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OK.  Here’s a translation test for students of English studying in central London; Japanese English language students are excluded. What is the Japanese word for a “suit”.  The answer is “sebiro” and it was created in 1870 when the Japanese ambassador to London decided he would like to dress like London businessmen. He was advised to go to Savile Row near Bond Street in central London where the best suits were tailored. When he returned to Japan many were intrigued by the ambassador’s new clothing and asked him what was he wearing. He replied “Savile Row” but with the Japanese intonation the …
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OK.  Here’s a translation test for students of English studying in central London; Japanese English language students are excluded. What is the Japanese word for a “suit”.  The answer is “sebiro” and it was created in 1870 when the Japanese ambassador to London decided he would like to dress like London businessmen. He was advised to go to Savile Row near Bond Street in central London where the best suits were tailored. When he returned to Japan many were intrigued by the ambassador’s new clothing and asked him what was he wearing. He replied “Savile Row” but with the Japanese intonation the …
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How many of you at an English school in London intend to visit Tate Britain probably the most famous art gallery in the London if not the UK? When you walk in the front door you will be crossing the foundations of the old Millbank Penitentiary, which closed in 1890. It was a special prison devoted to holding those who had been sentenced to “transportation” meaning exiled to Australia. Today the British sometimes introduce an Australian as someone from “down under”. This does not refer to the country being in the Southern Hemisphere in other words at the “bottom of the globe”, but to the underg…
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Tower of London

Jan 03, 2018
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The Tower of London Welcome new and returning students of the English language at the Islington Centre for English in central London. This is the time when we wish each other “A happy and prosperous New Year”. If it is your first visit to London then you will probably want to visit the Tower of London. Those interested in the gory history of the Tower, especially its beheadings, do not have to pay to go into the Tower but cross the busy Tower Hill to Trinity Green Gardens and to the small circular garden on the left where the executions took place, plaques tell you the names. Most famous was…
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Many of you coming to London to study on an English course will not have to buy the famous “London A-Z”.  It was created in 1934 by Phyllis Pearson, a lady of a certain age who walked 17000 streets in London to map the city.  I often see students at the Islington Centre of English check their smart phones to find the street they need. Recently a student in my class checked with me that the Moument in Monument Street at the North end of London Bridge was where the Great Fire of London started in 1666. In fact the 62m tall Monument, which you can climb inside to the top for a wonderful view, is…
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When you come to England to study English in London you must try the legendary full English breakfast of bacon, egg, sausage, black pudding, tomatoes and Heinz baked beans. It was 130 years ago that the, now ubiquitous, baked beans were introduced by London’s most famous grocers, Fortnum and Mason. Charles Fortnum was a footman for George III, the King featured in the film 'The Madness of King George'. When Charles retired he used his knowledge of the Royal household to setup a grocery shop at 181 Piccadilly, W1 in the 1770s. His partner John Mason set up Mason’s Stables to house the horses u…
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If you come to the Islington Centre for English next year and have an interest in political history than no doubt Great Windmill Street in Soho, central London, will be a place to visit.  This was where communism was born 70 years ago. At number 20 was the Red Lion Pub where in 1848 Karl Marx introduced to the world his Communist Manifesto giving lectures in the rooms above. What was a classic London pub is now a cocktail bar called Bar One. He lived at no 28 and 64 Dean Street and walked every day to the British Museum to write “Das Kapital”. In those days Soho was a deprived London area wher…
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Operating Theatre

Aug 30, 2017
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Let’s hope you stay happy and healthy when you come to learn English at the Islington Centre of English but if, sadly, you have to be admitted to hospital you may be taken an operating theatre. The higher-level students of English may query the word “theatre”. Surgeons operating on patients do not expect applause, as they are not in a “theatre”. However nearly 200 years ago they did operate in theatres as the public were allowed to watch operations. Some were restricted to medical students and the most famous today is the one in the chapel tower of Old St Thomas’ hospital in St Thomas Street a…
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How many of you students of English in London know the meaning of the word “flask”.  In my dictionary it says: “ a narrow necked bulbous bottle for wine or as used in chemistry”. In the 1700s the Flask pub in Flask Walk, Hampstead, not far from central London, was named because it supplied bulbous bottles to Mr Phelps at the Eagle and Star pub in Fleet Street right in the centre of London and also two other pubs. But it was not wine in the flasks but water. As one of Hampstead’s attractions was the pure water from the Chalybeate springs which came out of the ground and was the safest liquid an…
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I know many of you are fans of the world famous English detective Sherlock Holmes and plan to visit his museum at 221B Baker Street in the heart of Central London. An employee there answers the thousands of letters sent from all over the world asking for the detective’s help. You need to walk down Baker Street and look at number 109, as this is what 221B would have looked like in Holmes’s day. Near Trafalgar Square which is literally the centre of London is “The Sherlock Holmes” pub at 10 Northumberland Avenue. This was once the Northumberland Arms Hotel and Conan Doyle has   Henry Baskervil…
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