A Typical Sunday
Suddenly it’s winter. Like you, we have no snow but the temperature fell during the night, and this morning it was freezing when Lucy and I set off for the coffee shop.
I bought the papers and spent an hour or so reading them while Lucy went off to the pool for her weekly exercise. Friends came and went. I had another coffee (I promise I won’t have even one cup during the week – maybe). The rain stopped and the sun came out. By the time I left the coffee shop it felt like spring. I drove home with the top down on the car (I’ll probably be in bed all week with flu) and the radio on loud. There was a terrific recording of La Traviata on BBC Radio 3 so I took a short drive into the countryside just to listen to it (the sound system in my car is so good it’s actually better than the system I have in the house).
The Sunday papers here are enormous. I usually get The Observer. It has about eight different sections (sport, travel, culture, news, business, music, fashion, a magazine and so on). I read something today which you might find interesting. According to The Observer, the average British person will spend 12 years of his/her life on the sofa, spends around £800 [about US $1475] a year on gambling, has 14 very close friends, will live to be 75 (if they’re men) or 79 (if they’re women), will eat 35,000 biscuits during his/her lifetime, watches TV for two-and-a-half hours a day and is online for just a little bit longer. We are 160 cm (women) or 178 cm (men) tall, have an IQ of 100, spend 45 hours a year on hold on the phone, and we are each kept awake by our partners’ annoying behaviour for 51 minutes every night (that means we miss a total of 38 nights’ sleep a year). A final statistic: the average British person spends £1,134 (about US $ 2,000) every year on holidays.
Well, Soyoung, is there anything there that surprises you? Do you think the statistics would be about the same or very different for the average Korean? Do you think you are an average Korean?
I’m not sure I’m an average Briton, if these statistics are right. I rarely sit on my sofa – it’s so uncomfortable!). I don’t gamble – I never even buy a lottery ticket. I don’t have 14 very close friends – perhaps 6 or 7 very close friends, but around twenty or so people I think of as good friends, and maybe another thirty or so I would call friends. I wish I could deny it, but yes, I’m sure I will eat a lot more than 35,000 biscuits during my lifetime (per year might be closer). I’m 180 cm tall and have no idea what I weigh (but I know it’s too much). I am too modest to tell you what my IQ is (but not so modest that I can resist telling you it’s a lot higher than 100). I never hold on the phone (would that make me a difficult customer for you?). I spend far more than I can afford on holidays. And I have nothing to say, in public, about being kept awake by other people’s annoying behaviour (which I assume means things like snoring) in bed!
Well, it’s almost time for lunch. We usually have a late lunch on Sundays. Today, I have promised Lucy I will make a small beef pie with beer. We’ll have winter vegetables (carrots, potatoes and broccoli) with it, and I don’t think we’ll need a dessert after that. I’ve just opened a bottle of excellent French wine so that it can ‘breathe’ for a while. Unfortunately, I can’t resist having a glass while I cook. So I’d better get started.
I hope you’re having a relaxing Sunday. Don’t forget to read Saturday’s blog, too, because that’s where I have answered your Friday blog, and included quite a lot of language notes for you. It’s a lot of work, I know. But by this time next week your month (and my time) with the BBC will have ended. So, let’s make the most of this week, and have some fun (send me a joke, mine are rubbish – even if Alex, from Russia, was kind enough to say he liked them: thank you, Alex).
Say ‘Hi!’ to the family from me.
Very best wishes,
SOME USEFUL WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS
There are far too many words here to learn. However, they are all words and expressions you need to recognise when you read. Select five or six which you think will be most useful to you, and try to memorise them. It will be much easier to learn them if you try to use them as much as possible.
something which happens every week (other, related, words include: ‘hourly’, ‘daily’, ‘monthly’, ‘yearly’ and ‘annually’)
an opera by Verdi
BBC Radio 3
There are four main BBC national radio channels in Britain. Radio 1 plays mostly pop music; Radio 2 plays mostly ‘easy listening’ popular music; Radio 3 plays mostly classical music, with some drama and documentaries, and Radio 4 is a talk radio station with news, politics, drama, science and technology programmes, comedy and current affairs.
Some students, especially those with European mother tongue backgrounds, under-use this word. The countryside is land that is not towns and cities. It is never correct to use the word ‘nature’ here instead.
If something is true according to a newspaper (for example, The Observer) it means that that newspaper says it is true.
an activity where you take a risk or make a decision hoping to win or make money. Card games, roulette, betting on sports events, are all forms of gambling. The verb is ‘to gamble’.
intimate; friends you know very well
will live to be
Notice the use of the future form with ‘will’ and to ‘to be’.
a small, flat, baked ‘cake’ which is crisp and usually sweet (although there are unsweetened biscuits for cheese and salads, for example). The nearest US English is ‘cookie’.
have an IQ of
Notice the structure of this expression, with the verb ‘to have’ and the preposition ‘of’ before the number.
If you are on hold on the telephone you are waiting to talk to someone (who may have asked you to wait)
kept awake by
If something keeps you awake it stops you from sleeping.
A British person.
If you do something rarely, you don’t do it very often.
If you deny something, you say that it is not true.
The sentence, ‘I have no idea what I weigh’ means I don’t know how heavy I am. Notice the structure, and these useful sentences:
What do you weigh?
How much do you weigh?
What did she weigh when she was born?
Someone who is modest doesn’t talk very much about his/her abilities, skills, achievements or material possessions.
If you assume that something is true, you suppose it is true.
The verb is ‘to snore’. Someone who snores while asleep makes a loud noise in his/her throat.
I can’t resist having
Notice the structure of this expression, and these useful sentences:
I can’t resist having a chocolate biscuit with my coffee.
She can’t resist phoning her old boyfriend even though he’s got another girlfriend.
‘Resist’ means not to do something, especially when you are tempted to do it. Oscar Wilde, an English writer, wrote, “I can resist everything except temptation.”
make the most of
take advantage of (in a positive way)
GRAMMAR – USE OF TENSES
Look again, Soyoung, at my third and fifth paragraphs. Focus on the verb forms (tenses) I have used. Make sure you understand why some sentences use future tense forms (EXAMPLE: The average British person will spend 12 years of his/her life on the sofa.) and why other sentences use present simple forms (EXAMPLE: The average British person spends around £800 a year on gambling.). If you are unsure, think carefully about the exact meaning of each sentence.
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