British Studies Web Pages

Identity

HOME | MAIL | EVENTS | INFO | LINKS | QUESTIONS | MATERIALS
BIBLIOGRAPHY | BOOK REVIEWS

Click on the picture to enlarge

Mrs A's Diary

Do you remember Mrs A from our previous issues (Sport and Health)? Here's another excerpt from her diary. This time, to keep with our theme of identity, all the idioms in the text contain adjectives connected with nationalities or proper names. See how many you can work out and then do the follow-up exercises.

If you need any help understanding the idioms in the diary, just place the mouse over the purple ball to find the clue displayed on the screen.


2nd October, Monday

Rain again. The first month of teaching under the new Reforma rules has gone by without any big disasters. Today the Head unexpectedly called a staff meeting. There were two main points on the agenda: introducing a new Deputy Head and choosing the school patron. The new Deputy, a geography teacher, will also replace pani Zosia, who has had her sick leave prolonged till the end of the month. It seems that there will be all chiefs and no Indiansall bosses and no workers. Do we need three Deputy-heads for a staff of 18? With two of them real tartarsa fierce, bad-tempered person, who is in a position of authority it's going to be miserable. But choosing a patron was a laugh. The Head said that Kuratorium had promised us a school memorial plate and a banner. There's going to be a big celebration in May so we'd better start getting ready. He knows it will be a bit of a Herculean taskone that requires enormous strength, but he's absolutely convinced it will prove a great success. It all went very fast and before you could say Jack Robinsonvery fast we were given little slips of paper on which we had to write our suggestions for the school patron. No preparatory talk, no short list - off the top of our heads we were to write the names of the people deserving the honour. We are to hear the results tomorrow.

3rd October, Tuesday

Rain again. We can forget any hopes of an Indian summer.a period of warm weather in autumn The new Deputy came to the staff room to tell us the results of yesterday's voting for a patron. Oh, what a wonderful selection it was! The names clearly reflected 'the vested interests of the staff'. The suggestions included Józef Piłsudski and General Anders - evidently from the lobby of historians. Henryk Sienkiewicz and Maria Konopnicka vied with Rafał Wojaczek and Edward Stachura - a reflection of the generation gap between our Polish teachers. There were also Wanda Rutkiewicz, John Paul II and Władysław Komar. Each time a new name was heard I knew instantly whose idea it was. Suddenly the Deputy read 'Margaret Thatcher' and everybody looked at me. I swear I saw the shadow of a smile on Rychu, (our PE teacher)'s, face. I hadn't expected such subtlety and irony from him. This time he got off scot freewithout being punished, but I'll remember the joke. In fact, I had been thinking of an English connection, but it was Joseph Conrad's name which I put forward. As you might have guessed, no final decision was taken.

4th October, Wednesday

More rain. During PSI (personal social instruction = godzina wychowawcza) my class debated the issue of the approaching Teacher's Day. They want to prepare a surprise for the teachers - 'dishes from the four corners of the world'. Apparently the new extra-curricular cookery course introduced in September by pani Magda, our new biology teacher, is bearing fruit. They decided who would do what and they agreed to go Dutchshare the costs on the expenses. Daria will make Scotch eggsa hard boiled egg covered with sausage meat and fried in oil and Scotch brotha thick soup made mainly with beef or lamb and vegetables. (It is rather a relief she's not planning to serve Scotch on the rockswhisky with ice). Klaudia will prepare French frieslong thin pieces of potato fried in oil with French beansa kind of long green beans, French breadbread in long thin crusty loaves and French dressinga thin sauce made of oil, vinegar and spices which you put on salads. (A high risk combination. For a moment I was tempted to take French leaveleaving a place without asking permission through our French windowa pair of glass doors leading to a garden). Zbynio opted for a Spanish omelettea thick omelette which includes potatoes. And to finish off Kajtek suggested some Turkish coffeevery strong black coffee drunk in very small cups and Turkish delighta jelly-like sweet that is covered with powdered sugar or chocolate. (I'm afraid they will need a Turkish batha type of bath in which you sit in a very hot steamy room, then wash, have a massage and finally swim or shower in very cold water after all that). There were some alternative proposals, like Chinese take-awaya Chinese meal bought to be eaten out, Ukrainian borschbeetroot soup with plenty of vegetables, Welsh rarebit(rabbit) - a savoury food made by putting cheese and spices (sometimes also milk and flour) on some bread and heating it so that the cheese melts, Danish pastrya kind of cake and English breakfasta large morning meal usually consisting of bacon, eggs, baked beans (or fried tomatoes), toast with jam or marmalade and tea or coffee, but they fell through, either because they were too difficult to make (Danish pastry) or because they were considered yukky (English breakfast). When everything had been agreed upon and the kids had started to make a list of ingredients with possible calculations of prices, Przemek, the class doubting Thomasa person who refuses to believe something until they see full proof , sombrely declared that it was a Utopian schemea plan that is foolish or impractical. And, anyway, as far as his geography was concerned, our 'dishes from the four corners of the world' represented mostly Europe, so where were the other three corners? Must he always be such a smart Alec?a very conceited person who thinks they know everything

5th October, Thursday

Another rainy day! In the morning, at breakfast, Julka put on the table the latest issue of Filipinka and, pointing to a photograph of a skinny teenager demanded: 'I want these clothes for my birthday next week.' I looked at the picture and added up the prices in my head. A Bennetton T-shirt and cardigan - more than 350, knee-length trousers - 200, shoes - 180, a thin belt - 60 and a short jacket - 280, the total - 1070! My monthly salary! 'Forget it', I said, 'We can't afford it. I know there are people who will rob Peter to pay Paulborrow money from somebody in order to settle a debt, but I'm not that kind of person.' 'All my school friends wear designer clothes and that doesn't mean their parents are robbers.' Evidently she had taken me literally. 'Girls,' snorted Maciek, 'they always want to keep up with the Joneses,try to have the same possessions as friends and neighbours' and he surreptitiously exchanged his half empty glass of orange juice for his Dad's full one. Spouse, engrossed in his paper didn't notice anything. I tried to reason with Julka. 'Surely you realise that clothes advertised in glossy magazines are only for well-off people and not for every Tom, Dick and Harryan ordinary person. Even if I worked like a Trojanvery hard and taught evening courses on every weekday, we wouldn't be able to afford such expensive stuff.' Without a word she left the table, went to her room and slammed the door. Spouse snapped at Maciek. 'Why must you always take the attitude of 'I'm all right Jacka selfish attitude of only caring for oneself?' Can't you see she's suffering? One would think a teenage girl might expect some sympathy from her teenage brother.' The rest of the day did not improve.


Follow-up Activities

  • Now try the quiz to see how well you have learnt these expressions
  • .

  • If you still have doubts, check the full list of definitions.

Produced in Poland by British Council © 2003. The United Kingdom's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.