I am a Stone and this is my short life story.

They say that I have the heart of a stone.

Who knows?  Stone the crows!

They say you can’t get blood out of a stone.

Stone me!

So I must be done for then,  well and truly,

Because take a look at this Rolling Stone that gathers no moss.

Ok I know.

I can sink like a stone

And I am only a stone’s throw away from infinity.

In fact, everything I do in this life is a stepping stone ‘indeed’ to the next.

And my legacy might be carved in stone.

Am I really stone-cold sober as I pen this?

Or am I just stoned?

Hey good people, they say that if you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones

And that sticks and stones will break my bones, but do you know, words will never hurt me.

So let me remind you then that he who casts the first stone

Might just leave no stone unturned.

Ridicule is a funny thing.

And I might as well kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

Stone me!

Alas, a stony silence prevails.

I’ve reached my milestone, the end of my life story.




This is an adapted and revised version of a famous English Tongue Twister.

Practice it slow, medium an fast to improve your English speaking fluency.


Michelle sells seashells by the seashore,

The shells Michelle sells are the cells of the seas

Surely only Michelle sees

So if Michelle sells shells

She sees by the seashore

I’m sure Michelle sells seashore shells


It is important to understand the following word spelling and pronunciation

Sea                  See

Sure                 Shore               Saw

Sell                  Shell

Sell                  Cell

Shell                Michelle


A good English speaker knows how to ‘chunk’ his word and phrases.

Practice ‘chunking’ the tongue twister.

Like this.  There will be a short pause between each word or phrase


Michelle sells seashells

(pause) By the seashore

(pause) The shells

(pause) Michelle sells

(pause) are the cells of the seas

(pause) surely

(pause) only Michelle sees

(pause) So

(pause) if Michelle sells shells

(pause) she sees by the seashore

(pause) I’m sure

(pause) Michelle sells

(pause) seashore shells


Some further comments about the tongue twister.

The word ‘saw’ does not appear but the tongue twister could be rewritten again to include the line:

‘I’m sure I saw Michelle on the seashore’

The phrase ‘sea-saw’ is common in nursery rhyme English but has nothing to do with shells on the seashore.

The tongue twister could be adapted even more.


Most people would put a hyphen between sea and saw to make ‘sea-saw’.  ‘Sea-Saw;, when spoken, could easily be mistaken for ‘sea-shore’

So is it seashore without a hyphen or sea-shore with a hyphen?

Look it up and you decide!

Finally, I have used the phrase ‘cells of the seas’ in the tongue twister.

‘cell’ has the same sound as ‘sell’ and can mean a jail or what is in our body as a science form or in our mobile phones.

In this context, ‘cell’ is taken to mean the life form (the shells) which exists in the oceans of the world Michelle finds on the shores of the seas.

I hope you understand.


Enjoy the Tongue Twister and good luck with improving your English speaking fluency.


Today I am going to spill the beans about Nosh.  That is Food, Glorious Food to ordinary folk like you and me.

Be prepared to eat Humble Pie and learn lots of new words, food idioms and proverbs.

So what’s cookingWhat’s on the menu?

Food for Thought is one.

Don’t be a Fruitcake.  Learning English is a piece of cake.

Mr Paul is an English teacher and the Big Cheese around here..

Things always smell cheesey when he is around.

Some people think he is Mutton dressed as Lamb and that he likes to rub salt in the wound but the Mr Paul I know is salt of the earth and students go bananas for one of his lessons.

No banana skins or sour grapes with Mr Paul!

He says that Teaching is his Bread and Butter and even thinks he is as cool as a cucumber.

He definitely was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth but in a nutshell, he is the bread-winner and always brings home the bacon.

Mr. Paul really likes to spice things up and some things he says you should surely take with a pinch of salt.

You could say that he takes the biscuit but he is not a bad apple, not really and there is no point to cry over spilt milk.

Learning English is very much a hot potato these days.

Never mind.  There is always another bun in the oven and they will sell like hot cakes.  They will!

To be honest, not everything is my cup of tea.

I do get in a pickle sometimes but I would not change things for all the tea in China.

Listen to me now.  Walking on eggshells and upsetting the apple cart.

Oh deary me!

All right, enough.  Mr Paul is toast!

It is time to wake up and smell the coffee.

Absolutely food for thought, don’t you agree?




I am convinced that the words ‘witch and ‘wicked’ both originate from the old English word of ‘wicca’ during the sixteenth and seventeenth century.

That does not mean I am right.

I wish to believe (rather than actually believe) that the idiom ‘no peace for the wicked’ has something to do with the burning of witches during witch-hunts of the medieval era when witches were supposedly publicly burnt at the stake.

This is based on the notion that there can be no peace for the wicked who are deemed to persons of cruelty of unkindess, destined to suffer eternal torment in hell as should be the destiny of all sinners.

Somehow it has a parallel in origin with the book of Isaiah in the King James version of the Christian bible Verses  48.22 57.20 and 57.21.

The King James bible was prompted by King James I of England during the period 1604 -1611 and is an English translation of the Christian bible from centuries before.

There is nothing to suggest that the words ‘witch’ or ‘wicked’ had evolved at a time when the bible was first being constituted during roman times or indeed that the Romans themselves had any hand in the definition of ‘wicked’ or ‘witch’ which would in time also refer to a ‘witch’ or a ‘hag’.

It can therefore be supposed that the meaning of ‘wicked’ has been somewhat lost in the translation of the bible over the centuries and that ‘wicked is not the definitive word which would accurately define or describe the meaning of the phrases in the Isaiah verses referred to.

Let us keep in mind that the King James Bible was written in the same era as the prevalence of witchcraft and it is simply convenient to use the word ‘wicked’ to define the meaning of the Isaiah verses today.

Long before the modern understanding of witches, there have always been people who practised witchcraft or sorcery and long before electricity or gaslighting, people burned wax candles with a ‘wick’ at the centrepoint from which the flame flickered.

It seems inconceivable to my way of thinking that a ‘wick’ ‘witch’ and ‘wicked’ are not directly connected as a result of evolution of old language rather than what may have been speculatively written in a verse of ancient commandment, written, rewritten and rewritten again.



This is an English language lesson aimed at all general levels of students who are learning English as a second language.

The lesson is about the English idiom ‘Saved by the Bell’.

It is a very common expression in professional boxing.

A round of boxing lasts three minutes and is ended by the ringing of a bell.

If the ring rings for the end of the round while one of the fighters lies on the canvass of the ring, having been knocked down with a punch by the other fighter, the floored fighter will be saved by the bell if the three minutes are up.

The idiom has, however, a different and historical origin.

In the old days, doctors were not as skilled or knowledgeable as they are today.

It is not unknown for someone to be presumed dead and then buried, only to be discovered alive later.

So the practice developed of attaching a cord or piece of string to the wrist of the supposed deceased  and placed a coffin to a bell above the grave.

A man was employed to do the ‘graveyard shift’ and watch out for anyone who became a ‘dead ringer’.

People were so afraid about being buried alive that they gave specific instructions about their burial in their Will to avoid the unfortunate event happening.

Two famous people who did this were William Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln.

Nowadays, the idiom is used in a differentr context as students rush to leave class and go home when the bell is rung at the end of a lesson in school.

I hope you have enjoyed this short explanation about the English idiom.

There are many more from where this one came from.

The key idioms you learn in this lesson are

Saved by the Bell

Graveyard Shift

Dead Ringer


The word ‘Quiz’ is one of the strangest in the English language.

We know today it means a kind of entertainment used for testing general knowledge.

The word was introduced to the English language at the end of the eighteenth century as a result of a wager made with friends by an Irishman James Daly.

James Daly was the manager of the Theatre Royal in Dublin.

He made a bet with some friends that he could come up with a previously unheard of nonesense word in twenty-four hours and that the word could fall into popular usage.

James Daly came up with the word ‘Quiz’ and chalked it on walls, doors and windows across Dublin city.

This was on a Sunday and all shops were closed, so the writing of the new word was visible to everyone.

With good fortune, the matter became reported in newspapers in Dublin, London, Paris and as far afield as New York.

The word ‘Quiz’ had been born and James Daly won his wager/bet.

It is possible that the word was contrived out of the old English word ‘Inquisition’.  Connected words of regular usage are inquisitive, inquire and inquest.

At first, ‘Quiz’ was taken to mean someone who was pedantic and rule-bound rather than the definition we apply to it today.

It has been suggested that James Daly got the idea for the word, not from ‘inquisition’ but from the Latin question of ‘Qui es?’ (who are you?) which was used in Grammar School.

The inspiration may well have come from a play performed at the Theatre Royal that evening of the wager.

James Daly was certainly an educated fellow and it would not take too much imagination to turn ‘Qui es?’ into Quiz.

The meaning of the word ‘Quiz’ today takes that definition a step further and it refers to a spoken or written exercise where a number of short questions are asked as a fun test of general knowledge.

A quiz is not meant as a serious test or examination but it has been adapted for all sorts of general knowledge tests such as crosswords, puzzles and radio/Television shows and prizes awarded to the winner.

Perhaps three of the most famous and successful quiz shows of all time, marketed around the world, are ‘Mastermind’, ‘Three Two One’  and ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’.

The idea of a Quiz is that you answer questions quickly without having to look answers up.

‘Quizzical’ has become an additional word derived from ‘Quiz’ as the adjective for asking a question to someone or how someone may seem when faced with answering that question.

Nobody can say for sure that James Daly really did wager that bet and scrawl the word ‘Quiz’ all over Dublin city but it makes for an interesting story to tell and the graffiti message has stuck.


I am a big fan of phrases which comprise two words and rhyme and I have set out below some of my favourite ones which I do use in every day language.

Those who follow my blog will know that the name of the clown in the conversation piece ‘Interview with a clown’ is called Silly Billy.

I have posted this speaking practice lesson on my blog at around the same time as the one about ‘Tautograms’.


TOY BOY                              A boy who dates an older woman

HOCUS POCUS                   Magical words

DREAM TEAM                   Successful sporting team at the highest possible level

PAY DAY                              When you are paid your wages

AWAY DAY                         A trip away from home, perhaps to a sporting                                                    event

FLOWER POWER              Hippie lingo from the 1960s

SILLY BILLY                      Doing something stupid, not correct, funny

HANKY PANKY                 Sexual behaviour referred to in a joking way

HELTER SKELTER           Topsy-turvy twisting funfair ride for kids and                                                   adults

EASY PEASY                       It’s so easy, not difficult

WALKIE TALKIE              Hand held communication device

FUDDY DUDDY                  A boring, unsociable person

NITTY GRITTY                  Really important part of doing or saying                                                               something

MUMBO JUMBO                It does not make any sense at all

SUPER DUPER                   Saying something is brilliant

WILLY NILLY                    Not one thing or the other

BOOGIE WOOGIE             Musical Blues reference

HOKEY POKEY                  Fun group dance

PRIME TIME                       Peak TV viewing time


There are many more and I will add them at a later date.

Meanwhile, take note of the lesson and enjoy the speaking practice.