
– OK, I’m going home for dinner.
– Good, fine, great, etc. (dead on, cracker, sound)
– Alright, let’s have a little drink.
– Can you lot keep the noise down? I’m trying to sleep in here!
– She looks like your mum.
– What’s “spotty dog” (great) and “wind your neck in?”

Nadine from Girls Aloud “I’m going to give him a bath”

Frostbit Boy (The strongest Northern Irish accent I’ve ever heard!) Basically he’s talking about the difficulty of walking to school in the very cold weather.

Why are there so many accents in Northern Ireland?

Markus keeley pic copy 2

278. Marcus Keeley / Northern Ireland (Part 2)

In part 1 of this episode we met Marcus Keeley. In part 2 we are going to talk specifically about Northern Ireland, its culture, the atmosphere there and things you can do if you visit as a tourist. There will be a part 3 of this conversation, which will focus on the accents and dialects in Northern Ireland.

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2. Focus on Northern Ireland
My listeners, who are around the world, may not know very much about Northern Ireland. It’s often a bit overlooked – in my experience, a lot of people see the UK as just London, Edinburgh, Oxford & Cambridge, Manchester, Stonehenge and a few other famous spots, perhaps Wales. Northern Ireland is rarely mentioned. The UK is a bit confusing – people aren’t completely sure how Ireland and Northern Ireland fit into it. I expect people are aware that there has been trouble there in the past, with the IRA and the sectarian conflict, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s try and let my listeners know a bit more of what it’s really like to live in Northern Ireland.

– When you meet people from other countries, how much do they know about where you come from? Do you get the same kinds of reactions from people?
– Where is it?
– Capital city?
– What’s it like to live in Belfast? Is it a good place to live?
– What can people do or see if they visit?
– What’s the atmosphere like these days?
– Is there still a sense of trouble?
– Do your generation still hold on to that feeling?
– Do you remember what it used to be like?
– Why was there trouble in the first place?
– How do you see the future in Northern Ireland?
– How do you see The UK?
– What did you think of the election? Where does N. Ireland stand?
– What if The UK left the EU?

Nadine from Girls Aloud “I’m going to give him a bath”

Markus keeley pic copy

277. A Chat with Marcus Keeley from Northern Ireland (Part 1)

This episode is the first part of a conversation I had recently with a friend from Northern Ireland. It’s the first time I’ve had someone from that part of the UK before so it’s a chance to get to know him, his country and the accents you find there. In this one we get to know Marcus and give you a chance to hear his accent. There will be two more parts to this episode. Enjoy!

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Just before we start I would just like to say thank you for taking part in the quick survey that I launched on teacherluke.co.uk recently. I asked you to select the types of episode of the podcast that you prefer to listen to. You can still do it of course, by going to my website and finding the page for the survey in the archive of episodes. Just click ARCHIVE in the menu and then ARCHIVE – ALL EPISODES and you’ll find the survey between episodes 276 and 277. The feedback will help me to know what kind of thing you prefer in episodes of LEP. Of course, ultimately I have the final decision because I’m the boss – I’m Luke after all, and this is Luke’s English Podcast and I have the final say, like sometimes I think it’s worth presenting you with something more challenging here, more entertaining there, more topic focused here, more pronunciation focused there and so on. But anyway, take my survey and let me know what your preferences are – your thoughts will combine with mine and it can help me to provide the right content for you. Click here to take the survey.

Quick Quiz
Now, quick quiz – what are the four countries that make up the UK?
England, Scotland, Wales and… Northern Ireland.
How much do you know about Northern Ireland?
What’s the capital city? (Belfast)
Another big city there? (some call it Derry, others call it Londonderry)
Where exactly is it? (well, the clue is in the name because it’s the northern part of the island of Ireland – but it’s not part of The Republic of Ireland politically, it’s part of the UK) It’s not far from parts of Northern England and South Western Scotland.
What else? The Titanic was built there, Game of Thrones is filmed there, unfortunately it’s also known for ‘the troubles’ – violence, civil unrest and terrorism.

It’s home to about 1.8 million members of the UK, and they have their own culture, their own accents and their own particular dialect, and in a recent survey the ‘Northern Irish accent’ was voted the sexiest accent in the UK!

Today on the podcast I’m joined by Marcus Keeley, who is a stand-up comedian, improviser and poet who comes from Belfast in Northern Ireland. I know Marcus from the stand-up comedy scene in Paris, as he likes to come here from time to time to visit and do comedy shows with our team. He’s a friendy, interesting and funny gentleman and this is the first time I’ve had someone from Northern Ireland on this podcast.

So, this is one of those episodes in which I have a guest on the show and we explore a number of different things within the context of an authentic conversation between two native speakers of English. If you like you can imagine that you’re there with us, involved in our conversation. After all, we are speaking to you, and for the attention of you, and you can get involved by sharing your comments on the page for this episode.

What are you going to get in this episode?
– Generally, this conversation is presented for people who are either learning English or who have a particular interest in all things British, or perhaps both.
– First we’ll get to know Marcus a little bit, giving you a chance to train your ear to his accent and way of speaking
– We’ll talk about Northern Ireland, and really get to know this often overlooked part of the UK – including a bit of culture, history, politics, things you can do as a visitor and whatever else comes up in our chat
– You’re going to listen to the Belfast accent of Marcus, and talk a little bit about the variety of accents that you can hear in Northern Ireland
– You can learn a few common phrases from the dialect of English that you hear in Northern Ireland

As ever, you can read notes for this episode at teacherluke.co.uk, so if you want to do some studying, you can.
Also, you may hear bits of rude language in this episode – so, you have been warned.
We covered a lot of ground in this conversation, which lasted nearly two hours so this will be a two part episode I expect.
Please leave any comments or questions on the page for this episode.
That’s it – I hope you enjoy our conversation, and that you experience something you haven’t experienced before.
It might be tricky to follow everything Marcus says in this episode because you’re not familiar with his accent. I encourage you to keep going and just try to follow the general flow of the conversation! Best of luck. Let’s get started…

1. Get to know Markus a bit
Where are you from exactly?
What brings you to Paris?
What do you do?
How long have you been doing comedy?
How would you describe your act?
Stephen Nolan Podcast
Markus keeley pic

224. Pronunciation: Verb Tenses & Connected Speech

This episode focuses on how sentences are pronounced quickly by native speakers. This is invaluable knowledge which will help you to take your listening and your pronunciation to the next level! Right-click here to download.

Small Donate ButtonThis is the episode I promised to record at the end of episode 176. In that episode I focused on the major verb tenses in English and I explained their meaning and uses. This episode is the sequel to that one, and it focuses specifically on the pronunciation of sentences containing a range of verb tenses.

You know when you hear a native speaker talking quite quickly? It sounds like all the words are joined together, or some of the words are being swallowed or something. It’s difficult to understand them, or to pick out every single word. Sometimes it’s hard to identify subtle differences between verb tenses. Well, just like in any language, English has features of connected speech which make it sound like whole sentences are just long words with all the sounds connected together. I want to help to demystify this for you. I want to help you to understand connected speech in English. It’ll help your listening comprehension, and it will improve your pronunciation too. So, let’s look at these features of fluent English pronunciation, focusing on sentences containing various verb tenses.

Here are the features of pronunciation I focus on in this episode
– Linking (consonant to consonant, consonant to vowel and vowel to vowel linking)
– Elision of sounds (some sounds are ‘elided’ or removed when consonants link together)
– Intrusive sounds (sometimes vowels are linked to other vowels with intrusive sounds like /j/ or /w/)
– Weak forms and ‘schwa’ sounds /ə/ (in unstressed syllables and unstressed words in sentences)
– Sentence stress (the rhythm of a sentence)

Here are the sentences I repeat in this episode
Listen carefully, and try to repeat them after me. Try to focus on the natural way I say the sentences, and try to notice the features of connected speech I’m highlighting. Don’t forget the meaning of the sentences. For an episode which deals with the meaning & use of these different tenses, click here to listen to episode 176.

Present simple
I teach English at a university, and I’m teaching first year students of law at the moment.

Present continuous
I’m from London, but at the moment I’m living in Paris.
I teach English at a university, and I’m teaching first year students of law at the moment.

Past simple
(for) I lived in West London for a long time.
(sequence of finished actions) My Dad was promoted and got a job in the midlands, so we moved there, and stayed for many years. I went to university in Liverpool and lived there for 4 years, and then I moved back to Warwickshire.

Past continuous
I’d finished uni and I was working in a pub, not really going anywhere.
It was while I was living in London that I came up with the idea of launching an amazing podcast for learners of English
.
I was walking down the street and this guy came up to me and started talking, but I couldn’t understand him

Used to do vs.
Get used to doing
– It used to be quite difficult, because I couldn’t speak the language but I’m getting used to it now.

Present perfect
I’ve been up the Eiffel Tower. I’ve visited Notre Dame. I’ve been to Shakespeare and Company. I’ve tried lots of delicious French wine, but I still haven’t done everything.
Today I’ve drunk a bit too much coffee so I’m pretty hyperactive. Normally I drink tea, but more recently I’ve been drinking coffee. I’ve had about 9,000 cups already today.

Present perfect continuous
I’ve been doing lots of comedy. I’ve been doing lots of gigs.
I’ve been working at the university.
I’ve been recording episodes of the podcast
I’ve hardly had time to sit down and just read my book in silence.

Past perfect
That’s when I decided to become an English teacher.
I’d finished uni and I was working in a pub, not really going anywhere.
When I first came here, I’d never visited Paris before, but my girlfriend had told me a lot about it, so I was kind of prepared.
Past perfect continuous
As well as studying at university and college, I’d also been playing in lots of bands over the past few years, but it hadn’t really worked out, so I needed to think of something else to do.

Going to / present continuous
We’re going to visit New York next month
– I might do a special report from New York
– We’re going to stay in an AirBnB apartment that we’ve found
– We’re planning the trip at the moment.
– We’re flying there in the middle of April. It’s going to be good.

Future with will (not plans, but judgements, opinions, predictions)
Who knows, maybe the LEPPERS will one day rise up.
Hopefully it’ll last. Hopefully they’ll take me on again.
England will probably win.
We probably won’t win. I imagine it will be someone like Spain or Brazil.
1st Conditional
We probably won’t get to the final, but if we do it’ll be amazing.
Who knows what I’ll be doing
Hopefully I’ll still be recording episodes of LEP

Future perfect
Hopefully, I will have done many more episodes of LEP and perhaps I will have expanded my work online in some way.
Future perfect continuous (in a 1st Conditional structure, no less!)
If I’m still doing Luke’s English Podcast , I will have been doing LEP for 15 years.

Future perfect continuous passive!
I will have been being listened to for 10 years (!!!)

179. The Ramblings of an Exhausted Teacher

Last night I couldn’t sleep, and so today my mind has turned into jelly. Let me tell you all about it.

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In this episode I talk to you, in a rambling way, about diverse topics such as:
Dwayne’s English Podcast
Being kidnapped by aliens from Mars
Exam fatigue
Trouble sleeping last night
English at 7.30AM!
The rotten contents of my brain!
Selling Luke’s English Podcast
Saying “Hello” to you
Having a conversation with you
“The best laid plans of mice & men”
The university course I’ve been teaching
Sleep (high-energy bit)
What are you doing?
On a bus
Signalling to another person that you’re a LEPer (secret codes)
Giving a wink to a stranger
On a train
Trains and lifts in movies (Bruce Willis)
My brain is on its last legs

THANK YOU! (Transcripts, donations, reviews)
A special hello to the NSA secret agents
Hello to Yannick
Twitter – it’s what you make of it
Whatever
Normally on Luke’s English Podcast
BBC meeting: Prioritising Luke’s English Podcast
This really is the end
Be nice to each other
;)

Lovely to talk to you,
Goodnight

Luke

jellyPODPIC
Thanks for listening ;)

173. The Curse of The Lambton Worm

Listen to a disturbing story from English folklore about a horrendous and mysterious worm.

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Introduction
The Lambton Worm is a legend from the north east of England in the UK. The story takes place around the River Wear, in the town of Lambton and at Penshaw Hill which is between Durham and Sunderland in the north east of England. It is one of the area’s most famous pieces of folklore, having been adapted from written and oral tradition into pantomime and song formats, which are still performed to this day. I’m going to keep up that tradition here on Luke’s English Podcast by telling you my version of the story.

The tale is about a man called John Lambton, who was the heir to the Lambton Estate in County Durham, and his battle with a giant worm (dragon) that had been terrorising the local villages. As with most myths, details of the story change with each telling. I’m not from that part of England, but I love this story because I remember reading about it in a book of monsters that my brother used to have when we were kids. Remember before I told you about a ghost book that I used to own when I was a kid? Well, my brother had a similar book, from the same series, and it was all about monsters. I was fascinated by these books (Click this link to read some pages of those books!) So was my brother. I remember there was a picture of John Lambton fighting the worm, and a brief account of the story. It was fascinating, horrific and exciting for me as a kid, and the memory of the story has stayed with me. There’s just something about an old scary story that really excites me. I think this one must be a good one because it has endured for hundreds of years. It dates back to the time of the crusades, so about 1,000 years ago – medieval times. If a story survives that long, being told over and over again and being handed down through the generations, it must mean there must be something in it which interests people.

This is a local legend from country Durham and I expect it’s a strong part of their local culture. There’s an old folk song which tells the story, and it is still sung in old pubs by beer-drinking men with beards and acoustic guitars. I love those old folk songs. It’s proper traditional culture, as performed and told by real local people. I’m not from that part of the country, I’m from the midlands, and the south, but the story means something to me because of the connection I have with it from childhood. Also, I just think that you might like to hear it.

I’m going to tell you the story in my own way. It’s normal for folk tales like this to be changed by the storyteller, and there is no official version of the story – just a general outline. The details get adapted and improvised by each storyteller. So, I’m going to give you my version, which means that I will stick to the main elements of the story, but yes, as usual I will be improvising a lot of other details too. The challenge for me is to try and make it engaging, and entertaining and understandable for you. As well as practising your English, we can also consider what makes a good story. I think it’s about the passion of the storyteller, and the attention to certain details. Your challenge is to follow the story, and perhaps learn it well enough to be able to tell your friends, if you fancy that. Just remember to mention that the roots of this story are in the folklore of the county Durham area, in the North of England. It’s important to remember that this is a bit of local culture. If you’re from that area, and you’re  listening to this – I hope you don’t mind my version of the story, and realise that, really, I love this story too and I’m just adapting it a little bit for the purpose of letting people practise their English listening.

lambton worm pic

Illustration by John Dickson Batten from More English Fairy Tales.

The Main Elements of the Story
Note that I use past tenses to tell my story (past simple, past perfect & past continuous) but below the story is presented using present tenses.
John Lambton is the heir to the Lambton Estate – so he’s a young member of the gentry. A landowner from a fairly rich and well known family in the area.
He’s a rebellious character.
He skips church and he skips school.
He doesn’t care. He just loves fishing. He disrespects his parents.
He skips church one Sunday, and goes fishing.
He meets an old man – an old hermit, who tells him that no good will come of skipping church. He ignores the old man, and yet it puts him in a bit of a bad mood.
He catches nothing all morning.
Then, as the church bells are ringing for the end of service, he gets a bite on his line.
It’s a powerful bite and he has to wrestle hard to bring in the catch. The water crashes around and gets deeply churned up. He fights hard and brings in his catch.
It’s a truly disgusting and horrifying catch.
It’s a slimy and wriggly black worm. It’s dripping slime, it’s writhing and snapping, and it stinks.
He brings it to rest on the soil. It sits there breathing, completely malevolent. It has 9 holes down the side of its mouth, and John can’t really make sense of its other features. It’s really weird, and makes him feel sick.
He pukes, quite hard. What the hell is this thing?
He takes another look at it, and it opens its eye. It’s yellow and red, and it seems to look right into his soul.
This is a life-changing moment, although he doesn’t realise it.
At that moment, the old man reappears, and says with some certainty that he senses the work of the devil, and that Lambton is now responsible for this worm.
Lambton can’t throw it back, so he quickly puts it in his basket, to carry it home.
On the way back, the basket is so heavy and the worm keeps thrashing around inside it, and hissing. Even when it’s still, the basket seems impossible to carry. It’s so heavy, but also, he feels miserable. The good mood he was in at the beginning of the day has been replaced by a very grim feeling of depression. It’s like he’s suddenly aware of all the time he has wasted, and how everything seems quite hopeless, including his family  life.
He can’t take it any more, and feeling desperate, he chucks the worm into a nearby well. The worm struggles quite a lot, but down it goes. Lambton waits to hear the worm hit the bottom, and it does, after a pause, with a splash.
He quickly goes home.
Feeling guilty, and more aware of his responsibilities, he decides to join the army in order to fight in the crusades, as much out of guilt as duty to his family and the church.
He goes to Palestine to fight in the crusades. He’s away for 7 hard years in which he sees many things, makes many friends and sees many friends die in battle. He becomes a man.
Meanwhile, back at home, the worm is still alive in the well. The well becomes infected, and causes anyone who drinks from it to become violently ill, and die, with horrible symptoms.
The worm grows inside the well, and after it has reached a massive size, one moonlit night, it slides out from the well, and it’s massive. It wraps itself around the local Penshaw Hill – several times, and lies there waiting, warming itself in the morning sun. It’s a hideous and vicious creature. It has small legs, with claws on the end, which it uses to scrape and scratch the earth. It is incredibly long, and it slithers like a snake. It’s covered in smooth yet tough scales. Around its head it has a mane of rubbery spikes. The 9 holes that run along the side of its face, under its jaw, ooze a nasty black slime which burns the grass and sends an evil black smoke into the air. It coughs up the bones and remains of the bodies it has eaten, leaving this foul waste on the ground wherever it rests. Its eyes are yellow and deep, and malevolent. It has rows of razor sharp teeth like a shark’s except that they’re black and yellow, and his eyes, like that of a shark, roll back into its head when he takes a bite, leaving him looking white-eyed and blind during its moments of feeding frenzy.
It attacks a local farmer, squeezing him to death after he tries to fight it with his pitchfork. It then eats all his cattle, and his dead body, before returning to the hill.
It then terrorises the area, eating cattle and sheep, and wild animals.
The countryside becomes deathly silent, as it is all scared or killed by the worm. It’s a foul and sickening presence which seems to poison the earth wherever it goes.
Its confidence grows and it enters town.
The town mayor, as an attempt to distract it, empties all the milk supplies from the market into a trough in front of the town hall. The worm eats it all, and returns to the hill, where it sleeps.
The best men of the town get together a fighting force and arm themselves with the best weaponry they can find, and go to attack the worm, but it’s in vain as the worm is very strong and ruthless. Whenever anyone manages to slice the worm, the pieces, shuddering, just grow back together again. The worm seems indestructible.
For the next 7 years, the town gives the worm almost all of its supplies of milk in order to satisfy it. The worm grows bigger, and the town gets more and more exploited, until people are starving to death, and all life is sucked out of the place. When no milk is provided, the worm angrily attacks the residents, killing and eating men, women and children.
John Lambton returns from the crusades a scarred man, but a man nonetheless. He has learned how to fight, and he carries a sword and a suit of armour.
He sees the state of the town, and learns about the worm from his father.
He realises it is the same worm that he discarded all those years ago, and immediately realises that he is responsible for the curse and must fight the worm himself.
He visits a local wise woman for advice. She tells him that the worm has cursed him, his family and the town, and that only he can kill it.
She tells him to visit the blacksmith, and to have spikes and blades fitted to his armour, and that he must  lure the worm into the river Wear before doing battle.
She also tells him that to lift the curse, after killing the worm, he must kill the next living thing that he sees.
Lambton gets his special suit of armour made, and arranges with his father that when he has killed the worm, he will blow a note on his hunting horn as a signal that he has won and that the father must release Lambton’s favourite hunting hound. The hound will run straight  to him and Lambton will kill it, lifting the curse.
He heads towards the hill and finds the worm.
The worm recognises him and uncoils itself from the hill, hissing, puking black bile and generally being hideous.
Lambton realises how difficult this will be because this worm is really big and strong looking. The worm approaches and he backs away.
He walks backwards towards the river, the worm steadily moving nearer and nearer, flanking him. Lambton gets very tired just walking in the armour – which is extra-heavy because of the fittings.
Eventually, he enters the water, which is cold.
The worm slides down the bank and raises itself up to strike.
They fight and whenever the worm attempts to coil itself around Lambton, it gets sliced up on the blades and spikes.
Lambton is so tired that all he can do is just try not to be washed away by the current. He hacks at the worm and struggles to breath. The fumes from the worm are poisonous. Each time parts of the worm are hacked off, they are washed away, and eventually, just a section of the worm is left and Lambton hacks off its head. The pieces can’t join back together and the worm is no more.
Lambton blows a note on his horn, but his father is so happy to hear it that he forgets to release the hound and instead he runs to see John. Lambton sees him , and is dismayed. he can’t bring himself to kill his father, and so the go back to the house and he kills his hound.
The wise woman appears and tells him that despite killing the worm, he failed to lift the curse and that for 9 generations, the Lambtons will not die in their beds.
injured and sick, Lambton collapses.
That’s the end of the story.

What does this all mean? You tell me.

This curse seems to have held true for at least three generations, possibly helping to contribute to the popularity of the story.
1st generation: Robert Lambton, drowned at Newrig.
2nd: Sir William Lambton, a Colonel of Foot, killed at Marston Moor.
3rd: William Lambton, died in battle at Wakefield.
9th: Henry Lambton, died in his carriage crossing Lambton Bridge on 26 June 1761.
(General Lambton, Henry Lambton’s brother, is said to have kept a horse whip by his bedside to ward off violent assaults. He died in his bed at an old age.)

The Old Folk Song
Here is Tony Wilson singing the folk song in the local dialect
[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsO7SeCvgMw&w=500&h=375%5D
Song Lyrics
Here are the lyrics with some meanings added too. Remember, this is sung in an old dialect. Not many people actually speak in this dialect any more, although there is a distinct accent from that region.

One Sunda morn young Lambton went
A-fishing in the Wear;
An’ catched a fish upon he’s heuk (=caught) (=his hook)
He thowt leuk’t vary queer. (=thought looked very strange)
But whatt’n a kind ov fish it was (=what kind of)
Young Lambton cudden’t tell-
He waddn’t fash te carry’d hyem, (=could not be bothered to carry it home)
So he hoyed it doon a well (=threw it down)
Chorus
Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, (=Be quiet, boys, shut your mouths)
An’ aa’ll tell ye aall an aaful story, (=I’ll tell you all an awful)
Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs,
An’ Aa’ll tel ye ‘boot the worm. (=about)
Noo Lambton felt inclined te gan (=go)
An’ fight i’ foreign wars.
He joined a troop ov Knights that cared
For nowther woonds nor scars, (=neither wounds)
An’ off he went te Palestine
Where queer things him befel,
An varry seun forgat aboot (=very soon forgot about)
The queer worm i’ tha well.
But the worm got fat an’ grewed an’ grewed,
An’ grewed an aaful size;
He’d greet big teeth, a greet big gob,
An greet big goggly eyes.
An’ when at neets he craaled aboot (=nights) (=crawled around)
Te pick up bits o’ news,
If he felt dry upon the road,
He’d milk a dozen coos. (=cows)
This feorful worm would often feed (=fearful)
On caalves an’ lambs an’ sheep,
An’ swally little bairns alive (=swallow) (=children)
When they laid doon te sleep.
An when he’d eaten aall he cud (=all he could)
An’ he had had he’s fill,
He craaled away an’ lapped he’s tail (=wrapped)
Ten times roond Pensha Hill.
The news ov this myest aaful worm (=most)
An’ his queer gannins on (=goings-on)
Seun crossed the seas, gat te the ears (=soon) (=got to)
Ov brave an’ bowld Sor John.
So hyem he cam an’ catched the beast, (=home he came and caught)
An’ cut ‘im in twe haalves, (=cut him in two-halves)
An’ that seun stopped hes eatin’ bairns
An’ sheep an’ lambs an’ caalves.
So noo ye knaa hoo aall the foaks (=now you know how all the folk)
On byeth sides ov the Wear (=both)
Lost lots o’ sheep an’ lots o’ sleep
An leeved i’ mortal feor. (=And lived in mortal fear)
So let’s hev one te brave Sor John (=let’s drink to brave Sir John)
That kept the bairns frae harm, (=from)
Saved coos an’ calves by myekin’ haalves (=making halves)
O’ the famis Lambton Worm. (=famous)

172. British Comedy: Peter Cook & Dudley Moore

Listen to two comedy sketches from the 1960s, learn some popular cultural history, pick up some vocabulary and hear some posh English accents.

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I highly recommend that you purchase this BBC DVD of The Best of Peter Cook & Dudley Moore. It’s really funny!

Introduction (with transcript)

Hello everyone, welcome to the podcast.
In this episode we’re going to listen to a sketch from a comedy show called “Not only.. but also”, which was first broadcast on the BBC back in the sixties, when TV was in black and white and there were only 3 channels.

I’d love to tell you all about this show, and the people who made it. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore are basically the fathers of modern British TV comedy. I’d love to tell you all about how before Monty Python even existed, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore were doing surreal, satirical and anti-establishment comedy on BBC TV, and getting huge audience ratings, and inspiring generations of people. I’d also love to tell you more about the history of British comedy, because for some reason it’s very important to me. It’s one of my favourite subjects. It just feels significant, and I want to share it with you. Listening to these things is good for your English, but ultimately the reward is even greater than that – you can enjoy listening to something that’s a little bit special. But I also realise that you might not have the same level of slightly fanatical interest in the history of comedy, as I do. I could bang on about some comedians from the 1960s, but you might think “this is interesting Luke, but let’s just listen to some of their work shall we?” So, I’ve decided to just skip through all the stuff about the history of comedy and go straight to a couple of sketches, tell you about them, help you to understand them, and then later in this episode I’ll give you a little history lesson on Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, and their place in the history of pop culture, and then not only will you be able to enjoy their comedy, but you’ll learn more about British cultural history.

So, let’s focus on the sketch. I’m just going to explain the context for you and then you can listen to it, and see if you get what’s going on.

First sketch: Peter Cook & Dudley Moore “A bit of a chat” aka “The facts of life”
In this scene you’ll hear a father talking to his son about a slightly sensitive topic. The scene was written and filmed in the early sixties, probably 1964.

First, just listen (there is a script below, but try listening without it first)
Just listen to this and try and work out what is going on. Then I’ll explain things, and you can hear it again. There’s a script available for this sketch on my webpage.
As you listen you should try to work out what’s happening here. Why is this such a strange conversation? And why is the audience laughing? You might need to “read between the lines” which means look beyond what is just being said in order to discover the hidden meanings or suggestions at work.

How much of that did you understand? Did you get the humorous aspects of it? Let me explain the context, and the main points of the sketch.

*Sketch starts – “A Bit of a Chat”*
(See below for the script)

What happened?

Context
What do you know about Father/Son relationships in the UK in the 1950s & 60s?
They were more formal, especially among upper-class or upper-middle class families. Sons would call their father ‘sir’. They’d be very respectful, as if talking to someone of much higher status. They probably didn’t spend a lot of time together. These days, fathers and sons from normal middle-class families are quite close. They share quite a lot, and are able to talk quite openly about sensitive subjects like relationships or sex education. It might be embarrassing for the boy, but basically, the father feels quite comfortable doing it, and it’s normal and accepted. Back in the 50s or 60s, it wasn’t exactly the same. I suppose British men were less ‘in touch with their feelings’ and found it very awkward to discuss sensitive personal topics openly. Instead they may have dealt with them in the same formalised and distant way as they would talk about other topics. Also, we wonder how much most people really knew about sexual education in those days. Back in the 1950s or early 60s, before the era of sexual liberation, I think that a lot of people were completely in the dark about reproduction and all that kind of thing.
How about now? Are people more comfortable when talking about topics such as reproduction and sex?
Not completely, but certainly more so than 50 years ago.

The Class System & Boarding Schools
A little bit about the class system – particularly the upper class.
Nowardays, most people are middle class. In fact, many people believe that we don’t have a formalised class system these days. 50 years ago, the UK was more divided by class. Lower class (working class), middle class and upper class. Let’s look at traditional upper class culture. The upper class, or upper middle classes were considered to be:
Wealthy, educated, respectable and quite formal. Not liberated sexually, but bound by polite & formal social conventions. They would have been quite prudish about sex, finding it very embarrassing to talk about the subject. Many of the men would have been educated in exclusive, single sex boarding schools, which by all accounts would have been pretty cold, very formal and quite brutal. The boys never mixed with girls and grew up to be pretty clueless about sex. Kids and their parents didn’t spend a lot of time together, because of the boarding schools, and a father was more like a master than a friendly Dad.

Vocabulary
It seems that very posh people, from this period, often don’t really say exactly what they mean. They might make something sound more trivial than it actually is. For example “I had to give someone rather a ticking off” = means “I quite forcefully reprimanded someone for doing something wrong”
rugger – rugby
grubby – dirty / muddy
having a crafty smoke – secretly having a cigarette
give someone rather a ticking off – telling someone off
it’s a filthy habit – it’s a dirty habit
to cope with someone – to deal with someone
to get up to something – to do something (naughty)

Remember – it’s all about reading between the lines. What’s really going on? What really happened?

What does each line of dialogue really mean. E.g. the line about “there’s a cup of tea in here if you’d like one” means – come and sit down because I need to talk to you. The lad doesn’t want to, because, well, it’s probably awkward to talk to the old man, and this sounds like it could be serious.

Let’s listen to it again now, and consider each line, what is going on, and what is funny.

Second Listen

Questions
What does the Father want to talk about?
Why does the Father feel he has to talk about this?
What does the Father mean by “The opposite number?”
Why does the Father talk about sitting on a chair, etc?
Who is Uncle Bertie?
What is Uncle Bertie’s relationship with the boy’s mother?

A Bit Of A Chat (Script)
Roger, aged almost eighteen, arrives home from school, whistling: All Things Bright and Beautiful. His Father wants to have a bit of a chat with him about something. Just, a bit of a chat…
Father: Is that you, Roger?
Roger: Yes, father.
Father: There’s a cup of tea in here, boy, if you’d like one.
Roger: It’s very kind of you, sir, but I’ve just come in from rugger, and I’m a bit grubby. I think I ought to go and have a shower first, sir.
Father: Well pour me a cup, there’s a good chap, would you?
Roger: Certainly sir, yes, of course.
Father: Thank you. How was school today?
Roger: Oh, much as usual, thank you sir, but I caught someone having a crafty smoke behind the wooden building. I had to give him rather a ticking off — such a filthy habit, you know.
Father: It’s a filthy habit, Roger.
Roger: There we are, sir. Now, if you’ll excuse me.
Father: Roger.
Roger: Yes sir?
Father: Er — sit down. Roger, your mother and I were having a bit of a chat the other day, and she thought it might be a good idea if I was to have a bit of a chat with you.
Roger: Er… a bit of a chat, sir?
Father: A bit of a chat, yes, Roger, just…
Roger: Er…
Father: A bit of a chat.
Roger: What about, sir?
Father: Well, there’s nothing to be worried about, Roger, it’s just that, er, well, to be perfectly frank… how old are you?
Roger: Well, to be perfectly frank, sir, I’m coming up to eighteen.
Father: Coming up to eighteen…
Roger: Well, on the verge of…
Father: On the verge of eighteen… Yes, well, I thought it might be a good idea to have a bit of a chat now, because I remember, from my own experience, that it was when I was just, you know, coming up to eighteen…
Roger: On the verge…
Father: …on the verge of it, that I first began to take a serious interest in the – um – in the – er – opposite… the opposite… number. Now I don’t know, Roger, if you know anything about the method whereby you came to be brought about.
Roger: Well, sir, some of the boys at school say very filthy things about it, sir.
Father: This is what I was worried about, and this is why I thought I’d have a bit of a chat, and explain, absolutely frankly and openly, the method whereby you, and everybody in this world, came to be. Roger, in order for you to be brought about, it was necessary for your mother and I to do something. In particular, it was necessary for your mother… it was necessary for your mother – to sit on a chair. To sit on a chair which I had recently vacated, and which was still warm from my body. And then, something very mysterious, rather wonderful and beautiful happened. And sure enough, four years later you were born. There was nothing unhealthy about this, Roger, there’s nothing unnatural. It’s a beautiful thing in the right hands, and there’s no need to think less of your mother because of it. She had to do it – she did it – and here you are.
Roger: Well sir, it’s very kind of you to tell me. One thing, actually, slightly alarms me; um, I was sitting in this very chair yesterday sir, and I vacated it, and the cat sat on it while it was still warm. Should we have it destroyed?
Father: Its a lovely chair, Roger…
Roger: I mean the cat, sir.
Father: Destroy… oh, no Roger, you don’t understand. This thing of which I speak can only happen between two people who are married. And you’re not married.
Roger: Not yet, anyway sir.
Father: Not to the cat, in any case. Well, Roger, now that you have this knowledge about chairs and warmth, I hope – I hope you’ll use it wisely, and take no notice of your school friends, or what Uncle Bertie may say.
Roger: Dirty Uncle Bertie they call him.
Father: Dirty Uncle Bertie – and they’re right, Roger. Bertie’s a dirty, dirty man. He’s been living with us now for forty years, and it does seem a day too much… You know, if it hadn’t been for your mother, Roger, I don’t know where we would have been. She’s the only person who can really cope with Uncle Bertie, she’s the only one who can really deal with him. I don’t know if you realise this, Roger, but your mother even has to sleep in the same bed as Uncle Bertie, to prevent him getting up to anything in the night. If only there were more people like your mother, Roger.
Roger: Well, I’m very pleased that you’ve told me this, sir, because, as I say, I’m very glad I don’t have to believe all those filthy things that the boys at school say, and only yesterday, Uncle Bertie said to me…
Father: Take no notice of Uncle Bertie, Roger! He’s a sick, sick man, and we should feel sorry for him.
Roger: Well, I’ll try, sir… well.. thank you sir. Er – I wonder if I should take a cup of tea up to mother, while…
Father: I – er – I wouldn’t do that, Roger – she’s upstairs at the moment, coping with Uncle Bertie…
Roger: Poor Uncle Bertie…
Father: Poor Uncle Bertie…

And here’s the garden party sketch. It comes from another great BBC TV show called “The Fast Show”, which was Johnny Depp’s favourite British TV show.

The Psychiatrist Sketch (Script)

Braintree: Come in.
[Enter Roger.]
Hullo, Roger.
Roger: Hullo, Dr Braintree.
B: Hullo, come in.
R: I’m sorry I’m late.
B: That’s quite all right – how are you?
R: I’m very well, thank you.
B: Would you like to sit down, or would you prefer to lie.
R: Uhm, I’ll sit, thank you.
B: Right, well, sit down. Tell me, how are you in yourself?
R: I’m feeling just great.
B: Oh, this is terrific.
R: Yes, and it’s more than I expected from our sessions. You know, if anyone had told me that talking to psychiatrists could have help me at all, I would have laughed in their faces.
B: Yes.
R: But I can honestly say that our little chats together have really been of tremendous help to me.
B: I’m so glad, Roger: of course a lot of people are instinctively suspicious of psychiatry, but it can help at times.
R: Well, I really think it can, because you know, I’ve got so much self-confidence now. I’m much less self-conscious in the company of the opposite sex, whichI wasn’t, as you know.
B: Yes, yes, yes, yes. You’re less inhibited, are you?
R: [Suggestively] Oh yes, I should say so.
B: Good, this is terrific.
R: And the wonderful thing about it all is … well, I’m in love.
B: Well, this is wonderful news, Roger – you’re in love. – With a woman?
R: Yes.
B: So much the better – that’s terrific.
R: You know, it’s so wonderful to be in love – I can’t tell you the absolute joy I have. … this girl, this creature
[emotional]
, this goddess …
R: I mean, she’s
B: Yes …
R: She’s so, you know, it’s so right. Everything is so wonderful, you know.
B: Yes, yes – you really click together.
R: Yes. Oh, it’s so marvellous, but – the only trouble is that, apart from this wonderful light-hearted love I have, I seem to be saddled with this tremendous burning sense of guilt.
B: You have guilt as well as love: well, this is unfortunate, Roger. You know, sex is the most wonderful natural, healthy thing in the world. There’s no reason at all to have any guilt about it. I mean,why should you have guilt about sex?
R: Well, it’s not really as simple as that, you know – it’s rather difficult to explain. Uhm, I don’t reallyknow where to start. It’s rather difficult to explain. Uhm, I don’t really know where to start.
B: Well, begin at the beginning. That’s always the best place. What’s the girl’s name.
R: [Pause] Stephanie.
B: Stephanie. That’s a lovely name, isn’t it – well, my wife’s name in fact, isn’t it?
R: Yes, it’s Stephanie.
B: Yes, it’s Stephanie.
R: Yes, it’s Stephanie.
B: No, it’s Stephanie.
R: Yes, it’s Stephanie: it’s your wife.
B: Oh, you’re in love with my wife, Stephanie. Well, this is a perfectly understandable thing, Roger. She’s a very attractive woman – I married her myself. I don’t see why you should feel upset about that.
R: But she’s in love with me.
B: Well, this is again perfectly understandable, Roger. I mean, you’re a perfectly attractive human being, as I’ve told you over the last few weeks. There’s nothing repulsive about you, is there? There’s no reason why a highly sexed woman such as Stephanie shouldn’t fall in love with you. And I must explain to you, Roger, that I’m a very busy man: I have many, many patients to see – I see rather less of my wife perhaps than I should, and I think it’s very understandable she should seek some sort of companionship outside the marriage – I don’t think that’s unreasonable at all.
R: But she’s not seeking anything outside marriage – nor am I. We want to get married.
B: Well, this again is perfectly understandable. After all, you’re two young people in love and you want to express your feelings within the confines of a bourgeois society through marriage. I think it’s very appropriate.
R: The awful thing is, you see – I should feel so grateful to you for what you’ve done. And all I can feel is this burning jealousy – I can’t bear the thought of you touching her.
B: Well, of course, I understand this. One is tremendously possessive about someone one loves … it would be unhealthy not to have this jealous reaction, Roger.
R: But don’t you see – I hate you.
B: Of course you hate me, Roger.
R: I hate you for being so near her.
B: Yes, of course you hate me, Roger. You love to hate the one who loves the one you hate to love the one you hate. This is a very old rule, Roger – there’s nothing to feel ashamed about. It’s absolutely reasonable.
R: Don’t you understand – I want to kill you.
B: Of course you want to kill me. Because by killing me , Roger, you eradicate the one you hate. This is a perfectly natural reaction, Roger.
R: You’re so reasonable, aren’t you.
B: Yes, I am.
R: [Getting cross]
You understand it all so much …you are so logical.
[Gets up to strike him.]
B: Yes, I am – it’s my job.
R: I’m going to have to kill you
now
!
B: Ah – Roger – this is a little inconvenient, because I have another patient a six-thirty and then there’s someone else at seven after that. I wonder if you could make it some time next week.
[Standing over him.]
Could you make it early in the week, say?
R: [Pause – relax] When do you think?
B: How are you fixed on Wednesday morning? Say nine-thirty – would that be convenient?
R: Yes, that’s perfect.
B: Right, well, if you could pop along at nine-thirty and kill me then.
R: Once again, Doctor Braintree, I’m amazed, you know, really. I’m so grateful to you for showing me the way.
B: That’s what I’m here for, Roger.
R: Thank you very much. Thank you.
B: And with a bit of luck, this should be the last time you need to visit me

Comments
I think it’s pretty clear what’s funny about this. The psychiatrist has cured Roger and he feels so happy to be in love, but it turns out that Roger is in love with the Psychiatrist’s wife Stephanie. The psychiatrist doesn’t fly into a jealous rage – in fact he’s ridiculously logical and reasonable about it. This sketch allows us to imagine what the psychiatrist must be like at home – so reasonable all the time, he must be no fun at all. No passion, just plain dedication to his job; the rational understanding of psychology at the expense of natural human emotions and feelings, which is unnatural and ridiculous, as well as frustrating. It could be a wider statement about psychiatry, but let’s not analyse it too much. It’s just funny listening to the reactions, and the nicely written lines.

Vocabulary
There may be some words and expressions that you don’t know, or that could be useful to you. Let’s have a look:

terrific
our little chats together have really been of tremendous help to me
I’m much less self-conscious in the company of the opposite sex, which I wasn’t, as you know.
B: Yes, yes, yes, yes. You’re less inhibited, are you?
you really click together.
I seem to be saddled with this tremendous burning sense of guilt.
There’s nothing repulsive about you
There’s no reason why a highly-sexed woman such as Stephanie shouldn’t fall in love with you
You want to express your feelings within the confines of a bourgeois society through marriage.
I can’t bear the thought of you touching her.
Because by killing me , Roger, you eradicate the one you hate.
If you could pop along at nine-thirty and kill me then.

That’s it! Don’t forget to listen several times to get the full benefit!

Feel free to leave comments and questions below.

Thanks for listening,

Luke

171. A Cup of Tea with Daniel Burt (Part 2)

[2/2] Here’s the second part of my conversation with Daniel Burt, who is a journalist, comedy writer and performer from Melbourne, Australia.

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In this conversation we talk about these things:
Daniel’s move to London
Aussie pubs in Paris and London
Cliches about Australian people
Australian pronunciation
Typical Australian English phrases
The Australian character and national identity
Australian politicians
The future of Australia & Australia’s image of itself
Sport & competition
Interviewing Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), Martin Freeman (The Hobbit), Matt Smith & David Tennant (Doctor Who)

To contribute a few minutes of transcription for this episode, click here to work on the google document:

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

All the best,
Luke

Daniel’s Video Showreel
[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9V3cKGvISU&w=500&h=281%5D