An Embarassing Experience
Dear Ana Paula, and everyone else,
I’ve just had a very embarrassing experience on the bus. I travel to and from work on the bus every day, and the journey takes about half an hour (or 45 minutes in the early morning rush-hour traffic). As I mentioned last time, I’m an inveterate bibliophile, so I like to read on the bus. This morning I finished a book (it’s irrelevant to this story, but the book was ‘Fictions’, by a writer from Argentina called Jorge Luis Borges – a wonderful book). I didn’t want to be bored on the bus home, so after class I went to a bookshop opposite my school to get another book. I could think of several books that I wanted to read, but none of them were in stock. For a while I wandered around the bookshop, unable to find anything that I wanted to read. “This is no good,” I eventually thought to myself. “I have to get home and write something for Ana Paula and all my new friends. What the heck, I’ll just choose something at random and get out of here.” So I hastily found a book that looked kind of interesting (and wasn’t too expensive), paid for it, and went and got on the bus.
The bus was very crowded, and there was no space for me to sit down – in fact, there was only just enough space for me to pull the new book out of my bag and start reading. But when I started reading, I soon realized that I had a problem. This book was very weird, but also funny. In fact, this book wasn’t just funny, it was side-splittingly hilarious. As I read, I started to smile, then to giggle, then to chuckle, and soon I was laughing so hard that tears ran down my face.
Why was this a problem? If you’ve ever visited London and traveled on public transport, you’ll probably understand why. There is a very strong social rule on public transport in London – when traveling on the bus or the tube, you must stay completely stone-faced and silent. You must never, never, never speak or express any kind of feeling or emotion. In the opinion of most Londoners, someone who speaks on the bus is at best annoying, and at worst mad. And if someone stands on a crowded bus shaking with uncontrollable laughter, this person is certainly mad, and probably also dangerous.
As I laughed and laughed and laughed, I could see the other passengers looking at me strangely, and shuffling away from me. I struggled to control myself, but I couldn’t. Eventually, a group of young schoolchildren got on the bus, with a couple of teachers, and I could see the fear in the teachers’ eyes as they tried to move the kids away from this laughing madman. When I noticed that, I finally forced myself to stop reading and put the book away, but it still took several minutes for my laughter to subside.
In case anyone is curious, the book is called ‘Lint’, by a writer called Steve Aylett (I know this sounds like an advertisement, but honestly it isn’t – until today I had never even heard of Steve Aylett, or this book). As I said, it’s a very strange book, and I’ve only read the first 20 pages or so. But the first 20 pages or so are funnier than anything I’ve read for a long, long time.
Anyway, let’s get down to business. Today, there’s some good news and some bad news. Let’s start with the good news – you got the answers to my nasty questions exactly right, Ana Paula, and so did Paco from Spain. Well done to both of you! Just to refresh your memory, the questions looked like this:
‘The green colour of the grass becomes more vivid when _____ starts to rain.’
‘Sometimes _____ is really good to find yourself alone.’
In both cases, we have to add the word ‘it’ in the gap, as a subject for the main verbs (the main verbs are ‘starts’ and ‘is’).
Perhaps I made those questions a little too easy. The first piece of bad news is this: today I’m going to ask you a similar question, but I’m not going to give you any help! Please have a look at these two sentences:
‘Just like you, I love coffee and books (and of course, films is among them), actually I think they make a perfect partnership, though I’ve never read a book sitting at a café beside a river.’
You mentioned my poetic mood in your blog, in fact, I felt like this because yesterday I read an article about a new temporary exhibition at Língua Portuguesa Museum (Museu da Língua Portuguesa) inspired by Clarice Lispector’s works.
These are almost very good sentences. However, I’m afraid both of these sentences contain a sentence-structure mistake. Just like last time, it’s the same mistake in both sentences – but this time, it’s not missing subjects, it’s something else. Can you find and correct the mistakes?
This month is almost finished, and Ana from Poland left a very generous comment, saying goodbye to me. The second piece of bad news is… I’m staying for another month! Yes, another month of bad jokes and nasty, nasty grammar questions!
Lots and lots of vocabulary today!
If you do something silly in public, and your face turns red, you feel embarrassed. ‘Embarassing’ and ‘embarassed’ are related in the same way as ‘interesting’ and ‘interested’, ‘frightening’ and ‘frightened’, etc.
The period of time in a city when the streets are particularly busy, because everyone is going to work or going home, is called the rush-hour.
The adjective inveterate is used to describe someone who always does something and probably will not stop. We use it in phrases like ‘an inveterate liar’, which means someone who always tells lies, and probably will never stop telling lies. We often use ‘inveterate’ with negative words, like ‘liar’, ‘drinker’, ‘smoker’, etc.
A bibliophile is someone who loves books. Therefore, an ‘inveterate bibliophile’ is someone who is always reading or hanging around in bookshops, and will probably never stop.
Something is irrelevant if it’s not connected to the subject you’re talking about.
If something is available to buy in a shop, it is in stock.
To wander is to walk around at random, with no purpose or aim.
If you do something at random, you do it without a purpose or an aim.
‘Side-splitting’ and ‘hilarious’ are both words meaning ‘very funny’. I’ve combined them together by changing ‘side-splitting’ into an adverb, ‘sidesplittingly’. (This is a tautology. Can anyone tell me what ‘tautology’ means?)
To giggle is to laugh just a little bit. Chuckling is a little louder and stronger than giggling.
The adjective stone-faced is used to describe a person when their face shows no feelings or emotions at all.
To shuffle is to move in a slow or awkward way, without taking your feet off the ground.
To subside is to decrease or stop in a slow, gradual way.
We use the informal phrase ‘or so’ to mean ‘approximately’. So ‘20 pages or so’ means ‘approximately 20 pages’.
Finally, there is ‘Mwahahaha!’ This doesn’t actually mean anything at all; it’s the sound of ‘evil laughter’. Imagine you’re watching a stupid movie. The bad guy probably explains his plan to rule the world, and then he probably laughs, ‘Mwahahaha!’. Obviously, this is a very informal phrase; don’t use it in your university essays!
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