I'm back! Did I miss anything?
Taking a month off work is excellent, I can highly recommend it. However, as my science brain is stubbornly still on holiday, it may be a few days before I get around to any science-related posts.
In the mean time, I wanted to share some direct quotes from the most hilarious phrase book ever, which was clearly written with a couple of distinct types of British tourists in mind. Take the section on “Getting to Know People”. It starts innocently enough, with “Do you have any hobbies?” and “I like painting / playing the guitar / piano”. The next items are, in order, “I think I'm falling in love with you”, “Will you stay with me tonight?”, “I'll only go as far as you want to”, “I always use a condom” and “Are you worried about AIDS?”.
Of course, it's no use being able to read a question directly from a phrase book if you can't understand the answer. The book therefore contains a helpful list of potential responses to the phrases in each chapter. In this case, the complete list is as follows:
“I've already got a boyfriend / girlfriend”
“I need more time”
“We mustn't take any risks”
“I'm not prepared to do that”
“I'd rather talk more about this tomorrow”
“We don't know each other well enough yet”.
Good stuff, and definitely more useful than any other phrase book I've seen.
The “In a Restaurant or Cafe” section seems to be written for a different group of people, perhaps the parents of the young 'uns trying to discuss their hobbies with local members of the opposite sex. Definitely the “I don't eat any of this foreign muck, bring me the full English breakfast” crowd.
“Can I have a plain omelette”, “I'd like a plain salad / a salad without salt / without olive oil”, “We've been waiting for 20 minutes”, “Is there garlic in this dish?”, “This isn't what I ordered”, “I'd like to see the manager”, “This wine is not good”, “The food is very salty”, “Can I have the complaints book?” “We won't come back here”.
Disappointingly, the list of potential answers concerns itself with offers of extra drinks and does not provide the more likely responses to some of the phrases above. It's probably a good thing for international relations.
Of course, everyone we met spoke perfect English. In fact, most people we met were English. Beautiful country, great beaches, good food and wine, world cup rugby on the telly, decent English breakfasts (and fantastic curries), great holiday.
Oh well, back to work. I might try to dig out some interesting papers from my email inbox later, although it's a daunting task when it contains 600 new messages...