It is winter now. It is often cold. I can't say that I can stand colds. So, sometime ago I suddenly fell ill. I mounted a high temperature. I had a running nose and a sore throat. Also I had a splitting headache and a cough. My whole body ached. My mother fixed me a hot lemonade but that didn't help me much. She wanted to give me some aspirin tablets too, but there weren't any in our house. My mother told me to stay in bed, then she called for a doctor. The doctor came, remove his coat and put on his white gown. The doctor asked me to strip to the waist. He examined my lungs, felt my pulse and blood pressure, took my temperature. Then he examined my throat and said that it was a little inflamed. He said that is was a light case of the flu and told me to stay in bed and to have a rest. He wrote a prescription for a gargle and cough medicine. Also he gave me some sulfa pills, a slip for x-ray and blood examination. He prescribed cups and mustard plasters. The prescription, which the doctor left, was made up at the chemist's. I followed all the doctor's instructions and very soon I felt much better. In 10 days I fully recovered and resumed my studies.
I will never forget my first visit to the Bolshoy Theatre. It was ages ago, but this stands out in my memory quiet vividly. My mother bought beforehand two tickets for a matinee performance of the ballet "Sleeping Beauty" by Chaikovsky. We came to the theatre long before the performance began. A sign at the entrance of the theatre said that "house full". Many people were standing at the entrance of the theatre asking if we had an extra ticket.
We left our coats in the cloak-room and bought a program from the usher to see what the cast was. I remember we were glad to see that Ulanova was dancing the main part. When we came into the hall the orchestra were tuning in their instruments. We found our seats which were in the stalls and went exploring the theatre. My mother showed me the boxes, the pit, the dress-circle, the tiers and balconies. At 12 sharp the lights went down. The conductor appeared and the overture began. After the overture the curtain went up. I was in raptures at what I saw on the stage. I have never seen anything more wonderful. The scenery and the dancing were superb. The ballet seemed to me a fairy-tale. When the last curtain fell, the house burst out into applause. I applauded so much, that my hands ached. The cries of encore sounded all over the theatre. The dancers got many curtain calls and were presented with many flowers. The performance was a great success with the public. It was one of my brightest memories.
I am fond of good books and good music, and when I have some time to spare, I like to go to the theatre or a concert. There are more than a dozen very good orchestras in Britain and some of them are world famous. Orchestras in Britain have no concert halls of their own, but play in halls rented from local authorities or private companies. There are 2 big concert halls in London. The Old Royal Albert Hall and the New Royal Festival Hall, which is one of the most modern concert halls in the world. Theatrical performances are given by theatre companies. There are about 200 professional theatres in Britain. Like orchestras, the theatre companies usually play in rented theatres, but there are several theatres which have their own homes. The center of the art life is London.
London is also the main center of opera and ballet. In Britain the choice of films is limited to young people. Films are placed in one of three categories in Britain. "U" - suitable for everybody, "A" - more suitable for adults, "X" - suitable only for adults. A person under 16 years of age may see an "A" film only in company of an adult. Only person over 16 years of age may see "X" films. Those, who prefer to stay at home may spend their free time, watching TV, listening to the radio. They have many TV and radio programs to choose from.
As for me, I am a great cinema-goer. I like the cinema tremendously. I see all the best films that are on. I prefer features films, though I enjoy documentaries almost as much to say nothing of animated cartoons films, news-reels or popular science films. I usually go to the cinema for the morning or day shows. If I want to go to an evening show I book tickets beforehand. I like to come to the cinema a couple of minutes before the movie starts. If there is a long time to wait I can always look at the portraits of film stars hanging on the walls of the foyer, or listen to a little concert that is usually given for the spectators. It is a good idea, that those who are late are not allowed to enter the hall until the news-reel is over. I hate being disturbed when a film is on. If I like a movie very much I go to see it a second time and besides I see many of the movies televised. I often read the paper "Film Week" to know which films have been released and which ones are being shot. I know all the famous script writers, producers and cameramen.
Books can fit almost every need, temper, or interest. Books can be read when you are in the mood; they don't have to be taken in periodic doses. Books are more personal and more impersonal than professors. Books have an inner confidence which individuals seldom show; they rarely have to be on the defensive. Books can afford to be bold, and courageous, and explanatory; they don't have to be so careful of boards of trustees, colleagues, and community opinion. Books are infinitely diverse; they run the gamut of human activity. Books can express every point of view; if you want a different point of view, you can read a different book. Reading is probably the most important skill you will need for success in your studies. You will have to read lengthy assignments in different subjects with varying degrees of detail and difficulty. If you read inaccurately, you will fail to understand some of the information and ideas you read. If you read slowly, you will have to spent too much time reading your assignments so that your other work may suffer.
Poor reading may be a problem for you, but it is not a hopeless one. Like other skills your ability to read English rapidly and accurately will depend upon a careful instruction and purposeful practice. You must continue to practice on your own to improve your reading skill.
Reading speed is determined in part by how many words your eyes can see at a single glance. Here is a comparison of three different readers and how many stops their eyes make.
Being ╕ able ╕ to read ╕ by phrases ╕ instead of ╕ by single ╕ words ╕ results ╕ from ╕ practice.
Being able ╕ to read ╕ by phrases ╕ instead of ╕ by single words ╕ results ╕ from practice.
Being able to read by phrases ╕ instead of by single words ╕ results from practice.
Notice that the slow reader's eyes must stop fourteen times, focusing on each word alone before they move on to the next. The eyes of the average reader stop six or seven times because they are able to see about two words at a single glance. The eyes of the fast reader stop only three times. They focus at the center of a phrase and see three or four words, then move rapidly to the next phrase. This ability to see words on either side of the point at which your eyes focus is called peripheral vision. As a foreign student of English, you may feel, that it is impossible to recognize so many words at a single glance. It is difficult for many native speakers, but it can be done - and must be done if you are to read as rapidly as you should. You can increase your peripheral vision by eye exercises.
I'm fond of reading. My favourite writer is William Somerset Maugham and I would like to tell about his biography.
William Somerset Maugham was born in 1874 and spent his childhood in Paris in the family of a British diplomat. Having lost his parents at an early age, he went to live in England with his uncle, who was a clergyman. He was educated at King's school in Canterbury studied painting in Paris, went to Heidelbury University in Germany and spent six years at St.Thomas Hospital in England studying to be a doctor. He was an unsatisfactory medical student for his heart wasn't in medicine. He wanted, he had always wanted to be a writer and in the evening after his tea, he wrote and read.
In 1897 he wrote a novel called "Liza of Lambeth", sent it to a publisher and it was accepted. It was something of a success. So William Somerset Maugham decided to abandon his medical profession and he did it with relief. The next ten years were very hard on him. He learned the terrible difficulties of making a living by writing. But he survived. He became a famous writer. He never regretted the five years he had spent at the hospital. They taught him pretty well all he knew about human nature.
The novel "The moon and sixpence" (1919) is based on the life of the artist Paul Gauguin was an immediate success. Maugham went to Tahiti and lived in Gauguin's hut while writing the book. His fame as a short story writer began with "The Trembling of a leaf". Since then he wrote many collections of books, essays and criticism. Many of his books and stories came out of his extensive travels in the East. His autobiographical books "The summing up" and "A writer's Notebook" are remarkable for both style and sincerity. His books have been reprinted many times.
In 1927 William Somerset Maugham settled in the South of France and lived there until his death in 1965.
William Somerset Maugham's short stories are most fascinating. Not long ago I read one of his short stories, it is the story about a man who is very rich, very powerful, very intelligent, very successful in his career and yet he is most unhappy. His name is Lord Mountdrago (the story says: he was an able and distinguished man who was appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs when he was still under forty. He was considered the ablest politician in the Conservative Party and for a long time directed the foreign policy of his country). One day he comes to Dr. Audlin who is a psychotherapist and whose reputation as a psychotherapist is very good. Dr. Audlin seems to be able to help almost everybody (the story says: he could relief certain pains by the touch of his cool, soft hands and by talking to his patients often induce sleep in those who were suffering from sleeplessness. He spoke slowly. His voice had no particular color, but it was musical, soft and lulling. Dr. Audlin found that by speaking to people in that low monotonous voice of his, by looking at them with his pale, quiet eyes, by stroking their foreheads with his long firm hands he could sometimes do things that seemed miraculous). Lord Mountdrago has a strange dreams. They get on his nerves. And he is afraid that he will go mad or commit suicide if it goes on like that every night. He says that his decision can affect the welfare of the country. When Dr. Audlin asks to describe one of his dreams, he begins: "the first I had was about a month ago. I dreamt that I was at a party at Connemara House. It was an official party. The King and the Queen were to be there and many prominent people too. Suddenly I saw a little man there called Owen Griffiths, who is a member of parliament from the Labour Party and to tell you the truth, I was surprised to see him there. The Connemaras were at the top of a marble staircase receiving their gusets... Suddenly I noticed that the King and the Queen had come, turned my back on the Connemaras I understood that I had got my trousers on. You can't understand what I felt at that moment, an agony of shame. I awoke in a cold sweat and understood what it was only a dream".
Dr. Audlin can't diagnose the case and soon he learns that Lord Mountrago has ruined his opponent in the House of Commons. Whose name is Owen Griffiths. He did cruelly and mercilessly. His conscience has protested that injury he caused to Griffiths. The story has a tragic end. Lord Mountdrago is unable to get rid of his terrible dreams. He commits suicide. His antagonist suddenly dies too. The newspaper wrote that his death was supposed to be due to natural reason but we know that his death was supernaturally conditioned by Lord Mountdrago's tragic end. In conclusion we come to after having read that supernatural forces effect our lives. No matter how sensitive or insensitive we might be to them. Thus the moral of the story is that doing good is the only certainly happy action of a man's life.
'Funny weather we are having' is a statement of the obvious we have used for generations as a greeting. When the deep cold lasts long and heavy snow and blizzards give us the shivers we replace "funny" with something stronger, such as "terrible", "ghastly". At times like these people ask what is happening to the weather. So we go to the experts, who tells us, in language appropriate to the subject, what happened yesterday, what is happening today, and what might happen in the next few years. Weather and climate specialists all over the world have amassed a vast quantity of information. They can describe what is happening around us. With satellites they can forecast more accurately what might happen in the immediate future. Their research has produced evidence of why past climatic changes took place.
There have been many climate fluctuations over the 10,000 years since Britain was last covered with an ice sheet. Advances and retreats of ice in the northern hemisphere during the past 500,000 years can be accounted for by changes in the warmth from the Sun.
This was caused by alterations in the Earth's orbit at periods of 96,000, 40,000 and 20,000 years.
Although that theory is widely accepted as a possible explanations for ice ages, it has not been proved. More than 50 theories have been put forward, but only a few have not been completely dismissed.
Not long ago a new theory was published in the science journal "Nature". According to Dr. Garry Hunt, of University College, intense radiation from the nuclear explosion of a nearby supernova - a star - could cause the destruction of part or all of the ozone layer and in this way trigger an ice age.
As for me, I like Autumn best of all. The days become shorter and the nights longer. It isn't so hot in the day-time. The trees are covered with yellow and red leaves. At the end of summer apples, pears, plums and other fruit become ripe. In the South there are many oranges, peaches and tangerines. Autumn is pleasant when it does not rain. Truly speaking, Autumn is a rainy season of the year. When it rains the weather is nasty. The sky is covered with heavy clouds. It drizzles. It is muddy and wet.