Tag Archives: problems

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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It’s a long shot

it's a long shot phrase meaning

Photo credit: lindisfarnecottages.co.uk

A few weeks ago I started volunteering at a local charity bookshop. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and finally decided to fill in an application. However, I’m finding that this is only going to aggravate my book-hoarding problem.

Anyway… today a lady came into a shop and approached me and my fellow volunteers saying ‘I know it’s a long shot, but do you think you might have a book…’

I’ve heard this expression on numerous occasions and I am quite fond of it. It means ‘an attempt or guess that is not likely to be successful but that is worth trying’ (MacMillan Dictionary).

More examples of usage:

– It’s a long shot, but well worth trying (Oxford Dictionaries).

– Though not impossible, attempting to obtain permission for residential use would be a long shot (Oxford Dictionaries).

– Mr Yu, a 26-year-old policeman, describes himself as conservative and is looking for a woman with “traditional virtues”. His attendance at the expo, the city’s largest yet, is a long shot; he would prefer a marriage set up by colleagues or by his parents. It worked for them 30 years ago, he says (The Economist).

 

There’s a similar-sounding phrase that I wasn’t aware of – ‘(not) by a long shot‘, meaning ‘(Not) by far or at all’:

– We don’t have our act together in Washington by a long shot (Oxford Dictionaries).

– And in agreement with one of the comments made – Egypt is not ready for democracy, not by a long shot (The Economist).

– Dr Thatcher is dead and her one-time advisors do not have a chemistry degree from Oxford. Not by a long shot (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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Geek magnet

geek magnet meaning

Photo credit: hdwallpaperstock.eu

The other day I went to a free self-defence workshop organised by one of the sports clothes shops here in Bristol (maybe I need to mention their name and get paid for this!). It’s not that I’ve been in any situations where I needed to resort to self-defence, but it’s always good to be prepared.

Our instructor was really experienced, both in psychology and martial arts, and she had many stories to share from her personal experience. She called herself “a geek magnet” – someone who seems to attract a disproportionate amount of weird (and sometimes dangerous) people. This is probably not a set expression just yet, but still my inner linguist was clapping her (surely my inner linguist is also female) hands, mostly because my best friend is exactly like that – a proper geek magnet – and now I know that in English there’s perfect phrase to describe her.

However, I was thinking that maybe ‘geek’ doesn’t not always have a negative connotation, and maybe ‘a weirdo magnet‘ would work equally well or even better. Indeed, there’s an entry in Urban Dictionary, with the following example:

– Ashlee is such a weirdo magnet, that guy sniffing paint just sat right next to her (Urban Dictionary)

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With a little bit of luck

with a little luck phrase usage

Photo credit: tripadvisor.com

First of all, apologies to the esteemed readers for neglecting this blog – there’s been too much going on these past few weeks (or months?), but hopefully things will settle down a little bit.

And now to some new phrases. There’s one in particular that I seem to encounter almost on a daily basis.

On Saturday I took a coach to London to see The Cure (they were awesome, by the way). To make sure I have enough energy left for the 3-hour performance I picked the coach that arrived 45 minutes before the start, so that I had just enough time to walk to the venue, but didn’t have to kill any time before that. But on our way I noticed ‘Long delays’ signs on the motorway, which didn’t bode well. And in due course the driver announced that there’s been an accident ahead, which caused a huge tailback. I was duly annoyed – I was now running late! I tried not to get too stressed as the accident was still quite a long way ahead. Later on it turned out that the cars had been cleared and the traffic was starting to move, and the driver added that ‘With a little bit of luck we’ll make it to London with only a 5-10 minute delay’, which we did! Phew, what a relief it was!

I heard the very same phrase today when I went to see the doctor. His last words were ‘With a little bit of luck you don’t have it and then you’ll rub your hands with glee and forget all about it’. I need lots of luck on this one, that’s for sure.

And if you care for some more examples, here they are:

– Now Americans have a high level of tolerance for inequality because they generally believe that the system is basically fair and that with a little bit of luck and even more hard work anyone can achieve a tolerable level of success and economic security (The Economist)

– Thank you for your support and for spreading the message. Keep doing so please. With a little bit of luck it will end up on Condoleezza Rice’s desktop. I know it won’t stop the war, but i am sure at least that she’ll ask me to do her portrait (The Guardian).

Speaking of luck, here’re some more ‘lucky phrases‘.

P.S. As you’ve noticed this phrase is a good example of British understatement – most of the time what you need is a lot of luck for all these things to be achieved!

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I’m tied up

to be tied up meaning

Photo credit: irez.me

This week I learnt another useful phrase – it was in an email rather than in a conversation, but it doesn’t make it less authentic, I’m sure. I was going to arrange to speak to somebody on Skype to save us sending each other another half a dozen emails. I mentioned I could call right not, but the reply was ‘I’m tied up at the moment, shall we Skype later today?’

The meaning is quite obvious, really, but I think it’s one of those ubiquitous (but handy!) phrasal verbs that can express so much in so few words!

Some more useful examples:

– Oh, is it eleven o’clock already? I got so tied up with sending out these invitations that I didn’t even notice (phrasemix.com).

– Sorry, I’m kind of tied up at the moment. Can I call you back? (phrasemix.com).

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Ticket tout

ticket tout meaning

Photo credit: rsport.ru

Facebook finally proved itself useful – I noticed a friend posting an ad of an upcoming gig of… The Cure. I was over the moon! They’ve been my favourite band for almost ten years, but I’ve never seen them live. They were performing at quite a few festivals back in 2011 and even went to Russia (I was at the UK at that time, obviously), but I never made it to any of these events. And now… a 3-hour performance at the Royal Albert Hall!

Actually, FB proved itself useful once again when I spotted a ‘Beat the touts‘ pre-sale for FB fans. So at 9 a.m. when it opened I was sitting there with my debit card at the ready refreshing the page every two seconds. And a couple of minutes later I had my ticket! Not the actual paper ticket, though, which will arrive in the post later, but still, I’ll get to see the Cure!

When excitement died down a little bit, I remembered that I wanted to look up those ‘touts‘. I sort of guessed that it means a ticket dealer, and that wasn’t far off. A ‘tout‘ is someone who sells tickets at very high prices outside a place such as a theatre or a sports stadium (MacMillan Dictionary).

As the examples below suggest, they are not a very popular crowd:

– Sharon Hodgson, a Labour MP, who has long campaigned for reforms to the ticketing industry, says: “This is not small-time touts. This is big-time industrial touts, power sellers, call them what you will. This is not fair means any more, this is foul means, criminal means.” But if she is correct, how are these touts able to secure tickets so much more effectively than ordinary fans? (The Telegraph)

– After tickets for Monty Python’s comeback gigs sold out before you could say ‘ni’, many went on sale again – at a vastly inflated cost. How do the touts get away with it? (The Independent)

P.S. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the photos of Robert Smith, The Cure’s front man, young, so here’s one:

Before…

Robert Smith young The Cure

Photo credit: sandinista.centerblog.net

… and after:

Robert Smith The Cure

Photo credit: itv.com

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To look the other way

to look the other way phrase meaning

Photo credit: Reuters / Mario Anzuoni

Yesterday I went to see Woody Allen’s new film Blue Jasmine – it was my reward for a long working week, and I must say I wasn’t disappointed. I’ll try not to spoil too much of the plot, but the story is about the wife of an indecently rich guy who turned out to be a crook and got his fortune by stealing from others. She was often accused by her friends of ‘looking the other way‘ when he came up with dubious financial schemes and other illegal stuff.

While the meaning is pretty clear I don’t think I’ve come across this phrase before. However, there’s a good synonym – ‘to turn a blind eye to something‘.

Here are a few more examples:

– Apart from a few dogged journalists at the profile news magazine who exposed Waldheim and much else besides, Austria chose to look the other way. That’s a habit that is not an Austrian monopoly (The Guardian).

– If the international community looks the other way now, the violence will flare up again and the government of Sudan will go back to slaughter  (The Guardian).

– European nations look the other way while Greek officials abuse migrants, particularly children, to keep their borders secure (The Guardian).

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