Last updated at 11:48 GMT, Tuesday, 04 December 2012

Irons in the fire

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Jen tells Helen that she has a few 'irons in the fire' for her fortnight off work. Learn a phrase to describe having lots of options. Find out more with this programme.

An iron with fire in the background

What are Jen's irons in the fire?

The script for this programme

Jen: Hello, I'm Jennifer. Welcome to The English We Speak. Joining me in the studio today is Helen. Hi Helen!

Helen: Hi Jen! I wasn't expecting to see you in the office today; I thought you were on leave?

Jen: No, that's next week. I'm taking two weeks off work and I can't wait!

Helen: Are you going on holiday?

Jen: I haven't planned anything just yet, but I do have a few irons in the fire that will keep me busy across the fortnight.

Helen: Irons in the fire? What do you mean? When did you become an ironmonger?

Jen: No, Helen, I'm not an ironmonger...

Helen: ...because that could be great! I saw a lovely wrought-iron bed in a shop in London, but it was too expensive... Perhaps with your new iron-making skills you can make me one, instead!

Jen: I definitely don't have any iron-making skills!

Helen: But you said you had a few irons in the fire... Oh! I suppose you mean that you've got a lot of ironing to do; you do wear a lot of different clothes so I suppose it would take a long time to iron them all...

Jen: No, that's not what I meant!

Helen: So what did you mean when you said you have 'a few irons in the fire'?

Jen: This is another English phrase which you shouldn't take too literally. If you have a few irons in the fire, it means that you have a few different projects or potential ideas going on at the same time.

Helen: I see. So you have a few irons in the fire because you have different options for your fortnight off?

Jen: That's right - I can't wait.

Helen: So tell me, Jen, what are your irons in the fire - what are you planning?

Jen: Well, I have a friend in Paris who I haven't seen for ages, so I could go there... I'd like to pop up to Scotland to visit my sister and her children for a few days... There's also a cheap deal to Turkey that I've seen and I already have some yoga classes booked in!

Helen: Wow, that's a lot!

Jen: There was one thing you were right about, though...

Helen: What's that?

Jen: I do have a huge pile of ironing to do! Join us again for another edition of The English We Speak from bbclearningenglish.com. Bye for now!

Helen: Bye!