A Typical Saturday
Many thanks for your blog. I bet you’re relieved that it’s the weekend and that you don’t have to go to work.
Here the storms have passed but a lot of damage was done all across the country. One of our readers, a Korean who lives in Lincoln, wrote about the bad weather up there (Lincoln is in the east of England, towards the north). The newspapers say that over £1bn worth of damage was done. Seven people were killed in the storms. Some airports and ports were closed, and many train services were cancelled. There are thousands of households across the country still without electrical power. We are lucky, here, not to have been too badly affected.
Another of our readers, however, thought that my mood was affected by the storms, and I think she’s right. I am easily affected by changes in the weather. How about you? What most easily affects your mood?
Isn’t it great that so many readers write such wonderful comments? It’s like having a whole new set of friends all across the world. Or am I being too poetic?
Here, it’s a typical Saturday morning. I woke around 07.30, took a quick shower and went to the coffee shop, which opens at 08.00. I’ve tried to give up coffee completely. In fact, I’ve been quite successful. I had no coffee between last Sunday and yesterday. So I allowed myself a little treat this morning – one small but very strong cappuccino. I met a couple of friends there, briefly, read the Saturday papers, bought some food for the weekend and then came home to do some D-I-Y in my bathroom. I had a small leak which I hope I have fixed – otherwise I’ll have to get a plumber to come and fix it, and that will be expensive.
I’m not especially good at D-I-Y. Well, I’m not so bad at it, but I don’t like doing it. The leak will probably return. I should have phoned the plumber.
Anyway, my typical Saturday continues. The mail has just arrived and I’ve got a postcard from a very old friend, and former colleague, in Serbia. About twenty-five years ago I went to Belgrade (in what was then Yugoslavia) and gave a couple of lectures at The British Council there. (Soyoung, is there a British Council office in Seoul? If there is, it will be a good place to find books in English and useful information about Britain.) I also ran a workshop for university teachers in the town of Kragujevac and I visited a few schools in and around Belgrade. One of these schools was in a little town called Sabac. The head of English there was a very impressive and hard-working woman whose pupils were, I think, exceptionally lucky to have her. We have kept contact over the years. She is now rather old and she retired a long time ago, but we still keep in touch. Her postcard, this morning, is to give me her new address. After I finish this, I’ll probably write her a long letter.
Then it will be lunch-time. It would be nice if I had a ticket for the Arsenal (football) match this afternoon, but I haven’t (and, to our reader in Scotland, I was exaggerating a bit about crying all night if Arsenal lose – but just a bit!) so Lucy and I have decided to take a long country walk. I need the practice for Mount Kilimanjaro, and Lucy tells me she just can’t face any more school work this weekend. She had some bad news yesterday: her first choice of university has not offered her a place. I feel so sorry for her. She’s exceptionally bright and very hard-working. She has chosen extremely difficult subjects to study and has applied to the most difficult universities to get into. This is quite a disappointment for her and, as a parent, I, of course, want to make everything right for her – and in this case I am completely powerless. She’ll get over it, I suppose.
Aaaggh! I have just looked out of the window. It looks like the storms have returned. A quick change of plan, then. We’ll spend the rest of the afternoon curled up on the sofa with good books and warm soup. I’m reading Restless by William Boyd at the moment. Lucy’s re-reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith.
Soyoung, I hope you manage to see lots of good friends over the weekend and that when Monday morning comes you’re feeling refreshed and ready for another week at the office. Say ‘Hi!’ to you mum and dad, and to all your friends, from me and Lucy – and from all your many fans around the world.
SOME USEFUL WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS
glad (because something unpleasant has stopped)
£1bn worth of…
You should read this as, “one billion pounds’ worth of”. A billion is a thousand million.
state of one’s emotions
a little treat
something special; a reward
espresso coffee with steamed, frothy milk
This stands for ‘do it yourself’ and is used to refer to household jobs such as decorating and small repairs which you do yourself.
If a container or pipe has a leak it means it is cracked or has a hole in it and liquid (or gas) is escaping.
person who connects and repairs water pipes
ran a workshop
directed a workshop
stopped working because (she) reached 60
don’t feel able to deal with
Look again at the sentences in my second paragraph. Can you find five examples of passive structures? The passive form is used when you want to focus on a person or thing affected by an action. The person or thing then becomes the subject of a passive form of the verb.
[Soyoung, as I write this explanation I am uncomfortable that I am perhaps making it more difficult for you. I am sure you have studied the passive form (sometimes called the passive voice) in your grammar books. It is probably more helpful if you refer to those books again and then look at my second paragraph to find five examples of verbs in the passive form.]
The sentences with passive forms in them are:
Here the storms have passed but a lot of damage was done all across the country.
The newspapers say that over £1bn worth of damage was done.
Seven people were killed in the storms.
Some airports and ports were closed, and many train services were cancelled.
Those sentences could have been written in the active voice (with verbs in the simple past tense), like this:
Here the storms, which have passed, did a lot of damage all across the country.
The newspapers say that the storms did over £1bn worth of damage,
The storms killed seven people.
The storms closed some airports and ports.
Many railway companies cancelled their train services.
I have selected a few sentences from your blog to correct and re-write. Look again at your original sentences and compare them with my corrected and re-written versions.
I called a friend, Haeng-ja, who has been living in the US since she got married.
I was glad to hear from her but I felt quite sad because I felt I had lost a good friend.
I met two friends called Kyung and Eun-mi. We were at the same elementary school.
We became friends when we met again at our church.
We worked as Sunday School teachers.
Now look again at your original paragraph about Tiradentes and compare the re-written paragraph. Look especially closely at verb forms (including phrasal verbs), sentence links and idiomatic use:
Then we moved on [PHRASAL VERB] to Tiradentes, a Brazilian café at the airport terminal station. I had [TENSE] never been there [WORD ORDER] before. It’s the first branch in Korea. We usually go for [IDIOMATIC USE] coffee at [PREPOSITION] Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Pascucci or [LINK WORD] Dunkin Donuts. The international coffee shops are very popular places [GRAMMAR AGREEMENT] to meet. Tiradentes is quite small but [WORD SELECTION: CONRAST] it has a pleasant [WORD SELECTION] smell and the quality is good [PHRASE STRUCTURE]. Like other places [SENTENCE STRUCTURE], it is usually [PRECISE MEANING: REGULAR EVENT] quite packed inside. The café’s interior [WORD ORDER] is decorated [WORD SELECTION] in [PREPOSITION] orange which [SENTENCE LINK] is one of my favourite colours. Maybe that’s why I feel comfortable there [PHRASE STRUCTURE].
Soyoung, I know that the re-written paragraph will be difficult to read with all my comments in it. So here it is again without them:
Then we moved onto Tiradentes, a Brazilian café at the airport terminal station. I had never been there before. It’s the first branch in Korea. We usually go for coffee at Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Pascucci or Dunkin Donuts. The international coffee shops are very popular places to meet. Tiradentes is quite small but it has a pleasant smell and the quality is good. Like other places, it is usually quite packed inside. The café’s interior is decorated in orange which is one of my favourite colours. Maybe that’s why I feel comfortable there.
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