Preaching to the Converted

07/02/2012 02:49

 Preaching to the Converted

 

To spoil our weekends (Thursday/Friday in the `Slammer) the management at Jizzy-Ra Academy, Riyald, Pseudi Yarubeer, insist that their teaching staff roll up at 10.00 am on Thursdays for 'training', which consists of one of us gabbling on for an hour or so about what it takes to make sure the stud`nts remain as dull and miserable as when they came to us. I say this advisedly, because we're often accused of a lack of seriousness incommensurate with the profundity of our charges. Paradoxically, we're also exhorted to smile constantly, but I twigged the reasoning when I began attending our non-CELTA training programme 'The Way To CELTA'. We're a mixed bunch with professionals from places as diverse as South Africa and the Phillipines, but the bulk of our personnel come from Egypt and, if you have ever taught with non-native speakers, you will be aware that this is where the problem lies: pedantry. Flashes of humour are incomprehensible to the Egyptians. So they compensate with a studious demeanor and a perma-grin. This communicates itself to the stud`nts, who're encouraged to equate learning with gritting one's teeth.

 

 

 But, of course, there is nothing more serious than comedy. When the Egypt Johns were asking me how did one spell the third person singular of 'teach', my thoughts seemed magnetically to turn to those howls of laughter from the non-Egyptian audience on London Weekend Television's Live From Her Majesty's as be-fezzed comedic impersonator of an Egyptian magician, Tommy Cooper (1921-84) sat slumped under his blood red fez in front of an equally red closing curtain. He'd just died - and not as part of an English language exercise on metaphors either. ‘Ask me how to spell I-N-C-O-N-S-E-Q-U-E-N-T-I-A-L too,’ I'd begin going into cardiac arrest-inducing apoplexy, while mentally belaboring the Egyptian spellers with my more potent magic of invisible Potteresque baseball bats.

 

 

 Gravity is, doubtless, the essence of life in the Crazy Golf war. They pray five times a day to `Vlad` Puttin` - and you can't get more serious than that. But we're discouraged even from talking about Western music because of its irreverence. I always attempt to resurrect at least the spirit of Tommy Cooper by telling stud`nts that my favorite song is The Bangles (1981-) ‘Walk Like An Egyptian' (1986). In this way and in others I get my point across.

 

 

 During one of our Thursday 'workshops' we listened to Osama (please don't send 92nd Airborne) relate the wondrous information that 'okay' is the most used word in the English language. Aha! Osama! Known to all his colleagues as 'the Great Entertainer'. There were wry smiles all round amongst the 'native speakers' but we tacitly agreed to spare ourselves the blushings of the Egypt Johns. There is nothing so easy to offend as a Yarubean's sensibilities. I had Badr almost fainting away in shock at the sight of a woman's uncovered face on the back page of the daily Yarabean News last month. I kid you not. However, cute it’s snot. It's terrifying. All suicide bombers are children on this evidence. Consequently, I was more than fearful when given the workshop 'Teaching Vocabulary' to present. Nevertheless, I took my courage in both hands and presented them with this 'gap fill exercise':

 

Featuring the second most commonly used English word after ok

 

Where the          is my newspaper?

 

What the          are you doing here?

 

Where the             are my shoes?

 

Who the              is Brian Wilson?

 

What the             is a Beach Boy?

 

 

 Needless to say, the Egypt Johns were baffled. It's ungrammatical, you see. Naturally, I was accused of not understanding my own language. But I was able to fill gaps in their understanding by vouchsafing the information that Brian Wilson (1942-) was formerly President of the United States during World War I, while apologizing for unnecessarily capitalizing the phrase 'beach boy'. Apparently they have them in Gyp. I don't. I decided to introduce the gerund as a part of our introduction to vocabulary teaching:

 

Using Words Through Context

 

Insert an appropriate word into the space provided. Or, if you feel that no word is required, please leave the space blank.

 

Saleh: I've been looking for those             keys for ages. And you've been             sitting on them.

 

Sami: What are you             complaining about? You've got your              keys back.

 

Be             happy with that.

 

Saleh: Is that my             tie you're wearing? Give it back to me you             thief.

 

Sami: Here,             take it. I wouldn't             wear it if you             paid me to.

 

Saleh: Beach boy fucker!

 

 Instead of beach boys, of course, we have pigs. Stud`nts are always asking us about our pig-eating binges. For them it's a bit like pornography. But even kissing is illegal in Pseudi Yarubeer - young people aren't supposed to know about it [cut to weird perverted scene in which some beardy gives a young married couple technical explanations of Frenching]. You get the impression that Crushdina Squealera's milk jugs fascinate them in much the same way as the traditional English breakfast of pork sausage and rashers of bacon. We are what we eat. Pig is taboo but we in the West eat it, so when they see Crushdina strutting her flesh - in what's often basically bra and pants - she represents for them both what's unclean from a food point of view, while being deliciously delectable from a similar angle. Put simply, in psychological terms, she's become an inedible piglet for them (no offence intended Crushdina; I'm trying to make a serious point), although there are women in Hungry called Edina.

 

 

 Clearly the sexual fantasy surrounding fleshly Western girls will be one of orality. Consequently, the real taboo is cannibalism, which psychologists argue was once widely practiced. That's why it's a repressed desire. One might, therefore, reevaluate the prohibition against consuming hog as: DON'T EAT THE AMERICAN PIGS NO MATTER HOW DELICIOUS THEY LOOK! Perhaps there are parallels with the Nazis to whom all Chews were 'Schwein!' Naked heaps of human flesh in Belsen attest to the butchers' shop - and then there were the ovens ... However, the cannibal hypothesis ignores the evidence that the alien has eaten the woman’s penis as a frankfurter, so it’s actually a parasite on the human host womb. It just abrogates the role of cannibal in order to appear more human. It’s scantily clad showgirls are the way the Americans seek to impose their cultural hegemony upon the Yarubean world, so they'll eventually win. 'I'm a genie in a bottle baby!' sings all-but butt naked Crushdina. How does a woman in a sack compete with that? In the sack race? Who wants a pig in a poke (men here arrange to marry the contents of the sack unseen)? All the naked American women do is teach the burkas that they're for eating them, like the frankfurters, so it’s unlikely that Yarubeer will become the next all-but declared state of the US. Oh, and they'll want to wear a condom. The dangers of swine flu you know.

 

 

 God knows what they'd make of Rosie's Farm Adventures. I sometimes imagine them trawling supermarkets drooling at tins of top-shelf spam during supposed language-learning jaunts to Bournemouth. When they ask me 'Do you eat pig?' I reply 'No, too big.' 'Two?' they gloat (fantasizing about X-Dina's jugs again I suppose). We have to educate them into the concept 'slice of ham', which of course they hate us for. I love bursting their hamburger balloon too. 'Hamburger, very bad,' they finger wag me. 'Yes,' I say, 'not pig enough.' MacDonald's is a bit like visiting a Hamburg porno cabin for them, is my guess. 'No,' I tell them, 'hamburgers are called hamburgers because they originally came from Hamburg in Germany and they are always beef.' Try to hit me from somewhere else I jeer at them from my hypothetically telepathical safety zone.

 

 

 When I worked in Dalek, Pseudi Yarubeer, as a rehabilitated `lid, I bought a tie with small pictures of creamy sheep all over it. 'Sheep tie,' I'd say to my stud`nts, who didn`t seem upset by my armlessness: 'Not expensive.' I always teach them my name by showing them a picture of a robin. Animals are useful in many ways. Many of our metaphorical utterances stem from them, which I demonstrate to the Egypt Johns in my vocab workshop:

 

Metaphorical Vocabulary

 

'Don't miss the ceramic Chihuahua exhibition!' barked the museum curator.

 

'I can only drink the juice of a leaf found only in the Autumn (between October 12th and October 15th) on the north side of a mountain on the South Sea Island of Tonga,' croaked the old man with the useless throat.

 

'The congenital gibbering idiots are over here,' said the hospital assistant, waddling off in a westerly direction.

 

'These melon flavored beetles are delicious,' said the young boy, wolfing down his food.

 

'You've got orange teeth!' the young man crowed.

 

'My balloons are bigger!' cackled the competitive balloon seller.

 

 

 Of course I was heavily criticized for employing the sound of such a dreadful creature as the dog, which - like the pig - is much maligned by its namesake, the Muttawahs, and so taboo to the Muzzlems thereabouts, who’re allowed to remove their muzzles for a few hours each day during prayer times. Perhaps they've seen Rosie Does Fido. That might explain it. The underpaid Philupyournose don't mind. They eat the damn things. We used to see the paws and other inedibles of cats and dogs in the dust at the camp all the foreigners, including Phil, had to live at near our place of employment at the Military City in Dalek. 'Philupyournose Chew' we called it. Yum. Phil would blanche!

 

 

 The Yarubeans, on the other hand, wax lyrical upon their hunting prowess in the desert where they make heavily armed forays after a creature called Deb. It's a reptile spending nearly all of its life sitting immobile in the sun on a rock. The Yarubean walks up and shoots her in the head at point blank range while the creature is contemplatively considering completing a slow blink at our nearest star. I had one of my stud`nts give a slide show and commentary on lizard 'hunting' as his project. It culminates in a barbecue of about as much meat as you get in a square of Heinz tinned ravioli. Mighty hunters [contemptuous snort].

 

 

 Taboos can be such fun. Like cocaine. Philupyournose with cocaine; for example. A bugger to get rid of. I gave my Egypt Johns the example of a verb plus noun exercise during their 'training'. The native speakers' hiccoughings indicated they'd seen through it immediately, but my guess is the Egypt Johns know a blow job when they see one:

 

Pairing Verbs with Appropriate Nouns

 

More than one answer is possible

 

blow, give, eat, finger, turn on, take, open, stroke

 

TV, job, head, ring, safe, cherry, legs, nuts

 

Answer key

 

blow safe, give [wedding] ring, eat cherry, finger ring, turn on transvestite, take job, open nuts, eat [frogs'] legs, stroke [kitten's] head, etc.

 

 

 One of the methods we're trained to employ is that of teaching vocabulary in word groups, that is, taking words that are naturally related to each other and introducing them as a set. I gave my Egypt Johns these:

 

Choose from the following words to complete the passage below

 

Brazilian swimming pool, nuts, tinnitus, stride, pizza delivery boy, unorthodox manner

 

More than one answer is possible

 

It was a bright sunny day. Everyone was smiling without exception. Rod was enjoying his             . Across the street he could see the                glistening in the sunshine. Here he felt safe. Soon he would be swimming in his               . Despite his high profile job as a government minister his               meant that there would always be problems getting into his              . Thank goodness for the              .

 

One possible answer is this, which largely due to my cowardice I showed the Egypt Johns:

 

Answer

 

 It was a bright sunny day. Everyone was smiling without exception. Rod was enjoying his nuts. Across the street he could see the pizza delivery boy glistening in the sunshine. Here he felt safe. Soon he would be swimming in his unorthodox manner. Despite his high profile job as a government minister his tinnitus meant that there would always be problems getting into his stride. Thank goodness for the Brazilian swimming pool.

 

This is the one I didn't show them, because you have to draw a line in the sand somewhere; but I like it just as much:

 

It was a bright sunny day. Everyone was smiling without exception. Rod was enjoying his stride. Across the street he could see the Brazilian swimming pool glistening in the sunshine. Here he felt safe. Soon he would be swimming in his tinnitus. Despite his high profile job as a government minister his nuts meant that there would always be problems getting into his pizza delivery boy. Thank goodness for the unorthodox manner.

 

 

 Giving definitions of words is often what the teacher is perceived to be for, whether it's stud`nts or Egypt Johns. I had a girlfriend in Newrope (give `em enough and they`ll hang `emselves) who'd refuse to sleep with me if I didn't define quickly enough for her to keep her temper. I'd have done better with her as a teacher trainer, for sure. Tests are rigged, of course. That's always been the case. I remember the 60s IQ test that proved the examination was culturally biased.

 

Q. Which is the odd one out?

 

apple, ugly, tomato, pear

 

 In Africa and the Caribbean 'ugly' isn't an adjective but a hybrid fruit somewhere between an orange and a satsuma, so there isn't an odd one; all are fruits because the tomato isn't a vegetable - we just think it is. Rigging tests is the meat and drink of fee-paying institutions everywhere. This is the kind of vocab test I advocated to the Egypt Johns in my workshop to ensure a healthy pass rate and financial stability for the company I worship as a god:

 

Guessing the Meaning of the Word from the Context

 

Read each sentence below and write down the closest meaning that helps you define the meaning of the key term

 

1. Joan loves to buy exotic foods: vegetables and herbs from China, spices from India, and olives from Grease.

 

garroted, a red London bus, Michelin ZX tires, unusual

 

2. Emotionally disturbed people may be troubled by morbid thoughts and may often think about suicide or murder.

 

 Canadian, little grey men, a snail, depression

 

 3. At first, the surgery seemed successful but the patient’s condition began to deteriorate, and worsened over the next few days.

 

 smell, sing in a low monotone, penetrate itself with a large pink vibrating dildo, get even worse

 

 4. In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the miserly Scrooge is visited by three spirits who change him into a generous man.

 

 block of cement, frog, enriched uranium, mean

 

 5. Raul is an indulgent father. He lets his daughter stay up late and never insists she does her homework.

 

 impaled, flatulent, incontinent, tolerant

 

 6. Languages evolve, as you can see if you open The Canterbury Tales, written six hundred years ago by the English poet Chaucer. It is barely recognizable as English.

 

 get spots, become shy, eat blancmange, grow

 

 7. The decision Veronica made to study instead of going out for pizza with her friends was prudent. She got an A on the exam, while her friends all got D’s.

 

foolhardy, asking for it, suicidal, considered

 

 8. Whenever something bad happens to Jane, she says it’s the fault of destiny. But I take charge of my own life.

 

 Beyoncé Knowles, a crab, Mount Kilimanjaro, fate

 

 9. My father died when I was a baby, but mom told me so much about him that I feel I knew him. One anecdote is about how he cried with joy when I was born.

 

 long and boring novel, menstrual cramp, duodecimal system, cruel joke

 

 10. Ivan is a wonderful piano player. But Jerri is more versatile; she sings, acts, paints and writes poetry.

 

 more of a wuss, likely to be bullied until she buys a Glock, despised by the rest of the children at her skull, talented

 

 

 What kind of a society is it that wants you to perpetually smile while being serious all the time? A schizophrenic one. A typical English language exercise is like/don't like. 'What do you like?' 'I like Ecuadorian rat's tongue salad.' 'What don't you like?' 'I don't like the constellation of Cygnus.' However, the Intochains text book identifies not liking with hatred. It's largely pejorative, of course. Just because an American says he ‘hates tennis’ doesn't mean they want to take out Roger Federer with an uzi 9 mmm on Centre Court at Flushing Meadows (although they might, and I wouldn't want to discourage anyone). I get stud`nts - doing their 'man of the `Slammer' impression - asking me 'What is hate?' They don't have it is the idea, and if you explain it to them you're like the serpent in Eden. I am become Dr Corruption. Blaming me for the hatred in them, before they didn't have any. Hate existed unrecognized, dormant, and harmless. Now they blame me for any wickedness arising in their hearts. It's all Orwellian doublethink, ‘… holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.’1 Intochains teaches that not liking is hate, 'What kind of music don’t you like?' I ask. 'I hate Crushdina Squealera,' comes the Intochains sanctioned response. Oh, yes of course. Who wouldn't? Get back in the bottle piglet. We know you're only tempting us to vampire on your jugs with singing about coconut milk. ‘I like Nancy Jamjar,’ says another. ‘Yes,’ I concur, ‘singing about a man’s shoe size, and the endless nullity of his vacuous personality – before getting back in the bag.’ Don't let your ideas about ‘pc’ fool you. Bag-a-babe is what it's about for the people who live on the oil under the sand:

 

‘I'm dancing a lot
I'm taking shots
And I'm feeling fine.’2

 

 

 Despite their bagging babes like antelope, everyone you meet in Pseudi Yarubeer is determined to play the archetypal role of the Wise Old Man. You get fifteen year old virgins giving you advice about women. Because of their Gran (6. 10 am - 6. 32 pm) you see. That makes them all-wise and all-knowing so far as the rest of us are concerned. It's an obligation in the `Slammer to tutor the young, and because we know nothing of Holla we're all infants to them. To cut a long enough story short, all you're for is to give advice to; or you'll burn in hell forever. That's the SP. The little buggers in Level 1, who can barely master 'hello', tell it to my face. As an unbeliever you've no chance. You might as well hop into the flames straightaway - and I've spent so much time here I'd like to.

 

 

 God knows how big their collective Freudian id is, but a colleague of mine went to a local Pseudi party during the Eat, which is the festival after the fasting month of Rubabum, and was treated to a display of traditional 'dancing', which basically consists of some score or so of middle-aged men wobbling forwards a few paces before wobbling back again (sword waving is an optional nuisance). There were young men there too though. They began to dance 'freestyle' in a way designed to appeal to the young women who were also gathered there. These responded in their turn with cheerings and applause. At which point men appeared with ropes to cordon them off and enforce the segregation; like they do in Newrope since the `Slammer and Muzzlem became en vogue. It's an old formula. Make a young girl think that her sole goal in life is a man’s penis, and let her discover too late that it's a disappointment, because what she wants is a woman’s. The great con-trick. However, the human species goes on - albeit without its penis.

 

 

 Choosing a bank here is easy. Immediately I saw the Al-Rajhi bank logo I knew it was for me; a penis with testicles. Obviously they're concerned with ensuring that inflation results in growth. One can only boggle at the concept of customer care. Al-Rajhi is clearly a pillar of the Pseudi economic system. In Yorkshire, where I hail from, we have the saying 'Where there's muck there's brass.' In Pseudi Yarubeer one has to look for the penis. Same deal really. During that period of the 80s when banks were screwing their customers senseless, a friend of mine dubbed Barclays 'The Greedy Bank'. No euphemisms necessary with Al-Rajhi, 'The Penis Bank'. 'Would you like to make a deposit sir?' 'Yes, just pass me that test-tube and the copy of May 2007's Nuts [featuring Jennifer Ellison and a tub of smooth peanut butter] please.' I'm looking forward to coming back to the UK with the Al-Rajhi credit card and maxing out, 'Do you take penis?' It's bizarre in a country without head fuck occasions, but logical. If you've never seen a penis you wouldn't know the Al-Rajhi logo was one. It's a bit like saying that the male half of the native population have never had an erection (an idea I have no problems with at all) and the female half of the population (one supposes they're female underneath that bag) are therefore virgin, with the children being the results of parthenogenesis - only then does the Al-Rajhi logo make innocent sense.

 

 

 Meanwhile the Muddle East's MBC Action teevee continues to try to inveigle my interest by pointing a revolver out of the screen at me before pulling the trigger and making me flinch at the explosion. The uncovering of a woman's breast, however, would provoke deep cries of hatred from 'moralists'. Yet I'm expected to cheer at scenes of such carnage as should make one sick in movies like Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992). My mother lost one of her breasts to cancer. I'm rather partial to them. Yet teevee and movies convince us more each day that the worship of Thanatos, rather than the love of Eros, is the way ahead. These really are the Dark Ages. I look at the ‘mad bomber’ of Kidis, Turkey’s Ahmet Davutoğlu, and wonder why it is that the paedophiles are allowed to prefer ‘TV’ killings to watching the human species of ‘woman’s seed` interact with itself in carefully scripted soaps?

 

 

 Fortunately, the `Slammeric public culture limits them to prescribing what you can drink and telling you what's good to eat (consuming 'bad', i.e., non-recommended food and drink, means that you are bad, i.e., evil and destined for hellfire), and talking about sex is taboo due to the fact that everyone knows that making love is evil (yes, sometimes it is just like being in Stepney). Moreover, imagine what it'd be like if you had to accept their rules? Five prayers a day, and that's just for starters. The USA’s blatant nudity parades itself as if it’s won, but there aren’t any humans, so they’re celebrating a Muzzlem society in which the religious police, the Muttawahs, prescribe ‘doggy-style’ for everyone. The slang term in the USA for a homosexual is a `faggot`, because the Boble says that the evil are ‘dead wood’ for burning in the ‘eternal unendurable pain’, that is, the perdition, of hellfire, and killing the human species of futanarian ‘woman’s seed`, so that the homosexuals and the paedophiles can `war game`, while their misanthropy masquerades as monogamy, is what God’s punishment is for. Killing the people so that they can have more children to play with in their war game is what ‘the beasts’ are for, while the humans would prefer immortality through medical science, rather than have men asking, ‘Would you like to B1?’

 

 

 Imagine the Turkish mien of Ahmet Davutoğlu as being as ubiquitous as other Muddle Eastern dictators. All the women have to walk around with a bag on their heads when supermarket shopping, which is the only time they're permitted to leave the house, because Ahmet doesn’t want a face to rival his in the minds of his people. The Muzzlems of the Muttawahs are therefore G-o-d reversed, D-o-g, because the women are muzzled to prevent their species of ‘woman’s seed’ posing a threat to the dictatorship of the alien host womb enslaver. Learning English is the most entertainment some of the burka women are ever likely to get, before they’re dog meat. English often has different meanings for the same word. British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill (1874-1965) in World War II (1939-45), always looked like he was telling the troops to fuck off, whereas what he was aiming for were victory vees. Led Zeppelin rock group's Robert Plant, while singing ‘Stairway To Heaven’ (1971) in the film The Song Remains The Same (1976), flicks the vees as 'peace' signs, before crooning, 'Sometimes words have two meanings'.3 Robert presumably didn’t know that his flares were the nostrils of the beast, and the women’s balls had already been snorted up there. 'You eat nuts, don't you?' I ask the Yarubeans. They admit to that. 'Eat mine,' I say. I smile and give them some.

 

 

 We have a Muzzlem teacher who, so far as I can tell, is from Pudsey near Kashmír. He's English with antecedents, you know? But he's a performer is our Niz Khun; he's done bit part acting on EastEnders (1985-). The shaven head in Yarubeer is a religious symbol. Those who go on the Haj, that is, the pilgrimage to Mecar, shave. Niz does. He's been to perform Um-er, walking round Amaninabra's tomb nine times in fulfilment of the obligation imposed upon each of the faithful to do this at least once in their lifetimes. Always seeking to take advantage of the fortuitous circumstance, I decided to co-opt Niz for my 'teaching vocabulary to the Egypt Johns` `workshop':

 

30 Minute Lesson Plan

 

Making the abstract concrete

 

Featuring Niz Khun, 'the human realia'

 

Vocabulary to be taught - slaphead

 

Instructions

 

1. Slap head

 

2. Slap side of head

 

3. Slap top of head

 

4. Elicit and repeat for as long as it's amusing - or even if it isn't

 

 Niz isn't a mean character; in any sense of the word. He's a good sport. I, on the other hand, wouldn't give you the steam off my piss to warm your frostbitten hands after a plane wreck at the Arctic circle. You could piss on mine though. Presenting my Egypt Johns with this surreal post-apocalyptical example of a scifi reading exercise autobiographically developed from my experiences with life-intimidating substance abuse, I omitted to tell them that I use it to deliberately confuse the stud`nts with multiple meanings of the same word - and words that sound or look the same - just for the sake of it; and of course advertising revenue from Pepsi cola:

 

 The streets looked mean. What did it all mean? wondered Dr Meaningful, the old unsmiling teacher with the chip in his head that sometimes induced testicular agony. He clutched a nude photo of Idi Amin to his chest. The godforsaken place seemed empty, but the population mean here was the same as most cities in the mean South; about 100,000 persons. 'Hey, give me money!' shouted Mena, a small language skullgirl with violent eyes and an ugly mien. 'No,' replied Dr Meaningful unsmilingly and bounced a half full can of Pepsi off her nose. 'Mean old man,' she spluttered. Mena looked at the irascible old teacher with mean hard accusative little eyes. She knew her mother'd punish her for this by nailing her to the wall by her ears, but meantime Mena didn't care. 'I mean, who do you think you are, apart from bipedal?' Old Dr Meaningful had, meanwhile, pissed fulsomely into another of the Pepsi cans (he kept them in a powder blue and pink My Little Pony bag worn at his back for just this very purpose) and unsmilingly walked on. Did it only mean this? Was this all it meant? Maybe the ugly skullgirl with used teabags fashionably stapled to her knees was right. He was a mean old teacher: an average meagre biped. No better, no worse than the rest of the walking uprights in this, their mean city. Dr Meaningful smiled inwardly and, crushing the faded visage of the powerfully erect Amin to his bosom, meandered onwards.

 

 After my presentation E`smale wanted to know if I'd mind if he used some or all of the above material. I was flattered and readily agreed. But that was before I remembered how I'd included this 'fill in the blank' exercise in a last ditch attempt to demonstrate the pointlessness that is often attached to questions from stud`nts about the vocabulary they encounter within their required texts:

 

Choose the missing word from the list

 

spoon, knife, fork

 

 The car drove into a hail of bullets and stopped. A man opened the door as the two lovers twined their bloody hands together. '           ' said the man and dropped a plastic            on the victims.

 

Answer key

 

It only mattered to the lovers

 

 

 My worry was that I might be encouraging the activities of a zealot and that, for E`smale, it could be of pathological concern as to whether the plastic in question were shaped in the form of a spoon, knife or fork. I had nightmares in which I, and my beloved, were ambushed while a hail of unidentifiable plastic utensils rained down upon our huddled corpses. We'd been wedding spooning in the back seat of our chauffeur-driven open top white Porsche convertible in a non-culturally sensitive way, which failed to take into consideration the often complicated courtship rituals among the people of the `Slammer, whereby the passing of spoons between lovers at dinner, for example, is a matter of great seriousness; due to the fact that it is a tradition in the Muddle East to have inscriptions on one's spoon for just such occasions. Marriages can be made - and, indeed, broken - on the passing of a spoon. I could only assume that E`smale would be aware of this, and I have always been careful never to stir his tea.

 

1 Orwell, George, Part II, Chapter IX, — Part II, Chapter IX, ‘The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism’, 1984, Secker & Warburg, https://www.cliffsnotes.com/cliffsnotes/subjects/literature/in-orwells-1984-what-isdoublethink .

2 Curtis, Greg, Ester Dean, Jamal Jones, and  Jason Perry ‘Not Myself Tonight’, Christina Aguilera, Bionic, RCA. 2010.

3 Page, Jimmy, and Robert Plant, ‘Stairway To Heaven’, The Song Remains The Same, Warner Bros., 1976.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Taboos can be such fun. Like cocaine. I gave my Egyptians the example of a verb plus noun exercise during their 'training'. The native speakers' hiccoughings indicated they'd seen through it immediately, but my guess is the Egyptians know a blow job when they see one:

 

Pairing Verbs with Appropriate Nouns

 

More than one answer is possible

 

blow, give, eat, finger, turn on, take, open, stroke

TV, job, head, ring, safe, cherry, legs, nuts

 

Answer key

 

blow safe, give [wedding] ring, eat cherry, finger ring, turn on transvestite, take job, open nuts, eat [frogs'] legs, stroke [kitten's] head, etc.

 

 

 

One of the methods we're trained to employ is that of teaching vocabulary in word groups, that is, taking words that are naturally related to each other and introducing them as a set. I gave my Egyptians these:

 

Choose from the following words to complete the passage below

 

Brazilian swimming pool, nuts, tinnitus, stride, pizza delivery boy, unorthodox manner

 

More than one answer is possible

 

It was a bright sunny day. Everyone was smiling without exception. Rod was enjoying his             . Across the street he could see the                glistening in the sunshine. Here he felt safe. Soon he would be swimming in his               . Despite his high profile job as a government minister his               meant that there would always be problems getting into his              . Thank goodness for the              .

 

One possible answer is this, which largely due to my cowardice I showed the Egyptians:

 

Answer

 

It was a bright sunny day. Everyone was smiling without exception. Rod was enjoying his nuts. Across the street he could see the pizza delivery boy glistening in the sunshine. Here he felt safe. Soon he would be swimming in his unorthodox manner. Despite his high profile job as a government minister his tinnitus meant that there would always be problems getting into his stride. Thank goodness for the Brazilian swimming pool.

 

This is the one I didn't show them, because you have to draw a line in the sand somewhere; but I like it just as much:

 

It was a bright sunny day. Everyone was smiling without exception. Rod was enjoying his stride. Across the street he could see the Brazilian swimming pool glistening in the sunshine. Here he felt safe. Soon he would be swimming in his tinnitus. Despite his high profile job as a government minister his nuts meant that there would always be problems getting into his pizza delivery boy. Thank goodness for the unorthodox manner.

 

 

 

Giving definitions of words is often what the teacher is perceived to be for, whether it's students or Egyptians. I had a girlfriend in Europe who'd refuse to sleep with me if I didn't define quickly enough for her to keep her temper. I'd have done better with her as a teacher trainer, for sure. Tests are rigged, of course. That's always been the case. I remember the 60s IQ test that proved the examination was culturally biased.

 

Q. Which is the odd one out?

 

apple, ugly, tomato, pear

 

In Africa and the Caribbean 'ugly' isn't an adjective but a hybrid fruit somewhere between an orange and a satsuma, so there isn't an odd one; all are fruits because the tomato isn't a vegetable - we just think it is. Rigging tests is the meat and drink of fee-paying institutions everywhere. This is the kind of vocab test I advocated to the Egyptians in my workshop to ensure a healthy pass rate and financial stability for the company I worship as a god:

 

Guessing the Meaning of the Word from the Context

 

Read each sentence below and write down the closest meaning that helps you define the meaning of the key term

 

1. Joan loves to buy exotic foods: vegetables and herbs from China, spices from India, and olives from Greece.

 

garroted, a red London bus, Michelin ZX tyres, unusual

 

2. Emotionally disturbed people may be troubled by morbid thoughts and may often think about suicide or murder.

 

Canadian, little grey men, a snail, depression

 

3. At first, the surgery seemed successful but the patient’s condition began to deteriorate, and worsened over the next few days.

 

smell, sing in a low monotone, penetrate itself with a large pink vibrating dildo, get even worse

 

 

 

4. In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the miserly Scrooge is visited by three spirits who change him into a generous man.

 

block of cement, frog, enriched uranium, mean

 

5. Raul is an indulgent father. He lets his daughter stay up late and never insists she does her homework.

 

impaled, flatulent, incontinent, tolerant

 

6. Languages evolve, as you can see if you open The Canterbury Tales, written six hundred years ago by the English poet Chaucer. It is barely recognizable as English.

 

get spots, become shy, eat blancmange, grow

 

7. The decision Veronica made to study instead of going out for pizza with her friends was prudent. She got an A on the exam, while her friends all got D’s.

 

foolhardy, asking for it, suicidal, considered

 

 

 

8. Whenever something bad happens to Jane, she says it’s the fault of destiny. But I take charge of my own life.

 

Beyonce Knowles, a crab, Mount Kilimanjaro, fate

 

9. My father died when I was a baby, but mom told me so much about him that I feel I knew him. One anecdote is about how he cried with joy when I was born.

 

long and boring novel, menstrual cramp, duodecimal system, cruel joke

 

10. Ivan is a wonderful piano player. But Jerri is more versatile; she sings, acts, paints and writes poetry.

 

more of a wuss, likely to be bullied until she buys a Glock, despised by the rest of the children at her school, talented


 

 

What kind of a society is it that wants you to perpetually smile while beng serious all the time? A schizophrenic one. A typical English language exercise is like/don't like. 'What do you like?' 'I like Ecuadorian rat's tongue salad.' 'What don't you like?' 'I don't like the constellation of Cygnus.' But the American New Interchange text book we use identifies not liking with hatred. It's largely pejorative, of  course. Just  because an American says he hates tennis doesn't mean they want to take out Roger Federer with an uzi on Centre Court at Flushing Meadows (although they might, and I wouldn't want to discourage anyone). But I get students - doing their 'man of Islam' impression - asking me 'What is hate?' They don't have it is the idea, and if you explain it to them you're like the serpent in Eden. My other name here is Dr Corruption. They can then blame you for the hatred in them; before you they didn't have any or it existed unrecognized, dormant, and harmless. Now, however, they can blame you for any wickedness arising in their hearts. It's all Orwellian doublethink. The Americans taught us to hate. Get it? Then they know what to say about Christina Aguilera. 'What kind of music do you like?' I ask. 'I hate music.' comes the community sanctioned response. Oh, yes of course. Who wouldn't? You'd go barmy puzzling that one out in the wee small hours. Get back in that bottle piglet. We know you're only tempting us to eat you're delicious milk white jugs, and we will too if you don't stop singing suggestively about how you'd like to milk our nuts. Or be more like Nancy Ajram (1983-). Sing about your man's shoe size and the endless nullity of his vacuous personality - and then get the bag on. Oh yes, don't let your ideas about PC fool you. It doesn't matter which way you crumble the cookie. Bag-a-babe. That's what it's all about for the people who live on the oil under the sand.

 

 


Everyone you meet in Arabia is determined to play the role of the wise old man. You get fifteen year old virgins giving you advice about women. Because of the Koran (610-632 CE) you see. That makes them all-wise and all-knowing so far as the rest of us are concerned. It's an obligation in Islam to tutor the young, and because we know nothing of Allah we're all infants to them. To cut a long enough story short, all you're for is to give advice to; or you'll burn in hell forever. That's the SP. The little buggers in Level 1, who can barely master 'hello', tell it to my face. As an unbeliever you've no chance. You might as well hop into the flames straightaway - and I've spent so much time here I'd like to.

 

 


God knows how big their collective Freudian id is, but a colleague of mine went to a local Saudi party during the Eid, which is the festival after the fasting month of Ramadan, and was treated to a display of traditional 'dancing', which basically consists of some score or so of middle-aged men wobbling forwards a few paces before wobbling back again (sword waving is an optional nuisance). There were young men there too though. They began to dance 'freestyle' in a way designed to appeal to the young women who were also gathered there. These responded in their turn with cheerings and applause. At which point men appeared with ropes to cordon them off and enforce the segregation. It's an old formula. Make a young girl think that her sole goal in life is a penis and discover too late that it's a disappointment. The great con-trick. But the species goes on - as does the penis.

 

 


Choosing a bank here is easy. Immediately I saw the Al-Rajhi bank logo I knew it was for me; a penis with testicles. Obviously they're concerned with ensuring that inflation results in growth. One can only boggle at the concept of customer care. Al-Rajhi is clearly a pillar of the Saudi economic system. In Yorkshire, where I hail from, we have the saying 'Where there's muck there's brass.' Here one has to look for the penis. Same deal really. During that period of the 80s when banks were screwing their customers senseless, a friend of mine dubbed Barclays 'The Greedy Bank'. No euphemisms necessary with Al-Rajhi, 'The Penis Bank'. 'Would you like to make a deposit sir?' 'Yes, just pass me that test-tube and the copy of May 2007's Nuts [featuring Jennifer Ellison and a tub of smooth peanut butter] please.' I'm looking forward to coming back to the UK with the Al-Rajhi credit card and maxing out. 'Do you take penis?' It's bizarre in a country without sex education, but logical. If you've never seen a penis you wouldn't know the Al-Rajhi logo was one. It's a bit like saying that the male half of the native population have never had an erection (an idea I have no problems with at all) and the female half of the population (one supposes they're female underneath that bag) are therefore virgin, with the children being the results of parthenogenesis - only then does the Al-Rajhi logo make innocent sense.

 

 

 

Meanwhile the Middle East's MBC Action teevee continues to try to inveigle my interestby pointing a revolver out of the screen at me before pullng the trigger and making me flinch at the explosion. The uncovering of a woman's breast, however, would provoke deep cries of hatred from 'moralists'. Yet I'm expected to cheer at scenes of such carnage as should make one sick in movies like Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992). My mother lost one of her breasts to cancer. I'm rather partial to them. Yet teevee and movies convince us more each day that the worship of Thanatos rather than the love of Eros is the way ahead. These really are the Dark Ages. I look at Iran's President Ahmedinejad's (1956-) smiling seriousness and all I see is a schizophrenic madman who wants to hurl the flames of hell at me to make sure I understand. That's what he's smiling about - and he's serious.

 

 


Fortunately, Islamic public culture limits them to prescribing what you can drink and telling you what's good to eat  (consuming 'bad', i.e., non-recommended food and drink, means that you are bad, i.e., evil and destined for hellfire), and talking about sex is taboo due to the fact that everyone knows that making love is evil (yes, sometimes it is just like being in Stepney). But imagine what it'd be like if you had to accept their rules? Five prayers a day, and that's just for starters. There're religious police, the Mutawa. Starving yourself for the month of Ramadan is obligatory, and they enforce it. Think on. When they're seriously smiling and telling you to use this appropriate toothpaste, what they actually mean is that this is consensus toothcare from a shared religious perspective and, if you don't accept their wisdom, you're dead wood in Satan's (Shaitan's) stove.

 

 


Be grateful - and vigilant. How'd you like posters advertising Britney Spears' (1982-) Circus (2009) replaced by the ubiquitous mien of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and all the women you know - including Britney Spears - have to walk around with a bag on their heads when supermarket shopping, and that's the only time they're permitted to leave the house? Learning English is the most entertainment some of these guys are ever likely to get, and a lot of them discover their culture is only a medium for criticizing ours. That's a bind, isn't it? No escape. You can't pretend that seemingly universal calls for the Holy War of 'Jihad' doesn't mean all out war - nuclear or otherwise - against the USA, Israel, and Western Europe. That's what 'Jihad' means. Nice to know they have a word for us.

 

 


English, on the other hand, often has different meanings for the same word. Stick two fingers up and judge from the reactions whether or not you got it right. Winston Churchill (1874-1965) always got it wrong in World War II; it always looked like he was telling the troops to fuck off whereas what he was aiming for were victory vees: but we could read his intention. English is like that. That's why we're so good at diplomacy. I always remember Led Zeppelin's (1968-1980) Robert Plant (1948-) - while singing Stairway To Heaven (1971) in the film The Song Remains The Same (1976) - flicking the vees before making 'peace' signs and crooning 'Sometimes words have two meanings'. For us things are negotiable. For the Arabs not. I do my bit. I introduce indeterminacy. The Egyptians hate it, of course. How can one word mean so many things? 'You eat nuts, don't you?' I ask. They admit to that. 'Eat mine,' I say while smiling seriously; and then I give them some.

 

 


We have a Muslim teacher who, so far as I can tell, is from Pudsey near Kashmír. He's English with antecedents, you know. But he's a performer is our Niz Khun; he's done bit part acting on Eastenders (1985-). The shaven head in Arabia is a religious symbol: those who go on the Haj, that is, the pilgrimage to Mecca, shave. Niz does. He's been to perform Umrah, walking round Abraham's tomb nine times in fulfilment of the obligation imposed upon each of the faithful to do this at least once in their lifetimes. Always seeking to take advantage of the fortuitous circumstance, I decided to co-opt Niz for my 'teaching vocabulary to the Egyptians workshop':

 

30 Minute Lesson Plan

 

Making the abstract concrete

 

Featuring Niz Khun, 'the human realia'

 

Vocabulary to be taught - slaphead

 

Instructions

 

1. Slap head

 

2. Slap side of head

 

3. Slap top of  head

 

4. Elicit and repeat for as long as it's amusing - or even if it isn't

 

Niz isn't a mean character; in any sense of the word. He's a good sport. I, on the other hand, wouldn't give you the steam off my piss to warm your frostbitten hands after a plane wreck at the Arctic circle. You could piss on mine though. Presenting my Egyptians with this surreal post-apocalyptical example of a scifi reading exercise autobiographically developed from my experiences with life-intimidating substance abuse, I omitted to tell them that I use it to deliberately confuse the students with multiple meanings of the same word - and words that sound or look the same - just for the sake of it; and of course advertising revenue from Pepsi cola:

 

The streets looked mean. What did it all mean? wondered Dr Meaningful, the old unsmiling teacher with the chip in his head that sometimes induced testicular agony. He clutched a nude photo of Idi Amin to his chest. The godforsaken place seemed empty, but the population mean here was the same as most cities in the mean South; about 100,000 persons. 'Hey, give me money!' shouted Mena, a small language schoolgirl with violent eyes and an ugly mien. 'No,' replied Dr Meaningful unsmilingly and bounced a half full can of Pepsi off her nose. 'Mean old man,' she spluttered. Mena looked at the irascible old teacher with mean hard accusative little eyes. She knew her mother'd punish her for this by nailing her to the wall by her ears, but meantime Mena didn't care. 'I mean, who do you think you are, apart from bipedal?' Old Dr Meaningful had, meanwhile, pissed fulsomely into another of the Pepsi cans (he kept them in a powder blue and pink My Little Pony bag worn at his back for just this very purpose) and unsmilingly walked on. Did it only mean this? Was this all it meant? Maybe the ugly schoolgirl with used teabags fashionably stapled to her knees was right. He was a mean old teacher: an average meagre biped. No better, no worse than the rest of the walking uprights in this, their mean city. Dr Meaningful smiled inwardly and, crushing the faded visage of the powerfully erect Amin to his bosom, meandered onwards.

 

After my presentation Ismael wanted to know if I'd mind if he used some or all of the above material. I was flattered and readily agreed. But that was before I remembered how I'd included this 'fill in the blank' exercise in a last ditch attempt to demonstrate the pointlessness that is often attached to questions from students about the vocabulary they encounter within their required texts:

 

Choose the missing word from the list

 

spoon, knife, fork

 

The car drove into a hail of bullets and stopped. A man opened the door as the two lovers twined their bloody hands together. '           ' said the man and dropped a plastic            on the victims.

 

Answer key

 

It only mattered to the lovers

 

 

 

My worry was that I might be encouraging the activities of a zealot and that, for Ismael, it could be of pathological concern as to whether the plastic in question were shaped in the form of a spoon, knife or fork. I had nightmares in which I and my beloved were ambushed while a hail of unidentifiable plastic utensils rained down upon our huddled corpses. We'd been wedding spooning in the back seat of our chauffeur-driven open top white porsche convertible in a non-culturally sensitive way which failed to take into consideration the often complicated courtship rituals among the people of Islam in which the passing of spoons between lovers at dinner, for example, is a matter of great seriousness due to the fact that it is a tradition in the Middle East to have inscriptions on one's spoon for just such occasions. Marriages can be made - and, indeed, broken - on the passing of a spoon. I could only assume that Ismael would be aware of this and I have always been careful never to stir his tea.


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