Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude tells The Guardian the coalition Government is more radical than the Thatcher and Blair administrations. Full story >>
VOCABULARY Radical people believe that there should be great changes in society and try to bring about these changes. • A radical politician is a politician whose views are far removed from the mainstream.
This cartoon by Andy Davey from The Sun relates to news that from next October, it will be illegal for UK firms to get rid of staff when they reach 65, allowing millions who are facing retirement to stay on. Read more >>
The scene is an office, where each worker has his or her individual cubicle. The boss is talking to an elderly worker with a long white beard called Methuselah Jenkins (Methuselah is the oldest person whose age is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible— 969 years; the name Methuselah has become a general synonym for any living creature of great age). The boss has a P45 form in his hand. A P45 form is issued by the employer when an employee leaves, so we can assume that the boss is telling the old man he has to retire. However, Methuselah has no intention of leaving: "Now listen sonny—you can't get rid of me ... or my dad." (His dad is the skeleton covered in cobwebs in the next cubicle!)
1. Some people address a boy or young man as sonny. Here its use is incongruous, therefore humorous. 2. If you get rid of somone who is causing problems for you or who you do not like, you do something to prevent them affecting you any more, for example by making them leave.
The Daily Mail reports that a Church of England vicar abused his position to marry illegal immigrants to complete strangers. Full story >>
VOCABULARY A scam is an illegal trick, usually with the purpose of getting money from people or avoiding paying tax. • A slick, new e-mail scam is putting well-intentioned job seekers at risk of losing $3000.
David Cameron is portrayed as a beggar calling out to Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh (note the official red box he's using as a begging bowl). Singh dismisses the beggar with a contemptuous "Slumdog!"
The irony is that it is India, not Britain, which is now one of the world's leading economic powers. Britain has been reduced to the role of the beggar, hoping to benefit from Indian largesse when it comes to awarding contracts.
The Financial Times reports on David Cameron's visit to India and says he has risked opening a diplomatic rift with Pakistan after accusing Islamabad of "looking both ways" on exporting terrorism. Full story >>
VOCABULARY If you rebuke someone, you speak severely to them because they have said or done something that you do not approve of. • Sir Alan Budd, head of the UK's economic watchdog, has rebuked David Cameron for using the independent body's forecasts for political gain.
The Sun is not the first tabloid newspaper you'd associate with features about language (that would be The Daily Mail), but today's edition contains a piece giving lots of examples of different types of slang from various occupational and lifestyle groups. For example, did you know that in hip-hop culture 'cheese' is slang for money, or that an 'Olympic flame' is a police officer that never goes out (ha-ha!). Read more here.
Gene, a former English teacher (well, nobody's perfect), is a veteran television anchorman with forty years' experience. Like many of us, he's got a bee in his bonnet about some of the grammatical and lexical errors committed by supposedly educated native speakers. Six Pigs in a Tub lists some of the most common mistakes and gives guidance on how to avoid them. You can read a sample chapter here.
WHAT I THOUGHT Although I don't agree with all of Gene's advice (not ending sentences with a preposition, for example), I found this to be a very readable collection, which would be suitable for learners of English as well as native speakers. I particularly liked the drawings which illustrate the various points.
PS To find out why there are six pigs in a tub, you'll have to buy the book (but I've given you a clue!)
This cartoon by Mac from The Daily Mail relates to news that UK government ministers want the public to patrol alongside regular police.
They also intend to recruit up to 50,000 extra special constables to flood crime-plagued neighbourhoods with an army of volunteers.
Read more >>
A crowd of old age pensioners are queuing outside a bingo hall (bingo is a popular pastime among the elderly in Britain). An old lady is heading off. Her zimmer frame is equipped with a flashing POLICE light and she is carrying a truncheon and a pair of handcuffs. She tells her companions: "Can't stop. I've got a 999 call." (In Britain, and many other countries, the emergency telephone number is 999.)