Tag Archives: english

770. Boats & Murder (but mostly murder) with Moz

An episode with my friend Moz from the Murder Mile True Crime Podcast. Moz returns to tell us some true stories of crimes in the London area. Expect some smalltalk about living on a boat, some murder stories and an interactive detective game in which we have to solve a murder.

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English Comedy Show in Paris (20 mins of stand up comedy by Luke) www.panameartcafe.com/shop/stand_up/paname-english-comedy-night/

The Murder Detective Story (and advert for Penguin books)

www.penguin.co.uk/articles/children/2018/murder-most-unladylike-quiz.html

Murder Mile True Crime Podcast

www.murdermiletours.com/podcast.html

769. Film Club: This Is Spinal Tap (with James)

A return to Luke’s Film Club with the classic comedy This Is Spinal Tap, a “mockumentary” about a fictitious rock band from the 1980s. This time I am joined by my brother James and we discuss what was once voted “Funniest comedy film of all time”. Learn some famous quotes from the film, listen to some scenes and understand the comedy with help from James and me.

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VIDEO VERSION with images on-screen

768. English Teaching Methodologies (with Gabriel Clark)

Gabriel Clark from clarkandmiller.com joins me to discuss a short history of teaching methodology in the world of TEFL. The direct method, the grammar translation method, The Audio Lingual Method, the Structural Approach, Suggestopedia, Total Physical Response, Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), The Silent Way, Community Language Learning, Task Based Language Learning, The Lexical Approach and dogme style – all these get described and discussed. Learn how English teachers teach you English!

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Video Version (with no ramble at the end)

Come to my talk at the British Council in Paris – 19 May 7PM – www.britishcouncil.fr/evenements/talks-english-comedie

Any listeners in the Paris area – This is just a reminder about the talk I am doing at the British Council at the Invalides centre in Paris on Thursday 19 May at 7pm. I will be doing some storytelling in front of a live audience and you can be there if you want. It’ll be sort of a mix of stand up, storytelling and podcasting at the same time as well as a social gathering afterwards, all in English of course. 

I will be on the stage telling the story of how I ended up sick in a Japanese hospital bed, scared out of my mind because I thought I was going to die or something – now, that sounds quite scary but the idea is to make it funny and entertaining. 

It is a true, personal story of travelling, living in another country, and how things can sometimes get completely lost in translation, leading to some rather dramatic experiences. 

If you want to come and be part of the audience – you can. It’s free. Everyone is invited. I will be recording it for the podcast, but if you want to actually be there in the room and have a drink afterwards, socialise in English and so on – then you are welcome. You need to book a seat though, and you can do that at britishcouncil.fr and then click evenements – my event is the one called Talks in English : Le choc culturel – humoriste


767. Amber & Paul in the Podcastle

Two hours of PodPal action for your enjoyment. This one has a bit of everything. Some audience questions, an idioms game, some dodgy jokes, accents, impressions and more. Video version available.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, welcome to the podcast.

I’ve got a full two hours of Amber & Paul lined up for you here. Actually, it’s about an hour and twenty mins of Amber & Paul and maybe 45 minutes of just Paul as Amber had to leave to pick up her kids.

There’s a bit of everything in this one. It’s just the usual rambling from the podpals but we answer some listener questions, do a few accents, tell some stories and dodgy jokes and Paul and I play an idioms game at the end. It’s a pretty goofy episode which shouldn’t be taken too seriously. There is a video version on YouTube as well.

Just an announcement for any LEPsters in the Paris area. I am doing a live podcast recording and storytelling show at the British Council on 19 May at 7pm. It’s free, everyone’s welcome and all you need to do is sign up to reserve a seat. All the details are available at www.britishcouncil.fr and then click on EVENTS or événements. I’ll be telling the story of how I ended up in a Japanese hospital scared out of my wits. It’s a story of culture shock, comedy and misadventure. If you can’t come, you should be able to listen to it on the podcast, if the recording comes out ok and the show isn’t a complete flop!

Right, so let’s get back to this podpals episode. I want to point out a stupid slip that I make right at the very start. I wanted to say “Hi, I’m Luke and I need a haircut” but for some reason it came out “Hi, I’m Luke and I’m need a haircut”. I suppose it just shows that native speakers make language errors from time to time, although this was more of a slip than an error. A slip is when you make a mistake even though you know the rule. It just comes out wrong accidentally. An error is when you make a mistake because you don’t know something about the language.

Anyway, I will let you enjoy my language mistake and then settle into over 2 hours of Amber and Paul in the podcastle.

766. Learning English with The News (with Stephen from SEND7 Podcast)

Talking to Stephen from the Simple English News Daily podcast about learning English with the news and whether BBC reporters actually speak like normal humans.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello folks, a very quick introduction from me.

In this episode you are going to listen to a conversation I had with English teacher and podcaster Stephen Devincenzi who does a podcast about learning English with the news. 

We recorded a video for this but we had technical problems so only one part of that is available on YouTube. If you go to my YT channel you’ll see it. It’s the part where we discuss the pros and cons of using the news to improve your English. That’s the only video part on YouTube but the audio is fine and you’re listening to it now and this audio will be available everywhere including youTube as usual, and you can check to see if the automatic subtitles are available.

We were plagued by technical difficulties while attempting to do this episode and in fact this is the 3rd time we tried to record. We did this 3 times.

About 3 weeks before this we did another full recording of over an hour which turned out to be unusable because of issues with lag and distorted sound and horrible internet based problems, and then we set up another meeting but had to cancel that due to Stephen’s poor internet connection.

Then Stephen had fibre optic internet set up in his room.

And so did I!

And then I got electricity installed.

But then my fibre optic internet went down (and still is down) but despite the gremlins in the system we managed to record this 3rd version on Zoom with my iphone working as an internet hotspot.

This episode is all about learning English with the news, the pros, the cons, the hows the whys. But is listening to the news a good idea for learners of English? How can you do it? Let’s discuss. 

I’ll chat with you again briefly at the end, but now let’s get started.

Ending

THanks for listening. Thanks to Stephen from the SEND7 podcast.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section as usual. It’s always interesting to read what you have to say.

Have you used the news to learn English? 

Did you find it useful? 

How do you do it? Do you have a particular method? 

Talks in English – British Council Paris – 19 May (Storytelling – Culture Shock & Live Podcast Recording)

760. The Rick Thompson Report: Ukraine

Talking to my dad about the situation in Ukraine on 28 February 2022.

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Episode Introduction

Hello listeners

I’m recording this on 28 February 2022.

In this episode I’m going to talk about what’s going on in Ukraine.

I have LEPsters in both Ukraine and in Russia. 

The main thing I want to say is that I just hope that my listeners are able to stay safe – although that sounds hollow because of course some of them won’t be able to stay safe, and many people are being forced to choose not to stay safe.

I know it’s not simple, and there are various factions with different motivations. It’s not completely black and white but most people just want to be able to live their lives and live the best they can, but this war is making that impossible, and for what exactly?

In any case, I’m thinking of my listeners in Ukraine right now, and it seems that a lot of the rest of the world is also thinking of Ukraine at the moment, and sending their messages of support – and I’m talking about ordinary people here, right? Not the leaders or the regimes. 

But I also want to say that I am also thinking of my Russian listeners too because it’s not just as simple as the Ukranians being the good guys and the Russians being the bad guys. 

Russian people are facing their own difficulties at this moment too, because plenty of Russian people are not in favour of a war in Ukraine – a war which could only make things worse for everyone. There are no winners in war. 

So, I’ve decided that I am going to talk about the situation in Ukraine.

So, just to be clear I am talking about it because: 

a) I want to show some support for my listeners who are directly involved in this and to echo the message of millions of others around the world right now that this is not what we want. 

b) I want to just talk about the situation from our perspective here in the UK.

Some will say “You’re not getting the full story. Putin is just responding to NATO aggression.” Or “Putin is defending the rights of groups within Ukraine who want independence and who are being repressed”. That’s certainly the way he’s trying to justify this. 

Some might say “Why don’t you speak about other acts of violence in the world, or times when other nations violate the sovereignty of other nation states?” 

Some people might say “What about the UK’s aggression against other countries, including invasions which were dressed up as peacekeeping missions?” Don’t assume that because I’m British I support the actions of my government.

We should also not assume that Russian people automatically support the actions of their government. 

The people of a country and the governments or regimes in control of that country are not one and the same thing.

759. Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans

Join me as I walk around my local streets in Paris, go to the laundrette and ramble about what’s going on in LEPland at the moment.

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Other podcast recommendations

Some other things you could listen to while waiting for new episodes of LEP.

Film Gold: Monty Python & The Holy Grail

I was invited by Antony Rotunno onto one of his podcasts last week to discuss this British comedy classic.

My appearances on ZEP and RNR English at the end of last year

Episode 759 – Notes

I thought I would quickly record an episode to let you know that I’m still alive, LEP still exists, and I just want to give you a bit of an update on what’s going on and have a bit of a ramble.

I have other episodes in the pipeline and I was hoping to upload one of them this week, but for one reason or another, that’s not going to be possible so I’ve decided to record this one quickly and upload it quickly.

Again, I’m just recording this on my handheld recorder but I’m not at home because I can’t record at home, so I’m just in the street, reading some notes from my phone. 

Why aren’t you recording this at home Luke?

There are guys working on the flat above ours now.

We are now experiencing what our downstairs neighbours experienced when we did work on our place.

Our flat and the flat upstairs were sold at the same time. 

etc…

You can just imaging you are hanging out with me (in the streets of Paris) while I’m recording this. I’m just going walk around the neighbourhood while recording, trying to avoid noise, and trying to avoid the weird stares I might get from people in the street. 

It’s been more than 3 weeks since I uploaded an episode and this is only the 4th episode in about 2 months I think. 

I told you that the podcast would be delayed and disrupted, right? So it shouldn’t be a surprise. 

Why haven’t there been any episodes for almost a month?

Time flies!

Time races by.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” (John Lennon)

I always wondered what John Lennon meant by that.

I guess he is expressing a kind of paradox that many of us live with.

While making plans for the future, real life just happens in the meantime, day by day, moment by moment. 

We aim for the future, we set our sights on things we would like to achieve, and make plans for those things.

But the fact is, life is really lived in the present, and while we are making plans, life just continues to happen to us in the present moment. 

I guess he is saying that we mustn’t forget to live in the moment and enjoy the moment.

I suppose for me at the moment, I mean that while making plans for this podcast, mainly the space in which I’m going to record it, real life has just been happening day by day. 

In fact, real life and the day to day tasks and challenges of it have been dominating my time recently, preventing me from being able to actually get to do the things I have been planning.

I’ve had a goal in mind for ages – sitting in my new podcast room which is more or less ready, with all my stuff arranged in a fairly tidy way (things on shelves, in drawers, guitars on walls, pictures or posters on the walls, a working internet connection, a decent desk, a comfy chair (which I might spend most of my life sitting on) the right kind of lights, a kettle, a backdrop for videos that looks pleasing to the eye, a computer which actually works and which allows me to record and edit audio and video properly, and so on and so forth, a kettle and cups of tea, another chair or two for guests… you know) but that goal or vision just keeps getting put back and put back.

Why? I can’t really even explain it – just general stuff has been getting in the way. I think a lot of people manage to move house and get back to their normal lives quite quickly, but this just seems to be taking ages and it’s because of lots of little things.

Here are some reasons why things are taking so long.

My daughter got sick with covid and I had to stay at home to look after her. My wife was also sick at the same time (not covid, mysteriously) and so I was off work looking after them. That was a week.

Teaching at the BC three mornings a week.

Wednesday afternoons with my daughter.

Not a massive amount of time. Normally it’s enough – in normal conditions, but these aren’t normal conditions.

I got sick – a couple of times actually. The first was a virus (not covid-19 – maybe covid-18 or one of the other covids). The second was a really bad back which caused loads of discomfort and a migraine. I couldn’t move, basically! Probably because of general stress but also the fact that I hadn’t sat on a comfortable chair for weeks. No sofa.

Washing machine delivered, but then broken – laundrette

Meeting with guy to fit radiators

Meeting with guy to get quotes for lots of other stuff at home, like making fitted shelves (beyond my skills) and other bits of carpentry

Meeting a guy for a quote for electricity at my office

Meeting guy who came to connect internet

Many other deliveries and things

The list goes on!

Now it’s the school holidays and we’re travelling tomorrow to the UK.

I might be able to record an RT Report or a Gill’s Book Club or something with my brother, but equally, I might not. Maybe we’ll just want to relax and have a holiday. I don’t know. I will see. 

Oh, and there are guys working on the flat upstairs, and guys working on the building opposite us. It’s like the entire city is under construction at the moment.

This is just what is going on in my small corner of the universe.

I am not complaining at all. I have a nice life and I’m very happy. But I’m feeling quite impatient and a bit frustrated at not being able to do the things I would like to do, and the fact that my goal keeps slipping further away from me. I will get there eventually! It’s like being in a car and using GPS, and the arrival time keeps changing and getting later and later as the GPS recalculates your route with delays and traffic and so on.

So, basically:

Bear with me

Hold on

If you’re impatient – hang in there

It’s a bit interminable – all this waiting around

But good things come to those who wait.

The podcast will be back again, properly, and I will be recording, producing and publishing audio & video episodes and premium episodes at the usual rhythm soon.

Maybe this is a good chance to catch up on episodes, or listen to episodes from the archive…

Speak to you on the podcast soon!

758. Pub Quiz Trivia with Sarah The Paris Quiz Mistress

Chatting to pub quiz host Sarah Toporoff about her love of trivia, and asking each other quiz questions about history, geography, literature, language & pop culture. Can you answer the questions and follow the conversation?

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Links

Introduction Transcript & Notes

Hello listeners! I hope you’re well. Welcome back to my podcast for learners of English around the world. That’s you, I assume. You are a learner of English and you are around the world. 

Welcome to another episode of my podcast. This is where you can get English into your life in the form of some regular listening practise. This time you’re going to hear me in conversation with a guest and the guest in this episode is my friend Sarah Toporoff who also goes by the name The Paris Quiz Mistress.

This is the first time she’s been on the show and that means this one will probably be a little more difficult for you to follow, but that’s alright – it’s all good practice. 

Sarah is originally from the USA (so you will be hearing an American accent from her, and a British accent from me in the same conversation – and yes, we actually understand each other of course) Anyway, Sarah is from the states, but these days she lives in Paris like me and basically – Sarah loves pub quizzes. In fact, she loves them so much that she decided to run her own pub quiz nights here in Paris, in English, which she does every Sunday evening. 

She writes questions and reads them out in a local pub for teams of people to answer in competition with each other. Sarah also has her own podcast in which she quizzes her friends on various bits of trivia relating to their interests. Her podcast is called The Paris Quiz Mistress Podcast.

So, in this episode I thought I would chat to Sarah about her love of quizzes, and then we could quiz each other with some fun questions, and you can see if you know the answers and generally try to keep up with the conversation and develop your English in the process.

So that’s what you’re going to get – and this is a swapcast, which means that both Sarah and I are publishing this on our respective podcasts. 

Before we continue I think I should give you a little bit of support before I throw you into the deep end and make you listen to this fairly fast conversation between two native speakers. 

So, let me just clarify a couple of bits of vocabulary and some culture which are key concepts for this episode, and I also have a few questions for you to consider, in order to help you prepare to understand this episode more easily.

Some words and concepts

A quiz

(Forgive me if I am stating the obvious here) A quiz is a fun game or competition in which someone tests your knowledge by asking you questions and you compete with others to answer those questions. Quizzes are usually done just for fun, unlike tests or exams for example, which are done not for fun. They usually involve questions relating to trivia…

Trivia (noun) / Trivial (adjective)

…and trivia basically means trivial information or facts which are interesting or amusing but not really presented for a specific purpose. “Oh, that’s quite interesting isn’t it?” ← that’s usually as deep as it gets. That’s trivia.

It’s just random bits of general knowledge, just for fun – facts and figures, names, dates, places, moments in history, pop culture and so on.

A pub quiz 

As the name suggests, a pub quiz is a quiz done in a pub. Big surprise there. But pub quizzes are a very common feature of normal life in the UK where any good pub will have a quiz night. If you’ve ever spent time living in the UK you might have noticed this. Perhaps on a weekday evening in the local pub you might see teams of people sitting at tables competing against each other to answer questions which are read out by a host who might be speaking into a microphone. It’s sort of an excuse to just be in the pub and have a few drinks, but it’s also a really fun way to spend an evening with other people.

A good host will prepare some tricky but achievable questions that make you think and that could spark some conversation later in the evening, and the host might throw in some funny comments here and there just to keep things light. The questions are often quite convoluted and might sound more difficult than they actually are. At the end, the answer sheets from each team are marked and the winning team wins a prize, typically a bottle of wine or something like that. Pub quizzes are also known as trivia nights in some places. 

Does that sound familiar? This is the world of the pub quiz. Are they a common feature in your country? Do they happen in pubs? Do you have pubs? Do you have questions? Do you have facts where you live? Are there other people? I don’t know where you are. 

Fun quizzes like this also take place in other situations – and I’m talking about the UK and other English speaking places too and often things are similar in our cultures. I’m sure it’s the same for you, but is it? I don’t know. Anyway, where I’m from quizzing is sort of part of our DNA. Any excuse for a quiz – in pubs but also at family get togethers, at school or even at work Christmas parties and things like that. 

Sorry for rambling here but seriously – thinking about this stuff might help you to focus your attention on the topic of this conversation  bit more closely and follow things more easily, and therefore learn more English from this and as a result get a feeling of accomplishment which you carry with you in your life, bringing extra positivity and confidence which ultimately helps to make you a more successful and fulfilled person in your life, which then impacts on other people in similar ways and the benefits spread out from you in concentric circles improving the lives of other people around you and they start smiling a bit more and ultimately the world becomes that bit better which makes all the difference to the global balance of everything and basically I save the world with my podcast. That’s all I’m trying to do, so don’t stand in my way, ok? The fate of the world depends on this, alright?

Now, just in case this introduction wasn’t long enough, I am now going to quickly read out the questions that Sarah and I are going to ask each other in this episode, just to give you a chance to understand them in advance so you don’t get lost in the conversation.

You see, I am COMMITTED to helping you learn English and that means I am willing to make these episode introductions at least 3 minutes longer than they should be in order to give you a helping hand in understanding fast-paced and naturalistic dialogues between native speakers of English. That is how much I care. 

Quiz Questions in this Episode

So listen to these questions, understand them, can you answer them? You’ll be more prepared. Listen to the episode to get the answers.

  • How many countries make up the UK and can you name those countries?
  • Which Eastern European country shares zero of the same borders with countries that it shared borders with in 1989 although its physical borders have not moved? (note: I hope you don’t mind the term “Eastern European country”)

Sarah’s Questions for me

These might seem a bit random, but Sarah is a great quiz mistress and there is a link between all the answers to these questions, and it’s a link that is tailored to me somehow. 

  1. For which film did the MPAA refuse to allow use of Ben Stiller’s character’s last name in the title, unless filmmakers could find an actual person with that last name?
  2. What 2nd novel by English author Charles Dickens is alternately titled “The Parish Boy’s Progress?”
  3. What film series began in 1988 and stars Bruce Willis as John McClane?
  4. In British English it means “eraser”, in American it means “condom”. What is it?
  5. What is the type of gun that features as a weapon in the board game “Cluedo”?
  6. “Scar Tissue” is the name of Anthony Keidis’ autobiography as well as one of his hits, with which band?
  7. PD James, Edgar Allan Poe and Gaston Leroux are all writers specialising in what genre? 
  8. The flags of Romania, Colombia and Moldova all primarily feature which 3 colours?
  9. The first episode of what television drama opens with the news that that RMS Titanic has sunk?

Luke’s Questions for Sarah

My questions are really quite stupid and in fact I am not listing them here because they are too silly and I will let you discover them in all their glory as you listen to the episode. So just listen on if you want to hear my questions for Sarah – but to give you a heads up they focus on music, movies (well, one movie) and British English slang, so there is definitely some vocabulary to learn here!

MMMBop by Hanson

Mmm Bop – Lyrics

Can you tell me any of the lyrics from the first verse?

Answers:

You have so many relationships in this life

Only one or two will last

You go through all the pain and strife

Then you turn your back and they’re gone so fast

Oh yeah (so much wisdom from someone so young)

And they’re gone so fast, yeah

Oh, so hold on the ones who really care

In the end they’ll be the only ones there

And when you get old and start losing your hair

Can you tell me who will still care (Hair was important to them)

Can you tell me who will still care? (interesting discussion point)

Oh care

Mmmbop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du, oh yeah

Mmmbop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba du dop

Ba du bop, ba du dop

Ba du, yeah

Said oh yeah

In an mmmbop they’re gone

Yeah yeah

Yeah yeah

Plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose

You can plant any one of those

Keep planting to find out which one grows

It’s a secret no one knows

It’s a secret no one knows (Is it really a secret?)

Oh, no one knows

MMMM MMMM MMMM MMMM by Crash Test Dummies

Anaconda – 1997 (Trailer)

Luke’s British Slang Questions

  • If you describe something as pants, how do you feel about it?

“That film was pants. Total pants.”

Answer: bad

  • How would you feel if you’d run out of bog roll?

You’d feel gutted of course.

Answer: Bog roll means toilet paper

  • Can you give me a reason why you might feel “chuffed”?

Answer: chuffed means pleased, delighted, happy

  • What would a British person probably say if they wanted to claim something, like perhaps a chocolate biscuit or a comfortable chair?

Answer: Bagsee!

  • If someone needed to get some kip, how would they probably feel?

Answer: You’d feel sleepy or tired, because kip means sleep (noun)

  • What F word is used to say that someone is physically attractive? (It’s like saying “hot”)

Answer: fit

  • What L word is a generic sickness – like the flu or a bad cold? (a pre-covid expression)

Answer: The lurgy

  • Where do you put suitcases in a car in the UK?

Answer: in the boot

  • What about the engine?

Under the bonnet

In any case, whether you can answer these questions or not, I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation about trivia and that you manage to keep up with it all and pick up some English. I will chat to you again very very briefly at the end, but it’s now time to get started properly and here we go…

Listen to the episode to get all the answers to the questions!

In other news…

My pod-room still isn’t ready but it should be connected to electricity and internet in a couple of weeks.

I’m still waiting to get a WIFI internet connection at home.

My shelves haven’t fallen down yet :)

I am working on LEP Premium series 33 parts 3 and 4 and they should be uploaded soon.

Video versions of episodes will return when I have a decent internet connection (and a new computer which is coming too…)

755. FUNNY RUSSIAN CITIZENSHIP TEST with Amber & Paul

Can Luke, Amber & Paul pass this funny Russian citizenship test which was written and sent in by a Russian LEPster? Join us as we attempt to answer questions which (apparently) every Russian person would know. This could be embarrassing!
P.S. I am 99% sure that this really is the final episode of 2021.

Audio Version (No extra rambling this time)

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Video Version

👇Read Vadim’s Russian Citizenship Test👇


Russian Citizenship Test  

For Luke Tomson  

Please answer the following questions. You will get one star (because Russians  do like stars) for every correct answer.  

Count your correct answers to get your score at the end of the test.  

The decision on your Russian citizenship will be made and enforced immediately.  Do not close the door (yeah, like it could stop us).  

“Good luck” © Bad guy from “Taken”  

Question 1. 

What animals we have in Russia instead of Tom and Jerry? 

  • A) Wolf and hare  
  • B) Bear and bee  
  • C) Dog and cat  
  • D) Elephant and mouse 

(See the answer below)

The answer is… 

A) Wolf and Hare 

From the “Nu, Pogodi” (eng. “Well, Just You Wait!” ) animated series, (1969 – 1986). 

In the 2014 all-Russian poll “Well, Just You Wait!” won as people’s favorite  cartoon/animated series of all time. 

The series follows the comical adventures of Wolf, trying to catch – and  presumably eat – Hare. The series’ most common line is the eponymous “Nu,  pogodi!” yelled by the wolf when his plans fail. 

Fun fact: Since the 1990s, when the fall of the Iron Curtain allowed better  exchange of films, both Russian and Western audiences have noted similarities  between Nu, pogodi! and American cartoons, the most noticeable being Tom and  Jerry. The director has admitted that he was learning from Disney animated films  which were brought into the USSR from Germany immediately after World War II,  particularly Bambi. However, he did not see any Tom and Jerry episodes until his  on bought a VCR in 1987. 

Question 2 

What animal does every Russian see on the streets every day? 

  • A) Giraffe  
  • B) Bear  
  • C) Lynx 
  • D) Gazelle

The answer is… 

D) Gazelle 

The GAZelle is a series of light commercial vehicles: pickup trucks, vans and  minibuses made by Russian car manufacturer GAZ. Until now, it is actively used in  all Russian cities as a “marshrutka” – shuttle or public bus. 

Side mission: Can you say “marshrutka”?

Question 3 

September 3rd in Russia is a good day to … 

  • A) Drink vodka from balalaika 
  • B) Crush wooden sleds with axes 
  • C) Turn calendar upside down 
  • D) Hang winter boots out of window

The answer is… 

C) Turn calendar upside down 

“The third of September” is a well-known Russian lyric song, first performed  by Mikhail Shufutinsky in 1993. The chorus of this song contains the lines: 

I’ll turn the calendar upside down 

And there will be the third of September again 

Of course, the singer meant, “I’ll turn a calendar page in a loose-leaf  calendar” but many Russians making fun of it. It gave rise to many funny pictures  of upside-down calendars. These lines have become a popular meme in Russia,  and the third of September in itself has become a kind of holiday, when people  joke about the calendar and listen to this song whole day. The singer, by the way,  has a positive attitude to this meme and to the popularization of his song among  young people. 

Question 4 

What do Russians expecting the lobster to do on the top of a  mountain? 

  • A) dance 
  • B) go to war 
  • C) pray 
  • D) whistle

The answer is… 

D) whistle 

“When a lobster whistles on the top of a mountain” – it is a Russian idiom. In fact,  it is an adynaton — a figure of speech so hyperbolic that it describes an  impossibility. The implication of such a phrase is that the circumstances in  question will never occur. 

“The pigs will fly when a lobster whistles on the top of a mountain”. Oh, I’d like to  see it.

Question 5. 

What French name is most often mentioned on the New  Year’s Eve in Russia? 

  • A) Jean-Paul  
  • B) Olivier  
  • C) Pierre  
  • D) Serge

The answer is… 

B) Olivier 

Olivier salad (Russian: салат Оливье, salat Olivye) is a traditional salad dish  in Russian cuisine, which is also popular in other post-Soviet countries. It is usually  made with diced boiled potatoes, carrots, brined dill pickles, green peas, eggs,  onions, diced boiled chicken or bologna sausage, with salt, pepper, and mustard  added to enhance flavor, dressed with mayonnaise. In many countries, the dish is  commonly referred to as Russian salad.  

In Russia and other post-Soviet states, as well as in Russophone communities  worldwide, the salad has become one of the main dishes served during New  Year’s Eve (“Novy God”) celebrations. 

Additional information: The original version of the salad was invented in the 1860s by a cook of Belgian  origin, Lucien Olivier, the chef of the Hermitage, one of Moscow’s most celebrated restaurants. Olivier’s  salad quickly became immensely popular with Hermitage regulars, and became the restaurant’s  signature dish. 

The exact recipe—particularly that of the dressing—was a zealously guarded secret, but it is known that  the salad contained grouse, veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, crayfish tails, capers, and smoked duck,  although it is possible that the recipe was varied seasonally. The original Olivier dressing was a type of mayonnaise, made with French wine vinegar, mustard, and Provençal olive oil; its exact recipe, however,  remains unknown.

Question 6. 

What tree do Russians always want to hug when sad?

  • A) Larch  
  • B) Pine  
  • C) Birch  
  • D) Baobab

The answer is… 

C) Birch 

Birch is considered as a tree of “Russian nationality”. 

«While traveling for a long time abroad, a Russian often misses his “native  birches”. To hold a birch tree tight and cry… that’s the only thing a Russian wants  to do in a melancholic mood. 

According to multiple folk proverbs and beliefs, ancient pagan Slavs  considered hugging a birch tree as a sign of good luck. Birches were compared to  humans – its thin trunk was frequently associated with a thin body of a young  lady. 

Modern Russians would never confess they hug birch trees on a daily basis.  However, some of us have done it or at least thought of it. And for sure, when we  see those leaves and branches trembling by the wind, our harsh northern hearts  melt. And the one certain sign that Russians love birches is the fact that they  make fun of it, even creating “go hug a birch” memes and jokes.» 

Extract from the article www.rbth.com/lifestyle/331832-russians-birch-tree

Question 7. 

What is the right way to drink vodka in Russia? 

  • A) Only for the reason and with lots of food 
  • B) Looking into each other’s eyes shouting “Na zdorovye!”
  • C) In small sips from a large glass 
  • D) No matter how – it has to be drunk!

The answer is… 

A) Only for the reason and with lots of food 

Most Russians never drink without a reason. A birthday, wedding, funeral,  national holiday – these are all appropriate reasons to drink Vodka. However, it  doesn’t need to be so pretentious; you can always make up a good reason for  drinking, but the important thing is that you should always have one. 

Before you begin drinking, make sure you have something to eat. In Russia  we call it “zakuska” – literally means “snack”, but it isn’t that simple. Its history  goes back to the traditional Russian ritual of greeting important guests with  “bread and salt” – and, in most cases, an alcoholic drink. Other Traditional  Russian «zakuska» is cold cuts, cured fishes, mixed salads, kholodets (meat jelly),  pirozhki, various pickled vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, sauerkraut,  pickled mushrooms, open sandwiches, and breads. The fact is – you should never  drink vodka without eating immediately something afterwards. 

And here is a fact: Russians never looking into each other eyes while drinking  – it would be considered very strange and weird. And they will never shout “Na  zdorovye!” NEVER.

Now, let’s count your stars, comrade.  

If you got…  

7 stars:  

Congratulations! From now on, you are officially Russian. You can go to the  embassy and get your balalaika. The pet bear will be send to your place later this  evening.  

5-6 stars:  

Nice try, comrade! A couple more shots of vodka and the citizenship will be  in your fufaika’s pocket!  

2-4 stars:  

Well, you will get your citizenship one day, but first you have to ask the  lobster to get to the mountain and do some action. Is he still waiting for Gazelle?  

0-1 stars:  

If only you dare touch a birch, it will turn you upside down, like a calendar!    

(Just kidding. It doesn’t matter how many stars you got – everyone is  welcome to Russia. Zakuski are waiting for you!)  

Thank you for your time and До свидания! 

753. Visiting the Louvre Museum with Amber & Paul

Join Amber, Paul and me as we take a tour of the famous Louvre museum in Paris and describe some of the world’s most amazing artwork and artefacts, including stunning Greek sculptures like Venus de Milo, fascinating renaissance paintings by Leonardo da Vinci such as the Mona Lisa and many more incredible pieces. The video version has photos of all the work being described. Photos are also shown on the website page.

Audio Version

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Video Version with Photos of all the artwork in the episode

Introduction Transcript

Hello dear listeners and welcome back to the podcast!

Let me just say a few words before we begin. This is not going to be a massive introduction, but I do need to say a couple of things before we start, in order to prepare you for what you are going to hear in this episode, so you can understand it better and really make the most of it.

The pod-pals Amber & Paul are back! Just in case you don’t know – Amber Minogue and Paul Taylor are my English comedian friends who also live in Paris. They’ve been on the podcast many times in the past, but not since May this year. But now they’re back. 

This episode was recorded a couple of weeks ago, not in my flat as usual, but on location at one of the world’s most famous museums – The Louvre in Paris. You probably know it. “The Louvre” – that’s how we say it in English. In French it sounds like this *Mme Google says the word*. 

During the episode you will hear the three of us walking around parts of the museum, describing the the things we are looking at, including some very famous pieces that you will definitely know. 

The art that we talk about comes from 4 main periods. There are marble sculptures from the Hellanistic period of Ancient Greece (about 2000 years ago), some French medieval paintings (from about 1000 years ago), and then some Reneissance-era paintings (from about 500 years ago) mainly by Italian artists – including a certain portrait by Leonardo da Vinci – I think you know which one I mean – The Mona Lisa of course – and yes, we will be talking about that painting in some detail. We mention it briefly as we walk past it, but then we come back to talk about it more – so keep listening for that. We also talk about some impressive French paintings from the early 19th century too (about 100 years ago).

So, watch out for descriptive language and also general knowledge about the various periods of art on display, the ways they were created, what they mean and how they fit into history. 

This might be challenging for you, depending on your level of English, so be prepared!

It all goes quite quickly, we talk quite fast, there’s background noise and also references to specific art work that you can’t see unless you’re looking at them too. 

If you’d like to see the sculptures and paintings, then have a look at the episode page where I’ve added photos, or the video version. It’s not a full video – I didn’t have a camera, but I’ve added photos into the video, which will appear as you listen.

I do recommend looking at pictures of the work we are describing. It’ll help you understand this and will help you contextualise the language we’re using, which is obviously important.

Some strong language and swearing

Also, watch out – There is some strong language – I mean, some swearing – rude words. Of course – it’s an Amber & Paul episode! There’s usually a bit of swearing. Most of you are fine with that because you know it’s what happens when friends chat together, but, if you are sensitive to strong language, or you’re listening to this with a group of young learners maybe – be warned, there is some strong language ahead, including at least one use of the C word. If you’re not sure what that is, listen to episode 83 of my podcast, which is a complete guide to swearing in English.

Thanks to Amber & Paul

I must say thanks to the podpals for their involvement here, especially Amber who was our tourguide for this trip, and she brings a lot to the table here as she has a lot of knowledge about this museum and the artefacts that can be found there.

Check out Amber’s podcast – panamepodcast.com

Just a reminder – if you like Amber’s voice and want to listen to her talking more about the history of Paris, you’re in luck because she has her own podcast. It’s called Paname Podcast (spell it) and each episode is about a different aspect of Parisian history. There are loads of fascinating stories and atmospheric sound effects and it’s all written and recorded by Amber herself. Paname Podcast is the name and the website is www.panamepodcast.com 

Also, if you want more Amber, Paul and Luke action – then check out Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live – specifically the episode recorded on Monday 6 December. This is Paul’s weekly YouTube livestream, and on Monday 6 December, his guests were Amber and me. 

Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live from Monday 6 December. Watch it here.

You will be able to see the replay on Paul’s channel (and here).

OK that’s enough from me now, except that I really hope you enjoy coming with us on this cultural trip, that you are able to follow it, and that like Paul and me, you learn some things from the experience.

I’ll chat to you again briefly at the end, but now, let’s head down to The Louvre – just a 10 minute bike ride from my flat here in Paris, to meet up with Amber & Paul, and here we go. 

Vocabulary Definitions added during the episode

A fresco is a type of wall painting. The term comes from the Italian word for fresh because plaster is applied to the walls while still wet. (National Gallery website definition)

A sculpture is a work of art that is produced by carving or shaping stone, wood, clay, or other materials (CollinsDictionary.com)

A sculpture which is atteched to a flat piece of stone which can be displayed on a wall – that’s a relief.

Phew, that is a relief, I mean – I’m glad we cleared that up.

Photos of Artwork

Here are pictures of almost all the things we described in this episode. The YouTube video version also contains these images.

Ending Transcript

Well, there you are. That was a whirlwind tour wasn’t it! There was a lot packed into that one. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe learned one or two things.

Remember, you can see pictures of everything (I think) that we saw and talked about – you can see all those pictures on the page for this episode on my website and also on the YouTube version. Don’t forget to whack that like button with a hammer.

Thank you again to the pod-pals. It’s always great to have them on the show.

Now, if you liked this, then you must listen to Amber’s Podcast, which she is still doing by the way. It’s called Paname Podcast and you can get it wherever you get your podcasts. Also, her website is panamepodcast.com

In her episodes you can hear Amber telling some fascinating stories about the history of Paris. Check it out!

Amber and I were on Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live – Monday 6 December. (Video available above

Thank you for joining us. Let me know your thoughts, comments and responses to this episode. 

Speak to you soon, but for now – good bye bye bye  bye bye!