Saturday, 1 August 2015

The whine of the engines

From my father's desk, the place with internet!, I can hear the planes flying down the Thames to Heathrow. At home I hear birds and strange hoots or howls in the night, here it is always the planes, night and day.

How long before the next one comes over? Ah, here it is. One goes then the next one arrives. 12.28. 12.29, now silence... 12.30 yes, here comes the next one, a higher pitched whine, I have never listened so carefully to them before, 12.31, at its loudest now, passing over and fading. Mixed up with a second one, also now at its loudest.... there's an echo-y sound as it fades. 12.32.. oh and another is arriving before that one had disappeared.

So, if there is an actual gap between them that is a special pleasure. It's only 12.33. What a busy time of day. That one was a bigger plane, deeper engines. 12.34.. nearly silence, will it happen? No! Hallo next one. Still only 12.34.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Looking at words

Last Saturday I had a real treat. My friend had asked her Iraqi engineering professor friend to be our teacher for one afternoon. I didn't know this was going to happen.

I had forgotten how wonderful it is to see and hear all these words being said just there a few feet away from me. Every vowel is slightly different from how I say it and every consonant too. Just that bit more for real.

We sat in a circle and repeated words after him. First he'd say a sentence at the normal speed, for his own pleasure at speaking Arabic obviously, and we'd go blank, then he'd say it word by word and we would copy like baby birds again and again.

I was so happy in the car back home. But it disappears so quickly. I now can't remember what his voice sounded like. I need a constant flow of real people speaking, like in the bookshop in London.

Someone else said Kalila u Dumna to me, then changed it, so I thought, to Kalila wa Dimna. ?? what was going on there?

Then I bumped into a woman who may have been Spanish, but she spoke Arabic and we said hallos, names and welcome to Oxford :)
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