340 - Don’t Forget Who You Are

Speaker: Mark Worden (Standard British accent)

Miles Kane talks about his latest album, Don’t Forget Who You Are, which was released on the Columbia label:

Miles Kane (Standard British/Liverpool accent)

I guess for the... the whole inspiration for this record, for me, was to... I wanted to make a Saturday night album, you know, and I wanted to make a record that made you feel up and... and it was something that if you had friends round for a few drinks before going out in town, it was the record that you put on, in a way like those old Motown records, or (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis, or something in the spirit of that thing, you know. And... and... and that was... that was the blueprint, really, and then when I sat down with Ian Broudie, who produced it, and we had that... this conversation, we ended up writing this song called “Taking Over,” which is a real sort of glam stomping sort of rock’n’roll tune with a great Mersey beat chorus, and... and once we... and then we recorded that track and once that was recorded it was like, “Wow, this is exactly what it... we’re describing, really, so let’s just do an album of that. And there was a lot of songs written and he helped me finetune a lot of the songs, and pick out the best bits and get rid of stuff that wasn’t up to scratch, and... and he had a massive part of it as well, Ian Broudie, you know, and... and I’ll never forget that, and he’s a top feller as well, you know, and, yeah, and... and that was it, and it was a very fun record to make, and a lot of high energy and even when I was doing the vocals, I didn’t want to do more than three takes, and ‘cause when we play live I... I love to give it a “Raahh!” or a “Yeah!” you know, a scream, and... and I think on modern day records there isn’t enough of that, it’s all so pre... precise, but the sense of pop music is things to just be in the moment and... and to feel good and... and so all those little moments on the record where it’s... we’ve got big choruses, but then there’ll be an occasional “Oh, yeah!” or scream, you know, we left them in ‘cause it’s real, and, yeah, it’s just a very exciting record that I’m very proud of.

(Miles Kane was talking to Mark Worden)

340 - Recommended Reading - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

David Dickens (Standard British accent)

The book I’d like to recommend is a book called – it’s quite famous now – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It’s quite a strange title. I loved it personally because it’s a very particular story about… well, the story is actually written from the perspective of a 14-year-old autistic boy and it follows the events that this boy goes through in a particular story – it’s a particular story – and the things that happen to him. It’s… it’s… it’s a lovely book, I think it’s written brilliantly because it’s… it’s done from this autistic viewpoint, so I think it’s a bit of… it’s quite genius from that point of view, and the book is… is a little bit bittersweet, it’s funny but at the same time it’s very, very serious because this is an autistic person going through autistic problems. Quite often students of ours at Gain English, they ask us, you know: “I want to read a book,” you know, “is… is it useful to read a book to improve my English? If so, which… which book do you recommend?” Firstly, yes, it is useful, especially from a vocabulary point of view, but it’s very important, I think, if a student wants to read a book in order to improve their English, it has to be (1) at the right level, otherwise it’s… it’s… it’s… you’ll just get bored and fed up and frustrated and (2) it… it has to be interesting, it has to… it really has to be something that a person wants to read, so a… a general… this is the book that I generally recommend to students because (1) I think it’s a great book and (2) because it’s written from the point of view of a 14-year-old autistic boy, the level of the English is actually, you know, it’s quite low in… in the sense that it’s not written like for English-speaking adults, it’s actually a lower level of English, far more understandable but challenging at the same time. And so I think that’s a great book for… for Italian people to… for any student to read.

(David Dickens was talking to Mark Worden)

340 - The Eyeborg

Canadian documentary-maker Rob Spence is known as "The Eyeborg." Here he explains why:

Rob Spence (Canadian accent)

I was nine years old and I took a gun to shoot a pile of cow shit! I hit it: there was an explosion of shit. Unfortunately, I also damaged my eye very badly, so I didn’t lose the eye then, but… I did lose the eye six years ago because the eye just got worse and worse. So, by the time I lost the eye, I was a documentary film maker. So that, combined with the fact that I have a Six Million Dollar Man doll – action figure, not a doll – from when I was a kid… with… where you can look through the back of his head to his right eye. So I was like, “I might as well make an eye camera.” I called engineers, who have been very kind… to me, and it’s the kind of project a lot of engineers enjoy; it’s a little bit science fiction, and we… about a year-and-a-half ago, we got Time magazine’s “One of the best inventions of the year.” As you can imagine, after I got a camera eye made , I became very interested in cyborgs and all things cybernetic, so one day, when I was on Twitter, twittering about cyborgs, I got a call from Square Enix (the video game makers), and they were like, “Would you be interested in becoming a spokesborg for Deus Ex: Human Revolution?” And I said, “Well, you know, I make documentaries. Why don’t you let me make a documentary about what I’m on Twitter about every day… it’s… it’s a documentary I’d like to do, I’d like to do it with my camera eye. Just let me go around the world and talk to some of the most advanced cyborgs now.” And obviously the footage that these guys came up with is amazing, as a film maker, of course I want to cut to the future, excellent, you know, Adam Jensen style. So they were really great, they just gave me complete freedom to go out and film whatever I wanted, but I think we were so on the same page that, you know, it just… it just worked out really well. I met some people that are absolutely incredible. The first guy I interviewed, he’s completely blind, but at one point he had a chip on his retina so that he could read 4-centimetre text, he could recognise objects, and that is the combination of his bionic eye and my bionic eye is… is getting into the future, what… what this guy (he points to the poster of Deus Ex: Human Revoluton hero Adam Jensen) has in his head. (He puts the camera in his eye). Children love this. My… my niece… I have two nieces, they just go (he imitates a child’s facial expression of total amazement).

341 - Recommended Reading - A Town Like Alice

Anthony Gardner (Standard British accent)

Nevil Shute’s novel A Town Like Alice is one that has fascinated me for... for quite a while. It’s not a complex book but it’s... it’s a puzzling one: it has a very unusual structure; the language itself is quite straightforward. Nevil Shute is often described as a “storyteller,” which is usually a polite way of saying this person can’t write particularly well, but he can... he can spin a good yarn! A Town Like Alice is a story based in the Second World War and at the heart of it is the experience based on a true story of a group of women who were taken prisoner by the Japanese in Malaysia when the Japanese invaded. The Japanese didn’t have a prison camp or any... anywhere obvious to... to confine them and they found themselves being forced to march backwards and forwards across the country between different officials, none of whom wanted to take responsibility for them, and they were... they fell prey to exhaustion, disease – half of them died on the journey – but some of them managed to... to survive, and the heroine of the story, Jean Paget, is a woman who’s been through this experience. In itself it’s a very strong story but Nevil Shute for reasons known best to himself decided to put it along(side) two other stories, so he framed it, first of all by... with the narrative of an elderly Scottish solicitor who has acted as Jean Paget’s uncle’s executor, and he has to track her down as the heir to her uncle’s estate and although he’s now in his 70s and a widower, and she’s in her mid-20s, he falls in love with her, so there’s an element of romance there. And then the other element is to do... to do with Australia, the title A Town Like Alice refers to the town of Alice Springs in the middle of the Australian outback. And this is another love story: in Malaysia Jean Paget, during the war, meets an Australian prisoner of war who helps her and her companions – takes great risks on their behalf and eventually suffers a terrible fate at the hands of the Japanese, and as far as she’s concerned, she’s never going to see him again, but it turns out otherwise; I won’t go into more detail. So it’s a sort of intriguing literary conundrum, but also a very... very entertaining and moving book to read and I would... I would strongly recommend it.

(Anthony Gardner was talking to Mark Worden)

341 - Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Shilpi Somaya Gowda is author of the best-selling novel Secret Daughter. It tells the story of an American couple who adopt a baby girl who has been abandoned in India. Shilpi Somaya Gowda is herself the daughter of Indian parents. She was born and raised in Canada but moved to the United States in order to go to university and has lived there ever since. We asked her about the differences between Canadian and American society:

Shilpi Somaya Gowda (Standard American accent)

They are different. I mean, I don’t notice all the differences now that I’ve been in the US for so long but I remember at the age of 17, even going on a trip, I went on a summer trip in Colorado before I started university that fall, and just being with seven or eight Americans on the trip was… felt very foreign to me. I mean, I can’t… I can’t put my finger on all of the things that… that made me feel that way but, you know, in addition to language and politics and accents, there are a lot of subtle differences. I mean, I think there’s a different value system in Canada. It is a country that is more focused on, I think, on equality and on… amongst the population, and a little less focused on individual striving which, you know, has made America the great country it is. So that difference between being… you know, happy to be one of the crowd, versus striving to, you know, be ahead of the crowd, I think, is a sort of a subtle difference. There are all kinds of differences in the educational system and I remember graduating from high school in Canada and I had, you know, won the award in my high school for being the best English student and then I went to my university and had to take the introduction to, you know, English class that all Freshmen take and I almost failed out of the first semester because my writing style was so different than, you know, than… than the way American students had been taught and I thought, “Oh, this is… this is…” There I remember getting my first paper back and it was all marked up in red and I think I got a D and I thought, “Oh, my! I’m not in… I’m not in my home country anymore!” And so there are a lot of small things like that that I think made me feel as if I was, you know, an alien living in a foreign land and over time – you know, I’ve now been in the United States for 20 years – some of those differences have smoothed out and I think I’ve learned to navigate both cultures, but, you know, they’re… they’re different countries!”

Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s novel Secret Daughter was partially inspired by her experiences working as a volunteer in an orphanage in India. We asked her about this:

Shilpi Somaya Gowda

When I was a student in the university I spent a summer as a volunteer at an orphanage in India and I was 19 at the time and I remember when I went, I had to… it was… it was an organisation, orphanage, run by a Canadian charity. And so I remember when I went I had to sign some paperwork saying that I would not engage in religious conversion of the children, and I would not try to adopt any of the children, and I thought, “Well, I’m 19 years old, I’m not adopting anybody!” And I thought it was sort of absurd that I had to sign these pieces of paper which were… regulations the Indian government put on foreign agencies coming in – for good reasons – and, you know, I remember leaving afterwards, you know, a month later and thinking, “OK, I get it, I understand why they make you sign that piece of paper about not… not adopting a child because, you know, these children are incredible!” I just… I couldn’t speak the same language as them, but somehow it didn’t seem to matter. I just… I grew very attached to them, we found all kinds of ways of communicating non-verbally, and they really… they were etched in my mind when I left. I mean, I can, to this day, I can see their faces in my mind and I remember their names and… and I thought about them, you know, in the years since then. And I think, after I became a mother, I really started thinking about that experience and those children differently and I… I wondered, you know, what… what… what are the circumstances that could lead a parent to leaving their child in an orphanage because we never knew where these kids came from, they just showed up on the doorstep, we never saw the parents and what would… what would happen to them when they ended up, you know, on the streets of Bombay at the age of 16, with a, you know, the equivalent of a high school education and they had no family and no money. And, you know, what would… what would become of them? And so I became really interested in the idea of trying to construct a story around that circumstance, based on something that… that I’d seen 20 years earlier.

And in conclusion we asked her for her thoughts on the film Slumdog Millionaire:

Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Oh, I loved it! I loved every minute of that. I, especially, I think, the music and the soundtrack were a great part of bringing the energy of that city to life. I know a lot of Indians in India were disturbed by the fact that the slums were shown in such a negative light. I think they were probably shown realistically, but what many Indians objected to was that people outside India would take away the conclusion that this was India. And in fact the slums are not India: the slums are one part of the cities and the cities are a small part of India, but… but, you know, nevertheless it’s a very, you know, rich and colourful part of daily life for millions and millions of Indians. So I loved it!

Shilpi Somaya Gowda was talking to Mark Worden)

To visit Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s official website, click here: http://www.shilpigowda.com/

344 - How to create your own app

Geoff Marshall (Standard British accent)

Hello, I’m Geoff, I’m a Londoner, I’m the world record-holder for travelling to all the Tube stations in London in the fastest time possible, and because of that, I built my own iPhone Apple app because, to get that world record, I needed to know the best carriage to be in in every train station, and we had a note of that information on paper in a notebook. And I thought one day, “This could be on my phone in an app,” so me and my friend Matt, the two of us, sat down and we took all this information about, you know, being in the front carriage, being in the rear carriage, put it into a database, subscribed up to Apple’s developer programme, got all the tools and goodies and learnt how to put that information into an app, which we now sell on the Apple iTunes store, so I have my own app on my phone, which I use when I’m out on trains to... remind myself of which carriage I should be in!

345 - Innovation speaks English!

Não basta investir em educação, pesquisa, novas tecnologias. Se um país não investe na aprendizagem de Inglês, a sua taxa de inovação não vai decolar. Aqui está o estudo que prova por fatos e números.

345 - Recommended Reading: Lord of the Flies

Rob Anderson (Standard British accent)

The story is that some public schoolboys are… are stranded on a desert island and it’s a story of how they organize themselves. They’re obviously free to create whatever structure of… of… of society they want and it’s a classic book to… to do with young people, of course, because the… it’s… it’s… the question that… that you can put to young people is “Well, what would you do if were free, totally free, to decide how to behave etc. etc. ?” And it’s very interesting in that Golding presents first of all a democratic society. They elect a leader and the leader attempts to direct them here and there, but very quickly this breaks down into factions and… and violence raises its head as well, but it seems to be… to be about rules and regulations and whether they should be followed or broken and people’s responsibility to those rules and regulations.

(Rob Anderson was talking to Mark Worden)

345 - Richard Harvell on Success

Richard Harvell is the author of the best-selling novel The Bells, which tells the story of an 18th century “castrato” opera singer called Moses. The book has already been translated into a dozen languages but, like many writers, Richard Harvell had to deal with rejection before he got published. Here he offers some advice:

Richard Harvell (Standard American accent)

When I was writing short stories and struggling to get those published, the best advice that I got was, “Make it a game to try to get rejections and try to get 100 rejections in a year” and… and I did manage to get 100 rejections in a year, at some point, and I think… and published three stories in that time, but those three stories, it was great that I got those three stories published!

We then asked him what he was working on at the moment:

Richard Harvell

I’ve been working on a… on a book now that’s set in Egypt in 1798, during Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, which is a fascinating time because it’s the first time that… that… modern Europeans visited Egypt, visited the Islamic world and visited all of these sites of ancient Egypt. It’s got themes of the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone in it, but then also the… the place that opera plays in this book of… of… influencing the style and the stories is then played in that book by the… A Thousand and One Nights.

And in conclusion we asked him about the appeal of opera:

Richard Harvell

I always loved… loved… theatre, I loved Shakespeare or modern theatre and I always… I never really enjoyed going to classical music concerts, and then, when I first went to opera, it has something that theatre doesn’t have, this… this ability to… to tunnel to sort of the emotion… the emotional part of a person, without… somehow it bypasses the whole head… and yet it was… it’s still about people and there’s still a story that… that one can come away with, grasping onto. I was also inspired by… opera’s not afraid of being melodramatic, and it’s not afraid of… of… of having love and death… and I think, as a writer, and that was certainly the mistake of… of… or the… the thing that I had to learn with this book is… is to let myself go and… and to talk about and to write in a certain… allow myself to be melodramatic at times and… and to be able to speak through Moses, who was an opera singer, made that possible.

(Richard Harvell was talking to Mark Worden).

345 - Staying Alive


Matt Haig (Standard British accent)

Hello, I’m Matt Haig, I’m an author from England. I generally write novels, but for the first time I’ve written a non-fiction book. It’s called Reasons to Stay Alive, and it’s about my own experience of depression and anxiety, and it takes a more general look at... the illness of depression, and it was by far the most personal thing I’ve ever written and I... I wrote it to... to my younger self, I suppose, and to anyone who experiences depression or knows people who experience depression, which is a... a remarkably common illness and at least one in five of us will at some point suffer a... a serious episode of depression, and so I wanted to try and find a way of writing a book about depression that wasn’t depressing! And, hopefully, in Reasons to Stay Alive I’ve at least attempted to do that.

(Matt Haig was talking to Mark Worden)

346 - A point on Puctuation

David Crystal (Standard British accent)

Yes, well the book Making a Point is called The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation, and I chose the word pernickety, or persnickety as it’s turned out to be in the United States, quite deliberately because there’s no subject in language that raises the emotions more than punctuation does. I think this is because it’s… it’s a very self-contained sort of subject, you know there are only a dozen or so punctuation marks. There are a few others of course, but a dozen or so common ones. So people feel that they can master these and understand the system, and then they… they get very uptight when they find other people using punctuation in a different way from themselves, or when they go around and see punctuation errors in shop notices and things like that. So it… it… it attracts the attention more than any other aspect of language, I think, and the reason for a book on it is to point out… well, first of all to explain where these punctuation marks came from, what the history of punctuation is, how English started with no punctuation at all, you know, the earliest manuscripts don’t have any punctuation marks in them. So where did it come from? How did it develop over the centuries? Where did all these different views about punctuation come from? Why are there so many variations in usage between British and American English and between different authors and so on, different publishing houses even? When you start describing the punctuation system in this way, what you find is that there are just so many exceptions to the rules, you know, even the basic rules – like when you use a full stop – have exceptions, you know, not all sentences end in full stops, you see. If you go looking around, you see exceptions everywhere. So I started out thinking that a book on punctuation would be just sort of a couple of hundred pages, maybe I’d handle it in a nice easy way: it turned out be nearly four hundred, and it could have been larger, but it was big enough, I think, at that point to stop. It’s one of those subjects, though, that becomes increasingly fascinating as you get drawn into it and you realize the true complexity of the subject. It’s… nobody, I think, has ever actually tried to produce a historical and synchronic account of punctuation before: there have been lots of very good and useful short guides to punctuation of course, but I found that it’s a subject that really warrants greater depth, and that’s why I wrote it.

(David Crystal was talking to Mark Worden)

346 - Recommended Reading: Shakespeare revisited

Matt Haig (Standard British accent)

Hello, I’m Matt Haig. I’m a… author, I’ve written two… two novels based around Shakespeare – my first two novels – and my very first novel in English was called The Last Family in England. And... it’s… it’s a very strange book, I suppose, but it’s based on an obscure-ish Shakespeare play, the first Henry IV play, Henry IV Part One, and… but my… my play – my novel, rather – isn’t set in the past and it doesn’t involve kings; it involves a family and it’s told from a perspective of a Labrador dog. So it’s… it plays fast and loose with Shakespeare, but the great thing about Shakespeare is the themes are universal, so even though the specific people he’s talking about may be historical figures, and they may be set in a certain time and place, the themes apply to 21st century families as much as they did to royal families 500 years ago. The other… my… my second novel was based on Hamlet, which is obviously a more… more well… widely known play, and it was called The Dead Fathers’ Club. Again, it was set in contemporary times, it was set in England, the town I grew up in, Newark-on-Trent, and it wasn’t about a prince, it was about an 11-year-old boy and… but facing the same dilemma about whether to kill his uncle, after his uncle had moved in with his mother. So, yes, Shakespeare, I… I could have spent a whole career just copying Shakespeare, but he was… if… if you’re going to be taught by anyone and if you’re going to be influenced by anyone in the English Language, I think you can’t go wrong with Shakespeare!

(Matt Haig was talking to Mark Worden)

357 - Golden Gate Bridge

Suicide Prevention Presentation from Golden Gate Bridge District

Crisis Text Line from Golden Gate Bridge District

Suicide Prevention Presentation from Golden Gate Bridge District

357 - LONDON - I love Covent Garden!

Joanna Moncrieff (Standard British/London accent)

Covent Garden is one of my favourite places in London. It’s got such an interesting history, it’s had so many identities over the years. It was originally the “Convent Garden” for the monks at Westminster Abbey, then it was a place for the rich, it was built so the rich would live there, then it degenerated into sort of (an) interesting time with the brothels and the coffee houses, and then the Market came along, until the 1970s, but then it’s been regenerated again and today is a place offering a lot of entertainment, lots of quirky shops, lots of reasons to go there. And I do a number of walks that go through there, that... one of which is the Real West End walk. I do a Theatreland walk because in that vicinity you have 40 theatres within only 10 minutes’ walk of each other. Details of my Covent Garden walks can be found on my website: westminsterwalks.london

(Joanna Moncrieff was talking to Mark Worden)

357 - Recommended Reading: H is for Hawk

Derek Allen (Standard British accent)

Well, the book I’d like to talk about is called H is for Hawk, which has been something of a publishing sensation since it came out in 2014. It’s a book by Helen MacDonald and what’s it about? Well, it’s quite difficult to say, really, it’s... it’s about many things. Helen lost her father quite recently and it’s... so it’s a... it’s an autobiography, an account of her grief, if you like, her mourning, and how she copes with that, so it’s a very personal journal from one point of view. And how does she actually cope with that? She tries to get over everything by buying a goshawk, which costs her something, if I’m not mistaken, something in the region of about £800, and she trains this goshawk. The goshawk, you may or may not know, is like a huge hawk, a very beautiful animal, which is difficult to tame and to... to train. And she deals with her grief – and she recounts this; this is the main subject of the book – through her training of the goshawk. It’s a beautifully described story... it’s written beautifully, and with many... one of the major strengths of English Literature has always been that ability, from Hardy to many other authors, to describe nature, and she does a very good job of that. For... I think English people also have a very strong bond to animal stories. I speak for myself; when, for example, a book called Kes by Barry Hines, another story of a relationship between a boy and a kestrel. And she, in a certain sense, takes up that theme. She also looks at another writer called T.H. White, who wrote a marvellous book about a hawk (The Goshawk - ed), again. I won’t tell you what the end of the story is. I can only say that the fact that there is this goshawk in her life is what actually enables her to overcome her... her grief. As she says, “The hawk was everything I wanted to be: solitary, self-possessed, free from grief and numb to the hurts of human life”; I think a very nice phrase to... to describe both the hawk and her own... her own sensations on losing her father.

(Derek Allen was talking to Mark Worden)

358 - It’s a small world!

Uma rede social única em seu tipo. Small World (www.asmallworld.com) é uma mistura entre o Facebook e o LinkedIn, mas é luxuosa e não é para todos. Só é acessada por convite. Agrupa as pessoas mais visíveis do mundo e serve para trocar informações, negócios, encontrar alma gêmea...

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