Oh, dear Soyoung
Oh, dear Soyoung,
Sorry, sorry, sorry! Don’t panic. Don’t be sad. Don’t be dissatisfied with your English. Yes! You should enjoy writing the blog, so if you’re not it’s my fault, and I’m sorry. What can I say? What can I do? You’ll just have to imagine the bottle of champagne I should really send you as an apology.
I’m sure you understand, however, that I want to help you improve some parts of your English. (It also helps our keen readers all over the world.) When I correct or re-write some of your blog it is not a criticism of your English, or of you. You have some real strengths. For example, you make very few errors with prepositions (and that is unusual), you use capital letters correctly and you have a good range of fixed expressions which you use well. Your sentences are quite sophisticated and very ambitious and you have a good understanding of paragraph structure. Well done! European languages are not easy for speakers of non-European languages. When I lived in China I tried to learn Chinese and was extremely bad at it. I absolutely understand how hard it is for you, and I also appreciate how much you have achieved with your English already. Don’t be downhearted. You have every reason to be very proud of yourself.
You asked me about Kilimanjaro. Yes, I am trying to regulate my daily life a little more than usual right now. I go for a 6-10 kilometre run each day (well, most days), I am trying to cut down on alcohol and I am supposed to stop drinking coffee altogether. That’s the hardest one for me. I am completely addicted to coffee. I love good coffee. I start each day with good friends in a local coffee shop. Nothing tastes quite so good. Nothing helps me start the day so well. What can I do?
You mentioned your friend who climbed Anapurna and Jiri. That’s real mountaineering. You need real skills (and courage) to climb like that. Kilimanjaro is 6,000 metres above sea-level but it is a relatively gentle climb (until the last day). I am no mountaineer, believe me. And my courage is shrinking with every passing day. Actually, Soyoung, I’m even scared of the vaccination against yellow fever.
You said that your friend met her husband on a mountain. Now, there’s an interesting idea. Do you think I might meet someone – a nice Kenyan girl (woman) maybe – and come back with a new wife? You never know. Anything’s possible, I suppose. I wonder what Lucy would think of that? But, no, Soyoung, I don’t think I believe in love at first sight.
You made me laugh when you wrote that you had never climbed a mountain because you thought that you would be “another heavy load for others”. That could be me, too! You have much more experience than I have. I have been to Chamonix but I preferred to look at Mont Blanc from the bottom rather than the top. I have also been to Interlaken, in Switzerland, but it was 40 years ago, before it became quite so popular with tourists, and I didn’t even ski then. Here’s something I remember from Interlaken in 1967. You could buy beautiful, full-colour postcards of the town, about 20 centimetres x 16 centimetres. Pressed into the photo on the front of the card was a transparent 45 rpm record of Swiss folk music. It was part of the card – you couldn’t remove it. There was a hole in the middle of the card and you could play the card on a record player (turntable). I had two of these postcards. But I haven’t seen them for years. They were probably thrown out when my mother died 20 years ago. What a pity. It would be good to look at them again. Unfortunately, I no longer have a turntable so I wouldn’t be able to play them.
Another evening, another jazz club – and I don’t even really like jazz, as I told you. But I have a good friend who is an amateur jazz singer and tonight she’s singing in a small club in Pimlico, near Victoria, in central London. It’s a good job that I’ve got more than one black shirt.
I won’t give you too much ‘homework’ tonight. Take it easy. How about writing me a nice blog tomorrow about a favourite object you own – an ornament, a souvenir from a holiday, an old toy, something like that? And then on Thursday you can tell me all about your mum’s return from Beijing.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you again very soon.
Very best wishes,
(the nasty English teacher who is far too tough on you!)
SOME USEFUL WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS
it’s my fault
I caused the situation; I am to blame for it; I am responsible
If you are keen to do something you want to do it very much.
number of different things of the same kind; variety
Ambitious sentences are complex and try to achieve a lot.
sad and discouraged
to cut down on
to reduce the amount of something you use
I am supposed to…
(to be) addicted to
to like something a lot; be unable to stop using something, even if it’s harmful
If you have courage you are able to do something dangerous even if you are afraid.
injection of a drug to help prevent a disease (note the preposition, ‘against’)
You never know.
An idiomatic expression which means ‘life is unpredictable, you can never be sure what will happen’.
(to) believe in love at first sight
to believe that it is possible to fall in love with someone the very first moment you see them
20 centimetres x 16 centimetres
The ‘x’ here stands for the word ‘by’ which you must say if you read this aloud.
If something is transparent you can see through it clearly. Here you could see the photograph through the record.
an abbreviation which stands for ‘revolutions per minute’ to indicate the speed of the turntable
What a pity.
an idiomatic way of expressing disappointment
the opposite of ‘professional’
It’s a good job that…an idiomatic way of saying something is fortunate or lucky
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