Stories

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[2011-2012]

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Obama Interview

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Some like it cool

Stop stop the chop chop

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[2010-2011]

История языка (экзамен)

Examination Topics (June)

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Volkova - Theoretical Grammar

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Stop and Check

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Гарбовский

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Crime and punishment

[2009-2010]

Theory of Phonetics L1-L7

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Jane (HR5)

The Waxwork (HR4)

Тер-Минасова

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Importance of Being Scornful

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At Dover (HR1)

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Importance of Being Scornful

Importance of Being  Scornful

Miss Bradley was standing in a seedy hotel room, deep in thought. Her baggage was thrown about all over the bed, still unpacked. She was thinking about her forthcoming journey, that was considered to be a good chance. A real good chance. After passing through Dover she was going to be a well-off person.

The good thing was, that Miss Bradley looked quite ordinary, like most middle-aged English women. Though, in this particular case she would need a little fine-tuning, just to be on the safe side. First of all, she wanted to add new features to her appearance. Something that people would remember about her. Like red hair or a scar or just glasses. "Yes", she decided after a while, "old-fashioned glasses will do."

Miss Bradley came to the wardrobe and looked into the mirror on its wall, examining her face fixedly. To make the whole plan work she had to be a sorry sight. She touched her cheek slowly and murmured: "It's quite easy to imitate a skin-disease. It may help. Then, what about the clothes? " She opened the wardrobe and went over a few clothes she had. She must seem weak and poor, so nothing beautiful, bright or extravagant. The choice was obvious: Miss Bradley decided on the worn-out baggy woollen dress she used as a house dress. She always looked heavy and large wearing it. Well and good.

And finally, to complete the image it was also important to get somewhere a couple of wretched cases. The older, the better. And a string to tie up them with. The train was in two hours - she had to hurry.

As Miss Bradley arrived at the station, she started to observe the platform very carefully. It was a key moment for the entire enterprise to succeed. What she was looking for was a respectable snobby man of the upper classes, travelling alone. Unfortunately, there was anyone but a solitary man - families, young couples, groups of businessmen, nervous mothers with their noisy children. Afterwards, she noticed several men on the platform who seemed to be single. There were two or three students, a stylish man of middle age, an old professor, an Italian businessman and an English gentleman with a dog and newspaper.

Eventually, Miss Bradley made up her mind to a stylish-dressed man, getting on the train. It was clear that he was a bachelor and, which is more, he looked as he regarded himself as a gentleman, rather selfish and very proud of his luxurious suitcases. "Well, car six", Miss Bradley noted.

Then, the next step was to make the gentleman to get to know her and it would be better he thought as if it was just by chance. Luckily, there was a place in the train, every passenger was bound to visit, sooner or later. That place was the dining car. So, Miss Bradley was one of the first that entered it. First, she came to the waiter and quickly explained to him what to do with the stylish man when he'd appear. It cost her a pound. Then she chose a table and sat down just in time because at the very moment her victim went into the restaurant.

The plan worked out. Miss Bradley reckoned as she managed to made an impression of a absolutely silly and helpless woman on the gentleman. The only thing she hated about that dinner was that she had to speak French to the waiter to pretend she had never been and even couldn't ever be in contact with the staff.

To perform the next scene of her play, Miss Bradley had to go through at least three cars, carrying her awful suitcases with her, to be behind the right door as the train reached the Calais Town station. Miss Bradley was always keen on psychology, so she knew well that, helped someone once, people often felt responsible for the person they rescued. The gentleman just needed a chance to help her once. And being on the train, it wasn't a problem for her to create a situation of the kind. The main thing was to be noisy enough now, trying to get out of the train.

As it was hard not to notice the curious incident, which was going next to him, the gentleman approached the exit door and said just a few words: "It's the next stop. This is Calais Town." And then Miss Bradley answered humbly, "Oh, I see. Thank you." That was enough. The next time he would see her, he ought to help her again. Especially, if it wouldn't be a great personal sacrifice.

In the end, the train got to Calais Port where the passengers had to change for the ship. Miss Bradley had no sooner taken up a position on the platform in front of her victim's window saying "Porter!" as weakly as she could than she found herself sharing a porter with the man.

But one circumstance placed her marvellous plan in danger. For some reason, the gentleman seemed to dislike being Miss Bradley's companion onboard and later on she regretted that she hadn't chosen the professor. It was evident, that that man was not pleasant and well-mannered at all and couldn't be a real gentleman. First of all, he didn't ask her any questions. He just sat for all the time staring at his own expensive cases and kept silent. Then he suddenly stood up and went away and, if he hadn't left his baggage staying still, Miss Bradley would have supposed not to see that man anymore. He came back soon a bit more cheerful than before as if he had got a solution how to get rid of her. But he said nothing at all taking his seat and she went on having her one-way conversation as if nothing had happened.

As the ferry arrived at Dover, the porter-sharing exercise repeated again. It was almost all done for Miss Bradley as the Customs at Dover were her final point of destination. "One last little step", she thought, "and I will enter a new world. I just need to keep my baggage with the man's and the officer won't examine me carefully. They never examine the rich." So, as the man, the porter and Miss Bradley came into the hall, she was trying hard to keep all the four suitcases together.

She didn't guess how her baggage fell into the Customs officer 's clutches finally. Miss Bradley was ready to bet that the man could hardly understand who she was indeed. She was sure he regarded her as just a stupid and dull woman of the working-class. Soon she realized what was her mistake - the man was too scornful to admit those two lousy wretched cases as his own, even hypothetically. She was wrong relying on him. But now it was too late to regret. She had to face the fact, she failed her mission. Forty watches she was trying to convey over the border were found into her old cardboard suitcases.

© Ally, 20091205


based on At Dover by Nigel Balchin

useful links:

Guardian

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etymonline.com

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