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A typical British weather story

 

This was written on 30 March 2013.

 

I thought I’d share with you the strange experience I had when I went out today.

 

The UK has had cold weather and snow for many months and it is still persisting, which is unusual at this time of year. So, it was no surprise that having been cold but still this morning, it started snowing very lightly before lunch.

 

I went out to walk through the city, but shortly after I left and was in the city, the snow turned into some kind of mild blizzard and I had to turn back.

 

When I was nearly home, it had stopped snowing completely, the sun was shining and I felt warmer than I had done for many weeks.

 

After I had been back home for a few minutes, I looked out of the window and saw that it was snowing a lot again.

 

A little later, it was sunny.

 

This is why British people often discuss the weather. Do you have a similar story to share from your country?

UK Easter weekend

 

This weekend is a “long” weekend in the UK as the traditional Easter Bank Holidays (state holidays) on Friday and Monday mean we have four days instead of two.

 

chocolate eggsThe Easter celebrations are again based on Christian beliefs (that Jesus rose from the grave) but, as with Christmas, people celebrate it whether they are religious or not.

 

The Friday is called Good Friday, Sunday is Easter Sunday (the main day), and the Monday is called Bank Holiday Monday.

 

People will celebrate by eating lots of chocolate, particularly chocolate eggs, which symbolise the empty tomb of Jesus, in Christianity.

 

If you are celebrating it too, I wish you a Happy Easter!

 

Please read this great post by Shanthi Cumaraswamy Streat to learn eight idioms and phrases relating to Easter:

http://languageandthecity.tumblr.com/post/46578806990/8-idioms-and-phrases-in-english-using-some-easter

Economics news: British economy – the 2013 Budget

Every year in March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the politician in charge of our economy) must present the Budget, which is effectively a set of new economic policies for the year and details of how the country’s economy is performing.

 

George Osborne holding the traditional Budget briefcase

George Osborne holding the traditional Budget briefcase

The Chancellor, George Osborne, presented the Budget on Wednesday and, unfortunately, it mostly was not good news, the main problem being that growth of the economy was much lower than predicted, although the UK will not go into recession again.

 

This is a particularly bad omen for the coalition government, including Mr Osborne and David Cameron, who are under severe pressure due to the economy performing less well than they basically promised.

 

Please read here a BBC article summarising the key points:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21851965

 

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Europe, it is a critical weekend in Cyprus as the government is trying to work out how to get a new bailout (loan) from the EU:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21909673

British politics news: success for Liberal Democrats and UKIP

 

This week saw an interesting event in British politics in the shape of the Eastleigh (Southampton) by-election. This means that they had an election in one constituency (area) of the country. They had to do this because the Member of Parliament (MP), Chris Huhne, resigned after he admitted to committing perjury (lying under oath in Court) about criminal charges against him to do with avoiding a speeding ticket.

 

The result was that the Liberal Democrats won, with the UK Independence Party (UKIP) second, the Conservatives third and Labour fourth.

 

The most significant thing is that UKIP gained support. It is a minority party which is anti-Europe and anti-immigration. Their success raises questions about the popularity of the current coalition government (Conservatives and Liberal Democrats) and the importance of the issue of immigration especially. It is being seen as a sign that the British voters are becoming more preoccupied with immigration.

 

Is the political situation the same in your country? What do you think?

 

Please read the BBC article here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21630472

 

Discussion about UKIP:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21647066

English news: horsemeat in “beef” products in UK and France

 

This has been a very big headline (and slightly amusing story) in the UK in the last week:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21401111

 

There has been some anger because some food products such as beef lasagnes have been found to contain “up to 100% horsemeat”. Although not harmful, this is obviously deceiving.

 

Despite the anger, this story has allowed the British media to make a lot of typically awful English jokes and puns about horses. Below are some examples:

 

“I could eat a horse”

We sometimes use this expression to explain that we are feeling very hungry. However, the story above proves that British people do not like eating horses at all!

 

“Horsing around”

If you are “horsing around”, you are not being serious. We could argue that the Food Standards Authority (FSA), which is supposed to regulate the quality of food, has been “horsing around” if they allowed this to happen!

 

“Why the long face?”

If someone has a “long face”, they are sad or unhappy as this makes their face longer. We often combine this saying with jokes about horses. It is safe to assume a lot of people who like beef lasagnes will have long faces now!

 

“Classic” British joke

A horse walks into a bar. The bartender asks, “Why the long face?”

(Bartenders normally check if people are sad – that’s the basis of this terrible joke.)

 

French cuisine

There have been a lot of jokes about the French since this story emerged because we imagine they will buy more beef lasagne now that they know it has horsemeat in it.

We have the impression the French like to eat horsemeat and this is strange to us, so we make many jokes about it.

British people and French people are always making jokes about each other!

British news: gay marriage Bill passed in UK

 

If you are interested in this subject, please read this BBC article first.

 

On Tuesday this week, our House of Commons (government) voted in favour of gay (same sex) marriage. This means that gay (homosexual) couples can get married in the same way that straight (heterosexual) couples can.

 

This topic involves talking about people’s sexual orientation. It is currently the main headline in the UK and also in France because of the governments voting for gay people to be able to marry with full rights. Below is a list of vocabulary to help you understand more about it:

 

Sexual orientation (noun) – describing which gender someone is sexually attracted to.

Heterosexual (adjective / noun) – someone who is attracted to people of the opposite sex (i.e. men who like women; women who like men).

Straight (adjective) – another way to describe a heterosexual person.

Homosexual (adjective / noun) – someone who is attracted to people of the same sex (i.e. men who like men; women who like women).

Gay (adjective) – another way to describe and homosexual person. Sometimes it is used as a negative adjective which is very offensive, so please be careful not to do that.

Bisexual (adjective / noun) – someone who is attracted to either sex (i.e. someone who likes both men and women).

Lesbian (adjective / noun) – a woman who is attracted to other women. (A gay / homosexual woman.)

British slang and news: British have “beef” with beef burgers

 

To have beef with something

This means you have a problem.

EXAMPLES

“What’s your beef?” (What’s your problem?)

“We better find out what his beef is.” (We need to find out what his problem is.)

 

I mention this because a leading news story this week has been that beef burgers sold by some UK supermarkets have been found to contain horse meat in them, so the British people have considerable beef with this!

 

Here is the BBC article:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21059425

 

In other news, we have had loads of snow in the UK recently. What about in your country? Any interesting news you would like to share?

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