Tag Archives: embarrassement

I’ll leave you to it / I’ll let you get on with it

leave you to it phrase

Photo credit: © H. Armstrong Roberts/CORBIS

We have a very friendly lady who lives in the same building and, considering I go out for a walk with Alisa at least twice a day, we bump into her quite often. She always stops to chat to us (unless I look too busy / too stressed / about to burst into tears) and she loves to talk to Alisa in the hope that she’ll give her a smile (which she does most of the time). I’ve noticed that the lady quite often says ‘I’ll leave you to it‘ or “I’ll let you get on with it” when she feels she’s been chatting long enough, and I think these two phrases are very useful. And very British!

If you want to know a bit more about it, here’s a great link!

P.S. The picture reminded me of my brother, who was very independent and rather advanced for his age as a child. According to the family legend, he used to finish telephone conversations with our mum by saying very matter-of-factly, ‘Is that everything? I’m putting down the receiver’.

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That’s a different kettle of fish

fish kettle

Photo credit: rosekentishkitchen.blogspot.com

Monday was a bank holiday in the UK and we benefited from some more time to spend together as a family. This also meant that we didn’t have to cram all the things into just two days and could do our grocery shopping on Monday. I went online to check opening hours of a local Waitrose (disclaimer: we don’t always shop in Waitrose, it’s more of a treat really) and while I was looking at a general information about the branch I noticed that you can borrow champagne flutes and… a fish kettle there! Now that was exciting. I googled “fish kettle” and realised it was an oval pan.

However, whenever I’ve heard an idiom “that’s a different kettle of fish” I always imagined a regular kettle (OK, perhaps not an electric one), and wondered how you were supposed to squeeze a fish in there and whether the tea would stink of fish afterwards. I should have known better!

The idiom means ‘to be completely different from something or someone else that has been talked about’ (Cambridge Dictionary). However, its origin – as is usually the case with idioms – is far from clear. You can check Michael Quinion’s website for more information.

Here are some examples of its usagethough:

  • Matthew Kneale had a well-deserved critical and commercial hit in 2000 with his Whitbread prize-winning novel “English Passengers”, about 19th-century Tasmania. His new collection of short stories is a completely different kettle of fish. It is resolutely up to the minute, with its quaint Italian villagers shopping at IKEA—and, with one or two exceptions, also middle-class and metropolitan (The Economist).
  • I do not really get inflamed at the thought of some busybody checking out my books, or looking at which clothes I have packed, although, in a straw poll of the office, it seems I am alone in this. But trying to log on to a computer or tablet is a very different kettle of fish (The Economist).
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Could you watch over my stuff?

watch over stuff

Photo credit: gourmetravelista.com

A couple of weeks ago I was having a tea in a café between my lessons, and a girl sitting opposite suddenly said ‘Excuse me, could you watch over my stuff?’ I nodded to say I could. Until that day I wanted to ask other people the same thing on several occasions, but wasn’t sure whether it’s ‘done’ in this country. Apparently, it is!

Here’s a little post on the subject of watching other people’s stuff from a fellow WordPress blogger.

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Losable… and other -able adjectives

losable

Photo credit: funnyjunk.com

What an eventful week… Yesterday I taught my first Russian class at a language school – it was a new experience for me as so far I have only taught individual students. It is also a men-only group, so it was very funny when they arrived and got their little notebooks out and said they felt like they were back to school. Then they started comparing notebooks and telling each other where they got them from – some ‘stole’ theirs from work, while some had to go to a stationary shop. The guy who came with a brand-new notebook said he didn’t know whether to buy a large A4 one or a smaller (A5) size, but decided to go for the smaller one, which, they all agreed, was more portable, but also more ‘losable‘! What an adorable word!

I’ll be honest – I do have a strange fascination with these made-up-on-the-spot words ending in ‘-able’.

When I watched ‘Closer’ for the first time, there was a scene in which Jude Law said about Nathalie Portman ‘She’s completely lovable, and completely unleavable‘, and it just blew me away. I guess one of the reasons I love English so much is that it is so flexible and it lends itself to puns and wordplay and making things up and really encourages a playful attitude to a language.

I am really looking forward to the next lesson in the hope that my students learn some Russian and I maybe learn some an English word or two!

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Toe-curling

toe-curling phrase

Photo credit: baby.about.com

Yesterday I got a text message from my friend to say that she has had a baby and I was welcome to visit her at the hospital. I popped in during the visiting hours (rushed in, really, after a trip to Bath) and spent at least half an hour admiring her and her newborn daughter – they both looked amazing! It turned out they were about to be discharged and a nurse came by to go through some important information and as I missed my chance to say goodbye before that I was hanging around and overheard their conversation about breastfeeding. The nurse said it could be ‘toe-curling‘ in the beginning, but then new mothers get used to it.

This was a genuinely new word for me, which means ‘very embarrassing or excessively sentimental’ (Oxford Dictionaries).

Here are some examples:

– The self-satisfaction and smugness of the text is toe-curling and its frequent sickening doses of sentimentality are like being forced-fed chopped liver with chicken fat (Oxford Dictionaries).

-I am sitting across a table from my sister-in-law, outside a small Italian restaurant, reading her a letter. As experiences go, it’s toe-curling. I am telling her everything I’m grateful to her for. It’s like a bad episode of Oprah. Surely us Brits aren’t built for this stuff? But according to Action for Happiness, little things like this can really improve our lives (The Guardian).

– More toe-curling attempts to make opera ‘cool’? Stop it, pleads Tom Service – it’s doing just fine as it is (The Guardian).

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Learning the ropes

learning the ropes meaning

Photo credit: toledozoo.org

The past couple of weeks have been really hectic – I’ve been trying to finish translation of the third book on time, then I went to Amsterdam on a short break and now it’s more or less back to normal. So yesterday I was my volunteering day and I met a new colleague\volunteer from Australia. It was her first day, and using the till might be a bit a tricky (it still occasionally beeps at me when I press the wrong button), so she was sometimes saying to customers ‘Bear with me, it’s my first day and I’m still learning the ropes‘.

It’s a fairly common expression, but it’s so useful in a situation when you’re new to something and want other people to be a bit more understanding and patient.

Some examples:

– It didn’t take her new assistant long to learn the ropes (MacMillan Dictionary).

– It’s never too late to change direction. However it’s not really possible to break into new sectors without any effort. You’re likely to need to retrain or, at least, take on a lenghty internship to learn the ropes (The Guardian).

– What about businessmen’s political naivety? As might be expected of an education reformer, Sir Ron Dearing suggests apprenticeships. He argues that Lord Young, a cabinet minister recruited by Margaret Thatcher, made a smoother transformation from business to politics because he made an effort to learn the ropes (The Economist).

– Thus as the idea of finding talented employees who could quickly learn the ropes took off, so did the asking price of the star MBA graduates (The Economist).

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To lock yourself out / in, continued

lock yourself out in

Photo credit: Getty Images

I wrote about these verbs almost a year ago, but today an opportunity to use them presented itself.

Yesterday I went for a run and took my keys off the keyholder. Today when I was leaving house to meet my friend I took the keyholder and when I got to the front door I realised the keys were not there. The front door was locked – I managed to lock myself both out (of my flat) and in (inside the house) – quite an achievement, isn’t it?

I phoned my husband who, luckily, works only 15 minutes away by bike or by bus and while waiting for him I had a chance to catch up on my vocab revision with Anki flashcards.

A few minutes later I heard a buzz. “This must be the postman delivering the parcel with my yoga blocks”, I thought. Our conversation went like this:

Me: Hello? Hello? Hello? 

Postman: …

(I realise this must be the postman who always wears headphones and sunglasses, and obviously cannot hear me).

Me: Hello? 

Postman: Hello?

Me: Hi! Sorry I cannot open the door – I managed to lock myself out of my flat and I don’t have the keys to the front door, but my husband is about to come and rescue me, so could you leave the parcel by the front door please?

Postman: Yes, I’ll leave it by the flowerpot.

Me: Thanks a lot!

 

Phew… My husband arrived just a few minutes later, I got reunited with my yoga blocks and was just in time to meet my friend. All’s well that ends well!

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To pocket-call

to pocket-call meaning

Photo credit: cnn.com

Almost every dinner at our place is cooked and eaten to the soundtrack of Marc Riley’s show on BBC 6 Music. His today’s show, apart from the good music, as usual, had a rare linguistic treat for me – I learnt a new word and, most importantly, it was one of those I-never-new-there-was-a-word-for-it-in-English-words. I get twice as excited when I hear them.

Now, have you ever put a phone in your pocket or your bag only to find out later that the cheeky thing has called somebody on your contact list? It used to happen to me all the time. And when it happens again I’ll know the word for it – ‘to pocket-call‘, as in ‘Sorry, I pocket-called you yesterday’.

P.S. According to Wikipedia, you can also call it ‘pocket dialing‘ or ‘butt dialing‘.

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