Meeting Places
Where do you usually meet your friends? Do you think there are some places that are more suitable for meeting others? How have meeting places changed compared with the past? Are there any differences between your favourite meeting places now and in your childhood? Where did you last meet with your friends?
  • Odd (adj.) - not happening often.
  • To cut someone out (phrasal verb) - to not allow someone to share something or be included in something.
  • Middleman (noun) - someone who communicates or makes arrangements between two people or groups who are unwilling or unable to meet or deal directly with each other. (in this context the meeting place is the middleman)
  • Familiar (adj.) - easy to recognize because of being seen, met, heard, etc. before.
  • Amusement park (noun) - a place where people can go to enjoy games, rides, and other activities.
  • Numerous (adj.) - many.
  • To opt (verb) - to make a choice, especially of one thing or possibility instead of others.
  • Fallout (noun) - the unpleasant results or effects of an action or event.
  • Play park (noun) - a public area designed for children to play in, usually outside and with special equipment.
  • Sedate (adj.) - avoiding excitement or great activity and usually calm and relaxed.
  • To wander (verb) - to walk around slowly in a relaxed way or without any clear purpose or direction.
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Questions and answers
M: Where do you usually meet your friends?

R: At their houses? On the odd occasion, we'll go out for dinner or go to a cafe or a bar. But with the cost of living these days, such as it is, it's quite expensive to go out. So it's easier to cut out the middleman and enjoy each other's company in a familiar space.

M: Do you think there are some places that are more suitable for meeting people?

R: Well, yeah, you wouldn't meet anyone in a volcano? Would you? On a more serious note, though, it'll depend on the purpose of the meeting. And, well, I suppose the nature of the company. For example, you wouldn't meet a friend you hadn't seen in a while in a loud shopping centre. You wouldn't be able to hear each other speak. Unless that was the point, of course.

M: Why are some places better than others?

R: Well, probably the point of meeting people or the point of meeting people is so that you can hear them. So in a noisy place, it's not exactly great, or the acoustics aren't great for hearing people and what they have to say. So that's why a quieter place might be better. On the other hand, maybe you've got friends who quite enjoy excitement. So something like an amusement park would be a great place to meet because that's the purpose of being there.

M: How have meeting places changed compared with the past?

R: Well, I'm hardly an expert, though, if I were to guess I would say that they're more numerous and they exist in a greater variety than before. Although, ironically, fewer people are probably using them these days and just opting to meet at home in light of the fallout from the pandemic restrictions and everything else that's going on.

M: Are there any differences between your favourite places now, and in your childhood?

R: Well, I'm probably less likely to meet friends at a play park, for example. Although I teach young people, so actually, that might not necessarily be so true. So I think they're probably more mature, like, and sedate. Like cafes, for example, as opposed to when I was younger, when it would be wilder things like, I don't know, you'd bump into people when you went wandering around in the street, for example.

M: Where did you last meet your friends, Rory? Where did you last meet them?

R: Oh, well, we were on holiday. And I was off doing something different to what the big group was doing. And I met them... Actually, I met them at an amusement park because that's where we agreed to meet.

M: Thank you, Rory, for your amusing answers!

R: Did they meet your expectations?
M: Hmm...

R: No.

M: Yes, yes.
M: Okay, first of all, meeting places, what do we mean? We mean, the places where you meet people. So where do you meet them? Usually, in a cafe. Rory talked about, well, amusement parks. Right? You talked about play, play parks? No, playgrounds. What did you say?

R: They're like publicly accessible parks, where children go to play. Whereas a playground is more like a place in the school where people, well, where kids or students play.

M: Where do you meet your friends? Oh, usually in a play park or playground? Yeah, we just enjoy hanging out with little kids. And doing the little thing things out of the sand.

R: Well, bear in mind, like I'd have to supervise some of the kids at their breaks. So it's not entirely out of the question.

M: Yeah, true. Yeah, usually we say we go out for dinner. Or we go to a cafe, to a bar, we sometimes meet in a pub. Right? And you said like, on the odd occasion, on the odd, odd occasion. What did you mean by that?

R: It's just another way of saying occasionally. Although it's probably something that happens less often than occasionally because it's odd. So it's like every now and then.

M: So usually Rory meets his people at their houses. So you don't invite them to your house. You just go to their houses right?

R: Mostly yeah. Mostly people just, well, mostly I go to their houses I should say.

M: Yeah. And then on the odd occasion, we'll go out for dinner. So sometimes we go out for dinner, or go to a cafe, right? And then Rory said that it's easier to cut out the middleman, the middleman. What is this middleman? Why not a woman? Sexist, in this context.

R: That's what it is. That's the expression. The middleman is just something that brings two other parties together. So in this case, the middleman is the meeting place because it's where the two parties meet, whether they are men or women. Are you happy now?

M: Yeah, okay. Yeah. So, dear listener, so if for example, I have Rory and myself and then the middle man is going to be a cafe or McDonald's.

R: Probably McDonald's.
M: Or I don't know, a shop with nice shoes. McDonald's. Yeah. So McDonald's is the middleman. McDonald's, please sponsor our podcast. So any McDonald's people listening? So we can say that I prefer meeting my friends in familiar spaces. So space, in a familiar space. A familiar space is your house or your friend's place, your friend's house.

R: Well, it's a place that everybody involved in the meeting knows well. So it's familiar.

M: And then Rory cracked a joke. He said, like, you wouldn't meet anyone on a volcano, or you said in a volcano, inside a volcano. Volcano, yeah? Vesuvius.

R: Well, it's a bit of a silly question. It's like are there unsuitable places to meet people? Yes. In space, in the middle of a war, in a volcano, like there's lots of like inconvenient places.

M: Yeah. So obviously, right? And you can crack a joke here. So you wouldn't meet anyone on a volcano or in a volcano. Or you wouldn't meet anybody in a cave. But then again, why not? You know, if it's a romantic date, maybe I go like, Rory, let's meet on a tree house. You know, The Tree House?

R: Well, a tree house is different. I thought you're about to say in a cave. And I was like, that sounds like the plot to some sort of horror movie.

M: Again, then Rory goes like, on a more serious note. So you see, he cracks a joke. Ha-ha, ha-ha. And then he goes, on a more serious note, it depends on the purpose of a meeting. Right. So the nature of the company. It depends on the purpose of the meeting, and also the nature of the company. Here the company is not McDonald's, but it's people who you meet. I remember an interesting story. Somebody told me that a girl was supposed to meet a boy. And this boy said like, oh, let's meet in a swimming pool. And they've never seen each other, you know, like they were strangers. And they kind of met online or somewhere and he goes like, oh, let's meet in a swimming pool. Let's go to the swimming pool. Do you think it's an appropriate place to meet somebody for the first time? To just go to the swimming pool?

R: I think that is wildly inappropriate.

M: You know, people meet in swimming pools. Oh boy. Oh, yeah.

R: Like yeah, let's do that sometime around never.

M: Swimming pool... But again, that could be fine. You know, could be fine to meet at the beach for the first time. Why not?

R: No.
M: No? Okay. For Rory, it's not appropriate. You object. Okay. And then we can talk about, we can describe places we can say that some places are quiet, noisy. So again, depending on the purpose of the meeting, you could go to a noisy place, to a quiet place and then amusement parks could be nice to have fun. And Rory used to prefer wilder places. Wilder places, you mean like clubs and dark streets of Liverpool?

R: Places with places with fewer rules, I think, is what I was meaning.

M: Yeah, so you know, strange districts. But now Rory is kind of mature.

R: Allegedly.

M: He meets people in... Allegedly. Allegedly mature. He meets people in amusement parks. Disneyland. Yeah, he's more mature. Rory, you've used this word, sedate. Sedate places?

R: Just relaxed, calm. Maybe not tremendously exciting, but just nice.

M: Dull and boring.

R: Ah, if you say so. But then you meet people in swimming pools. So...

M: No, I wouldn't do that. If somebody I met on the internet and they were flirting with me and they would go oh, Maria, let's go to the swimming pool, I would say no. And actually, I had a similar situation. But the guy said like, oh, yeah, I know this... Oh, yeah, it was a swimming pool. It was in summer, and he goes like I know this villa with a swimming pool.

R: Right.

M: Let's meet there. No, it was kind of a public swimming pool, but it was in a nice house.

R: What kind of weirdos you talk to online?

M: Well, it sounded much better in my head. Okay, dear listener? So just, forget about it. I said no because I don't do this.

R: That's because you're sensible.

M: I think, I also think it's inappropriate. But yeah, it's up to you, dear listener. So... But it could be nice to mention this. Yeah. Some people meet in swimming pools, others meet in caves. But on a more serious note...

R: Most normal people...
M: Rory, you did then use your strategy.

R: Yes, I did.

M: I'm hardly an expert. Where did you use it?

R: You asked me how meeting changes, have changed compared to the past, based on my good, solid historical knowledge of ancient meeting places and modern meeting places.

M: And then Rory goes...

R: I'm hardly an expert, though, if I were to guess. This time it was though, if I were to guess. So nice little change. And though is good instead of but.

M: Yeah, and remember, fewer people, less people, no. Fewer people are probably using this or that place. People opt, opt to meet at home. So opt to - they choose to do it. So most people opt to meet at home. Yeah? In the light of the pandemic restrictions, for example, right? Yeah, but now in Scotland. everything is fine, right? So people just meet outside...

R: I don't think things have been in this country ever. But we don't have so many restrictions, is true, yes.

M: And then the question could be where did you last meet with your friends? And yeah, mature Rory goes, yeah, playground. Play park, hey, in Spain. What did you do?

R: In Spain?

M: Yeah, in Spain in the play park?

R: No, it was an amusement park. Well, I didn't do much because I hate amusement parks. Actually, it was funny because I was very keen just to see my friend. And then I was like, yeah, we'll go to the amusement park and I arrived and I was looking around and remembered. Oh, yeah, I hate everything here. Great. So I was the one holding the bags and taking the picture, while my friends enjoyed the roller coasters.

M: Why do you hate amusement parks?
R: Do you know, it's really funny, I can jump out of a plane and talk to complete strangers but I can't really, I really struggle with rollercoasters. Even really like basic ones, I just can't.

M: Oh, yeah, I'm really scared. I was...

R: I don't like them.

M: Oh, I was screaming my head off. I was so scared. But I did that, I think about two years ago. And this was really bad. You know, with this death loop. What do you call it? This, the loop?

R: I have no idea. I don't I don't engage with them at all.

M: When you go backwards, and yeah... So really crazy roller coaster. And I was like, I was done like, for like three hours after that I was like, a vegetable. Yep. So I don't meet people in amusement parks.

R: Sensible.

M: Or swimming pools or caves. I can meet you on a tree house. In a tree house.

R: I was gonna say in a tree house might be better.

M: In a tree house. Yeah. Again, if you talk about cafes and restaurants, and just, I don't know, public areas, such as, I don't know, squares, galleries, museums, go ahead, dear listener. So it's fine if your answers are boring, but it's kind of like real life. Also, you just say okay, I just meet people at home. Yeah, so just good and boring.

R: Sensible. Sedate.

M: Sedate. Yeah, there we go. This is our word. Thank you very much for listening! Please, in the comments, let us know where do you meet your friends, and maybe any strange places where people wanted to meet you or maybe you met some of your friends in a strange place like a swimming pool. Thank you very much! Bye!

R: We'll see you next time! Bye!
Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
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