BBC Listening 3

A bright spark

Is this a clever phrase?

Feifei
Hello, this The English We Speak. I’m Feifei.
Rob
And hello, I’m Rob.
Feifei
Hey, Rob. You know we’ve got a ‘bright spark’ in our office?
Rob
A bright spark? Oh yes – by that you mean someone intelligent…
Feifei
Well…
Rob
Someone full of energy…
Feifei
I didn’t exactly…
Rob
Someone with clever ideas. Feifei, there’s no need to waste everyone’s time. Just say my
name! Rob is the bright spark in the office.
Feifei
Ermm… Rob, that is just one definition of ‘a bright spark’. A bright spark can describe
someone who is clever, intelligent with lots of energy. But this isn’t the definition that applies
to you Rob!
Rob
So come on, Feifei. When else would you describe someone as ‘a bright spark?
Feifei
Well, it can be used sarcastically and humorously to describe someone who thinks they are
intelligent but actually does something stupid. A bit like this…
Examples
Which bright spark suggested we go for a walk on the wettest day of the year?!
Come on, own up – who’s the bright spark who turned the power off and caused everything
in the freezer to melt?
Are you the bright spark who told the other team our game plan? I think you owe us an
apology.
Feifei
This is The English We Speak from BBC Learning English. And we’ve discovered that ‘a
bright spark’ can either be a very smart person or someone who has done something stupid.
So I’m sorry to say, Rob, you are the second kind of bright spark!
Rob
Oh really. Why is that?
Feifei
You left the window open last night and this morning I found all my documents and scripts
blown all over the floor.
Rob
Are you sure? A bright spark like me would never do something like that.
Feifei
Rob, it’s exactly what a bright spark like you might do – and it means I’ve lost the last page of
this script.
Rob
Oh really! I think I can remember what it said. Something like – ‘Sorry, Rob. You are wise
and clever and the brightest spark I have ever known’.
Feifei
I don’t think so, Rob. Which bright spark would write something as cringey as that?
Rob
Err… Time to go I think.
Feifei
Good idea. Bye.
Rob
Bye.

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