Parables from the Land of the Scorpion.

9th November 2022

The All-Knowing Parent

The House of Gesundheit opened its doors. Before long, a parent charged in, dragging a sickly child. The Doctor of Gesundheit examined the child, increasingly concerned with the findings.

“I must conduct further tests,” the professional explained.

“Ah, no problem, my child always passes tests,” the self-assured reply, with a pat on the money bag.

As the doctor suspected, the poor child had cancer, but it was at an early stage. Help was available, a full recovery was expected.

“Ah, no, no, no, no, no, no,” the parent countered, “the hair will fall out, children at school will laugh. I will not have my child laughed at, I will not have my child looking like an egg ! No, no, no, just give the child some pills, some medicine and all will be well. I know my child. I know my child much better than you do.”

The Doctor of Gesundheit protested, remonstrated, pleaded. The words fell on stony ground. So many pearls, such a large swine.

Eventually the doctor had to acquiesce. Parent and child walked away, victoriously.

Some months later the parent returned, bursting into the House of Gesundheit, screaming, ranting, pointing an accusing, accursing finger at the doctor.

“You killed my child. I brought my child to you for help. Instead … I bury my child. You killed my child. You are a terrible doctor, you are a murderer !”

The other patients heard this and got angry, they sided with the grieved parent and shouted abuse at the disgraced doctor.

The House of Gesundheit closed down.

The doctor abandoned medicine and looked for work from village to village.

In a small grave in a small graveyard lies a small child. Over the coming years, the graveyard grew bigger and bigger.

‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ by Lennon & McCartney. August 1966

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

The Beatles solo cinema projects. Some not-so-fab films (part 1)

22nd August 2022

Before The Beatles broke up in 1970, each member had released at least one solo record or appeared in a non-Beatles film.

These solo outings are a ‘must-see’ for Beatles fans, although none of them match the artistic excellent of The Beatles music, or come anywhere close. Most are now curio pieces, examples of the late 60s zeitgeist, and are of little cinematic merit despite amazing casts and writers.

I hadn’t previously seen any of the following five films. Unfortunately it proved to be a rather disappointing experience.

Anyway, in true Beatles style, “One, two, three, four …”

Let’s start in the Autumn of 1966. The ‘Revolver’ LP had been released in August. John Lennon was offered a part in an anti-war black comedy so left the UK to film in Germany and Spain. Meanwhile, Paul McCartney was approached to write a score for a domestic comedy-drama called ‘The Family Way.’

The film was released on 18th December 1966 (June 1967 in the US), while the soundtrack LP was issued in the new year, on 6th January 1967. First, the film review.

‘The Family Way’ is by far my favourite of the five.

The Boulting Brothers, producer and director, were significant names in 50s British cinema, making some classic films on a limited, post-war budget (films such as ‘I’m All Right, Jack’, ‘Brighton Rock’ & ‘Lucky Jim’ among others). The script was by Bill Naughton, who had written the iconic 60s play ‘Alfie’.

British viewers (of a certain age) will recognise many familiar faces from film and TV, especially the male lead, Hywel Bennett (later to play the eponymous Percy in 1971, music written by Ray Davies of The Kinks).

Hayley Mills & Hywel Bennett

The title is somewhat misleading, as the phrase is a British euphemism for being pregnant, usually out of wedlock (a social stigma at this time). In fact, the lack of a family is the main point of the film.

Set in the Manchester region of north-west England, the film following the wedding of Jenny and Arthur, Jenny from a middle-class background, Arthur’s father a life-long employee at the local gas works. Arthur enjoys classical music and literature, at odds with his uneducated father. There are tensions at the wedding between father and son, but the real problem occurs on the wedding night; Arthur is unable to consummate the marriage, and the couple to sleep separately throughout most of the film.

Finally Arthur overcomes his issues, and the couple go on a belated honeymoon, and will move into their own home when they return. It is also heavily implied that another man was Arthur’s biological father, although he now seems to fully accept and love his dad.

Of the five films under discussion, this is the only one I would be happy to watch again. Additionally, it is also one with the least contribution from a Beatle.

Paul McCartney wrote some pieces which his producer, the legendary George Martin, scored and wrote variations for orchestra. According to online sources, Martin had to force McCartney to finish the work, staying at McCartney’s house one night until Paul had produced some music. [1]

Paul McCartney at the film’s premiere

As for the music, I feel it’s pretty uninspiring and inconsequential. The LP clocks in at under 27 minutes, and I doubt if many Beatles fans who actually own it, play it often.

However, it may hold a very important key. Because of the northern setting, McCartney thought a brass band would be a good idea, and it has been suggested that this led to the idea of ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’ Of course, that LP is another story altogether …

‘Sgt Pepper’s’ epitomises the ‘Summer of Love’ in 1967. Meanwhile, the US forces were increasing in Vietnam, fighting was escalating.

At this point, John Lennon made his solo screen outing as Private Gripweed in ‘How I Won The War,’ released on 18th October 1967

The film centres on a lower middle-class man who becomes an officer (Michael Crawford), and how out of touch officers were with the men under their command. The humour, often black, is very hit-and-miss, not to say outdated. Occasionally the jokes don’t work at all.

Lennon, with cropped hair, merely plays a version of himself, and is competent and enjoyable to watch although the film does drag. The plot is basically a group of soldiers being sent into the desert to prepare a grassy area suitable for a game of cricket.

The film received moderate reviews which was disappointing as the director was Richard Lester, who had made ‘A Hard Day’s Night,’ the first Beatles film, which was so fresh and exciting.

Another interesting incident is that Lennon stayed in a villa in Spain during the shoot, a villa that reminded him of a certain building in Liverpool, a Salvation Army garden called Strawberry Fields.

One of the co-stars, Jack MacGowran, would be the lead actor in ‘Wonderwall’ (1968) for which George Harrison composed the music.

Harrison’s soundtrack was released on 1st November 1968, while the film wouldn’t get a full UK release until 12th January 1969.

MacGowran plays a stereotypical absent-minded scientist, who lives alone in a drab, brown-toned apartment, piles of dusty papers everywhere. One day, through a crack in the wall, he sees into the next apartment (alluded to in the LP cover). His neighbour is a beautiful young girl (Jane Birkin) who practises free love, her living space open and multicoloured. The scientist envies her life, and boyfriend, until he witnesses the other side of the permissive society; the irresponsibility. The girl gets pregnant, the boyfriend leaves her and she attempts suicide. The scientist sees this and calls an ambulance, thus saving her. The film is a condemnation of the hippie lifestyle, the squares save the day, depth and character over superficial image.

Jane Birkin
Jack MacGowran

Musically, the LP has its admirers, featuring Harrison’s fascination with the sitar. This works well with the film and places the film firmly in the late 60s. The music is quite listenable, without the images, mixing eastern and western influences, and did receive some praise from contemporary reviewers.

Ringo, meanwhile, made two films in the late 60s, both based on books by Terry Southern, ‘Candy’ and ‘The Magic Christian.’ The much-loved drummer worked with such screen legends as Richard Burton, Peter Sellers and Marlon Brando … but I will save that for another blog.

Goodbye from Ringo

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Family_Way_(soundtrack)

Subject Index: Film, TV, Theatre & Music

4th December 2020

A list of some of the major films and songs that I’ve used in various lessons

Films, TV & Theatre

Around the World in 80 Days // Young Learners 5 // 27th October 2019

Big Bang Theory // Young Learners 5 // 17th November 2019

Blind Date // Adult Speaking Class. Theme: Love & marriage

Car Share // IELTS // 19th February 2019

Chungking Express // Adult C, L 1 // 5th March 2019 /// IELTS // 16th April 2019 /// IELTS // 4th March 2019

Dead Poet Society // Adult C, L 3 // 7th November 2019

Dracula // Adult C, L 1 // 2nd January 2019

Dragon’s Den (US Shark’s Tank) // Adult C, L 3 // 18th March 2019

Far Flung Floyd // Adult professionals // Adult mechanics: What can go wrong ?

Far Flung Floyd // Vietnamese Party Food // 19th May 2020

Four Weddings and a Funeral // Adult Speaking Class. Theme: Love & marriage Part 2

Holidays from Hell // IELTS // 10th February 2019

Ing … // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019

Inglorious Besterds // Adult C, L 1 // 26th February 2019

Live and Let Die // Young Teens // 27th February 2019

Lost in Translation // IELTS // What do you like this film ? // 6th April 2020

Man Who Fell To Earth // Young Learners 4 // 16th November 2019

Most Haunted // Adult C, L 1 // 2 January 2019

Nosferatu // Adult C, L 1 // 2 January 2019

The Owl and the Sparrow (Vietnam) // IELTS // 16th April 2019

Psycho // Adult C, L 3 // 12 November 2019

Rebel Without A Cause // Adult C, L 3 // 15 August 2019 \ 12 November 2019

Reservoir Dogs // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

Social Network // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019 /// Adult C, L 3 // 5th September 2019

Star Wars The Last Jedi // IELTS // 14th January 2019

Summer Holiday //Young Learners 4 // 23rd November 2019

Take Care of my Cat (South Korea) // IELTS // 16th April 2019

Tokyo Story (Japan) // IELTS // 16th April 2019

Top Gear // Adult professionals // Adult mechanics: What can go wrong ?

Top Gear / Vietnam / Porsche challenge / Tesla car / Break for the border /

Twin Peaks // Young Learners 5 // 17th November 2019

2001: A Space Odyssey // Young Learners 4 // 16th November 2019

Waiting For Godot // Adult C, L 1 // 5th March 201

Music

Abba ‘Mamma Mia’ // Young Learners 2 // 18th May 2019

The Archies ‘Sugar, Sugar’ // KinderGarten 1 // 5th May 2019

Louis Armstrong ‘Hello Dolly’ // Young Learners 2 // 26th April 2019

Louis Armstrong ‘Wonderful World’ // Young Learners 2 // 1st June 2019

The Bangles ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ // Young Learners 2 // 1st June 2019

The Beatles ‘I’ll Be Back’ // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1

Beatles ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ // Adult C, L 3 // 14 November 2019

David Bowie ‘Changes’ // IELTS // 16th April 2019

David Bowie ‘Space Oddity’ // Young Learners 4 // 16th November 2019

Bucks Fizz ‘Making Your Mind Up’ // Adult Class, Level 2 // 27th May 2019

Chic ‘Good Times’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

The Coasters ‘Poison Ivy’ // Teenagers: Architecture & Mythology // 13th March 2020

The Deep Six ‘It’s Happening’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Bob Dylan ‘Times They Are A-Changin’ // Adult C, L 3 // 3rd December 2019

Eifel 65 ‘Move Your Body’ // KinderGarten Safari 1 // 2nd March 2019

Flying Lizards ‘Money’ // Adult Class, Level 3 // 14 November 2019

James ‘Sit Down’ // KinderGarten 1 // 24th January 2019

Gene Kelly ‘Singing in the Rain’ // Young Learners 3 // 17th August 2019

Gladys Knight ‘Baby, Don’t Change Your Mind’ // IELTS // 16th April 2019

Kraftwerk ‘The Model’ // Young Learners 5 // 17th November 2019

Kraftwerk ‘We Are The Robots’ // KG 1 // 24th January 2019

Ali Hassan Kuban ‘Habibi’ // Teenagers: Architecture & Mythology // 13th March 2020

Led Zepplin ‘Whole Lotta Love’ // Adult C, L 1 // 12 & 19 December 2018

John Lennon ‘Starting Over’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 14th August 2019

John Lennon ‘Imagine’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Lykki Li ‘Little Bit’ // Young Learners 4 // 1st May 2019

Don McLean ‘Vincent’ // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Men At Work ‘Down Under’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 21st August 2019

Paul McCartney ‘Another Day’ // Adult Speaking Class, level 2

Kylie Minogue ‘can’t get you’ // IELTS // 21st January 2019

Nirvana ‘Teen Spirit’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Ohio Express ‘Yummy, Yummy, Yummy’ // KG 1 // 5th May 2019

Otis Redding “Dock of the Bay’ // IELTS // 16th April 2019

REM ‘Stand’ // KinderGarten 1 // 24th January 2019

Cliff Richard ‘Summer Holiday’ // Young Learners 4 // 23rd November 2019

Russian National Anthem (2 versions) // Young Learners 3 // 7th September 2019

The Sonics ‘Have Love, Will Travel’ // IELTS // 10th February 2019

Spice Girls ‘Tell Me What You Want’ // Young Learners 4 // 9th November 2019

Steppenwolf ‘Born To Be Wild’ // Adult Class, Level 3 // 22nd April 2019

Stray Cats ‘Strut’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Sweet ‘Love is like Oxygen’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Talking Heads ‘Once In A Lifetime’ // Adult Speaking Class, level 2

Tchaikovsky ‘Swan Lake’ // Adult Class, Level 3 // 4th December 2019: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/12/03/adult-class-level-3-the-russian-soul/

Tuareg music // Adult Speaking Class, level 3. Theme: Travel // 11th February 2020

10cc ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019

Hank Williams ‘I’m so lonesome’ // IELTS // 21st January 2019

‘Run, Rabbit, Run’ // KinderGarten 1 // 24th January 2019

Reading exercises

Arabian Nights // Adult Speaking Class, level 2, Part 6 24th January 2020

Reading practice // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: Crime & Punishment

Sherlock Holmes // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: London 3rd March 2020

IELTS 5- 6.5: All you need is love … and relative pronouns

25th September 2019

Tonight I want to focus on forming complex sentences in order to boost the speaking prowess of my students. Being able to speak in long sentences, with subordinate clauses and relative pronouns, linked by appropriate discourse markers, will improve their scores in the speaking tests, along with use of stress, intonation, chunking, and a liberal smattering of expressions and vernacular, thereby demonstrating a familiarity with different uses of English.

So, without further ado … complex sentences. Let’s kick off with some basic information about my friend Pete:

Pete (left) with drummer Kenny Jones of The Small Faces & The Who

Pete’s family are Irish. He was born in Kent, south England. He loves music especially Jazz and he can play saxophone, keyboards, guitar and bass. He is 40 years old. He is bald, and wears glasses. Currently he plays bass in a band called ‘The Deep Six’. They have a video on YouTube. In the photo, Pete is with the famous 60s drummer Kenny Jones. He was in The Small Faces. Later he joined The Who after their original drummer died.

Example:

Pete, who was born in Kent in the south of England, is of Irish heritage. Although he is just forty, Pete looks older, probably due to the fact that he is bald, as well as having to wear glasses. His great passion in life is music, especially Jazz, but his interest is not merely passive; he plays several instruments. In addition to saxophone and keyboards, Pete is proficient on guitar. Having said that, he actually plays bass now in a band named The Deep Six, who have a video on YouTube. Pete is seen here with the legendary drummer Kenny Jones who rose to fame in the 60s as drummer for chart-topping band The Small Faces before joining The Who following the death of their original drummer.

And here is said video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-_u-W_3jWk&list=LLfquznE0joCgmA3v1PIQ0CQ&index=6&t=0s

I am sure if you watch the video, give it a ‘thumbs up’ and ‘like’, Pete will be tickled pink.

Now, a quick practice:

This is Wei Minzhi. She was born near Beijing. She was chosen to be in a Chinese film called ‘Not One Less’. She was 13. She played a substitute teacher but had no experience teaching (and no experience acting). The area is very poor. Some of the children have to leave school to work. The film was shown all over Europe, even at special film festivals. She was famous. She did no more acting. She studied in USA. She lives in Hawaii. Wei is married and has two children.

Students have five minutes to reorganise this information into a style more suited to an IELTS student.

Now – a Socratic activity; students are arranged in small groups, selected by choosing a card (Ace, 2 or 3), given a task and have to collate information and present it to the class, utilising the resources available, namely internet for facts, images or videos. Let’s revisit some old friends; first one of my favourite authors, Dr Franz Kafka:

Image result for kafka

Born: 1883 Prague, Czech Republic (at the time, part of the Austro-Hungarian empire) // Died 1924 in Austria. Never married, engaged twice. Had three sisters. Was vegetarian. Difficult relationship with his father. Famous for writing, but only produced three novels, all of which were published after his death. Most famous of these is ‘The Trial’ which has a famous opening line, “Somebody must have made a false accusation against Joseph K., for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong.” This book is seen as a warning about totalitarian governments. He lived in Prague which is Czech and Protestant, but he spoke and wrote in German, and he was Jewish. He is one of the most influential writers of the Twentieth Century, and his name has become an adjective, ‘Kafkaesque’ meaning impenetrable, convoluted, mysterious and unsolvable. More information can easily be found online, for example:

https://www.dw.com/en/franz-kafka-the-trial/a-45774582

Now let’s turn to John Lennon, seen here with his Japanese wife, Yoko Ono (also an artist, but more avant-garde).

Image result for john lennon

John was born in Liverpool, during World War II, in 1940. Liverpool was a port, so was a target for German bombers. He grew up very poor. At school he was rebellious, but liked art. When he first heard Rock ‘n’ Roll, he knew he had to be a singer. He formed The Beatles. His guitar playing was enthusiastic but basic. He wrote many songs which have become classics. When The Beatles split up in 1970 he went solo. His most famous solo work is the ‘Imagine’ LP. The title track has the lyric, “Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too.” He protested against the war in Vietnam. He was shot in 1980 outside of his New York apartment. He has two sons, Julian by his first wife, and Sean from Yoko.

The third group will get NO help from me – they shouldn’t need it. Their subject is “the father of the Indo-Chinese people, and his name is Ho Chi Minh.”

Image result for Uncle Ho

This task involves the students working together, assigning tasks, then producing and presenting their report. All members of the team have to speak. Furthermore, they should be encouraged to use English during the preparation stage, only resorting to Vietnamese for clarification or translation of new words.

Quick end game: After the book work, which I have to teach, my hands are tied, we can unwind with some speaking practice.

Using discourse markers: I give teams two words which they have to incorporate into a sentence, for example ‘therefore‘ and ‘subsequently‘.

having said that & furthermore

moreover & consequently

initially & eventually

likewise & specifically

meanwhile & notwithstanding

on the whole & instead

What Difference Does It Make ? : I give students a paper with two words or phrases that are related but different. They have to clarify the distinction, for example

teacher / headmaster

educate / bring up

take an exam / retake an exam

do homework / do housework

quite common / ubiquitous

required subject / optional subject

similarity with / disparity between

skim / extrapolate

And to play us out, let’s go back to John Lennon and his iconic song, ‘Imagine’. The music starts around 0:40:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkgkThdzX-8

Nothing to kill or die for … Peace xx

Adult Class, Level 3 (mixed): You practice what I preach.

17th September for 23rd September. AEF 3 pp. 50 – 51

Last week, we covered past tense – simple, continuous and perfect. However, that is a lot to take in, especially for students who are not so confident. Looking at charts and learning the jargon can be daunting and far too theoretical.

This problem has long been identified and addressed; grammar, as theory, reduced to a minimal. Grammar, used in writing and more importantly speaking, maximised.

Therefore, my policy in this block of lessons (four per block) is to reduce book work, simplify the theory and try to allocate at least half the lesson to student-talking time.

Last night’s lesson seemed to work well; the Socratic approach which makes the students collect information and then collate it into a presentation. This was followed by students reading to each other in small groups, with some useful expressions to use … and repeat and repeat and …yeah, you get the idea.

Let’s go to work !

Image result for go to work

But first, back to basics. Some students are not fluent in the three forms of basic verbs:

Grammar – verb practice

Here’s the 15 most common:

infinite \ present // past // past participle (verb 3)

1to bewas werebeen
2to havehadhad
3to dodiddone
4to saysaidsaid
5to gowentgone
6to getgotgot/gotten
7to makemademade
8to knowknewknown
9to thinkthoughtthought
10to taketooktaken
11to seesawseen
12to comecamecome
13to wantwantedwanted
14to useusedused
15to findfoundfound

Regular verbs, just add -‘ed’. However, as you see, in this list only one common verb, ‘want’, is regular.

NOTE: ‘to be’ is different: I am hungry You are hungry She is hungry.

Now, practice: In groups of three or four, they have to ask each other questions in order to feel more natural using the past tense. Lets’s start simply with the simple past:

What did you do today ? PAST SIMPLE

Each student takes turns describing their day. Always give ideas, as some students spent too much time thinking of what to say, whereas the purpose is to speak.

Related image
Related image
Image result for go to school
Image result for easy rider bike
Related image

I will also board: buy / drink / surf the internet / help parents / cook / do homework

To make it more interactive, the students can ask follow-up questions, such as, “What did you eat for lunch ?”, “What time did you start school ?”, “How did you get to work or school ?” etc. Groups can monitor each other to make sure past tense is being used properly.

NEXT: Past Continuous. Subject was doing something in the past ….

Example: Last night I was listening to T-ara:

Image result for T-ar

However, we usually use past continuous to say we were doing something WHEN something new happened.

EXAMPLE: I was listening to T-ara when someone knocked on my door.

The structure is Subject + was or were + verbing, followed by past simple

Try this: dream // alarm clock ring

He was dreaming when the alarm clock rang.

Now – practice: Make a sentence from these pairs of photos:

Image result for reading
Image result for telephone ring
Related image
Image result for rain
Image result for angry teacher
Image result for pulp fiction jules eating
Image result for pulp fiction honey bunny

Finally, the past perfect. Two things happened in the past, one before the other.

Image result for Kafka
Image result for Berlin 1920

The students ‘met’ Dr Kafka last week.

Dr Franz Kafka had lived all his life in Prague until he moved to Berlin in the 1920s.

Subject + has or had + verb 3 then use past simple.

Try these:

John Lennon – in The Beatles / goes solo in 1970

Image result for john lennon beatles
Image result for john lennon imagine

Dali – paint over 1 500 paintings / dies 1989

Image result for dali
Image result for dali tomb

Bringing it closer to home, Bac Ho (Uncle Ho Chi Minh) – work London / meet these young Germans.

Image result for uncle ho in Paris
Image result for uncle ho in russia

Finally, for presentation, the students can be arranged in four groups (draw playing cards so students work with new partners). I will give them ten minutes to work together and make a short presentation, with all members speaking, about the above four historical figures. Those who draw Ho Chi Minh should have an advantage, so I will be expecting more from them.

Presentations should include:

Date and place of birth.

Why there are famous

Give examples of their most famous works or activities

Where they lived

When and how they died.

ALSO – why we should remember them.

Then, I will turn to the books and hand-outs, before returning to some speaking practice before the end.