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Hi, this is Gerry and this is my Diary for Monday 14th May, 2018. We’re not on a Friday this time because of the Swiss Ascension Day holiday. I hope the weather was good for you. Anyway, on today’s show I’ve got my mother’s 100th birthday to talk about. And then I’d like to tell you about some of the people that I meet when I go down to our Church Island. But before that let’s think about the answer to my pub quiz question from the last show.
On my last show I asked you about the languages of the EU. How many are there? Well, as Corinne said in her comment on the website, there are 24 official national languages. But then there are lots of regional languages. Questions about languages are often very political. So, for example, the constitution  of France sort of  defines France as the place where people speak French. The French language has a central place in the French constitution, but, of course, France has a number of regional languages such as Breton in Britanny, Occitan in the south-west, Corsican in Corsica, Alsatian in Alsace. Then there are other questions: what’s the difference between a language and a dialect? Is Alsation a dialect of German, for example? There are big questions about language rights . In a court of law , do you have the right to use your regional language? Are children in that region educated in that language? Etc. Etc. Minority languages are also difficult. Do Gypsies have the right to use Romani, for example? The EU says that language policy is a matter for  national governments. The EU itself does not recognise regional and minority languages. The Council of Europe, the other European grouping, has a European Charter  for Regional or Minority Languages. It aims to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe. 25 countries have implemented it, including Switzerland and the UK.
As I told you last time, my mother has just celebrated her 100th birthday. She’s the first centenarian  in our family, we think. She was born in 1918 – before the end of the First World War. The war ended that year, but another important thing happened in Britain in 1918: some women in Britain got the right to vote  for the first time. They had to be over 30 years old – for men the age was 21. Women had to wait until 1928 before they got the same rights as men. For my mother, voting is very important. Perhaps because she was born in that year.
What’s the biggest thing about a 100th birthday? What do people ask about? There are two main questions in Britain. The first is something like: What’s your secret  for a long life? And I’ll give you an answer to that in a moment. But the other question is: Have you got  your telegram from the Queen? In Britain the Queen used to send a telegram to anybody who reached the age of 100. These days we don’t have telegrams: it’s a card, but people still call it a telegram. Not many people reach the age of 100, and not many people get a letter from the Queen, so everybody wanted to see my mother’s card from the Queen. Perhaps you’d like to see it, too, would you? Well, I’ve put a photo of it on the website. She also got three other cards from government ministers. She must be very important. She got a card from the First Minister in Cardiff, the head of the Welsh government. She got a card from the Secretary of State for Wales, the London government’s minister for Wales. And finally, she got a card from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in London. All because she’s 100.
And what’s her secret? I think she has good genes – her mother and her brother also had long lives. She’s healthy and she was always physically active. But I think one important thing is her positive attitude. She’s always very positive and enthusiastic about everything that happens. I think that’s important. And she certainly enjoyed her birthday party.
For the past few weeks I’ve had my little summer job – to go and open the little old church on Church Island every morning and close it in the evening. It’s a lovely walk through the trees down to the island. At the moment the island is covered in primroses  – the little yellow spring flowers. Church Island is a beautiful place, and it’s also very popular. Some people walk there every day, and I meet them there.
An old man with the old Welsh name of Dyfrig comes there with his little dog every morning. He has an interesting story to tell. His family worked in the big slate quarry  at Bethesda where there was a famous strike  in 1900. The workers wanted more money, but they lost the strike, and Dyfrig’s family moved to South Wales to go and work in the coalmines  there. Then 50 years later Dyfrig’s parents moved back to this area and brought their little boy back to his family’s home town.
There are also visitors to the area. Last week I met some people from Stoke-on-Trent. This is the town in England that is the old centre of the pottery  industry – making plates and cups and other things out of china  or porcelain. They looked at some old tiles  on the floor in the church and told me that they were Minton tiles. Minton is one of the most famous potteries  in Stoke. They knew the church in Stoke where the first Mr Minton is buried.
I also met a woman with her two children the other day. I could hear the little boy speaking a different language to the woman. The woman was his mother and the language was Spanish. The woman was from Seville but she’s now living here. Her little boy goes to the local school, and he now speaks three languages: Spanish, Welsh and English.
I’ve put a photo of the primroses on the website but also a photo of another plant on the island. My pub quiz question this time is about this plant. Do you know what it is? Can you give me a name for it? The Romans brought this plant to Britain, and they used to eat it. Do you have a name for it? In Britain, you often find it near churches or monasteries . If you know what it is, tell me your name for it.
You can send me your ideas and your comments to the website podclub.ch, or you can use Twitter. My Twitter address is @gerrypod. You can also find us on Instagram with the hashtags #gerrysdiary and #podclubgerry. And don’t forget the PodClub app, with the vocabulary learning programme. Thanks to Maja and Sonja for your messages. I’ve put an answer about the coloured eggs on the website. I’ll be back with my Diary in about four weeks on 8th June. Till then, take care!