Where are you from originally? I can't place your accent.
Er...from London. London, north London.
Highgate. I'm from Ilford.
Oh! Ok. That's not far away!
And how old were you when you first started travelling? Have you always
been a teacher?
Er...no. After university...erm...I played a lot of music at university,
and after university..erm...I joined a band in London playing..er..sort
of country and western. Erm...a bit sort of like...at the same time the
Pogues were getting going in London...
...We played with the Pogues a few times.
You played with the Pogues!
Yeah, yeah. Erm...'cos (because) we...one of the guys I was in the band
with was quite good friends of Shane MacGowen, so we supported them. Erm...
Did you socialize with them?
No, God no! You must be joking! The first time I ever met them was we
went into there..erm..dressing room there was the biggest bottle of
vodka I've ever seen in my life on the...on the side. Shane was like....you
couldn't understand a word he said. He was out of it all the time. Er..they
were actually very nice people. They were very friendly. Erm...but no,
we didn't socialize.
Er...so I played in a band for about two years, but we...er..y'know, the
Pogues were very successful, and we didn't really ever get anywhere. We
released one record, erm...
Where did you go to university, then?
No, no, no. I went to Oxford university.
You went to Oxford.
Erm...so, yeah, so I was in a band for a while, then I... after that I
sort of did....worked in a catering company for a while, I wrote a...a
book, history book, er..and sort of, y'know, messed around and so I
didn't actually start teaching until I was about 27, I think, when I did
a cert. course, and...er...
Is that when the travelling started?
No, I..the original idea was I was gonna (going to) go to Greece. I
really fancied going to live in Greece. Erm...so I did the cert course
in order to have something to do when I went...got to Greece. Erm...and
er...the place that I did the cert. course, they offered me a job. It
was supposed to be just for a month, 'cos they had a load of..erm..Japanese
students coming in and they needed someone, a couple of extra teachers.
Erm...but I ended up staying there for a year..erm..which was quite good
'cos it's quite a good way to sort of get a first bit of experience.
Did you learn Greek?
Erm...no, I didn't go to Greece.
Er...I stayed in London. And then...erm..after about a year..erm...oh,
originally I was gonna go, then I was gonna go to France, but I couldn't
get any...a job in France..erm..so I went back to London, stayed in
London and then..er..I thought, 'y'know this is stupid'. The whole idea
was to go abroad, and this was, what, 1990 and of course the Berlin wall
had just sort of come down and stuff so...
Every thing was opening up.
...so I thought 'Oh, I'll go to Eastern Europe.", so I went to Budapest.
You went to Budapest, and then Prague.
And then Prague, yeah.
What's been the most difficult thing about making a life here in Spain?
Er....I don't know, I think in a way Spain's quite an easy place to...I
don't know, if you compare it to..I think if you compare it to Eastern
Europe; the great thing in Eastern Europe was no one..erm... no one
assumed that you'd be able to speak the language. So when you went there
to work, you got lots and lots of help and lots and lots of support,
because, y'know, no one thought you...you were gonna be able to speak
Hungarian, or you were gonna pick up enough Hungarian in a week to find
a flat or to do any paperwork and get your residence permits, so you
were...you were looked after because you basically had to be.
Whereas, when you come to Spain..erm..certainly our experience with the
British Council was it was just assumed that you could speak Spanish.
Erm..and in fact, neither of us, neither my wife nor I could speak any
Spanish at all. I'd only been to Spain, I think once for like a weekend
in Barcelona. Erm..but, we were very much like, ok you've just got to
look after yourself. That was...that was the hardest thing actually, is
that...being able to sort of settle in before you got any Spanish
whatsoever, and find a flat and do all of those sort....
Patrick, what do you do with your free time? Do you still dabble in
Erm...no, I haven't...don't... I listen to a lot, erm...but...I mean I
do occasionally strum the guitar, but only very occasionally these days.
Erm...What do we do? Play tennis, cy...go cycling, but not sort of like
seriously; sort of cycle to a bar...
Cycling with the family..
Yeah, to a bar. Drink beer. Cycle home again!
Yeah! Erm...re...read a lot..erm...I suppose, yeah, in the evenings I
suppose we watch tele (TV). We watch...we don't really watch Spanish
I don't blame you!
...we watch DVDs..erm..sort of, y'know, American series that sort of
stuff, or films. Erm..the only...Sp... time we watch Spanish tele is
football. Erm...cook, I like cooking. We're all vegetarians so we do,
yeah so therefore you have to basically do a lot of cooking. But we all
like cooking. So, er..yeah, that sort of thing. And then just, y'know,
go for a walk, hang out..that sort of stuff.
So, what's the best thing about being a teacher, and what's the worst?
The best thing..er...for me the best thing is the students. I...I like
meeting the students and working with the students. And, y'know,
hopefully seeing them, y'know, get better; improve and develop, though
y'know. I mean, one of the frustrations of the job is actually that once
you get to...most students, once they get to about intermediate, sort of
B1, the...the progress really does become....
Very very slow, because I mean, y'know, you're not gonna really make
much progress on three hours a week. I mean, that's the great thing
about teaching beginners. I love teaching beginners because beginners
get...they learn..th...they, y'know, in a year the..they can go from,
y'know, being able to say virtually nothing to, y'know, being able to
have, ok, a basic but simple conversation which is great. Yeah.
What's been your most memorable moment in the classroom?
Er..y'know I was trying to think about this..erm..the first thing that
would spring to mind..I..I can still remember doing my cert course
actually, erm...a lesson I had to teach on the cert course, and teaching,
er...I had to teach 'so' and 'such' plus adjectives, and I remember sort
of..it must have been something like the third lesson, so I..it was
really sort of early days, and I can remember just thinking "I have no
idea how to do this", and getting really sort of panicked about it, and
then suddenly working out what I had to do and going and teaching it
like a successful lesson.
And it went well.
Yeah, and that was...that was the minute when I thought, "Actually, I
really like doing this."
And you recently spoke in Seville at the Macmillan teacher's day.
Erm...do you get many gigs like that? Do you enjoy them?
Travelling and speaking...
I don't mind the speaking, I don't like...the travelling's a bit of a
(It)...takes you away from the family.
Yeah, also it's just that, y'know, it's very time consuming. I mean, to
get to Seville I went on the AVE and it took five hours or something to
get there, and, y'know, then you...you stay in a nice hotel, they put
you in a nice hotel, and they take you out for dinner, which is all
quite nice, but...and then the next day, on the Saturday you do your
talk and then you've gotta (got to) come all the way back, and...it's
just, y'know, you're away for about a day and a half to do a one hour
fifteen minute talk, which is....I mean, it's ok...you don't, y'know,
the thing is, you don't get to see the places...
You don't have time to...
Well, last year I went to A Coruña and there was a problem with the
flights. It took me 15 hours to get to A Coruña! Y'know, I got there at
11 o'clock at night, went to bed, got up, did my talk and then had to go
straight back to the airport. So, y'know, I've been to A Coruña, but I
haven't seen anything.
What advice would you give Spanish speakers who are trying to learn
Er...I'd say, well, go to a course. Have lessons, definitely.
Erm...teaching helps. But it's not the only thing that helps, I mean you
need to be prepared to..er..do a lot of work outside of the
classroom..erm..things like, y'know, watch films, watch, y'know, maybe
films..not too long to start with, y'know, 15-minute comedy programmes,
or 20-minute comedy programmes...
YouTube, yeah. Things which...where you can get subtitles to help you,
to start with..
Subtitles in English...
...in English. Yeah...watch with the subtitles. Erm...read...erm...find,
y'know, maybe sort of something short...short little newspaper articles,
something on the Internet.
Do you have a favourite online resource that you direct your students
Er...to be honest I don't, I don't really use online that much, apart
from YouTube, really. So yeah, then I tend to sort of say, y'know, "Go
and find something about this." Or I'll find som...something and say "Ok
everyone go home and watch this and we'll talk about it in the next
lesson", sort of thing. Erm...in terms of sort of actual specific
English language teaching resources, I don't know, I don't really use
them probably as much as I should.
On the subject of..of the Internet, how has technology affected the way
you teach, and how has it affected the way your students learn?
Erm...I suspect it hasn't..er.. affected the way I teach very much, to
be honest. Erm...I suppose..I mean the thing is that..I..I sort of tend
to think that because teaching is still so much based around course
books, and that for all the sort of...
Do you think that's as true now as when we started sort of 16, 20 years
I think it is, really. I mean despite the fact that there's now a vast
amount of authentic material available...erm..I mean certainly, y'know,
I ...certainly from the teachers that I work with, either in a centre
like this or, I mean, I used to do a lot of work with Spanish state
school teachers..erm..they are..I would say everyone is basically still
following a course book. And, as I say, while there's all these, ok,
technological add-ons that you can have now, I'm not sure that they've
yet had a major effect on how people teach. I mean, the fact that you
can now have the, y'know, the book on a screen...
Right, and click for...
Yeah, but in a way it.....
It doesn't really change...
doesn't change necessarily how you exploit the material. In a way, maybe
it has an adverse effect because it becomes sort of too easy to sort of
show off with the..the technology, instead of thinking about, y'know,
actually, am I using this in the...the most sensible way.
Which famous person, dead or alive, would you like to have dinner with?
Er..I don't know really. Erm....let's think. Maybe..er..Alexander the
Erm...I studied..er..Alexander the Great at university and it was the
bit of my..erm..course that I most enjoyed. Erm..it was called the
special subject, and so it was the sort of the subject you did in the
greatest depth. Er...and no, he was just a very interesting guy.
What would you ask him?
Erm...well th...well the..
I've really put you on the spot!
...the big question if you're an Alexander fan is...'cos yeah he
erm...invaded..erm..the Middle East, and basically, y'know, his army got
as far as..erm..India, and the question has always been "Why did he turn
back?", 'cos he got to India and then he turned back and went... came
back and went through..erm..what would now be Saudi Arabia and into
Egypt, which is where he died. And the question has always been "Why did
he stop? Why didn't he just keep going?". So that's what I'd ask him.
Ok. Erm...what's your idea of a perfect day?
Erm...a perfect day..erm...bit of a lie in, probably..er...nice weather,
sunny weather, like we have here. Erm...lunch with like family, friends.
Maybe sort of, y'know, nice food like..erm..I like sort of like Middle
Eastern food, Lebanese food, Greek food, that sort of stuff. Er...some
wine and y'know sort of lazy afternoon. Maybe go for a walk. Evening, I
don't know, watch tele, watch a film or something like that, read a
book. Yeah, nothing very exciting.
If you could change something about yourself, what would you change?
Hmm..erm..I wish I was, I probably would...I wish I was a bit
more..er..maybe entrepreneurial..erm..I'm one of these people who...I
constantly have sort of ideas about things to do and.. stuff..
I hope you write them down.
I'm not very good at actually doing anything about them. I mean, yes,
I've y'know written as I say sort of two novels...but never really sort
of exploited them enough..erm..I'm a bit lazy, really, I think.
If you had 6,000 euros to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
6,000 euros just to spend on me. Erm...
Not your family, just you.
Well, having said that I hardly ever play the guitar, which is true,
erm...I've always...there's one particular guitar I've always really
wanted to..er..to have which is a..a Gretsch guitar, which is a...
American guitars. They...they're still made, I think. Erm...but they
were very popular in the 60s.
Are they acoustic, or electric?
Semi...semi acoustic electric...erm...and they're just like, beautiful
guitars and they're fantastic sound.
Would that be enough for a..a Gretsch?
Yeah, yeah you'd probably get a Gretsch for a couple of thousand, maybe.
So maybe buy a sort of nice amplifier to go with it! Yeah, probably
something like that...that's always, y'know, whenever somebody says,
y'know, "What would you like for your birthday?"
I always say, "Oh....
A Gretsch please.
"A red Gretsch semi-acoustic guitar, please." Haven't got one, but
anyway...but yeah, maybe something like that.
Thank you very much.