From “Quite Early Early One Morning” by Dylan Thomas)
It was on the afternoon of the day of Christmas Eve, and 1 was in Mrs. Prothero's garden, waiting for cats, with her son Jim. It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats. Sleek and long as jaguars and horrible-whiskered, spitting and snarling, they would sidle and slide over the white back-garden walls, and the lynx-eyed hunters, Jim and I, fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson. Bay, off Mumbles Road, would hurl our deadly snowballs at the green of their eyes. The wise cats never appeared. We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows - eternal, ever since Wednesday that we never heard Mrs. Protlioro's first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden. Or, if we heard it at all, it was, to us, like the far-off challenge of our enemy and prey, the neighbour's polar cat. But soon the voice grew louder.
"Fire!" cried Mrs. Prothero, and she bent the dinner-gong.
And we ran down the garden, with the snowballs in our arms, toward the house; and smoke, indeed, was pouring out of the dinning-room, and the gong was bombilating, and Mrs. Prothero was announcing ruin like a town crier in Pompei. This was better than all the cats in Wales standing on the wall in a row. We bounded into the house, laden with snow-balls, and stopped at the open door of the smoke-filled room. Something was burning allright perhaps it was Mr. Prothero, who always slept there after midday dinner with a newspaper over his face. But he was standing in the middle of room, saying, ''A fine Christmas!" and smacking at the smoke with a slipper.
ICEBERG - A SOURCE OF FRESH WATER
Icebergs towed from the Antarctic to the Red Sea could provide economic source of fresh water for Saudi Arabia. There are no technical problems to which we cannot find a solution.
In France a detailed plan for towing the icebergs, each weighing 100 Mt, across the Indian Ocean, and through the Gulf of Aden to the mouth I the Red Sea was developed. There they would be chopped into manageable pieces (about 1Mt each), using heated cables, and towed through the shallow Bab el Mandeb Straits to the Saudi coast.
Even in tropical temperatures, natural thawing of the icebergs would not be quick enough to match demand for fresh water and the problem is of working out ways of spading up formation of the fresh-water pools by induced melting. That is the last of the problems to be solved, and it should not be a difficult one.
The giant icebergs must be wrapped in an insulating jacket to cut down melting Losses on their 8,000km journey. At an estimate speed of 1 knot, it will take 6-8 months for five tugs to pull the iceberg along a computer plotted route, taking advantage of prevailing currents and winds and dodging high ways.
About one third of the world's people live in cities. Some cities have very large populations, including a few that have more than 10 million inhabitants. Most of the people work in the city but it can take them a long time to travel from home to work. Roads become so congested that traffic is very slow moving. To get round this problem some cities, including London, Paris, Prague, New York, Tokyo and Moscow, have underground trains (subways).
All cities are built up. This means that most of the available space has to be used to provide homes, business premises and civic buildings including city halls, schools and hospitals. Space is saved by building very tall blocks called skyscrapers which will tower above older buildings. Many cities have a mixture of ancient and modern buildings because they have grown and developed over a very long time.
If you were to take a map of a city and colour all the homes in one colour, all the shops another and so on for every different type of building, you would probably see a pattern. This pattern is called the structure of a city. For example, there are usually more houses and flats around the outside of a city than in the middle. The centre is often full of offices and shops, although there are also shops in among outer areas of housing. The main roads in and out of your city may show a pattern: leading to other cities, or avoiding high hills, for example. Factories may be together on one side, not in the centre.
Latka was a customs officer in Europe. He used to work in a small border town. It wasn't a busy town, and there wasn't much work. The road was usually very quiet, and there weren't many travelers. It wasn't a very interesting job, but Latka liked an easy life. About once a week, he used to meet an old man. His name was Spevna. He always used to arrive at the border early in the morning in a big truck. The truck was always empty. After a while Latka became suspicious. He often used to search the truck, but he never found anything. One day he asked Spevna about his job. Spevna laughed and said, "I'm a smuggler."
Last year Latka immigrated to the United States. One night he was having dinner in a restaurant in Los Angeles. On the other side of the restaurant he saw Spevna drinking champagne. Latka walked over to him.
Latka: Hello, there!
Latka: Do you remember me?
Spevna: Yes, of course I do.
You're a customs officer.
Latka: I used to be, but I'm not any more. I retired last year, and I live in Los Angeles now. I often used to search your truck.
Spevna: But you never found anything!
Latka: No, I didn't. Can I ask you something?
Spevna: Of course you can.
Latka: Were you a smuggler?
Spevna: Of course I was.
Latka: But the truck was always empty. What were you smuggling?
Herbert loved London. He didn't like the busy crowded places — he loved the small back-streets. He loved exploring these streets, and every weekend he walked for miles through them. One Saturday morning he was walking along a very small street. He was looking into the shop windows, and admiring the old buildings. Suddenly he felt hungry. He decided to stop for lunch in the nearest restaurant. It seemed quite ordinary - but then he noticed a sign in the window. The sign said: "We can serve anything. You name it, we can serve it."
"That's impossible," Herbert thought to himself. But he decided to go in and find out. He sat at a table near the door. When the waiter came to take his order, Herbert asked for elephant ears on it. The waiter wrote it down calmly and went into the kitchen. A few minutes later he came back and said very apologetically to Herbert: "I'm sorry, sir — but we can't serve elephant ears on toast."
"Ah, ha!" said Herbert, "I knew it was impossible, you haven't got any elephant ears, have you?"
"We have got plenty of elephant ears, sir," replied the waiter in very dignified voice, "but I'm afraid that we've run out of bread."
One day the dog of Joseph Turner (a famous English painter of the XIX century) broke a leg. The artist loved his dog very much and spared no pains to have it well again. So he sent for the best surgeon in London instead of taking a veterinary.
When the medical man arrived, Turner said to him by way of an apology, "My dog has broken a leg. I know that you are too great a doctor for such a patient, but I beg you to help my dog. It is so important for me." The surgeon felt annoyed but did not show it.
The next day the medical man asked Turner to come to his house. The artist thought that the surgeon wanted to see him in connection with hisdog. When he arrived at the doctor's, the medical man said, "Mr. Turner, I'm so glad you've come. My door needs painting. I know that you're too great a painter for this work, but I beg you to do it. It is so important for me."
One of the first things a foreigner notices about British railways is the platforms. They are higher than in most part of the world. The platform is almost on a level with the floor of carriages. This makes it a little easier to get in and out of the carriage with your luggage.
The trains that go to and from London are very crowded at the times when people are travelling to work, since about a million people travel to London to work each day.
On many fast trains to London there is a dining car in which you can buy lunch, dinner or coffee. On others there is a buffet at which it is possible to buy snacks and drinks. Sometimes a waiter from the dining car brings round cups of coffee to the passengers.
There are only two classes in Britain — first and second. A first-class ticket costs 50% more than a second-class ticket. On long journeys, there is a ticket inspector, who visits every passenger to see if he has the right ticket and is not travelling in the wrong class.
In England train passengers seldom converse with their fellow-travellers even on a long journey — this is more a national custom than a matter of etiquette.
When the passenger reaches the end of his journey and leaves the train, he has to give his ticket to the ticket collector at the exit before he can leave the station.
Howmany people speak English and why?
It is only in the course of the last hundred years that English has become a number one world language. In the year of 1600, in Shakespeare's time, English was spoken only by 6 million people and was a "provincial" language (as was Russian), while French was the leading foreign language of that century. Three centuries later 260 million people spoke English and now, at the end of the third this millennium, probably one billion people speak English. It has become one of the world's most important languages in politics, science, trade and cultural relations. In number of speakers English nowadays is second only to Chinese. It is the official language of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand. It is used as one of the official languages in Canada and South Africa and in the Irish Republic. It is also spoken as a second language by many people in India, Pakistan, numerous countries in Africa, where there are many different languages and people use English as an "official" or "second" language for government, business and education. Throughout the world many people use English as an international language: some use it for social purposes, others for business or study. In 1992 51% of European schoolchildren studied English as their first foreign language and now this number is much higher.
Near London's centre, a couple of hundred yards from Trafalgar Square is a tavern known as the "Sherlock Holmes," which is dedicated to preserving the legend of the great detective. It is elaborately decorated throughout in Victorian style. On the lower floor is the "bar." Displayed here are such "authentic" exhibits as the head of the Hound of the Baskervilles and the coiled cobra described in the mystery of the "Speckled Band." On the upper floor — adjacent to the dining-room you can find a complete reconstruction of Sherlock Holmes' living-room from his lodgings at the fictional 221B Baker Street. Everything is placed as if the master detective had just stepped out for a moment.
There is his bust on a pedestal by the window, where he placed it to foil any would-be intruder into thinking he was still at home. The remarkable collection of "Holmesiana" to be seen includes revolvers, handcuffs, a police lantern, a model of a Hansom cab,tintype photographs, and some 19th-century cartoons. You cannothelp coming away from the "Sherlock Holmes" with a feeling that Holmes just might have existed, after all!