What did you understand?
Do some quizzes. Listen again to answer the questions.
Mike [00:01:10] Hello Owain!
Owain [00:01:12] Hi Mike. How you doing?
Mike [00:01:14] I'm good, thank you. How are you?
Owain [00:01:18] I'm fine. Yeah. Yeah. Any any any swimming today? Any strangers, meeting strangers?
Mike [00:01:26] I did I went swimming. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Every day at the moment. I'm living my resolutions, I talk to people on the train today and I did I went for a swim, which is great. It was great.
Owain [00:01:38] Nice, nice. Good. Well, what we talking about today?
Mike [00:01:47] Well, if I said to you, Owain, a lovely lamb casserole and cottage pie with broccoli and fresh potato, some smoked salmon and peas. These are all dishes for humans, right?
Owain [00:02:04] Some humans. Yeah, I suppose. Yeah. If you like that kind of stuff.
Mike [00:02:09] Yeah, wrong, wrong. These are actually typical items, typical food dishes that you'd see in your average British supermarket...
Owain [00:02:22] Yeah, of course.
Mike [00:02:22] ...in the aisle that that is for dogs and cats, a.k.a. the pet food aisle. Yeah.
Owain [00:02:32] What?
Mike [00:02:32] Because.
Owain [00:02:35] Okay.
Mike [00:02:36] For real. Yeah. Cause there are 60 million odd people in the UK. Okay. 27 million pets. Let me break that down for you a little bit,.
Owain [00:02:50] Right.
Mike [00:02:50] So you've got. 43 percent of households in Britain have a pet of some description. There's seven point three million dogs. Seven point two million cats. There's a lot of cats and dogs, 14 million of them running around, scampering around, barking, growling, purring. Apart from dogs and cats, we've got fish, rabbits, reptiles, rodents, birds, all of them. They've all been domesticated and they're all in one in Britain...
Owain [00:03:27] Not flying around?
Mike [00:03:27] 43 percent. Some are.
Owain [00:03:29] No birds flying around though are there.
Mike [00:03:31] There are some. Yeah. Some people prefer not to have them in cages, you know. So they let them run...they let them fly around the house. But you can imagine there's a lot of "feather-idge" and a lot of the mess. So I think my point, Owain, today is that it's fair to say that other cultures, some of whom might be listening to this episode, are fascinated, sometimes baffled and sometimes pretty revolted. How much British people embrace th...their pets into their lives and into their homes? You know, in a recent study, 15 percent of British people said that they loved their pets more than their partner.
Owain [00:04:19] So...
Mike [00:04:19] That's a worrying statistic.
Owain [00:04:21] I...What did you say? They they love that pets more than their partner?
Mike [00:04:26] That's right.
Owain [00:04:28] How many people?
Mike [00:04:29] That's right. 15 percent. I'll give you another statistic. One in seven people said that they'd leave all of their wealth to their pet in their will. Sixty percent, 60 percent of people say... I've got more...60 percent of people say that we should get compassionate leave. If our pet dies, if a pet, if a pet passes away, we should be able to go...the employer should have to pay for us to have a period of compassionate leave.
Owain [00:05:05] How? How much? How long?
Mike [00:05:08] Does it. Does it matter? I mean, surely, surely...
Owain [00:05:16] Well, if it's an hour...if it's an hour, yeah, I'd be...I'd be okay with that...three weeks, I don't know.
Mike [00:05:21] Yeah. You know, and check this out, likewise, like people are also wanting to push through the idea of "peternity" leave, "peternity" leave, so...as opposed to the 'paternity' leave. Yeah. Yeah. This is real. This is real.
Owain [00:05:42] Oh my god.
Mike [00:05:43] So when taking on any furry companion, people would like to have some some some sort of paternity leave, some me time. I mean, the list goes on. So, Owain, Do you...Do you have a relationship with a pet? Do you have a pet in your life?
Owain [00:06:03] I'm not currently taking on any pets and I have had pets in my life. When I was a child I had cats and dogs, you know, the usual...rabbits, guinea pigs,...no, sorry, I tell a lie, not guin...hamsters. I think they all...they all end up dying in the end, which is kind of part of the reason for having pets when you're young, you know, teaches you about death, but as an adult, I...most recent pets I've had were about the early 2000s and nearly 20 years ago. Daisy and Humphrey, who were... I kind of adopted them from my my girlfriend. We we lived together and...
Mike [00:06:49] Okay. What animals were they?
Owain [00:06:51] They were..they were cats. So, Humphrey a bit of a nut case, he fell out of a window, I think, once was never the same again. And, er, Daisy who just liked to set her...Yeah, Daisy who liked to set her fire on...her tail on fire, which is...which is not fun at the best of times when it's a white...a pure white cat. It doesn't doesn't look great. So...
Mike [00:07:14] That's not going to end well.
Owain [00:07:15] No, no, no. But I lov, lov...I loved it and I loved having them and I was quite glad when I lost them, 'cause they were a pain in the neck sometimes.
Mike [00:07:24] Okay.
Owain [00:07:24] How about you, Mike? Have you had...Do you got any pets?
Mike [00:07:31] Yeah. I used to have cat..., er, do... two dogs. I grew up with two dogs in the house. I had a dog called Scrumpy who was a Yorkshire terrier.
Owain [00:07:41] I think you've told me about him.
Mike [00:07:41] ...and, and I had a little not so little, I had a black Labrador dog called Samantha, which is not a very dog-like name really, but it was a rescue dog.
Owain [00:07:53] Not really. No.
Mike [00:07:54] No. Some of the things that I thought...
Owain [00:07:58] She was, she was called Samantha because she was a rescue dog.
Mike [00:08:01] Oh, yeah. No, because we tried to rename her. We tried to rename her in an attempt to, you know, make a less human like, I suppose, because Samantha is quite a common name for a human.
Owain [00:08:14] She just doesn't respond to anything else?
Mike [00:08:15] ...it's common. Yeah. She wouldn't respend...respend? She wouldn't respond. She wouldn't respond to any...
Owain [00:08:22] Peternity.
Mike [00:08:23] ...Nickname, diminutive of Samantha. Sammy, we tried Sammy. We tried Simmy. Sam. Nothing. Yeah, it's tail....her tail, her tail wouldn't wag. So. Yeah, I mean it... Some of the more unusual things about these are a love affair with pets. Just made me laugh really when I was researching this topic.
Owain [00:08:48] What? There's more?
Mike [00:08:48] But you know that there's such a dent...There's a doggy dentist. You can take the dog?
Owain [00:08:52] Yeah, I doesn't surprise...I ha...
Mike [00:08:54] Yeah.
Owain [00:08:54] Yeah. Doesn't surprise me. I've seen.... I've seen, I've seen doggy hairdressers. I mean, if you if you...at least teeth, teeth are quite important, you know. But if you're going to take your dog to a hairdresser, then of course you're going to take it to the dentist aren't you.
Mike [00:09:09] Yeah. Yeah. So you get you get you get days at the office, where you can take your dog in these days. It's very common.
Owain [00:09:18] You get...you get days off from the...from the office.
Mike [00:09:20] No not not days off. No. You get, you get to take your dog into the office. It's like take a dog into the office day. That's very common.
Owain [00:09:28] Is it?!
Mike [00:09:29] Yeah, it's very common.
Owain [00:09:31] Really.
Mike [00:09:31] But you know, you can...that's why other countries think we're mad. Absolutely mad. Because in Mozambique, for example, in Mozambique, where my brother lives, dogs aren't allowed into the house. It's very common for a dog...
Owain [00:09:45] RIght.
Mike [00:09:45] ...to be outside barking at traffic and gardening...guarding, guarding the property. Because that's what, that's what...
Owain [00:09:55] Are they, are they pets...really? Are they considered pets, though?
Mike [00:10:00] Yeah. Well, yeah, not in the same way as what we've considered pets, right. Yeah. Yeah. I'm down with some things, I mean, people giving food to dogs in restaurants. That's not really my cup of tea. Don't really agree with that.
Owain [00:10:15] I haven't seen that.
Mike [00:10:15] But I do think that pets are a brilliant way of combating loneliness on a serious note, I think is really good,.
Owain [00:10:23] Right.
Mike [00:10:23] Yeah. So I see the benefits of, er, you know, my friend was telling me that she had a dog that lived lived in her in her neighbours house and her neighbour was a very old lady with Alzheimer's. And this dog called Olympia, which is a strong name for dog. It used to...it used to just...it used to help this old lady and just keep her company. And...
Owain [00:10:51] Ah, like Lassie, eh?
Mike [00:10:51] ...whenever she played...
Owain [00:10:52] Right.
Mike [00:10:54] Yeah, whenever she played the piano, apparently she played the piano and the dog would just...would bark in, like, when th...when she finished playing the piano, it was like she was applauding. Except instead of...
Owain [00:11:06] Wow, wow!
Mike [00:11:06] ...instead of clapping, she'd applaud. Yeah, she'd, she'd...
Owain [00:11:07] Well, that says, I mean, I mean, dog...dogs...the interesting thing about dogs is they do appear to be pretty intelligent and you can kind of build a relationship with them. I mean, obviously, we don't know what they're thinking necessarily, but...or whether they've got that w...to h...to what degree they're, they're conscious. I mean. I mean, they're conscious. But how much they understand. I mean, how intelligent are they. We don't really know. But they seem to be getting it. You know, they seem to be quiet with whatever's going on around them.
Mike [00:11:34] So do you think...
Owain [00:11:35] Sometimes more than more than humans.
Mike [00:11:38] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. More than me on a...on a Thursday night after...some teaching or even a Wednesday night, like it is today. I think, I mean, would you would you....Do you think that dogs can recognise? Can you know they'll appreciate a...a dinner that's made up of organic steak and all the rest of it? Do you think they said they say go, 'I'm so glad'? Yeah.
Owain [00:12:04] Not really. Not really. No. No, I think they probably think, ooh, food - smells good.
Mike [00:12:11] Yeah.
Owain [00:12:11] Yeah. I'm gonna get...I'm going to eat this as quick as I can because I'm starving.
Mike [00:12:14] Yeah. I think so too.
Owain [00:12:15] I've been running around in the f...in the park all day.
Mike [00:12:18] Yeah. Well, mate, that was a j...a little journey into our pet...onto into the British love affair with pets. We'd love to hear from you guys. If you have any pets in your country, in your house. And we. And if so, what your what what what's what are your pet stories? Please write into us and tell us some pet stories. Until next time.
Owain [00:12:43] Yeah, yeah.
Mike [00:12:43] Happy waffling!
Honouring My British Heritage
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Do some quizzes. Listen again to answer the questions.
Owain [00:01:17] Good morning and welcome to another episode of the English Waffle. This morning, I'm here with a special guest who's flown all the way over the Atlantic from the other side of the Atlantic. And it's my sister, Laura. Why have you just come over from another country?
Laura [00:01:37] Purely to appear on the English Waffle.
Owain [00:01:39] Ah, well, that's flattering, but that's not really why you're here, is it?
Laura [00:01:44] No.
Owain [00:01:44] Oh.
Laura [00:01:46] Oh, no, we're we're over to see family, we...we come back once or twice a year. On this occasion, we've got a new nephew that we haven't met yet. He's he's four months old.
Owain [00:02:01] Nice.
Laura [00:02:02] So we we had to we had to come over and catch him while he's still in the in the cute baby stage.
Owain [00:02:07] Right.
Laura [00:02:09] And...and then just see all of the rest of you as well, I suppose.
Owain [00:02:14] OK, so let's just...to confirm, where exactly do you live now?
Laura [00:02:17] We live just outside of Boston. It's actually near the New England Patriots Stadium in the suburbs.
Owain [00:02:25] Oh nice. OK, so you're in the typical kind of American white picket fence, you know, the place we think of when we think of American films.
Laura [00:02:35] Yeah, it's, um. It's a little bit like that. There aren't there aren't many fences. They don't go in for fences as much as we do. Maybe, maybe because they have bigger gardens they're not they're not so anxious to contain that little patch of land that is their own.
Owain [00:02:52] Right. They got plenty of space, haven't they.
Laura [00:02:53] Exactly. And where, where we're living in in Walpole, it's a...it's a bit different to the films because it's it's very heavily forested. There are loads and loads of trees.
Owain [00:03:06] Right.
Laura [00:03:06] I read a statistic the other week that 60 or 70 percent of the land area of Massachusetts is actually covered in trees.
Owain [00:03:15] Wow. That's amazing.
Laura [00:03:15] It's it's really, really different to over here.
Owain [00:03:18] So...
Laura [00:03:18] It's what England was probably like...loooong ago.
Owain [00:03:21] Right. So you...can you, can you notice the difference? Are you breathing better Do you feel...feel like there's a...a lack of pollution and...?
Laura [00:03:32] Um, no. I mean, we're closer to a major international airport then we were. And I go...
Owain [00:03:37] Boston.
Laura [00:03:37] I go into Boston every day for work. So I'm still in the city part of the time.
Owain [00:03:43] Yeah, yeah.
Laura [00:03:44] But we do, we do get a lot of mosquitoes and ticks.
Owain [00:03:50] Right.
Owain [00:03:56] I mean, when you say mosquitoes and ticks, they're quite normal aren't they in...in various parts of the world?...Is...Does, does it cause you a problem?
Laura [00:04:03] Well, so...so the ticks I think partly there's this American concern over over health care they...they get very anxious about things. So the, the risk of anything is is exaggerated slightly....
Owain [00:04:18] OK.
Laura [00:04:18] ...over there, um, ticks are all over Europe as well. But they do they do carry Lyme disease. So you can get them in Scotland.
Owain [00:04:27] Oh really?
Laura [00:04:29] I think they're more in Scotland than in the rest of the UK. I don't know why.
Owain [00:04:31] You said they can carry Lyme disease.
Laura [00:04:33] Lyme disease.
Owain [00:04:35] What is that?
Laura [00:04:36] So Lyme disease is...I think is an infection of the brain, which makes you very ill.
Owain [00:04:45] Right. Ok. And just by walking around outside in the woods or in your garden, you can pick these things up.
Laura [00:04:53] Yeah, it's mostly on deer ticks. If you get a dog tick, which is about five or six millimetres long, they don't really carry it. They're actually easier to find because...cause they're bigger. The deer ticks're, 're less than half the size.
Owain [00:05:08] Wow.
Laura [00:05:08] We found a dog tick on...on Caity last, last May.
Owain [00:05:10] I bet that was fun.
Laura [00:05:13] Yeah. So Caity's our two year old and I was just, er...I was just brushing her hair before bed and found this lump and pushed the hair aside. And it was this little insect that had attached itself to the back of her head. Because they as you brush past, if you've got bare skin if you brush past long grass or leaves, they, they hide out in the bottom of the leaf.
Owain [00:05:39] Right, right.
Laura [00:05:39] And then...
Owain [00:05:40] Jump.
Laura [00:05:40] Jump. Well, they don't really jump. They just get brushed off. But then what I didn't know is once they're on your skin, they crawl up into, uh, into areas with, with...that are warm and dark with a good blood supply.
Owain [00:05:56] R...OK.
Laura [00:05:56] So if you've been out in the woods, you need you need to check your arm pits...
Owain [00:06:01] Scrub your...yeah...nooks and crannies.
Laura [00:06:01] Your groin and the back of your head.
Owain [00:06:06] Okay. Well, I mean, ticks and diseases aside wi...that hasn't been the entirety of your experience in the US. So, how long have you been there now?
Laura [00:06:16] It's coming up to three years, actually, it'll be three years.
Owain [00:06:19] Okay. So, great things about living in the U.S. What can you tell us?
Laura [00:06:23] There is so much going on for young families. They they have this this boundless enthusiasm that that they they're not embarrassed by.
Owain [00:06:33] Right.
Laura [00:06:34] There's this a little edge of cynicism to everything in British life, I f...I feel.
Owain [00:06:40] Oh ok. That's interesting.
Laura [00:06:41] Having lived away now, um, you know, there would be a certain amount of sneering, I think, at the Fourth of July parade or the Santa parade.
Owain [00:06:51] Right. Okay.
Laura [00:06:52] ...which um...So the the the Santa parade. They they have Santa in a car and a load of other people from the town in a car. They drive down the street. They throw sweets out onto the road and the children scurry around, picking up all the sweets.
Owain [00:07:09] Actually that sounds pretty similar to something they do in Spain, um, for the three King procession. Yeah.
Laura [00:07:15] Oh for the...Yeah.
Owain [00:07:15] Yeah, which is the same idea. It's interesting. So, so you feel that perhaps for English people or British people there's...they're a bit too earnest.
Laura [00:07:25] Yes.
Owain [00:07:25] Because there's a very interesting book by a woman called Kate Fox called Watching the English. And this is one of the rules that she highlights that the British abide by, and that is that you can't do anything in...too earnestly. You've got to always make, take...make fun of things and...be a bit cynical.
Laura [00:07:46] You can't be completely wholehearted.
Owain [00:07:48] Yeah, exactly.
Laura [00:07:49] Yeah.
Owain [00:07:50] Which, you know, we don't notice most the time, I think. But perhaps when you move abroad, it's something that stands out quite a bit.
Laura [00:07:56] Yeah, it's just by contrast. And it makes me feel like it's a really good place for a childhood.
Owain [00:08:04] Right.
Laura [00:08:04] In the in the States, because...
Owain [00:08:06] You're not knocked down by sarcasm and er...
Laura [00:08:08] Exactly. And it's just fun.
Owain [00:08:16] You're allowed to dream. Okay. So that's good. So, so good atmosphere for bringing children up. Very positive atmosphere. Any, any problems you've had while you've been out there apart from, you know, the wildlife?
Laura [00:08:30] So in...in the workplace, it's taken a little while to get used to. They are, although they dress more casually,...
Owain [00:08:38] Yeah.
Laura [00:08:38] ...they are actually more rigid and formal in their in their organizational structures.
Owain [00:08:44] Interesting. Ok.
Laura [00:08:46] So I've I've always been very vague about who my manager actually was. And it didn't really matter. And it wasn't this kind of linear reporting structure.
Owain [00:09:00] Right.
Laura [00:09:01] But when I went to the US, I had an assigned supervisor. Everything goes through him from...
Owain [00:09:06] Right.
Laura [00:09:08] ...expenses to training to timesheets and I find it a little bit stifling.
Owain [00:09:16] Would you say that they're a bit behind the times?
Laura [00:09:18] Yes.
Owain [00:09:19] Yeah. They just haven't, haven't moved on to modern working practices, in some ways.
Laura [00:09:24] Yeah. My office is quite unusual because we actually have an open plan office there. The norm is that you have a cellular off..., cellular office plan, people have their little own offices.
Owain [00:09:41] Right?
Laura [00:09:42] Before I moved over, we'd just started hot desking in the UK. So no one has an assigned desk. You have your docking station.
Owain [00:09:53] Docking station.
Laura [00:09:54] You bring your laptop in in the morning. You have a little locker...
Owain [00:09:56] Right.
Laura [00:09:57] ...for your things. And it means that you can be a bit more dynamic about who you're sitting with. You can you can be with whatever team you you want to work with at the time.
Owain [00:10:08] Yeah.
Laura [00:10:08] In the US, that is absolutely unheard of. People have...
Owain [00:10:12] Wow.
Laura [00:10:12] ...the the mountains of stuff at their desks and fixed seating that is familiar from a decade ago.
Owain [00:10:19] I suppose that's characteristic of the U.S., isn't it? It's one of the most advanced countries in the world but at the same time, one of the least developed in many ways.
Laura [00:10:27] In some in some ways I think they they might be less than happy to be described that way.
Owain [00:10:35] Yeah, well, I don't live there I'm okay, I don't know any Americans so....
Laura [00:10:41] Yes, you do.
Owain [00:10:42] Er, do I?
Laura [00:10:43] Don't you?
Owain [00:10:46] I don't think so.
Laura [00:10:46] Oh, anyway.
Owain [00:10:49] Anyway, so just to just to finish off, would you...? Are you planning on staying there for much longer or are you going...are you there for life or are you planning on moving somewhere else at some point?
Laura [00:11:00] Don't know. They gave us greencard.
Owain [00:11:02] Oh, does that mean you can stay there for for life?
Laura [00:11:04] So, that that means we're officially permanent residents, we're resident aliens.
Owain [00:11:08] OK.
Laura [00:11:10] It lasts for 10 years, at which point you can renew the green card or you can apply for citizenship. Our youngest is actually an American citizen 'cause she was born over there...
Owain [00:11:22] She was born there yeah.
Laura [00:11:24] But I'm not I'm not sure we'll stay that long. The the reasons are kind of familiar to to anyone who's living away from home, I think, with aging parents and family ties, you start to feel like maybe if you're going to be needed back home.
Owain [00:11:44] Right.
Laura [00:11:46] And the other thing for me is, is really about cultural identity. It's not. It's not despite the mockery that I have a problem with Americans, I think...I know some some wonderful Americans...It's just, I can't imagine my children being a different culture to me...
Owain [00:12:05] Yeah. Well and...
Laura [00:12:08] ...and not having the same...that common ground.
Owain [00:12:10] Well, that's a thing. You're not American. And it would would be, I mean, it does happen, but it would be a little unusual for you to have American kids given that you're, you're British.
Laura [00:12:20] Yeah.
Owain [00:12:22] And really the most comfortable thing is, is for you to come back and then to give them the rest of their education here in the UK.
Laura [00:12:28] Yeah, so that they have...they've had an experience of living abroad, but they, they still have common experience with us.
Owain [00:12:35] Yeah. Yeah. Have they started picking up the accent yet?
Laura [00:12:37] A little bit.
Owain [00:12:38] Yep.
Laura [00:12:38] There's the occasional word.
Owain [00:12:39] Yeah.
Laura [00:12:39] I think it's impressive.
Owain [00:12:41] I've heard you actually saying things like 'Did, did you do that already? Or something, something like that.
Laura [00:12:48] It's started creeping in.
Owain [00:12:49] Rather than 'Have you done that already?' Uh, which is something you'd probably hear over here. Although, I don't know. Things are changing.
Laura [00:12:58] 'Have you done it yet?'.
Owain [00:12:59] Ooh, sorry - 'yet'...yes sorry 'Have you done it yet?'.
Laura [00:13:02] Well, but I have to change the way I speak because my colleagues don't understand me.
Owain [00:13:06] Well, exactly. No. And that's part of moving to another country. I think it's. I think it's normal to adapt to your surroundings and to embrace the culture to a point. And you want to communicate, yeah.
Laura [00:13:18] Yeah.
Owain [00:13:19] Anyway final word. Anything else you want to say about the US? Sum, sum it up in three words before we finish. Sorry, that's a tough one, isn't it?
Laura [00:13:30] No, I can't.
Owain [00:13:31] Okay, that's three words. Well done. Thank you very much for coming Laura and um hopefully we'll have you on again sometime.
Laura [00:13:37] Okay.
White Picket Fence
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Do some quizzes. Listen again to answer the questions.
[00:01:11] Intro & Music.
Mike [00:01:16] Welcome to another edition of the English Waffle. My name is Mike and I'm joined today by very special guests. In my house in London, we have the co-host of The English Waffle, Owain.
Owain [00:01:30] Hello.
Mike [00:01:31] We have Martin, his son.
Martin [00:01:35] Hello.
Mike [00:01:35] And we have Martin's mother, Sandra.
Sandra [00:01:38] Hello.
Owain [00:01:38] She's also...also my wife.
Mike [00:01:44] And also Owain's wife. Yes. Thank you. We've had such fun, haven't we, in the last few days.
Guests [00:01:50] Yeah, yep.
Mike [00:01:50] We've been...
Owain [00:01:51] It's been brilliant.
Mike [00:01:52] We've been dancing around the flat.
Guests [00:01:54] Yeah.
Mike [00:01:55] We've been trying on...we're all wearing different hats right now.
Sandra [00:02:00] Playing instruments.
Martin [00:02:03] Yeah. Yeah.
Mike [00:02:07] Playing instruments. Somebody is excited. We've been cooking, eating, drinking, but most of all, we've been sightseeing in London, haven't we. We've been out and about sightseeing in London. So, Martin, let's begin with you. What's been... what has... what has been the most special thing you've seen today in London?
Martin [00:02:34] The London Eye.
Mike [00:02:36] Okay. The London Eye, any any particular reason?
Martin [00:02:40] Because...I know it goes slowly, but I do like it because...because it's tall and they did fireworks.
Mike [00:02:52] Nice. Good reasons. Sandra, what's caught your eye in London today?
Sandra [00:02:57] This is my second time in London and I love fashion and I think you can find a lot of people from around the world and they wear things and clothes that I have never worn.
Mike [00:03:15] Yeah.
Sandra [00:03:15] But I like...
Mike [00:03:17] Yeah.
Sandra [00:03:18] ...to to see these clothes on those people.
Mike [00:03:23] Yeah. Yeah.
Sandra [00:03:24] It's really interesting.
Mike [00:03:25] You know, they say Milan and Paris are the capitals of fashion, but I think London gives it...
Sandra [00:03:29] London is...is a...one of the fashion capitals in the world.
Mike [00:03:34] Yeah. And what about you, Owain. What's caught your eye?
Owain [00:03:38] Well, actually, I saw something today that I'd never ever seen in my life before.
Mike [00:03:42] Oh, yeah?
Owain [00:03:43] I saw a fat Canadian.
Mike [00:03:45] A fat Canadian.
Owain [00:03:47] A fat Canadian, juggling.
Mike [00:03:49] Yes.
Owain [00:03:52] A hand grenade, a pirate's sword and a chainsaw.
Mike [00:03:58] It's not something you see every day. A fat Canadian juggling a chainsaw, a grenade....I mean,...
Owain [00:04:06] No, I was quite surprised.
Mike [00:04:06] No. Where...I live in London and I don't see that every day at all. Where was this in London?
Owain [00:04:14] Well, as many people may know, there is a place called Covent Garden and it's really famous for its street performers. So, he was a street performer.
Mike [00:04:25] That's great. And Martin, what's the most iconic thing for you about London? Iconic means when you think of London, what do you think of?
Martin [00:04:38] I think of big London Bridge and lots of other things: buildings,...
Mike [00:04:48] Yeah, yeah.
Martin [00:04:50] ...restaurants,...
Mike [00:04:50] Yeah.
Martin [00:04:51] ...shops,...
Mike [00:04:51] Yeah. Buses?
Martin [00:04:55] Trains.
Mike [00:04:55] We went on a bus, didn't we, today.
Martin [00:04:57] And trains.
Mike [00:04:58] Yeah.
Martin [00:04:58] Lots of stuff.
Mike [00:04:58] Because where do you live, Martin?
Martin [00:05:00] Spain (?).
Mike [00:05:03] Right now? Where do you live?
Sandra [00:05:07] Leicester (whispered).
Martin [00:05:08] In Leicester.
Mike [00:05:08] Ah, Leicester. Do they have buses in Leicester?
Martin [00:05:10] Yes.
Mike [00:05:11] Do they have red buses?
Martin [00:05:14] No (whispered).
Mike [00:05:15] So big red London buses are spec...special for London, aren't they?
[00:06:38] Commercial break.
Martin [00:06:38] I think of the beach...
Mike [00:06:41] The beach?
Sandra [00:06:44] Yeah, we saw the beach.
Mike [00:06:48] Oh, we saw it. Yes, we went to the South Bank and we saw a little bit of sand. Yeah, we call that the beach because we don't have a beach in London, so we we yeah...that was like...the nearest thing that we have to a beach was the South Bank. Yeah, you're right. Okay and Sandra, what do you think of when you think of London. What's the most iconic thing for you.
Sandra [00:07:07] Iconic. I like fashion, again,...
Mike [00:07:11] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Sandra [00:07:13] ...but I saw something today on the beach...a...a sculpture, a sculpture doing a sofa with the sand.
Mike [00:07:23] A sand sculpture?
Sandra [00:07:25] Yeah.
Mike [00:07:25] How cool!
Sandra [00:07:26] Oh yeah.
Mike [00:07:27] How cool!
Sandra [00:07:27] And I think it's was a woman and she was doing on a sofa.
Mike [00:07:33] Great.
Sandra [00:07:34] But a real sofa.
Mike [00:07:36] Yeah. Yeah.
Sandra [00:07:36] Yeah.
Mike [00:07:37] It's really impressive, isn't it?
Sandra [00:07:38] I love it, yeah.
Mike [00:07:39] And Owain, what about you? What's...what do you think of when you think of London.
Owain [00:07:42] Well, I think like many people, I think of the River Thames. It's just that great experience when you get the river and you can look both ways and see all the interesting buildings, the sights along the river. It's fantastic.
Mike [00:07:56] There's nothing like, is there? For sure. And Martin, what was the silliest thing that you saw in London today? What was the thing that made you smile, the most?
Martin [00:08:07] The silliest thing was when when I when I saw the...the guy's...the guy who was just doing, like, the juggling, erm...
Mike [00:08:24] The fat Canadian? The Canadian with his top off? What was he juggling do you remember?
Martin [00:08:31] I know he was juggling a sword of cutting trees down?
Mike [00:08:35] Yeah, yeah, he was ju...juggling a chainsaw. He was a bit mad, wasn't he?
Martin [00:08:40] And and and a pirate sword.
Mike [00:08:45] And a pirate sword. It was...that, that's not something you see every day, is it? No. Sandra, what about you? What was the silliest thing you saw, something that brought a smile to your face?
Sandra [00:08:56] I know. I have seen Claire the dinosaur in the crystal park.
Owain [00:09:03] Ah, yes.
Mike [00:09:03] Claire the dinosaur, ah yes.
Martin [00:09:06] Which Claire?
Mike [00:09:06] Claire is...So, I live next to Crystal Palace Park, which has...it...which in which there are dinosaurs that live. Not real ones, but kind of almost real. They're big and they're very lifelike. And there is a dinosaur called Claire who lives there, who has very white feet. And we saw them, didn't we? We saw them yesterday.
Owain [00:09:30] Yep.
Mike [00:09:30] And Owain, what about you? What was the silliest thing you saw in London?
Owain [00:09:33] Probably Martin's knock-knock jokes. I would say. The silliest thing I heard today.
Sandra [00:09:39] Me too.
Owain [00:09:39] And I'd love to hear one later on if we have time.
Mike [00:09:41] Yeah. Well, I mean, I think there's no time like the present. Martin, can you tell the audience your best knock-knock joke? Just one. You've told us many today, but just pick your favourite one and share it with the whole world.
Martin [00:09:56] Okay.
Mike [00:09:57] Nice and loud, so you can hear the mic.
Martin [00:09:59] Knock, knock.
Owain [00:10:00] Who's there?
Martin [00:10:03] Horse.
Owain [00:10:04] Horse who?
Martin [00:10:06] Horse who, who runs over a train.
Mike [00:10:20] Well, if you can beat that knock-knock joke, guys, we want to hear from you because that's made us laugh all day today. Martin, you're a natural comedian. Thank you very much. And with that, we'd love to hear your comments about London. If you've been to London or if you haven't been to London, what do you most...What are you most excited about seeing when you come to the capital of England? Thank you very much, Martin. Thank you, Sandra. Thank you, Owain.
Owain [00:10:47] No problem.
Sandra [00:10:47] You're welcome.
Mike [00:10:48] And we'll be back again next week with some more waffle chat.
Mike [00:10:51] Until then,...
Martin [00:10:53] Yey!
Mike [00:10:54] That's excitement for you. Have a good week! Bye!
Martin [00:10:57] Bye bye.
Sandra [00:10:58] Bye bye.
Martin [00:10:59] Bye bye, mistletoe pie.
What did you understand?
Do some quizzes. Listen again to answer the questions.
Owain [00:01:14] Good morning. I've got another guest here for you today here on the English Waffle. And it's my sister Laura again. She is over from the U.S. and through the magic of editing, we've managed to get her back. Good morning, Laura. Thanks for coming in.
Laura [00:01:38] Hello! You went a bit high pitched there.
Owain [00:01:40] Did I?
Laura [00:01:40] Yeah.
Owain [00:01:41] Oh.
Laura [00:01:41] A bit squeaky.
Owain [00:01:41] Oh. Oh right. So, today we're going to talk about work-life balance, which I understand is not the correct term anymore. But just to give, just give a bit of background, just so people understand why, why you're a good person to discuss this topic. Laura has started a family, well, she started a family quite a few years ago now. She's got two children. She's relocated to another country and has managed to keep a career as a Structural Engineer going all this time.
Laura [00:02:14] Going.
Owain [00:02:14] So maybe you could tell us, How have you done that?
Laura [00:02:17] Won...wonderful way to describe it. So...the thi...the thing that I keep hearing about Work-Life Balance is that it implies that, A, there is this perfect equilibrium to be had, which frankly is the pursuit of the impossible. And it also...It's this suggestion that work is not part of your life and not something that's really important to you. It is something that you you need to fit in and then your life is outside of it. Right. So I've not heard a good alternative description for the concept, but really the thing is that there are a certain number of hours in the day and you you need to choose how to use them.
Owain [00:03:01] Ok, I mean, I hadn't heard anybody taking issue with the idea of having a balance, mainly because I think that...Wasn't wasn't the balance too far the other way in the past? The idea of having a balance is that people are now remembering, well, yeah, it's great to have a career and a job and obviously it's really important, but you can't forget about your family life.
Laura [00:03:24] It's more about having flexible working arrangements that...that work for for both.
Owain [00:03:29] Right.
Laura [00:03:30] But but recognizing that work is a part of your life and, to many of us, it's it's actually a very, very important thing. I...I took a year out for each of the kids. And by the end of that year, in both cases, I was desperate to get back to work, not because I don't love spending time with them, um, but just just because there's another part of me which I needed to be using.
Owain [00:04:00] Right, right.
Laura [00:04:00] As you said, I'm a structural engineer and that's...it...that's not the kind of thing that it's easy to put down and pick up. We're...we're in a kind of a digital revolution at the moment. And it's very fast paced. There are...there are new skills to acquire new softwares and technologies to learn about every day.
Owain [00:04:21] OK, perhaps...perhaps you could just tell us what...what does a structural engineer do. I'm sure that maybe you aren't really clear on that.
Laura [00:04:30] OK.
Owain [00:04:31] I know it's something to do with buildings.
Laura [00:04:34] If you're...if you work in building structures, yes.
Owain [00:04:36] Oh, ok. Right.
Laura [00:04:37] It could equally be applied to bridges or civil infrastructure projects.
Owain [00:04:41] OK, but because your, your company, the company you work for, is...has something to do with architecture and...
Laura [00:04:48] My company does everything. I work in a buildings group. We have...I...I am a base daily by the number of different disciplines.
Owain [00:04:56] What's your what's your role in all of this? We're thinking about how a building actually gets built. What...what do you do?
Laura [00:05:02] I make it stand up.
Owain [00:05:02] Actually, I think you explained it to me once. You said that essentially the architects are the...kind of the creatives, who come up with the ideas for buildings and then you have to try and make them stand up. Ve...very often because they come up with these ridiculous, er, outlandish ideas, right?
Laura [00:05:18] No, no, no. So ar...architects are very much generalists. They they coordinate the whole process. And it's not just about the aesthetic. They need to make spaces that function. They need to understand what the people using this space need and...And then all the layers of of other bits of building, they need to bring together the mechanical services, all of the IT, the structure, the finishes, what you actually see of the building.
Owain [00:05:55] Right, right.
Laura [00:05:56] So theirs is quite a broad roll, actually. But the the Architect/Structural-Engineer relationship, and it is a relationship, is not just that they hand us something that's completed and we then...
Owain [00:06:11] Right.
Laura [00:06:11] ...draw a skeleton onto it.
Owain [00:06:13] Right, ok. You're not, you're not...it's not competition.
Laura [00:06:15] No.
Owain [00:06:15] You're not on opposite teams. You're trying to work together.
Laura [00:06:18] It's an iterative, collaborative process.
Owain [00:06:20] Bit lIke a marriage, I suppose. So, you have your ups and downs and, you know, your arguments?
Laura [00:06:27] You have your incredibly demanding spouse.
Owain [00:06:30] And in the end you have a baby, right, which is the building. Is that a good metaphor for how the...how the process works?
Laura [00:06:37] It's not incorrect. I find it slightly disturbing. But anyway...Yeah, it it means it is quite it's quite a demanding relationship. There are lots of people to be dealing with at any given moment which has made some of my flexible working arrangements a bit challenging.
Owain [00:07:00] That's what I was going to say. It kind of takes us back to work-life balance.
Laura [00:07:03] So in the...in the UK in my in my team here, it wasn't just the women, actually. My company offers three months fully paid paternity leave. So there were a whole load of guys on my team.
Owain [00:07:14] Right.
Laura [00:07:14] That went off for three months and then actually were also working part time. I think at my level there were more of us working on a part time basis than full time.
Owain [00:07:25] Right, right.
Laura [00:07:26] And that made it a lot easier to kind of say, look, we're...we're working on things as a team.
Owain [00:07:33] Yeah.
Laura [00:07:35] You don't necessarily have sole responsibility for something. So if people are in and out of the office, it's not too much of a challenge. And it's it's established.
Owain [00:07:45] Right.
Laura [00:07:45] That that that's something that people do and they prioritise other parts of their life.
Owain [00:07:50] Which is great, isn't it? I mean, I think I think...but I think your company's particularly advanced in many areas, right, as a...as a company.
Laura [00:07:58] Yeah.
Owain [00:07:58] And really thinks quite, quite a lot about giving their employees quality of life and...
Laura [00:08:05] Well, we're trust owned, so we are owned by the employees.
Owain [00:08:08] Oh right, ok.
Laura [00:08:09] Which means there are no shareholders to report to....
Owain [00:08:11] Oh wow.
Laura [00:08:11] ...and that gives a lot more freedom.
Owain [00:08:15] So that obviously contributes to the idea: well, if this is your company, you are committed, obviously, but on, on...at the same time, then there is an incentive to try to create that work-life balance that people people need really to to be to be good professionals, to be good workers.
Laura [00:08:34] Yep, there are subtle differences though and you still have to exist within the cult...the work culture of the country you're operating in.
Owain [00:08:42] And the global economy.
Laura [00:08:43] Yes. So so the the US is is a little less benevolent in terms of leave and it's it's less familiar that people would work part time. So it's been it's been...despite the fact that I've been working for days over there...it's a bit more of an uphill battle.
Owain [00:09:04] Yeah and we won't mentioned holidays either.
Laura [00:09:06] Well, if you've been in a company for long enough, it's not too bad. I feel I feel terrible for our graduates in the States.
Owain [00:09:17] Well of course the Americans are notorious for not really having very many holidays, right?
Laura [00:09:20] And they don't take them.
Owain [00:09:21] They don't take them?
Laura [00:09:23] No. There are people in the team that get, like, two, maybe three weeks a year and and and still managed to rack up a massive holiday balance and lose it because you can only accrue a certain amount of time...
Owain [00:09:37] Okay.
Laura [00:09:38] ...before you just don't accrue anymore.
Owain [00:09:39] So does that mean the work life balance in the US has yet to establish itself? You know, people are not really thinking about it too much.
Laura [00:09:49] I think people people are far less likely to find an acceptable middle ground. Most of the...most of the mothers that I know either, you know, the best cases, they have six months off and then they go back full time or they just wor... stay home, don't work or work on a kind of a casual basis. There are some people I know that have their own business, which means they can set their own hours or somehow work remotely and take care of their children at the same time.
Owain [00:10:26] It must be a bit of a fantasy.
Laura [00:10:28] Yeah, I'm not sure how that one works.
Owain [00:10:30] Okay. Well, just last cou...last word on, on...um....Do you feel like you are getting a good work life balance at the moment?
Laura [00:10:36] Reasonably, I'm exhausted. But it seems to be going ok.
Owain [00:10:40] Yeah, the ba...the balance is basically that you, you do everything. Okay. Well, on that note, thanks for coming in Laura. We've we've come to the end our more or less ten minutes. And, um, thanks for an interesting discussion about your own take on work life balance and how it works in the U.S. Thanks a lot.
Laura [00:11:02] Ok.
Owain [00:11:02] Cheers. See you...see you next time on The English Waffle.
Jo Zimny Photos
A Delicate Balance