When I first met Greg, he was just about to finish his MA and was wondering what to do next. He was working in PC World which had served him well as a part time, while studying, not taking this seriously, way to fund his studies, but wasn’t an option in the long term. I realised that he would make a great EFL teacher – he loves learning languages, is obsessed with English grammar, is patient, kind and the type of performer who fares well on stage or in the classroom. I suggested he do the short post-graduate course which is the minimum requirement for teaching in any decent school. He did so and promptly got a job where I work.
Greg is one of the funniest people I know. He has a large vocabulary and is very quick, so a conversation with him is likely to include the spectacular verbal gymnastics one normally associated with the likes of Oscar Wilde or Stephen Fry. The staffroom at my school has always been fun, but with Greg there it’s a really good laugh.
The Crepe Vine is one of Greg’s favourite places to eat, possibly because he has a fondness for sugar which would put a hypoglycaemic wasp to shame, but also because of the appalling pun – if there’s one thing Greg likes it’s having fun with English. We both also agree however, that English should be correctly spelled and punctuated – we have both refused to eat in an establishment with a bizarrely misplaced apostrophe in the sign above the door.
Today’s conversation ran along the usual chaotic lines – we talked about writing in Japanese, Stephen Pinker, the rarity of full bilingualism and Breaking Bad. Greg reminded me of one of his favourite aspects of English – stress shift, which means that the phrase toy factory can mean a place where toys are manufactured (stress on the first word) or a plaything for a child which is in fact a miniature factory (stress on the second word). As usual our conversation would have sounded insane to most people but was very entertaining and amusing for me.
Friday 2 January 2015
The Crepe Vine, Swansea City Centre
I am not hugely fond of pancakes, once a year on Shrove Tuesday with a bit of lemon and sugar would be about right for me, but the cafe was packed with people eating crepes with the most unlikely sounding fillings, so I decided that they couldn’t all be wrong and embraced the idea. I ordered a chicken tikka crepe, mainly because I couldn’t imagine a more unlikely culinary fusion, or possibly cultural car crash. The result was tolerable although I wouldn’t have it again. I still think crepes are best as a pudding and as I am not overly fond of ice-cream, stewed fruit, chocolate or syrups of any variety, and will probably go back to the once a year with lemon and sugar idea.