MY SWAN SONG
Wow! Have you read Benka’s prosepoem? It’s lovely. Very accomplished, too. Thank you, Benka (are you a published writer in Serbia?). Do keep trying to get a copy of Chernobyl Strawberries – is there no British Council library in Knez Mikhailova (Belgrade) any more? If it’s still there, they’re bound to have it.
And James – learning English in the public toilets of Taiwan! What an original blog that was – and maybe a new activity to recommend to my students? Hmm. Not sure about that, James. Great blog, though!
Hyoshil, yes, your comments finally got through. I’ve been wondering how you were doing. It was good to hear from you, and Kirsti (as always) and Marianna and Adri and Ana Paula and Pary and all the others – too many to mention both bloggers and those of you who have written comments on our blogs. Thank you all so much.
Elena (Moscow) had an interesting question about PLR (Public Lending Right). Yes, Elena, public libraries are, of course, free in Britain. The money which is paid to authors whose books have been borrowed from public libraries comes from a special fund (PLR) set up by the government.
As an author, I also receive a small amount of money each year for the number of times parts of my books (articles, study materials, etc) have been photo-copied in schools and colleges. Language schools and other educational institutions, nowadays, have to buy an annual licence to photo-copy published study materials. The money which the schools pay for the licence contributes to the fund which is used to pay authors. I am an inspector of language schools as well as an author, and one of the first things I always check when I do an inspection is that the school has an up-to-date photo-copy licence!
This has been a great month. Thanks to Paul and his team at BBC Learning English we’ve all been able to catch up and go on exchanging our ideas, opinions, enthusiasms. I’ll miss you all. When I pass through Lincoln, I’ll remember Hyoshil; when I think about Serbia, I’ll remember Benka; when I’m in France I’ll speculate about Kirsti; when I’m in St Petersburg, with Lucy at Easter, I’ll remember our Russian friends (and, by the way, you are our friends no matter what the politicians, on both sides, say and do) and when I pass through Poland or the Czech Republic or, farther afield, when I’m in the Far East later in the year, I’ll remember all our friends from Warsaw and Prague, from India and Nepal and China (good luck with the Olympics!) and Korea… I wish you all the very best – especially good health, prosperity and serenity. Oh yes, and whenever I think about Spain I’ll feel guilty that I never managed to read Don Quixote – my fault entirely.
PS: Lucy sends her regards, too. She’s hitch-hiking to Amsterdam right now, and hopes to be in Dublin by the end of next week. I’ve just received a text message from her. They’ve been on the way six hours and have managed to cover forty-five miles. Suddenly, Amsterdam seems much farther away than usual.
SOME USEFUL WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS
Someone's swan song is the last time they do something for which they are well-known.
A prosepoem is ‘a poem’ which is not written under the usual ‘rules’ of poetry (rhyme, metre, etc). It is sometimes called ‘free verse’. A prosepoem does not look like a poem, on the page.
good; clever; skilful
unique; not like anything else; novel
a sum of money collected and used for a particular purpose
permit; an annual licence is one which last for one year (and which has to be renewed annually)
goes (to the fund); is paid (to the fund)
to get up-to-date with each others’ news and gossip
farther (or further) away
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