Английский язык для студентов университетов. Чтение, письменная и устная практика (стр. 32 из 42)

Vic has eaten his two slices of toast and is on his third cup of tea and first cigarette of the day when Marjorie shuffles into the kitchen in her dressing-gown and slippers. She carries the Daily Mail, whichhas just been delivered.

' Shall I do you a bit of bacon?' says Marjorie.

'No, I've finished.'

Vic takes the Daily Mail. The tempo of his actions begins to ac­celerate. He strides through the kitchen, where Marjorie is listlessly loading his soiled breakfast things into the dishwasher, and runs up the stairs. Back in the en suite bathroom, he briskly cleans his teeth and brushes his hair. He goes into the bedroom and puts on a clean white shirt and a suit. He has six business suits, which he wears in daily rotation. Today is the turn of the navy-blue pinstripe. He se­lects a tie diagonally striped in dark tones of red, blue and grey. He levers his feet into a pair of highly polished black calf Oxfords*.

* Walking shoes laced above the instep.

When he comes downstairs again, Marjorie helps him on with his camelhair overcoat. 'When will you be home?' she inquires.

'I don't know. You'd better keep my dinner warm.'

She closes her eyes and tilts her face towards him. He brushes her lips with his.

Vic passes through the glazed porch and out into the open air. The cold wind ruffles his hair and makes him flinch for a moment. As he approaches the garage door it swings open as if by magic — in fact by electricity, activated by a remote-control device in Vic's pocket. He backs the car out, shutting the garage door with another touch on the remote control. Vic puts the automatic gear level into Drive, and glides away.

Now begins the best half-an-hour of the day, the drive to work. Vic swings on to the motorway, going north-west, and for a few miles gives the Jaguar its head, moving smoothly up the outside lane at 90.

Vic is very near his factory now. He turns down Coney Lane and reaches the main entrance. The barrier is raised and he drives to his personal parking space.

Vic pushes through the swing doors to the reception lobby.

'Good morning, Vic.' His secretary, Shirley, smirks from be­hind her desk.

'Morning, Shirley. Make us a cup of coffee, will you?'

He hangs up his camelhair coat in the anteroom, shrugs off the, jacket of his suit and drapes it over the back of a chair. He sits down at his desk and opens his diary. He leafs through the file of corre­spondence in his Intray. He lights a cigarette, inhales deeply, and blows two plumes of smoke through his nostrils. Through walls and windows comes a muffled compound noise of machinery and traf­fic, the soothing, satisfying sound of men at work.

(Extract from "Nice Work" by David Lodge. Abridged)

Discussion points.

1. Vic grimaces at his own reflection. What kind of grimace can it be? Can you imitate it and show it to the class?

2. Vic prefers to remain alone in the morning. What about you?

3. What kind of person is Vic? Prove your point.

4. Imagine what else Vic will do on this day. How will his day end?

Text 2

One Morning in Robyn Penrose's Life

Robyn rises somewhat later than Vic this dark January Monday. Her alarm clock, a replica of an old-fashioned instrument pur­chased from Habitat, with an analogue dial and a little brass bell on the top, rouses her from a deep sleep at 7.30. Unlike Vic, Robyn in­variably sleeps until woken. Then worries rush into her conscious­ness, as into his; but she deals with them in a rational, orderly man­ner. This morning she gives priority to the fact that it is the first day of the winter term, and that she has a lecture to deliver and two tu­torials to conduct. She always feels a twinge of anxiety at the begin­ning of a new term. She sits up in bed for a moment, doing some complicated breathing and flexing of the abdominal muscles, learned in yoga classes, to calm herself.

She was born, and christened Roberta Anne Penrose, in Melbourn, Australia, nearly thirty-three years ago, but left that country at the age of five to accompany her parents to England. Robyn had a comfortable childhood. She attended an excellent grammar school which she left with four A grades at A-level. Though urged by the school to apply for a place at Oxbridge, she chose instead to go to Sussex University.

Robyn kicks off the duvet and gets out of bed. She goes to the window, pulls back the curtain, and peers out. She looks up at the grey clouds scudding across the sky. A gust of wind rattles the sash window and the draught makes Robyn shiver. Clutching herself, she skips to the door from rug to rug, like a Scottish country dancer, across the landing and into the bathroom. She pulls the nightdress over her head and steps into the bath, not first pulling the chain of the toilet because that would affect the temperature of the water coming through the showerhead on the end of a flexible tube, with which she now hoses herself down. She steps from the bath, stretch­ing for a towel in one of those ungainly postures so beloved of Im­pressionist painters.

Robyn, a dressing-gown over her underclothes and slippers on her feet, descends the short dark staircase to the ground floor and goes into her narrow and extremely untidy kitchen. She lights the gas stove, and makes herself a breakfast of muesli, wholemeal toast and decaffeinated coffee. The sound of the Guardian dropping on to the doormat sends her scurrying to the front door. Robyn scans the front-page headline of the Guardian, but does not linger over the text beneath. She puts her soiled breakfast things in the sink, already crammed with the relics of last night's supper, and hurries upstairs.

Robyn straightens the sheet on the bed, shakes and spreads the duvet. She sits at her dressing-table and vigorously brushes her hair, a mop of copper-coloured curls. Now she robs moisturizer into her facial skin as protection against the raw wintry air outside, coats her lips with lip-salve, and brushes some green eyeshadow on her eye­lids. Her simple cosmetic operations completed, she dresses herself in green tights, a wide brown tweed skirt and a thick sweater loosely knitted in muted shades of orange, green and brown. She takes from the bottom of her wardrobe a pair of half-length fashion boots in dark brown leather and sits on the edge of the bed to pull them on.

Robyn goes into her long narrow living-room, which also serves as her study. She lifts from the floor a leather bag, and begins to load it with the things she will need for the day.

Returning to the kitchen, Robyn turns down the thermostat of the central heating and checks that the back door of the house is locked and bolted. In the hall she wraps a long scarf round her neck and puts on a cream-coloured quilted cotton jacket. Outside, in the street, her car is parked, a red six-year-old Renault Five. Robyn turns the ignition key, holding her breath as she listens to the starter's bronchial wheeze, then exhales with relief as the engine fires.

She drives through the gates of the University, parks her car in one of the University's car parks, and makes her way to the English Department. She passes into the foyer of the Arts Block. There are several students slouching against the wall, or sitting on the floor, outside her room. Robyn gives them a wry look as she approaches, having a pretty good idea of what they want.

'Hallo', she says, by way of a general greeting as she fishes for her door key in her coat pocket. 'Who's first?'

Eventually they are all dealt with, and Robyn is free to prepare for her lecture at eleven. She opens her bag, pulls out the folder containing her notes, and settles to work.

(Extractfrom "Nice Work" by David Lodge. Abridged)

Discussion points.

1. How does Robyn's morning differ from Vic's?

2. What kind of person is Robyn? Prove your point.

3. Imagine what else Robyn will do on this day. How will her day end?


The Day before You Came

I must have left my house at eight because I always do,

My train, I'm certain, left the station

Just when it was due.

I must have read the morning paper going into town,

And having gotten through the editorial,

No doubt, I must have frowned.

I must have made my desk around a quarter after nine,

With letters to be read

And heaps of papers waiting to be signed.

I must have gone to lunch at half past twelve or so,

The usual place, the usual bunch,

And still on top of this, I'm pretty sure, it must have rained

The day before you came.

I must have lit my seventh cigarette at half past two

And at that time I never even noticed I was blue,

I must have kept on dragging through the business of the day

Without even knowing anything,

I hid a part of me away;

At five I must have left, there's no exception to the rule,

A matter of routine — I've done it ever since

I've finished school.

A train back home again —

Undoubtedly I must have read the evening paper then.

Oh, yes, I'm sure my life was well within it's usual frame

The day before you came

I must have opened my front door at eight o'clock or so

And stopped along the way to buy some Chinese food to go.

I'm sure I had my dinner watching something on TV —

There's not, I think, a single episode of Dallas that

I did not see. I must have gone to bed around a quarter after ten:

I need a lot of sleep and so I like to be in bed by then;

I must have read a while the latest one by Marilyn French

Or something in that style,

It's funny, but I had no sense of living without aim

The day before you came.

And turning out the light I must have yawned

And snuggled up for yet another night,

And rattling on the roof

I must have heard the sound of rain

The day before you came.

(A Song by ABBA)


Text 1


Over the last fifty years housework has been made considerably easier by the invention of an increasing number of labour-saving de­vices and appliances, mostly electrical, which have drastically cut down the amount of time and effort previously needed to do the everyday household chores. For many years now there have been vacuum cleaners, electric irons, washing machines and floor-polishers; now we have electric potato-peelers and even electric carving knives. We can buy cookers that will switch themselves on and produce a meal that is ready to eat the minute we-get back home. If we have one of those electric pop-up toasters, we can make toast at the breakfast table itself. Mashed potatoes can be quickly and effortlessly made with a mixer, which usually has a variety of attachments that enable you to make all sorts of other more exotic things like fresh orange juice or real mayonnaise. And a tumble-drier can save you from the frustration of hanging out the washing only to have to bring it in again ten minutes later when menacing storm-clouds loom over.

Probably the most important piece of electrical equipment to become widely used in the last twenty years is the dishwasher. Washing up by hand is not only a time-consuming task (it can take longer than eating the meal itself), but also an extremely boring one, particularly when you are on your own, and it also ruins your hands. Dishwashers come in a range of different sizes and models to suit your purse, the size of your family, and the layout of the kitchen. They can be stood on the floor or on a worktop, or they can be mounted on a wall. And their capacity ranges from six to twelve place-settings. If you buy one, it is worth having it plumbed into the main water supply to save you having to connect robber pipes to your taps each time you use it. All you have to do is load the dirty dishes, glasses and cutlery into the racks inside the machine, pour in some special detergent powder, close the door and switch it on; it does the rest by itself while you get on and do more interesting things. Of course, most dishwashers can't accommodate large saucepans and frying pans, and you do have to scrape all scraps of solid food from the dishes before you put them in to avoid blocking the filters, but the machine will wash almost everything else and get rid of even the most stubborn egg and lipstick stains. When the washing cycle is over, the machine dries the plates and glasses with its own heat, and indeed they can be left inside until they are needed for the next meal.

If you buy a medium-sized dishwasher, you probably won't need to wash up more than once a day. The drawback of this, ofcourse, is that you have to have enough dishes, cutlery, etc. to last three or four meals. So it can happen that people who buy a dish­washer have to buy new china and glasses, either because they ha­ven't got enough or because the ones they've got don't fit the ma­chine. This extra expense may not only be necessary, but also desir­able, for one has to remember that dishwashers can be quite noisy. This means that many people prefer only to use their machine once a day, preferably last thing at night, when you can just shut the kitchen door on it and go to bed.

(From "Meanings into Words" by Adrian Doff, Christopher Jones and Keith Mitchell)

I. Read the text "Dishwashers" and express your agreement or disagree­ment with the following claims about dishwashers.

1. They cannot be stood on the floor.

2. You can hang them on the wall.

3. You cannot use them for washing cutlery.

4. You do not need any detergent powder for washing up.

5. There is a special place in any dishwasher for large sauce­pans and frying pans.

6. They get rid of most stubborn stains and of scraps of solid food.

7. Hot air flowing through dishes dries them.

8. Dishwashers can be quite noisy.

II. Work in pairs. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of having a dishwasher. One of you prefers to have it while the other is not fond of electrical appliances in general.

III. Work in pairs. Explain to each other in you own words the advantages and disadvantages of:

1. vacuum cleaners;

2. automatic cookers;

3. electric toasters;

4. mixers.

IV. Work in groups. Give your opinion on the use of labour saving devices. If you are in favour of this sort of appliances, use:

To make housework considerably easier; to cut down the amount of time and effort; to save one a lot of bother; labour and time consuming task; to do the everyday household chores; to switch themselves on/off; to save smb. from doing smth; extremely boring; to ruin one's hands; can be stood on the floor or on a worktop; can be mounted on a wall; to load the dirty dishes, etc. into; the racks inside the machine; pour in some detergent powder; to do the rest by itself; to dry the plates, etc.; the washing cycle; to be worth buying;

If you are not in favour of them, use:

To suit one's purse; the layout of one's kitchen; can't accom­modate large saucepans and frying pans; to have to scrape all scraps of solid food from the dishes; to block the filters; to have enough dishes, cutlery, etc. to fit the machine; extra expense, noisy; get out of order; to be not worth buying; to repair; to take away much use­ful and valuable physical activity; to need exercise.

Text 2

So great is our passion for doing things ourselves, that we are becoming increasingly less dependent on specialized labour. No one can plead ignorance of a subject any longer, for there are countless do-it-yourself publications. Armed with the right tools and materials, newly-weds gaily embark on the task of decorating their own homes. Men of all ages spend hours of their leisure time installing their own fireplaces, laying out their own gardens; build­ing garages and making furniture. Some really keen enthusiasts go so far as to build their own record players and radio transmitters. Shops cater for the do-it-yourself craze not only by running special advisory services for novices, but by offering consumers bits and pieces which they can assemble at home.

Wives tend to believe that their husbands are infinitely resource­ful and versatile. Even husbands who can hardly drive a nail in straight are supposed to be born electricians, carpenters, plumbers and mechanics. When lights fuse, furniture gets rickety, pipes get clogged, or vacuum cleaners fail to operate, wives automatically as­sume that their husbands will somehow put things right. The worst thing about the do-it-yourself game is that sometimes husbands live under the delusion that they can do anything even when they have been repeatedly proved wrong. It is a question of pride as much as anything else.

(Extract from "Developing Skills" by L. G.Alexander)


Text Sweet Sixteen

Sixteen soft pink blankets fold inwards over sixteen soft warm smiling babies. Sixteen dark-haired young mothers meet their six­teen babies' soft smiling mouths in a kiss.