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Putting on a Brave Face
I'm sure you will all remember Mrs. A, our hard-pressed English teacher and long-suffering mother and wife from our previous issue, Sport. Once again she has her hands full. If you read her diary you'll find it contains idioms based on parts of the body.
If you need any help understanding the idioms in her diary, just place the mouse over the purple ball to find the clue displayed on the screen. You can try it out on the title above.Check how many you know and then do the exercise below the text.
21st January, Friday
First day of the winter holidays. Maciek came home all flushed and looking down in the mouth. These are not the usual symptoms of my son rejoicing at the start of half term. He refused to go to the clinic. I sent him to bed. In the evening I made a call to my school friend, who acts as our most trusted doctor in all crisis situations. It turned out that the spots on Maciek's face were not living proof that boys are resistant to Clearasil, which we'd been happy to think for the last couple of days, but were a sign of measles. He's heading for at least two weeks in bed.
22nd January, Saturday
Spouse came back from his "extremely important business meeting concerning the future of the firm". To say that he "came back" is a euphemism. He rushed straight to the loo, kicking off his shoes at full speed and knocking over the shopping bag that Julka had left by the telephone. I should have put my foot down with my daughter and made her take the things to the kitchen. As it was, it was too late for recriminations against her or Spouse, so I held my tongue, although the abstract painting being produced on the floor made my blood boil: pure white (the yoghurt), tomato red (the ketchup) and clear primary yellow (smashed eggs), a combination worthy of Mondrian. I didn't lose my head, despite the alarming noises coming from the loo. After a good ten minutes he staggered out and whispered in a barely audible voice: "Could you please make me some mint tea? I'm going to bed." Late at night when he no longer felt he was going to die, he made a clean breast of his predicament. The boss (Rajmund is the name) decided to celebrate his name-day and someone brought vodka obtained cheaply in the Russian market. That was a real knockout. Once Spouse got the full story off his chest and the remains of the smugglers' moonshine out of his bowels, he slept soundly like a baby. I've always had a feeling in my bones what his 'business meetings' amount to.
23rd January, Sunday morning
At 7.30 Alina phoned. Why, if she needs a shoulder to cry on, must she always choose me? And why do it first thing in the morning? And on a Sunday, too? She can be a pain in the neck at times. Of course it was about Patryk, her latest boyfriend. Could I believe it? He's been given a role! A real speaking part in a new performance! I was all ears. Apparently he's going to play the wolf in The Little Red Riding Hood story which his theatrical troupe is putting on next month. They'll be touring schools as soon as the winter break is over. At first I thought she was pulling my leg. Patryk - the wolf! That undersized, undernourished weakling of a boy. I've only seen him once and from a distance. I know Alina and myself don't see eye to eye on matters concerning masculine charm. But Patryk as the wolf? Patryk the eyesore? I simply couldn't stomach it. "Ask him if maybe they still have a vacancy for the Granny, that will suit you perfectly." She slammed down the receiver. I realised that I must have really put her back up. I immediately regretted my words. Sometimes when they wake me up too early I behave as if I had a chip on my shoulder. I had to phone back and apologise and ask her what the problem was. In between her sobs, Alina told me Patryk had caught a very, very, very bad cold and wasn't able to attend rehearsals, so could I please let her have some of my dry raspberry bush twigs that work wonders and could I also make some of that delicious onion juice that cures sore throats in no time? I promised to ring her up later.
23rd January, Sunday afternoon
I arranged to meet Alina in front of the supermarket. Actually she wanted to pop in and collect the stuff but when I told her about Maciek's infectious disease she changed her mind. After all why should she stick her neck out if we could meet in a safe place? The supermarket was her idea. She needed to buy lots of fruit juice and heaps of bananas for her lover boy. I am rather short-sighted but could see her from a distance. She stuck out like a sore thumb - dressed in a fur coat!
It made my hair stand on end. How could she adorn herself in animal corpses for a meeting with a vegetarian? But I'm not that heartless, so I put on a brave face and turned a blind eye to her outfit. I could see how unhappy she was and didn't want to hurt her feelings. "How is he?" I asked. "He has not moved a muscle for the last three days", she said. I gave her half a gallon of onion juice (enough to cure a horse and not just that meagre body) and a bunch of raspberry twigs. "The twigs", I said, "are not to be chewed or used as chopsticks or toothpicks. Let them brew for a couple of minutes and give the drink to your patient when it's still very hot". "Who do you take me for?" she retorted, but I could see she was rather pleased with the amount. I had a little surprise for her - a bag of dry linden tree blossoms. "Make an infusion of this and let him drink it a couple of times a day. The combination of onion juice, the linden blossom and the raspberry potion will get him on his feet soon." So we were friends again. I kissed her cheek catching a whiff of Chanel No 5. Surely not a Christmas present from that penniless gigolo? To be honest, I think she really deserves a pat on the back for all that love and devotion, even if it is so badly located.
23rd January, Sunday evening
At 8.00 Maciek declared that if his spots didn't go before the end of the holidays he would kill himself.
At 8.15 Spouse informed everyone he was taking the car to go to the town centre as he desperately needed a couple of beers, so did we want anything? Yes, that's what he's got a nose for - the opening hours of late shopping. Will that beer be the hair-of-the-dog? Maciek fancied an avocado, a melon and a large Coke.
At 8.30 Julka had a brainwave and demanded to be sent to the sea-side, as far away as possible from 'the limp infected body in the other room that is lying there moaning and spreading dangerous viruses and bacteria and being fed the best food available in the household'.
At 8.45 she noticed two spots on her cheek. Under her sweatshirt we discovered a wonderful selection on her belly - various sizes. Her hopes for escape fell through.
At 9 Head phoned. He has pneumonia and can't attend a 3-day international symposium in Warsaw about the future of Polish education. (Yes, I can picture it clearly: all those male directors paying lip service to reform). The school should be represented and, let's face it, there aren't too many teachers who can speak foreign languages and we all have to pull together when it's backs to the wall. And bla, bla, bla, bla. It boiled down to 'start packing immediately, your train is at 5.40 in the morning.' Well in some ways it will be rather nice to leave that hospital of a home. I only wish I could buy some of that smuggled vodka in the market to distribute among my 'colleagues' at the meeting. I'd enjoy the sight of all those male heads of Polish schools in violent convulsions. It would be no skin off my nose.
P.S. My diary, forgive me for being so inarticulate. As usual I've been lost in translation. I'm sure you'll agree with me that certain words don't have the same flavour in a foreign tongue. I can't put my finger on it, but 'clinic' for 'przychodnia', 'business meeting' for 'narada' or 'name-day' for 'imieniny' sound rather flat.
For the completed list of 'body' idioms click here.
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