Ah, how soon the summer goes by. You just blink one – because the darned sweat got into your eyes – and another one (damned blinding sunlight, I can’t open my eyelids, my pupils will disappear) and it’s gone. But don’t worry, TAKE FIVE will resume soon on the 22nd of September! Don’t forget, it will be a special occasion:
our 5th birthday!
The name of the club is TAKE FIVE, so you can imagine what the fuss is about. There will be a special topic and everything. And speaking of topics: the Topic Hat is about to run out, so we look to you to help us! If you have an idea, don’t hesitate to send it to one of the organisers.
Until then, you have a choice: you can read the brief summer summary, or if you have the time, why not read the longer, creative writing approach featuring the dystopian apocalyptic future.
So, for the short summary:
The summer went pretty well. After serious consideration and evaluating several options, we chose to have the first occasion in Muzikum. We had no idea that we would like the place so much that all of the summer sessions would be there. But we did and it was a good choice. We always had a summer themed game: a whacky summertime invention, a summertime cocktail or a summertime photo album that the members had to act out. Also, the organisers got in touch with their musical side, and after rewriting the lyrics to Walk Off the Earth’s Little Boxes, they performed the new version of the song titled Little Mushrooms. Towards the end most people must have been on holiday, as there were a bit fewer people than before. But that was never a problem, and we had fun nonetheless. All in all, it was a good summer to look back on, and now it’s time to look forward to the autumn (or fall for those who prefer US English) season. See you then!
(you can read the creative writing summary below the pictures)
The FALL of mankind
The days of the scorch are gone. We get a few afterburns every now and then, but that’s about it. The long haul to the everlasting winter and soulless cold has begun. Say what you want about heat, but at least it has a soul. It lives, pulsates around you, and like most living things, it can kill you. But I’d rather die at the hands of something that at least gives the impression of life rather than just a passive destructive force, like cold. It’s not even destructive… it just forces out all life. Like darkness, it creeps up, non-threatening at first, but then you find yourself cornered into a small hole, and you know it’s gonna be over soon. Best you can do is hope, but all you can do is fend off insanity. Well, some can do it, anyway. Not all of us. But now’s not the time to reminisce. Now’s the time to try and do whatever we can. For whatever reason you can tell yourself. Tell it hard enough, you might just believe it.
We rounded up whomever we could find. As the deserts started freezing over, it became easier. Those that survived came looking our way. Of course we can’t stay long in one place – I can already feel the ground here getting colder and colder each morning. All life shrivelling up, becoming a frozen memento of what it once was. Soon that would be us. Unless we come up with something. If there is anything to come up with.
I was tasked with gathering information. Whatever information I could get my hands on: art, manuals, a kid’s drawing on a freakin’ fridge, a flyer for some club. I got some good stuff over the time. It isn’t much, but then again, my whole mission is crazy. It is meant to guide those that will come after us. The future generations, maybe the ones born during the fall, perhaps even children of the winter. You never know when you might visit for the first time. You never know how long you might stay.
This one thing I found, it’s really interesting. Reminds me of a world I used to know. Used to be home. It used to be warm there. It’s just a flyer, nothing fancy. Colourful background, mainly orange. It’s an out of focus picture of people sitting around a table, talking. Having a good time. Once there was writing in the foreground, but the powerful rays of the sun have seen to it that it become faded. All you can make out now are ‘IAK IV’. Although some say the first letter is a ‘T’. Whatever it is, it used to be a language club. During the days of the scorch it was quite popular.
I went down to the archives to find out more about this club. It was pretty much the same until, a few months ago, the name ‘Muzikum’ started popping up. Quite a few people visited the club. Their first meeting there went good enough. That place is pretty good. Dear Lord, back in those days you could go outside without protective gear. They must have enjoyed the sunlight and the warm. Letting it shine over them, heat their skin, fill them with energy. Like a loving caress. A warm hand running over you, yet untouchable. Before it became a strangling, burning grip… This club must have been doing something right. The second time they were at this new place they had even more visitors. I can’t tell much from these pictures, but it seems like they were acting out an imaginary holiday in three frames. Seems like fun. The organisers even rewrote the lyrics to a song and performed it. They also took imaginary trips to alternative universes, like a fairy tale or a superhero universe. How sweet. How innocent. Neither of those words mean much anymore.
Summer was a privilege back then, a time to rejoice and welcome the life it brought. We never thought we could have too much of it. After a while the sessions got homelier with less visitors, as if people were on holiday or something. Still, the club carried on and it looks like good fun. Sometimes they were inside, sometimes they could go outside. Their games are clearly of an era of hope. They always had something related to summer – a summertime cocktail, a summertime invention, summertime this, summertime that. I cringe from the phantom heat burning me just by reading about these.
Well, seems like this club had a good run. They say as the cold came, they moved underground. I suppose that’s as good an idea as any. Who knows, it might even make a difference. They might even carry on, keep humanity together with their English speaking and fun games.
I sometimes think that we won’t make it. More often than not, to be honest. I should be keeping hope alive, but… I don’t know. I don’t know if we can survive on the surface. It will become cold and unwelcoming. The rigid, uncompromising cold will take over, step by step, degree by degree. Those that are not frozen will have to endure for as long as they might, watching their breath billow away from them only to disappear in the chilly air. Just a puff of air, an ominous harbinger of what is to come. Of what will happen to all of us. Snuffed out by the cold, withering and alone, drained of all energy. At least in this club you wouldn’t be alone. If the cold’s about to get you, you may as well have fun and spend your time with a bunch of cool people. I guess that’s better.
I think I’ll go to this ‘IAK IV’ club or ‘TAK IV’ or whatever it was originally called. I need to have a look to see what would I find. If they are still there. Who knows, we may even see the sun again. But at least we’ll be together, no matter what.
On 19 May the TAKE FIVE club passed another milestone on the freeway of its five-year history. We had the immense pleasure and honor of welcoming 10 first-year secondary school students to an extraordinary one-off session. In collaboration with their English teacher we paddled into uncharted waters to discover and embrace a long-dormant possibility of our club.
“Hi there, Take Five organizers! I’m Svoboda Róbert, English teacher from Budapest. Balázs knows me…” That’s how it all began. We agreed that a regular session would be deep water for the students with all the strangers (not to mention the psychological trauma Balázs is likely to cause with his mere appearance), so we put our heads together and decided to organize a one-time special event, elegantly squeezed in between two scheduled meetings. Our goal was to keep the original, academically acclaimed and at the same time world famous TAKE FIVE format, but adjust everything to the proficiency level and age group.
Robi was brave enough to join one of the preceding events to sit down with us and help us lay down the foundations. In harmonious cooperation we imposed our brilliant ideas on him, which he tacitly and respectfully accepted. Our final plans included an ice-breaker, three of the topics we had already used at the club, and two amusing picture-based creative writing tasks. The session lasted for two hours with a ten-minute break.
Despite the fact that I am quite used to being surrounded by ladies, I was preparing for the event with a more or less healthy gender ratio in my mind. If you take a brief look at any of the photos, you may see how close I got. I think I will never be able to write down in a public blog how terrified I felt when I saw ten teenage girls walk into the club in a straight line. They all settled down and we dived right into the introduction part. One of our most favorite ice-breakers is a game called alphabet, in which we scatter the letters of the alphabet all over the floor. Then we ask questions and everyone has to find the starting letter of their answers. The girls became pretty excited upon hearing the questions “What’s your favorite band/singer?” and “What’s your favorite TV show?”. I turned out to be the only one who was having trouble coming up with answers and finding the letters.
Our lovely guests began to feel more and more comfortable as time passed. I would probably have burst out crying and/or run away if I had been taken to a club like this in the first year of secondary school. But to my astonishment, these girls made themselves feel at home by the end. They were ready to volunteer when it came to summarizing the topics, the room was often filled with laughter, and – as far as I could see – they did enjoy most of what we had prepared with. The session was concluded with a round of applause and a volley of thank-yous.
As the founder of the TAKE FIVE club and as an English teacher, I can confirm that this exceptional occasion was nothing but the first step. From now on we are looking forward to working together with other schools as well to provide more and more students with a genuine English-speaking setting where they have a chance to put theory into practice.
Ship’s log 2016/05/11
Entry number T-5.
It has been almost two weeks since the last TAKE FIVE session. I swear to God, sometimes those meetings are the only thing that keep me going. When we were asked by the International Multiverse Committee to investigate the gateway and the possible universes we can explore, I didn’t know what I would sign up for. Well, I’ve sure got a handful now. But we have to keep on going. For science.
As I’ve mentioned, it isn’t easy, examining these universes. We never know what twisted world we will set foot on. I mean some universes aren’t so bad: we’ve been to the future, we even met a whole new alien species! But there were some universes that bore an eerie resemblance to ours. I still get chills from the communist society we stumbled upon. Or the one where you are the only person in the whole universe… my blood curdles when I think about it.
The crew is more than satisfactory. It’s a great team, and we complement each other with our individual skill sets. It’s amazing how well-oiled sometimes work goes. Of course, it’s not all easy. But we do try. The experiments are on schedule, and many of our findings may alter the way we think about life and English clubs. The IMC knew what they were doing when they asked us for the job – I can only hope that we’ll continue in the same vein and deliver on the promises that are expected of us.
As the ship’s Speech and Lame Puns Officer it is my duty to check for and analyse all forms of linguistic communication we find in these universes, and try to make a badly formed joke on words out of them. It’s not always easy, but as long as there are inhabitants, we’ll manage. It would be hard to crack a joke about a universe with no-one in it. Although if we called it a blank-verse we might get the literature majors to move there, as long as they don’t notice the hyphen. Well, one can always hope.
The mission was off to a good start, but our work is far from over. We had to send out Era on a special sole expedition. The girl’s got guts, I gotta give her that. I know she can handle herself, but still I worry. Until she returns it’s just Zsombor and I, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. I’ll be interested to see though what she comes back with. I hope it’s not the place where people wear 90s clothes, have 80s hair and talk like in the 50s. Science has so far failed to explain any of those things. They’re just… not natural. All that denim and windbreakers, those curls and waves, and those sounds… I mean if there were a universe where the eyes could vomit and the ears could weep that would be it. I desperately hope for Era’s safe return – this expedition would be lost without her.
Speaking of which, which universe do you think we should go to next?
March 17 was undoubtedly a noteworthy day this year. We organized the fourth TAKE FIVE session of the spring season. Oh, and Saint Patrick’s Day happens to have fallen on the very same Thursday. For this negligible reason we decided to go off the weather-beaten track and invite our visitors to celebrate this special day with us. We also had the honor to welcome an extraordinary guest.
We took off with the following introductory question: what would you be a patron saint of? Then, instead of reaching for the color envelopes, we continued with a nice Saint Patrick’s Day quiz compiled by Era. It contained twelve questions carefully arranged in order of difficulty. We had the wonderful plan of showing the questions on the big screen using a PPT. As the saying goes: man proposes, CD-FŰ disposes. The TV had been moved to the other room for the darts players. Mastering your ability to improvise is among the perks of being a club organizer. We ended up reading out the questions one by one. In each round the members of the three small groups had to put their heads together and find the answer in one-two minutes.
We concluded this exciting show with two extra questions, one of which was “How many million pints of Guinness are consumed world-wide on St. Patrick’s Day?” (The astounding answer is 13 million pints.) The extra questions served as a smooth and almost unnoticeable transition to the topic of the day. The credit for the description goes to Balázs.
IT’S SAINT PADDY’S, HAVE A PINT!
Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated all around the world. Not only is it celebrated, people celebrate it in fashion – mostly dressing up in green and getting severely drunk. This happens more than enough at other occasions as well, but on Saint Patrick’s Day it is definitely encouraged. Do you think that it is wrong to encourage drinking on a society level because it maximises peer pressure, or it doesn’t matter because anyone can say no whenever they want to? Do you think that peer pressure is harmful in general? Have you ever done something out of peer pressure – because everyone else was doing it?
The questions of social drinking and peer pressure planted the seeds for an insightful discussion, which was later crowned by the four speakers on the podium. After they had presented their thoughts on the matter, the conversation shifted from the original topic to social media – whether creating a Facebook account could also be the result of peer pressure today.
However hard we tried, we didn’t manage to withhold our creative power when it came to the game. We had previously made a list of all the patron saints the people had said as their answer to the introductory question. We started off by giving one patron saint from the list to each group. They were then asked to come up with a name and a brief history for their saints. Finally, one person from each group took the hot seat and read out their stories. The game turned out to be so successful that it became more and more difficult to breathe from the laughter as the speakers took turns. It was indeed the perfect way to end our Saint Patrick’s Day event.
English Club Crossover
As Mac Taylor and Horatio Caine from the two CSI series met occasionally in crossover episodes, a kind gentleman from another English club was among our guests that night. Balázs and I spent an hour talking with Gergő before saying goodnight. He told us that they had founded their club just recently, and we were invited to check it out in the near future. Their club is called Chatterbox Chat Club. (Click here to see their Facebook group.) We were delighted to receive lots of compliments from Gergő on our work.
As you know, you can always find our latest event on Facebook. Keep in mind that we are open to your topic recommendations. Feel free to contact us and tell us about your ideas.
Well, hello there. It’s been a while since we talked, so allow me to bring you up to speed and tell you the latest in TAKE FIVE matters.
Where to start… Okay, so the club has been going well. We’ve had the first two sessions of the spring season and they were great. Last time we had 20 visitors, which is quite a few, and hopefully – I daresay it seems so – we will have even more. We’ll have plenty of time to break our record of 27 people, as there are still 6 sessions left till summer. That is, of course, not to say that we put quantity over quality, and anyone who has ever been to a club session will agree that our guests make a fantastic group of people.
And speaking of our beloved guests, there are two I would like to draw special attention to. The reason for this is that being an English Conversation Club, it is humbling, flattering, and most certainly damn good fun to have two native English speakers in our midst. Ed has been attending the club long enough now to be called a regular club member, and he bears the proud title of being the first native speaker to frequent our sessions. Sylvia only discovered the club about a month ago by accident, but it would seem that she and the club are a match made in heaven. The funniest part is that she has been living opposite CDFŰ for quite a while now, neither of us knowing of the other. We look forward to having both of them at the club.
Still on the topic (notice the word) of our visitors, we have a public announcement for you! As you know, TAKE FIVE topics don’t grow on trees (strangely, the TAKE FIVE tree’s fruit is bells and strange words like ‘excrescence’), and it would be a disastrous waste not to give you the opportunity to discuss the fascinating topics that interest you! So, both practical and enjoyable, WE CALL ON ALL OUR MEMBERS TO TAKE PART IN THE TOPIC-CREATING! We’re sure there are plenty of things that interest you, so share your opinions and ideas with us! If you have something in mind, do not to hesitate; just send it to one of the organisers or the TAKE FIVE page, and we’ll get right on it. You can send just a sentence and we’ll try to expand it into a topic, or we’re always happy if we receive full topic descriptions with relating questions.
Also, our newer members may not know this, but waaaay back in the day, when Zsombor was almost young, I was slightly less old, and Era was a shockingly mature teenager, there used to be a TAKE FIVE album. It was put together by our club members, and now we plan on putting together something similar. So, we ask you to think about songs you like and might play well in the background of a session, and who knows, maybe a second TAKE FIVE album won’t be a dream anymore.
But enough about us, come to the next session so that we can hear from you!