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)

347 - BREXIT - Cameron resigns

David Cameron (Standard British accent)

I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination. This is not a decision I’ve taken lightly, but I do believe it’s in the national interest to have a period of stability, and then the new leadership required. There is no need for a precise timetable today, but in my view we should aim to have a new Prime Minister in place by the start of the Conservative Party conference in October.

347 - Prince Charles’s school days

Federico Torti (Standard British accent)

So Prince Charles went to my school (Gordonstoun in Scotland – ed) back in, I think, the ‘70s or ‘60s, and he didn’t really enjoy his time there initially. That’s because public schools, I guess, at the time were completely different than they are now: yeah, they were, and that’s mainly because there was a sort of system of oppression from the sort of the higher years, I guess, into forcing you to do, you know, essentially cheap labour, I don’t know, just forcing you to do really like terrible tasks, like... not terrible but just.. I don’t know, cleaning someone’s shoes... cleaning someone’s shoes or something like that, and going to get, you know, the food for the house, and throwing away the bins... like the rubbish bins and stuff, so. And he was... he was bullied. I guess that’s because of the sort of intrinsic sort of differences that existed between him and other people at the school. And, you know, he was a noble(man), and some people there were, you know, fishermen or farmers, and, you know, there was a pretty big difference, obviously, between them, so sometimes class wars happen, I guess! But, no, it’s completely changed, as in you probably do feel a bit of this hierarchy when you’re in Year Nine, but it doesn’t go to the same extent that it would have been back in... back in the days. And it’s definitely a growing experience, and people... there’s way too much (political) correctness nowadays on not... there not being a hierarchy, but I think it is a way to be able to grow to respect your elders, and so that’s what I’ve learnt, when I was there.

(Federico Torti, who was recently a pupil at Gordonstoun, 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...

Pratique e Estude Inglês com a Revista Speak Up.

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