The Russian Course line book - Tony Cunnane's Autobiography

A Yorkshire Aviator's Autobiography
Tony Cunnane
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The Russian Course line book

During the course at North Luffenham I compiled the 'line book' in which we recorded silly things we said during lessons. I still have it and I have just been browsing through it for old times' sake. Here are some examples, several of which will only be meaningful for those of my readers who have some knowledge of Russian. I haven't named the perpetrators because I cannot contact them to get their permission. However those marked ''Tony" are indeed mine.

* Instructor: "In a week or two you'll be doing практический разговор" (practice conversation). A student replied, "Good heavens - that's practically conversation!"
* A student announced one day that "идет дождь - кошек и собак (it's raining cats and dogs). Another student replied, "That's better than hailing taxis!"
* Tony said one day, with a smile of 'superciliosity': "I've just written it out several times to make sure I can do it properly." Instructor, looking over my shoulder, promptly replied, to much hilarity from the other students: "It's wrong!"
* Student, when asked in class for the very first time to talk about himself in Russian said, after a pause: "Я работаю медленно" (I work slowly)
* A student was having trouble telling the time in Russian because numerals are notoriously difficult for foreigners. The instructor helpfully pointed out that, "There are two ways of telling the time in Russian. One is easy and the other is complicated." Student replied, "Tell me the easy way and I'll make it complicated."
* An Administration Branch officer regaled the class one day with the subjects he had studied at University for his final degree examinations. They included, History of Marxism, Development of Government in Communist Countries, History of Russia from. . . . etc, etc. The civilian instructor looked very impressed, but another student said, "You should see what they require for aircrew!"
* The youngest student on our course, arriving late one day, said, "I remember lying in bed thinking that if the Batman doesn't turn up soon with my morning tea, I'll be late." The oldest student on the course (not me!) mourned, "When I lie in bed I can't remember what girls are!"
* The coffee break one day was very short due to lessons over-running. Heard in the crowded toilet, a student carrying his coffee cup in one hand said: "I always seem to be drinking my coffee in here." Adjacent student replied, "Just make sure you don't get it the wrong way round."
* Lady instructor said, as we were preparing for a visit from an important VIP: "I had better rub кенитка out in case it's wrong." (It was wrong.) When the Chief Instructor brought the VIP into the room, he said to the VIP: "I've brought you in here so that you can see what's going on." Senior student to VIP: "If you find out, please let us know!"
* Struggling student said, "I'm sorry, I can't remember what помню means." (It means "I remember".)
* Senior instructor, having just been caught out on something: "We can all make mistakes, as the Dalek said as he climbed off the dustbin."
* Lady teacher, explaining the intricacies of a new grammatical case to a wondering class that words such as утром (in the morning) and вечером (in the evening), which we had known and used in conversation for weeks, pointed out that they were actually nouns in the Instrumental case. One student replied, "I wish you hadn't told me that - they've suddenly become very difficult"
* A student asked the instructor if there were such things as nicknames in Russian. Tony offered, "How about Nikolai?"
* Tony in one lesson translated пожилой as 'young' for the third time in five minutes. (It actually means elderly.) Tony said, apologetically, "I don't know why I keep doing that." Youngest student in class replied, cruelly, "I do. To you пожилой must seem young!"
* A student translated 'in Siberia' incorrectly as 'на Сибирe'. Lady teacher corrected him saying, "It's 'в Сибири'. Don't forget Siberia is feminine." Another student promptly replied, "You should be able to remember that because it's cold and frosty."

Here are a couple of scans from the line book:

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