Jean and Matt’s English Class 9

Ninmen Hao,

In part one of today’s  we will continue to use the exercises on “The Village Festival” from the textbook Face to Face, pages 52-3, and page 164 (the video/audio transcript is video 6, cd2, 11).

Then in Part Two we will look at how the Vicar of Dibley and the Parishioners organised their village festival, using it for speaking and comprehension practice.

Part One:  Our Tianjin Senior Citizens’ University Festival

We will try to use the words from the Real World Discussion in our Festival Planning Exercise:

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Teamwork: planning our Tianjin Senior Citizens’ University Festival

7a. Our class is going to organise a festival at the university. Spend 10 minutes working in pairs, think of ideas for these topics, and use the language from the real world discussion exercise above.

  • when and where to have the festival
  • music
  • competitions
  • other types of entertainment
  • food and drink
  • how to pay for the festival
  • how to advertise the festival
  • any other idea

7b. Now work in groups of 4 (or so) to discuss the festival with your partners. Decide on one festival theme and agree on the issues raised in 7a (in English please!). Once completed (approx 10 mins) we’ll share your ideas with the class.

Part Two: The Village of Dibley’s Festival

Back row: Latitia, Owen, Frank, Jim. Front row: Hugo, Geraldine, David.

The Vicar of Dibley is a much-loved British comedy about the daily lives of Dibley’s Vicar (Geraldine Grainger), and some of her church-going parishioners.

The main characters are Geraldine, Alice Tinker (the Verger), David Horton (a wealthy parishioner), Hugo Horton, Frankie Pickle (the Parish Clerk), Jim Trott, Owen Newitt, and Letitia Cropley.

Alice, Geraldine and David

The episode we’ll discuss today is called “Community Spirit”. In this episode, the time has come to organise Dibley’s annual autumn festival, and after raising a measly £270 last year, there are murmurs to support canceling the event. The vicar (Geraldine Grainger)  however, is determined it will be a success.

Alderman David Horton always opens the village fete but this year Geraldine wants a real celebrity  – somebody like Elton John. Elton John’s real name is Reg Dwight and, luckily, Reg Dwight turns out be Alice’s cousin, so the villagers are able to book Reg to open the festival. This leads to a lot of excitement, the villagers get impatient to see the celebrity, and the vicar has high hopes that this year’s festival will be the best ever.

Let’s read the following dialogues from the Dibley Parish Council meeting together.

Dialogue One

First, let’s look at some of the particularly English words and references that you might not be familiar with from dialogue one

“Apologies”: The Parish Council meeting starts with the “apologies” which should mean apologies from any councilors who are unable to attend (normally meeting members send their apologies to the council before the meeting, and they are read out at the beginning). This a more specific use of the word “apology” which generally just means to say that you are sorry for something (duibuqi 对不起 ).

Bridge meeting” Bridge is a card game popular among older British people, usually played in two teams of two people. 

“Call to order”. A formal phrase used in meetings to start the meeting.

Dialogue One: Parish Council Meeting Apologies


David: “Right, I can call this meeting of the Dibley Parish Council to order. Do we have any apologies?”

Jim: “No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Yes.”

David: “Yes, Jim”.

Jim: “No, no no, no, no. Yes. I’m sorry I missed the bridge meeting yesterday”.

David, “No, you don’t have to apologize for that Jim”.

Jim. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I want to”.

David: “No, I mean “apologies” mean you only have to apologize for not being here”.

Jim:  “But I am here. …. But I could go away if you like. And then come back and apologize for not being here next time”.

David: “Moving on…”

Let’s watch the video (in class) and see how they performed the dialogue before we read the next one.

Dialogue Two

First, let’s look at some of the words that may be unfamiliar from the next dialogue:

village graf“Graffiti” writing and pictures painted on buildings and other items in the street, sometimes with an intent to offend, often done by children and teenagers

“Pratt” Embarrassing idiot. 

“Scout hut” Boy Scout’s is an association for boy’s activities. Each local group meets in a hut, usually a small building, for their meetings.

“Keeping up” A term indicating following successfully. For example, the English runners were keeping up with the Nigerians who led the race. 

“Bastard” A swear word (term of abuse) for a person of bad character. Literally, a man whose parents were not married when he was born.


Dialogue two: A graffiti outbreak in the village

David: “Item two, mindless vandalism. As you probably know we have an outbreak of graffiti in the village”.

Hugo: “Oh yeah …”

Latitia: “Oh yes I saw that … I don’t think you’re a pratt Mr. Horton”.

David: “No one said I was”.

Owen: “Yes, somebody scrawled Mr. Horton’s a total pratt on the scout hut wall”.

David. “We also seemed to have acquired a visit “puss” office. You keeping up, Frank?”

Frank: “Yeah. Horton’s a total “pratt'”.

David: “Well let’s just keep an eye out for them shall we, especially the little bastard who’s tampered with the sign for the “tuck” shop. Right, moving on”.

Jim. “Ah har, “tuck shop””.

Again, let’s watch the video (in class)  and see how they performed the dialogue before we read the next one.

Dialogue Three

First, let’s have a look at some of the English words that you might be unfamiliar with from the next dialogue.


“Live Aid” A music festival screened on British television which raised many millions of pounds for African famine victims.

bglaSir Bob Geldof: A musician who organized Live Aid and was knighted (made a “Sir”) by the Queen for his good work

Bra: Underwear for women’s breasts. Normally worth 8 pounds +, but luxury bras much more expensive.

“Quid” A common word for a British pound.

“Bloody” A British swear word, used as a preposition. For example, “he’s a bloody nuisance” or “I’ll bloody kill him”. 

Community spirit” Team attitude (desire to work together, cooperate).

“Bung in” Literally “throw in”. Used to refer to contributing money. 

churchill“Winston Churchill” British Prime Minister at time of World War II. Famously loved cigars.

“Top Cat” A famous cartoon charactertc

(he always wins) 

“Arse” A common word for a person’s bottom

Dialogue three: Dibley village autumn fete needs a celebrity


Geraldine: “Sorry I’m late everyone, I’ve been reading a very interesting theory about St John’s gospel. Apparently, it was written by someone called Susan. Amazing! Do continue”.

David:” I’m sorry to report that the bridge night that Frank arranged was a disaster. However, the village is known for its community spirit and we will have ample opportunity to demonstrate that again at the autumn fair which I shall be organising. And I’m confident that we can equal last week’s record of 270 pounds”.

Geraldine: Is that all you got? I’ve seen bras that cost more than that!

David: Well no, it’s not “Live Aid”, we did just dip below the 60 million pound mark last time.

Owen: The woman’s right. All that effort for two hundred quid. I propose that we all bung in forty quid now and forget the whole thing.

Latitia: It does bring the village together though.

Owen: It brings it together thinking what a bloody pain in the arse this is.

Geraldine: No, no, no. Look. I’m all in favour of the fair, I just think we need it to make more cash.

David: And does Sir Geraldine Geldoff have any ideas how to raise our first mill (million)?

Geraldine: Well, let’s start at the top. The crucial thing is who opens it. I mean if you start off with a pompous nobody you’re doomed. … I bet you were scuppered last year, yeah, by a complete local zero, yeah. Can anyone remember who it was?

David: “It was me”.

Frank: (writing) “David, a pompous nobody…”

Geraldine: “The awful truth, David, is we’d probably pull a bigger crowd with someone famous”.

Jim: “Churchill”.

Latitia: “Winston Churchill. He’s very famous.”

Jim: “Yeah”.

Geraldine: “Winston … I was thinking more of someone still alive”

Hugo: “Yes, brilliant. Smart thinking Top Cat”.

Geraldine: “Like a television personality”.

Latitia: “You mean, Michael Fish”? [a boring tv weather report reader]

Geraldine: “Well, perhaps David is the perfect choice after all”.

David: “Oh no. No, you have made it quite clear that I am not good enough. I’m sure that Mr. Fish or his celebrity friends, Mrs. Vegetable or Mr. Potato, will be happy to oblige. Right if there is no other business, we meet in a fortnight, good night.

Again, let’s watch the video in class and see how they performed the dialogue before we read the next one.

Dialogue 4

First, let’s look at some of the words that may be unfamiliar from the next dialogue:

Slurry: a semi-liquid mixture, typically of fine particles of manure, cement, or coal and water; often transported by trucks for use in building, fuel, farming

Dysentery: an intestinal infection that can cause severe diarrhea; a stomach illness that can cause too much liquid loss and also bleeding 

Flower Show:  an event to display the best and most beautiful flowers in a particular place; often a competition with prizes

Cup: A prize cup; an award

vigGreen (village green): a little like the town square (piazza in Italian),

the green is the centre of the village where people can meet, walk and talk together

Bowling Club: Lawn bowls club,bc

a game played on flat grass,

often located on the village green,

and played by older citizens

Mel Gibson, Kevin Kostner: famous Hollywood movie stars

Princess Dianna: popular and glamorous British princess


Dialogue 4: The villagers are not grateful

David: “When you think what I have given the people of this village”

Hugo: Yes! You gave them dysentery last year when that slurry fell in the river”

David: “I gave them everything! A cup for the Flower Show.

Hugo: “The David Horton Cup”.

David: “A bench for the green” [village green]

Hugo: “The David Horton Bench”

David: “A Hut for the Scouts”

Hugo: “The Scout Hut. “Dedicated to David Horton””.

David: “What have I got out of it? Nothing! I even provided the land for the bowling club. A crucial village amenity. And what did they give me in return?

Hugo: “Money, wasn’t it?” Still this big celebrity’s exciting isn’t it. I wonder who’ll she’ll get. Mel Gibson? Kevin Kostner? Princess Dianna?

Again, let’s watch the video in class and see how they performed the dialogue before we read the next one.

Dialogue Five

First, let’s look at some of the particularly English words and references that you might not be familiar with from dialogue one

Angel: a (Christian) spiritual being believed to act as an attendant, agent, or messenger of God, often represented in human form with wings angel

Prince Charles: Famous English prince, first married to Princess Dianna (not Sinead O’Conner) cd

Sinead O’Conner: Famous Irish singer, famous for her style (shaven head)

Elephant’s trunk: the elephant’s nose

Squashy: (adjective) easily crushed or squeezed into a different shape; having a soft consistency. 

Dialogue five: “I’m going to help so hard”

Alice: Afternoon Vicar, have you got a lovely guest star yet?

Geraldine: “Not as such, no”

Alice: “Don’t worry, an angel told me this fair would be wonderful”.

Geraldine: Alice sweetheart, an angel told you that Prince Charles was going to marry Sinead O’Conner, didn’t it. I think that might be quite a naughty angel.

Alice: “I’m going to help you so hard”.

Geraldine: “Oh?”

Alice: “Look”. I’ve made some soft toys to sell. Right, well, this one’s an elephant. Well, you can see it is.”

Geraldine: “Yes. It’s a lovely elephant”.

Alice: “And this is another elephant”.

Geraldine: “Right. They don’t look very very similar, do they?

Alice: Well, they wouldn’t. Because that one’s an Indian elephant”.

Geraldine: “Right”.

Alice: “You can tell by the ears you see’.

Geraldine: “Yes, because it’s got three, hasn’t it”.

Alice: “That’s its trunk, silly!”

Geraldine: “Now that is a super elephant with a proper trunk and everything”.

Alice: “No, that’s a giraffe, and that’s its neck”.

Geraldine: What have you stuffed it with? Foam?”

Alice: “No, pasta!”

Geraldine: “Pasta?”

Alice: “Yes. And I cooked it first so it’s all nice and squashy. But they can still stand up and everything. Sort of.”.

Again, let’s watch the video in class and see how they performed the dialogue before we do the quiz.

Vicar of Dibley Quiz

1. Are the following statements true or false?

  1. Last year the village autumn festival raised thousands of pounds.
  2. Th villagers hope to get Princess Dianna as the celebrity to open the festival.
  3. Alderman David Thorton is a respected and popular figure in the village.
  4. He donated the land for the village bowling club
  5. Indian elephants are unusual in having three ears.
  6. Cooked pasta makes a good filling for children’s toys

2. What are the particularly English things about the Vicar of Dibley? What can we say about the Englishness of the setting, characters, activities, and cultural references?

3. What kinds of characters are David, Geraldine, Alice, Hugo, Owen, Frank, Latitia and Jim. Can you describe them? What kinds of adjectives can we use to describe them?

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