EFL/ESOL notes for English language learners

 

(n) = noun, (v) = verb, (adj) = adjective, (coll) = colloquialism / slang, (abbrev) = abbreviation, (adv) = adverb

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Page 1
autumn (n) = one of the four seasons of the year, from September to November (‘fall’ in American English)
‘continuous play’: on your music machine you can make one song repeat over and over again
whisky (n) = a famous liquor traditionally made in Scotland and Ireland, very alcoholic, like Moutai
melancholy (n) = sadness; sad mood
pervade (v) = fill, infuse
hesitate (v) = pause for a moment; stop moving on
grave (adj) = very serious
come up with (v) = invent, think up, muster
‘Melanie Alone’ is the name of the novel Suki has written but, sadly, has not found a publisher for
fab (abbrev, adj, coll) = short form of ‘fabulous’ (fantastic, wonderful, amazing)
‘my novel has failed to be born’: for Suki, her novel is a desperately wanted child which has never come to life…
life’s a bitch (coll) = this expression means ‘life brings us bad things’
autobiography (n) = a life-story, or biography, from the ‘first person viewpoint’ (that means, the story is told by the person whose life it is)

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Page 2

mere (adj) = small, insignificant, unimportant
flash in (the) pan = very brief moment of excitement (literally: when cooking, it’s like a startling spark in the wok which makes you jump, is there for only a split-second, then is gone)
dump (v, coll) = [in this context] throw out like rubbish; put in the garbage
fling (n, coll) = a very short love-affair
persuade (v) = forcefully encourage, using only the power of words
session (n) = meeting for a group activity
show up (v, coll) = attend
rant (v) = speak loudly, continuously and with strong emotion, without stopping and without allowing others to answer
endearingly (adv) = in a nice, funny, attractive way
whoever = any person / every person (who)
focus on (v) = look closely at
mentally (adj) = inside one’s mind, i.e. not physically
edit (v) = change (a piece of writing, film footage, etc) in order to shorten or improve
current (adj) = of the present time
poem-in-progress = a poem being created or worked on at the present time
that’s that = an expression meaning that something is finished. It’s over.
very first: the word ‘very’ is used here to add extra emphasis
mug (n) = large cup
bastard (n, coll) = literally this means the child of unmarried parents. It is used as an insult (bad word), e.g. “all men are bastards” (some women believe this).
wonder (v) = ask oneself; speculate
bloody (adj, coll) = a bad word or oath, used to add strong feeling. The ancient root of the word is ‘By Our Lady’, meaning the mother of Jesus, so it is in fact an impolite mis-use of a religious term which, by tradition, should only be used with the greatest respect.
horticultural (adj) = about / relating to gardens and plants
drive crazy (v, coll) = make insane
mote (n) = tiny speck, particle
creep (v) = move slowly and silently
agonizing (adj) = like torture; extremely painful or uncomfortable
masochistic (adj) = searching for and enjoying pain as though it were a pleasure

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Page 3

home-from-home means ‘second home’: a place that feels like your own
routine (n) = normal, regular activity repeated often and always in the same way
recovery (n) = becoming well again; returning to normal, or to how one was before
quaint (adj) = cute in an old-fashioned way
feature (n) = characteristic, aspect, detail
behind the Iron Curtain = the Iron Curtain was the symbolic name of the border that came into being after World War II, i.e. from 1945, which remained in place until 1991, between Western Europe and the Communist countries of Eastern Europe.
shortage (n) = lack, dearth, (the problem of) not having enough
thwart (v) = block, prevent, obstruct, stop (someone) from doing (something)
Eastern Bloc countries = name given to the Communist countries of Eastern Europe from 1945-1991 which were behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ (see above).
regime (n) = governmental system; system for controlling
Kapitalismus pur is German for ‘pure Capitalism’.
ex (n, coll, abbrev) = ex-partner, ex-spouse, ex-boyfriend/girlfriend
Ilka = the name of Suki’s long-time German girlfriend (now ex)
declare (v) = boldly state; speak with a strong tone
Foundation Course = a type of college Art course, usually lasting one year, which helps you to explore different art mediums and methods and create a folio of artwork to prepare you for applying for a university degree course in Art.
Team Leader (n) = fashionable new term for ‘Head of Department’.
resourceful (adj) = good at using the available materials; clever at managing with little
has them using = makes them use
Least = an abbreviation of ‘at least’, meaning, ‘one good thing is,…’
Shipton Herald (n) = the name of the newspaper of the town of Shipton
broadsheet (n) = a traditional newspaper-size, which is very large paper (many newspapers are now printed on smaller paper)
acrylic (n) = a modern type of thick, colourful paint which may be used instead of traditional oil paint
batch = amount, body, collection, group
book onto (v) = get a place on; arrange to attend
distract (v) = take (someone’s) attention away from
vocation = chosen profession; the job that you are born to do and want to do more than anything
Moi, non = ‘not me’ in French
Ich nicht = ‘not me’ in German

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Page 4

‘Sixty-two shopping days to Christmas’ is a warning that we have fewer and fewer days to buy everything we need for Christmas. It is a typical phrase used in advertisements in the months before Christmas, which used to be a religious festival but is now a commercial one.
at arm’s length means to hold [something] as far away as possible from the body, i.e. as far away as one’s arm will reach
dip into (v) = briefly (and perhaps repeatedly) reach into or look into; casually peruse
jam-jar (n) = traditionally a small screw-topped mug-sized glass, used to store sweetened fruit preserves
brutal (adj) = violent
axe (n) = heavy metal tool for chopping wood by hand
serial killer (n) = one who repeatedly commits murder, following a particular pattern or method
famed (adj) = famous; well-known
signature (n) = one’s name distinctively written in one’s own hand
sketch (n) = line-drawing
expanse (n) = large area or space
studio (n) = workroom, typically of an artist, craftsperson or other creative person
basement (n) = below-ground floor of a building or house
set foot in (v) = visit
apparently (adj) = evidently; it seems (that)
single (n) = unmarried; no partner

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Page 5

workshop (n) = 1. room where a creative activity takes place, 2. lesson in which a craft is learned
at first glance means ‘when quickly looked at for the first time’
right and left justified = a style of lay-out on a page of printed text where each side of the block of text is in line with the margin, so that the overall shape of the text from a distance looks like a neat square.
laid out (adj) = placed or arranged (on a page)
margin (n) = unprinted border; strip of blank, unprinted page to the left and right of a printed text
surrender (v) = give up (power/control); submissively hand over power
tool = piece of equipment
broader = wider, larger
palette = traditionally, the board hand-held by an artist on which he/she mixes paint while working on a painting
syntax (n) = study of formal grammatical rules
accommodating to means suitable or useful for
narrative line (n) = [thread of a] story
hard-to-digest data means information that is difficult to understand or swallow
on a high (coll) = as though on drugs; very happy
charged (adj) = [in this context] powerful; meaningful
exploit (v) = use
linguistic (adj) = of/about language
resource (n) = tool, item, aid
cadence (n) = rhythmic pattern
non-literal (adj) = metaphorical; not the obvious physical meaning but the symbolic meaning
rhythm (n) = a regular pattern of accent or beat (as in music) which can be clearly heard when the poem is read out
figure of speech means a use of language in which word are used with other than their literal meaning, i.e. are used with their symbolic or metaphorical meanings
rhyme (n) = words that, in their endings, sound the same, e.g. mind, kind, blind
internal rhyme is where (two or more) rhyming words within a poem are not placed (as is most usual) at the endings of lines
assonance (n) = disharmony or oppositeness or sharp contrast of the sounds of spoken words
consonance (n) = harmony or similarity of the sounds of spoken words
heightened image means an especially clearly-drawn mental picture
edition (n) = print version; (version of a) book
raison d’etre is French for ‘reason for [one’s] existence’
strategy (n) = plan of action
employ (v) = use
closure (n) = distinct act or method of ending; act of completion
affaire du coeur = literally in French: affair of the heart’, i.e. romantic relationship

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Page 6

on the rebound means being in a period of retreat after a bad or hurtful experience. This is a dangerous time, because our wounds are still open and we are vulnerable to further hurt.
kill time (v) = fill a period of time that cannot be usefully used (eg when waiting for a delayed train)
noon (n) = midday
Travelodge is a cheap hotel chain in the UK
internet (n) = the online virtual universe; our parallel life
bedsit (n) = very cheap style of accommodation rented by students or poor people; normally one room which serves as bedroom, sitting room and kitchen
site (n, abbrev) = website
sheep in formaldehyde is a reference to contemporary British artist Damien Hirst’s most famous piece of work. A dead sheep, preserved.
inconsequentiality (n) = lack of meaning or impact
skull (n) = head-bone of the human skeleton
pile (n) = heap, collected group
vibrantly-hued (adj) = brightly-coloured
butterfly (n) = winged insect, like a moth but often prettier
concentric = a pattern of circles of various sizes arranged so that they have the same centre-point
New-Agey (adj) = very ‘New Age’; having a typical ‘hippy’ mentality; being very interested in spiritual, superstitious, non-physical experiences
blatantly (adj, adv) = obviously, clearly, publically
Zeitgeist is the German word for ‘the spirit of the age’, or ‘current generally-held thoughts and beliefs’
canal (n) = man-made industrial waterway for transportation of goods and also resources such as coal
bin-liner (n) = large black plastic bag used for domestic kitchen waste bins
tell em wz is a short form (used in texts) for ‘tell them it was’

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Page 7

serial (adj, n) = continuous story broken into regular episodes or sections
fling-ette (n, coll) = an extremely short love-affair
stimulate (v) = trigger; cause to happen; physically enliven
creativity (n) = production of original ideas
virtual (adj) = almost but not quite (a real thing)
outfit (n) = suit, or clothing chosen for a particular style
court shoes (n) = a style of women’s shoes: smart, plain, high-heeled, conservative
emerge from (v) = come out of
out of nerves means ‘due to nervousness’
steer (v) = guide; control the direction of (as with a boat)
bin (n) = garbage can; container for rubbish
redbrick (adj) = a man-made building material
menacing (adj) = threatening, frightening
online means on the internet
momentous (adj) = extraordinary; of great importance
magnetic force = a power that draws things towards itself
comet (n) = a ball-shaped object that moves around the sun
jolt (v) = (cause something/someone to) move suddenly or violently
anonymous (adj) = nameless
ecstasy (n) = feeling of extreme pleasure
anticipation (n) = excited and expectant waiting-time
whip (n) = long thin rope, often made of leather, with a handle at one end, used to beat / control animals
bring onesself to = make onesself or force onesself to (do something)
Christ is sometimes used as an exclamation. It can shock or upset Christians to hear their leader’s name used in this way.
downright (adj) is used to emphasise a verdict or opinion. e.g. Suki is downright scrawny.
civil service department = the most boring workplace in the world
perishing cold is a bitter, freezing temperature
cockle-picker (n) = worker who collects shell-fish
quick-sands (n) = dangerous areas of a beach where the wet sand can swallow you
fragile (adj) = delicate; easy to break

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Page 8

Hallowe’en (n) = an ancient festival of the dead celebrated on the night of 31st October
wacky (adj, coll) = crazy; zany; fun. Suki likes to think she is wacky.
crane (v) = [of neck] extend to the longest possible length
pull taut means stretch until smooth and firm with no wrinkles
suspended (adj) = hung
leaf-spattered (adj) = dotted with foliage (from nearby trees)
skylight (n) = roof window
crikey is an exclamation of surprise. It’s not rude – you can say it in front of your grandmother.
pluck (v) = pick (with fingers)
Gawd is an exclamation, similar to the use of ‘God’ as an exclamation, but perhaps less likely to offend a religious person than saying ‘God’.
anecdote (n) = a short spoken account or story, intended to entertain or make laugh the listener
pub (n, abbrev) = ‘public house’, inn, tavern, bar – i.e. a social venue for meeting and drinking alcohol
faint (adj) = hard to see, almost invisible

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Page 9

piggy-in-the-middle is a traditional children’s game where two people throw a ball to each other and a third person, the ‘pig’, has to jump and try to catch the ball. If the third person succeeds, he/she takes the place of the person who failed to catch it, and that person has to become the lonely pig.
Ach Du Schreck! is a German colloquial exclamation meaning ‘that’s terrible!’. English exclamations you could use are ‘Oh my god!’ or ‘Flipping heck!
ex (n, coll) = former lover / partner / spouse
make a pass at means try to make a romantic/sexual connection with
mattress (n) large square padded area of a bed
punter (n, coll) = ‘customer’
pastel (n) = a type of soft, coloured crayon used by artists
intensely (adv) = closely; with very great attentiveness or interest
bi-curious (adj) = very interested in trying out the experience of ‘bi-sexuality’ (which means having sexual relationships with both men and women)
obviously (adv) = clearly
threesome (n) = a three-way relationship, instead of the usual ‘couple’ relationship

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Page 10

disinhibition (n) = loss of sense of what is normal, acceptable social behaviour; act of becoming – perhaps inappropriately or shockingly – ‘free’ in one’s behaviour
A650 = a big busy road (with a badly-pot-holed cycle path) in the city of Bradford, England
gust (n) = sudden strong puff (of wind)
reflexively (adv) = automatically; instinctively
puzzled (adj) = perplexed, bewildered, mystified, lacking in understanding
coast (v) = move at a slow, steady speed
revert (v) = be returned (to a former state or form)
senile (adj) = suffering from an old people’s mental condition, also called dementia, which has symptoms such as forgetfulness, confusion and disinhibition

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Page 11

observe (v) = watch, note, notice
dynamic (n, adj) = activity; inter-relationship; development; ongoing evolution
mobile number (n) = number of my hand-held telephone
turn out (to be) means actually, in fact, in truth (to be)
plumber (n) = a person whose job is to install or mend bathrooms, pipes, water systems, leaks, etc
tattooed (adj) = skin permanently decorated with an inked image or writing
base (n) = bottom
as well means too, or also
upside down (adj) = having the correct side or surface turned the opposite (wrong) way

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Page 12

ignore (v) = give no attention to
apart from means ‘except for’
tanx 4 inspiration means ‘thanks for giving me ideas’
(be) on a roll with (something) means ‘be extra-productive’
dwell on (v) = think at length about; give attention to
scrotum (n) = genital area of male body like a small sac
bulky (adj) = lumpy or substantial in form
belly (n) = stomach
pant (v) = breathe in short bursts, like a dog
subside (v) = become calm; become quieter
penis (n) = male sexual organ
jaw (n) = hinged lower section of face below the lips; from the chin to the lower lip
slacken (adj) = relax; loosen
rapt (adj) = completely focused and engaged; utterly attentive
mutter (v) = speak very quietly in a way that is hard to understand, as though speaking only to onesself
mucky-soled (adj) = dirty on the undersides of one’s feet
armpit (n) = the hollow place beneath the top of one’s arm
groin (n) = lower stomach area, just above the genitals
extended (adj) = outstretched; at full length
gentian (n) = a shade of red
aquamarine (n) a shade of greenish blue
plot out (v) means ‘plan by making precisely measured marks on paper’
limbs (n, pl) = arms and legs
torso (n) = body
tilt (n) = upturned angle
doze (v) = be half-asleep or very lightly asleep
abdomen shallowly rhythmic means his stomach (abdomen) is slightly moving up and down in a regular movement as he calmly, lightly breathes
nail-biter (n) = a person who, like Suki, has the bad habit of biting their finger-nails
jagged (adj) = sharp; pointed
stark (n) = hard-lined, sharp, distinct

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Page 13

dom (n, coll, abbrev) = ‘dominator’ is a term used in the context of the sexual sub-culture of domination and submission The terms ‘dom’ and ‘sub’ are used in role-playing games where one member of a couple gives up all their power to the other, who rules over them. The more extreme version of this role-playing is sado-masochism. A ‘sadist’ – a person who enjoys giving pain – plays a game of hurting – through ritualistic, agreed practices – a ‘masochist’: a person who enjoys receiving pain.
consciously (adv) = with full awareness; knowingly
Gorean slave positions are poses or postures for submissive ‘slave-women ’in a fantasy world called ‘Gor’ invented by John Norman, a well-known author who has a large following of devoted readers.
scribble (n) = messy drawing with no identifiable form
pubic hair (n) = hair growing in the area of the genitals (sex organs)
orange crayon is often used by artists who draw Suki. She is, after all, a red-head.
cult (adj, n) = having the addictive power of a religion; having devoted followers
s-m fantasy fiction is a ‘genre’ (type) of story set in a created ‘sado-masochist’ world in which all relationships are a game of extreme domination and submission, i.e. the dominators are sadists (people who enjoy giving pain) and the submissive people are masochists (they enjoy receiving pain).
inadvertently (adv) = unconsciously; without knowing
animation (n) = cartoon; movie or video made of drawings
Youtube (n) = an international free website where professionals and amateurs can put up movies and music which we can all watch/listen to without paying
mane (n) = thick, long head-hair, like a horse’s
override (v) = take precedence over, be given greater importance (than)

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Page 14

glamour-modelling (n) = modelling in a sexy way, e.g. for men’s magazines or the pornography industry
Racy Derek means Derek has some ‘fast thoughts’ on his mind
“Give us your shoulder blades, Suki” is Derek saying – twist your body in a provocative way until your bones stand out attractively
loads is a slang word, meaning ‘a lot’, or ‘often’
bluntly (adv) = not sharp; uninterestingly; too direct and ordinary
fence post (n) = piece of wood stood vertically in the ground to give support to a barrier

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Page 15

ungainly (adj) = physically unbalanced and therefore awkward-looking; not pleasing to look at
engagement (n) = contact; connection
Racy Derek – see notes to Page 14

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Page 16

do [something] for a living means ‘work to earn the money you need to live’
podium (n) = platform, display-stand
discard (v) = throw aside, throw away
shy (adj) = timid; uncomfortable in social situations
not have the remotest interest means – definitely NOT even a tiny bit interested
esoteric (adj) = obscure, mysterious, hard to understand
[one’s] mind’s eye means one’s imagination; what one can see inside one’s own head
tanned (adj) = made brown by the sun
go for creative types means ‘be attracted to artistic people’
conventional (adj) = usual, ordinary, boring
garret (n) = very small cheap room at the top of a house, rented by poor people such as artists
tellies (pl, abbrev) = televisions (TVs)

NOTE 1: People with tellies, tattoos and sun-tans belong to the boring, conventional working-class masses.
NOTE 2: Artists are typically pasty-white and skinny because they are:
a) too poor to go on holiday to places where they will catch the sun
b) too poor to eat well and get fat
c) too BUSY, anyway, painting in their dark gloomy garrets, to go outside into the sunshine or buy good food and put weight on

penniless (adj) = without any pennies, i.e. poor
utterly (adj) = totally, completely
incapable of commitment means ‘mentally unable to stay with the same lover for long’
insist (v) = state very forcefully, and override the other person’s wish
oblique (adj) = sideways, not straight; unconventional
hobby-horse (n) = favourite subject to talk about
Pizza Hut (n) = a fast-food chain selling crap that makes you fat
stag night (n) = traditionally this even takes place on the night before a wedding, when the husband-to-be goes out to drink too much alcohol with his friends to prepare him for his terrible adventure
Ibiza = favourite (cheap) British holiday destination for people who want to get drunk on very cheap alcohol and lie in the sun until they’ve got skin cancer. Where in the world is Ibiza? Nobody knows or cares. They just get off the aeroplane in a sunny place and fall into a bar.
pubic hair cut into shapes means ‘hair in the genital area (around the sex organs) cut to look like a heart, or a landing strip (airport runway). Typical of ‘Essex girls’ (Essex is the region to the south-east of London; rich but no culture).
powerful motor: a term used typically by an Essex man (see previous note re Essex) meaning ‘car with a big engine’ (i.e. expensive)
take for an Indian means ‘invite to a typical British Indian restaurant’
give someone his/her due means ‘be fair towards someone’
miscarriage (n) = early ending of a pregnancy before the baby is fully formed
sculpt (v) = make (a piece of art) out of clay or other material, using your hands
ballerina (n) = dancer in the classical Western tradition of ballet
clamp (v) = grip firmly using a metal tool
nipple (n) = the part of a woman’s breast that gives milk
measuring implement (n) = tool for finding out the size of something
blunt (adj) = (of speech) direct, not poetic, not subtle, not tactful, probably not polite
plumber (n) see notes to page 11
scuffed (adj) = rough, not smooth, because of much use
periphery (n) = edge
vision (n) = sight
thermos (n) = flask; insulated bottle to keep water hot
parcel (n) = something hidden under a paper or other wrapping; perhaps a gift
scrotum (n) = the ‚bag‘ part of a man’s genitals (I think)
twitch (v) = make a quick jerking movement
oh for god’s sake means ‘what a nuisance’
adder-head (n) = the head of a type of snake whose head expands when it is going to catch something
become alert means wake up, start to be active
high sperm count means ‘high level of fertility‘ in a man. Good if you want to get pregnant
puddle (n) = small pool of water. If this appears around your toilet, you need a plumber urgently.

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Page 17

pensioner (n) = old person who is retired from work
fantasise (v) = imagine; see pictures in your head
sensation (n) = feeling
silvery (adj) = shiny, like silver
filament (n) = very thin string
descend (v) = move down
pubic (adj) = around the pubis (the bone between the top of your legs)
stickily (adv) = like glue
engaged with means in contact with; touching
flesh (n) = skin
thigh (n) = upper leg
spider (n) = insect with 8 legs
Rapunzel = a well-known (in Europe) children’s fairy-tale or traditional story. Read it here.
erectile (adj) = stiffly standing; firmly upright

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Page 18

novel (n) = book; fictional story.
prize (n) = reward, something you win in a competition
small press (n) = independent publishing company. Independent publishers are always small and have no money to advertise their new books. But better a small press than no publisher at all.
publication (n) = production (of a book or written work)
at long last means ‘after a very very long wait’
pregnant (n) = expecting a baby
sumptuous (adj) = luxurious, fabulous. When two men live together with no children and no fussy woman putting up little pictures, they can create an extravagantly stylish household.
manor (n) = traditional, historical large house in the countryside
Conservative Jeremy: Conservative usually means politically right-wing and liking old traditional customs. Paolo and Nathan gave artist Jeremy this nick-name when Suki told them a particular piece of information about him. See page 22 for full details.
confide (v) = tell your secrets
CJ (n, abbrev) = Conservative Jeremy
as well = also; too
sitting (n) = a session where a model poses for an artist
slope off (v, coll) = leave (in a casual, relaxed manner)
shag (v, coll) = have sex with. Shag is also the name of a sea-bird.
bastard (n, coll) = literally: child of an unmarried woman. Colloquially: nasty horrible person
well done means ‘congratulations‘
just in case means ‘in preparation for if it were to happen‘

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Page 19

do a detour (v) = go on a longer route (to your destination)
cottage (n) = traditional old-fashioned little house for workers, often in a village
studio (n) = artist’s workroom
bothered (adj) = upset, distressed
in case: see notes to page 18

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Page 20

The festive season = the weeks before Christmas (which is 25th December)
Tis the season to be jolly, Fa lalalala, fa la la la : words from a famous traditional Christmas carol called ‘Deck the hall with bows of holly’. Listen to it on Youtube here, or via Baidu here. Read the song’s lyrics here.
playhouse = theatre
grungy (adj) = fashionably scruffy, untidy, grubby, but still looks nice (if you are okay with a little bit of dirt)
verge (n) = edge
bankruptcy = state of economic insolvency. Broke. No money left. Big unpayable debts.
wipe (v) = rub with a damp cloth
cleaner (n) = person whose job it is to clean and tidy a place
podium (n) = platform for displaying something (eg a model)
spot-lit (adj) = illuminated with a light directed onto a particular place or spot
Marlene Dietrich (or see Baidu) = famous 20th century glamorous German woman singer and actor
fan (n) = (in this context) a person who loves and follows you because of your talent
fantastic definition means ‘wonderfully distinct shape / outline’ (in this case, of Suki’s body)
costume (n) = dress, outfit, suit, clothes for a special event or performance
wardrobe (n) = tall cupboard in which to hang dresses and suits
rickety (adj) = unstable, a little broken
sideboard (n) = traditionally a long wooden cupboard in the dining room in which cutlery and crockery are kept
vein (n) = small thin tubes in the body that carry your blood
Dido is a contemporary woman singer
lesbo (n, coll) = short for ‚lesbian‘
movie (n) = film
inseminate (v) = put sperm into ; try to make pregnant
gay-friendly (adj) = not anti-gay ; open to homosexuality
fertility clinic (n) = health centre specialising in helping women to conceive (become pregnant)
third time lucky is an expression of hope. The number three is thought to be lucky.
ex (n, abbrev) = short for ex-partner, ex-wife, ex-boyfriend, etc. Person with whom you used to be in a relationship.
about a million times is an exaggeration. Suki really means ‘often’.
backwards and forwards means to-ing and fro-ing, coming and going, hither and thither, going to and from a place many times
Aberdeen: a cold grey city in the far north of Scotland, a bit like the American Wild West, where men are Real Men and there are no laws. It was very unexpected to find a gay-friendly fertility clinic there.
twelve goes means ‘twelve tries or attempts’
pee (n) = wee. Technically that’s urine
agonizing (adj) = extremely physically or mentally painful
watching for the little line to appear : have you ever done a pregnancy test from a kit that you bought from a shop? You have to dip a little stick into your wee. If a line appears on the filter paper in the centre of the stick, you know you are pregnant. Now laugh or cry.
ecstatic (adj) = extremely happy
blink (v) = quickly close then re-open the eye
tear (n) = drop of salty water that comes out of your eye when you are sad. Usually more than one, and from both eyes.
auld lang syne is an expression in Scottish dialect, meaning ‘fondly remembering former times’
Ilka : my ex

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swimmy eye: see notes to page 20
overflow (v) = reach over the limit of what can be contained (of liquid) and therefore start to pour out
visible (n) = viewable, seeable
spotlight (n) = bright lamp focused on one place
react (v) = respond, follow an action with a further action
bring about (v) = cause to happen
celebratory mood = having the wish to go to a party and drink champagne
blinking (adj, adv, coll) = a meaningless adjective/adverb (if used as adverb, place before the verb, e.g. what do you blinking want ?). Use it to add strength of feeling, for example when you are irritated, annoyed, or exasperated. ‘Flipping’ may also be used. They are not ‘bad’ words. Children may use them.
turps (n, abbrev) = turpentine, a clear liquid chemical used for thinning or removing paint
right up means totally up, deep inside (my nose)

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upstairs = in the flat above mine, on the upper floor of the building
practical (adj) = non-intellectual, domestic, physical, organisational
penis (n) = man’s sexual organ
remove (v) = cut off, take away
vagina (n) = woman’s body-part, the place where babies come out
put in = install, like putting in a new bathroom
Oedipuss = name of Tiffany’s pet cat. ‘Puss’ is a nickname used for all cats. Oedipus is a character in ancient Greek mythology who killed his father and married his mother. So Oedipuss (note two ‘s’) is a play on words. That’s Tiffany – always the intellectual.
genitalia (n) = sexual body parts
Guardian Soulmates is an online dating service set up by the Guardian (UK) newspaper, which is traditionally read by elderly left-wing intellectuals. So no good unless you want to date one of those.
online (adj) = on the internet
how flexible is that is a rhetorical question meaning ‘are we extremely open to all possibilities?’ Tiffany certainly is.
go halves on means ‘share (the cost) between two’
subscription: Please subscribe to TWO SMALL LIVES by clicking the link which appears at the end of all pages, and giving your email address. This will mean that you receive an email every Thursday telling you that the next page is now published. Subscriptions make me very happy. Thank you.
‘fling’ (n, coll) = a short, fun relationship with no commitment
affaire d’amour (n) = French for ‘love affair’
go on about (v) = talk all the time about
shag (n, coll) = casual sexual act with no meaning. Also means sea-bird
missionary position (n) = traditional sexual position where the man lies heavily on top of the woman and she doesn’t do anything.
I’d love that (re missionary position) means Tiffany is just desperate for any sex she can get.
deffo (adv, abbrev, coll) = short for ‘definitely‘
joined-at-the-hip (adj, coll) = impossible to separate, always together, never a moment apart
thing (n, coll) = (in this context) relationship
‘knight on a white horse’ : in traditional children’s fairytales, the princess is always saved by a nobleman who gallops to the scene on a beautiful white horse and saves her from the dragon and carries the grateful princess away to live together happily ever after.

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have a go at means ‘try to do’
lower odds means ‘a better statistical chance’
constraint (n) = limit
curmudgeonly (adj) = grumpy, having a negative attitude
slag off (v, coll) = say someone is rubbish
proclaim (v) = declare ; say loudly
blunt (adj) = not sharp; not subtle
gouache (n) = a type of paint used by artists
a tad sycophantically = a litle bit too lovingly (as though wanting to win a person’s friendship by complimenting them)
dramatic crescendo (n) = gradual rise of tension and excitement until a final peak is reached
satisfying (adj) = pleasing
finale (n) = end, final act
poignant (adj) = emotionally touching
loneliness (n) = the sad feeling of being alone. Suki’s big theme in life.
dosh (n, coll) = money
prose poem (n) = a poem which, in printed form on the page, looks like a prose text because it does not have the usual shorter lines of a poem; however a prose poem does contain all, or many of, the other linguistic characteristics and techniques of poetry.

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More to the point means ‘the thing that is more important is,…’
the odd Christmas present means ‘just a few Christmas gifts’
present (n) = gift
ecological (adj) = environmental
disaster (n) = terrible destructive event
tape up (v) = stick or fasten using a roll of sticky tape
Oh my god is an exclamation made in a state of high emotion
superimposed (adj) = added over the top (of something)
dozen (n) = twelve
sketch (n) = drawing or picture, usually made using a pencil or charcoal
didn’t get said (coll) means ‘was not spoken about‘
invent (v) = create
not have a clue = have no idea, have absolutely no knowledge or insight
unscientific (adj) = not scientific, not knowledgeable about science
flimsy (adj) = insubstantial, lacking in body, light, floaty, easily broken
delicate (adj) = frail, easily broken, finely detailed
whereas means ‘in contrast (to)’; ‘conversely (to)’
depiction (n) = portrayal, visual recording
function (v) = work
Broadway Boogie Woogie is a famous abstract painting by Piet Mondrian
blur out (v) = gradually fade; have indistinct edges instead of fixed definite lines
anal retentiveness (n) = a stage in a person’s psychological development that causes a desire for extreme orderliness and control (this term was invented by famous psychologist Sigmund Freud)
flattered (adj) = made happy by someone’s admiration or positive comment about you
perceive (v) = notice, understand
sensitive-looking (adj) = appearing to be a person who understands emotions on a deep level
lacy (adj) = made of lace, frilly, decorative, feminine
fragility (n) = vulnerablility, tendency to be easily broken
evidently (adv) = clearly
come across (to someone) as (v) = appear, seem
complicated (adj) = not simple
on the other hand,… = looking (at the same thing) from another perspective,…
concrete (n) = a hard, heavy material used for building
steam-roller (n) = a vehicle with a broad heavy metal front wheel, used in road-building to crush the new road-surface and make it flat
trundle (adj) = (of a wheeled vehicle) move along in an uneven, irregular, noisy, rickety way, on wheels that don’t turn smoothly
bulldozer (n) = large work-vehicle with a broad flat shovel-like fixture on its front, used on building sites to move earth or heavy debris
messy (adj) = untidy
scribble (n) = chaotic meaningless marks made on paper with pencil or crayon, perhaps by a child
flair (n) = artistic value
subtlety (n) = refinement; delicacy of perception; recognition and acknowledgement of underlying deeper meanings
Meccano is a children’s toy to learn how to build things, a bit like Lego
canal (n) = man-made waterway
stagnant (adj) = unmoving, unhealthily still
post-industrial (adj) = having unused, abandoned historical factories and other workplaces
artery (n) = thin tube inside the body that carries blood away from the heart, part of an intricate network of arteries
worm (n) = a small crawling creature with a long, thin, rounded body like a flexible straw, with no visible head or limbs.
spew out (v) = vomit up
indelible ink (n) = coloured liquid used in drawing and writing that is impossible to erase
ironically (adv) = being unexpectedly and perhaps humorously opposite or contradictory, eg Ironically, Suki, the shyest girl in her school, now makes her living taking her clothes off
a bit of insight into means ‘some understanding of‘
sluggish (adj) = as unbearably slow in movement as a small legless creature moving on a leaf
channel (n) = a long steep-sided path or track like an open-topped tunnel, often man-made, perhaps cut into the ground or through rock
steer (v) = guide; drive
puzzle it out means ‘think about it until you understand it’
devastating (adj) = destructive
oil-spill (n) = accidental leakage of a chemical fuel that is often black, and can cause terrible damage to the environment
obliterate (v) = wipe out, completely destroy
continent (n) = landmass. There are five continents in the world
ramification (n) = eventual effect

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“what you doing…?” the plumber misses out ‘are’ because he does not know how to speak correctly.
hunker down (v, coll) = become very settled and focused; close the doors against any distractions; withdraw from your social life
get some work done means ‘do a lot of work’
disruption (n) = inconvenient interruption
bliss (n) = pure pleasure
a bit of a party is an example of the British habit of understatement. In truth this means ‘a lot of fun and excitement’
fun (n) = entertainment; a good time
cold-shoulder (v) = show no interest (in), behave in a cool way (towards)
obviously (adv) = clearly, evidently
back to back (adj) = (two people with) backs against each other
warmth (n) = comforting heat
solitary (n) = single, lone, only
subject box (n) = the title or heading of each email one receives
film short (n) = a style of movie, usually made for artistic reasons, that lasts only a few minutes
Advent (n) = traditionally this is approximately the four weeks leading up to Christmas, beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day
intersperse (v) = insert in several places between other material or content; make appear alternately
projection (n) = appearance or image of something at a distance, for example on a screen, sometimes created by electric light, or even by the mind
shot (n) = [in this context] photographic image
categorize (v) = define, label, describe
branch out (v) = expand; go in a new direction
Wd u = text-language meaning would you
pre-Xmas (abbrev) = before Christmas
out-of-office message = the automatic email response people set up in their email accounts when they are going to be away from their workplace and unable to answer emails for some time
respond (v) = reply, answer
blog (n, v) = communication online using one’s own website or blogging site; a regular record of your work or ideas which you make public for the world to read
give away (v) = [in this context] reveal; show
mystery (n) = unknowable thing; a thing we do not understand

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perspective (n) = viewpoint
stand in (someone’s) shoes means ‘see the world through their eyes’
habitually (adv) = usually, normally
one-night stand (n) = a sexual relationship for only one night
dome (n) = a circular curved shape, like half a ball, sometimes used for roofs of European churches or museums, or on top of towers. See the domes of the East Berlin Cathedral where Suki used to work. But the man in the poem’s belly is not as extremely curved as this!
abdomen (n) = stomach; belly
block in (v) = (in this context) draw fully, probably using solid colour or shading to fill the area; mark solidly
man-breasts (n, pl, coll) = two swellings on the front of the upper body which normally only women have because they are for feeding milk to babies. But men who exercise too much or are too fat sometimes have breasts too.
bicep (n) = the large muscle at the front of the upper arm
hip (n) = the outer leg at the top before it meets the waist. Hips have bones that stick out ( = protrude).
torso (n) = the main trunk of the body
wonder whether to means ‘think (to yourself), would it be a good or a bad idea to…’
light (adj) = pale, not thick, dark or heavy
trail (n) = (in this context) thin indistinct mark
mess of hair and sac and member refers to the untidy area of a man’s pubic hair and scrotum and penis
bulldog look means appearing like an ugly breed of fighting-dog that has a thick neck and big solid bullet-shaped head
cropped head (n) = an extremely short haircut
splay (v) = spread out
pick out (v) = make more noticeable, emphasise
textured (adj) = not smooth; having an irregular surface
indeterminate (adj) = not definite, unclear, undefined

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humph is a noise you make when you are a bit cross or annoyed
fleshy (adj) = having a lot of skin. Fat.
She’d better not be means ‘I strongly hope she isn’t because if she is, I’ll be very annoyed’
give up (v) = surrender; stop doing something because you are incapable of doing more.
in pose means ‘positioned and already still, unmoving‘
pal (n, coll) = friend, buddy
Bradfordian (adj) = person from Bradford, Suki’s birthplace, a city in the north of England
bohemian (adj) = belonging to an artistic circle of friends who are all free-thinkers and therefore outside of conventional society.
pushing seventy means almost seventy or perhaps already seventy. Ancient, anyway.
fanatical (adj) = extremely committed, too enthusiastic
stick-women (n) = extremely thin, shapeless women. Famous English models having this shape are (from the 1960s) Twiggy, and more recently, Kate Moss.
scrawny (adj) = bony in an ugly way, lacking in flesh, having a neck like a turkey
Buddhist (n) = religious follower of the teachings of the Buddha. Often a peaceful and deep-thinking type of person.
barge (n) = traditionally a long narrow boat used to transport goods on man-made canals, now sometimes used as homes
seaweed (n) = plants that grow in the sea. Some can be eaten and are good for health (low fat, no sugar, full of protein)
apparently (adv) = clearly, seemingly, evidently
keep inviting means continue to invite; invite again and again
discreetly (adv) = quietly; without attracting the attention of others
I can’t be doing with means I do not tolerate; I cannot accept; I find ridiculous
spirituality (n) = the non-physical dimension of life; the life of the mind
like,… has no meaning in this context; it is being used to slow down the phrase in order to emphasise the phrase’s meaning (which is, Suki’s shock that someone so old could ask her for a date)

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foundation class: see notes to page 3
Google (n) = an internationally used search-engine on the internet
article (n) = a piece of writing on a subject, usually by one person, published in print or online
suppressed (adj) = held in by force, prevented from being freely expressed or spoken
deferred (adj) = postponed, moved aside, not carried out
diamante stud (n) = a small, very sparkly but fake precious stone
implant (n) = insertion (into skin or the body), e.g. some women have silicon implants to make their breasts bigger
nape (n) = the base of the back of the neck, where it meets the shoulders
sore (adj) = painful
nano-second (n) = extremely tiny fraction of time
surveyor (n) = the job or profession of looking at land and building plans to check that they are correctly measured and suitable for the planned use
architect (n) = the job or profession of designing buildings
all over the place means ‘everywhere’
the plan of a house is an architect’s technical drawing of a house’s rooms as though viewed from above
insist (v) = emphasise, declare
distinct (adj) = clear
bum (n, coll) = bottom (as in, the body part). Also colloquially called backside, or (U.S. English) ass or butt.
nipples and pubic hair: I’ve explained these in my notes loads of times. Just look back, will you.
have a thing for means ‘have a personal personal interest in’
awkward (adj) = uncomfortable, unnatural, difficult
flipping burgers: the activity by workers in fast-food restaurants of constantly turning over small discs of processed meat to cook them on both sides
minimum wage (n) = the lowest rate of hourly payment that is legally allowed by the State (see the UK rate here)
horribly (adv) = terribly, unpleasantly
bleak (adj) = empty of comfort; without soul; hopeless
unsmiling pleasures is a term for the perverse, contradictory enjoyment of an activity that is uncomfortable or hard

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Christmas Eve is 24th December, traditionally the night when Jesus was born (in a stable! His parents were travelling, and all the hotels were full. Even the Travelodge).
rare (adj) = not commonplace, not often seen
chance (n) = opportunity
uninterrupted (adj) = without being disturbed. Without anyone knocking on the door.
brilliant (adj) = superb, fantastic, wonderful, fabulous, terrific, fabaloony, ace
pop out (v, coll) = go outside for a short time
stretch one’s legs means ‘exercise by going for a little walk’
carol service (n) = special musical event in churches before Christmas where traditional religious songs are sung and the Christmas story is read from the bible, and sometimes children are dressed in costumes and have to act out the story. This is called a nativity play.
get through (v) = survive
Gabriel (n) = the name of the chief angel in the Christmas story in the bible
frock (n) = dress
made of a sheet: angel costumes have to be white, so mothers always make their children’s Christmas angel costumes out of old bed-sheets
trip on (something) means ‘accidentally catch your foot on (something) and fall over’. The danger of bed-sheets!
crib-scene (n) = the part of the nativity play where all the actors arrive at the side of the new-born Jesus in his crib (baby’s bed) and worship him like a king
magical (adj) = like a children’s fairytale, exciting, wonderful
vicar (n) = the job or profession of looking after people who go to a church, and of trying to get new people to come to that church. Until recently only men were allowed to be vicars.
…protest… corporate greed: a good vicar will seize the opportunity of a full church at Christmas to make some public comments criticising capitalism.
I don’t know what righteousness means: I still don’t. It’s a strange idea in the Christian holy book.
Saviour (n, archaic) = a man who comes into your life and makes everything perfect. How fab is that.
those who live in a land of deep darkness: these are well-known words from a part of the bible that is always read at Christmas. The words are about people who live in a very bad world who will soon have the chance to be saved by the coming Saviour – but only if they agree to believe in his magic powers.
advent (n) = arrival
the Prince of Peace is another term for Jesus the Saviour who will come and sort your life out.
instead means ‘in the place of that’; conversely; taking a different course
anti-capitalist encampment (n) = a group of campaigners against right-wing Western governments who build and live in temporary illegal shelters in city centres until the police come and destroy these shelters.
glittery (adj) = shiny, jewel-like
makeshift platform (n) = podium or raised place to stand that is only temporary, hand-made from whatever materials could be found
address (v) = speak to, communicate with
passers-by (n, pl) = pedestrians, people walking past
tent (n) = shelter made of cloth that you can sleep in, then pack away again into a small bag
canal basin (n) = part of a man-made waterway at a section where it widens out so that boats can turn round etc.
hanging lights round this cactus: a traditional Christmas tree is a fir or pine tree, decorated with little lights. But this Buddhist hippie only has a spiky desert plant in his home.
stocking (n) = long sock. Traditionally you hang up an empty sock near the fireplace on Christmas Eve, and Santa Claus (Father Christmas) comes in the night to fill it with gifts.
a man who doesn’t even do Christmas: well he’s a Buddhist isn’t he, not a Christian
off alcohol means ‘no longer drinking wines/beers/spirits’ (probably part of his Buddhist trip)
nonetheless means even so; despite that; although that is the case
interspersed (with) (adj) = mixed together (with)
(do something) out of guilt (at) means ‘(do something) due to, or motivated by, a feeling shame because of having done something wrong’
guilt (n) = self-blame and shame because we believe we are bad or have done something wrong.

NOTE 1: Christmas is a very emotional time, especially for feelings of guilt, loneliness, nostalgia, disappointment, grief and loss.

duvet (n) = warm bed-cover or quilt filled with feathers
towpath (n) = the track for walking beside a canal, traditionally used by horses who towed (pulled along) the barges (boats)
obliviously happy means ‘joyful because of not knowing about the hidden feelings of people you are with’
anarchist (n) = person who believes in bringing down all governments and living without rules and laws
squat (n) = house found empty by hippies/anarchists, who therefore begin living in it without paying any money to anybody
chorus (n) = choir; group of singers
lyrics (n, pl) = written words of a song
menopause symptoms (n) = physical signs a middle-aged woman gets during the time (sometimes several years) when her body stops being fertile
inadequacy (n) = uselessness, failure, lack of ability
Marxist rocker (n) = elderly, out-of-date, unfashionable type of pop-star who continues to play the political songs of his youth although they no longer have any meaning
vaguely recognise means ‘know a face but be unable to remember where you know it from’
take over (v) = move into the most important position, grab the power
exploitation (n) = unfair use without giving reward
call-centre worker (n) = a person whose job is to make and answer phone-calls to get money for a company
cockle-picker (n) = a person whose job is to collect cockles (a shell-fish) on the beach. Often these people are employed illegally on very low pay
strum (v, n) = make a loud downward stroke on the strings of a guitar
grin (v, n) = smile broadly
podium (n) = see notes to page 16
derelict (adj) = unrepaired, falling down due to no longer being used
woollen mill (n) = very large old-style factory for processing animal hair
playground (n) = the outdoor area of a school, where children play
pinch (v) = squeeze flesh (e.g. of an arm) between finger and thumb, wanting to cause pain
ignore altogether means ‘behave as though someone/something is totally invisible or not there at all’
play at fainting means ‘pretend to lose consciousness’: fall to the floor with closed eyes and lie there as though dead. This was Suki’s favourite childhood game. She has always wanted someone else to just take over.

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jog it off: remove it by exercising (going running)
bloated (adj) = swollen (looking fat) with water
melon belly (n) = stomach in the shape of a very big yellow fruit
obese (adj) = medically diagnosed as being too fat
skin-and-bone (adj) = very thin

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period (n) = (in this context) menstruation; a fertile woman’s monthly blood-loss
kit (n) = equipment; package containing the things needed for a task
menopause (n) = process (sometimes taking several years) of a middle-aged woman’s body losing its fertility
it turns out = the unexpected result or truth is
pregnant (adj) = expecting a baby
locum (n) = temporary doctor. Locums are often found working in inner-city medical centres which deal with difficult social problems that cause permanent doctors high stress, so they go off sick, or leave.
suppose (v) = guess
otherwise (adv) = in every other case
toddler (n) = pre-school children aged 1-3 who walk unsteadily (toddle)
same old same old = the usual boring thing, repeated again and again
statistical (adj) = in view of facts produced from analysing information using numbers
likelihood (n) = probability; result that one might expect
carry to full term = remain (pregnant) until the expected day of birth
amniocentesis (n) = medical test done on women who are 16 weeks pregnant to check whether the fœtus is normal (fluid is taken from the womb and analysed).
thirty per cent = 30%, less than one third. Not good.
gen up (v, coll) = collect information, become knowledgeable (pronounced ‘jen up’)
at five months gone means ‘since you are now five months into your pregnancy’
scan (n) = like an X-ray of a pregnant stomach, in order to see (and photograph) the unborn fœtus’s development

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conception (n) = moment of fertilisation of the egg, i.e. the action that starts a pregnancy

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tacky (adj) = sordid, naff, uncool, embarrassingly foolish
fly-on-the-wall (adj) = having an intimate view (of a room); having the perspective of an unnoticed fly, i.e. being physically close and all-seeing without drawing attention to one’s observational activity

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go it alone means do it all by yourself with nobody’s help
saddo (adj, coll) = pathetic, pitiable, useless
birth-partner (n) = person chosen by a pregnant woman to be present at the birth for support. This need not always be the father. Sometimes, another person is a better choice.
confide in (v) = reveal your thoughts to; tell your secrets to
response (n) = reply, answer
text (n, v) = short written message sent by mobile phone / cell-phone
annoyed (adj) = a bit angry; irritated; pissed off
bugger off (v, coll) = go away. Note: this is not a polite term.
blog (n, v) = see notes to page 25
currently = at this time
establish (v) = form, make firm, create
be rubbish at (something) (v, coll) = be bad / useless / ineffective at doing something

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first thing =
early in the morning
first class = by the fastest postal service
wee dram = small, comforting glass of whiskey (alcohol is bad for the unborn child’s development)
pill-popping = taking more medicines than are necessary because you like the effects (drugs are bad for the unborn child’s development)
terrified (adj) = extremely frightened
raison d’etre (n, French) = reason to live

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The old ones are the best = the old jokes are the funniest
draw out (v) = (of money) remove from bank account
one-liner (n, coll) = short funny comment to make people laugh
building society (n) = traditional UK institution set up with socialist principles (i.e. not for profit) where people can have accounts in which to save their money, instead of using a bank.
life savings (n) = money we put away for the future
Oxfam shop (n) = store selling second-hand clothes and goods to raise money to help poor people in developing countries. Oxfam is a ‘charity’ (humanitarian, not for profit) organisation with a chain of money-raising stores UK-wide.
antique (adj) = valuable because old, perhaps more than a hundred years old
lace (n) = delicate decorative trim used to make clothes more pretty
christening gown (n) = traditional very long white dress worn by babies for their naming ceremony in a Christian church
rip-off (adj, coll) = unreasonably expensive
pram (n, abbrev) = ‘perambulator’: an old-fashioned, traditional word for baby buggy; push-chair; four-wheeled vehicle for transporting a little child along the street
what with = in view of the fact of; taking account of
massive celebration (n) = huge party!
Franco’s: Suki’s favourite Polish-Italian cafe-bar in Bradford, England
napkin (n) = small square of paper or cloth given to each person at a dinner table to protect their clothes and clean their hands of messy food
pick up a text: receive a written message on a mobile phone
‘Imposs. Soz.’ = short for ‘Impossible. Sorry.’

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towpath (n) = the track for walking beside a canal, traditionally used by horses who towed (pulled along) the barges (boats)
Buddhist retreat (n) = a kind of holiday in a religious centre, normally in a very quiet place, to think about the meaning of life and get some peace
spent (adj) = (of fireworks) used; dead
bedsit (n): see notes to page 13 of A SMALL LIFE – Part I of Suki’s story
forlorn (adj) = sad, miserable, worn down
housing list (n) = a written record, kept by the local government office, of homeless people who need to be given a state-owned flat or house with cheap rent. There is normally a long wait for this housing, but if you are pregnant and alone, you get a flat immediately (in the UK).
pal (n, coll) = friend; mate; buddy
communicate (v) = be in touch with; exchange information with; speak (to)
crap (n, adj, coll) = rubbish, useless. Literally means excrement; poo.
sick of (someone/something) (v, coll) = bored by; tired of; fed up or annoyed with
make-up (n) = lipstick, eye-shadow, foundation cream etc. worn on the face, usually with the intention of looking more beautiful
snub (v) = impolitely ignore; turn away from
dressing-gown (n) = bath-robe

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bottom falling out of = the total collapse of
for once! = unexpectedly; surprisingly; not the usual bad experience
fecund (adj) = fertile
occur to (v) = become obvious to; strike (the mind)
Bang go all my fantasies! = my previous dreams have now exploded and been lost
meditate (v) = think deeply, contemplate
sense (v) = feel
be acquainted (v) = remain distant friends; be politely in contact
focus (n) = place/thing to which one’s full attention is given
obviously (adv) = clearly
go there (v, coll) = do that; think about that

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sculpt (v) = create 3-dimensional pieces of art using the hands, by moulding clay, carving wood, chiselling stone, etc
clay (n) = mouldable, soft substance found under the earth, which can be fired in an oven and made hard
recline (v) = lie back
blanket (n) = thick warm bed cover, often made of wool
shaky (adj) = wobbly, unstable
wallpapering table (adj) = a big but unstable folding table used for painting glue onto wallpaper while decorating a room. It is not meant to carry the weight of a person. Good that Suki is skin-and-bone.
dozen (n) = twelve
chatty (adj) = talkative
punter (n, coll) = customer
Cheer up, it might never happen! = Don’t look so sad, perhaps the expected disaster will not take place! (Typically this phrase is called out humorously in the street by male workmen to any passing women who are forgetting to smile prettily)
kneel (v) = to rest on the floor on one’s knees
biblical (adj) = like a bible story; ancient, traditional and meaningful
ultrasound (n) = test using high-tech hospital equipment to see the inside of the body, e.g. to check whether a pregnant woman’s fœtus is normal
sonographer (n) = job or profession of doing ultrasound scans in hospitals
midwife (n) = nurse who specialises in pregnancy and childbirth
obstetrician (n) = a doctor who specialises in pregnancy and childbirth
point out (v) = indicate, draw attention to, show
marker (n) = sign, indication
strawberry-shaped (adj) = having the heart-like form of a strawberry (small red fruit that grows close to the ground)
echogenic bowel (n) = intestine (body-part that digests food) giving off abnormal sound waves or echoes which should not be heard
sample (n) = specimen, example, small portion to use for tests or demonstrations
womb (n) = place in woman’s body where a baby grows
fluid (n) = liquid

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Page 40

netbook (n) = very small laptop computer

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Page 41

wire (n) = long thin hard string made of metal, which will bend when under pressure
have a go: try to do it; give it a try
crook (v) = bend into a sharply pointed shape
pliers (n, pl) = hand-tool, a little like scissors, for working with hard materials such as metal
medication (n) = medicine, tablets, pills, received from a doctor
swill around (v) = move freely in fluid, mix in
induce labour: cause the start of the physical process of giving birth
for once: unexpectedly; surprisingly; unusually; not the normal (more difficult) experience
yawn (v) = open the mouth in a wide stretch due to being tired
drinking in this context means purposely drinking too much alcohol
wallow (v) = (literally) get pleasure from immersing ones feet or whole body in muddy, dirty water – like a hippopotamus enjoying mud. In this context: get perverse pleasure from dwelling on (= thinking a lot about) something sad or unpleasant.
tinkle (v, n) = (make) a pretty ringing noise, like the sound of a delicate little bell
apols (abbrev) = apologies; sorry
cn (abbrev) = can
nope (coll) = no way! Definitely not
soz = sorry
hol (abbrev) = holiday; vacation
funeral (n) = ceremony, often taking place in a religious building and then a graveyard, to say goodbye to someone who has died

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Page 42

morphine (n) = very powerful pain-relieving drug, often given by injection

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Page 43

The nurse asks what the baby was going to be called, if it had lived. But isn’t it better not to look at a dead baby, so that it does not become a real being?

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Page 44

clear out (v) = get rid of, sort through and throw away
stuff (n) = things. Often rubbish
theology (n) = study of Christian thought (an academic subject which may be studied at university)
uni (n) = short form of ‚university‘
leaf through (v) = flick through the pages of, quickly skim without reading thoroughly
estrangement (n) = alienation, broken relationship
origin (n) = beginning, source
aim (n) = goal, hoped-for achievement
while = at the same time as
drawing on = taking strength from
very: in this context, ‘very’ is used to emphasise the importance of the thing that follows
bindings (n, pl) = attachments, strings that hold you
inextricably (adv) = impossible to separate or untangle or unknot
toy with (v) = play with (an idea), consider, contemplate
option (n) = choice, possibility
head-fucker (n, coll) = person who promotes thoughts and ideas that are bad for mental health and happiness

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Page 45

marathon (n) = a 26-mile running race, or any other activity which involves a long period of endurance
Post-Scream: ‘The Scream’ is a famous portrait of a screaming head by Edvard Munch. ‘Post-’ is a prefix meaning ‘after’. After screaming, Munch’s model probably looked very tired and miserable, like the portrait of me on page 45
awesome (adj) = wonderful
snap (v) = quickly photograph
mobile (n) = portable telephone
publisher (n) = person or company who produces books
cover design (n) = image for the front (of the book)
‘Melanie Alone’ is the name of Suki’s first novel which is about to be published!
a complete no-no = an absolutely terrible, unthinkable idea

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Page 46

hug (v) = hold tightly in your arms
nasty (adj) = horrid, bad, unpleasant
flu (n) = short for influenza, a very infectious disease, worse than a cold
singleness (n) = state of being alone, without a partner
poignantly (adv) = movingly; touchingly (on an emotional level)
pimpled (adj) = goose-bumped; having small hard lumps on the skin’s surface because of the cold temperature
bluish (adj) = slightly blue in colour (because of being cold)
quiver (n) = trembling movement; shiver
ripple (v) = movement on the skin’s surface like when the surface of water is disturbed
rid onesself of… (v) = remove from or throw away from onesself
stark naked (adj) = completely unclothed; totally nude
strip lighting (n) = long thin lights attached to the ceiling, often used in offices but not homes
harsh (adj) = rough, brutal
unforgiving (adj) = not gentle; unkind; mean
poke into (v) = stab or jab at, as though with a stick
mid-life crisis (n) = disturbing thoughts and worries that typically come when you reach middle age and build up to a traumatic moment, which might cause a change of life
masochist (n) = one who enjoys being hurt

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Page 47

abortion (n) = termination of a pregnancy by medical means
clamber about (v) = climb around, shift using both hands and feet
agonising (adj) = extremely painful
prop (v) = fix, put in an upright position
fan heater (n) = electric machine that blows out hot air to make a room warmer
stint (n) = length of time
spoil (v) = ruin; change for the worse
concentration (n) = absolutely focused attention; total absorption
struggle (v) = fight, battle
last (v) = continue, keep on going (for)
apologetically (adv) = with regret, all the time saying sorry
shift (v) = slightly move
let (someone) down (v) = disappoint someone; fail to fulfil an agreement or arrangement with someone
reputation (n) = opinion generally held by people about a particular person
in tatters = destroyed; shredded into rags
as it happens = in fact; an interesting thing is,
browse (v) = look at something casually, especially an information source

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Page 48

kick-off (n) = official start-time (for a football match)
dead on = exactly at; precisely on
repartee (n) = exchange of witty, funny, entertaining comments
accuracy (n) = precision; correctness
shit (n, coll) = crap, rubbish, bad
straight after = immediately following
counselling (n) = receiving of advice, emotional support and analysis from a therapist trained in psychology
conveniently (adv) = positioned or situated well (for easy access)
this very (church, etc) : ‘very’ is used to add emphasis, to indicate the exceptional or coincidental nature of, or a note-worthy fact about, something
Portacabin (n) = a small, temporary office-type building made from a material like thick cardboard that can be transported in one piece on the back of a lorry. Portacabins are used in the UK by Local Authorities to save money, instead of building appropriate new premises
crouch (v) = squat down close to the ground
rickety (adj) = unstable ; half-broken ; flimsy
clunk (v, n) = make a sudden sound of engagement (especially like the sound of metal slotting into a softer material)
previous (adj) = earlier
straighten up (v) = stand fully upright
gifted (adj) = having special, unusual ability
tool (n) = implement, instrument for making or repairing something
prelude (n) = opening section of a piece of classical music

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Page 49

sticky (adj) = tacky, as though coated with glue
melon (n) = large yellow fruit
taut as a drum means skin stretched tightly (across my belly) like a musical instrument that you beat
slosh about (v) = (of water) toss up and down like a stormy sea in the confined space of a harbour
scrub (v) = rub roughly with a hard brush to clean (something)
futon (n) = Japanese-style cotton mattress
warm spell (n) = period of good weather
dehydrated (adj) = dried out
un-jam (v) = become loose again; stop being stuck in one position
period (n) = (in this context) menstruation. See notes to page 31
purposeless (n) = pointless; having no reason or aim
wasp (n) = a small nasty flying insect that gives you painful stings
‘performance art’: artworks that are not only 3-D but also are expressed during a period of time. It is art, not theatre. See some wonderful examples of this by Suki’s friends Paul and Alexandra here (watch the videos!)

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Page 50

tampon (n) = small cotton plug worn internally by women to catch the blood when they have a period. It has a string to pull it out when it needs changing.
knickers (n) = women’s underwear; panties, briefs
coil (n) = ringlet or spiral; the shape a piece of string takes when hanging
tickle (v) = touch in a fussy way that makes a person wriggle and giggle
Blast! = An exclamation when annoyed, like Darn! Bother! (Bugger! Poo! Are a bit less polite)
snip (v) = cut
shy (n) = not outgoing; scared of talking to people; quiet
lace (a shoe) (v) = use two strings, or laces, to thread through a shoe’s eyelets (little holes) and pull the shoe tight so that it fits the foot
delicacy (n) = fragility; breakability; fineness of detail; sensitivity
vulnerability (n) = weakness; lack of protection; a need to be looked-after
Ladies (n) = women’s public toilet
fist (n) = tightly closed hand
yank out (v) = remove with a quick hard pull
casing (n) = wrapper
shove in (v) = insert with a quick hard push
rummage (v) = feel around, sort through, dip deeply into with the hands

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Page 51

depleted (adj) = reduced; smaller in quantity; lower in numbers
concave (adj) = shaped like the inside of a bowl. The opposite of dome-shaped
cover image (n) = the picture on the front (of a book, magazine, etc)
occasion (n) = event
such a lot of = so many
folk (n) = people
show up (v, coll) = attend
faint (adj) = very slight, almost unnoticeable
Aye (coll) = Yes
wake (n) = party with food and drink that takes place after the funeral ceremony (which is serious and sad) to commemorate someone’s death
towpath = see notes to page 29

Fancy managing to… (coll) = ‘How about that, managing to…’ or ‘How unusual, managing to…’. See also the exclamation Fancy that! meaning ‘Well I never!’ or ‘Isn’t that strange/ interesting/ a surprise!’
marquee (n) = very large tent (temporary shelter made of cloth) used for events, e.g. a circus
top oneself (v, coll) = kill oneself, commit suicide

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Page 52

nose-dive (v) = fall down quickly and steeply, like an aeroplane falling from the sky
fleece (n) = (in this context) warm unlined jacket with zip made from a currently popular man-made easy-care fabric known as ‘fleece’
impressed with = struck by; admiring of
make remarks = comment; say things
small of my back = flat area at base or bottom of my backbone
prickle (v) = feel uncomfortable, as though little needle-points are jabbing into your skin
perspiration (n) = sweat
hot flush (n) = symptom of a woman’s menopause (see notes to page 31) whereby a sudden heat from inside the body causes a few moments of very heavy sweating
Ey up – you’ll be t’ next… = ‘Watch out – you will be the next…’ (Ey up! is an exclamation in Yorkshire dialect. In this dialect, ‘t’ when used as an initial letter is often replaced by a glottal stop)
JK Rowling = the UK’s richest, most successful contemporary writer and she totally annoys me.

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Page 53

launch (n) = a celebratory event to put something new into the world (a book, a ship, etc)
debut (adj, n, French) = first
huge (adj) = massive, very big

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Page 54

post- (prefix) = after
London is great. Can you hear the hollow echo in these words? This is an example of British irony.
pal (n, coll) = friend
uni (n, coll) = short for university
turn up (v, coll) = attend, show up
V v sorry, hd 2 don dog collar n…= Very very sorry, I had to don (put on) a dog collar (vicar’s uniform) and…
Nex time yr down DEFFO meet = Next time you are down (in London) we will definitely meet
rush off (v) = run away, leave quickly (as though not interested)
Wales (n) = did you know that there’s a very small country attached to the west of England called Wales?
dwarfed (adj) = made to feel very small – as small as a dwarf (which is a tiny fairy, or person who has a medical condition which means they do not grow)
thunderous (adj) = dramatic, stormy
hulk (n) = huge, awesome, solid shape or beast
defensive (adj) = expecting attack; putting up protection; unconfident and insecure because of meeting greater beings
heritage (n) = culture and tradition passed down from one generation to the next
ignore (v) = behave or act as though something does not exist
tinselly (adj) = superficial; decorative and attractive but having no depth or meaning (tinsel is the glittery garland we use to decorate Christmas trees)
London yuppies: ‘yuppy’ is a new word created in the 1980s by a famous radio presenter. It’s made of the letters ‘Young UP-and-coming Professional’; in other words, a wealthy successful privileged materialistic person who has got everything and continues to climb the ladder. Pah. I don’t want all that.
clueless (adj) = having no understanding
live (adj) = (pronounced in this context to sound like ‘drive’) present in a place, really there, in person, not recorded
make light of (v) = convey the idea that something is not important; dismiss; say that something has very little meaning
bunch (n) = group, gang, crowd
elitist (adj) = exclusive; snobbish
bastard (n, coll) = literally: child of an unmarried woman. Colloquially: nasty horrible person
elitist bastard: a satisfying term of abuse northerners may use about successful southerners
Barbican (n) = well-designed modern area of housing and cultural venues in East London with some of London’s most expensive apartments
shag-pad (n, coll) = apartment used primarily for sexual encounters
sleeping bag (n) = bed made of nylon fabric that folds into a very small bag so you can carry it with you and easily sleep in friends’ homes, no trouble to them because you do not make their bed-sheets dirty. Useful if you have friends who do not want to look after you.
shag (v, coll) = have sex with
guy (n, coll) = man. Also bloke, chap, fella, geezer, dude
vibrator (n) = sex-toy in the shape of a penis, having a battery to make it tremble
prospect (n) = outlook, future hope
espresso (n) = very strong black Italian coffee drunk by stylish fashionable people
coach (n) = long-distance bus used by students because it’s cheaper than the train

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Page 55

DJ (n, abbrev) = Disc Jockey – the job of introducing and playing pieces of music on radio or at discos
personal trainer (n) = the job of working 1:1 with a customer to show them the best physical exercises, tailor-made to improve their individual body and health problems
life-coach (n) = the job of working 1:1 with a customer to teach them how to be successful in every part of their life
whiplash (n) = the quick-as-a-flash, slicing movement of a whip (very long, slim, slick strip of black leather with a handle on one end, used to control people)
reject (v) = dismiss, say no to
Bach = Johann Sebastian Bach, famous historical German music composer
cello (n) = a classical musical instrument of European origin, part of the family of stringed instruments which includes guitar, violin, double bass
enthuse (v) = be enthusiastic, say positive things
special (adj) = unusual, distinctive
characteristic (n) = distinctive quality; feature
keenly (adv) = extremely
orgasm (n) = sexual climax; moment of highest pleasure during sexual activity
go live (in this context, ‘live’ is pronounced to sound like drive or jive) = be heard by the public in the moment of speaking; appear on radio (or TV) without pre-recording
theme (n) = recurring idea, concept
track (n) = (in this context) piece of recorded music; song
clarify (v) = make clear; explain
inevitable (adj) = unavoidable
draw on (one’s) experience: use one’s own experience; assert knowledge gained from one’s own experience

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Page 56

taunt (v) = torment, use words purposely to upset or enrage
constantly (adj) = without stopping, again and again
viciously (adj) = nastily, with violence
self-obsessed (adj) = thinking only about onesself; totally focused on onesself
issue (n) = subject of concern, problem

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Page 57

bluebottle (n) = a big fat blue-black fly
pretty bad = really awful, not at all good
punter (n, coll) = customer (a joking word to use, because artists should not be called customers)
waft off (v) = wave away with a hand
pubic hair: I think I have explained what this is often enough
potter about (v) = move around casually in a small space, checking, exploring, poking at things, picking up small things and putting them down
curl (n) = hair hanging in a curved or circular shape
debacle (n, French) = a sudden, disastrous collapse. It is typical of educated and sophisticated English people like Tamara to use a few words of French when speaking English.
reaction (n) = response; action triggered by someone else’s earlier action
to be honest = the truth is… To tell the truth…
I was projecting = my own personal problems from the past were affecting what I said
re = regarding; with reference to
telling-off (n) = reprimand; criticism; warning about behaviour
co-op (n) = co-operative society or organisation, having a structure of shared responsibility, shared profits etc
committee (n) = officially appointed group of organisers
due to = because of
Mea culpa = Latin for ‘I am guilty’. Well-educated and sophisticated people like Tamara use a sprinkling of Latin words when speaking English.
moving on = changing the subject
self-evidently (adv) = clearly, obviously (due to your appearance)
adequately (adv) = sufficiently; enough
take in hand (v) = take control (of); lead; give guidance (to)

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Page 58

Chianti (n) = an Italian wine that ordinary people can afford
upstairs = (on) the next floor
bitch (n) = horrible woman (literally ‘female dog’)
nasty (adj) = horrible, unpleasant
fiasco (n) = a chaotic, disastrous event
gorgeous (adj) = beautiful
leak (n) = unwanted seepage or escape of water
chuck (someone) off (v, coll) = throw (someone) off; remove
Disability Living Allowance (n) = UK goverment benefit paid weekly to people unable to work because of long-term handicaps or medical conditions
Asda (n) = a US-owned chain of giant supermarkets in the UK, ‘Part of the Wallmart Family’
genitalia (n) = sexual organs (body-parts)

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Page 59

all over the place
= absolutely everywhere; in every context
I cut a ridiculous figure = I look like a fool
peer (n) = person in a similar social and / or economic group to me (age, gender, educational level, etc)
to date = until now
review (n) = written opinion of something newly on the market, especially cultural products (books, plays, music)
Gimme = give me
grave (n) = burial site; place where a dead person is put under the ground

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Page 60

slurry (adj) = having unclear speech (due to drinking too much wine)
‘Preciate it = I appreciate it; I am grateful to you
with a vengeance = even more powerfully; like an attack
Ach-du-liebe-Zeit = German exclamation with no real meaning. English exclamations in the same context might be ‘Oh for goodness’ sake!’, ‘For heaven’s sake!’

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Page 61

decade (n) = ten years
The first flush of love = the wonderful early days of a new relationship

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Page 62

disgusting (adj) = revolting, foul, horrible
hovel (n) = a peasant’s poor, simple home
move in (v) = start to live under the same roof
fabulous (adj) = amazing, fantastic
spacious (adj) = plenty of room; airy
spam-clogged (adj) = (of an email inbox) over-full with rubbish emails such as advertisements

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Page 63

You about? = Are you available?
everything that didn’t get said = all the things which were never spoken about
advise (v) = give your opinion about the best way to do something
have things in common = have the same experiences or interests
infuriating (adj) = exasperating; almost unbearable; maddening
be fated (v) = be pre-destined; be governed by mysterious rules that are beyond one’s control
formulate (v) = plan; create; (in this context) put into words
bloody bastard (col) = horrible pig. Nasty boy.

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Page 64
Literary Agency (n) = company that looks for good writers, makes them sign a contract, then introduces them to publishing companies
Guardian (n) = famous UK newspaper, although not one of the biggest. It is politically left-of-centre, and represents high culture
court (v) = seek the attention of; try to get closer to, including in a romantic way
Oh to be courted by… = ‘How wonderful to be desired by…’
Überagent (n) = ‘Über’ is German for ‘supreme’ or ‘top’. Victoria Herz is the best agent in London. Yippee!
well on with = a long way into (this is a lie, Suki has hardly started her next novel)
champagne moment = reason for celebration, which always means, for Suki, drinking bubbly. Maybe she’ll get tired of champagne one day…

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