If, like me, you spend most of your day sitting in front of a computer screen, you should be interested in new research which suggests that the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle can be offset by doing one hour of physical activity a day. I've used this Guardian article about the study as the basis for another 'cloze' crossword puzzle, which you can find here.
July and August are a pretty quiet time for blogging, but although I haven't posted many articles recently, I have been working on some new projects, including a new book of crosswords. However, this crossword is more of an experiment, and I think I can say that it's the first ever 'cloze' crossword, so called because instead of the usual clues, there's a gapped text. You can find the crossword (and many more 'traditional' ones) over on my other site, Crossword English. Let me know what you think!
COMMENTARY The cartoonist plays on the double meaning of the word 'affairs'. Boris Johnson's official title is 'Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs' (usually abbreviated to 'foreign secretary') but he is also know for his 'affairs' with women (which is why he has lipstick kisses on his face). So when Theresa May says 'Not those sort, Boris!', she means 'not those sort of affairs'.
GRAMMAR One might expect 'those sorts (of affairs)', but as explained here, 'sort' can be used as an 'unchanged plural'.
This weekend saw the start of the 103rd edition of the Tour de France, the world's greatest bike race. To mark the occasion, here's a special Tour de France crossword that will test your knowledge of cycling vocabulary.
There have been many reactions to Britain's vote to the the EU (aka Brexit), but this bitterly ironic poem by English poet Luke Wright expresses what many 'Remain' voters are feeling. He reads it brilliantly too.
It’s Great to Have My Country Back by Luke Wright
The dream of ’45 is dead united Europe full of lead division reigns but SHIT THE BED It’s great to have my country back!
The markets shake like Georgie Best as Farridge thumps his flabby chest and struts about like Kanye West It’s great to have my country back!
Boo sucks to you Miss Merkel Frau no Englishman will ever bow our pound is worth a penny now It’s great to have my country back!
And here they come the dull and drab the clumsy, half-pissed power grab Angela Eagle! Stephen Crabb! It’s great to have my country back!
It’s great to have my country back well some of it at least as Sturgeon whips her scalpel out and Belfast calls the priest
Auf Wiedersehen controlling Krauts behold our future - mapped by louts - where Brussels only come with sprouts It’s great to have my country back!
Experts? Pah, what total tosh they take backhanders off the Bosch Nah, I trust Boris, cos he talks posh. It’s great to have my country back!
Chin-up Charlie, don’t get mis ignore the racists popping fizz. Look how straight this banana is! It’s great to have my country back!
At last our plucky nation’s free Hurrah for Bojo sipping tea and laughing: Me me me me me me! It’s great to have my country back!
COMMENT Although the narrator of the poem is ostensibly a 'Brexiteer' ("We want our country back" was one of the 'Leave' campaign's most successful slogans), the tone is clearly ironic. When Luke Wright says "It's great to have my country back!", he really means the opposite.
NOTES Teachers could use this poem with more advanced classes but there are probably some things that would need explanation. These notes may help:
1. The 'dream of '45' refers to the post-war (1945) creation of the EU, whose main aim was to make another war in Europe impossible 2. 'full of lead' - lead bullets, i.e., having been metaphorically shot 3. SHIT THE BED - an expression of surprise (not polite!) 4. George Best was a legendary Manchester United footballer who became an alcoholic, hence the shakes 5. Farridge - 'wrong' pronunciation of 'Farage', UKIP leader 6. '(Ya) boo sucks to' (someone) is a slang phrase used to insult people 7. Miss Merkel Frau: Angela Merkel, German Chancellor 8. half-pissed: half-drunk 9. Angela Eagle: contender for the Labour Party leadership 10. Stephen Crabb: contender for the Conservative Party leadership 11. Sturgeon: Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish first minister. There's a play on the word 'surgeon'. A surgeon uses a scalpel to cut people open. Sturgeon want to cut Scotland off from the rest of the UK (Scottish independence is 'back on the table' after Brexit) 12. Belfast: capital of Northern Ireland, which voted to remain in the EU. You call a priest when someone is dying. 13. Auf Wiedersehen: 'goodbye' in German 14. Krauts: offensive slang word for Germans (from sauerkraut?) 15. Lout: rude, offensive person 16. Brussels: EU capital and a metonym for the EU as a whole 17: Sprouts: Brussels sprouts are a vegetable 16. Tosh: rubbish ('Leave' campaigner Michael Gove famously said "people in this country have had enough of experts") 17. Backhanders: bribes (Gove also suggested the experts predicting post-Brexit chaos were being funded by the EU) 18. Boris: Boris Johnson, ex-mayor of London, leading Brexit campaigner 19. Posh: upper class (Boris went to Eton public school) 20. Chin-up: 'keep your chin up' means 'remain cheerful in difficult circumstances' 21. Mis: miserable (?) 22. Popping fizz: opening bottles of champagne (to celebrate the victory against immigration). Racist incidents have already increased. 23. Banana: one of the biggest myths surrounding the EU is that they tried to ban 'bent' bananas (see here) 24. Bojo: nickname for Boris Johnson
Today's cartoon by Chappatte illustrates the phenomenon of so-called 'buyer's remorse' in relation to Brexit. Buyer's remorse is the sense of regret after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with the purchase of an expensive item such as a car or house. In the case of the EU Referendum, many of those who voted 'Leave' are now having second thoughts as they see the catastrophic economic consequences, and realize that many of the promises made by the 'Out' campaign will not be kept. In fact, a new term has been coined to describe this feeling: Bregret.
THE CARTOON The cartoon shows a stereotypical 'City gent' complete with umbrella and bowler hat (does anyone actually wear those any more?), standing in front of a 'Leave' campaign poster, whose slogan is 'Let's take our country back'. The gent, who has been reading about the economic chaos and 'Leave' campaign lies (note the picture of Boris Johnson), asks, "Can I take my vote back?"
The world's editorial cartoonists have wasted no time reacting to Britain's referendum vote to leave the EU, aka Brexit. This one by Dave Granlund shows UK PM David Cameron being forced to walk the plank.
THE CARTOON The cartoon employs a metaphor which has been used quite a lot in relation to Brexit — the UK as a ship (see here, here and here). In this case, one could imagine it's a pirate ship since David Cameron is being forced to 'walk the plank', a method of execution practiced by pirates, and a reference to his more or less enforced resignation following the disastrous referendum defeat. He is tied up, and at his back is a sword with a Brexit ballot paper on it. We can't see who's holding the sword but it could be anyone who voted 'Remain' for a start! Cameron says, "I've decided to step down", which is a play on words since "to step down" means to resign, and he's literally stepping down from (or rather off) the gangplank.
COMMENT Ironically, Cameron himself used the 'ship' metaphor in his resignation speech: "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."
And so, after a long, ugly, and bitterly divisive campaign, we finally come to EU referendum day. Which way will Britain vote? We should find out in the early hours of Friday morning but I'm cautiously optimistic that 'Remain' will win.
CARTOON Adams' cartoon from The Telegraph shows a little old lady with a dog in a garden that resembles a Union Jack. She is at a crossing in the path is studying a sign that gives the choice between 'Out' or 'In'.
COMMENT The visual metaphor doesn't need any explanation, but I don't think the choice of the elderly woman to represent the undecided voter is haphazard. We know that younger people are more likely to vote for 'Remain' and older people (men especially) for 'Leave'. So, in a very close contest, it could well be the older female voter who will tip the balance.
COMMENT Having lived outside the UK for more than 15 years, I'm not entitled to vote in the EU referendum. However, I'm still a Brit at heart and have kept my British nationality. Viewed from across the Channel, the ugly Brexit debate has been nothing short of a national tragedy/travesty, and both sides have a lot to answer for. However, the decision to remain or leave really is a no-brainer, so let's hope the English (because the outcome largely depends on them) don't succumb to midsummer madness, and that they collectively come to their senses when it comes to the crunch. Fingers crossed ...
CARTOON The cartoon shows a man lowering a barrier with the words 'Keep Out' on it (a clear metaphor for Brexit). However, a Scottish man (note the kilt, tartan, and tam o'shanter) tells him 'Hold it!'
EXPLANATION A majority of Scots (and Welsh, and Northern Irish) want to remain in the EU, so if the UK (i.e., the English) votes to leave the EU, that could trigger a second Scottish referendum and lead to the break-up of the UK. In which case, Scotland could apply to rejoin the EU (though it's not a foregone conclusion).
VOCABULARY If you tell someone to 'Hold it' you want them to stop doing what they are doing.
On 23rd June Britain will decide by a referendum whether it will remain in the European Union or if it will leave – the so-called Brexit option. The opinion polls show the race is a close one as the national debate gets louder and louder. But what does it all mean? I thought it would be interesting to study the question with my EM Normandie students, so here's what I did.
1. Used this PowerPoint to introduce the topic and get some discussion going. 2. Took the students to the multimedia room to work on this interactive video lesson I created using the excellent EdPuzzle site.
3. Held a debate/discussion on whether the UK should remain in the EU or not (you can see the question on the PPT). 4. Got the class to vote on the question. You can make some ballot papers to make it more realistic. 5. Did this Brexit crossword (I got my students to do the online version in groups, but you can also download the PDF and print it out). 6. You can download the a transcript of the video here, and use it to make your your own exercises here or here.
COMMENT There was a big majority in favour of 'Remain', which coming from French students says a lot. If only the British were so level-headed ...
It's just one week until the UK's EU referendum, which, according to who you believe, will either result in the end of civilization as we know it, or a glorious new future for an independent Britain, finally freed from the overbearing grip of faceless EU bureaucrats in Brussels. Who's right? Only time will tell ...
You've probably heard the term 'Brexit', but do you know what's behind it? You can test your knowledge by doing today's crossword.