IF I RULED THE WORLD
There’s a song. I think it’s from a musical, based on a Dickens’ novel. Perhaps it’s called Pickwick. Anyway, the song is called If I ruled the world… and you should be very grateful you can’t hear me singing the first two lines for you now. It goes something like this:
If I ruled the world every day would be the first day of Spring;
Every bird would have a new song to sing…bla, bla, bla…
If ‘schmaltzy’ was a new word for you, in my last blog, you can use it again here. Every bird would have a new song…yeah, yeah. But I liked your suggestion, Pary (Iran), that I write something about how it would be if I ruled the world.
Well, for a start, I’d have to give the BBC World Service loads more money. Remember, I don’t work for the BBC. I don’t work (although I have done in the past) for the British Council, either. But I think, basically, that both organisations are on the side of the angels. The most enjoyable work I’ve ever done has been writing my Learning English column, last year, and working in the Far East and in Eastern Europe for The British Council, in the 70s, 80s and 90s. So, lots more money to both organisations so that we could offer free English lessons anywhere in the world to anyone who wants them. Have I got your vote yet?
If I ruled the world… Well, I spent a couple of hours, this afternoon, writing my manifesto. It was brilliant: it was clever, it was fair, it was humane and well-argued. It was also insane and financially illiterate!
I re-read it a couple of times and realised that it sounded like Karl Marx meets Groucho Marx, without any of the wisdom and none of the jokes. What a wonderful button the ‘delete’ button is. It’s all gone: the three-day working week I would have introduced, the abolition of compulsory attendance at school, the free public transport... all gone when I pressed ‘delete’. Too serious. A big mistake. Just like the big mistake it would be ever to let me rule the world.
All marmalade would be ‘Oxford’ marmalade (BBC rules prevent me from advertising the specific brand); all champagne would be free. The food would be Italian; the chocolate would be Belgian; the cars would be German; the beer would be Czech, and the women would be French (I think I’ve just alienated most of my readers, here).
I’d ask the Swiss to run the trains, and I’d want the Finns to take care of architecture. The Russians could write our great music and the Cubans and Brazilians could organise all our parties. The Japanese could do the graphics and the Norwegians could provide the scenery.
The climate would be Californian, but the rain would be British (although I remember how much we loved the warm rain in Shanghai during the summer months). And the language?
Hey, please take all this with a pinch of salt. You know me well enough now to know that I’m never very serious for very long (that’s my girlfriend’s biggest complaint – actually it’s not, it’s just one of so very many!). So have fun with this. Think about what you would do if you ruled the world. Write and tell us (you’re allowed to be serious if you want to be).
If I ruled the world I’d buy you all tickets for a summer of fun in London. That’s a solemn promise – and one I know I’ll never have to keep!
Bye for now,
SOME USEFUL WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS
(to be) on the side of the angels
If you are ‘on the side of the angels’ it means you are well-meaning and, essentially good.
a written statement of a political party’s aims and policies
considerate; respectful; kind
one of the Marx Brothers, American entertainers and film-stars from the 1930s (Groucho wore glasses, had a thick, black moustache and sometimes carried/smoked a cigar.)
To have wisdom is to have the ability to use your experience and knowledge to make sensible decisions and judgements. The adjective is ‘wise’.
key, on a computer
The abolition of a system or practice is the formal ending of it. The infinitive of the verb is ‘to abolish’.
If something is compulsory you must do it.
If you ‘alienate’ someone you make them become unfriendly or unsympathetic towards you.
to be responsible for; to operate; to direct
(to take something) with a pinch of salt
If you take something with a pinch of salt you don’t take it very seriously.
PRACTICE WITH CONDITIONAL SENTENCES - DESERT ISLAND DISCS
There’s a well-known BBC radio programme, in Britain, called Desert Island Discs. Every week a famous artist, musician, writer, scientist or politician is ‘stranded’ on an imaginary desert island. They choose (and play and talk about) ten pieces of music they would want with them if they were really stranded on a desert island. At the end of the programme they are allowed to select a book and a luxury item of no practical value, to have with them on the island.
This is a game you can play with family or friends – in English. Choose your ten pieces of music, your book and your luxury item. Present them to the rest of the players (briefly) using sentence constructions like these:
I would want to have __________ with me…
I would take __________
I wouldn’t survive without __________
I couldn’t manage without __________
I’d love to have __________
I’d have to have __________
I wouldn’t want/need __________
__________ would be nice.
__________ would be necessary.
If I couldn’t have __________ I don’t think I’d last very long.
Remember, you don’t have to take it too seriously. Have fun!
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