I FEEL LIKE A LIFER ON DEATH ROW
First things first. Hello, Federico! Hi there, Soyoung! It’s a year since we blogged each day for a month. And now the BBC has given me a few days to catch up with you. Are you still out there, on the other side of the world?
Federico, are you still making dangerous journeys across Peru to inspect mines? Still with the same girlfriend? Still spending Christmas on the beach? If you’ve got a little time to spare, it would be great to hear from you.
Soyoung, have you still got the same job? Still living in Seoul? Mother still doing all the housework? How’s your health? Any boyfriend news? Why not post us a quick blog?
Of course, it would be great to hear from anyone out there in cyberspace.
I feel like a lifer on death row; one who has just had a kind of reprieve. My column, as you may know, has been closed. I was just getting used to the idea that I would never again write to you. I was just getting used to the idea that I would never again hear from any of you – Kirsti and Marianne, Anita and Diema, Adriana and Ana Paula and all the hundreds of others (men as well as women!) who wrote to me so generously every fortnight last year.
It’s bitter-sweet, though. Like making up with an old girlfriend when you really know the relationship has no future. I could get sentimental and romantic here. So let’s change the subject. How was your Christmas and New Year? Did you remember to raise a glass at midnight and toast ‘absent friends’ on New Year’s Eve? I did, and I only woke up with a very small headache the next morning (it’s obviously worth paying a bit extra for good champagne).
I was in Lille, in northern France, with my old girlfriend (yes, I know, forget what I just said about relationships with no future!!!). We took the train from St Pancras International (see The Stephen Keeler Column, 19 November 2007) and were in Lille in less time than it takes to get from London to Brighton. We stayed in a smart hotel in the centre of town and reserved a table at a Scandinavian restaurant for a splendid meal that night. We arrived at the restaurant at 8 pm and, five courses and several champagne cocktails later, stepped out onto the street at exactly midnight just as the fireworks started in the main square (the ‘Grand Place’).
We were carrying a bottle of champagne. We were wearing Italian party masks. It was mild (around 8 Celsius at midnight) and we were happy to stay on the street celebrating with hundreds of others. We were even stopped by a TV crew and interviewed for the local news. My French is embarrassingly bad – I can just about manage ‘Bonne Année!’ – but I’d drunk enough champagne not to care: suddenly I was fluent. If any French person out there saw me on their local news programme let me apologise now. My girlfriend had the good sense to remain silent (although I think her French is better than mine).
Anyway, the big news in the Keeler family this New Year was the arrival in London of Lucy’s boyfriend (from Dublin). Was it just a coincidence that he flew into Heathrow as my train was leaving St Pancras, and I arrived back from France as he was leaving for Dublin? Yes, that’s right, I didn’t get to meet him. Lucy evidently had a good New Year, and it was great to have her home for a couple of weeks.
She’s already gone back to university, and the house is quiet (and tidy and clean) again. She seems very happy there – although I’m still not sure she’s doing enough work. She’s invited me to visit her in March. Maybe I’ll get to meet the boyfriend then. I hope so. I’m looking forward to it.
Well, it’s one of those lovely, bright, chilly London days (January is often milder than February here). There are snowdrops in the garden. I’ve just had breakfast with friends – strong coffee and fresh croissants – and I’ve got a ticket for a concert in town tonight. Time for a shave and a shower, so I have to stop now. I’ll write again before this little window closes on 23 January. Bye for now.
SOME USEFUL WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS
to catch up with
to make contact with someone again after a period of time and exchange latest news and gossip
a prisoner serving a life sentence
the part of a prison where prisoners who have been sentenced to death are housed
If someone who has been sentenced to death is reprieved (or ‘given a reprieve’) his/her sentence is changed and they are not executed. A reprieve is also an unexpected delay before something unpleasant happens.
Something which is bitter-sweet is both happy and sad.
making up with
becoming friends again after a quarrel
raise a glass…toast
When you drink a toast to someone you take a drink, usually (but not necessarily) wine or some other alcohol, as a symbolic gesture to show your appreciation of them or wish them success. ‘To raise a glass to (someone)’ can be used instead of ‘to drink a toast to (someone)’.
When we drink a toast to friends who are not present at the time, we can say, “To absent friends”, which means that we are thinking of them and perhaps wishing they were with us.
individual parts of a (formal) meal
Masks are worn to cover and disguise your face. Ours were made in Venice of leather. Mine was black and my girlfriend’s was covered in multi-coloured glitter in diamond-shaped patterns.
tiny particles of shiny metal or plastic used for decoration
French for ‘Happy New Year’
small, white flowers which bloom in early spring
When someone who lives in or very near London says, ‘in town’, they are referring to London.
SOME WORK WITH PREPOSITIONS
Read the blog again and focus on the prepositions. Then complete the following sentences by choosing the correct prepositions from the list below (you will need to use several of these prepositions more than once):
1) I’ve been working __________ the same company__________ over three years now. In fact, I’ve been with them __________ I left university.
2) She lives __________ Korea, __________ the other side __________ the world.
3) My Australian friends spent Christmas Day __________ the beach __________ friends.
4) After the party the night before, he woke up __________ a headache and a sore throat.
5) How long have you been going out __________ your girlfriend?
6) Our party masks were made __________ Venice __________ leather, and covered __________ multi-coloured glitter.
7) While we were __________ the street we were stopped __________ a TV crew who wanted to interview us __________ a local news programme.
8) He apologised __________ his bad French.
9) I’m going to visit her __________ March.
10) I’ve just got time __________ another cup of coffee before I have to go. I’ve got tickets __________ a concert __________ Brighton this evening and I have to catch a train __________ six-thirty.
at, by, for, in, of, on, since, with
ANSWERS: 1) for/at, for, since; 2) in, on, of; 3) on/at, with; 4) with; 5) with; 6) in, of/from, in/with; 7) on/in, by, for; 8) for; 9) for; 10) for, in, at/by.
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