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dimanche 21 février 2016

FLYING POTATOES



CHAPTER FIFTY-FOUR

            




When I started this blog, my main goal was to make learning English fun. I had bad memories of deadly boring English classes at grammar-school. I never played truant, but attending those classes was a real drag ! I was fed up with grammar rules, irregular verbs to learn by heart, phonetics, and so on...
But in those days (listen, I am not speaking about the Middle-Ages, but the early sixties) a foreign language was taught as a subject, not as a way to communicate.
Thus, I wanted to wipe out any conscious or unconscious traces of those years of hard labour which made most of us so awkward when it came to speaking English !
So, I try to entertain you (and I hope I do) and to help you increase your English speaking capacities whatever your level is.
My motto is :
 The richer your vocabulary, the more fluently you can speak !
Anyway, don't get me wrong ! Given that English is not your mother tongue, it is obvious you won't always find the right word to express yourself.
Whenever it happens, don't get flustered and lose your train of thoughts ! Just keep calm, breathe deeply, and try to find out either a synonym or a simpler way to explain. Sure, you'll get out of it !!
I know what I am talking about because years ago I experienced such an uncomfortable situation. Let me tell you.
It was the very first time I was staying with an English family for a whole month.It was a daily ordeal ! Even to ask for some more bread or some salt, I had butterflies in my stomach !! I could not even recognize my voice ! It sounded as if I were hoarse or bleating like a sheep !
To crown it all, the family had a basset and in those days I was scared stiff of dogs.
That "good boy" (as the lady called him) was over the hill and had a nasty temper (due to rheumatism ! My foot !!)
I guess he felt my fear and tried to increase it by growling at me whenever we were in the same room. Even when his "mum" scolded him ("naughty boy" was the worst humiliation), the cheeky four-legged sausage kept humming his war tune at me !
Well, one evening we were having dinner, and while the lady had gone to the kitchen to fetch a jug of water, I started dealing with my veggies...
A lot has been said about English flashy green peas, but not enough about English boiled potatoes ! They are strong-tempered, and cutting them can sometimes turn into a merciless fight.
So, there I was, when suddenly the blade of my knife slipped on the hot potato and sent it straight into the dog's basket. Immediately the growling went off ! For once, with good reason ! Sure, being hit by a boiling hot potato was painful !
But when the lady came back from the kitchen and heard her little devil, she flared up and said that enough was enough, and that he would spend the night in the kennel outside !!
I wanted to explain it was my fault, but I started to go off road in my thoughts, searching for the words " lame de couteau " and "déraper". Of course, in vain !
I was faced with a tongue-tied feeling of hopelessness !
I let the alleged culprit be dragged outside, whereas I could have said :
" There is one hot potato in his basket" or " A potato has flown into his basket".
A bit weird, but then I could have drawn in the air the flight of the potato from my plate onto the basket tarmac. It would have saved an innocent !
Psychologists would say it was a "subconscious deliberate mistake". To avenge Joan of Arc ? Why not ??
Anyway, remember my mishap, and when stuck for words, think it is a matter of life or death, rummage in your toolbox and take out your survival kit !!
The sky is the limit !!

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