One night, Mrs. Riley, an elderly widow, was walking along a dark, London street. She was carrying her handbag in one hand and a plastic carrier bag in the other. There was nobody else ill the street except two youths. They were standing in a dark shop doorway. One of them was very tall with fair hair; the other was short and fat with a beard and moustache.
The youths waited for a few moments, and then ran quickly and quietly towards Mrs. Riley. The tall youth held her from behind while the other youth tried to snatch her handbag.
Suddenly, Mrs. Riley threw the tall youth over her shoulder. He crashed into the other youth and they both landed on the ground. Without speaking, Mrs. Riley struck both of them on the head with her handbag, and walked calmly away.
The two surprised youths were still sitting on the ground when Mrs. Riley crossed the street towards a door with a lighted sign above it. Mrs. Riley paused, turned round, smiled at the youths and walked into the South West London Judo Club.
(The scene is in a bank. A clerk is sitting behind the desk and a customer is writing out a cheque.)
Clerk: Would you mind showing me your cheque card?
Customer: Certainly. Here you are.
(Suddenly a robber bursts in, he is holding a gun.)
Robber: This is a hold-up! (points gun at Clerk) Hands up! Hand over the money or I'll shoot.
Clerk: Just a minute. Would you mind waiting your turn? This lady was before you.
Robber: All right, but hurry up!
Clerk: (to the customer) How would you like the money?
Customer: In fives, please.
(Clerk counts out the money and hands it to the Customer, who goes to the side to count the money.)
Clerk: (to the Robber) Now then, sir. What can I do for you?
Robber: I've just told you. This is a hold-up and I want some money.
Clerk: Well, I'm afraid it's not that easy. If you want me to give you some money, you'll have to open account first.
Robber: Do you mean that if I open all account, then you'll give me some money?
Clerk: That would be the first step.
Robber: Okay, I'll open an account. Hand over the form. Quickly.
Clerk: (gets a form) Here we are. Just fill it in and sign at the bottom.
Robber: I haven't got a pen!
Customer: You could borrow mine if you like.
(The Robber tries to fill in the form, but has difficulties because he is holding the gun in his right hand and is unable to write with his left hand.)
Customer: If it would make things easier, I'll hold that for you (points to gun).
(The Customer holds the gun while the Robber fills in the form. When the Robber has finished, the Customer hands back the gun. )
Robber: Right. Now hand over the money. Quickly.
Clerk: I'm sorry, but before we can open the account you'll need referees.
Robber: (points to Customer) Will she do?
Customer: I'd be happy to write a reference.
Clerk: No, she doesn't know you well enough.
Robber: What about my doctor?
Clerk: Yes, that'll be fine for one. And the other?
Robber: (thinks hard) Would my probation officer do?
Clerk: Yes, I should think so. Would you like to ask him to fill in these forms and then bring them back next week?
Robber: So, if I bring back these forms next week, you'll give me some money?
Clerk: Well, we'll see what we can do.
Robber: (holds up forms and puts gun away) Right, then, I'll see you next week. Thanks for being so helpful.
Clerk: It's all part of the service. Good morning.
Robber: Good morning.
Customer: Good morning.
Special announcement for Mr. Valans. Would Mr. Valans, passenger on Pan Am Flight Number 35212 to New York, please contact the Pan Am transfer desk immediately. Mr. Valans to contact the Pan Am transfer desk immediately, please.
This is a security announcement. Passengers are reminded not to leave their baggage unattended at any time. Passengers must not leave their baggage unattended. Unattended bags will be removed immediately by the police.
Kenya Airways to Rome and Nairobi, Flight Number 155, boarding now Gate Number 10. Kenya Airways, Gate Number 10.
Your attention please. Olympic Airways Flight Number 563 to Athens boarding now at Gate Number 31. Olympic Airways to Athens, Gate Number 31.
Would passenger Aldo Betini, who arrived from Rome, please go to the meeting point. Aldo Betini to the meeting point, please.
BA wish to apologise for the delay of their Flight Number 516 to New York. This is due to the late positioning of the aircraft to the stand.
Assistant: Good morning, sir.
Man: Good morning. I wonder if you can help. I've lost my coat.
Assistant: Where did you lose it, sir?
Man: Er ... I left it on the ... um ... underground yesterday morning.
Assistant: Can you describe it?
Man: Well, it's a full-length brown overcoat with a check pattern on it. It's got a wide belt, and one of those thick furry collars that keep your ears warm. It's a very nice coat, actually.
Assistant: Hmm. I'm afraid we haven't got anything like that, sir. Sorry.
Man: Well, to tell you the truth, I lost another coat last week. On the bus. It's a three-quarter length coat—it's grey, with big black buttons and a black belt.
Assistant: Sorry, sir. Nothing like that.
Man: Hmm. And then only this morning I left my white raincoat in a park. It's got a silk lining ...
Assistant: Look, sir. I'm a busy woman. If you really need a coat so badly, there's a very good second-hand clothes shop just round the corner ...
Doctor: Well, how's the patient this morning?
Nurse: He appears to have had a very restless night.
Doctor: Oh. Was he in very severe pain?
Nurse: Yes. I'm afraid he was, doctor.
Doctor: Hmm. In that case, I think we'd better increase his dosage of diamorphine.
Nurse: Yes, doctor. By how much?
Doctor: Let's see. How much is he on at the moment?
Nurse: Five milligrammes.
Doctor: Hmm. Increase it to fifty.
Nurse: Fifty? All at once?
Doctor: Yes, that's what I said, nurse.
Nurse: But that's an increase of forty-five milligrammes.
Doctor: I'm quite aware of that. However, when I operated on the patient yesterday, I found his abdomen was riddled with carcinoma. I'm sure you realize what that means.
Nurse: Yes, I do, doctor. But I still don't feel I can accept responsibility for administering such an increase.
Doctor: Can't you? What exactly do you suggest, then?
Nurse: That if you're convinced it's the right thing to do, you ought to administer the injection yourself.
Doctor: Hmm. I see what you mean. Very well, I will.
Woman: What did you do during the earthquake, James?
James: Stayed in bed.
Woman: What do you mean? Didn't you try to get outside?
James: No. I'd got terrible flu, so I just stayed in bed.
Woman: So what happened?
James: Well, I must have slept through the first earthquake although nobody believes me. They said it was so noisy. Then I woke up about four in the morning. Still feeling terrible with the flu. Eyes running, nose running. You know how you feel when you've got the flu.
Woman: Don't I just. I've been lucky so far this year, though.
James: So I decided to get up and make a cup of tea. I'd just got into the kitchen when I started to feel all unsteady on my feet. Then I got this roaring noise in my ears. I still thought it was the flu, you see.
Woman: So what happened then?
James: Well, I slowly realized that it wasn't me feeling dizzy and the noises weren't in my head. I heard the people upstairs screaming. The wooden floor started moving up and down, the doors and windows started rattling and banging, all the kitchen cupboards were thrown open and cups and saucers came crashing to the floor, the kitchen clock fell from the wall ...
Woman: Well, what did you do?
James: What could I do? I just stood there and watched.
Woman: Why didn't you try to get out?
James: Oh, I couldn't be bothered. I was feeling so terrible with the flu. I just went back to my bedroom. Some books had fallen from the bookcase and that little porcelain vase had rolled to the floor but fortunately didn't break. I even had to look for my transistor radio under the bed. I picked it up and switched it on and they were telling people to go and sleep in the parks.
Woman: So why didn't you?
James: I told you, I was feeling too ill. And the nearest park is a long walk from my flat. And I didn't want to be with a lot of people. So I just stayed in bed and hoped for the best. I didn't really think the house was going to fall down around me. Though several did, I found out later.
Woman: Yes. I was sitting in a cafe when the first one started and the whole place started to shake. People were running and screaming and pushing to get out ...
Martin, Robert and Jean are being interviewed on the subject of friendship.
Interviewer: How important are friends to you, Martin?
Martin: I've never had a lot of friends. I've never regarded them as particularly important. Perhaps that's because I come from a big family. Two brothers and three sisters. And lots of cousins. And that's what's really important to me. My family. The different members of my family. If you really need help, you get it from your family, don't you? Well, at least that's what I've always found.
Interviewer: What about you, Jean?
Jean: To me, friendship ... having friends ... people I know I can really count on ... to me that's the most important thing in life. It's more important even than love. If you love someone, you can always fall out of love again, and that can lead to a lot of hurt feelings, bitterness, and so on. But a good friend is a friend for life.
Interviewer: And what exactly do you mean by a friend?
Jean: Well, I've already said, someone you know you can count on. I suppose what I really mean is ... let's see, how am I going to put this ... it's someone who will help you if you need help, who'll listen to you when you talk about your problems ... someone you can trust.
Interviewer: What do you mean by a friend, Robert?
Robert: Someone who likes the same things that you do, who you can argue with and not lose your temper, even if you don't always agree about things. I mean someone who you don't have to talk to all the time but can be silent with, perhaps. That's important, too. You can just sit together and not say very much sometimes. Just relax. I don't like people who talk all the time.
Interviewer: Are you very good at keeping in touch with your friends if you don't see them regularly?
Robert: No, not always. I've lived in lots of places, and, to be honest, once I move away, I often do drift out of touch with my friends. And I'm not a very good letter writer, either. Never have been. But I know that if I saw those friends again, if I ever moved back to the same place, or for some other reason we got back into close contact again, I'm sure the friendship would be just as strong as it was before.
Jean: Several of my friends have moved away, got married, things like that. One of my friends has had a baby recently, and I'll admit I don't see her or hear from her as much as I used to ... She lives in another neighborhood and when I phone her, she always seems busy. But that's an exception. I write a lot of letters to my friends and get a lot of letters from them. I have a friend I went to school with and ten years ago she emigrated to Canada, but she still writes to me every month, and I write to her just as often.
Bill Walker works for an import-export company. Last Wednesday morning Bill rang his office at nine o'clock. His boss, Mr. Thompson, answered the phone.
Mr. Thompson: Hello, Thompson here ...
Bill: Hello. This is Bill Walker.
Mr. Thompson: Oh, hello, Bill.
Bill: I'm afraid I can't come to work today, Mr. Thompson.
Mr. Thompson: Oh, what's the problem?
Bill: I've got a very sore throat.
Mr. Thompson: Yes, you sound ill on the phone.
Bill: Yes, I'll stay in bed today, but I'll be able to come tomorrow.
Mr. Thompson: That's all right, Bill. Stay in bed until you feel well enough to work.
Bill: Thank you, Mr. Thompson ... Goodbye.
Mr. Thompson: Goodbye, Bill.
* * *
Mr. Thompson liked Bill very much. At 12:30 he got into his car, drove to a shop and bought some fruit for him. He went to Bill's flat and rang the doorbell. Bill's wife, Susan, answered the door.
Susan: Oh, Mr. Thompson! Hello ... how are you?
Mr. Thompson: Fine, thanks, Susan. I've just come to see Bill. How is he?
Susan: He doesn't look very well. I wanted him to see the doctor.
Mr. Thompson: I'll go in and see him ... Hello, Bill!
Bill: Oh ... hello ... hello, Mr. Thompson ... er ... er ...
Mr. Thompson: I've brought some fruit for you, Bill.
Bill: Thank you very much, Mr. Thompson.
Mr. Thompson: Well, ... I had to pass your house anyway. How's your throat?
Bill: It seems a little better. I'll be OK tomorrow.
Mr. Thompson: Well, don't come in until you feel better.
Bill: All right ... but I'm sure I'll be able to come in tomorrow.
Mr. Thompson: Goodbye, Bill.
Bill: Goodbye, Mr. Thompson.
* * *
At three o'clock in the afternoon, Mr. Thompson locked his office door, and switched on his portable television. He wanted to watch an important international football match. It was England against Brazil. Both teams were playing well, but neither team could score a goal. The crowd were cheering and booing. It was very exciting.
* * *
Then at 3:20, England scored from a penalty. Mr. Thompson jumped out of his chair. He was very excited. He was smiling happily when suddenly the cameraman focused on the crowd. Mr. Thompson's smile disappeared and he looked very angry. Bill Walker's face, in close-up, was there on the screen. He didn't look ill, and he didn't sound ill. He was smiling happily and cheering wildly!
(Ringing of phone)
Woman: Four six four o. Can I help you?
Man: His line's busy at the moment. Do you want to hold?
Woman: There's no reply on that number. I'll try Mr. Shaw.
(Ringing of phone)
Man: This is Karim Premji speaking. I'm afraid I'm out of the office at the moment. If you could leave your name and number when you hear the tone, I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Tony: Oh ... er ... thanks, Henry ... Um, do you have a light?
Henry: Sorry. Here.
Tony: Thanks. Lovely day. Pity I'm on duty.
Henry: I'll stand in for you if you like. I've got nothing else to do.
Tony: Oh no, I couldn't possibly ...
Henry: Go on. Go off and have a good time. Here—you can have the Mini if you like.
Tony: But ... are you sure, Henry?
Henry: Of course I am. Take Jill up the mountains, or something.
Tony: That's ever so good of you, Henry. Oh, you ... er ... you won't tell anyone, will you ... I mean, I am on duty.
Henry: Not a word. Bye, Tony—enjoy yourself.
Tony: Thanks, Henry. I won't forget this ...
Henry: Damned right you won't, you poor fool!
Three people are describing their dreams.
1. I knew that the brakes of my car needed repairing, but I did nothing about it, until one night I dreamt I was driving my car along a familiar road. Suddenly I had to brake because I was driving towards a wall. However, when I put my foot on the brake nothing happened and I crashed into the wall.
2. I was walking down an unfamiliar road when I reached a dark and miserable house. Grey clouds covered the sky, and so I went inside the house where I found a poor, pathetic person, wearing clothes similar to those my wife wore. I didn't recognize her and felt sorry for her. There was nothing else in the dream but when I woke the next morning, I felt the misery and unhappiness of it all day.
3. One day I was sitting in my office, listening to a group of colleagues whispering and talking about me. I couldn't hear what they were saying but it worried me. That night I dreamt exactly the same sequence again, except that in my dream I saw something I'd missed during the day. While they were whispering they were all looking down at something. The next morning when I woke up I realized exactly why they'd been whispering and talking about me. That day was my birthday. Wasn't it possible that they'd been looking down at a birthday card? My dream was right. I did get a card from my colleagues, whom I'd suspected of talking about me.
Woman: The trouble with education in Britain, I think, lies with the teachers. I don't think teachers get nearly enough training in actually how to teach rather than the subject. I think they're too serious, too academic; they're not imaginative enough. And that means that there's not enough excitement in the classroom for children to get interested in the subject.
Man: Yes, I agree. I think there's too much theoretical teaching given and not enough practical education, with the result that pupils are far too busy studying for exams to have time to learn about life itself and how to, how to live in the world.
Woman: Mm. I think all teachers should be at least twenty-five before they start teaching. I think they should be forced to live in the outside world, rather than go from the classroom to the university and back to the classroom again.
I had a working mother when I was a young girl. She went back to work when I was ten and my brother was fourteen. She taught at a school of dress design. I studied English at university. Then I got a job with an advertising agency as an assistant. I studied English so I could get a good job with a good company. In 1980 I went abroad with a friend. We spent a month in California. Then I worked for a company which sold cassette tapes and books for English conversation. I was still single at twenty-five, then my parents started to worry because their daughter wasn't married. Our neighbors and relations were asking when I would marry and they began to talk about an arranged marriage. In Japan they don't force you to marry someone, but they may give you a chance to meet someone. I am very interested in jazz and I met my husband in a Jazz club. My parents didn't want their daughter to marry a foreigner. They didn't want me to come to England, but now I work in London for a Japanese newspaper.
Once upon a time, there was a rich Caliph in Baghdad. He was very famous because he was wise and kind. One morning he sent his servant, Abdul, to the market to buy some fruit. As Abdul was walking through the market, he suddenly felt very cold. He knew that somebody was behind him. He turned round and saw a tall man, dressed in black. He couldn't see the man's face, only his eyes. The man was staring at him, and Abdul began to shiver.
"Who are you? What do you want?" Abdul asked.
The man in black didn't reply.
"What's your name?" Abdul asked nervously.
"I ... am ... Death," the stranger replied coldly and turned away.
Abdul dropped his basket and ran all the way back to the Caliph's house. He rushed into the Caliph's room.
"Excuse me, master. I have to leave Baghdad immediately," Abdul said.
"But why? What's happened?" the Caliph asked.
"I've just met Death in the market," Abdul replied.
"Are you certain?" said the Caliph.
"Yes, I'm certain. He was dressed in black, and he stared at me. I'm going to my father's house in Samarra. If I go at once, I'll be there before sunset."
The Caliph could see that Abdul was terrified and gave him permission to go to Samarra.
The Caliph was puzzled. He was fond of Abdul and he was angry because Abdul had been badly frightened by the stranger in the market. He decided to go to the market and investigate. When he found the man in black, he spoke to him angrily.
"Why did you frighten my servant?"
"Who is your servant?" the stranger replied.
"His name is Abdul," answered the Caliph.
"I didn't want to frighten him. I was just surprised to see him in Baghdad."
"Why were you surprised?" the Caliph asked.
"I was surprised because I've got an appointment with him ... tonight ... in Samarra!"
Dennis: You've been seeing Steve again, haven't you?
Cynthia: What are you talking about?
Dennis: You know as well as I do. One of my friends saw you together in a restaurant yesterday evening.
Cynthia: Listen, Dennis. Look, I'm sorry. I was going to tell you. I really was.
Dennis: Well, why didn't you? Why did you ... Why did you lie to me?
Cynthia: But I didn't lie! How can you say that?
Dennis: Yes, you did! You told me that your relationship with him was all over.
Cynthia: But it is, darling! It ended more than a year ago.
Dennis: Did it? Then why did you go out with him yesterday?
Cynthia: Because he phoned me and said he had some business to discuss with me. What's wrong with that!
Dennis: Nothing. But if that's true, why did you tell me you were going to have dinner with your mother yesterday evening?
Cynthia: Because ... because I thought you'd be terribly jealous if I told you I was going to see Steve. And you are.
Dennis: I'm not. I simply can't understand why you lied to me.
Cynthia: I've already told you. But you just won't believe me.
Dennis: That all you did was discuss business together? Of course, I can't believe that!
Cynthia: Well, that's exactly what we did! And it isn't true that I lied to you about my mother. When I told you that, I intended to see her. But then Steve rang and said he needed my advice about something.
Dennis: About what?
Cynthia: A legal matter.
Dennis: A legal matter? Why should he ask your advice about a legal matter? You aren't a lawyer.
Cynthia: No, but you are! And that's what he wanted to talk to me about. Somebody recommended to him. But before he contacted you, he wanted to know if I thought you'd be willing to help him. I said I didn't know.
Dennis: Help your ... ex-boyfriend? Give him legal advice? I'm not going to do that.
Cynthia: That's what I thought you'd say. I knew it.