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Improve your speaking by telling interesting and amusing anecdotes. In this episode you’ll learn about anecdotes, listen to a couple of stories told by some BBC radio DJs and learn some new vocabulary. Good extended listening practice. There are vocabulary notes and a grammar practice exercise below. Enjoy!
What are the characteristics of an anecdote?
• They’re quite funny
• They contain a story
• They include lots of descriptive details – like exactly what happened and what it looked like
• They include descriptions of the thoughts and feelings of the person involved
• Some details are exaggerated to make the story more interesting!
• They involve a comment at the end – e.g. what you’ve learned, what you think of the situation now
You’re going to listen to an anecdote by Adam Buxton, a BBC Radio DJ and comedian from South London.
The Adam & Joe Show is a weekly radio programme on BBC 6 Music every Saturday morning. The show is also available as a podcast from the BBC here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/adamandjoe/
Adam and Joe have known each other since they were children. They both grew up together in London, and became famous for making comedy television programmes and radio shows. Adam Buxton is also an actor who has been in British films such as Hot Fuzz, Stardust and Son of Rambow. Joe Cornish works in Hollywood as a screen writer. He is currently writing the screenplay for the Steven Spielburg film Tin-Tin.
Listen to Adam’s anecdote and answer these questions:
1. Where was Adam when this happened and why was he there?
2. How does Adam know this happened when he was incredibly young?
3. What was lying on the floor? How did it get there?
4. Why did Adam think it was free?
5. What was Adam doing when his Dad found him?
6. What did Adam’s Dad say when he realised Adam had stolen the gum?
7. How did Adam’s Dad make his point?
8. What exactly happened to the gum?
Here’s some of the vocabulary from the recording of Adam and Joe. To get explanations of this language, you’ll have to listen to the podcast. I start giving definitions at about 22m40sec.
1. Do you think of me as a bit of a crim?
2. These are crimes you commit on kind of an instinctive basis
3. We don’t condone it. In fact if you enter this text competition we might pass your details on to the coppers.
4. This is one of my formative memories
5. The earliest memory I’ve got stashed away in my brainium
6. This is in the days when my Ma and Pa used to smoke cigs
7. Someone had knocked a packet of Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum off the shelf
8. The floor is no man’s land
9. That’s what Ronnie Biggs said in his defence. “It was on the floor! The gold fell on the floor!”
10. So, anyway, to cut a long story short, I stuffed the Wriggles in my pockles
11. I was fairly brazen about it
12. My Dad found me happily chomping some Wriggles
13. It’s tricky to get rid of the evidence. Just chew it. You can’t swallow it either
14. The police can forensic it
15. I was very freaked out
16. Gum’s not even flammable, is it?
17. It’s like a sort of a hellfire response! It’s like he’s a Baptist minister.
18. The foil just went all charcoaly and the gum just sort of melted
Practise your English by completing Adam’s story. This is a slightly basic version of the story (not exactly the same as the one in the recording). Don’t listen, just try and put the verbs in the correct form:
Well, my introduction to the shady world of crime (come about) __________ when I suppose I (be) _______________ about four or five. We (be) ____________ at the corner shop. This (be) _______________ in the days when my Ma and Pa (smoke) _______________ cigs. We (live) _______________ in Earl’s Court and we (be) _______________ at the corner shop. My Dad (buy) _______________ some cigs. I (know) _______________ I (be) _______________ incredibly young because the only shelf I (see) _______________ (be) _______________ the absolute bottom shelf, and that (be) _______________ where all the sweeties (be) _______________. And someone (knock) _______________ a packet of Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum off the shelf and it (just lie) _______________ on the floor, (call) _______________ my name. And I (be) _______________ the only one down there at that level, and I (look) _______________ at it and I (think) _______________ “Free gum! Free gum!”. I (remember) _______________ very clearly the logic process I (go through) _______________ in order to justify to myself that it (be) _______________ ok, because inside I (know) _______________ that it (steal) _______________. I remember (think) _______________ “it (fall) _______________ off the shelf and they don’t want it any more”.
Anyway, I (shove) _______________ the gum into my pocket, and (get) _______________ home and I (go) _______________ into my room. I didn’t believe I (commit) _______________ a serious crime, but my Dad (find) _______________ me happily (chomp) _______________ some gum, and he said “where did you get this gum? I didn’t buy you any chewing gum. You’re not allowed gum.” And I said “It was on the floor, it was broken!” And he said, “you (just steal) _______________ something! You stole this! You didn’t pay for it! If the police (find) _______________ out, you (go) _______________ to prison.”
I (be) _______________ very freaked out, and (make) _______________ his point even more forcefully, my Dad (burn) _______________ the gum. The foil just (go) _______________ all charcoaly and the gum just kind of (melt) _______________. It (smell) _______________ minty.
Here’s the complete script if you need it:
Well, my introduction to the shady world of crime came about when I suppose I must have been about four or five. We were at the corner shop. This is in the days when my Ma and Pa used to smoke cigs. We lived in Earl’s Court and we were at the corner shop. My Dad was buying some cigs. I know I was incredibly young because the only shelf I could see was the absolute bottom shelf, and that’s where all the sweeties were, and someone had knocked a packet of Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum off the shelf and it was just lying on the floor, calling my name. And I was the only one down there at that level, and I was looking at it and I was thinking “Free gum! Free gum!”. I remember very clearly the logic process I went through in order to justify to myself that it was ok, because inside I knew that it would be stealing.
I remember thinking “it’s fallen off the shelf and they don’t want it any more”.
Anyway, I shoved the gum into my pocket, and got home and I went into my room. I didn’t believe I had committed a serious crime, but my Dad found me happily chomping some gum, and he said “where did you get this gum? I didn’t buy you any chewing gum. You’re not allowed gum.” And I said “It was on the floor, it was broken!” And he said, “you’ve just stolen something! You stole this! You didn’t pay for it! If the police found out, you could go to prison.”
p.s. Here those ‘rules of life’ I talked about at the beginning of the podcast:
1. Don’t be dead
2. Get a job
3. Get money
4. Get food
5. Find friends / a life partner
6. Get married
7. Buy a nice house in a good neighbourhood – get on the property ladder
8. Get a broadband internet connection (so you can download Luke’s English Podcast)
9. Get an HD TV
10. Negotiate a good mobile phone contract
11. Look after your teeth
12. Eat plenty of fibre
13. Eat 5 portions of fruit or vegetables a day
14. Get plenty of sleep – at least 6 hours
15. Get regular sex
16. Reduce your carbon footprint – insulate your home
17. Watch the latest American dramas on TV
18. Consolidate all your monthly loan repayments
19. Learn another language
20. Call your parents
22. Follow your dreams
23. Enjoy yourself.
So, the 23rd rule of life – Just ENJOY YOURSELF!