This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index
 
You are in: Home > Community
 THE STEPHEN KEELER COLUMN

Time flies (and so do we tomorrow!)

'Got your sunglasses? Packed your swimsuit? Tickets? Passport? Money? Camera? Trashy novels? OK. Your taxi's here. Have a good time, and don't do anything stupid.'
'Dad, how can I have a good time if I don't do anything stupid?'

She's her father's daughter, I'm afraid!

Lobster and steak from Flora

Eighteen short years ago she looked like this (please ignore what I looked like eighteen years ago - all that hair, that scruffy beard, that shirt!). When she was born Lucy was no bigger than her tiny teddy.



A bit ugly, a bit smelly, always hungry and half asleep – but I’ve got a lovely daughter, don’t you think?

West London Hospital, Hammersmith, November 1988.




A couple of weeks ago she finished her 'A'-levels and left school. Where did all those years go? My little girl: she's not a little girl any longer.


On the beach   On the beach again
Lucy has always enjoyed getting wet ...   ... and covered in sand.

Lucy has actually just returned from Spain where she, and seventeen (!) of her school friends, rented a villa for a week of sun, sea, sand, sangria and quite possibly other things beginning with 's' - but we won't go there (I'm still waiting for the postcard she promised me, so 'scribbling a quick card to Dad' wasn't one of them). By the way, she absolutely refuses to let me use any photos of her on the beach in Spain.

Anyway, now we're off to New York where I will be apartment-sitting in Upper Manhattan for the summer (more about that next time). Lucy's coming with me for the first two weeks to make sure I don't spend too little. When she can't get any more new shoes and handbags and clothes and books and CDs into her suitcase she'll return home to work for the rest of the summer, and to try to forget about 16 August - the date on which I get home and her 'A'-level (exam) results are published.

For the last four summers Lucy has been lucky enough to work as a researcher and junior reporter for the BBC's in-house magazine, Ariel. I keep asking her to try to get me a job (I can make very drinkable coffee and excellent photo-copies) but she tells me that nepotism doesn't work at the BBC: she is there, she keeps trying to persuade me, on merit! (By the way, 'nepotism' is one of Lucy's favourite words - she says it's a 'best-ever word', articulate as ever then, Lucy - and that made me wonder whether you have a favourite English word. My best foreign language is probably Swedish and one of my favourite Swedish words is palsternacka (parsnip). There's something special about how it feels in your mouth as you say it. How about you, then? Write and share your favourite English words with us.)

So, here we are, off to the airport again, about to enlarge our carbon footprint by flying across the Atlantic to New York. I promised I'd send you a postcard and I will (I keep my promises), next time. But while you wait why not practise your postcard-writing skills and send me a holiday greeting from wherever you are? Tell us about your holiday, where you went, what you did, what you saw and how you liked it (and, if you haven't had a holiday, how about a few words about what your ideal holiday would be?).

Have a good summer!




PS: Thanks, as ever, for all your fascinating and generous comments. I just love it when I go online and find that a set of new comments has just been posted. Sometimes you make me laugh. You often give me ideas. Occasionally there's even a tear in my eye after reading what you've written.

It was lovely, for example, to read that Naheed, from Pakistan, thinks that Lucy looks like her mother. I see it practically every time I look at her, and find it both comforting and, sometimes, a little disturbing. It's great that so many of you use the Message Board (Kirsti, France) and look forward to getting replies (I know exactly what that feels like). Iris, from Germany, and Hari Kumar Lama, from Nepal (but now living in Seattle) have been very generous. Hari, my heart goes out to you having to sell your watch to pay for English lessons: what commitment and enthusiasm and dedication (I wish I could at least send you a watch!), and, by the way, Hari, your English is just great. You write well, express yourself clearly and accurately and use some nice expressions correctly and appropriately. Thank you so much for your comments.

Benka (Serbia), I think you've taken me a little bit too literally. My Swedish friend's English is not really better than mine. I used exaggeration to express how good her English is. I think Marianna (Slovakia) it teasing me, as usual: she must know by now that it is never foggy in London. And Ana Paula, don't worry, you're not mad. You're not even 'a bit of a nutter'. Talking to yourself in English is a good way of practising tongue and mouth positions and of getting used to the way English feels in your mouth. When I was learning Swedish (and Chinese) I used to talk to myself all the time. Sometimes even in Swedish and Chinese.

It was great, too, to read about your small pleasures, and you wrote about them so well. Natalya, for example, from Russia, created a lovely word picture of her husband skating in a suit and tie. Poorav (India), Brigitte (France) and Sana (Pakistan) all value laughter and a simple smile. (I loved Sana's image of climbing a tree and sitting there eating mangoes.) Many of you seem to like walking in the rain. You perhaps know that I usually try to run about 10 km per day. A couple of days ago I was out running when there was a thunderstorm and it was so exhilarating to be completely soaked, running on thick, soft, wet grass and entirely alone in the enormous park where I usually run - except for the deer and the ducks.

I completely understand Clara's (Romania) small pleasure - being driven, by a good driver, to nowhere in particular. There is no other driver in my family so I always have to drive. I love driving and I have a gorgeous car. Nonetheless, on the few occasions when my girlfriend drives me somewhere in her car it feels like such a treat.

River (China) believes that there is no pleasure in things or events, just in the way you feel. I'm not sure I completely agree, River. I liked your example: if my girlfriend had just dumped me would the beer taste as good? Well, I think the beer would taste even better because it would remind me that there are still lots of good things out there to be enjoyed. If my girlfriend reads this I might get the chance to put this theory to the test!



SOME USEFUL WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS

trashy
very poor in quality

scruffy
untidy and dirty

teddy
a children’s soft toy that looks like a friendly bear

sangria
an alcoholic drink

…we won’t go there…
This is an idiomatic way of saying that it’s probably best, more diplomatic maybe, to ignore something.

scribbling
writing very quickly and untidily

apartment-sitting
looking after someone’s apartment while they are away (compare with ‘baby-sitting’)

in-house magazine
An in-house magazine is produced for people working within a company, and is not generally on sale to the public.

nepotism
when someone uses their position, power or authority to get jobs or other benefits for members of their family

on merit
because of (her) particular skills and abilities

articulate (adjective)
able to express oneself clearly




WRITE TO STEPHEN

Thank you for sending your comments, this topic is now closed.

Truc Ly, Vietnam
Hi Stephen! I have just came back office after a long business trip. I'm really like to read on your columm. I have been miss two your columm and trying to learn them quickly. I'm feeling in touch when see you hold Lucy in your arms. It looks enchanging! When Lucy was child, she's pretty baby. You are a happiness father. The last summer, we went to the Phu Quoc island where have a nice sea in Vietnam. We were a great summer trip at the sea. These guys in office are anination.They bath in the sea after that drank, sing until midngiht on the beach. The Phu Quoc real is the fresh beach, very blue sea and silky sand...and primaral forest. The seafood's very wonderfull.However the infrastracture still have not yet growing up. It's quite natural environment. Let's try to visit to Vietnam, I'm sure you will love it. Wishing you have a nice summer with Lucy. Best wishes! Truc Ly

Ida, Malaysia
Hi Stephen, i just discovered this BBC world service learning english a week ago. i noticed that your column is good to me to improve my english. Thanks and have a nice day..absolutely i enjoy with this column.

Majid,Iran
HiThanks a lot for your fascinating work at providing useful staff for those like me who want to learn English in the comfort of their home.There is a proverb in Persian which says:Do a nice thing and throw it in Dejleh(the river which passes in Iraq).It means that it is not necessary to know who gives the result of your good action.Actually this British policy has played a part in promotion of their language.

Sunila ,New Delhi, India
hi Stephen,I read about your very good piece of writing.I liked it very much.I am a learner of English.I want to improve my written and spoken english.what do you think is the best way to go about it?

Dorine, Belgium
Languages have always intrigued me - I love learning them, and that's part of why I enjoy travelling so much too. Currently I'm studying English and Italian at university, but I want to learn Swedish too! It is such a beautiful language. I have borrowed a course-book Swedish of a friend but I find self-study is hard (requires disclipline, but also time). I hear stories of people who mastered Swedish after living a year in Sweden but that isn't an option for me at the moment (I do want to go live in Sweden one day though). How long did it take you to learn Swedish, which learning methods did you use? I'd like a few tips :)Thanks!

Bom, South Korea, Seoul
Dear Stephen, I am a great fan of your column. I find it very pleasant and interesting to read. I really like the way you introduce new words to us by using your personal stories. I think it is very effective! My favourite English words are paranoid, xenophobia and genderquake. I have learned these words from newspapers. I think that a word can be a mirror of our society. That is why I have chosen them. I guess you already heard about the 23 Koreans kidnapped in Afghnistan. After September,11, I thought that some countries were getting too much paranoid about terrorism and harsh on immigrants. I have not seen such a scene by myself, so I did not really feel that terrorism was an issue. After watching the news, I have changed my mind. It is obvious why some people are xenophobia and fussy about every thing to make sure the national security. Anyway, this is a bit too much controversial issue to talk about here:).I am looking forward to read your next story. Have a fantastic holiday!!

N.S. NATHAN, Malaysia
Dear Stephen, you have started the ball rolling. Now, everyone in my office is wondering what their favourite word is. Of course, some of them are quick to point out the words they mouth frequently. But, they sound so awful to others.For me, I think the word sacrosanct appeals to me the most as I use it frequently in my writing but all for the wrong reasons. I always start off my sentence like this: Something is not so sacrosanct not be criticised....Now, almost everyone in my office is racking their brains to select their favourite word. I have been relieved of that trouble as I have already selected mine. After all, it is not so sacrosanct not to use the word Sacrosanct in our daily conversation.

Jill Huang, Beijing
Hello, Stephen. Is that you?? I can’t believe! You know, two weeks ago, I read this blog for the first time. Now, two weeks later, I still don’t recover. I like your today’s look. You are so handsome now! When you hold that little baby girl, would you imagine what she would look like after eighteen years? Lucy, in the two pictures, likes an angel. What a lovely girl! If I had a baby, I hope s/he would never grow up. I hope s/he would always be age sixish (can I add ‘ish’ like this?). Angel, I like this word. In fact, I like reading and repeating many words. It’s difficult to choose the most favourite one. I’m waiting for more and more amazing pictures from you. :> All the best. Jill.

Adriano, Brazil
Hello Stephen! There is a word in English language that I believe is beautiful, but at the same time gives me creeps.Marron, the verb, not the color, has an poetic definition in my dictionary."To be left alone in a place where there is no others person or from with you cannot escape."There are neither people bothering nor necessity to get away for it all.You see beautiful and creep at the same time.

MartaElena, Maryland, USA
Hello Stephen,I have just read your column about your daughter Lucy, lovely pictures of her by the way...I also read almost all the comments from the other English learners from around the world, and I found them very interesting...I am really amazed to see how many people are interested in learning English, and I want to learn Arabic!I am a native Spanish speaker from the Caribbean region living in USA now, and I am fascinated by learning other languages. How do I found your column? I was just checking the news at BBC when I came across the "languages" section, I clicked on it, and here I am writing to you now...Well, Mr. Stephen, thank you for giving me this opportunity to be connected to the whole world through the English language...And I will keep checking your column when my busy scheduled allow me. Best regards to you and all your readers around the world...PS. My favorite English word: "Serendipity"

Paulraj, India
Hi Stephen,I hope you are enjoying your summer holidays with your affectionate daughter in Newyork. We have finished our summer holidays two months back. Real summer in India is from April to middle of June. Students in the schools and colleges have their annual holidays on that time. How is your apartment sitting? How long have you been doing this? How did you know those persons? Are they your friends? You mentioned about this in your blog earlier this year. It is true time flies. My daughter was born in 1995. I couldn’t imagine 12 years have gone since then. She is studying 7th standard now. My wife and children are away from my work place. I could meet them only in the weekend. They moved there when my daughter was two year old. I still remember that she was crying when I had left my house on Monday mornings for work. When I phoned up to her in that evening she asked me if I am coming tomorrow. She was eagerly looking for when the Saturday would come. Now she has become matured girl and realized the reality. Time flies like that. The word I like in English is “inspiring”. How Lucy has got job in BBC, purely on merit. If she had joined there with out nepotism, it would be great achievement of her and yourself. Great. Really you are looking much younger and brighter than in photo with your tiny daughter. Aren’t you? I am not joking. Would you tell me the story behind the scurffy beard? We can always be young and active when we think and act like that. I imagine and dream myself that one dream girl friend is always watching my movements with great admiration. When I go for walking in the morning, she is there before I even start. I feel fresh and happy when I ever I see her. I do not know even her name. Is it too much for married man? I could understand why Stephen Keeler is young and energetic always. I took my wife and children to Banglore for summer holidays. They really enjoyed shopping in the shopping mall. It has become very popular in the big cities. Somehow I don’t like. Tell me more about your apartment sitting and your summer holidays.

Abdul, Qadir
I have just read the column. This is realy excellant, helped lot in understanding. I simply say you are serving the society in understanding the styly. ireespective of region, country or any thing else.

Lucia, Italy
Hi Stephen what a pleasure your columns are, I can't wait to read them. Just a question related to your last blog where you wrote down an expression like "when someone uses their position, power.... to get jobs or other benefits for members of their family". Why the first subject is singular (someone) and then you use their instead of its/his/her?Hopefully that is not a silly question. Thank you in advance and keep teaching us with fun.

Paco
Hi Stephen. The truth is that I don't like to go on holiday very much. To do it, makes me feel uneasy. Unfortunately I have a little lack of initiative. By the years goes by, I have used to stay where I am, a pretty town in the South-East of Spain, near to the Mediterranean Sea.The money that I've saved for not going on holiday has allowed me to own one apartment in town and a maisonette in a resort by the beach and near a Natural Park.From October to April I live in town and from May to September in my alternative home near the beach, and when I am there I feel how I was on holiday half of the year.Like you, I like running very much, not every day, but three or four times a week "it depend on my knees", and every time I run for about 15 kilometres. I as well like doing trekking, but local in the nearby mountains of Sierra Nevada with a couple of friends, not very times but enough for me.I wish you a fantastic holiday in the Big Apple.See you.

Suchitra,Nepal
Dear Stephenwhile going through the learning english I happened to read your column,I really enjoyed reading your column. It is the very first time that i got the oppurtunity to read your column and I instantly liked it. As I am very keen on learning english I would be a regular reader and hope that you would help me to write proper English.Good luck.

Evgeniy, Russia
Hi Stephen!Thank you! I've read your column for a first time and I really enjoyed your writing stile. Due to our different cultural backgrounds I'm not sure what was your intention by writing, but may be it is the best thing that I understood it in my way, which made it so enjoyable. You've probably just got a new devoted reader (at least I think right now I will be one of them). Let see if I can keep my promise. So what about my holiday? It is really difficult for me to compare the memories about different holidays in my long life (I often can't remember what was yesterday especially if there was some kind of party). But what is easy to tell, it's how I spent my last week because it was worth for me. In some way I could say I'm a passionate surfer. Not because I'm really good at it, but just because it is the best sport in my opinion. Unlikely for me I'm living only about 1000 miles away from the ocean, where it is possible to put my dreams into practice. But... It is not common knowledge but in some cases it is possible to surf on the rivers, of course if they create an appropriate wave. And what do you think??? There is such a place in the city I live in!!! The last week I finally got the board from the guy I asked for a possibility to lend stuff for surfing. And I did it!!! Well, my wave-riding wasn't as good as I thought it should be but at least I tried it. Actually I was derided by other surfers for my awkward (read „luck of“) style and was injured trough the whole body by hitting on the reefs. Nevertheless I am still alive and just moved to another spot where those guys like me can practise without getting in trouble whether with surfers or the reefs. So, may be not all parts of my body function properly right now but it is still possible for me to smile knowing that I could achieve one of my dreams.I hope I will be able to write to you next time. For all that I promised you to be a good reader. Have a nice house-sitting!

Nguyen Thuy, Viet Nam, Ho Chi Minh city
Hi,Steephen! This is the first time I read all things you shared with us about your daughter.I also have a child - my son. He is very intelligent but naughty.Your Lucy really looks pretty and lovely.You have ever had unforgetable memories that I learn so much from . Thank you for all.

Claudio Kholer - S.Paulo-Brazil
Mr.Steve: you should explain to your pupils that the majority of the words that they like most, like hypotesis, splendid, indistinguishable, complicated, celestial, nepotism and pneumonultramicroscopic... are not originally english words. They are corrupted Latin words with exception of hypotesis which is greek and pneumonultramicrospic... which has greek and latin mixed. And they should know that almost 90 percent of the english vocabulary that is used today is composed of latin words, many of them corrupted. Please correct me if I am wrong. Thank you.

Myriam_Colombia
Hello Stephen. I jus wanted to say that I find your column really interesting and funny; thank you for taking the time to teach us in a such entertaining way. I have a lot of favourite words in English a.i: rainbow, farewell,tangerine, rhythms, creative...I could mention almost all the dictionary, so I will stop. Regarding my special holiday, I had it some years ago in Chile, it was simply unforgettable (other favourite English word!). I went there with my sisters and we visited several cities in the country, but the most beautiful was a little island called Chiloe,in the south of Chile. It was really cold there but the views were gorgeous and people were very polite and friendly. I tasted there for the first time "Pisco sour" a drink a little bit stronger that Sangria, so you can make an idea how I finished my night!but definitely I would go to Chile once again if I would have the opportunity.Well that´s all for now. I wish you all the best in New York and do not forget the postcard!

Kirsti, France
Hello, Stephen. My best university friend (Swedish speaking from Finland but living in the States) and her husband (who also knows Swedish though he's American) have just spent a week in my house and it has been absolutely wonderful to meet them. I'm living in a very beautiful corner of France where there are lots of things to discover. We've spent a rainy day in a cave - it doesn't matter if it rains there! We've been walking in order to look at 31 waterfalls following one another on a distance of 3.7 km. We've seen interesting buildings, had local specialities as lunch and cooked something ourselves at home in the evening. The best thing with the holiday was sharing the week with friends.

Elena, Russia, Moscow region
Hello, I am a newcomer here, I've come across your article just by chance. I've got two favourite words. The one is serenity. My grandfather keeps saying 'Don't spoil my serenity of mind' (it's my interpretation from Russian, unfortunately he doesn't speak English but pesters me for saying something in English. So I am used to replying this way in English.) The weather is charming in this part of the world today; my friends are all charming people - sure, you've caught my best-loved word to describe the matters. By the way I haven't been on holiday this year, luckily the summer isn't over yet and I am looking forward to resting at the seaside. Certainly, I mean to have a charming time. Thank you for your column, my best whishes.

Anita, Slovakia
Hello Stephen! I am back… I regret not being in touch for such a long time. I did not have time to write because I have been extremely busy. The summer sunshine ripened the fruit and vegetables in my garden and I had to can them. Actually, I am into canning and preserving. Seeing the jars filled with home made apricot and strawberry jam and pickled cucumbers queuing on the shelves in my pantry is one of the small pleasures of life. I wish you could try them. It was so beautiful when the sunflowers were blooming in the fields…this yellow sea is also life’s small pleasure for me. As always, I enjoyed reading your entries. I loved reading about your fond memories concerning the study method in China. I was also happy when I read your comment to Ana Paula that she is not mad because she is talking to herself in English. I must admit that I also do that when I am alone at home. How good to know that I am not alone in doing that. Thank you, Ana Paula, for your bravery to admit it. I made it a rule that I will spend at least one hour a day studying English. I feel that is very useful and exciting to read and listen to the different topics on the BBC LE website. My daughter has motivated me to keep improving my language skills by spending time writing letters. So, I have a new hobby because I have found a pen friend and I have been exchanging e-mails with a very kind family from the U.S. We write about our day to day life, our children, our interests and so on. It is also so exciting to receive e-mails every other day. We are not going on holiday in summer for many reasons. Firstly, we were in England in April. I am sure; you remember my “travelogue” on your column. Secondly, I can only fantasise about a holiday where my whole family is together as my daughter is working in the U.S. as a camp counsellor this summer. So, I can post my greetings only from my teeny-weeny village from Slovakia. As for your question about favourite words in English, I have a few words that I like which are related to nature such as sunflower, poppy seed, butterfly, grasshopper, dragonfly and ladybird. These words are so amazing to me. Finally, I wish you and Lucy carefree days and easy life in NY. And do not forget not to worry about spending money on Lucy… I am looking forward to reading your news from NY.

Daisy from HongKong, China
My pleasure to read your column. I'm a person who likes travel and running,so can find something common reading your feeling about that. In this easter holiday I went to west-southern China. I had fantastic time there living in a old town with hundreds history and climbed the Jade-Dragon(a snow-covered mountain). Hope we could be friends and welcome to China and Hongkong. oh, forgot to say, I'm a PG student and would like to make friends with your lovely daughter either

Tanuja, India
Dear Stephen, It is not as if I am an extremely romantic person but the English word I like best is 'love'. It is very soft and ethereal in nature & has a nice musical ring to it. I associate it with everything that has sustained me over the years: the affection my parents showered on me, the joy I feel holding my 5-year-old, my husband,friends, good music, books, scrumptious food, a beautiful sunrise/ sunset and the sound of rains falling on the leaves of a tree. Love easily equals life and everybody knows that 'love makes the world go round'. Its Italian equivalent 'amore' also feels very good in the mouth as we say it.

Leila from Finland
Hi all, best wishes from sunny Finland, it has been a glorious day over here today. The sun has been shining so very brightly, midsummer´s soft wind has been blowing sweetly and yet the breeze has been unmistakable; the autumn is approaching. The days like these makes one understand that the time flies, or perhaps it is only passing. One thing for certain, if we don´t take care of our planet, time may go berserk. I love the word berserk; it is so free, wild, untamed, rebellious and uncompromising; deep down just like many of us would like to be. Stephen and Lucy I sincerely wish that you guys have a wonderful time in New York. By the way, once again I noticed how very small place the world is, my daughter was also born in West London Hospital, Hammersmith six years before Lucy.

Faratin, Iran
Hi dear sir. What appatement-sitting looks like?Isn`t it better than to be columnist? It is clear,why did you choose it. You are being clever as relaxing in a house, & earning a lots of money without any resposibilities woud be the best career in the world. If nepotism works in the usa, I will be grateful to work as a appartement-sitting, because it is prolific career. Anyway for avoiding the hastle & bustle of town I decided with a number of friends to go to rural area for 2 weeks. We forced to travel by train because there were shortages of fuel. Although,it seemed marvellous at frist sight, but it was so scruffy that we felt, we are living in a pigsty. However, the weather was nice, pleasent & delightful in the coutryside. We decided to leave there, because it was boring. Therefore, we made pig`s ear with our holiday.

Erice, Italy
Hello Stephen, I always read your column, which I find just GREAT. Keep up the good work! =)I think it is very funny how a native English speaker says the word "wow". I think it's funny because usually English speakers don't open their mouth very much when speaking, as Italian do, but when it comes to proununce the word "wow" their mouth is very open and lips are extremely rounded. That sound really very nice to my Italian ear!!! =)Hope you're having a great time in N.Y.Best wishes!

Hataikarn,Bangkok,Thailand
Greeting you from Bangkok,Thailand.Its my first time to read you journal,its very lovely and fascinating.I am pretty sure to be one of fanclubs to keep reading your nice message.I have been trying to improve my English skills because l have to sit in the test next couple months.Englis is not my mather tongue but l will try to express my thoughts as much as l could.Will send you some comments later on...('',)

Sallima, France
Hello Stephen,Your column is great. Everyday day I am learning english so please forgive me if you notice any mistakes.Right now, I am writing you from Cambodia, Siem Reap where are the stunning temples of Angkor. I am travelling since last month and so I have visited Singapore, Malayaisia, Thailand and now as mentionned above I am in Cambodia. What shall I say about my travelling... Well so far so good. After Cambodia we are going back to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia as we have been invited by friends to attend to a Chinese wedding. I have never been to a Chinese wedding and I am sure it will be amazing. After that, we will go to discover Centrale and South of America for three months.I love travelling. I would love to express how I feel when I go travelling but most of the time I am speechless. Have a nice day.

Van Nguyen, Australia (Vietnamese)
Dear Stephen,This is the first time I write to you although I read your column very often. I don't have any mood to do my work today(I am a PhD student). May be because today is Saturday (I am in my office every weekend). Therefore, I am writing to you with a hope that I might feel better and be able to continue my work. You were talking about holiday which makes me feel so jealous. I haven't had any true holiday since I start my PhD. I must have a long holiday when this permanent brain damage work finish. I promised to myself. I learnt a lot about your pretty Lucy through your story. My son may be at the same age with Lucy or two years older. He is studying at an architectural university; a good-looking boy and quite talented at music. We should introduce them together. No one knows you might become father in-law and I might become mother in-law.Anyway, I have to go back to work. I feel a bit better now. Thank you for telling us your story and give us a chance to tell our story too. VanPhD candidateSchool of Public Health and Community Medicine. The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Jameel
pneumonultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis: The above word is my most favorite English word! There is a saying which reads: "Easy come... easy go" I haven't learnt this word easily, so this is why I like it the most. It didn't come easy to me, and it won't go easy. Just to give you an idea how I managed to learn it by heart: "Divide and conquer": pneumono-ultra-micro-scopic-silico-volcano-coniosis.

Evelina, Bulgaria, Sofia
Dear Stephen, I enjoy meeting you again. The best holiday, I have ever had, was exactly 4 years ago. I will hardly ever forget it. And it was my chance to learn much more about me. My ex-husband became unemployed, so we decided to go to the sea to live for a while. We went to a wild bay and set the tent where we slept for about 3 months. There was no running water, no shops, no pubs, just the nature. I had my baby girl with us. She was 3. We picked rapanas to sell and went fishing every day. Soon after our friends came. Even the wildness I was not afraid at all. I believe that nature is stronger than us, I mean, it's amazing when you feel free and wild. The first thing every morning when I woke up was a sun ray on my face and the smell of sea, and its sound. Five steps and I was in the water watching fish and seashells all around. Then that nice feeling when the water touched my body. And I started swimming and diving, and playng like a fish. I could hear my daughter laughing and could have her playing with me.There were hard moments, of course, during some storms but the sea is icredible raoring and blustering.You are really speechless and amazed looking at these big strong waves, aren' t you! I learned to do many things and much about the nature. So did my daughter. Some people were coming to see us and then leaving with unforgettable memories in their minds. We had big fires on the beach every night where we sat and sang a lot. Everybody, who had come, became our close friend. We had to be back in Sofia in the end of the summer for sorry. Wish you to have such a wild holiday.

Hayfa - Iraq, Abu Dhabi - UAE
I have entered the learning english site few times and I liked the idea of blogers and sharing ideas, experiences, and comments for any thing we want. I like it for three things. First, the discussions and communications through the blogers will realty improve the languge. Second it will give you a chance to express yourself freely and finally knowing other nice people from allover the world it is really interesting thing and for me it is new expereince. my english languge is not good it needs improvment and I do my best to do so through readings, listining to the BBC or CNN. do you accept me as a new member with you? looking for your reply!:-)

Anita, Hungary
My favorit expression is " to fulfil the requirements". I have no idea why, but I like just saying it.

Kwabena Ohene-Annor, Ghana
Thanks for the Education.I have been visiting this website everyday.In your passage,under NEPOTISM,you stated: ''when someone uses their position, power or authority to get jobs or other benefits for members of their family''.Why not:''when someone uses his position'' as I think someone should be used singularly?I will be very glad if you could use this medium to educate me on whether similar words are singular or plural.Eg. Somebody,Nobody,Everybody,Everything, All and of course Someone . Do they go with(HAS/HAVE)?Thanks.

Maha, Iraq
Hello Stephan,I always read BBc learning English as I'm translator of English & I get alot of benefits from it.Today,and for the first time i noticed your colomn. It is really nice and interesting. I even took lot of vocabularies from it.I wish you a good luck

Marianna, Slovakia
Hi!The sound of the silent between friends would be enough after such a mite..Agh, the holiday, any exercise just free time for us. Well, I am going to write this rememberance. More than 25 years ago at autumn dawn I stood sleepy and trembling on the station waiting for a bus to my hometown.There was twelve-hour lasting journey sitting on the night-train from Prague to Žilina behind me. The station was a waste place in that early-broken, cold northern morning. Only one older woman could I register. Then, suddenly a man pushing small handcart brisky came up to the woman, they kissed their lips blissfully, exchanged no words, held up each other arm and wanished leaving me there, staring and hoping for such amazing old couple days. We were celebrating fater`s 80th birthday. That`s almost cruel, the three hard years he took on his shoulder. Nothing is more amazing after one couple `cat-dog´life relationship as to see him in care for her. But, I may reveal what his birthday present was. He loves red vine and a kind of pastry which consist of a roll hollow inside and filled in with a `snow´ whipped from sugar and egg-white. Sister ordered 80 pieces, despite that there wasn`t time for rescuing of two pieces to deliver to NY!Father would be as excited with the idea as you by such unwanted teasing you. It is not a test of your patience, so please, ride with a loose rein here. As likely as not I might be lucky enough having an occasion to desolate teacher Alex Gooch! And how sorry am I that I wasn`t be able to write more than one comment to kind Tricia at that time. But, as you are at that megapolis and I am sitting on my bum it would be nice if you may search and send a diet. However it need not be exactly SKMM for 10 km run spiced by much love to tasty food. My word - a monster, since couple of weeks.

Svetlana, Russia
Hi, Stephen! I've read your articles for the first time! I guess most of them are very positive and nice to read ))"Nepotism" is a very good word and what is more important - reflects our reality (I'll remember it). What 's more I like in your column - you don't need to look up at the dictionary to find unknown word - just give a look below - very convinient! )) I've looked at the comments of your readers from all over the world - it's great you make us think over the things around - quite simple but simaltiniously (another very "complicated" word ))))) )the most important ones that fill our life... Looking forward to your new articles!!

Clara, Romania
“ Ciao Stephen, I’m on the white sandy beach of the Costa Smeralda, on the beautiful island of Sardinia. The sea water is the clearest in the word, so transparent that the visibility can be up to 30 meters and catches nuances of blue from the turquoise crystal clear to the amazing emerald green color. I fell in love with the sea. Right now I keen to jump into the “sea of love” for a refreshing swim! Enjoy New York in mid-summer, so do I the Emerald Coast! Cheerio from a very light Sardinia, Clara” Unfortunately, that was a greeting from my ideal holiday as I haven’t had a holiday yet. As for my favourite English word I couldn’t pick an only one word for you since English language is my favourite foreign language. But I can choose for you one of the English words I hate it: hotchpotch. I wonder whether you have an English word you hate it most. I have some such” detested” words in Romanian; by the way, tell Lucy that the Romanian for nepotism is.. nepotism, it’s also true that the pronunciation is slightly different. Thanks for replying me, you are so kind, I was glad to hear that you love driving as much as I love being driven! Looking forward to hearing from you again soon.

Lily, China
Hello,I'm glad to come across this column. I love travelling and have visited a lot of places in China. What I like most about travelling is I can try different kinds of food and talk to people from different parts of the world. In 2002, I visited Britain. What impressed me most was how a man from Switzerland responded when said that Switzerland was a beautiful country. He said that every country was beautiful. I was moved by his words.Hope you're having a great time in New York!Best wishes,Lily

Benka, Serbia
Hello, Stephen! I am looking forward to reading your postcard from (the) Big Apple, although I don't know why New York is called like this sometimes, do you know? You have to re-read our comments from 02 July 2007, because I sent mine little late. In it I made a suggestion for you to make it work if it is possible. You yourself gave me ideas about how to learn English. So, I started surfing the Internet and found enough sites, the BBC being the one most helpful among them, of course, and online dictionaries which fascinate me and make learning English fun ,not a boring,futile attempt to learn a language. So, the English language and the "science" of using the Internet somehow mixed up in my "brilliant" mind and I got confused, but I have come up with some new words to explore. For example: blog, netiquette, cookie, wiki, blogosphere.... and my favourite 'folksonomy'(for which I have read a perfectly good explanation, but I am still unable to understand it) are all words spawned by the Internet. I think that for writing and speaking good English, or any other foreign or second language, a person needs not only brains but also talent for learning languages. Stephen, I know I'm being a little too literal sometimes, but I tend to believe that in my case it is a character trait of a naive, uncorrupted, good and innocent person, not a simple one. I'll try to be more figurative from now on. (I'm giggling to myself.) Have a nice holiday with your lovely daughter Lucy. All the parents should watch out for the mistake of overprotecting their children, because it is the worst thing that could happen to their most loved ones in the long run. I suppose that is where my naivety springs from.

Massa, Japan
hi stephen, whenever i come back to this space to read your journal, i see how it is loved by many readers. i hope you'll be writing about wonderful moments with lucy in new york soon. i am planning to have a two-day visit with my grilfriend to a beautiful northern town. we will enjoy viewing some well-preserved gardens and visiting an art museum, bringing our picnic. we will travel by train which wouldn't enlarge my eco footprint. ;) i liked the way you talked about your favourite swedish word: "There's something special about how it feels in your mouth as you say it. " my favourite english word is "celestial", which sounds transparent, light, aerial. its synonym "divine" makes me think of gravity or something grave, while "celestial" doesn't. i often attach it to many nouns as japanese people often put soya sauce over dishes. ;) take care!

Emmanuel, Mexico
Well....This is the first time I write a short comment in BBC web pages. My english is not so good, so I prefer to write a short one. I enjoy so much reading the Stephen Keeler column because I can learn many new words and phrases...by the way, I live in Baja California, (North of Mexico) in the frontier with The United States, I should be talking english as soon as possible.

Alex Wang, Canada
I had several favorite English words of mine before, but they're forgotten now except the word "complicated". When you speak the word, it is fantastic of the way your tongue and mouth move and turn and the complete sound you make. Not only that, but also the meaning of the word "complicated" is quite expressive. Most issues in this world have multi-level and multi-direction significance and reason, therefore, "complicated". You can take a closer look at the etymology of the word. And you'll find "com-" and "plicate" combine so beautifully in it.

Ad, Germany
I read a good English word today. It's 'indistinguishable'. It amazes me especially for that reason, because it is a really long word. And that is really unusual for the Englishmen and their desire to shorten every word and every sentence as much as possible. In this regard is also the word 'incomprehensible' interesting. In comparison to our German composited nouns is that still low, but not bad nevertheless.

Adryana, Romania
Hello, Stephen!It's for the first time I have read your article and I enjoyed it a lot!This is the day when I have got a C after attending an English course at British Council and I can say I am not very proud of myself...But maybe I will be one day, after continuously reading your messages and improve my English knowledge by reading and visiting bbc.learningenglish.A new word I have disovered today is fricasse, sounds interesting, but I can't say it is my favourite one.I very much enjoyed reading your article and I'm waiting forward to read the next one!I wish you a pleasant summer, without hot weather like in my native country...Bye for now and thanks for being so positive!

laleh, Azerbaijan, living in North Carolina
Hello Stephen, Let me thank you first for helping us to improve our English, I do appreciate that, and second of all the reason that I started to read your column was because I decided to improve my reading and I thought it would be good if I read your column. I really enjoy reading your column and getting familiar with some of idioms and new words at the same time.I would like to go beach because I think it is a peaceful place, blue sky, Blue Ocean, and if you are with your beloved that would be even nicer.By the way, my favorite English word is "Spectacular", because I use it for my son every day when I look at him and I do think he is my every thing in the world.Please give my regards to Lucy, stay well, bye for now

Divya, India
Hello Mr stephen,once again this fortnight also I am lucky enough to respond to you quite early!Lucy is looking really very cute in all the three photos. Of course she has to be.Don't we know that she is her father's daughter!How nice it would have been if I were your neighbour in her childhood so that I could have played with your daughter! Anyhow,its my badluck because I couldn't be there for all these years.Repenting now is of no use I think.Even if I come now ,I don't think she will talk with me.Anyhow it is a different matter.Life is like that.What to do?I have to accept it as it is.Am I sounding too philosophical?OK,I will change the topic.Please congratulate Lucy for working as a researcher and junior reporter for the BBC's in house magazine, Ariel at such a young age!I did not know the meaning of 'nepotism'till now.After coming to know the meaning,(even though I don't like that word,)I can't be without appreciating Lucy for knowing so much about the bitter facts of life at this tender age.Thats really very great!Now let me tell you about my most favourites-my most favourite foreign language is English!My most favourite English word is favourite!!My most favourite English teacher is Mr STEPHEN KEELER!!!Right from the day I started learning ENGLISH from a GREAT GURU LIKE YOU, I am lucky to use 'favourite' as my favourite word.In our country,every year we celebrate a SPECIAL DAY called GURUPOORNIMA to honour GREAT TEACHERS.This year,according to our Lunar calender,it will be held on the 30th of this month,that is the coming fullmoon day.We are going to celebrate it all over our country and honour the great teachers. On this occasion,I WISH YOU in advance A HAPPY GURUPOORNIMA for being my FAVOURITE GURU(TEACHER).I also wish YOU and your daughter LUCY A VERY HAPPY SUMMER HOLIDAY! If I have to tell you about my summer holiday,The weather here will be horrible as the temperature will be above 45 degrees celceus in summer.So we can't enjoy summer holiday at all.We will be sweating a lot all through summer and we can't afford to spend money to go to a cool and pleasant place to spend our summer holiday. The best possible thing I could do this summer was to sit in front of the computer whenever I had liesure and read BBC Learning English.I enjoyed it a lot!It was an ideal summer holiday for me.Awaiting to read and respond to my favourite THE STEPHEN KEELER COLUMN very soon.

Marjan, Iran
hello dear stephen im marjan. i live in Iran and i want to learn english i see your site and i enjoy of that

Joel, Hong Kong
You really can write humorous stories. When I was reading the paragraph you explained why your daughter stayed with you for the first two weeks of the summer holiday, I just can't stand laughing..."mmm...excuse me" I blushed while my colleagues staring at me.

Alexandra, Russia
Dear Stephen,I’ve just read a new issue of the column. Your attitude to your daughter is deeply touching. Like other your students I’m getting used to worrying about your family matters (now I’m exiting about that August 16)… I’ve already returned from my annual vacation. It was a month in Arizona (USA), which I spent with my daughter (who have been living and working and extending her study at the local university) and her boyfriend … There was plenty of ‘s-beginning-things’ to enjoy there… Besides “Sun&Sand” – so classic for summer lazy days (but Sea, because the southern Arizona is stony desert) there was also a lot of Surprises, Souvenirs, Scenic Skylines bringing Serenity and … great deal of Smiles! What a smiling nation the Americans is! Unlike them, we, Russian people, seem to be very reserved and ‘overconcentrated’ on our every-day-problems so that we don’t ménage to leave them all behind at least for a while… Even if we don’t have any current troubles we are anticipating them. We can not cope with inner nervousness, with anxieties about possible negative events. This mental discomfort accompanies us even on vacation and, what is really pity, displays on our faces… But I’m trying to be optimistic about everything and working hard on 'decorating' myself with smiles to the parallel of learning English …As for my favorite English word – it is “splendid” - it sounds so positively and promising a lot …Enjoy your trip to New York and good luck for both of you!I’m looking forward to hearing your impressions about New York. I’m interested in your opinion about people there. Is there any difference in mentality between British people and Americans? Was there something to astonish you while the trip in the terms of their behavior, way of living, attitude to different issues…etc? Thank you very much! Sorry for possible mistakes in the message…Alexandra,Ekaterinburg, Russia

Sanja, Serbia
Hello Stephen,Hope you don't mind if I call you by first name. Somehow I feel you are my pal ;) and best teacher ever. I see how much you are devoted to your daughter and can tell you brought up her on a good way. You are a good dad to wish for :-)) What can I say else? Hm...Have a nive vacation in America and don't forget to tell us how it was. I am sure you will have plenty of material for us with new vocabulary. It seems you didn't see my message for previous coulmn or moderators didn't want to publish it. Say hello to Lucy.See ya...CiaoSanja

River, China
Hi,Stephen,long time no see!Thanks for your replies to my comments.Maybe I am a little bit spiritualistic,I only believe my feeling but not the things or events around me.Nevertheless,I still wonder what are realities on earth,the things or events or our hearts,can we fully understand them,we subjectively believe what we believe, enjoy what we enjoy,we definitely search the informations to confirm we are right,but ignore the contrary informations to be against our belief.Ha ha,I'm going too far,let's forget it.Today you ask the word I like most,well,I think it's "OVERWHELMING".I overwhelmingly prefer reading your column,I overwhelmingly hate the word "nepotism" due to the fact if I don't have enough nepotism here I can't do my work properly.In chinese,it's called "guanxi",you absolutely know it.Guanxi play a overwhelmingly important role in our daily life even our education or careers.I don't know why it is like this,I am absolutely confused when someone is talking about how he get a wonderful job by guanxi but not his ability or endeavour.In addition,there is a sentence I like most,"I think so I am".I like thinking,either superficially or deeply,I just like it.OK,that's enough.Hope you have a overwhelmingly wonderful journey in Big Apple,please give my best wishes to Lucy at the same time.

Paulo from Bogota, Colombia
Hello Stephen! I just discovered BBC's learning english website a couple of months ago. And your column is one of my fav sections! I always learn something new here, even it it's just a single word, or an expression. And I like the way you write. I didn't go anywhere for my holidays, but a trip to Europe would be wonderful! I would love to travel across Scandinavia, and of course the UK. Okay, Stephen! Until the next time! Goodbye for now.Paul

Ana Paula, Brazil
Hi Stephen!Oooh! I´m not going to have a holiday in July, snif! But if I had, I would like to go to the beach, just to hear the sound of the waves breaking on the shore, and ... Oops! I´ve been talking too much about the sea recently. And you can´t believe Stephen, but I just live 40 minutes far away from the beach. From the window of the lab that I work, I can see the cars passing by towards to the beach every Friday. Sometimes I feel tempted to wave goodbye to them, I know, it´s a silly thing :-)! Anyway... Hmm... would be perfect if I had some days off in order to watch the sea and sip some coconut water. Aaaah!!!Now, my favourite English word is reward. It demanded of me a lot of practing in front of the mirrow.I felt just like an athlete training for his decisive match. However, this match would be about English words pronouced properly. I like the way the tongue moves to say reward, it´s indeed an exercise, and moreover, it was very rewarding when I could say this word correctly.Hmm... By the way Stephen, was the new Aurelio Zen adventure already released? Well, in one of your latest columns you told us that it would be released in July. So I´m just a bit curious about it, because I´ve never heard about Michael Dibdin novels before you mention them.I hope that you and Lucy have a wonderful summer. See you in the next fortnight. Ana Paula.

Ziggy, Poland, Lodz
I think Lucy has been Daddy's Darling, isn't she?

Nozomi, Japan
Hello,Stephen!I'm writing a comment to you for the first time in a month.I'm so glad to hear you and your daughter enjoy your summer vacation.I know how it is wonderful to spend holydays on the beach especially in spain.The beach where I have been is Sitges,which is located in near Barcelona.Which beach did she go to?Speaking of "A"-lebels,I'm going to take exams to enter a college this year.Since in Japan,we have the exams in winter and the new term starts in spring,I will have to study hard this summer!!My holiday will be far from ideal,but if it's possible, I'd like to travel to somewhere but here...say,to a countryside surrounded by forests.I wish I could see much more stars there than in my city.By the way, my favorite English word is "hypothesis",because I feel something strange in my mouth when I say it.But maybe you don't feel like this because English is not a foreighn language for you,do you?My English teacher from America taught me the pronounciation again and again in a class.Actually,it was a little bit dificult to be pronounced by students.I'm really looking forward to your postcard filled with the joy of your vacation,and of course,useful tips to learn English!Have a nice holyday!!

Himani Ahuja, India, Delhi
Hello Stephen, I just want a favour from you, actually mine english is good but i can not speak fluently and feel hezitation so i think i need a person with whom i can speak with and in my enviornment there is nobody around me so please help me out. Thanks Himani Ahuja

 
Stephen Keeler
Stephen Keeler

 Downloads

PDF version (88k)

 Stephen's Columns

 Other Links
blue arrow Learning English blogs