BOOK REVIEW: ‘ENGLISH BEAUTY’ by BOB YAREHAM
It is not often that a book comes along that not only changes your life but which also makes you laugh. This isn’t such a book, but it’s also worth buying. The author, Bob Yareham has taught English in Britain, Italy and Yugoslavia, and since 1981, (the year of the coup d’etat, for which he denies all responsibility) in Valencia.
The book is a series of essays about the etymology, grammar and teaching of English, mixed up with his futile attempts to make sense of women, and especially his wife. The essays are based on articles published in the English newspapers Costa Blanca News and Costa del Sol News for which Bob used to write a weekly column. He was also the creator and presenter of an English language radio programme called “Help” on Onda Cero back in the late eighties, and may have done other stuff since then.
The book inevitably contains references to his classes with Valencia Polytechnic teachers (one of whom came up with his favourite student error of all time: “the chicken we eat today is not as nice as the chicken that ate my parents”) as well as tales of visits to such Valencian landmarks as the Oceanografic and Terra Mitica.
In the book you can discover why we ‘boycott’ an event, the relationship between honesty and wax; whether or not strawberries contain straw and why breakfast is a ‘fast’ food.
Bob describes learning English as something like trying to ‘put a saddle on a swarm of angry bees’. Although the book offers absolutely no solutions for students who want to speak or write better, it does allow Bob to earn money laughing at their expense.
For 15 Euros (post and packaging included) the book is an absolute bargain, if only for the inside cover photo of Bob in his neighbour’s bath, a clear allusion to the film ‘American Beauty’ which shamelessly copied his title.
For those who enjoy English, or for the vast majority who grudgingly accept its importance, this is the book for you. English need no longer be a mystery, it can become a conundrum instead.
To acquire a copy; or several, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org