Miscellany and Trivia

Anecdotes about authors – Four

MTr 5 pablo-neruda

Pablo Neruda (Ricardo Neftalí Reyes Basoalto)

Ricardo Neftalí Reyes Basoalto started writing young, and his poetry was published by the tender age of fourteen! Although most parents would be proud, Ricardo’s father literally lit his son’s poetry on fire when he found out. After that, Ricardo used the pseudonym “Pablo Neruda,” Pablo for Paul Verlaine and Neruda for Jan Neruda, both writers. Later in life, Pablo Neruda became his legal name.

Anecdotes about authors – Five

MTr 6 Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

The James Bond novels, while popular in England, had a rather lukewarm reception in the United States – until new president John F. Kennedy listed From Russia with Love as one of his ten favorite books in an interview with Life Magazine in 1961. Kennedy had met Fleming at a dinner party in 1960 and asked him about overthrowing Fidel Castro. Fleming gave Kennedy a bizarre plot that involved convincing Castro his beard attracted radiation, causing Castro to shave off his beard and thus totally destroy his mojo.

Anecdotes by vegetarians – One

MTr 2

Lucy, Glasgow:

 In Cuba, a very helpful restaurateur bent over backwards when I told him, “soy vegetarian.” However, when he served me my plate of crisps, grilled vegetables, beans and rice, he proclaimed: “But you cannot be a vegetarian – you’re not skinny!”

Anecdotes by vegetarians – Two

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Julieta, Buenos Aires, Argentina:

I am a non-meat eater in a country where vegetarianism is an exotic illness. Try telling people you don’t eat red meat in Argentina. First question is always “Why?” followed by “Are you sick?” and, later, any of the following: “Are you sure? Come on, a bit won't hurt”, or “Don’t you ever feel like you’re dying for steak?”

 

Anecdotes by vegetarians – Three

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Jonathan Pagden, Chesham, Bucks:

I once stayed in a hotel in Munich (in a land famous for offering six varieties of meat for breakfast), and asked for the vegetarian lunch option. The waiter brought a plate of bacon. When I pointed this out, he said, with a completely straight face, “It came from a vegetarian pig.” I still don't know whether he was joking.

 

Anecdotes by vegetarians – Four

MTr 5

Damian Bown, London, England: 

My sister, also a vegetarian, recounts visiting a restaurant in northern Italy asked “I am a vegetarian, is that a problem?” to which the waiter replied “Only for you madam, only for you.”

 

Anecdotes by vegetarians – Five

MTr 6

Laura Dover, Calgary, Canada:

When I was in (then) Czechoslovakia in 1992, I order a meatless, fishless pizza. Sure enough, they brought me a ham pizza. My Czech boyfriend berated the waitress and pointed out the meat on the pizza. “But it is chopped up in small pieces!” she exclaimed.

Anecdotes about teaching English – One

MTr 2 Teaching English

A practical attitude

We were having a repetition class a few days before a test. I had prepared a worksheet with a set of tasks similar to those planned for the test. One of them was drawing conclusions about the past using modals (can't have, must have and so on). Among others, I prepared a cue “He was rich and handsome, but she didn't want to marry him.” I was expecting something like “She must have been in love with another man” or “She can't have loved him.” What I got instead, and quite promptly, from a very gentle and sweet 18-year-old girl was “She can't have been normal!”

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