Last week I advised you to write words in groups according to subject or word type, for example all words that regard food, or action verbs. This aids memorization as each time you add a new word you can review those are already on your list.
This is an excellent practice but to really BUILD your vocabulary you must work at it. That doesn't mean it is hard, just that like everything worth doing, it takes time and commitment. If you are passionate about words and intricate details as I am, it is a pleasure! Use each new word you meet as an occasion to learn more words that may be in the same family or associated. If the word is a verb, what is the noun to describe the state or situation? Are there any nouns to identify the 'doer'. the person who performs the action? Are there adjectives or adverbs? Then, are there synomyms ( syn - together / same + onome / no-men = name) - words that have a similar or the same meaning, including more formal or informal equivalents? Finally are there opposites or antonymns (anti - opposite)?
Look at this example with the verb 'employ'
Starting from just one word, being just a little curious, you can discover other 10-15 associated words. This method will not only increase the number of words you know but also help you become more familiar with how words are made, that is what the most common prefixes and suffixes are. For example, 'un' as a negative prefix meaning 'not', 'ment' as a way to make a noun from a verb, or 'ed' or 'able' to make an adjective. Knowing these will enable you to uncover the real meaning of an unknown word by breaking it up into smaller parts to then reconstruct the meaning. If you have studied Latin or Greek, or if your native language is Latinate, you will definitely be advantaged as many prefixes and suffixes are precisely of Latin or Greek origin.
What is 'depletion'?
de = remove
ple = plein (French), pieno (Italian), plenty (English) - full, abundant
tion - noun suffix
So depletion means - reduction in the number or quantity of something
tele - from a distance
scope - see or range
So a telescope is an instrument to make distant objects appear nearer
You can find some interesting worksheets on prefixes and suffixes here
or if you are feeling brave
When I was a child there was a programme on TV named 'Call My Bluff'. A bluff is a deceit, it can also be used as a verb but it's not a really strong verb and it's meaning is closer to pretending or joking. Here 'call' means 'pronounce' or 'declare'. To teams gave three possible definitions of a given word only one of which was correct. You can try a similar game here
This skill is really useful and demonstrates a deeper understanding of English. That is why it is part of the Use of English part of Cambridge exams.
Try an exercise here
not for exam practice, but for simple fun!
Let me know in the comments if you learn using affixes and how! Also try to create a word family table starting from the word friend as in the picture above.
Whilst preparing a previous post about slang words and expressions I was intrigued to discover that the expression ‘ the big cheese ‘ (an important, powerful person) might not have originally been ‘cheese’ at all but rather the word is actually from the Hindi "chiz" meaning "thing". Instead of saying "real thing" Anglo Indians used to say "real chiz". "My friend is the real chiz", meant my friend is a genuine guy.
During a lesson on Skype I was reading an article on the fantastic breakingnewsenglish.com about the World Cup of all things when amongst the potential new vocabulary was the word ‘pundit’ meaning ‘expert’. Pundit also comes from Hindu. In my ignorance, I had not considered the large variety of languages that have influenced the English language throughout its evolution. In fact, as many as 120 languages are on record as sources of modern vocabulary. Each set of invaders has brought its own vocabulary. For example the Vikings and Normans brought many words into English. The Viking language, Old Norse, gave words like ‘sky’, ‘anger’ ‘knife’, ‘neck’, ‘root’, ‘window’ and ‘skull’. The Normans gave words like ‘crown’, ‘court’, ‘castle’, ‘tower’, ‘obedience’ and ‘prison’, often words associated with military power and authority. During the Renaissance, scholars introduced many words of Latin or Greek. As the English began to spread abroad themselves contact with explorers, imperialists, pirates and convicts all influenced the language.
In another lesson about food a student asked me how to say ‘ricotta’ in English and I told him that most Italian food words are not translated into English but remain in their original form, albeit, as can often happen, with quite a different pronunciation, for example ‘lasagna’ or ‘mortadella’.
I love the French language and France as I lived there for five years and I admire their pride in their language. But the French are more resistant to foreign words entering their language, even for technology. When the rest of the world is using ‘computer’ and ‘mouse’, they insist on ‘ordinateur’ and ‘souris’. English instead has always welcomed foreign ‘loan’ words, and we are not giving them back!
On the other hand, some English words may look like words in your language but have a different meaning. Such words are known as false friends. The English word ‘sympathetic’ resembles a word meaning nice in other European languages, but in English sympathetic has a much narrower meaning ( understanding and caring about someone else’s suffering ). Make a list of false friends for English and your own first language.
Some topic areas, particularly rich in ‘loan’ words in English are food and drink; flora, fauna and landscapes; industrial products and inventions; clothing and the home; politics and society and the arts, sports and leisure activities. Can you think of words from your own language that have come into English in these topic areas? Which words from English in these areas have moved into your own language? In the Italian media journalists and presenters often drop words of English into their speech to sound ‘cool’ or modern, just as in English it can be ‘chic’ to use French words. What do you think of this? How is English or your language changing? Is that a good or bad thing? Let me know your ideas in the comments!
I always say that reading is the best way to see vocabulary and grammar in a natural context. The relationship you create with the characters and situations help you build empathy and by extension emotional attachment which favours long term memorization.
But exactly how can you build your vocabulary by reading? Well, like everything in life it takes a bit of work. Let's work through an example together with the first page of next month's novel, Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote (No, it's not just a film!)
'I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods. For instance, there is a brownstone in the East Seventies where, during the early years of the war, I had my first New York apartment. It was one room crowded with attic furniture, a sofa and fat chairs upholstered in that itchy, particular red velvet that one associates with hot days on a tram. The walls were stucco, and a color rather like tobacco-spit. Everywhere, in the bathroom too, there were prints of Roman ruins freckled brown with age. The single window looked out on a fire escape. Even so, my spirits heightened whenever I felt in my pocket the key to this apartment; with all its gloom, it still was a place of my own, the first, and my books were there, and jars of pencils to sharpen, everything I needed, so I felt, to become the writer I wanted to be.
It never occurred to me in those days to write about Holly Golightly, and probably it would not now except for a conversation I had with Joe Bell that set the whole memory of her in motion again.
Holly Golightly had been a tenant in the old brownstone; she'd occupied the apartment below mine. As for Joe Bell, he ran a bar around the corner on Lexington Avenue; he still does. Both Holly and I used to go there six, seven times a day, not for a drink, not always, but to make telephone calls: during the war a private telephone was hard to come by. Moreover, Joe Bell was good about taking messages, which in Holly's case was no small favor, for she had a tremendous many.
Of course this was a long time ago, and until last week I hadn't seen Joe Bell in several years. Off and on we'd kept in touch, and occasionally I'd stopped by his bar when passing through the neighborhood; but actually we'd never been strong friends except in as much as we were both friends of Holly Golightly. Joe Bell hasn't an easy nature, he admits it himself, he says it's because he's a bachelor and has a sour stomach. Anyone who knows him will tell you he's a hard man to talk to. Impossible if you don't share his fixations, of which Holly is one. Some others are: ice hockey, Weimaraner dogs, Our Gal Sunday (a soap serial he has listened to for fifteen years), and Gilbert and Sullivan -- he claims to be related to one or the other, I can't remember which.
And so when, late last Tuesday afternoon, the telephone rang and I heard "Joe Bell here," I knew it must be about Holly. He didn't say so, just: "Can you rattle right over here? It's important," and there was a croak of excitement in his froggy voice.
I took a taxi in a downpour of October rain, and on my way I even thought she might be there, that I would see Holly again.'
Location specific vocabulary Adjectives Collocations
brownstone upholstered run a bar
East seventies freckled make a phone call
Lexington Avenue take a taxi
Gilbert and Sullivan sour stomach croak of excitement
Phrasal verbs Grammar
draw back that one associates with
look out onto
It never occurred to me
hard to come by
on my way
As you can see I have put the possible new words and phrases into categories according to word type. Ideally, you should have a section in a notebook or page in a document on your computer for each word type or subject. This may take more time initially but will save you time in the long run as each time you add a new word to your list you can review the words that are already there and so continously add and review, add and review.
Let's look more closely at the words and phrases in each group.
Location specific vocabulary
The first thing to consider is that not all words have the same value for you. The most important words and phrases are those that are USABLE IMMEDIATELY. Then there are those words that may be interesting to understand when you see them again but you may not use them yourself. Lastly there are words that are too particular to the setting or context and are not worth spending too much time on.
'East Seventies' refers to an area of the Upper East Side in Manhattan in New York, in which you can find 'Lexington Avenue'. In New York, the roads running north - south are numbered and called avenues while the east - west roads are called streets. So the seventies are the streets from 70th to 79th street. Lexington Avenue was the location for the scene from the film 'The Seven Year Itch' with Marilyn Monroe standing on an air vent.
A 'brownstone' is a typical row house in New York as we see regularly in films.
I didn't know this adjective before today.
'Gilbert and Sullivan' were Victorian dramatists and composers who created HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and a total of 14 comic operas still performed today.
While all this is interesting if you are planning a trip to New York but it won't improve your English so these are low priority terms.
'Freckled' here means covered with brown spots. The condition of the picture in the text might be something like this
Perhaps the more common use of this word is to describe a girl or boy's face. This girl has freckles
To understand the word 'upholstered' you can put your detective hat on. The suffix 'ed' reveals that it is an adjective to describe the chairs. The prefix 'up' means 'higher', 'upwards', 'towards the top', and here 'over'. So there is something over or covering the chairs. Looking at the etymology on etymonline.com, we can discover that 'upholden' comes from Middle English and means 'to repair, uphold, keep from falling or sinking'. 'Uphold' originally and still means 'support or sustain' but extended to 'maintain in good condition or repair' in the 15th century. That was fun!
These short verbs with prepositions are one of the most difficult aspects of English as their meaning is often figurative and multiple and not easily worked out. It is impossible and pointless to try to learn them all but probably the more different uses a word has the more useful it is. 'Draw back' can mean 'pull' or 'attract' and 'back' means 'returning to an original point of departure', 'again'. So we could substitute this verb for 'borne back' in the famous last line of 'The Great Gatsby'
'So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back (drawn back) ceaselessly into the past.'
If in a lesson you get side-tracked the teacher might try to draw your attention back to the text or audio in question. A drawback is a noun meaning disadvantage. A drawback to reading classic novels is that there are many new words that may slow you down. 'Look out onto' instead has a more literal meaning. I would like to have a house by the sea with big French windows that look out onto the sea. And you? What would you like to see from your window?
These are word combinations that native speakers use. In fact we rarely find words in isolation but as part of fixed phrases. These can be verb-noun collcations like 'run a bar' but even noun-noun like 'a croak of excitement' or adjective noun like 'a froggy voice'. These are your key to natural sounding language. Remember however that writers like to play with language and create their own combinations. 'Sour stomach' is not common but gives the idea of something acidic or uncomfortable.
'One' is a neutral, singular pronoun used to avoid attributing gender. Now we more often use the generic 'you' or 'they' but 'one' can still be appropriate in more formal situations. It is often associated with how the Queen speaks. She perhaps uses it to seperate her official role from herself as a person.
Is there something that you hadn't considered or thought of before now? 'It had never occurred to me' is the right phrase for this situation. Change the tense and 'It has never occured to me' or 'It occurs to me' are suitable for many situations. Is something difficult to find or obtain? Then it is 'hard to come by'. Today in Italy we can say that a permanent job is hard to come by. Don't say 'It's raining cats and dogs!' - it is used only in text books. Prefer instead 'it's pouring (down with rain). Are you arriving late? 'I'm on my way!'. These are fixed phrases that like collcations will help you to sound more natural.
Just look how much we have learnt from just one page! The next step is to use the words in writing or speaking. How many of the words and phrases we have seen can you use to add a comment below?
Old sport! Ellen carries a torch for the big cheese with the swanky car. She thinks he’s the bee’s knees!
Each age has its slang and the same goes for the 1920s when The Great Gatsby is set. Some of these expressions are still used today. But what do they really mean and why do we say these things? Looking at the history behind words is a great way to understand them better and discover the culture and context. As I am a bit of a perfectionist, I feel this enables me to get to know a word very well and I find it very satisfying. Let’s look at five 20s expressions and really get behind them. Ready?
"Sorry, old sport, I thought you knew"
When you hear the word old you probably associate it with something that is no longer new or young but like all words in English the meaning is much wider than that. ‘Old’ can also mean dating from far back; long-established or known.
"we greeted each other like old friends"
And by extension is used to express affection or familiarity.
"good old Mum"
Sport comes from Old French desport, deport "pleasure, enjoyment, delight; solace, consolation; favor, privilege," related to desporter, deporter "to divert, amuse, please, play" in Middle English disport meaning "consolation, solace; a source of comfort." It evolved to mean "activity that offers amusement or relaxation; entertainment, fun" (c. 1300), also "a pastime or game; flirtation; pleasure taken in such activity" (late 14c.) and in early 15c., "pleasant pastime". The meaning "game involving physical exercise" was first recorded in the 1520s. The sense of "stylish man" is from 1861, American English, probably because they lived by gambling and betting on races. Meaning "good fellow" is attested from 1881 (as in be a sport, 1913). Sport as a familiar form of address to a man is from 1935, Australian English.
So ‘old sport’ is a term of affection used for a companion that you have known for a long time and that you are have shared sport, games and adventure with.
If someone is ‘bees knees’ they are highly admired.
‘Jane is crazy about her new boyfriend. She thinks he’s the bee’s knees.’
Does it derive from the fact that bees carry pollen back to the hive in sacs on their legs? Probably not. It might be an example of amerlioration where a negative meaning turns positive. The bee's from the late 18th century meant something small or insignificant in the phrase big as a bee's knee. As weak as a bee's knee is an Irish saying. In the 1920s it was fashionable to use nonsense terms to denote excellence - 'the snake's hips', 'the kipper's knickers', 'the cat's pyjamas/whiskers', 'the monkey's eyebrows' and so on.
I think this is a kind of phrase that Fitzgerald himself would like as he often puts together words that don’t usually match, for example when Tom Buchanan is described as having a ‘cruel body’.
The Big cheese is the boss, or someone with an important status.
“He is a big cheese in the Art Fraud Squad.”
But perhaps this phrase does not originate from English at all.
The Anglo-Indian dictionary Hobson-Jobson, published in 1886, contained colloquialisms and phrases that had been born out of a mixture between English and the variety of languages that were spoken in India at the time. One word that appeared in Hobson-Jobson was “chiz”, which roughly translated to mean “thing”. The phrase was incredibly common amongst Anglo-Indians and was used to describe something as genuine or positive. “Chiz” was probably mistaken by English ears for the more familiar sounding “cheese”.
In the 1920s, for publicity, a giant wheel or block of cheese would be displayed for some time and then ceremonially cut up by some important person.
Carry a torch
If you carry a torch for someone, you are interested in them romantically.
This dates to the Greek and Roman tradition of a wedding torch, lit in the bride’s home on her wedding night, then used to light the fire in her new home. Such a torch is associated with the Greek god of marriage Hymenaios. Sharing of the water and fire testified that the marriage had taken place.
Hymen was generally represented in art as a young man wearing a garland of flowers and holding a burning torch in one hand.
Hymen was mentioned in Euripides's The Trojan Women where Cassandra says:
Bring the light, uplift and show its flame! I am doing the god's service, see! I making his shrine to glow with tapers bright. O Hymen, king of marriage! blest is the bridegroom; blest am I also, the maiden soon to wed a princely lord in Argos. Hail Hymen, king of marriage!
If you describe something as swanky, you mean that it is fashionable and expensive.
...one of the swanky hotels that line the Pacific shore at Acapulco.
Swanky comes from Middle High German swanken "to sway, totter, turn, swing," and Old High German swingan "to swing;". This gave the notion is of "swinging" the body ostentatiously from 1809 as "to strut, behave ostentatiously." And "ostentatious behavior," 1854 evolving to "stylish, classy, posh," 1913.
This month we are reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. As I said in my last post, Fitzgerald uses some amazing imagery in his writing and as his wife Zelda was a painter, it is natural that colour plays an important part in his images. Colours can represent different things in different countries and in English there are many idioms that refer to colour, so let’s look at how colour is used in The Great Gatsby and how that relates to some common idioms.
Golden stands for successful. 'Golden boy / girl' is the term given to a young person who has great skill and is very popular, usually in sport but not always.
‘the golden boy of British golf’.
This expression is also sometimes used in its English form in Italian
"il golden boy della finanza internazionale."
Jordan Baker is a lady golfer and the colour is often used to infer this meaning by giving this quality to her physical attributes.
"With Jordan's slender golden arm resting in mine"
"I put my arm around Jordan's golden shoulder"
Golden can also mean extremely valuable: 'a golden opportunity' is a great one that may never present itself again. At Gatsby's parties even the turkeys turn to gold.
"..turkeys bewitched to a dark gold".
Sometimes instead of gold Fitzgerald uses the colour yellow, to refer to something of lower quality. 'Yellow press' is used for the sensational press, in 'The Great Gatsby' it describes popular music.
"now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music".
In contrast to the golden girl Jordan, her admirers are only yellow.
"two girls in twin yellow dresses"
"»You don't know who we are,« said one of the girls in yellow, »but we met you here about a month ago.«"
"... we sat down at a table with the two girls in yellow".
The colour yellow in English is often related to cowardice, perhaps Fitzgerald wanted to empahasize the weakness of the girls’ characters as opposed to that of Jordan. A person can be yellow-bellied or have a yellow streak if they are a coward or very shy.
'There is no point in asking him what to do. He is a yellow-bellied coward, and won’t stand up for what is right!'
'He has always had a big yellow streak running down his back, don’t expect him to change now!'
Surprisingly Daisy's daughter has old and yellow hair, perhaps to indicate that she is not as precious to her mother as she should be:
"Did mother get powder on your old yellowy hair?"
In Italian ‘un giallo’ (literally ‘a yellow’) is a detective story because in the nineteen twenties a publishing house started releasing collections with yellow covers.
Silver represents jewellery and richness. ‘Born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth’
means born into a rich family.
‘I don’t think Kelly has ever had a job. She was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.’
This implies that Kelly has had an easy life, while ‘to be given something on a silver plate/platter’ is again used when something is obtained very easily, without much effort.
‘I offered my heart to him on a silver platter, and he turned it down.’
A common idiom with silver related to nature is ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ meaning that even a situation that can at first seem bad, always has something positive.
In The Great Gatsby the moon or moonlight or the stars are often silver:
"the silver pepper of the stars";
"The moon had risen higher, and floating in the Sound was a triangle of silver scales";
"A silver curve of the moon hovered already in the western sky".
White means moral, honorable, innocent.
"High in a white palace the king's daughter, the golden girl".
When Nick Carraway visited the Buchanans he met two young women, Daisy and Jordan.
"They were both in white".
Even the windows at Daisy's house are white
"The windows were ajar and gleaming white".
"Our white girlhood was passed together there. Our beautiful white" (Daisy and Jordan).
"they came to a place where there were no trees and the sidewalk was white with moonlight" (Daisy and Gatsby).
"His heart beat faster as Daisy's white face came up to his own".
At the end of the novel there is this phrase
"On the white steps an obscene word, scrawled by some boy with a piece of brick, stood out clearly in the moonlight, and I erased it".
White is a common colour for communions and weddings. If you whitewash something you cover up faults.
'Let's not whitewash the crimes of Stalin'
A white lie is a ‘little’ or ‘harmless’ lie told in order to be polite and avoid hurting someone’s feelings, or do something that is not seriously wrong.
'I'd rather tell my mother a white lie than tell her the truth and upset her.'
I will never forget my history teacher’s favourite expression - 'I may be green but I’m not a cabbage!’ Green evokes plants and if you think of sprouting plants you can associate the colour green with something new or young. Fitzgerald used it mainly for "not faded", like in "a green old age", or for hope.
"I glanced seaward – and distinguished nothing except a single green light".
This green light is across the sea where Buchanan's house is supposed to be. Gatsby said:
"»You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock«"
"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us".
Later the whole water between Gatsby and Daisy gets green
"On the green Sound, stagnant in the heat,..".
If you give someone or get the green light you give or are are given permission to go ahead with something.
'The council gave the green light for construction to begin'.
The expression ‘The grass is always greener on the other side’ is used to describe the hope that another place or situation is better than where you are now.
'The grass is always greener on the other side—the sooner you realize that and stop comparing your life to others', the happier you'll be!'
As the national colour of Ireland, green represents the colours of the ‘Emerald Isle’ but also luck (the shamrock). The colour green also means envious or jealous:
"In the sunlight his face was green".
Grey is often used for neutral, dull, not important.
"grey little villages in France"
"The grey windows disappeared"
"... a grey, florid man with a hard, empty face"
The Wilsons, living in the valley of ashes, appear in grey, except for Myrtle. Wilson
"mingling immediately with the cement color of the walls. A white ashen dust veiled his dark suit and his pale hair as it veiled everything in the vicinity – except his wife, who moved close to Tom".
The only way for Myrtle to get out of the grey seems to be Tom Buchanan.
Blue is the color of being depressed, moody, or unhappy.
Therefore a lot of things around Gatsby are blue.
"In his blue gardens men and girls came and went”.
Although a lot of people are in and around his house, his gardens are blue.
"... ghostly birds began to sing among the blue leaves”.
"So when the blue smoke of brittle leaves".
After Myrtle's death George Wilson and Mr.Michaelis are in a blue mood.
" ... a blue quickening by the window, and realized that dawn wasn't far off. About five o'clock it was blue enough outside to snap off the light".
"He had come a long way to this blue lawn".
There are many expressions with the colour blue with different meanings. Of course the colour blue recalls the sky on a sunny day so if something happens ‘out of the blue’ it happens unexpectedly and is quite a rare event.
"Then, out of the blue, a solicitor's letter arrived."
Similarly ‘A bolt from the blue’ is unexpected bad news.
"It was a complete bolt from the blue for us, we had no idea that they were having problems, let alone getting divorced!"
But it’s not all negative ‘blue blood’ indicates nobel or royal descent, and a ‘blue eyed boy’ is the teacher’s pet because blue eyes are often considered a sign of beauty. ( I am not making that up just because I have blue eyes – honest! )
Pink usually has positive connotations. If you are ‘tickled pink’ you are extremely happy or delighted about something.
"We were tickled pink when your flowers arrived."
And if you are in the pink you are in good health
"My grandmother looked ever so well when I saw her, she was in the pink of condition."
Sometimes Gatsby appears with the color pink
"the luminosity of his pink suit under the moon".
When Gatsby and Daisy are finally together,
"there was a pink and golden billow of foamy clouds above the sea".
Red can be associated with joy, love, shame, and rageThe inside of Buchanan's home is in red.
"We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space"
"Inside, the crimson room bloomed with light".
A red flag is something that gives a warning of a bad or dangerous situation or event. If someone is caught red-handed, they are seen and stopped as they are doing something wrong.
'Timmy tried to get into the cookie jar again, but I caught him red-handed.'
In the following story there are a lot of colour idioms in italics. Can you work out their meaning?
A Silver Lining
In a rash moment I said I'd buy my wife a car for her birthday. The trouble was she had set her heart on a particular colour — white. It had to be white at all costs. I pointed out till I was blue in the face — almost going out of my mind, that white was a very difficult colour to keep clean.
But she was adamant and so in the end I decided to surrender — to show the white flag, as it were. We looked at dozens of white and off white cars but none seemed to be worth buying.
Now, I'm a bit green — rather inexperienced, about buying cars. I'm the perfect customer as far as the secondhand car salesman is concerned. Take the first place we went to. The manager rolled out the red carpet — gave me preferential treatment, when he saw me coming. He started by showing me the most expensive models he could find, some of which made me turn green with envy — I was quite envious of anyone who could afford to buy one. But as soon as I mentioned the sort of age for the car I had in mind, he started to give me black looks — started to frown. I can't describe the language he used when I gave some idea of the price I was thinking of because it would be red-pencilled — censored. From the beginning I was therefore somewhat browned off — fed up. Once in a blue moon — very rarely, I thought do you come across a genuine bargain. I mean some of the dealers are thoroughly dishonest or is it that they are simply telling white lies — only half-truths? The trouble is you have to buy a car in order to find out. At one garage I actually caught one of the salesmen red-handed — in the middle of his act, just as he was gluing back a chip of paint that had fallen off. I put a black mark against his name — didn't think much of his reputation. But what really made me see red — get angry was when I was told that I would only get an old wreck for what I was prepared to pay. Perhaps I was being a bit moderate but then I didn't want to end up in the red — in debt to the bank. The only way to deal with these salesmen is to put on a bold face. It doesn't matter if you have a yellow streak — are a coward. You don't have to accept the first price and whatever you do don't give the green light — permission to continue with the sale until you're absolutely satisfied.
One weekend I decided to leave my car at home and go by train to a large car centre. I was feeling in the pink — very fit as we approached the man standing by the sales office. He had one of those arrogant expressions that act rather like a red rag to me — somehow provoke me. I told him straight that I knew his centre had been black listed by motoring organizations — no longer approved by them and therefore it was no good him trying to whitewash — excuse all the stories I'd heard. That wiped the arrogant expression off his face. The only trouble was that I discovered that I'd not been talking to the sales manager but a fellow customer. In my confusion I tripped over a spare tyre, rolled over and ended up in a ditch.
When I got home I was black and blue all over — covered in bruises.
By the sixth weekend of looking I was understandably feeling rather blue — somewhat depressed. I'd even considered getting a car through the black market — by some dishonest means.
But every cloud has a silver lining — things improve in the end. And that Sunday was a red letter day — a special day to remember, since we finally found a car. We were out driving in the countryside when out of the blue — totally unexpectedly, we saw a notice advertising cars for sale in a farm yard.
We saw a man in a brown study — deep in thought sitting in a small hut. He was the farmer cum salesman from whom I eventually bought the car. He quickly dispensed with all the red tape — all the formalities and very soon I had it in black and white — in writing that the car belonged to me. It's quite a good car and it's white or to be more accurate, it's more what you would call two tone.
You see with the white there's quite a bit of brown — known less colourfully as rust. Can you find any more references to colour in The Great Gatsby? Write them in the comments!
Every month, I publish a review of the book I ahve read that month.