Testing Paul Taylor’s knowledge of British life, history and culture and discussing the “Life in the UK” citizenship test. Practise listening to British English natural speech, learn facts about the UK and have a laugh as Paul gets angry about this test for people who want to become UK citizens. Will Paul actually pass the test? Listen to find out what happens. Transcriptions and notes available.
In this episode you’re going to listen to my friend Paul Taylor attempting to pass the UK citizenship test.
Every year thousands and thousands of people choose to become British citizens, for various reasons. This year one of those people is Meghan Markle, who is moving to Britain to marry Prince Harry – as everyone knows because it’s all over the news, probably all around the world. In fact the wedding is happening tomorrow! By the time you listen to this they will probably be married. I hope everything goes well for them.
Anyway, there are lots of complicated requirements for becoming “naturalised” as a British citizen, including the fact that you need to prove that your English is at B1 level or above, and you have to pass the Life in the UK Test. This test is supposed to make sure that you have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK in order to integrate into British life. The assumption is that if you can pass this test then you know enough about life in the UK to be considered worthy of being a British citizen.
By the way, quite a lot of people fail this test. I was looking for specific data. I found that in 2016 about 36% of people failed the test. Just over a third.
What is the content of this test?
Do you think you have enough knowledge of “Life in the UK” to pass it?
What kinds of questions do you expect to find in this test?
Is the average British person able to pass the test? You would imagine so, right?
What can you, my listeners, learn from this in terms of “essential British knowledge” and useful British English vocabulary?
And can my mate Paul Taylor, who was born in the UK and has spent much of his life living there, pass this test?
Let’s find out as we take the British Citizenship Test in this episode.
A Long Episode!
This is a long episode, but there is absolutely loads of stuff that you can gain from this in terms of historical and cultural knowledge – both from the past and present, as well as vocabulary and general listening practice and also just the pure enjoyment of listening to Paul becoming increasingly angry about the content of the questions in this test.
Also, there is quite a lot of swearing in this one, and by swearing I mean rude words that you normally shouldn’t use in polite company because they can be very offensive. So, watch out for those rude words – either because you don’t like that sort of thing, or because you love to hear how people swear in British English. In either case – you have been informed – there is rude language in this episode.
So I suggest that you do listen to the entire thing, perhaps in several sections – when you press pause your podcasting app should remember where you stopped listening so you can carry on later. There are notes and scripts for the intro and outro to this episode on the website – so check them out.
Now, without any further ado, let’s get started…
THE “LIFE IN THE UK” CITIZENSHIP TEST
The test is computer based. Applicants coming in from outside the UK need a certain level of English and they need to take this test.
Requirements for British citizenship https://www.gov.uk/becoming-a-british-citizen
⬇Click the link below to take the same test we did⬇
Criticisms of the Test
A summary of criticisms and comments on how the test needs to be reformed https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/01/british-citizenship-test-meghan-markle-brexit-reform
The criticisms in a nutshell:
While it’s obviously good to know facts about a country’s history – what is the true purpose of a citizenship test? It’s to ensure that people understand the values of that country, and practical knowledge of daily life in order to help them integrate
The questions seem arbitrary and inconsistent
Fair enough, there are questions about certain key moments in our history and in our political system but a lot of important things are missing (e.g. the number of elected representatives in the devolved parliaments, but not the number of MPs in commons? The height of the London Eye?)
They won’t help people integrate, and they won’t help people just get by on a daily basis
It also doesn’t educate people about history – there’s no interpretation of why these things are important. If anything it will just piss people off.
What might be more helpful would be:
Teaching people social rules (e.g. how to order a drink in a pub)
Teaching people about common culture so they know what the hell British people are talking about half the time
Teaching people the essential basics of how to live – like, bank holidays, how to phone for an ambulance, how most Brits are shocked by things like animal rights or racial or sexist jokes
But it’s all wrapped up in politics and perhaps the people who wrote the test didn’t do it to help migrants – the opposite, maybe.
What would you include in the citizenship test?
The “Real” Citizenship test
This is an alternative test based on suggestions by British people on Twitter
I don’t want to extend this episode a lot more but I do want to say “nice one” for getting to the end of this one. I say that because I know it can be hard to follow about 90 minutes of native level speech in English, and Paul does speak pretty quickly as a few of you mentioned to me after hearing the previous episode with him.
I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again – the more you listen, the better, and sometimes listening to fairly quick speaking can be really good training for you. It’s important to mix it up – sometimes listening to content that you understand without too much trouble, and sometimes listening to more challenging things. There is value in both, and basically the important thing is to keep going and not give up. If you’re listening to this it means you didn’t give up even if you didn’t understand everything. Nice one.
Then again, some of you might be thinking – Luke, it was a pleasure and I wish there was more! Well, in that case – great! I agree. This was a fun one.
There’s more to be said on the UK citizenship test so I might be doing another episode on this soon.
But for now – that’s it! Download the LEP App from the app store. Check out the extra content you can find there.
Have a great day, night, morning, afternoon or evening wherever you are in the world and whatever you’re doing. Speak to you again on the podcast soon, but for now… bye!
A bit of pop culture history in this episode, talking about the musical movement of punk and the social situation in which it happened.
This year we have several anniversaries in British music.
50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper by The Beatles
40th anniversary of Never Mind the Bollocks by The Sex Pistols
A lot changed in British music between the release of those two albums. 1967 was the height of the peace and love movement but 10 years later music was much more gritty, cynical and realistic. In this episode we’re looking at the whole punk movement, understanding what it was all about, what the music was like, who was involved and how the whole thing has now become a sort of pop culture myth.
I’m joined by my brother James who has been a fan of punk music ever since he borrowed a tape of The Sex Pistols from a chef when he was a teenager (I don’t think the fact it was a chef has any significance to the story, but I just like saying he borrowed the tape from a chef. I can imagine a man in a chef’s hat giving James a tape. Just me? Ok) So he discovered punk music later, in the early 90s. He wasn’t actually there at the time the music was made in 1977, he was too young, but he’s collected a lot of records by punk bands, read all the books, seen all the documentaries and even played drums in a few punk bands himself. I think he knows more about punk than anyone else I know, so I think he’s a good person to talk to.
Check out the page for the episode where you’ll see video playlists chosen by James and also a musical punk mix that he did from his vinyl record collection.
But without any further ado, you can now listen to my conversation with James about punk rock music and culture.
40 years since Never Mind the Bollocks by The Sex Pistols was released. Is that the seminal punk album?
Why are we talking about punk in this episode?
What gives you any authority on the subject? Why should we listen to you?
Importance of punk for understanding culture
What is punk?
Origins of U.K. Punk
Political context – state of the country
What was the era like / music scene of the time
Spirit of punk
Purpose of punk music
Reaction to punk – tabloids
Punk art / design / fashion
2nd wave / post punk / punk influence
Reality vs legend / absorption into the culture / establishment
Learn more authentic English directly from the mouths of these native speakers in an episode of the popular British TV show “Kitchen Nightmares” with famous chef Gordon Ramsay. Videos and vocabulary lists available below.
**This episode includes swearing and some rude content**
This video is a combination of part 1 and part 2, with vocabulary on-screen and the TV show video clips included 👇
Video clips and vocabulary lists
Video 2 – The orange sauce looks like “sci-fi sperm”
Let’s watch the family in action
Is there any chance you could talk to her
If you open up and ask…
You don’t remember after 5 minutes
Like fuck do I!
You try to make me look small
It’s like a one man band in there
It’s totally upside down
A backlog of orders
Mick starts to crumble
I don’t want no (*any) more food sent down
He can’t handle it
I’ll get my head bitten off / to bite someone’s head off
I’d rather you didn’t take it out on me
Video 3 – The family at war
She’s left to face the fallout of Mick’s incompetence
The meals are now being sent back
He can’t handle it / can’t cope / can’t take it / can’t deal with it
I’ll go and sort it out
My husband’s big fucking dream is a complete farce
I’m not having a heart attack over this
My heart’s booming
He speaks to me like shit
I try and take all the knocks
Even I have a breaking point
Video 4 – Catching up with the Martin family at the end
Talking about restaurant culture in the UK, an introduction to one of the UK’s most famous chefs and a chance to learn some authentic English from a popular British TV show featuring Gordon Ramsay. Video available. Includes swearing.
This video is a combination of part 1 and part 2, with vocabulary on-screen and the TV show video clips included 👇
Video – Episode 432
Hello, and welcome back to this podcast for learners of English. Here is a new episode for you to listen to and indeed watch, because I’m videoing this one. You’ll be able to find the video on the page for this episode on my website, or by visiting the YouTube channel for Luke’s English Podcast.
A lot of what I am saying here – particularly in this introduction is written on the page for this episode. So you can read it with me, or check it for certain words you hear me using. The best way to get access to these pages is to subscribe to the mailing list.
In the last episode of this podcast you heard me talking to Amber about restaurants and hotels and some crazy TripAdvisor reviews.
At one point in the episode we talked briefly about Gordon Ramsay – one of the UK’s most famous chefs, and his TV show “Kitchen Nightmares” which was a really popular show in the UK a few years ago, and I thought it could be interesting to do a whole episode about that.
So in this one I’m going to talk a little bit about Gordon Ramsay and then we’re going to listen to some YouTube clips from one of his TV shows and I will help you understand all the language that you’ll hear. No doubt there will be some new vocabulary in the process – probably on the subject of food, cooking, restaurants and kitchens but lots of other natural language that just comes up, including plenty of swearing, because Gordon Ramsay is known for his frequent use of swear words.
Yes, there will be quite a lot of swearing in this episode, and you know my position on this. I’m choosing to show you the language as it is really used and that includes the rude words, but don’t be tempted to start throwing swear words into your everyday English. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that swear words are a short cut to sounding exactly like a native speaker. Often it just gives people a bad impression of you. We’ll go into it more later, because there are quite a lot of unwritten social rules around swearing that you need to be aware of – the main one being, that with swearing it is much much easier to sound rude and inappropriate than it is to sound cool. Think of swearing as a motorbike – you might think it’s cool but unless you really know what you’re doing you’re likely to seriously injure yourself. Similarly, swearing can be cool when it’s done in movies or even by someone like Gordon Ramsay, but if you try and do it in your normal life there’s a good chance you’ll just offend people.
So anyway, we’ll listen to some of the English in these YouTube clips and analyse the things they’re saying so that in the end you can understand it all just like I do, which should help you learn some real English in the process. You’ll also learn a thing or two about restaurant culture in the UK and about Gordon Ramsay who is one of the most well-known people in Britain.
Who is Gordon Ramsay and what’s the TV show?
Gordon James Ramsay, is a British celebrity chef, restaurateur, and television personality.
*Difference between a chef and a cook? Basically, a chef is someone who’s had professional training – at least a culinary degree, but a cook is just someone who cooks food. Both might work in a kitchen, but mainly being a chef is about having the status of culinary qualifications and experience.
Ramsay is one of the most famous chefs in the UK and probably in the world too. He has a reputation for being an excellent restaurateur and chef, and also for his extremely strict and direct style. He’s often very rude, saying exactly what he thinks about the people he’s working with in the strongest most colourful language. Imagine an army captain shouting at a platoon of soldiers during military training, but with really good food.
Ramsay was born in Scotland, but he grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon, which is in fact not far from where I grew up in England). So, he is Scottish but doesn’t speak with a Scottish accent.
Ramsay now has restaurants all over the place – in London, in Paris and in New York. During his career he has trained at the highest level with French chefs in the UK and in Paris. He specialises in Italian, French and British recipes, and his cooking is known for being simple, unpretentious, high quality and delicious.
His restaurants have been awarded 16 Michelin stars in total. The term “Michelin Star” is a hallmark of fine dining quality. Michelin stars are very difficult to win and restaurants around the world proudly promote their Michelin Star status if they have one. His signature restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, London, has held 3 Michelin stars since 2001, which is a mark of extremely high quality in restaurant dining.
As well as being a top chef, Ramsay is also a TV presenter. He first appeared on TV in the UK in the late 1990s, and by 2004 Ramsay had become one of the best known celebrity chefs in British popular culture, and, along with other chefs like Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, and Delia Smith, he has influenced viewers to become more culinarily adventurous.
As a reality TV personality, Ramsay is known for his fiery temper, strict demeanour, and use of expletives. He often makes blunt and controversial comments, including insults and wisecracks about contestants and their cooking abilities.
Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares used to be on British TV a few years ago – probably around 10-15 years ago now. These days you can find most of the episodes on YouTube.
Local restaurants vs manufacturing companies and processed food
Ramsay is actually very passionate about local restaurants in the UK.
In the UK our eating out culture is vibrant and successful but it is being undermined by a number of factors. One is the industrialisation of food culture. THis means that big businesses are involved in preparing food at an industrial level and then selling it to restaurants as part of a large corporate chain.
These chains might be restaurants which are all owned by one company, or food manufacturers who dominate the wholesale market, driving down their prices and pushing out competition such as local producers who sell fresh products.
In these industrial food manufacturing companies, the food is prepared in high quantities and then sold off to other companies and restaurants as part of a corporate supply chain for food.
There’s a big infrastructure for food purchasing in the UK which is dominated by these big food manufacturers. As a result, many smaller restaurants are forced to buy industrialised and mass-produced food because it is cheaper and more convenient than fresh food which you can buy direct from farms or markets.
If you were a struggling restaurant owner in a town in the UK, what would you do? Buy your food fresh from a local producer and then make sure you sell it in a short-term period, or buy similar products from a mass producer but at a lower price, and it’s food which you can store for longer because it has been processed to stay fresh.
In the end, people choose to eat at home, especially during an economic crisis.
So, economic factors are having a negative effect on the restaurant culture in the UK to an extent. Family owned restaurants should be where you get proper traditional and delicious local food, but these restaurants are being squeezed economically and forced to go along with the industrialised food manufacturing process.
Also, there are many chain restaurants which you find on high streets in the UK. These are not locally run, but are owned by big companies who have a single business model which they apply to all their restaurants. The fact that these places are part of a big corporate chain means that they can drive down their prices, making it very hard for local restaurants to be competitive. As a result, these smaller places suffer, struggle and often close down.
Gordon Ramsay believes that these local restaurants are the backbone of our restaurant culture in the UK, and he strongly believes that they need to be supported so they can compete with the corporate chains, and given training so they can serve the best food possible. Essentially that’s the concept behind Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, but also it’s just entertaining watching him shouting at incompetent chefs. You sort of let him get away with the way he bullies people because you believe that really he’s just trying to help them to learn the discipline you need to run a really good restaurant.
But he does seem really passionate about proper restaurant culture in the UK and I like that about him. Even though he’s making this reality show and he’s making money from doing it, I think he really does care about improving restaurant culture in the UK.
On the other hand, he is very good at TV. He knows how to make entertaining TV, and he’s got a good formula for it. Basically, this means that he takes the harsh discipline and the no-nonsense brutally honest approach that he applies to his kitchen management, and uses it when giving feedback to the restaurants which he visits.
Let’s listen to a few scenes and I’m going to make sure you understand everything that’s going on and everything that’s being said.
Let’s learn English with Gordon Ramsay
The TV Show
Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares used to be on UK TV about 10-15 years ago.
The format is this – Gordon Ramsay visits a failing restaurant somewhere in the UK. So, restaurants that are failing – e.g. losing money, getting terrible reviews etc. He goes into the restaurant and spends a week there, observing the way the owners run the kitchen, how the business works and what’s going on at all levels. Usually he starts by sitting down to eat the chef’s speciality dish, and it’s nearly always disgusting, and Ramsay comments on how it tastes, how it looks, and also the decor of the restaurant and the service from the staff.
Then Ramsay gives his feedback to the owner and the chef, and it’s always a massive reality check, and it usually involves very strong words and lots of swearing. This is what happens when a top-level chef enters the world of a crappy low-level restaurant.
Then over the course of the week, Gordon helps the managers turn the restaurant around. It’s almost always a huge challenge and often the most difficult part is dealing with the psychological aspects – the stubborn chefs, the relationship issues in the kitchen, the fact that these people have personal issues which are causing the business to go horribly wrong.
It is car-crash TV. We see arguments, meltdowns, unhappy customers and so on.
In almost every episode Gordon seems to go hopping mad as he can’t believe the incompetence or shockingly low standards of service shown by the people in the restaurant. He then tries to help them change everything and turn the business around. It all makes really great telly.
And by the end of the episode, with Gordon’s help they have usually turned the restaurant into a successful business again.
There’s a UK version and a US version.
If you search for Kitchen Nightmares on YouTube you will probably find the US version first, but I think the UK version is better!
But really, it is better because the US version is horrible. It’s full of really fast editing and there’s loads of music which is added in order to tell you how you should be feeling about what’s happening. It’s distracting and patronising.
Example of the US version (just listen to all the distracting sound effects and music)
The UK version just has some rock music in the background at the start, but then during the show it’s more simple and you can just focus on what’s happening without constant sweeping sounds and tense music.
Let’s listen to some scenes from one of the episodes.
These scenes actually come from an episode called “Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Nightmares” which was shown on TV between series 5 and 6 of Kitchen Nightmares. It’s basically the same as any other episode of the series.
Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Nightmare – Dovecote Bistro
Gordon goes to visit a restaurant in Devon called Dovecote Bistro, which is run by a guy called Mick.
Mick is a former truck driver and burger van operator who has opened this bistro with his wife and adopted daughter, Michelle. Ramsay is firstly appalled by the psychedelic wallpaper decorating the restaurant, and then his attention turns to the food and the way it is cooked. While Ramsay is impressed with the simple menu, he is furious to find that Mick has very little cooking ability, using orange squash to make a sauce and using vacuum-sealed pre-cooked lamb shanks in a microwave bag. Not only does he show little responsibility in the kitchen, he is also secretive with his spending and is hugely in debt. Mick is adamant that the problems in the kitchen are not his fault, and his stubbornness causes a rift with his wife and daughter. Ramsay solves the crisis by taking the business matters out of Mick’s hands and kicks him out of the kitchen. His daughter, Michelle, is placed in charge of the kitchen despite having no cooking experience. She rises to the challenge, and while Mick is not convinced over replacing his microwave food, the reopening is a success.
Months later, Ramsay returns to find that the restaurant is making profit. He sent Michelle for further culinary training, and she impresses Ramsay with freshly cooked food.
The restaurant was renamed Martins’ Bistro during production.
Video 1 – Flourescent duck cooked in orange squash
Let’s see what this ex-trucker can do
Fuck me! (surprise / shock)
Your blouse matches the wallpaper
I feel like I’m tripping out!
I’ve never touched the stuff but I feel like I just swallowed an E.
The hideous wallpaper
On paper it looks delicious
A spoonful of gravy
Fuck me do I need sunglasses!
That’s worse than fucking Benylin
They’re actually vacuum packed
They can last for about a year
They’re bought in, they’re vacuum packed
They’ve got a shelf life of about a year
Well, fuck me!
That might be the worst food I’ve ever come across
He might be beyond my help
It doesn’t need refrigerating
How in the fuck could you charge 11 pounds for that?
E numbers, like Tartrazine
Do you feel like having a shit?
Thank fuck I didn’t eat it.
I’m surprised you haven’t killed off half the population of Okehampton
Everything you need to know about the culture of tea-drinking in the UK, including a full guide to how to make a nice cup of tea, English style.
In episode 420 I have chosen to talk about my favourite herb, which like millions of other British people, and countless others around the world, I consume on a daily basis. It calms my nerves, it raises my morale, and it helps me to socialise. Queen Victoria famously used it, and the Beatles took it regularly during the recording of their most inspired music and even sang about it in a few of their songs. I’m talking of course, about tea.
As everyone knows, tea is very popular with people all over the UK, from all regions, backgrounds and social classes, whether you’re the Queen herself, or you’re the guy who cleans the road outside her massive house, everyone loves a brew. The British Empire was built on tea, wasn’t it? Goodness knows I’ve made enough references to it in my episodes – I’m even drinking a cup right now. Mmm.
Why an episode all about tea?
I just want to celebrate tea, but also I want to tell you everything I think you need to know about this subject including these things:
– Stereotypes about tea drinking in the UK
– Different ways to make and drink tea – Afternoon tea vs just having a cuppa
– My personal way to make a nice cup of tea
– The history of tea in the UK
– Facts about tea, including its health benefits
– George Orwell’s essay on tea – considered a kind of reliable guide to the ins and outs of the potentially controversial subject of how to make tea.
– References to tea in Beatle music
What are the stereotypes about drinking tea in the UK? Are they true?
Smashing a few stereotypes – let’s talk about how most people drink tea in the UK these days, not how people seem to think we do it (that’s quite hard because it depends who you are).
*Tea is for the upper classes and is a posh affair full of uptight rules – nope, all types of people drink tea and it’s often a very casual and informal moment.
*Drinking tea is a mystical, spiritual kind of experience that takes you on a journey into a colonial dreamland where you have a profound moment of higher understanding while visiting the distant lands full of oriental mystery – nope, we’re not that pretentious about it! It’s just a nice hot drink!
Here’s that annoying advert for Special T with Diane Kruger
*Tea is only drunk at tea time – nope, people drink it at all hours of the day *All British people like tea – not everyone likes it, of course *Tea contains more caffeine than coffee – see below
Does tea contain more caffeine than coffee?
Unmade tea contains more than unmade coffee – but when you brew the tea most of the caffeine is not transferred to the water – it’s discarded with the leaves. With coffee the caffeine is transferred to the water more, so the drink is more caffeinated. https://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-25502,00.html
What’s your specific method for making a good cup of tea, Luke?
I’ll tell you about 3 typical situations in which make tea, and the different ways I do it.
A quick cuppa when I’m on my own.
Making a pot of tea to share with a couple of friends.
Preparing tea for a special occasion, like when grandparents come to visit.
What are your preferred tea brands?
PG Tips (pyramid bags), Yorkshire Tea (“like tea used to be”), M&S Gold, or fancy brands that you find in Wholefoods or little cafes – never Lipton and not Twinnings either.
Apparently it’s best to use loose leaf tea, but I usually just use tea bags. I use loose leaf tea for making sencha in a Japanese tea-pot.
Why do people drink tea so much in the UK? What’s the history of Britain and tea?
It’s all to do with our colonial past and the East India Trading Company! If you want to know more, just Wikipedia it! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_in_the_United_Kingdom
George Orwell’s well-known essay about how to make a good cup of tea, first published in the Evening Standard in 1946. It’s hard to argue with his approach and the clear and lucid way it is described. http://www.booksatoz.com/witsend/tea/orwell.htm
References to tea in songs by The Beatles
“Without doubt tea was the Beatles’ top tipple of choice! In one 3-month period in 1967 when they were ostensibly at the height of their drug period – they actually recorded no less than five songs referring to this most English of habits! (“Lovely Rita,” “Good Morning, Good Morning,” “A Day In The Life,” “All Together Now” and “It’s All Too Much.”) They actually recorded more overt references to tea than to drugs!” [Martin Lewis, Beatles scholar and humourist]
The Rutles – Wild Tea Parties
Talking with Richard McNeff about making a perfect cup of tea – recorded 6 years ago before I had a tea-pot!
Do you prefer tea or coffee? How do you like to make it?
Here’s the final part in this trilogy of episodes recorded at my parents’ house on Boxing Day. In this one my mum, dad and brother tell us a few more anecdotes about their encounters with some well-known people.
The conversation you’re about to hear was recorded with my family on the same day as the last couple of episodes. It was quite late in the evening, after my uncle and aunt had gone home and after dinner and number drinks had been consumed. Picture a very warm and cosy living room with a wood burning stove going in the background.
After listening to Nic describing his encounters with some famous rock stars earlier in the day, the other members of my family wanted to get in on the action too with their stories about brushing shoulders with the stars. So here are a few other anecdotes from my dad, my brother and my mum.
It turns out that my family have met some genuine legends. I didn’t even realise that a couple of these things had happened. You’ll have to wait and see who they are. But here are some slightly cryptic clues.
Can you guess which people I’m talking about?
One of the UK’s favourite authors who wrote a series of beloved books which have also been made into successful films.
A British comic actor who likes eating ice-creams and fighting zombies, criminals and aliens, in his movies (not real life of course).
A small but very important woman who often appears in public but is also a very private person.
A nonagenarian who once said that he was “the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children.” A nonagenerian is someone in their nineties – also, septuagenarian (70s) and octogenarian (80s).
There are others too, including an American punk rock star with lots of tattoos and muscles, a Shakespearean actor who has become a successful film director and an actor who had a bit part in the British TV series The Office.
I should perhaps remind you of several other anecdotes which you might have heard on this podcast before, which are mentioned in this conversation.
The time my brother ended up lost in Hastings and slept on a stranger’s sofa and woke up to discover the guy sitting in a chair next to him. Was the guy just friendly and welcoming, or slightly creepy? Originally told by my bro in this episode https://teacherluke.co.uk/2016/08/09/372-the-importance-of-anecdotes-in-english-narrative-tenses-four-anecdotes
The time my mum met the King of Tonga. Originally told in this episode too https://teacherluke.co.uk/2016/08/09/372-the-importance-of-anecdotes-in-english-narrative-tenses-four-anecdotes
The time I met comedian Eddie Izzard and was a bit lost for words. I sort of went to pieces a bit and made it really awkward and weird by saying “You’re in my head!” – not the right thing to say at all. Originally told be me in this episode https://teacherluke.co.uk/2014/06/10/184-lukes-d-day-diary-part-2/
Anyway, you can now sit back and enjoy some more time with The Thompsons.
Outro Transcript + ad-libs
Funny, isn’t he? My brother. I would like him to be on the podcast more often, if he’s up for it. The thing is that he’s a bit modest really and isn’t the sort of outgoing person who likes to broadcast his thoughts and opinions over the internet, although he obviously should because he’s got a lot to offer. He ought to do a podcast or something like that, right? He does have a YouTube channel but it’s mainly skateboarding. https://www.youtube.com/user/VideoDaze/videos
*All the background music in this episode was also made by James*
Here is a new episode featuring a conversation with a friend of mine who originally comes from the Netherlands but he has lived all over the world. You’re going to hear us talking about cultural differences, Dutch stereotypes, doing business in France, the UK and the USA, the different communication styles in those places, doing stand up comedy and getting Darth Vader’s signature. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed recording it.
You can see Alex performing at “WTF Paris? – Comedy Therapy for Expats” with Amber Minogue at the SoGymnase comedy club in Paris every Friday evening at 8pm. Details here https://www.weezevent.com/wtf-paris
Today on the podcast I’m talking to Ian Moore, who is a professional stand up comedian, published author and mod from London. Ian is probably the best dressed man ever to appear on this podcast. He is also a professional talker with many things to say.
Photo: Richard Wood @comictog https://twitter.com/comictog
Intro before the intro
Hello listeners, this episode of Luke’s English Podcast is sponsored by italki which is a really convenient way to develop your fluency in English by talking to native speakers online – to claim your voucher worth 100ITC just go to http://www.teacherluke.co.uk/talk or click an italki logo on my website.
This episode features a conversation with English writer and comedian Ian Moore and in this part we talk mainly about mod, which is a British subculture involving clothing and music, but before the interview there is about a 15 minute introduction in which I explain a few things that will help you to fully understand the conversation. This podcast is for learners of English so sometimes it is necessary to give support to my listeners in advance of hearing a natural conversation in order to help them understand it all. My 15 minute intro to this episode is mainly an overview of the history of mod culture, with a few other short explanations. If you want to skip the intro, just move forwards by about 15 minutes and you can jump straight to the conversation. However, the introduction is there to help you to understand the cultural references, some history and other details in our conversation. OK, so that’s my intro before the intro, and now that this intro is nearly finished, I’ll let you listen to the other main intro which is going to come after this intro when this intro is finished, which is now so here is the proper intro, after the jingle, which is going to start as soon as I stop talking which is right about now.
Introduction and Explaining (Skip forwards 15 mins if you don’t want some explanations)
Today on the podcast I’m talking to Ian Moore, who is a professional stand-up comedian, published author and mod from London. Ian is probably the best dressed man ever to appear on this podcast. He is also a professional talker with many things to say.
I first met Ian a few months ago. He was in Paris for a few days and was the headline act at a comedy show where I was also performing. We got talking and our conversation was suitably rambling for me to consider Ian a good guest for this podcast. Also, there are some specific things I wanted to ask Ian, which I thought might be interesting for you my audience to hear.
First, Ian is a mod. He’s a proper full-time mod. He dresses in all the correct mod clothing and has done for years. That might not mean anything to you and in fact that’s one of the reasons I wanted Ian to talk about it in this episode. Mod culture is quintessentially English. Basically, Mod is a fashion style, a way of life and a whole subculture of its own, and it’s uniquely English I think. Mod is one of the first genuine youth subcultures of the modern era. Nowadays there are many many subcultures (e.g. punk, skinhead, hippy, raver, indie kid, rocker, metal head, skater, etc) to the point that they don’t really mean anything, but back in the late 1950s and early 1960s there weren’t many youth subcultures. Everyone basically dressed the same except between different social classes in society. Certainly young people just dressed and acted like adults. Then in the postwar period young people became more independent and developed their own alternative cultures which were separate from mainstream lifestyles. Young people began to associate themselves with these alternative cultural movements as an expression of their individuality particularly in the form of the clothes they wore and the music they listened to.
Mod culture first became well-known in the UK as a result of a story in the newspapers about rival gangs of ‘mods’ and ‘rockers’ fighting each other on the beach in Brighton in 1964. These were the two main youth subcultures of the time and they hated each other. The rockers wore leather jackets, had their hair quite long and unclean, and rode motorbikes. They listened to rock and roll music. The mods were very sharply dressed in well fitted suits and ties, wore smart leather shoes, had a particular haircut (a bit like the Beatle cut) and rode Italian scooters. They listened to modern jazz, black American rhythm and blues or Jamaican ska. Their rivalry came to a head in the well-documented fighting that happened on the beaches in Brighton. The fight between the mods and the rockers was all over the newspapers and it shocked everyone, causing a kind of moral panic about young people. At that time it was the equivalent of something like the London riots of 2011. Most people couldn’t understand the violence and it was considered a sign of the breakdown of society. It was also the first time that most people became aware of the mod movement.
Since then, Mod has drifted in and out of fashion, going away in the early 70s when it was replaced by things like glam, soul boy and skinhead movements to be revived again at the end of the decade, in the 1980s and again in the 1990s. Being a mod is a way of life and it revolves mostly around the clothing you wear and the music you listen to, but there is a certain philosophy which underpins the movement too and that seems to be based on certain kinds of European existentialist thinking and a kind of open-mindedness to outside influences combined with a great attention to detail in clothing choices. In order to identify a mod, you need to be aware of the right details in the person’s clothing. A certain type of suit, cut in a specific way. Certain brands, types of shoe or coat, and a particular hair cut. The most famous mods are probably people like the musician Paul Weller of The Jam, the groups The Small Faces and The Who (early period), and these days the actor Martin Freeman who likes to wear mod clothing when he’s not acting in a movie or TV show.
While mod culture borrows from many other cultures it is very specifically British and therefore I think it is worth exploring on this podcast.
So, first – Ian is a mod. Secondly, he lives abroad – specifically on a farm in rural France, despite being a very well-dressed city boy from London, and he has lots of stories to tell about this, which form the basis of several books which he has written and which have been published. Both books tell funny true stories of his life as a mod living on a farm in the French countryside, they’re well-reviewed on Amazon and are definitely well-worth a read. They’re amusing, not challenging to read and are full of very entertaining little anecdotes and tales of his double life as a comedian working in London and a farmer in the French countryside. I thought it would be interesting to hear him talk about that on the podcast, and if you’re looking for appropriate books to read in English – I really recommend these ones. There are also audiobook versions read by Ian himself. The first book is called A la Mod, and the second is called C’est Modnifique.
And thirdly, Ian is a professional stand-up comedian – in fact The Guardian newspaper describe him as “One of the country’s top comedians”, which may account for why he’s able to write such funny stories in his books. Ian has been performing in the UK professionally for about 20 years and has travelled all around the country doing big gigs everywhere, including at London’s best venue The Comedy Store in Leicester Square. Ian has also performed in many locations around the world, so naturally I wanted to find out about that too.
So all in all, Ian Moore is a great guest for this podcast and we had a very enjoyable rambling conversation upstairs on my terrace on a very sunny morning this week. This is going to be two episodes, because we talked for over an hour together.
This might be a tricky episode for you to follow because our conversation includes quite a lot of tangents and references to things you might not be familiar with, so let me just give you an overview of the main things you’ll hear.
At the start we talk about the view from my terrace, including the Sacre Coeur basilica, which we can see.
Then we talk about how he met his wife on the steps of the Sacre Coeur when he first moved to France. Then we go on to chat about his first experiences in France and why he fell in love with the country. (He talks about buying a vinyl copy of “Complete Madness” in a supermarket in Nice – Madness are a band which has a large mod and skinhead following).
Then we talk about where Ian comes from, and how he describes his accent. (Basically, he’s got a typical south east / London accent, cockney or ‘mockney’ even though as a child he used to live up north in Blackburn and also in the east in Norfolk. He spent most of his time in London.)
We discuss his level of French, and then move on to talk about being a mod and what that means, including quite a lot of specific descriptions of his clothing and mod style in general, so watch out for some vocabulary to describe clothing in this episode.
But now, without any further ado, let’s join the conversation with Ian Moore and you will first hear us talking about the views of Paris which we can see from my terrace.
We talk mainly about mod culture. The podcast pauses after about 40 minutes.
So, that’s the end of part one of this conversation, in which we mainly covered mod culture. Check out the page for this episode where you’ll find some videos of mod-related things and also some stand-up footage of Ian Moore on stage.
How was that for you? Did you manage to understand what we were saying? I expect it might be a bit tough because we’re talking about things that you might never have heard about before. THat’s one of the main reasons why it’s hard to understand native speakers sometimes. It might be because of the pronunciation – specifically connected speech and the way some sounds are not fully pronounced, it might be the vocabulary being used, but also it’s because of the cultural references being made and the general mindset of the conversation. These are all factors that influence your ability to understand native speakers. Certainly the cultural aspect is very important. If you’re on the same wavelength as the people you’re listening to, or talking to, it makes it far more likely that you’ll understand them. This will help you work out the meaning of words that you don’t know and fill in the words that you didn’t hear. You have to try to tune in to not just the language, but the way of thinking of the people talking and then you’ll understand more and ultimately pick up more of the English yourself. So, listening to conversations like this is vital, even if it’s difficult.
Don’t forget that you also have to activate the English you hear in the podcast by having similar conversations yourselves, perhaps with a language partner on italki. Don’t forget to take advantage of my italki offer by visiting www.teacherluke.co.uk/talk
OK, part 2 of this episode will be available soon and then you can hear Ian talking about his funny experiences of being a mod in the French countryside, dealing with animals of all shapes and sizes, the challenges of living on a farm and the life of a professional stand up comedian. Thanks for listening to this episode, I look forward to reading comments on the website. Have a great day, morning, afternoon, evening or night and I’ll speak to you soon.
In this episode I’m talking to my friends Amber and Paul about cultural differences, particularly in the ways we communicate with each other in different countries.
You should know that there is a bit of swearing in this one as well as a few dodgy jokes and references to previous episodes of the podcast, which you should probably listen to before you listen to this one in order to understand a couple of references and in-jokes. The previous episode is number 380. As for the swearing, I see it as just evidence of the fact we are all talking in a totally relaxed, genuine and natural manner, like we normally do in this social situation.
I just want to say that our aim in this conversation was to compare different cultures and not to criticise other cultures. We’re just expressing our own personal experiences from our point of view. Since we all live in France and we’re from England, there are quite a lot of comments about differences between French and English culture. If you’re French I’d love to read your points of view on many of the things we’re talking about and I am sure that you could make loads of similar comments about life in England – like, why the hell do we have separate taps in the bathroom? Or, why do girls go out on a Friday night with hardly any clothes on? Don’t they get freezing cold? And why do Brits drink so much? These are all things that might seem strange to visitors to the UK. So, I’m well aware that all cultures and behaviours can seem strange from the outside and it’s all just a matter of context.
In fact, I have already done several podcast episodes all about culture shock experiences of people moving to the UK (specifically London) from foreign countries. Check out the links to listen to those episodes.
I am sure you have points of view on this that you would like to express, so feel free to leave comments on the page for this episode. Don’t forget to join the mailing list on the website to get easy access to the page for every new episode when it is uploaded.
So without any further ado, here’s a podcast about cultural differences with Amber and Paul.
Discussing Cultural Differences
Although we are all the same, we’re also different.
Ways we’re the same:
We all fall in love, go to the loo, get hungry, get tired, like laughing, listen to LEP.
But we’re all different – individually we are all unique, but we are also different as groups, tribes, nationalities or cultures.
Although it’s bad to generalise, it seems that cultures – like ethnicities or nationalities, tend to have certain shared behaviours and customs that mark them out as different to others. For example, although the English and French share a lot of things in common there are certain things which mark us out as different. Not just the language we speak, but the way we behave and the things we think are important. Like the way we queue.
So anyway, that’s just an example of culture shock I suppose. But it shows that there are cultural differences. Of course there are! Everyone knows it.
If you’ve ever been abroad or had contact with other cultures you’ll know that sometimes it’s incredibly obvious that our cultures are different. Sometimes it’s shockingly obvious, sometimes it’s hilarious, sometimes it’s frustrating, sometimes it’s just weird, but we have to remember that they’re just differences and while they can be confusing, frustrating and also funny, ultimately we need to find ways to look beyond these differences and not let them become a barrier to things like communication, understanding, business, diplomacy and relationships.
In this episode I’d like to have a discussion about cultural differences that we’ve noticed around the world. These could be different types of behaviour, like certain customs and habits, or just different values – like, what people seem to think is important, and how those values reveal themselves in the way things are done.
Amber & Paul
What are your credentials in terms of your cross cultural experiences?
How long have you lived in France?
Have you visited many other places? Which other places have you been to?
Have you had cross cultural experiences?
Have you been in a relationship with someone from another culture?
Have you done business with people from other cultures?
I have a list of different behaviours and values. Just stuff I’ve noticed or heard about. Well go through the list.
We can answer these questions:
Where do they do this?
Do we do this in the UK?
Do we consider this to be weird behaviour or not? Is there a reason for this behaviour?
Do you have any experiences of this? Would you like it if we introduced this into our culture?
The list: (please note that we are not talking about ‘two-taps in the bathroom’)
Kissing or hugging someone when you meet them (Paul did a successful video about this)
Looking people in the eye
Indirectness/diplomacy/politeness (or hypocrisy) vs directness/straightness/clarity (or rudeness) – e.g. certain cultures tend to be indirect when giving negative feedback, other cultures favour direct negative feedback
conflict vs non-conflict
Smiling in public
For discussion in future episodes… PLEASE ADD MORE CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN THE COMMENT SECTION SO WE CAN DISCUSS THEM IN THE FUTURE :)
Eating early vs eating late in the evening
Having milk in tea
Eating scorpions / spiders / toads / frogs
Eating with your hands / chopsticks / a knife and fork / not your left hand
Burping or farting after eating
Girls wearing miniskirts in the middle of winter
Hawking / spitting in the street
Saying “good morning” or “good afternoon” in shops/post offices before you can get anything done
Kissing in public
Crossing the road – waiting for cars to stop vs just walking into the street vs using pedestrian crossings
Driving on the left
Queuing in an organised and patient way vs Not queuing – “every man for himself” (or something in between)
Public transport – following the rules vs no rules (e.g. queueing, letting people off before getting on, etc)
Falling asleep on public transport
Talking to strangers on public transport
Having a strict attitude towards health and safety (e.g. wearing safety belts in cars) vs Having a relaxed attitude towards health and safety (e.g. not wearing safety belts, overtaking on corners)
Bribing police or other people
Having more than one wife, or having affairs
Saying “yes” in order to save face
Having carpet in the bathroom
Wearing shoes indoors
Sitting down to go to the toilet vs Squatting on the floor when you go to the toilet (or any other toilet related comments)
Putting The UK at the centre of the map
Is there anything else you’ve found to be weird or different?
This episode contains stories and descriptions of my recent holiday in Thailand. You’ll hear some facts about Thailand, some descriptions of Bangkok and a few stories about funny experiences that happened while we were there. Part 2 is coming soon. More details and transcriptions below. Enjoy!
Hello everybody, I’m back from my holiday so here is a brand new episode for you to listen to. If you’re new to Luke’s English Podcast, then “hello” and welcome to the show. I have no idea how you found the podcast. It was probably on the internet, that’s how it normally happens. I doubt that you actually tripped over it in the street or anything. Oops ,what’s that – oh, it’s Luke’s English Podcast. I might as well have a look. You probably found it online, perhaps through iTunes or a friend recommended it to you perhaps. In any case, regardless of how you found me, welcome. My name’s Luke – and this is my podcast. It’s primarily for learners of English although I also have native English speakers listening to this too. In these episodes I talk to you in a personal way, telling stories, sharing some things about my life, discussing different topics, teaching you English and giving you the motivation to improve your English for yourself. I try to keep the podcast varied and I’m willing to talk about pretty much anything at all as long as it’s interesting. I’m an English teacher from the UK. I speak British English – with a standard accent from the South East of England. I’ve been teaching for more than 15 years so I have lots of experience to draw from. I’m also a stand-up comedian which means that when I’m not teaching English or doing the podcast I like to stand up in front of audiences of people and make them laugh with jokes and stories and things. I regularly perform comedy shows in Paris.
One of the principles which underpins what I do in episodes of this podcast is the understanding that simply listening to natural, spontaneous speech is a vital part of the process of learning English to a good standard. Obviously, you have to get an understanding of the grammar rules, develop an extensive set of active vocabulary, practise pronouncing the language and so on, but doing plenty of listening is an essential foundation. I usually recommend that LEP is best enjoyed as part of a balanced study program. For example I suggest that you also do plenty of speaking in order to activate the English that you passively pick up from these episodes. There are lots of ways to improve your English and you can just listen to previous episodes of the podcast to get my advice on that. At the very least, you can just relax and enjoy listening to my words on a regular basis, and I hope that it’s a fun process too. Certainly, I am sure that my podcast can really help all the other aspects of your English, not just your listening. I also believe it’s important to listen to English which is spoken at a pretty natural speed, which is spontaneous (i.e. not just written from a script) and I think you should listen regularly for fairly long periods, long term. Make it a part of your lifestyle to listen regularly and don’t give up.
I want my podcast to help you to do exactly those things, and so I try to make my episodes genuine, personal and humorous. So, if you’re new to the podcast – welcome and thanks for listening. I hope you stick with it. I believe that if you do continue to listen, you’ll see significant results in your English. Check out the episode archive on my website teacherluke.co.uk and you’ll see that you have plenty of other episodes to explore and enjoy.
If you’re not new to the podcast, and you are in fact a long term LEPster then welcome back! How are you? I hope you’re well. Did you have a good August? Have you listened to all the episodes I published before I went away? I hope so.
In any case, here is a new episode of this podcast and it is about my recent holiday in Thailand.
Holiday in Thailand
Yes, we went to Thailand this year and I’m going to tell you about it in this episode. In fact, in this one I’ll talk about these things:
Why we went to Thailand
Where we went in Thailand
The things most people know about Thailand
Some things you might not know about Thailand
A few anecdotes about what we did and saw during the holiday
A few dodgy jokes!
An embarrassing story involving nudity
A sad old memory that came back to me at a specific moment in the trip
A mouse-related update (if you heard the last episode of the podcast, this will make sense to you)
We got back just the other day. I’m still a bit jet-lagged. I woke up at stupid o’clock this morning. My body is still on Thailand time, so at about 5AM my body woke up saying “hey it’s time to get up and go walking around temples in very hot temperatures! We’re on holiday come on!” No doubt I will randomly fall asleep this afternoon when my body decides that it’s bedtime. I have a sun tan – correction, I had a tan, until the flight back. As a very white English man, I have a slightly tricky relationship with sun tans. At the moment I am sporting the typical English man’s tan.
I have no idea how long this episode will be but I can just split it up into different chapters and it’s all good.
You will find some of this episode transcribed on the episode page on my website. Not all of it is transcribed, but a lot of it is, and you can read my notes too, which might be a good way to check out the spelling of any words you hear me use. They might be written on the page. By the way, if you’re just reading this – I strongly recommend that you listen instead of reading. Remember, anything that is written here is supposed to just accompany what I’m saying in the audio recording.
Why did we choose Thailand?
– My wife and I wanted to go somewhere exotic and far away (we want to explore places which are a bit further before we have kids)
– A break and a chance to get away from it all
– Never been before
– We like food !
– It’s quite diverse in terms of the things you can do – city, culture, beaches
– It’s not too expensive
Why didn’t you do an LEP Live event?
It was a holiday – so I was not working. That means I didn’t organise some sort of LEPster meet-up, or live podcasting stand up comedy extravaganza. I didn’t meet up with Olly Richards even though I have since learned that he was out there too learning Thai – no, it was all about walking around sweating, visiting temples, sweating, exploring street food markets, sweating, worrying about food poisoning, sweating, going to the beach and sweating there, learning how to cook local food, eating the local food with lots of chilli, sweating, doing yoga and meditating, drinking water and sweating! Just the average holiday abroad for a British person!
Where did you go?
In a nutshell, here’s where we went.
Bangkok for a few days, then up north to Chiang Mai for a few days, then down south to Koh Samui for a few days and then back to Bangkok for a few days and then home! Boom!
That’s the usual tourist route. It’s Bangkok in the middle, temples, treks into the forest, elephants, night markets and cooking classes in the north, then islands, beaches, diving, snorkelling and full moon parties in the south.
We didn’t go to the islands on the west side like Phuket because of the climate in August.
Also, just before we left and even while we were there, there were some explosions – some bombings, which was a bit worrying. We even considered not going, but then we thought – well, we live in Paris and we’ve got as much chance of being blown up there as in Thailand, so what the hell!
In fact our time was very peaceful.
Usual things people think about Thailand
The most typical clichés or stereotypes about Thailand: Busy, crowded, amazing food – specifically green curry and pad thai noodles, weird sex tourism in Bangkok, ladyboys, bizarre sex shows involving ping pong balls, full moon beach parties, buckets full of ridiculously full cocktails, kickboxing, temples, westerners being locked up in prison for drug possession, scooters, Sagat from Street Fighter 2 (Tiger uppercut), snakes, golden buddha statues, amazingly friendly and smiling people and the film “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
That’s partly true (perhaps for the average western tourist) but obviously it’s not the full picture, especially for the locals. I will go into more detail about what it’s really like in this episode.
Things you might not know about Thailand
1. Full name of Bangkok. It’s the longest city name in the world. “Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit.”
2. Thailand, or “Prathet Thai” means “land of the free”…
3. Thailand has never been colonised by a foreign power, unlike other neighbouring countries which were colonised by European nations like Britain, France and the Netherlands. Thailand had a few wars with Burma, but was never successfully invaded. Well done Thailand.
4. Thailand has more than 1,400 islands. The most famous ones are in the south, and they are beautiful. Probably the most well known is Koh Phi Phi, which is where The Beach was filmed. (By the way, it’s a rubbish film)
5. It’s illegal to leave the house without underwear on. I don’t know how they enforce this law. Are they doing random underpant checks?
6. Thai currency is called the Baht and it’s illegal to step on Thai Baht. Now, you might be thinking – well, I don’t every go around stepping on currency anyway, so that’s not a problem. But the point is that this is because of the high level of respect that the Thai people have for their royal family. Like in the UK, a picture of the monarch appears on every bank note and the image of the monarch cannot be desecrated, in fact it is a crime to disfigure a picture of the king or queen in any way. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, a bit like the UK, and they hold their king and queen in high esteem. There are lots and lots of images of them all over the country, sometimes you find little shrines in the street devoted to them.
7. The feet are considered to be very unclean (both clinically and spiritually) and so it is very rude to reveal the soles of your feet to anyone. So, don’t sit with your feet facing outwards, or put your feet up on the table like we do in the west sometimes. It’s also rude to point at people with your feet, which is fine because I literally never do that anyway. I’m sure I heard someone do standup about that and I can’t remember who, but it was very funny.
8. Similarly, the head is the highest point on the body and is considered to be sacred, so don’t touch it, slap it, poke it or whatever. In the west you might rub someone on the top of the head as a sign of affection, or whack someone round the back of the head to express annoyance. Don’t do that in Thailand. To be honest, I wasn’t going to do that either. I rarely touch the head of random strangers that I meet in public. I certainly wouldn’t slap the back of the head of someone. E.g. “Waiter, excuse me – we asked for 2 bowls of rice and you gave me one! Can we have another one? Thank you!” SLAP. No.
9. 95% of people are buddhist. It’s quite common to see Buddhist monks walking around. We talked to one of them and I’ll explain what he said later in this episode. Also there are buddha statues everywhere. There are thousands of them. It’s just buddha buddha buddha buddha buddha buddha buddha buddha buddha. Climb to the top of a mountain, there’s a buddha. Inside a cave? Buddha. Under a nice tree? Buddha. Inside this big temple? Buddha. In front of the big buddha statue, lots of other buddhas. In front of them, buddhas. Buddhas everywhere – which is great. They are beautiful, peaceful images and of all the religions I think Buddhism perhaps makes the most sense. Just try to reach a higher level of consciousness. Realise that everything is connected and that there is one universal vibration which passes through the entire universe. Reject selfish and materialistic urges in favour of achieving individual spiritual enlightenment. Fine.
10. It’s a very hot place – especially Bangkok. The hottest time of year is April where temperatures rise to 40 degrees C or more, with high humidity levels too. In August it’s the rainy season but it still gets really hot – it was regularly in the high 30s and with very high levels of humidity. Showers that happen in the evenings are a welcome break from the heat!
Read more about this on ‘the internet’ http://matadornetwork.com/trips/19-things-probably-didnt-know-thailand/
There are lots of stories about it, like the dodgy ping pong shows, the sex tourism and other weird and lewd things, but of course not everywhere is like that. We avoided the dodgy tourist parts such as Patpong, where there are these weird sex shows. Now, while I am quite curious to learn about the bizarre skills that some women have developed – I mean, some of the things are quite impressive. For example, apparently in these shows, some women are able to launch ping pong balls across the room – and not with their hands if you know what I mean, and some of them can even write letters with a paintbrush or pen, again, not with their hands. THat’s actually quite impressive, but I don’t really need to see it, and apparently the people who run the shows are very dodgy indeed and they lure you in with false prices and then when you try to leave they force you to pay a lot of money and it gets pretty ugly, so no thanks. No ping pong shows for us.
A mix between the chaotic and slightly sketchy places like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos etc and the more modern JPN, particularly parts of this area where we stayed.
The streets are vibrant, chaotic, noisy, smelly, polluted, full of life. Scooters, cars, crossing the road. Nobody walks! Traffic is incredibly busy. There’s an amazing metro system called the sky train. Tuk tuks, taxis and so on.
Lots of street food, with people cooking all sorts of things on little mobile carts – chicken skewers, lots of seafood, noodles, fruits like mango and some things I didn’t recognise. People eat in the street sitting on little plastic chairs.
Incredible Japanese BBQ. Daimasu.
Expectations vs reality.
Naked bald midget.
Only had a tiny towel. Not big enough to go around me.
A bunch of other naked guys, including a group of old men in the corner watching. They broke off their conversation to have a look at me when I walked in.
Only foreigner there.
Not normal in my culture.
I felt really embarrassed. Not because of my size – because I have nothing to be ashamed of in that department. Some might say I’m gifted, I would prefer to say I am average for a guy of my height, but I should add that I have massive hands and feet. Just saying. Anyway, I don’t really need to be ashamed of myself but this was very awkward for me but because I’m not used to being seen, and the natural response is to be self-conscious about your size, even in front of other men. You might think it’s not important what other guys think, but I’d never had to rationalise it before and the fact is, is still matters for some reason.
Size is important, even when it’s other guys. I can’t really explain that.
Of course I shouldn’t be bothered by it at all, but I’m English and it’s just part of our culture. First we don’t ever get naked in a public situation, except perhaps at a sports club but then it’s brief.
Also, for some reason it feels like you’re being judged. I did feel judged. I felt incredibly self co anxious.
Maybe I was being a bit paranoid, maybe not, but people weren’t shy about having a look. The old guys stopped their conversation to take a look at me. Others turned their heads etc.
Nerves = natural body response to protect the Crown Jewels.
Stayed in jet bath.
One by one the guys came over to the adjacent bath and had a look at me. Every time I thought “oh for fucks sake!”
I stayed there for 20 minutes not knowing where to look and absolutely boiling!
Tried to make a break for the next nearest bath but it was the cold one – no way.
Went for the soda bath. High CO2 apparently good for me but I thought I was going to die.
Left and got changed.
An absolute fountain of sweat.
Wife waiting for me, totally dry.
The massage was quite brutal, but ultimately nice.
Holiday = sweating, great discomfort, great comfort and relief, good food, discomfort, sweating, relief, sweating etc.
Rude massage joke
Thanks for listening – subscribe to the email list at the top-right of the page. :)
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