Phrase of the day: in the wake of

About two minutes’ walk from my house in north London is a wonderful Turkish supermarket and bakery called Yasar Halim. There’s a chance you may have heard of it, actually, as it once featured in a reading text in New Headway Pre-Intermediate. The piece was called London: The World In One City and also included a Korean restaurant in Little Seoul (better known as New Malden) and a barber’s in Peckham that’s run by a larger-than-life Nigerian man called Posh Daddy! Anyway, on Sunday morning I popped down to the shop to grab a few bits and pieces for dinner and while I was in there – as usually happens – I bumped into someone I know from the neighbourhood. As were we chatting, he said I should avoid the broccoli as prices had gone through the roof and it was now selling at four pounds per kilo! “How come?” I asked, which prompted a fairly lengthy explanation of the Great British Vegetable Shortage of 2017!

Apparently, Spain, one of the major suppliers of vegetables to British supermarkets, has experienced some really terrible weather of late. Courgettes are frozen in the ground in the Almeria region, there’s been unusual snowfall in La Manga, Murcia, and heavy rainfall and flooding in other Spanish growing regions. A wide range of vegetable crops from southern Spain were battered by storms in the run up to (= in the time leading up to) Christmas, and now snow, freezing temperatures and poor light levels are making it virtually impossible for growers to harvest crops. And in the wake of all of this, with demand far outstripping supply, prices have obviously shot up.

If something happens in the wake of something else, it happens in the time immediately after it, or as a result of it, so you might hear about security being tightened in the wake of a terrorist attack somewhere, chaos at American airports in the wake of Donald Trump’s attempts to ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries (though not Saudi Arabia or Egypt, where he has business interests!) or anger and dissatisfaction among fans of Arsenal Football Club (my team!) in the wake of Saturday’s defeat by Chelsea. The phrase is also used to talk about the period of time soon after particular global events: e.g. in the wake of 9/11, in the wake of Brexit, in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall, in the wake of the US presidential elections, and so on.

Just in case you’re wondering, by the way, I passed on the broccoli and instead went for some chicken, three tomatoes, garlic, parsley, a couple of lemons and some bucatini pasta. Lovely, it was as well.

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  • What have been the biggest events in your country recently? Has anything interesting happened in the wake of them?
  • Have the prices of anything gone through the roof / shot up where you live? Do you know why?
  • How often do you bump into people you know? When was the last time?
  • How’s the weather been where you are recently?

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