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Last updated at 15:36 BST, Tuesday, 30 April 2013

To cook the books


Neil is cooking an unusual meal in the BBC Learning English kitchen. Why has he put books into the saucepan? Find out more by listening to this programme.

A saucepan with books in it

Why is Neil cooking books?

The script for this programme

Neil: Hello and welcome to the BBC Learning English kitchen with me, Neil, and my assistant, Feifei.

Feifei: Yes, welcome to The English We Speak from BBC Learning English. I am very excited today because Neil has asked me to be his assistant in the BBC Learning English kitchen.

Neil: That's right. I've started boiling the water in the saucepan and now I'll prepare the ingredients.

Feifei: Oh, I'm so excited! I wonder what Neil's going to cook. So what are the ingredients?

Neil: There we go.

Feifei: Neil, I think you are emptying your bag from the library rather than the supermarket!

Neil: No Feifei, this is right. I'm going to cook the books.

Feifei: Cook the books?! Are you crazy?!

Neil: Yes, Feifei. I might look happy and full of joy but there's something terrible I have to admit.

Feifei: Oh no. What's that?

Neil: Well... I have serious financial problems. I'm millions of pounds in debt.

Feifei: Oh no! How will cooking the books help?

Neil: It's an expression in English. If you 'cook the books', you change the numbers in a company's financial records so you can take some of the money for yourself illegally.

Feifei: Neil! That's not like you. Let's hear some more examples of that phrase being used.

  • A: Did you hear Dave the accountant got fired for stealing from the company?!
  • B: Yeah, he'd been cooking the books for years.

  • A: The chief executive of that bank got sent to jail for cooking the books.
  • B: Well I think he deserves it. Fraud is a serious crime.

Feifei: Hmm, so are you cooking the books so you can pay off your debts?

Neil: Yes, it's the only thing I can think of. I'm desperate!

Feifei: I don't think that's a good idea, Neil. Fraud is a serious crime. Oh, but hang on. What's that floating on the top?

Neil: Oh it's just a lottery ticket. I use them as bookmarks.

Feifei: Let me check the lottery numbers on my smartphone.

Neil: What's the point? I never win.

Feifei: Actually Neil, you've won!

Neil: I've won? I'm a millionaire! My problems are over! Let's celebrate! Let's have a meal! Here - this one I've just cooked.

Feifei: Neil didn't cook the books in vain. Mmm - these books are actually delicious!

Neil: Not bad, are they?!


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