The KISS Principle

About 80% of my students don’t know how to use a full-stop. A full-stop is the small black dot that you put at the end of a sentence. The North Americans call it a ‘period’. Writing English is easy. You make a point and you put a full-stop. Most experts agree that good English has…

Springtime

Spring is my favourite season. It is the one time of year that is guaranteed to see me smiling and striding along the street full of positive thoughts and magnanimity. After the frosty winter it is time to make a damage report on the garden. The dahlias have been devasted by the January frost and…

Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?

Apart from thirty-seven plays including “Hamlet”, “Romeo & Juliet” and “Othello” William Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets. Here is the most famous one with a modern English translation. Once you read the modern English go back to the Shakespeare version and practice reading it aloud. Impress your friends and be in your partner’s good books till…

Vitamin G

Every day 1,000,000 pints of Guinness are sold in the United Kingdom alone. It is one of the tippler’s healthiest drinks as it contains malted barley, hops, yeast, and water. It is black because the barley is roasted like coffee beans. Guinness was first made in 1759, the year Ferdinand VI of Spain died. Ten…

Crossing the Line

The 2020 Olympic Games begin on 24th July and I hope there are no children watching! The Olympic ideal of ‘mens sana in copore sano‘ is as laughable as a bald man’s comb. Athletes are supposed to be role models for children. At least, when I was a child they were. They represented the triumph…

Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift and he is best remembered as the author of Gulliver’s Travels. He was a priest and a poet —almost obligatory occupations in Ireland— and he wrote some of the best essays in the English language. After writing the classic Gulliver’s Travels, which sadly has become a children’s story and ceased to be the political…

Christmas in the Trenches

It was a cold Christmas Eve in the trenches in France in 1914. Both German and British soldiers were living in atrocious conditions sometimes only a mere 60 metres apart. As the night fell and the stars came out, the guns fell silent. From the German side a young soldier began to sing a song…

Barry Morse 1918 – 2008

In the 1980s I ran a small theatre-in-education company in Manchester called Foursight and we were planning to do a show about drugs. We wrote to famous people for support and among the many replies was one from an actor called Barry Morse. Barry Morse became famous as Lt Philip Gerard in the US television…