Season 3, Episode 1 - 5 British Films for English Learners with Cara

Sep 7 / Charlie Baxter

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By Charlie Baxter

Season 3

What's this episode about?

In this episode Charlie invites Cara from Leo Listening on to the show to talk about a bunch of culturally relevant British movies and to discuss the idea of a Movie Club for English learners.
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Transcript of S3/E1 - Part 1 Transcript

Charlie:
Hello and welcome to the British English podcast with your host, Charlie Baxter. The show that helps you better understand British culture and British English. And today we're going to be looking at movies, particularly British movies. But because well, really, it's a great way to better understand the- the Brits, the culture behind it. And that's where our guest comes in. And our guest is called Cara. And Cara has a movie club, but we'll get more into it later in on the conversation. So, Cara! Hello, and welcome to the show. How are you doing?

Cara:
Hi, Charlie. Yeah, I'm not too bad. Thanks.

Charlie:
Excellent. Excellent. First thing's first, I need to ask, where are we- where are we calling from? Where- where are you in the world right now?

Cara:
That's a good question. I want to say from a secret location in the east of France. It's not that secret, it's just that no one knows where it is, even people in France. So I'm in the city of Besançon, which is like an hour from the Swiss border to the- to the east. So- very handy for Switzerland, handy for Germany as well. And like two hours from the Black Forest, part of Germany, south west Germany.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Cara:
And then an hour in the other direction, going west, you're in Dijon or Mustard Town, as I like to call it. Mustard Town, yeah. And then an hour and a half into Switzerland, you're in Lausanne, which is Olympic town.

Charlie:
Ok!

Cara:
People- people still might need a map to understand all that, but that's where we are.

Charlie:
And is there a phrase about mustard- "You can ever have enough mustard."? Is that a thing? Is that a phrase? Is that just an Alan Partridge thing?

Cara:
It could be. Yeah. I'm just thinking of the musical, Oliver.

Charlie:
What- what what do they say in that?

Cara:
Is this- this thing, as you know, because they're like fantasising about food because they're starving orphans. These poor orphans. So they're singing this song about hot sausage and mustard is one of their fantasy foods. But obviously in the orphanage, they get like gruel, whatever that is-.

Charlie:
Right word.

Cara:
Some disgusting mix. Yeah, great word, isn't it? But you do- you wouldn't want to eat it. If somebody invites you around for dinner and they offer you gruel, then run. You-. Make your excuses and leave.

Charlie:
Absolutely. Yeah. So 'gruel', I, I- I'd picture it as like a worst version of porridge, mixed in with some other stuff that you don't want to eat.

Cara:
I want- I wanted to say porridge, but at the same time, I really like eating porridge. And so I won't- I won't have porridge, you know, insulted in front of me. So I'm a bit sensitive to that. Big fan of oats in general.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Cara:
So-.

Charlie:
Yeah. Yeah. Fair. Fair. Yeah. I don't want to, yeah. Tarnish. Yeah. Oats with that kind of association of gruel. I'm imagining, you know, you're in prison and a prison guard opens the flap in the door and just shoves a tin of gruel on the floor of the prison cell.

Cara:
Is it that- but maybe not, nowadays, it's making me think of Game of Thrones.

Charlie:
Oh yeah.

Cara:
Various points in the series. People were imprisoned and yeah, they weren't fed very well. And it probably did come through a flap, as you say. You know, you're not even allowed out of your cell to eat. It's just, plate- you know, chucked in front of you.

Charlie:
You're- you're near Dijon. Have you been to Dijon to taste the mustard?

Cara:
To taste the mustard? I have- I've been there, not that many times, to be honest. And well, right at the moment, we got this really nice like hamper of local foods from my partner's work at Christmas. And one of the things in there was Dijon mustard. And because the funny- the thing is, and this is quite sad. There was no Dijon mustard anymore. Basically, like, there was a factory and then they closed the factory. You know, capitalism-.

Charlie:
Really?!

Cara:
Doesn't make more money closing the factory than keeping it in Dijon. So there was a time where nobody was actually making mustard in Dijon and somebody has started making like artisanal mustard again. Actually, in Dijon. And so this mustard that we got at Christmas, I think is- it's actually made in Dijon.

Charlie:
Wow. So it was- it's- been a rarity for a while. Has that put up the price of Dijon?

Cara:
I have no idea. Yeah, I don't. Well, I mean, this was a gift, so I don't know how much it cost. But yeah, it might. I guess it's more expensive to buy local food. And I have no idea where they were making the mustard. I mean, because a lot of mustard says Dijon on it, but, you know, it wasn't actually made there. So I don't really know how that works.

Charlie:
Yeah, maybe a bit like Fosters, you know. Australian made, brewed in Scotland. Or Glasgow.

Cara:
Oh, really?

Charlie:
I think it's brewed in Glasgow. And I'm in Australia. And they don't drink it. I mean, it's it's hit. I don't think I've seen it, actually.

Cara:
Ok. It's just to make British people think that they're drinking something authentically Australian.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Cara:
Or something. How weird. Ok.

Charlie:
Ok. So you're near Dijon, but yeah. So why are you in France?

Cara:
Oh, is this an interrogation? Well, I studied French University and when I was about 20, I decided that I wanted to go and live in France, like for real, you know, find a job and stay for a while. So I've been working on that. Visa has been my life's mission-.

Charlie:
Oh wow!

Cara:
Since then. Yeah, I'm about to turn thirty six. Yeah. So I moved to France when I was 22.

Charlie:
Right!

Cara:
(a french city) and to teach English, which I was really interested in in doing so. It's all been a bit of an adventure since then.

Charlie:
That's great!

Cara:
Because I mean, I'm- I'm still here. Yeah. So-.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Cara:
Life mission. Well, I suppose mostly, but mostly. Mostly accomplished. Well, at least that part, moved to France, live.

Charlie:
Yeah!

Cara:
Well, don't get kicked out of the country because of Brexit. Working on that.

Charlie:
Yeah. Is that hard?

Cara:
Yeah. I just had to go and get a residence permit and it's actually more straightforward than like a typical residence permit because they kind of just see it as like we're just extending the rates that you used to have before the UK left the EU.

Charlie:
Interesting.

Cara:
The other thing I'm trying to do is get French nationality. That's harder and that's not guaranteed. But at the very least, I'll have my residence permit so nobody can kick me out.

Charlie:
Hmm.

Cara:
So that's good.

Charlie:
Yeah, that would be good. Yeah. A load off your mind. So, you- do you want to essentially become fully French and let go of your British passport?

Cara:
Well, well, they- they recognise double nationality.

Charlie:
Okay.

Cara:
That's not a problem. And I wouldn't have done it were it not for Brexit but I was like, well, if I get French nationality, then that gives me a European passport. Because the British passport, it used to be more valuable and useful for like living in Europe and going and living where you wanted in Europe. And now it's- it's not. So.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Cara:
You need another- you would- you need an- you know, you need something else. You need another passport. That's the way- that's the way I see it. It's kind of just re-establishing that, you know, ability to live and work wherever you want in Europe and, ok, I've only lived in France, but who knows? You know, you might decide to go live somewhere else. And it's nice to have that option.

Charlie:
Definitely. Yeah, I was about to say the world's your oyster. But now that Brexit happened, it's really not. Yeah. Okay. Well, let- let's- let's hope that- that all works out. But I want to actually focus on the movie stuff that you work on, because we will come to your personal life maybe after this- this conversation. But I think it's necessary to- to get to the- the- the crux of the meeting, the- the main point. So you've been- you've been teaching English. You've understood, you know, different cultures is a big part of learning a new language. So you've set up a- a movie club to help English learners, is that right?

Cara:
Yeah. Yeah, that's something that actually emerged out of the pandemic. But I've been playing around with teaching and listening skills through movies for a while. And teaching, listening, more- more generally, because I do think it's something you can teach and learn how to do better. Like, you know, there's more to it than just listening to stuff. So I've been doing that. And then, yeah, I kind of had noticed that- well, I had done some free movie clubs and I had also worked with at least one student on her speaking, with movies, and I was like, oh yeah, this is interesting. Let's see where we can go with this.

Cara:
And then I sort of started a longer version literally last March. Slightly weird timing, but also kind of good in a way. And so we started doing kind of a one month club where we really take the time. I think this is the big thing with watching movies in another language. You have to- you have to give yourself time to understand them. And, you know, when- when we sort of sit down and just watch something once, especially when it's not in our native language, it's normal to not really get much, or, kind of understand much.

Charlie:
Yeah, a lot goes over the head. If you- if you're just watching it first time and it's not your culture. Definitely.

Cara:
Exactly. So we really take our time. We give ourselves a month. And, you know, part of that is preparing for watching the movie, then actually watching it. I would say the students usually end up watching it more than once.

Charlie:
Right.

Cara:
I mean, I'm not so strict about that with my- with myself, because we do a watch party. So we watch it together and we discuss it on WhatsApp. Yeah, that is a bit easier for the students if they've already watched it at least once before, because, you know, we're kind of mostly texting each other like silly comments, really.

Charlie:
That's fun!

Cara:
But- yeah, it's fun. But it does- it does sort of distract you slightly from the movie. But it is, yeah. It's fun. It's almost like watching it together, you know.

Charlie:
Yeah!

Cara:
As you would do with- with friends and sort of laughing about.

Charlie:
And I'd say that that's- that's quite necessary to get through the pandemic. To- to have a release like that, to have a group of friends that you can, you know, interact with and learn at the same time. And that's really nice. And I think you said that you had recently watched some British movies that caught your attention and you thought it might be worth exploring with me.

Cara:
Yeah, well, because I'm not rea- like, well, basically I get the students to- the students suggest movies that they're- that they're interested in. And then we all kind of, you know, agree to- to- to watch things. Nobody's imposing anything. And then, yeah, we ended up watching quite a few British ones. It wasn't necessarily deliberate. It was just kind of how things worked out, I guess. So we- we watched Love Actually last Christmas, and I- I saw that on the TV, like, a few days ago like- French TV and like, why are they showing Love Actually in- in the summer? Never mind. And-.

Charlie:
Yeah, there were- Hang on. Hang on. So, Love Actually, yeah. Very much a Christmas feel-good film. And I- I just wrote a list of movies that I would like to briefly talk about if we had time. And, yeah, Love Actually was on there. Why- why did you- why did you choose it? And why do you think it's a good one for British culture?

Cara:
Well, we need- we needed a Christmas movie, and I think one of the other students had brought it up. But at least one also intensely dislikes this movie. But then the- but then that was also quite good for discussion because she was able to say why she didn't like it. But yeah, it's- it's a good- well, there's a- there is a lot about British culture in it. Thank goodness that I saw it on TV last week. So I can- I can remember some of the things. Now, because you get to see- yeah, there's like references to British culture in it.

Cara:
And, you know, there's things like, you know, you see the prime minister features a lot. You see things like the Nativity play at school.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Cara:
That's a very British thing. In fact, I got the students to list all the stuff that came up. There's carol singing. So-.

Charlie:
What's that?

Cara:
Good question, because I don't know if anyone has ever come round to my house to sing carols, but yeah, it's- it's something you can do if you're not afraid of bothering other people. Where you, at Christmas, you go round to people's houses, you knock on the door and you sing carols and- Christmas carols. So these are traditional songs, sometimes, often kind of religious, but not always. And then I guess, do you ask for money? Is that it? Do you do it for charity or something?

Charlie:
I think they have a little found- a little charity, sort of, tin that they shake at the end.

Cara:
Mmm.

Charlie:
Or the little kid at- yeah. Yeah, yeah. They ask you for a- for a little bit of a donation.

Cara:
50p.

Charlie:
Yeah. 50p.

Cara:
Yeah.

Charlie:
That's not too much.

Cara:
Something like that. Yeah. So, there was the Carol singing, the Nativity play. So you've probably been in one at school. I was in one at school.

Charlie:
Were you?

Cara:
So you'd tell the story.

Charlie:
Sorry, were you a big part in your Nativity plays?

Cara:
So I wanted to be an angel and I was given the job of 'reader'. So I was like narrating part of the story.

Charlie:
Isn't that weird? I was a narrator as well.

Cara:
Oh, really? Oh, wow.

Charlie:
One year. And then I got demoted and I was at the back. And I was so hot and flustered, I remember I fainted on stage.

Cara:
Oh, no. Oh, was this like pre- was this like- this would have been pre smartphone and cameras everywhere-.

Charlie:
It was.

Cara:
Oh so nobody would have filmed you.

No.

Cara:
Phew!

Charlie:
They got nothing. Yeah.

Cara:
Because that- that would have been embarrassing.

Charlie:
Yeah. That was just didn't-.

Cara:
Have the video.

Charlie:
An SMS- sort of, 'LOL. He fell over.' Kind of thing.

Cara:
Oh gosh. Poor you!

Charlie:
Yeah.

Cara:
Oh no.

Charlie:
No. Yeah. I can't remember it that much. But yeah, the narrating, that was- that's funny that we both did that. So you were on the side of the stage. You weren't on the- in the spotlight. You were just.

Cara:
No, not in. Yeah, to the- to the side and like- you know, "Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem and they-" you know-.

Charlie:
So are you- are you narrating or are you singing? Because it sounds like you're confused whether you're in front of-

Cara:
I was kind of half-singing half- and- I'm trying to imagine like, in my sort of six year old voice, I don't even- I don't really know how I did it. But for some reason, in our primary school, it was only the children in the second year of primary who did the Nativity. So the six year olds, I have no idea why it was always given to them.

Charlie:
Okay. Yeah. Yeah. I think I remember doing multiple years. Okay. Yeah. So we got the Nativity plays. Yeah. I also feel like it was just filmed in- in very- like, authentic settings in a lot of the places. And I'm not talking necessarily about the 10 Downing Street. Sorry. Nearly forgot where the prime minister lives. I'm not talking about that, but I'm talking about just the homes and the outdoors and just the- the small little things that they would use. That just felt very, very English. Like, if you just give me a second of that frame, I could tell you that that's an English home. You know what I mean.

Cara:
Mmm. Yeah, that is very- that's very, very true. Yeah. Like when they go to, when the Prime Minister is looking for Natalie's house and it's a row of terraced houses. So that's so typical. And then some people live in posher houses. In Love Actually, you can kind of see- that is what- it's very true. For some reason, I want to say when the guy who's like is sort of ageing rock star goes to the radio station for an interview, for me that felt very, I don't know, growing up, I listened a lot to like Radio One and the radio. And I don't know, for me, that felt quite authentic as well.

Charlie:
Yeah, I agree. And that- that relationship, I really enjoyed that with the- his- was he his manager? The old- the old, slightly larger guy?

Cara:
Yeah.

Charlie:
Yeah, I think his manager. Yeah, that was quite sweet at the end. Well, all of them developed into loving relationships, didn't they? So Love Actually, that had really natural settings. And yeah, the Nativity play and the carols as well. And of course, the- the very natural British scene of a porn industry, you know, when that guy was warming his hands to her bosoms. Very normal, isn't it, in England?

Cara:
Were they doing- ok, because I was going to like, is this- are they doing like- are they meant to be doing like test scenes for a porno?

Charlie:
Yes. Well, I know- I thought I shouldn't say porno. I think it was just a film that had soft erotica in it.

Cara:
A sex, a sex scene. Yeah.

Charlie:
And they were just doing lighting. Yeah. Yeah, they're doing lighting. And they had to get the right angle for everything.

Cara:
They were very professional.

Charlie:
Yeah. Yeah.

Cara:
But well done. Well done. But yeah, Love Actually is a very nice immersion in a British Christmas. And, you know, I haven't- I haven't actually been home for Christmas for two years. So it's nice to kind of have- you know, the movie kind of reminds you of what- what it's like in the UK at Christmas, because I feel like it is very Christmassy. And in France, it's not quite the same. Like, OK, you do have decorations, you do have Christmas trees, but it's not quite as intense as the UK. I don't know. I think we really go kind of all out for- for Christmas. We really like to make an effort.

Charlie:
I think so, too. No, I- no, I really do agree. I can't compare with France because I haven't lived there and I haven't been there during Christmas. But, you know, I lived in America and I felt like they do everything over the top and like they love their costumes. And every single holiday is really, really extreme compared to the UK. But thinking about it, Christmas is one that we are very comfortable doing at the- over the top. As you said, we- we- we really go all out, don't we?

Cara:
Yeah, I think so. I think so. Compared to from- from what I've seen, you know, one of my students is Italian, but she lives in the UK and yes, she really loves the whole British Christmas thing. It's quite different to do it- to me. But that's a nice way into that type of discussion. Actually, if you've watched Love Actually, and you think about a British Christmas, then it's a way also for people from different cultures to compare their own Christmas. Because in many countries, you know, they don't celebrate on the 25th of December, they celebrate in January. There's more of focus on the three wise men compared to Santa Claus. I mean, it depends on the- on the country and the culture. It can vary quite, quite a lot.

Charlie:
Absolutely. Yeah, the three wise men don't really get a mention these days for us, do they?

Cara:
Not so much. Whereas in Spain, I think they teach kids, like, that's who brings you the presents.

Charlie:
Right. So when- when we're sitting around the bed opening Santa's presents and we open them and then we say, 'Thanks, Santa!' Would they say 'Thanks, The Three Wise Men!'.

Cara:
I guess. Yeah. Yeah. Something- something like this. Yeah, that's what I've understood.

Charlie:
And if they- if they say 'Thank you, Daddy!', and Daddy's like, 'No, no, no. Thank The Three Wise Men!'

Cara:
Yeah. It's, um, yeah.

Charlie:
Another one that I felt like was a really authentic British feel was Notting Hill. And I weirdly watched it yesterday.

Cara:
Oh, how- how odd. That's another one that's on French TV quite often. I would say- well any film with Hugh Grant. I've seen- we've seen so many movies with Hugh Grant, including ones where I did not know he was in it. He really was in a lot of movies, particularly in the early 90s.

Charlie:
He was. Yeah. And then he took a break. And I'm- sorry, I just wanted to say, he took a break and he's a member at a golf club that I used to work at. And I used to serve coffee to him. But yeah, he- I did a bad job and I- I think I got fired eventually. But I served him cold coffee, which was my claim to fame, and he wasn't happy about that.

Cara:
Oh, wow. So, ok, your claim to fame is that you pissed off Hugh Grant?

Charlie:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So he- he took a while to recover from that. And then I guess he got over it. And then he- he did a very good performance in The Gentlemen recently, didn't he?

Cara:
I haven't seen it, but I can believe- I actually think that he is a sort of misunderstood person. I know my mum is quite insulting towards him because she's like, oh, he just plays the same character all the time. But I actually think he has a real sense of comic timing.

Charlie:
Yeah!

Cara:
And yeah, he's done more serious roles. And, you know, as he's gotten older, I- I think he doesn't take himself too seriously, actually, I think he knows that maybe part of his career is a bit of a joke. Oh, no, this is getting awfully slanderous, isn't it? Like, you served him cold coffee. I'm insulting his career. Are Hugh Grant's people going to like...

Charlie:
Well, luckily- luckily for us, Hugh got- Hugh Grant is pretty fluent in English, so he might not be focussed on this podcast. The Gentlemen will put your mum to shame because he was so-.

Cara:
Really?

Charlie:
Different. He was far from the posh and well behaved or slightly self-deprecating gentleman, sort of char- in a charming way. He was, yeah. He was really odd, a unique character in The Gentlemen. It's kind of like a gangster film, but.

Cara:
Oh!

Charlie:
Yeah, I- you know, he was so different. I had to ask whoever I was watching it with 'Is that Hugh Grant?!' like after three minutes of watching. Yeah, him- him play that- that role. Very diverse, for that fact. Yeah.

Cara:
Because, um, yeah. We saw him recently and we watched- our movie this month is The Remains of the Day, which is a movie with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, and it's based on the novel of the same name. And it takes place in a British country house in the- the 1930s and then the 1950s. And it's about a butler who was very devoted to his master.

Charlie:
Ok.

Cara:
But his master turns out to be a Nazi sympathiser. So, yeah. Yeah. And Hugh Grant plays the godson of this lord. Yeah. And he is really good. And, you know, he realises that his- his godfather is being sort of manipulated. And, you know, what he's- what he's doing is not- is not right. And he just tried to sort of stop him. But it doesn't work, unfortunately. But yes, is a fairly small role. But yeah, he is. He's good. And that would have been before this sort of huge stardom of like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill that- that we mentioned.

Charlie:
Yeah, that's another good film. Four Weddings and a Funeral. I feel like Love Actually, Notting Hill, and Four Weddings and a Funeral are all the same sort of rom-commie, British 90s, 00s feel. Is that right?

Cara:
Yeah, for sure. For sure. And I was going to say Four Weddings and a Funeral is like good preparation for what will probably actually happen to you if you are invited to a wedding in the UK. It will give you- you know, you'll know what to- what to kind of expect if that- if that, you know, if that happens.

Charlie:
Yeah. Those conversations, you know, in a wedding and I would imagine they're quite unique in- in a- in, you know, in the way of being British. Quite- you've got to be quite proper. You got to have good small talk. But also be interesting at the same time, and it's probably a circle of six or seven people that you're stuck with, that- you're a- that are strangers, probably, for the most part of the day

Cara:
Ah, weddings and seating plans and who you end up next to. Yeah. So is- is- it's- it's interesting. Yeah, it's interesting that always- that's always a good laugh at weddings, seeing who- who has been seated next to who.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Cara:
And seeing where you've been, you're- where your place is, it's like in the family or the friendship group, you know, who are you considered? Are you considered one of them, the older generation? Are you considered like, have they grouped you according to like who's kind of friendly or not? This is just interesting for me because I- my family is quite big. I've got 23 first cousins. So I mean, often we don't all get invited to weddings because it's expensive to have you know, people tend to prioritise like their immediate family and everything. Like it's hard to invite all the cousins.

Charlie:
Yeah, 23!

Cara:
And then when you do get invited, it's- yeah, it's a lot, isn't it? And then- and then those cousins, they- a lot of them have kids. So then, oh, it's just a lot of people basically.

Charlie:
That- that could be about two and a half grand just to feed you.

Cara:
Yeah, that's it. And that's why you don't always get invited. I- the last wedding I went to at home, I wasn't invited to the wedding and then somebody else dropped out or something, and we were actually prioritised by age.

Charlie:
Ah!

Cara:
So-.

Charlie:
Well, good. That's fair.

Cara:
Given my-

Charlie:
Yeah.

Cara:
Yeah, I thought that was a very fair way to do it. Thank you to my cousin for doing that. And yeah, so we were like next.

Charlie:
Next in line to the throne.

Cara:
Next. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So, upgraded to actual ceremony and meal and not just the party after. So which was good because that meant. Exactly. But she was good because it meant we could actually travel there with my parents because it was a little bit outside of Glasgow and Loch Lomond, which is a very popular wedding destination for people in Glasgow. But it's quite a long taxi ride. So it is quite good if you can get more people in the taxi and make it a bit cheaper kind of thing.

Charlie:
Yeah, every little helps. Definitely.

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Meet today's guest

Cara Leopold

Cara is an English listening skills coach who brings together adventurous expats and intrepid travellers to watch and discuss movies in English so they can understand native speakers, themselves and the world around them better.

To receive her bi-monthly "Chai Latte Letters" in your inbox and get announcements about events like watch parties, download her free guide "Understand Movies In English", which will teach you how to understand fast-talking native speakers using your favourite movie. 
Movie Club is a community for movie lovers who want to understand authentic spoken English--and speak it too. The club opens for enrollment 3 times a year. To be the first to find out when it's open and get your free 3-day video course "Movies Together" in the meantime, sign up for the waiting list.
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Podcast host: Charlie:
This will be quite a bit harder for you to understand, as there are a number of accents in the conversation, some poorly delivered at times, as you will notice.

Podcast host: Charlie:
But the aim is to give you a variety of dialects in one conversation and some dialogue to give you native expressions in context. So enter, if you will, to Charlie's pub and his imaginary world.

Character: Mike:
Alright geezer, how's it going?

Character: Chris:
Yes, I'm well thanks. How about you? Have you had a good day?

Character: Mike:
Can't say good mate. No my old man he's been giving me a right old earful for what happened on site last week.

Character: Chris:
Oh that's a pity. Are you back on your dad's building project again?

Character: Mike:
Sad to say mate, but yeah, I am. Couldn't resist this one though. Cash in hand, you know.

Character: Chris:
Oh fair play, hard to resist those I imagine. Oh, here she is.

Character: Emily:
Oh, hi.

Character: Chris:
I was wondering if you're ever going to join us tonight.

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