Tag Archives: music

252. Marooned With My Music: James Thompson

Welcome to Luke’s English Podcast and this special series, called Marooned With My Music. My castaway today is my brother James Thompson. [Download]

Small Donate ButtonSince being born in the mid 1970s in the south of England, it’s hard to say really what James has been doing for the past 39 years of his existence on earth. Nevertheless, he is a man of taste, a man of music and a man of experience. In the 1990s he studied a combined degree in English and Design at a university in Cambridge, before becoming something of an expert in wine tasting, wine selling and indeed wine drinking. Quietly entrepreneurial, James set up a successful t-shirt company in the late 1990s and now works as a freelance designer and artist – with perhaps the pinnacle of his career so far being the logo he designed for Luke’s English Podcast. I’m joking of course – James has contributed design work for various companies and organisations over the years. As well as being an artist, a designer, a wine enjoyer, a t-shirt maker and skateboarder – James has always been a keen lover of music both as a drummer & producer and as a collector of vinyl records, and I imagine that having to choose 8 records to take to his desert island has been something of a challenge for him. Let’s find out…

James’ Choices
(James accidentally choose 9 songs instead of 8)
1. My Girl by Madness
2. Dennis and Louis by Happy Mondays
3. Hole In The Sky by Black Sabbath
4. So Watcha Want by Beastie Boys
5. Clap Your Hands by A Tribe Called Quest
6. Xtal by Aphex Twin
7. Saint Angel by Goldie
8. No Feelings by The Sex Pistols
9. Fisherman by The Congos

Book Choice: The Long Firm by Jake Arnott
Luxury Item: A skateboard

Travis live at Glastonbury 2000 – red T-Shirt by James Thompson
marooned

251. Welcome to LEP / 16 Things You Should Know about LEP

The podcast has been nominated in the Macmillan Dictionary Award and the voting is now open here www.macmillandictionary.com/love-english-awards/voting-blog-2014.html

[Download]Small Donate Button
When I get nominated for this competition, I usually have quite a lot of new visitors to the site by people who are checking out the podcast for the first time. So, let me take this opportunity to say hello to any new visitors and to give you an idea of what LEP is all about.

In this episode I’m going to tell you 16 things you need to know about LEP. After listening to this, you should have a better idea of what this podcast is all about!

16 Things You Should Know about Luke’s English Podcast
1. I’m a teacher from London, living in Paris, with about 14 years of experience and both a CELTA and DELTA qualification. I’ve lived in Japan too, and I have experience of teaching adults and children at all levels of English, for general, business or more specific purposes. Students I’ve had in the past include Brazilian world cup winners, Scandinavian heads of state, top business executives and even a porn star. I now teach at The British Council and at a top university in Paris.

2. I started LEP in 2009 after taking a course in podcasting with The Consultants E. At the time I just felt like I wanted to have my own radio show, and I discovered ways of creating podcasts on my new Apple Mac laptop, and realised I could publish them myself on iTunes, and then get the word out using social networking. I started to get really busy producing episodes of the podcast. The aim was always to mix up teaching with general entertainment. I wanted to produce episodes that were instructive but also fun to listen to for their own sake.

3. I’m also a stand-up comedian, and I do try to use those skills in my episodes too, from time to time! I do stand-up comedy regularly in Paris, in English. This may not be obvious from this episode, as I’m not adding any jokes to it! From time to time I share some videos of my comedy on this website, and some of my listeners have come to see me perform my comedy live, which is great!

4. The podcast now has over 250 episodes, and I have a really loyal following. In fact, my listeners have lots of names – the LEPpers (yes, LEP stands for Luke’s English Podcast), LEPsters, LEPaholics, LEP Ninjas, PLEPS (people of Luke’s English Podcast) and so on.

5. Some of my listeners have created podcasts of their own, after being inspired to do so by listening to LEP.

6. There are various types of episode that you can expect on the podcast. Some are about specific aspects of English, for example – episodes about idioms, grammar points, pronunciation, vocabulary, and slang. In some episodes I try to keep my listeners locked-in and entertained by making up improvised stories off the top of my head. In some episodes I feature interviews and conversations with friends, family and special guests. Some episodes involve me just talking directly to my audience about whatever comes into my head. Some episodes are about films, music or popular culture, and some episodes deal with specific aspects of British culture and lifestyle. So the podcast covers a broad range of topics. Ultimately, I love the freedom of being able to talk about anything I like! The main thing is that it creates engaging content that encourages learners of English to do more and more listening!

Here’s a quick list of some of the more popular episodes of this podcast:
1. Introduction – this is the first episode I did back in April 2009 and it outlines my basic approach to LEP.
28. Interview with a Native Speaker: The Weather – this one follows on from a vocabulary episode about British weather and features an authentic interview with a teenager called Chris, and his odd views about foreigners in the UK
29. Mystery Story / Narrative Tenses – this is one of the most visited of my episodes. It teaches you narrative tenses (past simple, past continuous, past perfect) via a short mystery story that features several of the UK’s most beloved popular culture icons. The story is continued in the next episode.
71. The Ice-Cream Episode – an unplanned rant on topics such as: Amazon Kindles, robots & technology in Hollywood films and why we should put down the weapons and pick up an ice-cream instead, man.
83. How to Swear in British English – an indispensable guide to all the rudest words in British English. It’s extremely offensive, but extremely useful.
100. Going to the Pub – the guide to everything you need to know before you step into a pub in the UK.
118. Sick In Japan – the true story of how I ended up sick in a Japanese hospital. It contains loads of medical and health related vocabulary, culture shock and a story which is engaging from start to finish!
125. The Pink Gorilla Story – one of the most popular ever, this is just an improvised story that regularly makes people laugh out loud, and which I really should convert into a one-man-show stage play!
140. Ghost Stories – just some scary true stories to keep you awake at night
167. Memory, Mnemonics and Learning English – revolutionise your learning techniques with these powerful memory devices.
174. How to Learn English with Luke’s English Podcast – this is your guide to improving your English using my podcast.
176. Grammar: Verb Tense Review – this is a very complete guide to all the main tenses in English
192. Culture Shock: Life in London – this episode deals with many of those strange aspects of the English lifestyle that foreigners find so hard to understand.
208. Travelling in Indonesia – one of many episodes about travelling experiences, this one has quite a dramatic beginning.

There are plenty more episodes which are popular with listeners, in fact everyone seems to have a different favourite. But that’s just a selection of some of the most visited pages on my website.

7. Yes, my episodes are quite long, but I always explain it like this: Firstly, all my favourite podcasts are long, and I think that it’s quite normal for podcasts to be about an hour long. Radio shows also tend to be at least an hour long too, so why not my podcast? It’s better for my listeners if they listen for an extended period. Why should listening only last 15 minutes? I can’t achieve very much in just 10-15 minutes, and I want my episodes to have some depth and rigour to them. Also, listeners can just pause the episode when they’ve had enough, and come back to it later!

8. I have a transcript collaboration project on my website, which allows listeners to transcribe sections of episodes and build a whole library of transcripts for other LEPsters to use. This is good for the transcribers because it is a big challenge and a good way to improve their English, and it’s good for the other listeners because we have an ever-growing library of transcripts which they can use to help them understand episodes. The collaboration is hosted on my website and is done using google documents.

9. I have won this award three times before and that is completely thanks to my devoted audience, who every year come out in force to vote for me. I hope to repeat the success this year, but I am up against stiff competition! Whatever the result, I’m just happy to have been nominated again.

10. The podcast has had 3 million listens in just over a year, since moving to a new audio host (audioboom.com) which is amazing!

11. I also have some videos on YouTube and they are pretty hot as well! My channel has had about 2.5 million views in total, but I haven’t uploaded anything for a while. The popular videos are ones I did in 2009 and feature me interviewing members of the public in the centre of London. There’s also a video called “16 Ways to Say I Like It”, which you may have seen too.

12. I launch competitions of my own from time to time, for listeners to take part in. The last one was called “Your English Podcast” and I invited listeners to send me short recordings of them doing their own versions of LEP. I received lots of entries and votes and the winner was interviewed on the podcast as a prize.

13. These days I record episodes of my podcast in a room at the top of my apartment, where I have great views of the rooftops of Paris from the windows. I call it the “SpacePod” or “SkyPod” and it’s the podcast HQ!

14. I have another podcast, called A Phrasal Verb a Day. It’s on iTunes and on my website. That is made up of short episodes devoted to individual phrasal verbs. I give definitions, examples and explanations. It’s a great way to pick up more of those tricky items of vocabulary – phrasal verbs. My goal was to record one a day in 2014. I didn’t reach my goal, but I haven’t given up and I still add episodes to the series when I can.

15. I love playing the drums, guitar, bass and ukulele (but not at the same time) and occasionally at the end of podcast episodes I play a song on the ukulele – but you have to listen all the way to the end of the episode to hear it.

16. I put my heart, soul, time, energy, humour, money and love into making episodes of LEP. It’s become quite a big thing in my life after having done it now for nearly 6 years. I enjoy a close and warm relationship with my listeners, I always welcome new additions to the LEP family, and in the future I plan to build my service more and more until I can perhaps do this for a living somehow. The future’s bright and I hope that many more people will join me on this journey to create authentic, entertaining and interesting content that helps you not only to improve your English but to enjoy yourself while doing it. So, I invite you to start listening today and like thousands of others get addicted to LEP – it’s good for your English!

If you haven’t already done it, I invite you to vote for LEP by clicking here. Thank you for your continuing support!
vote for us_love english2

250. Marooned With My Music: Gill Thompson

Welcome to Luke’s English Podcast and this special series, called Marooned With My Music. My castaway today is my Mum, Gill Thompson. [Download]

Small Donate ButtonBorn as part of the baby boom generation after World War 2, Gill grew up and lived in England during a time of great social change in the latter half of the 20th century. Gill has lived in various parts of the country during her life, including Yorkshire, the Midlands and London, and has had various jobs including time spent at the BBC, at a primary school, at a university, and now in a charity bookshop, but perhaps her most time-consuming and indeed energy-consuming responsibility has been to bring up two boys and manage a household of 3 men, her husband and her two sons. While doing all of that she also studied for a general arts degree with the Open University adding to her now quite considerable knowledge of history, art, literature and philosophy. She is a voracious reader, a fount of knowledge and wisdom, a loving wife and an amazing Mum, and I’m very glad to have her on the programme today.

Mum’s Choices
1. Always by Patsy Cline, written by Irving Berlin
2. I’ll String Along With You by Al Bowlly
3. Harvest Moon by Neil Young
4. Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles
5. Our House by Madness
6. Don’t Forget to Dance by The Kinks
7. Bach Double Violin Concerto – Played by Yehudi Menuhin And David Oistrakh
8. I’ll See You In My Dreams by Joe Brown

Book Choice: The Essays of Michel de Montaigne
Luxury Item: A king-size bed with an everlasting supply of 100% Egyptian cotton sheets
marooned

248. Marooned With My Music: Rick Thompson


“Marooned with my Music” is an interview concept based on a popular and long-running BBC Radio programme called “Desert Island Discs”. In that BBC programme, celebrities and noteworthy people are invited onto the show for an interview. They imagine that they have been stranded on a remote desert island and are only allowed to take certain items with them, namely: 8 pieces of music, one book and one luxury item. During the programme, the interviewee is asked about their life and their musical choices. Desert Island Discs remains one of the BBC’s most beloved radio programmes and has been broadcast on the radio for many years. In my version, “Marooned with my Music” I have decided to interview members of my family: My Dad, my Mum and my Brother. [Download this episode]

Small Donate ButtonWelcome to Marooned With My Music. My castaway today is my Dad Rick Thompson. Rick has been working in broadcast journalism for over 45 years, including nearly 30 years at the BBC where he worked as foreign news editor, and editor of the UK’s flagship daily news programme the 9 O’Clock News. He now runs his own broadcast training company called T-Media, which helps to bring BBC-standard television broadcasting to other countries around the world. Along the way he has become something of an expert in the art of efficiently and effectively delivering information to viewers on television and radio; something which requires a combined interest in all the big stories of the day as well as the values of language and public service. Rick is a man of broad interests and talents, having been a musician, a sportsman and a bird-watcher throughout his life, amongst other things. Last but by no means least, Rick has also been a devoted husband to his wife Gill and father to his two children James and Luke, from Luke’s English Podcast.

Dad’s Choices
1. I Saw Her Standing There by The Beatles
2. So What by Miles Davis
3. Route 66 by The Rolling Stones
4. Far More Drums by The Dave Brubeck Quartet
5. The Planets – IV. Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity by Gustav Holst
6. All Along The Watchtower by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
7. Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks
8. Fixing A Hole by The Beatles

Book choice: A History of Europe
Luxury item: A never-ending set of paints and canvasses
marooned

234. Making “Choons” with My Brother

Hi everyone, how are you doing? In this episode I’m joined again by my brother James. The last time you heard from him he was talking about how he had dislocated his shoulder after falling off his skateboard. In this episode he gives us an update on his shoulder injury and then we talk about the music (his “choons”) that he has been making recently. What is a “choon”? Basically, it’s a “tune” – a piece of music, typically a piece of dance music, hip-hop, house music, drum & bass or techno. When you hear a really good tune, it’s quite typical to say “Ah this is a CHOOOON!” My brother makes instrumental hip-hop CHOONS. You can hear him talking about his music making process in this episode. [Download this episode] [Update 2021: Jim has lots of new music on Bandcamp which you should check out here –> jimthompson.bandcamp.com/music ]

Small Donate ButtonJim’s Choons
Jim is quite modest about his music making, but for years he has been quietly producing lots of instrumental hip-hop on his own using an old Akai MPC2000, which is a bit of music making hardware used by some of the most well known hip-hop, drum and bass and techno producers from the past 15 years or more. Jim bought a second-hand MPC2000 about 5 years ago and he’s been learning how to use it, producing lots of tracks, and they’re getting better and better all the time, and now he’s at a point where he’s released a 10 track album which is available for purchase online via the website Bandcamp – click here to listen to or download his albums. He doesn’t like to talk about his stuff too much because it’s very personal, but in this episode he was quite willing to talk about how he comes up with ideas and how he then turns them into pieces of music. In our conversation you’ll hear us using various technical language related to music and music production.

Download Jim’s Album
Jim’s album is available here: Jim’s page on Bandcamp
You can download it free, or if you think he deserves to be paid, you can choose to purchase the music and you can choose the price! $0 – $1,000,000 – it’s your choice.

Listen to Jim’s tune “Sympathy” (Unofficial remix of “Life’s a Bitch” by Nas) on YouTube here:

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222. Luke’s Late Night Podcast

Take a musical trip through Luke’s hard-drive, in the middle of the night. Right-click here to download this episode.

Small Donate ButtonLate one night recently, I decided to record a podcast while randomly picking some pieces of music from my hard-drive and talking to you at the same time. This is the result.

There’s no language agenda in this episode in particular. It’s just me talking to you about various things while interspersing the episode with some music and other bits and pieces from my hard-drive.

Any music or other content in this episode is presented for educational purposes as part of my effort to aid people in their learning of English and culture.

Below you can read lyrics of some songs from this episode if you’d like to read to check your listening comprehension or pick up vocabulary.

Thanks for listening.

p.s. Competition Update: Voting closes this evening, and then I will count votes and eventually publish an episode with the names of the winner(s). Thanks for voting!

Song Lyrics

Arctic Monkeys – “Mardy Bum”
Buy “Mardy Bum” on iTunes here.
Well, now then Mardy Bum
I’ve seen your frown
And it’s like looking down the barrel of a gun
And it goes off
And out come all these words
Oh there’s a very pleasant side to you
A side I much prefer

It’s one that laughs and jokes around
Remember cuddles in the kitchen
Yeah, to get things off the ground
And it was up, up and away
Oh, but it’s right hard to remember
That on a day like today when you’re all argumentative
And you’ve got that face on

Well, now then Mardy Bum
Oh I’m in trouble again, aren’t I?
I thought as much
‘Cause you turned over there
Pulling that silent disappointment face
The one that I can’t bear

Well, can’t we just laugh and joke around
Remember cuddles in the kitchen
Yeah, to get things off the ground
And it was up, up and away
Oh, but it’s right hard to remember
That on a day like today when you’re all argumentative
And you’ve got that face on

Yeah I’m sorry I was late
But I missed the train
And then the traffic was a state
And I can’t be arsed to carry on in this debate
That reoccurs, oh when you say I don’t care
But of course I do, yeah I clearly do!

So laugh and joke around
Remember cuddles in the kitchen
Yeah, to get things off the ground
And it was up, up and away
Oh, but it’s right hard to remember
That on a day like today when you’re all argumentative
And you’ve got that face on

Black Sabbath – “The Wizard”
Buy “The Wizard on iTunes here.
Misty morning, clouds in the sky
Without warning, the wizard walks by
Casting his shadow, weaving his spell
Funny clothes, tinkling bell

Never talking
Just keeps walking
spreading his magic

Evil power disappears
Demons worry when the wizard is near
He turns tears into joy
Everyone’s happy when the wizard walks by

Never talking
Just keeps walking
spreading his magic

Sun is shining, clouds have gone by
All the people give a happy sigh
He has passed by, giving his sign
Left all the people feeling so fine

Never talking
Just keeps walking
spreading his magic

Charles Bukowski – “The Life of the King”
Unfortunately I can’t find the lyrics to this, but here is a video featuring Bukowski reading his poem “The Life of the King”, if you’d like to listen to it again.

Curtis Mayfield – “Pusherman”
Buy “Pusherman” in iTunes here.
I’m your mama, I’m your daddy,
I’m that nigga in the alley.
I’m your doctor when in need.
Want some coke? Have some weed.
You know me, I’m your friend,
Your main boy, thick and thin.
I’m your pusherman.

Ain’t I clean, bad machine
Super cool, super mean
Dealin’ good, for The Man.
Superfly, here I stand.
Secret stash, heavy bread,
Baddest bitches in the bed,
I’m your pusherman

Silent life of crime
A man of odd circumstance,
A victim of ghetto demands.
Feed me money for style
And I’ll let you trip for a while.
Insecure from the past,
How long can a good thing last?
No, no, no

Got to be mellow, y’all
Got to get mellow, now
Pusherman gettin’ mellow, y’all

Heavy mind, every sign
Makin’ money all the time
My LD and just me
For all junkies to see
Ghetto Prince is my thing
Makin’ love’s how I swing
I’m your pusherman

Two bags, please
For a generous fee
Make your world what you want it to be
Got a woman I love desperately
Wanna give her somethin’ better than me
Been told I can’t be nuthin’ else
Just a hustler in spite of myself
I know I can break it
This life just don’t make it
Lord, Lord, yeah

Got to get mellow, now
Gotta be mellow, y’all
Got to get mellow, now

I’m your mama, I’m your daddy,
I’m that nigga in the alley.
I’m your doctor when in need.
Want some coke? Have some weed.
You know me, I’m your friend,
Your main boy, thick and thin.
I’m your pusherman.
I’m your pusherman.
I’m your pusherman.
I’m your pusherman.
Lord, Lord

Victor Wooten – “Music as a Language” Click here for a version with subtitles.

24. Music Idioms

Learn some music-related idioms. Full Transcript available below.

Small Donate ButtonRight-click here to download this episode.

Learn English! Some music idioms for you to use. Luke’s English Podcast is a free service for everyone in the whole world to use. Download the podcast, listen, laugh and learn. Get new vocabulary, listening practice, pronunciation drills for speaking and some interesting cultural information. Email me at luketeacher@hotmail.com. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

This podcast is about music idioms. Idioms are difficult because they are fixed expressions. The individual words mean something different on their own. You have to learn the meaning of the complete expression. Here are some useful ones that relate to music in some way. You can use them to talk about anything.

The idioms:

  1. it rings a bell
  2. to pull out all the stops
  3. to play it by ear
  4. it’s music to my ears
  5. to be fit as a fiddle
  6. to face the music
  7. to change your tune
  8. to blow your own trumpet

Here are the transcipts of the badly acted dialogues (sorry about the terrible American accents):

A: Have you ever met Jack Miller?
B: Well the name rings a bell
A: He work in the Nakatomi Plaza
B: Oh yes, I remember. He was the guy who sealed the OCP contract. He wouldn’t stop blowing his own trumpet about it.
A: Yes, he kept going on about how he’d closed the deal, saying how Cyberdine were going to be the number 1 agency in the country.
B: Yeah, what a pain in the neck

OK guys! Summer is the busiest time of year for us. Lots of tourists with their £50 notes. What they really need, is London souvenirs. OK, so pull out all the stops this month. I want you to SELL SELL SELL. More British flags, more models of Big Ben, more photos of the Queen, more toy London busses, more postcards of punks, more Beatles T-shirts, more London Eye photos, more We Will Rock You tickets, and more umbrellas!!

A: Sir?
B: Yes?
A: It’s Miller. We’ve closed the OCP deal.
B: Oh, that is music to my ears! I can’t tell you how important it is to Cyberdine.
A: No sir, you don’t have to tell me.
B: Excellent!

A: Hey Miller!
B: Yeah?
A: Are you going into the OCP negotiation?
B: Well, yes I am.
A: Don’t you need your notes? Where’s your file?
B: Oh, I don’t really need them
A: How are you going to manage the negotiation without them?
B: Oh, I’ll just play it by ear

A: Well Miller…
B: Yes Doctor?
A: I’m pleased to tell you that you have a clean bill of health. You’re fit as a fiddle! It’s quite surprising really considering your age. I expect you have the body of someone half your age. How do you do it?
B: Well, just lucky I suppose
[terrible, unforgivable acting]

A: Hey Miller! The board is furious! They say you screwed up the OCP deal. They say Cyberdine is in jeopardy.
B: Damn it! Did they say anything else?
A: Yeah, they say they want to see you immediately. Time to face the music Miller.
B: I suppose so…

Serious APOLOGIES for the bad acting and for the slightly offensive American accent. I do like America, and mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery (apparently).

Here are the idioms and their definitions:

it rings a bell – it’s familiar, or it reminds me of something

to pull out all the stops – to do everything you can to achieve a result

to play it by ear – to improvise, to not follow a plan

it’s music to my ears – it’s exactly what I wanted to hear

to be fit as a fiddle – to be in perfect health

to face the music – to accept the negative consequences of what you have done

to change your tune – to change your opinion of something, and the way you talk about it

to blow your own trumpet – to go on about or boast about something you did well or are good at
That’s it folks! Cheers, bye bye bye bye bey bye bey bey bye bye bey bey bey bey bey

24. Music Idioms – Transcript

You are listening to Luke’s English podcast. For more information visit teacher Luke.podomatic.com (teacherluke.co.uk)

Hello, folks and welcome to another edition of Luke’s English podcast. Now, the last podcast I did was about music festivals. So, I thought that I’d stick with the theme of music this time and teach you some music idioms.
Now, just a little note about idioms. Of course, an idiom is a kind of fixed expression that, you know, is used a lot in general conversation. Now, they are quite tricky because the meaning is difficult to understand. If you try to understand the individual words one by one in an idiom you probably won’t understand the idiom. It’s very difficult because the idiom as a whole has a different meaning to the individual words. So, for example if you look in a dictionary and try to understand the expression word by word you won’t understand anything. It’s got a different meaning as a fixed expression.

So, I’m going to teach you some idioms that are sort of related to music in some way and I’ve selected these ones myself, handpicked them to make sure that I was teaching you idioms which are actually quite useful because some of the idioms that you learn are not really useful.
There are so many that some of them are not used very often or are a bit old-fashioned and I think these ones are okay.

So, the idioms I’m going to teach you and you’ll be able to read all of these idioms with transcripts on the web page. So, the idioms of this….and I’m not going to tell you what they mean, yet. First I’m just going to read the idioms to you and then I’m going to read you little dialogues that include the idioms and then at the end I’m going to explain what the idioms mean. Okay?

So, the idioms then, one by one.

First on is: it rings a bell or that rings a bell. Right?
Next on is: to pull out all the stops- to pull out all the stops. To pull out all the stops
Okay? So that’s it rings a bell and to pull out all the stops.
The next one is: to play it by ear – to play it by ear. Right? To play it by ear. Right?
The next one is: It’s music to my ears – it’s music to my ears. Right? Okay?
The next one is: to be fit as a fiddle – to be fit as a fiddle – to be fit as a fiddle. Okay?
The next one is: to face the music – to face the music.
The next one is: to change your tune – to change your tune or to change your tune. Right?
And the last one is: to blow your own trumpet – to blow your own trumpet – to blow your own trumpet. Okay?

So, don’t worry if you don’t know what those idioms mean and don’t worry about trying to understand the individual words necessarily because sometimes they don’t really help you.

So what I’d like you to try and do now, is listen to these little stupid dialogues that I have written which I’m going to perform. They’re not very good dialogues and I’m not a very good actor but I’m going to try and perform the dialogues to you to make it more realistic or interesting. And as you listen to the dialogues try to notice the idioms that I’ve used and try and guess what they mean from the context of the situation. Okay? Don’t forget at the end I’ll explain what they mean. Alright?

So, I’m going to start with the first dialogue.
All these dialogues are in some way related to work, basically.

It’s a kind of work themed situation in which a man had to do a negotiation to win a contract, and what happened. Okay?

So, here we go. Here is the first part of the dialogue.

Have you ever met Jack Miller?
Well, the name rings a bell.
He works in the Nakatomi Plaza
Oh, yes, I remember, it was the guy who sealed the OCP contract. He wouldn’t stop blowing his own trumpet about it.
Yes, he just kept going on about how he’d closed the deal, saying how Cyberdyne were going to be the number 1 agency in the country.
Yeah, what a pain in the neck!

Okay, that was my first dialogue. I do apologise for the terrible acting but there is nothing I can do about it. I am not a professional actor. I am a teacher, so I’m just doing the best I can. Anyway, I hope you managed to catch the idiom there. It was to blow your own trumpet.
He said, he wouldn’t stop blowing his own trumpet about it.

Okay, the next situation, if you can imagine is like in a big souvenir shop in the centre of London in the summer time. Okay? And this is like a motivational speech by the sales manager of the souvenir shop. Okay? Here it is:

Okay, guys! Summer is the busiest time of year for us. Lots of tourists with their 50 pound notes. What they really need is London souvenirs. Okay? So pull out all the stops this month. I want you to sell, sell, sell. More British flags, more models of Big Ben, more photos of the Queen, more toy London busses, more postcards of punks, more Beatles T-shirts, more London Eye photos, more We Will Rock You tickets, and more umbrellas!!

Okay, so that was the souvenir manager and the idiom there was…oh, what was it? The idiom was there – the idiom there – uh, I can’t speak.
I’ll start again: The idiom there was to pull out all the stops. Right? Okay!

Now, the next one is back with the story of Jack Miller and the negotiation.

Sir?
Yes,
It’s Miller, we’ve closed the OCP deal.
Oh, that is music to my ears. I can’t tell you how important it’s to Cyberdine.
No, sir, you don’t have to tell me, sir.
Excellent!

Okay, I’m getting kind of embarrassed now because I realised that these little dialogues are just awful, I think. I am not very pleased with them. I think they sound terrible. My acting is awful and my accents are really rubbish. But I’m gonna keep doing it because I’ve started it now, so I’ve got to finish. Anyway! That idiom was: that’s music to my ears. That’s music to my ears. Okay?

Okay, here is the next dialogue! Here we go, more bad acting and even worse accents coming right up:

Hey, Miller
Yeah?
Are you going into the OCP negotiation?
Well, yes I am
Don’t you need your notes? Where is your file?
Oh, I don’t really need them.
How are you going to manage the negotiation without them?
Oh, I’ll just play it by ear

Okay, I think this is a pretty awful and embarrassing mainly because of my acting. I thought that I was a bit better than this but clearly I’m not. I’m rubbish in acting. But, that’s not important. The important thing is that you learn some English. Isn’t that right? I think so.
So, yeah, the idiom there was I’ll play it by ear, to play it by ear. Right? Okay!
So there are two more dialogues and here is the next one.
It’s in a doctor’s surgery, so our man, Jack Miller is going to the doctors to get a check up. Okay, so here it is.

Well, Miller
Yes, doctor
I’m pleased to tell you that you have a clean bill of health. You are fit as a fiddle. It’s quite surprising really, considering your age. I expect you have a body of someone half your age. How do you do it?
Well, I am just lucky, I suppose

More bad acting for you there. A kind of posh doctor character. Anyway! the idiom there was: You’re fit as a fiddle. You’re fit as a fiddle. Okay?

Now, here is the last dialogue and the last of my terrible performances. Here we go. It’s back to the story of Miller and the negotiation.

Hey, Miller, the board are furious. They said you screwed up the OCP deal. They say Cyberdine is in jeopardy.
Damn it! Did they say anything else?
Yeah, they say they wanna see you immediately. Time to face the music Miller.
I suppose so.

So, that’s the last dialogue. I hope you enjoyed the story of Miller and the negotiation and, yeah, sorry about the awful acting. Next time I’ll get, you know, Johnny Depp and Robert De Niro and Al Pacino and Christopher Walken to come and perform one of my dialogues.
I think maybe next time I’ll do Christopher Walken and Robert de Niro. I think that will be quite a good combination. So, anyway the meanings of those idioms …well, actually in the first dialogue there were two idioms. That was: It rings a bell and he kept blowing his trumpet. Right?

So it rings a bell means it’s familiar – I think I remember it. It’s familiar or reminds me of something. So, if someone says something like: Oh, do you know Jack Miller. And I say “the name rings a bell”. So, it’s like there is a little memory of it in the back of your head. But you can’t really remember it. It’s like a little bell ringing in the back of your head. So, his name rings a bell. Right? So, it’s familiar.

The other one in that first dialogue was to blow your own trumpet. To blow your own trumpet. And that’s basically to boast about how good you are. So if you keep going on about how great you are you are just blowing your own trumpet. Okay? Right!

In the next dialogue we had to pull out all the stops. To pull out all the stops. It was, okay pull out all the stops this month. And if you pull out all the stops it comes from….well, pull out all the stops means you do everything you can in order to achieve the results that you need. So, you kind of go full power into your work. You pull out all the stops. Now, that comes from old organs like church organs which use pipes and to get the loudest sound of your organ, you would pull out all the stops and stops are like little buttons that you can pull out or press in and they change the sound of the organ. So, if you pull all of the stops out it makes a really loud sound of the organ, so now we use the expression to pull out all the stops to mean to do something full with all our power. You know, to do everything you can in order to achieve the result, right?

Now, the other idioms like I just said: It rings a bell. Well, a bell is like a little thing you have at the top of a church. Ding, ding, ding, ding like that, okay? So it rings a bell. Like I said it rings a bell in the back of your head like a memory.

The other one is to blow your own trumpet. So, a trumpet is a musical instrument which you blow into. I am sure you know what a trumpet is. If you don’t know what a trumpet is I’ll play you a little bit of trumpet. I don’t play the trumpet but I’m gonna play you a little bit of someone else playing the trumpet. Here it is:

trumpet music

Okay, so that was a trumpet being played. That was actually Donald Byrd there. A great trumpet player. So, to blow your own trumpet means to go on and boast about how great you are. Okay? To blow your own trumpet.

Okay, in the next dialogue we had: That’s music to my ears, that’s music to my ears and if you say that when basically someone has said something that is exactly what you wanted to hear. It’s exactly what you wanted to hear. So, something that makes you very happy. That’s music to my ears. Okay?

Now, the next one was….let’s see….I’ll just play it by ear. I’ll just play it by ear and in that one Miller’s colleague said to him: How you are going to manage the negotiation without your notes and Miller said: I’ll just play it by ear. So, to play it by ear means that…eh….let’s see ..you improvise you don’t follow a plan. You just react to whatever happens there. So, Miller is going to go into this negotiation without his notes. He’s not going to use a plan, he’s just going to react as things happen. He is just going to improvise. Okay? So the origin of that to play it by ear is a bit like: when you play a piano when you play a piece of music without music, without sheet music. You are not reading the music you are just playing it by ear. Okay? So, that’s where that comes from. At least we use that expression to say when you do something without planning, you just improvise. You play it by ear. Okay?

So, in the next dialogue, we had….you are as fit as a fiddle. And that’s what Miller’s doctor said to him. You are fit as a fiddle which means you are very healthy. You are in perfect health. To be fit means that you are healthy. You are —you know, you do lots of exercise and your body is in good condition. But if you are fit as a fiddle it means you are really, really healthy. And a fiddle is another word for a violin. So, I am not sure why they say fit as a fiddle. Why is a violin fit? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because the strings are tight and it’s kind of …I don’t know, in good condition or something. But fit as a fiddle. Here we go.

And in the last dialogue we had: time to face the music, to face the music.
Now, if you face the music it means you accept the negative consequences of your actions. You accept like if you don’t… something that caused a really bad reaction you have to just accept that and just face it. For example when lots of people are angry about a decision you made and they are in a room and they are all angry, you just go in there and speak to them. You need to face the music. Right? Okay!

So, that’s it. Actually I’ve just realised, I realised something at the beginning of this podcast I said that I will teach you all of those idioms like it rings a bell, to pull out all the stops, to play it by ear, it’s music to my ears, you are fit as a fiddle, to face the music, to blow your own trumpet and to change your tune. But I didn’t explain to change your tune. I’ve just realised that.

So, basically you change your tune, you change your opinion of something. Change the way you talk about something. So, for example if maybe one month John always talks about – I don’t know – “U2, like the rock band U2 if usually he says: Ah, U2 are rubbish, they are boring, you know, they are not very good at music, their songs are really bad and Bono can’t sing and he’s really annoying. So, I hate U2” and when that’s what for example John says about U 2 and then, like the next day after he listened to one of their songs, the next day he says: “Do you know what, U2 are really good actually, yeah. I think, you know, possibly one of the best bands in the country in the moment. As a matter of fact, I’ve purchased 2 tickets and go to see them life in concert.” Right?
And you would say to him: “What are you talking about, John? You’ve changed your tune. I thought you hated U2.” Right? So, to change your tune is to change your opinion of something and to change the way you talk about something.

So, that’s it!
So, I hope those idioms are useful for you. Let me give you actually just a couple of drills for those …just drills for those idioms. Okay?
So, these are just sentences I’m gonna read to you. I’d love you to try and repeat them. It’s good practice for your pronunciation. Think about how all of the words in the sentences are linked together when I say them and try to copy it. Okay!

Here is the first one:
His name rings a bell.
We’ve got to pull out all the stops.
I’ll just play it by ear.
That’s music to my ears.
You’re fit as a fiddle.
Time to face the music.
You’ve changed your tune
Don’t blow your own trumpet

And that’t it for this episode of Luke’s English podcast. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you’re using these drills to practice your pronunciation.
That’s it for me and have a very nice day.
Cheers buy, buy, buy, buy, buy

Hi, folks
You are listening to Luke’s English Podcast. That’s right, this is Luke. I’m just sitting here right now, playing the piano. I play the piano maybe three, four times a day. Sometimes, if I have the time and I’m not teaching English or doing a podcast. I came up here to start playing the piano. Kind of makes me feel good. I am sure it makes everyone else in the neighbourhood feel good. I know my neighbours particularly enjoy the piano playing all hours of the day. Sometimes they bang on the ceiling there, just out of pure enjoyment I think. They sure love it when I play the piano.
So, I just thought I’d play this short piece for you right now. Just to give you another side of my personality, ladies and gentlemen.
And I’ll be doing another podcast for you real soon so until then have a very, very nice week. I’ll catch you soon. Thanks a lot, good night!