Too Soon?

June 6, 2023
Anna Tyrie
English Like A Native
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[00:00:05] Pioneers of The Continuum. 

[00:00:07] A story for English learners. 

[00:00:09] Episode five, "Too Soon?", starring Anna Tyrie from English Like A Native. 

[00:00:16] You can find the interactive transcript, subtitles and vocabulary for this episode for free at 

[00:00:25] So, it’s okay for you MEN to romp around naked with cavegirls and fulfill your fantasies of meeting toxic ‘alpha males’ like Hitler and Julius Caesar, but I can’t go back to the 1800s and take part in a simple protest for equal rights for women!”

[00:00:50] Yet again, it was Winston and his merry men with their ridiculous double standards. It needed to be said.

[00:00:59] “No, Ellie, that’s not what I’m saying at all!” Winston said with a sigh. 

[00:01:04] I saw him roll his eyes. Typical!

[00:01:08] “I’m just saying,” he continued in classic Winston style, “that you need to tone it down a little bit. The purple and green hair, your t-shirt… they won’t have seen things like that before.”

[00:01:23] Ugh, God, he really didn’t understand, did he?

[00:01:29] My t-shirt, by the way, said ‘F*** the Patriarchy’ in big, bold letters. I was wearing it for a reason. I continued.

[00:01:38] “That’s the point, Winston, to show people things they haven’t seen before. To get them thinking. They want the right to vote, but I want to get them thinking…it’s not just gender equality, it’s eating a plant-based diet, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, anti-capitalism…”

[00:02:01] I couldn’t finish before Bobby interrupted.

[00:02:05] “Ellie,” said Bobby, “they won’t know what those things are, and they probably won’t care! They’re suffragettes - what they want is the right to vote.”

[00:02:17] “ You men are all the same, always trying to control women! Right, Marcie?”

[00:02:23] I was hoping she would back me up. I mean, she was the only other woman on the team.

[00:02:29] “What?” Marcie said, “Oh, yeah, I suppose.”

[00:02:36] I noted her lack of enthusiasm. Well, she still ate meat - in this day and age - so she couldn’t be trusted!

[00:02:45] “Anyway, we agreed that we could all choose what we would do and where we would go” 

[00:02:52] I climbed into the container that would transport me through time. 

[00:02:57] “And in case you’ve forgotten, guys, it will be a parallel timeline, so it won’t affect things here - unfortunately! Now, press the button and send me through!”

[00:03:10] Bobby and Winston were shaking their heads. 

[00:03:13] Toxic behaviour! But they did press the button, at least.

[00:03:18] I found myself in a cold and damp warehouse. Exactly as planned! I was in the men’s toilets - also as planned, I knew that it would be empty in the middle of a suffragettes meeting! Noises of activity and excited female conversation drifted in from the main area of the warehouse.

[00:03:44] I opened the door and walked boldly out into the group of ten or so women standing around a long work table. They were chatting excitedly as they painted signs and prepared sashes and banners. One sign read, “Votes for Women!” Another read, “We Demand the Vote!” 

[00:04:04] Conversation stopped as they all turned and stared at me. Jaws dropped in surprise.

[00:04:11] They were each and every one dressed in long white flowing dresses. And they all wore flowery hats. The display of unity was impressive, but I was disappointed that they weren’t dressed in a more… empowered way.

[00:04:27] “Greetings, Sisters!” I announced. “My name is Ellie and I’m here to help you prepare for your march!”

[00:04:36] One of the ladies stepped forward, the one who seemed to be in charge. “Who told you about our march? It’s a closely kept secret. And… WHAT are you wearing?”

[00:04:50] “Well,” I said confidently, “I have my own intelligence network. And do you like my clothes? It’s the latest fashion where I come from.”

[00:05:02] “And where exactly would that be?” asked another of the ladies.

[00:05:07] “It’s a small island in the Atlantic Ocean, south of Bermuda. It’s called… Sardesia. You probably haven’t heard of it.

[00:05:18] “It’s an island where society and women’s rights have progressed FAR beyond what you ladies have here in England.”

[00:05:26] This got their attention. The ladies crowded around me to learn more.

[00:05:32] “This sounds very interesting,” said the one in charge. “I’m Elizabeth, by the way. We’ve heard of very interesting things going on in Paris, but please explain the situation in…er… Sardesia.”

[00:05:47] “Women can vote,” I said.

[00:05:50] The ladies gasped and looked at each other. “Marvellous!”, “Wonderful!”

[00:05:57] “But that’s not all. Women can and do work in any job. There are women in the government, women in the police, women captains of industry and women in the army!”

[00:06:10] More shocked expressions of delight, and some puzzled faces.

[00:06:15] “ The army?” enquired Elizabeth, “I thought you said Sardesia is a small island. What kind of army does it have?”

[00:06:25] “Er…” I hesitated. I needed to be smarter about the things I said. “Admittedly, our army only consists of ten soldiers, but five of them are women! In fact, we have laws that make sure companies hire women.”

[00:06:42] “And if women work, who takes care of the children?”

[00:06:47] “Well,” I replied, “we have laws that allow parents to take time off their job when their children are young. And when they are a bit bigger, the government provides nurseries for them.”

[00:06:58] From their facial expressions, I could see that they were quite shocked. 

[00:07:02] It must have been a lot to take in. But wait until they hear about the other stuff! 

[00:07:10] One piped up, she started to speak.

[00:07:13] “My name’s Emily; I think all of this is wonderful! I want to ask about your dress. You have dye in your hair, you’re wearing trousers, and your blouse…” she giggled, “has a rude word on it! Do all Sardesians dress this way?”

[00:07:34] As she mentioned the ‘rude word’, several of the women looked quite unhappy.

[00:07:40] “Why, yes,” I said, “The point is that anyone can dress however they like! Have you worn trousers before, Emily?”

[00:07:50] Emily blushed, her face turning a deep red. “Well, I’ve thought about it!”, she said quietly.

[00:07:58] “Well, I think it’s ridiculous!” one of the women stated. “Voting is one thing, but why would we want to look like men? What’s next, men wearing dresses?”

[00:08:11] “Actually…” I replied, “In my…er… country, it’s fine for men to wear dresses and some do! We believe in exploring your gender identity.

[00:08:22] “Take me, for example. I’m ‘gender fluid’. Usually I identify as a woman, but there are some days that I identify as a male! And I have a girlfriend!”

[00:08:35] There was a crash as one of the women dropped her placard on the floor. Most of the others looked quite shocked. Had I pushed it too far? No, of course not, I told myself. They needed to hear such things to become more enlightened.

[00:08:54] “Do you mean to say,” said Elizabeth, “that on certain days, you behave like a man?”

[00:09:01] Hmm, maybe it was too much for her to understand.

[00:09:06] “No,” I corrected her, “on certain days I AM a man.”

[00:09:15] Now I had them really confused…

[00:09:19] “But then how…” she thought for a while, “how can you claim to be a feminist and protest against the ‘patriarchy’ if you ARE a man?”

[00:09:29] “Well, I… uh…”. To be honest with you, I struggled to find an explanation simple enough for this woman and her unenlightened times.

[00:09:39] “If you ask me, I think it’s wonderful,” Emily chipped in. “ Sometimes I feel like I want to be a man… Tell us more about your society... but be fast because we still need to plan for the march.”

[00:09:55] “Okay. In our society, most people don’t eat animals; we’re vegan - we don’t eat meat, drink milk, or consume anything that involves animals.”

[00:10:08] “I’ve heard of such things,” said Elizabeth, “but it surely can’t be very good for you. It’s not natural.”

[00:10:18] I paid no attention to her ignorant comments, and pushed on. 

[00:10:23] “And we believe in equality amongst races - an area I think you lot need to do some work on”, I said, looking around at the group of exclusively white faces.

[00:10:36] “Oh, and men can marry men and women can marry women. We’re free… although, I admit there are still some MEN who could use some corrections to their behaviour.”

[00:10:50] Looking around at the confused and disgusted expressions on the faces of these women, with the exception of Emily, that is, I wished that I could stay here in THIS time. There would be so much work to do - it would be great, they needed someone like me! 

[00:11:08] Back in my own time, it was boring to be an activist, there wasn’t much work to do. Most people were perfectly open-minded, except for some of the boneheads I worked with, of course.

[00:11:21] Just then, a woman came running and yelling from the direction of the door. “Police! Police! They’re coming to raid us! They’ll be here in a few moments!”

[00:11:32] “Fiddlesticks!” exclaimed Elizabeth. “Everyone go out the back! Take the placards and signs! I’ll stay and deal with the police and we can postpone the march until next weekend. Now, go!”

[00:11:44] The women did as commanded, leaving Elizabeth, Emily and me alone in the warehouse.

[00:11:50] Emily looked at me. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to…”

[00:11:54] “Morning, ladies!” a lone policeman walked in carrying a truncheon - a large wooden stick.

[00:12:02] “Well, well, what do we have here, then? Shouldn’t you lot be home prepping dinner for your husbands or doing the washing up?”

[00:12:12] I felt my blood begin to boil at this hateful language. God, he was an awful human being. He might even be worse than Winston…

[00:12:23] “And what do we have here?” He was examining me. “Looks like one of the circus freaks escaped! Dear me, you can’t go around dressed like that, and with an obscenity written on your blouse! I can book you for that, young lady.”

[00:12:41] “I’ve been arrested plenty of times, don’t worry,” I whispered to Elizabeth and Emily.

[00:12:46] “Arrested? I thought your country was ‘free and open-minded’? hissed Elizabeth.

[00:12:53] “Now then ladies, stop all that whispering and explain yourselves. What are you doing here this fine afternoon?”, the officer said.

[00:13:03] Elizabeth was the first to speak.

[00:13:05] “We haven’t broken any laws, Officer.”

[00:13:08] “Exactly!” I added. “And if anyone’s a freak, it’s you, you ignorant chump!”

[00:13:15] The policeman looked like he was going to explode with rage. “I’m not going to let a circus freak speak to ME like that!”

[00:13:24] His truncheon came down against my thigh.

[00:13:28] He should have aimed elsewhere, though. 

[00:13:30] I was still standing and it didn’t hurt that badly. I knew something that the policeman didn’t - Thai kickboxing - and I swivelled and cracked him in the face with my foot.

[00:13:41] The cop fell to the ground, holding his face in shock. I may have broken his nose. Emily and Elizabeth were equally in a state of shock.

[00:13:52] I picked up the truncheon he had dropped and slapped it against the palm of my hand.

[00:13:58] “Didn’t see that coming, didya?”

[00:14:01] Unfortunately, that was the moment that the rest of the police entered the warehouse. Ten of them, all with their truncheons out. They looked at their fallen comrade on the ground and then looked at we three women in disbelief.

[00:14:15] I knew we were no match for them, and I put my hand into my pocket and felt around for my chronotrigger, my ticket out of there.

[00:14:24] I turned to the two girls.

[00:14:27] “I’m not really from Sardesia,” I told them. “I’m from the future. Keep protesting, sisters! One day you’ll be free!”

[00:14:37] Then, I pressed my chronotrigger. 

[00:14:40] Back in the lab, everyone was waiting.

[00:14:46] “I was kind of hoping you’d return naked, like I did,” Jacob quipped.

[00:14:53] “So did you enlighten them?” asked Winston, sarcastically.

[00:14:58] I sighed. The patriarchy was alive and well. Perhaps I should have stayed in the past…

[00:15:06] “ Pioneers of The Continuum was a Leonardo English production. 

[00:15:13] The story was written by Emile Dodds and me, Alastair Budge. 

[00:15:18] Ellie was played by Anna Tyrie, from English Like a Native. 

[00:15:23] Make sure to subscribe and follow the podcast to get the next episode straight into your favourite podcast app. 

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