Christmas is coming


This is going to be a threefold newsletter this time. The first part will introduce the topic and then the other two, I hope, will inform and divert you.

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat;
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you! … g-181.html

These words are from a very old nursery rhyme and I’m quoting them to tell you that my newsletter is also coming to you shortly. The idea behind the rhyme is to remind everyone that while you’re busy giving presents, don’t forget the poor. Well, we’re in a giving mood, too since this month’s newsletter is coming in three parts. It’s my attempt to give you a flavour of what Christmas means to me.

Hi Alan,

What is ha’penny? Could you please explain it.


Hi Tarquinia,

Before Britain adopted a decimal currency system, the pound consisted of 240 pennies/pence. Each penny could then be divided into 4 and this coin was called a farthing and also each penny could be divided into 2 and the result was the halfpenny, which was then referred to as a ‘ha’ppeny’. Fortunately that system has disappeared and in the decimal version we now have 100 pennies/pence in the pound and the smallest unit is one penny. The halfpenny has now disappeared. Thank goodness!


Good morning Dear Alan, I really love to hear your voice and as people think here British English is more difficult than American I can really understand almost everything you say and it makes me proud of myself…heheheheh
Well alan my doubt is that I was reading the sample of your Stories book and you used in the last explanation about simple present that don´t and doesn´t goes after the personal pronouns…shouldn´t the word be before I am asking it because I always use the word before, of course that in the exemple it is possible to see where it goes but in my opinion it should be before…does this question make any sence to you…
many thaks for everything I just love the way your guys help us (the English students)
If I don´t get another opportunity let make sure here…
I wish you all a very human Christimans and that the year that comes can make you happier and happier because happyness is all we need to give and get…
Your fan from Brazil
(sure I must say sorry for my mistakes)

Hi Alan!

Franlky speaking what you are saying is OK. The haves not of the society are the concern of everybody. If someone can not afford a penny for a dish rice that’s a problem of the politics or a great concern of the town or the neighborhood. It’s excrutiatingly tedious to see how industrialised countries are playing with food while in Ethiopia people are dying from famine. We should lend a hand to people who are in need



Dear Alan

I was nice essay and it contained many words to learn.

Zeeshan Pakistan

It was nice essay ,really

Hi Elaine,

I don’t quite understand your question about the Present Simple. Can you tell which part of the essay you are referring to.


Hello Alan,…it is about the sample of your English stories,…I was reading it and the explanation about how to make questions in the simple present you said that don´t and doesn´t go after the subject…shouldn´t it be before the subject…
My wonder is just the word after instead of before, in the explanation…
Many thanks for your attention

Hello again…
Alan in the last essay there is a reference about your boook English Grammar through Stories and clicking on that it takes us to a sample of the book where there is a story about a guy who met a girl in a pub and they get married…IT NEVER GETS YOU ANYWHERE
In that lesson there is an explanation about how to make sentences in the present simple
what I would like to know is that it shouldn´t be the word before instead of after…because you are talking abou question…
tks again…

hi.iam realy enjoys with this essay .but as you know in arab country we dont make christmas because of new year .& i knew in eurpean country make christmas every new year and thats fine.
actualy iam intresting with informations you already given to me abouat 15th century like old buildings from long time & queen elizabeth ,charles,winston , knebworth house it has belonged to lytton family since 1490 something like that i realy want to know . and about novels story
thats fine for me . thanks in advance .good wishes. see you

Hi Alan,

Please explain

1.What is the meaning of the following sentence :-

…the odd strain of music percolating through the ether.

2.What is the meaning of ether ?

Thank you.



‘The odd strain of music percolating’

This means: the occasional sound of music making its way …

‘through the ether’

This means: through the atmosphere/air.

‘Percolate’ as a verb means to drip through as in water through rock. A coffee percolator is a device whereby water drips through coffee to make the drink.

Hope this helps.


Hi Elaine,

You are quite right. The right explanation should be that ‘do’ etc come before the pronoun. Thanks for pointing that out.


Hi Alan…tks again for all your help…
What would be the best way to buy your book…I loved the story and the way to work with the tenses…I live in Brazil,…
Talk to you soon

Hi…Aland I want to ask about: So we have traditional happy and also a moral, which today we might direct towards all those bankers with their annual bonuses.
Many Thanks

Dear Alan,
I cannot understand this phrase “that our Edward had his wife incarcerated (imprisoned) on the grounds of insanity – hers, that is.”
I read your essay and smiled by myself regularly.
Thanks for your Christmast gift.


‘A traditional happy ending’ - this means that ‘The Christmas Carol’ ends as all good stories with a happy ending because Scrooge changes from being mean to being generous,. The ‘moral’ in the story is like a lesson because it teaches us that money doesn’t necessarily bring us happiness and that’s something our bankers should learn when they get these ‘bonuses’ (extra money) for their work.



We learn that Edward has his wife put into prison because she was mad (insane). He says that she was insane and that he wasn’t.


My name is Ha. I come from Vietnam, a small beautiful country in Southwestern Asia.
I have some phrases in your second essay that I cannot figure out.

  • " who valued his judgment on his writting" Wihichperson does “who” , the first " his" and the second “his”, Knebworth or Dickens.

  • Does “put on plays” mean " set up plays"?

  • " get everyone up on stage" means " Dickens gave amateur artists a professional role on stage" or " he wrote stories about everyone"?

  • What does " Dickensia" mean?

  • I cannot find the word " tightfisted" in Oxford Dict., can you explain ?

  • Who was Cratcht who appeared at the ending ofth essay?

  • And the last question, Can you express more clearly the meaning of the last sentence"So we have a traditional happy ending and also a moral, which today we might direct towards all those bankers with their annual bonuses!"
    I will read your essay regularly for enjoyment and improving my English.
    Thank you for your time and effort.