My family, and other animals.
Hello again everyone.
Today I’d like to start with an apology: in my haste to finish my blog on Wednesday and prepare my lesson, I forgot to give you the solutions to Monday’s anagrams! Here they are – better late than never!
1. hreysctim = chemistry
2. sratsceeni = resistance
3. drnhoegy = hydrogen
4. tasayln = analyst
5. linsaasy = analysis
6. tobtun = button
Ana Paula, you asked me to say a little about my family and background. I grew up in a small, rain-soaked town called Lancaster in the north-west of England, with my Mum and Dad, my little sister Julia, and my grandmother, who passed away a few months ago at the ripe old age of ninety-seven. My Dad is an academic who teaches history to university students, and my Mum works for the NHS - she trained as a scientist, but now she works as a manager.
Julia is 18 months younger than me, and we are about as different as two people can possibly be. I’m quiet, prone to daydreaming and interested in philosophy and abstract ideas, while Julia is outgoing and practical and has a very successful career as a lawyer. People sometimes find it difficult to believe that Julia and I are from the same family. Nevertheless, I get on with her well. She got married in January to Nick, who’s also a very positive and outgoing guy. When Nick and I meet at family get-togethers we usually end up talking about our shared, secret love of computer games.
That’s it for my immediate family. I also have a large extended family, most of whom live in and around a small town called Ashbourne, about 50 miles south of Manchester. There’s my grandmother (‘Granny’, as everyone calls her), Aunt Mary and Uncle Morris, Aunt Petra and Uncle Steve, cousins Paul, Hannah, Freya, Henry and Lydia, and hundreds of others. It’s almost impossible to walk down the street in Ashbourne with my Mum or my grandmother, because it seems we’re related to almost everybody in the town - every 30 seconds we have to stop and say hello to some distant relative or some other.
Feijoada sounds delicious, but… cheese with fudge? CHEESE WITH FUDGE? Are you serious? If so, you are a strange, strange woman.
Thanks again for all your comments, and especially to Adriana from Brazil – a kind and sympathetic woman with an amazing knowledge of dental and medical vocabulary. I have followed your advice, Adriana, and made an appointment with a qualified dentist, so I think my teeth will be OK now. Leila from Finland – yes, I read ‘Darkness at Noon’ at university too, and I loved it. We also read Samuel Beckett, another favourite of mine. Have you read any of his books?
Romana from Italy asked about a newspaper headline: “Prince Harry to serve in Iraq”. The grammar of newspaper headlines often looks quite strange, because the writers shorten their sentences by missing out words. In this case, the word is has been omitted. The full sentence would read: “Prince Harry is to serve in Iraq”.
Sorry I can’t answer all your questions – but please, keep your comments coming. I always enjoy reading them.
Here’s today’s vocabulary:
Haste is a noun meaning high speed. In my haste to (do something) is a rather formal expression meaning, ‘because I was rushing to (do something)’. We normally use it to describe the negative consequences of rushing. For example:
‘In my haste to get home after work, I forgot to finish an important task.’ (I forgot to finish the important task because I was rushing to get home)
The phrase better late than never expresses the idea that it’s better to doing (or receiving) something late is not a perfect situation, but it’s better than never doing (or receiving) it at all.
I used the adjective rain-soaked to indicate that in Lancaster it rains a lot.
To pass away is a phrasal verb meaning to die.
We use the phrase at the ripe old age of to indicate that somebody was unusually old when something happened, or when they did something. For example, I learned to drive at the ripe old age of 25.
An academic is a person who teaches at a university. Academic can also be used as an adjective, meaning ‘connected to universities or university study’.
The NHS is the (British) National Health Service – a health-care system which is (at least partly) free to use. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find an NHS dentist at the moment!
If you are prone to something, this means that you normally do this, or this normally happens to you. For example, I’m very prone to colds – I always seem to have one!
An outgoing person enjoys talking to people and socializing.
To get on with someone well means to have a good relationship with that person.
Get-together is an informal word for party or social gathering.
A relative is a member of your family. My parents, my sister, my aunts and uncles etc are all members of my immediate family, but apart from them I have many, many distant relatives.
Fudge is a soft, sweet food made with butter and sugar. It should NOT, under any circumstances, be eaten with cheese.
Be careful with the word sympathetic. In many languages, a sympathetic person is simply a nice, pleasant, friendly person – but not in English! In English, a sympathetic person is somebody who cares about your problems.
To shorten is a verb meaning ‘to make something shorter’.
To omit something is to leave it out; not to include it.
I’ll be back in a day or two, to describe my favourite food and to explain why fish are, in fact, vegetables.
All the best,
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