My warmest and heartiest congratulations to you on the New Year, 2007.
Though it was not very smooth and there were some unhappy moments, there were also happy ones which only prove the proverb ‘After rain comes fair weather.’ And one of them happened on the eve of the New Year: I came on a visit to my beloved England, where I always feel myself at home due to my best friend, David Wright, who is such a warm, kind, smart and intelligent personality (an excellent conversationalist1 and erudite scholar2) always eager to share his knowledge with the others. I am sure you remember his ever-interesting articles in School English.
The main purpose of my visit was to launch a new project, a book to be called ‘Meet the Wrights’.
Надежда Никифоровна Рогожина, проректор по международным программам, зав. кафедрой лингвистики и межъязыковой коммуникации Самарского муниципального университета Наяновой, кандидат педагогических наук, доцент.
Директор негосударственного учреждения дополнительного образования “World Class-Samara”.
(I would like to remind any new readers that there is such a headline in School English which gives us the chance to meet the real family of Wrights, comprising the elder Mr David Wright and the families of his two children, David and Anne.)
I must confess3, I have always dreamed of greeting the New Year in England, of feeling the atmosphere and seeing how the English celebrate the New Year.
The atmosphere of this event is created by many things, including the home itself, friendly dinners, piles of books and magazines (some of which have been read and others which are still waiting to be read), gifts, a lot of seasonal greetings cards on the mantelpiece4, visits and phone calls from friends and relatives, bright shop windows, sales and, of course, the TV!
Let’s have a look at a couple of those items of literature – a magazine and a book – at random5:
‘The Spectator’ magazine of 30 December 2006 with a picture of Kate Middleton and the caption ‘The Next People’s Princess’ on the cover. The article referred6 to was written by Patrick Jepson, Princess Diana’s private secretary, who says there is much the original ‘People’s Princess’ could tell the next queen-in-waiting. Kate Middleton and Prince William are widely expected to announce their engagement7 in 2007 (www.spectator.co.uk).
‘It’s Your Time You’re Wasting’ by Frank Chalk8. This book is a presumably9 true account of his life written by a teacher at a fairly poor inner-city10 school – a school where the kids get drunk, take drugs and beat up the teachers … when they can be bothered to turn up11. He confiscates their porn, booze12 and trainers13, fends off14 angry parents and worries about the few conscientious pupils.
As the annotation on the back cover goes: “Terrifying and hilarious15, ‘It’s Your Time You’re Wasting’ is Chalk’s real-life diary from the front line of the modern edukashun system.”
I have started reading the book and can place it in a row with such best sellers as ‘Up the Down Staircase’ by Bel Kaufman and ‘To Sir With Love’ by E.R. Braithwaite. Being a teacher myself, I was shocked by the book – that’s my first impression of it.
The second thought was: “I hope it never happens to our schools” (touch wood). Or am I just lucky to work in such a good institution?
Regarding the TV, I was not disappointed – there were some absolutely lovely TV programmes on different channels. To mention but a few: ‘Songs of Praise’ (a big new year gathering at London’s Royal Albert Hall), ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ (a sitcom to which I would give a Grand Prix for humour), some nice old movies (‘Robin Hood’, ‘Sherlock Holmes’, ‘My Fair Lady’, etc) which are loved by viewers all over the world.
The English like quizzes, so there were plenty of them, to suit every taste - ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’, ‘The Weakest Link’, ‘Celebrity Mastermind’, etc. It is very pleasant to find out that you know a thing or two (and challenging to find out that there are many other things you didn’t know) whilst sitting on the sofa in front of the box16.
And the culmination of the year – a live broadcast of the New Year celebrations in London. There were some celebs17 (participants a programme to which our “Звёзды на льду” is a twin sister). Thank goodness the London event was not cancelled due to the weather conditions, as it was in Liverpool and Edinburgh where there were strong winds. London was at its best: brilliant and sparkling as it should be on such an occasion. There was a chorus of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at the end-of-year celebration, of course! But the main character in the event was Big Ben with its known-all-over-the world chimes18 heralding19 in the dawn of 2007. Millions of people started making their wishes before the clock struck 12. And I was not an exception (but I won’t tell you what I wished for!) After that, a fascinating – magnificent, fabulous – display of fireworks started. Together with the revolving London Eye20, it was an altogether memorable experience. There were fireworks outside our window, too (but I must admit, their effect was not so dramatic). So, the English can celebrate after all!
On New Year’s Day, there was a traditional broadcast of a wonderful concert by the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra. It’s an annual musical event, featuring polkas, marches and Viennese waltzes. This time the conductor was the world famous musician from India, Zubin Mehta. I noticed some Russian names amongst the elegant dancers for there was a gorgeous performance on the site of the Shonbrunn Palace (a former Habsburg residence in Vienna) to accompany the music. So, you see it has become an international event. It was a feast of music with the charming ‘Blue Danube’ waltz and the energetic Radetzky March to finish. And it was a festival of flowers, too! The hall was lavishly21 decorated, as always. The commentator remarked that, for the first time, there were two women-musicians in the orchestra which was a significant token of the changes taking place in that orchestra. The Maestro greeted the new members of the European Union (Bulgaria and Romania) in their languages and I thought that maybe we’ll hear that in Russian, too, some day on the same occasion.
1 conversationalist – интересный собеседник 2 scholar – грамотный человек 3 to confess – признаваться 4 mantelpiece – каминная полка 5 at random – наугад 6 referred to – относящийся (в данном случае к фото на обложке) 7 engagement – помолвка 8 Frank Chalk – A pseudonym. It might jeopardise his future to give either his real name or details of those about whom he writes. 9 presumably – видимо 10 inner-city – относящийся к бедному району (в центральной части большого города) 11 when they can be bothered to turn up – когда они соблаговоляют появиться 12 booze – выпивка 13 trainers – кроссовки 14 to fend off – отражать (напор) 15 hilarious – веселый 16 box – (разг.) телевизор 17 сeleb – (разг.) celebrity 18 chimes – звон курантов 19 to herald – возвещать 20 London Eye – A giant rotating Ferris wheel (чертово колесо) beside the River Thames 21 lavishly – щедро