Today is Independence Day in Vietnam, so let’s start with Uncle Ho, Ho Chi Minh (1890 – 1969). He has some very sage advise, especially for Vietnamese students:
“We need to work much harder.”
Don’t take my word for it, listen to Uncle Ho. Now, let’s go back to Ancient China and listen to Master Kong … Kong Fuzi … Latinised as Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC):
Moving forward, and westward, we come to Ancient Greece and the philosophy of Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC). I think he deserves two quotes n’est-ce pas ?
Our inspirational journey takes us my homeland, a “Precious stone set in the silver sea,” (Shakespeare, and more from the Bard, later). The court of Queen Elizabeth, and her adviser and alchemist, the mysterious John Dee (1527 – 1608 or 1609), furthermore, the man credited with coining the phrase “British Empire.”
As promised, something from Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
I totally agree. The quote is from Henry VI, Part II.
Each lover has some theory of his own About the difference between the ache Of being with his love, and being alone:
Why what, when dreaming, is dear flesh and bone That really stirs the senses, when awake, Appears a simulacrum of his own.
Narcissus disbelieves in the unknown; He cannot join his image in the lake So long as he assumes he is alone.
The child, the waterfall, the fire, the stone, Are always up to mischief, though, and take The universe for granted as their own.
The elderly, like Proust, are always prone To think of love as a subjective fake; The more they love, the more they feel alone.
Whatever view we hold, it must be shown Why every lover has a wish to make Some kind of otherness his own: Perhaps, in fact, we never are alone.
1906 – 1984
This poem is about a small industrial town, outside of London. The poet criticises the place for its lack of culture and atmosphere, and the people for being mediocre. The place is pronounced ‘sl – owl’ to rhyme with ‘cow’ and ‘now’.
Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough! It isn’t fit for humans now, There isn’t grass to graze a cow. Swarm over, Death!
Come, bombs and blow to smithereens Those air -conditioned, bright canteens, Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans, Tinned minds, tinned breath.
Mess up the mess they call a town- A house for ninety-seven down And once a week a half a crown For twenty years.
And get that man with double chin Who’ll always cheat and always win, Who washes his repulsive skin In women’s tears:
And smash his desk of polished oak And smash his hands so used to stroke And stop his boring dirty joke And make him yell.
But spare the bald young clerks who add The profits of the stinking cad; It’s not their fault that they are mad, They’ve tasted Hell.
It’s not their fault they do not know The birdsong from the radio, It’s not their fault they often go To Maidenhead
And talk of sport and makes of cars In various bogus-Tudor bars And daren’t look up and see the stars But belch instead.
In labour-saving homes, with care Their wives frizz out peroxide hair And dry it in synthetic air And paint their nails.
Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough To get it ready for the plough. The cabbages are coming now; The earth exhales.
1922 – 1985
Why should I let the toad work Squat on my life? Can’t I use my wit as a pitchfork And drive the brute off ?
Six days of the week it soils With its sickening poison – Just for paying a few bills! That’s out of proportion.
Lots of folk live on their wits: Lecturers, lispers, Losels, loblolly-men, louts- They don’t end as paupers;
Lots of folk live up lanes With fires in a bucket, Eat windfalls and tinned sardines- they seem to like it.
Their nippers have got bare feet, Their unspeakable wives Are skinny as whippets – and yet No one actually starves.
Ah, were I courageous enough To shout Stuff your pension! But I know, all too well, that’s the stuff That dreams are made on:
For something sufficiently toad-like Squats in me, too; Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck, And cold as snow,
And will never allow me to blarney My way of getting The fame and the girl and the money All at one sitting.
I don’t say, one bodies the other One’s spiritual truth; But I do say it’s hard to lose either, When you have both.
1564 – 1616
Hamlet, Act II, Scene II
Ham. I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather. I have of late,—but wherefore I know not,—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not me; no, nor woman neither, though, by your smiling, you seem to say so.
In December 2019, The UK had a general election. USA have their election at the end of 2020.
Idioms and collocations
campaign / victory / vote / party / voter
It was a long and dirty election _________which divided the country. The Conservatives won a landslide _________ in the last general election. I usually cast my _________ for the candidate who is more business friendly. The problem with two _________systems like the USA’s, is not all views are represented. I’m a typical floating _________ , I never decide how to vote until the day of the election.
If you elect me for President, I will make a difference. I will lower taxes for every citizen and I will make sure that every worker gets a fair deal. I will not stand by and watch the poor and the needy being downtrodden.
How long is a political term in your country ?
Do you think it’s important to vote?
If you were elected leader of your country, what law would you change first?
You will see some character information. Use this to create a character for yourself.
Take some time to think. Put some effort into this by using the facts and incorporating them.
Lee Morgan 27 musician born Chicago resides Sai Gon not married
Likes music ! barbecue and spicy food cinema going to clubs and dancing
Dislikes early mornings 9 – 5 jobs Vietnamese food traffic no-smoking ban
Hi, my name’s Morgan, Lee Morgan. I’m 27 and I hail from Chicago, Illinois, which is a dynamic city, but pretty damn cold in winter; icy winds and snow. I’m currently living here, in HCM or Sai Gon, whatever. I’m still single, haven’t found the right girl yet but there are a heap of cute ladies in Vietnam, right ?
I’m a professional musician so, of course, I love music, it’s my passion. I also really love barbecue and hot, spicy food like chilli or gumbo. Yeah, what else … oh, I also enjoy taking in a movie, but at the cinema, not on DVD … no atmosphere at home. Because I finish work late, I often find myself going to clubs and dancing the night away. Great way to meet women, too !
What I’m not crazy about is getting up early. I never get up before noon, no way ! Oh, yeah, sorry to say, I really can’t find any Vietnamese food I like, hey, sorry. Some of it’s OK, but it’s just soup and noddles and bones ! The traffic is another pet hate, it’s hellish and absolutely dangerous. Lastly, I’m a smoker and I want to smoke where and when I want. I hate that I get told not to smoke.
If you have just met, what questions could you ask Lee ?
Remember – nothing too personal. When he answers, show interest, maybe add information about yourself.
BACKCHANNEL – say ‘yeah’, ‘oh, right’, ‘really ?’ etc
I was born in Hue but I grew up in Na Trang.
Really ? I’m from Na Trang. When did you move to HCMC ?
I like sports.
Me too. I play badminton every week and football every Sunday.
We’ve been married for three years but no kids.
Why not ? What is wrong with you, or is your wife too lazy to have kids ?
(this is not considered a correct or polite thing to say. Instead, change the subject)
Kenjie Ozu 24 medical student born Tokyo resides Sai Gon engaged
Likes Jazz music / keep fit / karaoke / meeting friends / computer games
Dislikes noise and pollution / smoking / animal cruelty / fast food
Rob Forster 31 lawyer born Sydney resides Sai Gon married, 2 children