Sunday, September 02, 2012

48. Next-Door Neighbours

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The long, hot summer is over – for some, let’s not forget to take everything with a pinch of salt – well, that is, if by ‘summer’ we understand holidays. Time for a new start. But wait, the previous topic was left unfinished: some practice is needed, and you are all welcome to it (and to comments!)

Next-door Neighbours

[adapted from New Success at First Certificate by Robert O’Neill, Michael Duckworth and Kathy Gude]

Alison closed the door of her small flat and put down her briefcase. As usual, she had brought some work home from the travel agency. She wanted to have a quick bite to eat and then, after spending a few hours working, she was looking forward to watching television or listening to some music.

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She was just about to start preparing her dinner when there was a knock at the door. ‘Oh, no! Who on earth could that be?’ she muttered to herself. She went to the door and opened it just wide enough to see who it was. A man of about sixty was standing there. It took her a moment before she realized who he was. He lived in the flat below. They had passed each other on the stairs once or twice, and had nodded to each other but never really spoken.

‘Uh, sorry to bother you, but... uh ... there's something I'd like to talk to you about’ he mumbled. He had a long, thin face and two big front teeth that made him look rather like a rabbit. Alison hesitated, but then, opening the door wider, asked him to come in. It was then that she noticed the dog. She hated dogs - particularly big ones. This one was a very old, very fat bulldog. The man had already gone into her small living-room and, without being asked, had sat down on the sofa. The dog followed him in and climbed up on the sofa next to him, breathing heavily. She stared at it. It stared back

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The man coughed. ‘Uh, do you mind if I smoke?’ he asked. Before she could ask him not to, he had taken out a cigarette and lit it.
‘I’ll tell you why I’ve come. I... I hope you won't be offended but, well...’ he began and then stopped. Suddenly his face went red. His whole body began to shake. Then another cough exploded from somewhere deep inside him. Still coughing, he took out a grey, dirty-looking handkerchief and spat into it. Afterwards he put the cigarette back into his mouth and inhaled deeply. As he did so, some ash fell on the carpet.

The man looked around the room. He seemed to have forgotten what he wanted to say. Alison glanced at her watch and wondered when he would get to the point. She waited.
‘Nice place you've got here’ he said at last.

I. Choose the best answer.
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1. How do you think Alison felt when she heard the knock at the door?
A Afraid.    B Irritated. C Pleased. D Curious.

2. Who was the man at the door?
A Someone from work.
B A friend who needed advice.
C A complete stranger.
D A neighbour she hardly knew.
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3. What do you think Alison said to herself when she saw the dog?
A 'I wish he wouldn't bring that dog in here.'
B ‘Oh, what a nice dog!’
C ‘What’s wrong with that poor dog?’
D ‘I’m sure I’ve seen that dog somewhere before.’

4. What happened after the man asked if he could smoke?
A Alison offended him by asking him not to.
B He went ahead without waiting for an answer.
C He began to smoke but then put the cigarette out. D He took out his cigarettes but did not light one.

5. Why did he want to talk to her?
A We are not told.
B He wanted to tell her how nice her flat was.
C He wanted to introduce himself.
D She had done something to offend him.
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Try to imagine
(a) what Alison looks like.
(b) her typical day at work.
(c )what she likes doing when she isn't at work.

Can you do the same for the man? Try to imagine
(a) the clothes he is wearing.
(b) a typical day in his life.
(c)some of the possible reasons why he wants to talk to Alison.
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