Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Reading, 45

January 23, 2007

You are going to read some information about Star Signs. For questions 22 – 35, choose from the list of Star Signs A – G. Some of the Star Signs may be chosen more than once. When more than one answer is required, these may be given in any order. There is an example at the beginning (0).

People of which si9n(s):

will win a competition?   0:_A_

will receive an invitation?  22: _____

will meet new people?  23: _____

may travel?    24: _____      25: _____

are making plans for college?   26:____     25: ____    26: ____

may change house?     29: _____

are advised to be sincere?   30: _____

will have to look after younger brothers or sisters?  31: _____ 

may run short of money?  32: ____     33: ____

will reorganise their place?    34: ____

are advised not to hurry in love matters?   35: ____


Star Signs


Expect more than one heart-to-heart with dad or a teacher about school plans. New neighbours arrive and you think that it’s cool that they have the same interests as you do. If you are involved in sports, make room on the trophy shelf; victory is yours for the asking. You’ll have many late-night phone conversations with a friend about straightening out the world.

B TAURUS  Letters of loan approvals, scholarships and grants for college are in the mail. Don’t panic if you overhear your folks talk about moving. They won’t get the house on the market till spring. Towards the end of the month that gorgeous guy you met last summer will touch base with you. By the 25th, a friend will confide in you about a relationship that’s on the rocks.


If you are in your last year of high school, you will spend all your free time hunting for a college. Check with your local libraries for available scholarships. If you are not ready for college yet, focus on college-prep classes. With Saturn in Aries, you and your friends will be accepted into the same programmes. Mum may be busy this month, so you’ll have to help take care of the siblings.


Romance is on the upswing, but don’t microwave the affair; let love simmer. With Neptune in Capricorn, your ideals will be very important when Romeo comes along. Unexpected expenses leave your wallet light, and you may have to borrow from a friend. Communication is very important to you, so waiting for news may be frustrating.


Check your wardrobe for a great outfit. You’ll probably be invited to a concert or a play by someone special. Money may be a little tight after the holidays. Your wallet may seem like a revolving door. Saturn in Aries will inspire you to volunteer for a trip connected to school or work. You will finally hear from the college of your choice this month:hooray! A last minute maths quiz will take you by surprise. Offer to tutor someone struggling with the subject.


You will have time to spare at work, so take your homework along. Review your paycheque; there could be an error in your favour. Someone a bit younger than you will express his affection. Let him down gently. Love is in the air, but honesty is the best policy. Tell him that you are interested but want a monogamous relationship. The sun in Capricorn has you rearranging your bedroom furniture. While you’re at it, why not paint something artistic on the walls?


Friends will want to hang out at your house and study with you. There will be a flurry of last-minute get-togethers this month. Is one a surprise party for your mum? The changes you make at the beginning of the month will bring results by the 23rd. Look under the bed for that lost treasure. With Jupiter and Mars in Aquarius, plan on an unexpected trip with friends. You’ll have a blastl .

Check your answers here


Reading, 44

January 23, 2007

You are going to read an article about a female boxer. Seven sentences have been removed from the article. Choose from the sentences A – H the one which fits each gap 16 – 21. There is one extra sentence which you do not need to use. There is an example at the beginning (0).

A Millions saw Tyson, but now the main event was over, the cameras were switched off and the crowd was going home.

B For the second time that night, Christy is left with only a handful of people to impress.

C As she prowls the ring, arms held high and punching the air, Christy Martin looks like a woman on top of the world.

D Women’s boxing has never been taken very seriously by the almost exclusively male boxing crowd.

E Christy might worry about her teeth getting knocked out.

F Since signing with him two years ago, Christy’s left blows are now worth thousands of dollars.

G “Look,” she says, examining it closely, “I did break my nail.”

H “It does hurt my feelings that I work so hard and I don’t get mentioned,” she says.


The female Tyson

The crowd was jubilant. Mike Tyson had just beaten Buster Mathis Junior in the third round in a cavernous stadium in Philadelphia, as everyone suspected he would. Fox Television had transmitted the fight coast to coast. 0: _A_  This was a pity. They missed the only surprise of the evening.

Dressed in her baby-pink robe, with her greased face and hungry look, Christy Martin pounces into the ring later than scheduled. The straying crowd heading for the exit lingers. Within 144 seconds Christy has floored her opponent. A seasoned ringside photographer shakes his head and says, “She’s something else, isn’t she?” 16: _____ 

Back in the dressing room, she brushes her long hair and worries about her injury of the night. 17: _____ 

Christy is 27 and has been fighting for just five years, yet some consider her to be the Tyson of women’s boxing. And, like Tyson, she’s signed to the prince of all promoters, Don King – the most powerful man in a multi-million dollar sport. 18: _____  I “I’ve gone from fighting $25-a-round club shows to fighting in the best and biggest rings in the boxing world. We spoke to all the promoters, but none of them was interested in having a woman fighter. Now I’m glad because we were available when Don King had time to talk to us. King gives people opportunities and I’m glad he gave me a chance.”

At the press conference after the fight, Christy waits respectfully as Mike Tyson talks to the press. But as soon as he’s finished, they are off. 19: _____  From the stage Don King booms, “Where are you all going? What’s the matter with you guys – are you discriminating?”

Like any professional woman struggling to make it in male territory, Christy gets overlooked. 20: _____ “The other day, Don King was raving about me at a press conference, saying it was the fight of the night. He even gave me a bonus for it. But the next day, there was not one line in the papers to say I’d fought. Journalists are afraid to write about it, but as soon as one of them says, ‘Yes, we rate Christy Martin’, then the rest follow suit.’ Almost on cue, a radio boxing commentator interrupts to congratulate her on the fight.

21: _____ Until Christy came on the scene and Don King got involved, it was dismissed as ‘two women slapping each other about’. But in the cut-andthrust world of boxing, the only thing that counts is a fighter’s ability, and Christy has earned her respect. Mention her name in the after-fight bar and everyone agrees. “I used to say I didn’t want any women fighting in my ring, full stop,” says match-maker Bobby Mitchell, “but I’ll never say it again. Christy Martin shuts mouths and opens eyes.”

Check your answers here

Reading, 43

January 23, 2007

remote-control.gifYou are going to read some information about the remote control. For questions 8 – 15, choose the answer A, B, C or D which you think fits best according to the text.


Oh sure, it’s easy being a couch potato now. Wondrous advances in technology, .particularly during the 1990s, have made it easy and fun to ‘surf’ the television channels from the comfort of your armchair. Remote controls offer everything from picture-within-a-picture technology, to on-screen programming that doesn’t even require you to look at the remote control.

As we rush towards ever greater technological advances, let us not forget the difficulties experienced by the millions who have come before us. For years they struggled with remote controls that changed channels or muted the volume unpredictably. Though proclaimed as technological marvels in their day, today those devices look extremely funny.

So come with us as we flash back to the 1950s. The decade may have been the Golden Age of television, but in the evolution of the remote control, it was the Stone Age.

The most primitive of the remotes was developed in 1950 by Zenith Electronics which decades later would win an Emmy for its pioneering work in remotecontrol technology. Zenith’s first creative idea was the clever ‘Lazy Bones’, a control with a cable that connected the television to the device. Just by pushing buttons on the remote, viewers could turn the television on and off and change channels.

‘Prest-o! Chanqe-o!’ cried a magazine ad introducing the product. ‘Just press a button … to change a station!’ The problem? ‘Trip-o! Fall-o!’ Customers complained that the cable, besides being unsightly as it snaked across the living room floor, tripped many an unsuspecting passerby.

In 1955 Zenith came up with a wireless remote. Zenith engineers invented the Flashmatic, which worked by firing a beam of light. First-generation couch potatoes accepted the new technology eagerly, but there was a glaring problem. It reacted to any kind of light, channels changed unpredictably and the sound mysteriously came and went. “So if the sun set glaringly and came through the living room window, it would hit the set and cause problems,” says Zenith engineer Robert Adler. Also, viewers who weren’t as technologically aware as they are today, had trouble remembering which button controlled which function.

It was Adler, an Austrian born immigrant, who fathered the remote-control that would dominate the industry for the next quarter of a century. Ironic when you consider that Adler, by his own admission, to this day watches no more than an hour of television a week.

In 1955 Adler came up with the concept of a remote based on ultrasonics – that is, high-frequency sound beyond the range of human hearing. Adler’s invention which Zenith introduced in 1956 and named the Space Commander 400, would react to any number of metallic noises similar to those produced by the transmitter. For example, the family dog could change channels just by furiously scratching its back legs, thereby causing its dog tags to jingle. A ringing telephone or jingling keys would have the same effect.

Today, in the Golden Age of the remote control, some 99 percent of TV sets and all video cassette recorders sold in the United States come with remote controls. So do many other electronic components, such as compact disc players, and satellite dishes. ‘Universal’ remotes, which have been around since the mid-’80s, allow you to operate several products – say, for example, the TV, the VCR and CD player – with just one transmitter rather than three separate units. Even common household functions – switchinq on a light or turning off a ceiling fan – can be performed today by remote control. In an industry that is continuously introducing amazing new gadgetry, who knows where couch-potato technology will go from here?

8 Why is it easy to be a ‘couch potato’ nowadays?

A potato chips have been invented

B advances in technology have made it possible 

C armchairs nowadays are very comfortable

D the climate is perfect for growing vegetables

9 What is the second paragraph about?

A the technological developments in remote controls

B the money spent on technology

C the problems of early remote controls

D the marvels of early remote control technology

10 What was the main problem with ‘Lazy Bones’?

A The cable tripped many people.

B The cable was too long.

C The control was difficult to use.

D The control was too slow.

11 What was the main problem of the ‘Flashmatic’?

A The channels changed even with other kinds of light.

B It had a mysterious use.

C Some sets did not react to its beams.

D It broke loose easily.

12 What was another problem with it?

A It was bad for someone’s memory.

B It wasn’t technologically advanced.

C It was technically complex for the time.

D It didn’t have enough functions.

13 What does ‘it‘ in line 33 refer to?

A the living room window

B the sun

C the remote control

D the beam fired by the Flashmatic

14 What was the problem with the remote based on ultrasonics?

A It reacted to other noises, too.

B Even the family dog could use it.

C You could not hear other sounds like the phone ringing.

D It made too much noise.

15 What does the writer call ‘universal’ remotes?

A The kind used allover the world.

B The kind used for common household functions. 

C The kind which are very expensive.

D The kind used to operate several appliances.

Check your answers here

Reading, 42

January 23, 2007

You are going to read a newspaper article on the latest developments concerning working women and their maternity rights. Choose the most suitable heading from the list A – I for each part 1 – 7 of the article. There is one extra heading which you do not need to use. There is an example at the beginning (0).

  A shameful comparison  
B   Complexity and inefficiency  
C   The case at the moment  
D   Rights for both  
E   No protection  
F   An unsuccessful attempt  
G   A paradise for working mothers  
H   A future promise   
 I   It’s for women only  


The High Price of Eurobabies

0: ____B___

Nothing in the law of a country is simple. But it is a disgrace that British law, on something so important as maternity leave for working women, should be as complicated as it unfortunately is. And if that was not bad enough, women in the UK have the worst maternity pay rights in Europe.


Before 1975, motherhood in the UK had a high cost. Until that year, there were no legal rights for pregnant working women. A mother had absolutely no legal rights if having her baby meant she lost her job.

2: _____

Today’s law gives a minimum measure of protection to most working women, but it has been a slow process with several later Acts complicating the first two. Nowadays, women’s employment contracts in Britain, especially at senior and middle-management level, often include generous maternity rights. But the reality for most women is still the bare legal minimum, and in the UK that minimum really is bare.

3 : _____

Women in the UK are entitled to a minimum of six weeks maternity leave on 90 per cent of their salary and eight weeks thereafter on £57.70. That is very little when compared to the other 14 member states of the European Union. Every EU member state has improved on the Pregnancy Directive’s minimum 14-week entitlement except Britain, where it is the only maternity leave insisted on by law. Even countries outside the EU have a higher minimum standard for their women workers and executives than in Britain, as for instance Belarus, Norway and the Ukraine which offer 18 weeks on 100 per cent salary.

4: _____ 

Mothers get a raw deal in the UK, but fathers hardly get a deal at all. Some of the big corporations are starting to take fathers seriously but they are few and far between. Some businesses may allow a man a few days off when his wife or partner has a baby, but for many fathers there is no legal entitlement in their terms of employment. Research has shown that only 31 per cent of workplaces employing men allow their employees paid paternity leave. The general attitude is that childbirth is something to be left to a woman to get through on her own, even when she is not a single parent !

5: _____

Since 1982 the EOC has been calling, without success, for a modest five day paternity leave for new fathers. In 1993 when the Labour MP Greville Janner introduced a Private Member’s Bill to give spouses or partners of pregnant women the right to a maximum three months’ unpaid leave, John Major’s government blocked it.

6: _____ 

However, the tide now seems to be turning. Early in April of this year, it was leaked to the press that Tony Blair’s Government was proposing to give working fathers one week’s paid paternity leave, though at the low level of £57.20. The Minister was quoted as saying “We want to send a message to women that men should be by their side when they give birth.” Nothing came of that suggested move and the Government has since issued a White Paper ‘Fairness at Work’ in which it promises to implement an EU directive on the whole subject of Parental Leave by the end of next year.

7: _____ 

So, again, Britain is behind its European partners. Most of Europe already has that message. In fact, many countries have gone beyond the concept of mere paternity leave for the father and have developed the idea of parental leave for whichever parent wants it. For instance, in Belgium there is three to 12 months’ paid leave for up to a total of three years during anyone person’s working life, although this does not apply to senior managers. In France and Germany, parental leave is available until a child is three and may be taken by either parent or shared but, in France, it is only paid leave for the first child. On the other hand, the Netherlands, Greece, Portugal and Spain all offer generous shared leave but only on an unpaid basis.

Check your answers here 

Reading, 41

January 22, 2007

You are going to read some information about some companies. For questions 22-34, choose from the companies (A-H). Some of the companies may be chosen  more than once. When more than one answer is required, these may be given in any order. There is an example at the beginning (0). For question 35, choose the answer (A, B, C or D) which you think fits best according to the text.

Which company or companies:

is proud of their research programme?   0:__F__

deals with a precious metal?   22: _____

deals with communication links?  23: _____

is partly owned by management?   24: _____

states it does not work in Europe?  25: _____

states it is concerned with the whole family?   26: _____

profit from natural resources?      27: _____    28: _____

directly exchange money?    29: _____      30: _____

mention how many people they employ?    31: _____      32: _____

make medicine?      33: _____        34: _____

35 Why would someone read this text?

A to invest in a business

B to look for a job

C to order a report

D to buy a product



Choose which of the following reports you wish to have sent to you:

TVX Gold Inc.A

TVX Gold INC. is a Canadian-based growth-oriented international mining company with 1993 gold and gold equivalent production of a record 439,000 ounces at an average cash cost of $172 per ounce from its interests in six operating gold mines located in North and South America. The strengths of TVX Gold include quality reserves, long mine life, low average cash costs and increase in production, and a new, experienced and aggressive management team.



Statoil is an integrated Norwegian oil and gas company and ranks as the leading operator on Norway’s continental shelf. Operations are also pursued in 20 other countries. The group reported a profit before taxation of NOK 12 billion in 1993 as against NOK 9.9 billion the year before. This increase was due to a high level of production, a reduction in operating costs and improved financial results.

Statoil is organised in four business areas – Exploration and Production, Natural Gas, Oil Trading and Shipping, and Refining and Marketing. From  1994 Statoil’s involvement in Petrochemicals has been transferred to Borealis, a new petrochemical company owned 50 per cent by Statoll and 50 per cent by Neste. After the hive-off of its petrochemical operations in 1994, the group has about 12,000 employees.


The Rabobank GroupC

With total assets of NLG 253.2 billion the Durch Rabobank Group ranks among the top 20 banks in Europe and the top 50 worldwide. Over the past two decades, the bank has gradually expanded its international network to cover strategic geographic areas. It comprises now 47 offices in the world’s major financial and commercial centres. The Group’s ‘central bank’, Rabobank Nederland, operates  as a wholesale house, specialising in serving major national and international corporations and in operations on the financial markets. Besides dealing room and treasury activities, the bank offers corporate financial services (including consultancy on mergers, acquisitions and participations) as well as a comprehensive package of international services through its international network.


Roberts PharmaceuticalsD

 Roberts Pharmaceuticals (NASDAZ: RPCX) is fast realising its goal of becoming a major pharmaceutical company whose diverse products contribute to the health and wellbeing of all age groups. Roberts has successfully combined an aggressive product development programme with strategic acquisitions, to create a profitable company with a well-balanced product portfolio concentrated in six major therapeutic categories.



The Telia Group offers public and private networks for telephony. data communications and mobile telephony.  Together with PTT Netherlands and Swiss PTT. Telia is a co-owner of Unisource. In 1993, the Telia Group’s revenues  totalled USD $4.5 billion. Return on capital employed was 14.5 per cent. Telia invested a total of USD 910 million.



Roche is a Swiss-based international health-care group employing 56,000 people worldwide. It is a research-driven company with a leading position in biotechnology and activities covering the entire health spectrum of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease. Roche has gained a high  reputation for the quality of its innovative research and the original contributions it has made to the development of new drugs. In addition to pharmaceuticals Roche is engaged in the fields of vitamins and fine chemicals, diagnostics, fragrances and flavours.



BSS is a Swiss bank with all that this applies in terms of tradition, experience, security and confidentiality. BSS is owned by the ‘Fondation de Famille Sandoz’ and by key executives of the bank. The bank focuses on asset management for private and institutional clients and offers a wide range of securities and banking services including global custody, forex and stock exchange operations.


 Saga Petroleum a.s. –  H

In 1993, Saga Petroleum had an operating profit of NOK 1694 million and a profit before taxes of NOK 1006 million. The Group’s proved and probable oil and gas reserves total 1,474 million tonnes of oil equivalent, of which 44 per cent is oil. In terms of reserves, Saga is among the largest independent upstream companies in the world. It is Saga’s intention further to strengthen its position on the Norwegian shelf, and to utilise the company’s expertise and capacity gradually to develop its international activities.

Saga’s objective is to give the company’s shareholders the highest possible return on their investment through efficient operations and strict requirements to the profitability of new products.

Check your answers here

Reading, 40

January 22, 2007

You are going to read a newspaper article about bats. Seven sentences have been removed from the article. Choose from the sentences A-H the one which fits each gap (16-21). There is one extra sentence which you will not need to use. There is an example at the beginning (0).



By Anna Harrisson

Bats may play an essential part in horror films, but they suffer from an undeserved reputation. Just as strange is the preference of some, but not all, bat species to hang upside-down when resting.   0:__H__

Let’s start at the beginning; first things first. Our friends the bats don’t wish to get knotted up in our hair; they don’t suck blood; they don’t spread disease! Most bats are gentle and kindly, more keen on helping farmers than biting the necks of young women dressed in their nightdresses.


In pre-historic times, the cavemen noticed bats hanging like bunches of grapes, from the roofs of caves. Their first reactions were feelings of fear, which changed to respect when watching the tender care with which the mother looked after her baby bats, cleaning them and feeding them all day. 17: _____ 

The classical Greeks, who were great naturalists, were the ones to give bats their name, ‘chiroptera’. 18: _____

While we humans are meat-eating, of the more than 1,000 kinds of bats on our planet, only one, the vampire bat from the Carpathian mountains, sucks blood. 19: _____ I I Mosquitoes also suck blood and people are much less afraid of them, although they may be much more dangerous, spreading the disease malaria. The tiger mosquito in Central America spreads encephalitis.

Bats in Europe are 100 per cent insect eaters. In Greece, at the beginning of this century, there were great communities of bats living around the plains of Thessaly. 20: _____ Then they would clean up the insects, many of which were harmful to the farmers’ crops, acting like ‘flying vacuum cleaners’. Now things are changing fast, and not all for the better!

Bats have been living on our planet for about 40 million years, and they move from place to place, living sometimes in caves, forests, old buildings, and every once in a while in a church bell tower. 21: _____ 


A This means ‘hands with wings’.

B But unless we’ve been introduced and got to know someone, how can we love them – isn’t this the case with bears, wolves and street dogs?

C In the evenings and nights, they would fly over the wet ditches and the wheat fields.

D How is it that just one out of more than one thousand species can give all bats such a bad name, considering that there are many, such as fruit bats and flying-foxes, which are completely vegetarian?

E Fools are described as ‘batty’ or have ‘bats in the belfry’.

F All the ancient civilisations were sympathetic towards bats, respected them and considered them to have magic powers.

G Needless to say, we have a great responsibility towards them.

H Hopefully this is not too confusing!

Check your answers here

Reading, 39

January 22, 2007

You are going to read an extract from a book. For questions 8-15, choose the answer (A, B, C or D) which you think fits best according to the text.

Just after midnight the last of the lights had gone out and Boyd started the car, drove down to the coast road and turned so that the car would be facing the right way for when he left. They didn’t look as if they would be a problem but the quicker he could leave the easier it would be. He stopped the car just past the entrance to the driveway. The nylon ropes and the torch were on the passenger seat beside him. His gun was in his right-hand jacket pocket. When he got out he opened all the car doors very slightly after he had switched off the parking lights.

He walked up the road until he guessed he was opposite the house and then climbed over the low dry-stone wall. The moon was full, making the house look almost as if it were all lit up. Treading slowly and determinedly he moved down the slope towards the house, across the drive and over to the front door. It was in deep shadow and he shone the torch on the lock as he gently pushed in the key. It turned easily and when he moved the handle he felt a soft rush of cold air as the door opened. He left the door slightly open and he shone the torch around the big square hall.

The stairs made a lot of noise despite his keeping well against the wall, but nobody stirred. The bedroom facing the top of the stairs was locked, and he tried several keys in the lock. The third one unlocked it and he opened the door slowly. There was a smell of stale smoke, and he guessed it was not used as a bedroom. He shaded the torch with his hand and saw that the room was unoccupied. He found the switch, turned on the light and closed the door.

There were two long tables in the centre of the room. The kind that decorators use. They were piled with papers and books, with a space cleared for a portable typewriter. Against the far wall was a projection screen on a metal stand. A slide projector and a 16mm sound projector were on a metal stand at the side of metal shelves. There were three worn armchairs and on an otherwise empty bookshelf was a small portable radio.

8 Why did Boyd wait to park his car?

A to let the others go to bed

B to make sure his car was facing the right way

C to get the ropes and torch ready

D to let the moon go behind a cloud

9 Why did Boyd turn the car around?

A He wanted to be able to leave quickly and easily.

B He was worried that he might have problems with the car.

C He wanted to park just past the entrance to the driveway.

 D He couldn’t see well because the lights had gone out.

10 How did he feel as he got near the house?

A guilty and fearful

B disappointed and determined

C nervous and frightened

D confident and calm

11 What does ‘it’ in line 12 refer to?

A the low dry-stone wall

B the moon

C the house

D the slope

12 What does ‘treading’ in line 12 mean?

A running

B walking

C escaping

D racing

13 While going up the stairs, he thought that

A he should keep away from the wall.

B he might be heard.

C he must have lost his keys.

D he was the only one in the house.

14 What do we learn about the bedroom facing the top of the stairs?

A It had just been decorated.

B It was unlocked.

C It had been used by smokers.

D It had been used as a cinema.

15 What would be the most suitable title for this extract?

A Caught as a spy

B An ordinary burglar

C Looking for information

D Telling secrets

Check your answers here

Reading, 38

January 22, 2007

You are going to read an advertisement for a theatre club. Choose from the list A-I the heading which best summarises each part (1-7) of the advertisement. There is one extra heading which you do not need to use. There is an example at the beginning (0).

A See excellent actors and actresses

B How to join the Theatre Club

C A choice of three

D Listen to an expert

E How to book a seat

F A show for the holiday season

G For those with a sweet tooth

H Performances held in different cities

I The Sunday Times: The Theatre Club



 The Theatre Club now has 25,000 members, proving that it’s one of the fastest growing clubs in the country.


1: _____

In the new year the club will introduce a series of weekend breaks, giving members the opportunity to visit and enjoy the rich variety of theatres around the country. From the oldest Georgian playhouse to the most modern auditorium, members will get the chance to go backstage and meet the people who make theatre happen, as well as to enjoy some sightseeing.


2: _____

This week’s offers reflect the club’s wide range of activities. There’s a chance to meet one of the country’s leading producers, go on a Chocoholic Theatre Weekend, or go to a special family ballet matinee.


3: _____

Call ahead to book seats for any of these shows at the Theatre Club’s own booking service on 0171-413 1412, which is available 24 hours a day, or call the number given with each show during box-office hours.


4: _____

Send a cheque for £12.50, made payable to The Theatre Club, together with your name, address and telephone number to: The Theatre Club, PO Box 2, Owen Road, Diss, Norfolk, IP22 3HH. If you need more information, please telephone 0171-3879673.


5: _____

LONDO : English National Ballet performs The Nutcracker at the Royal Festival Hall

New Year’s Day matinee 2.30 pm.

Tchaikovsky’s magical ballet features flying cooks, a Christmas tree that grows and grows, a magic Santa’s sleigh and dolls that come to life. Members are offered a special tea party after the matinee performance. The cost is just £30 a ticket for adults and half price for children.

Telephone 0171-928 8800.


6: _____

LONDON: An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde at the Globe Theatre Tuesday, January 19

Meet the producer, Bill Kenwright, before a performance of Sir Peter Hall’s production of An Ideal Husband. Bill Kenwright is one of the five most prolific producers in the country. He currently has five shows in the West End and produces at two regional theatres. Members have the chance to learn at first hand the producer’s role in the theatre. Tickets are available to members at £26, which includes a pre-theatre buffet and top price seats for the show.

Telephone 0171-240 1690.


7: _____

BIRMINGHAM: A Chocoholic’s Theatre Weekend with The Wizard of Oz at the Repertory Theatre

January 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30

Enjoy a weekend full of chocolate and fun. Members will stay at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and will receive a bundle of chocolate sweets before relaxing in the best seats in the theatre for The Wizard of Oz. Later, a cup of hot chocolate before bed finishes off the evening, which is followed the next day by a tempting trip to Cadbury World. Tickets for the weekend cost £62.75 for adults (based on two people sharing a room), £26.75 for children under 14, and £4.50 for children under five, staying in their parents’ room (babysitters are available). The price includes bed and breakfast, theatre tickets and the trip to Cadbury World.

Telephone 0121-236 2302 for details and to book ahead.

Check your answers here

Reading, 37

January 21, 2007

You are going to read a travel guide to eight romantic destinations. For questions 22 – 35, choose from the list of places A-H. Some of the places may be chosen more than once. When more than one answer is required, these may be given in any order. There is an example at the beginning (0).

Which romantic destinations would you recommend for someone who:

likes ice cream?   0:__B__

enjoys the view from above?  22: ____  23:____    24: ____

wants to be alone with their loved one? 25: _____

likes to make an early start to the day?    27: ____     28: ____

likes ancient places?     29: ____

is interested in 20th century decoration?  30: _____

has a particular interest in wildlife?  31: _____

likes the sea?    32:____  33:____    34: _____    35: _____



It has to be admitted that some travel experiences will excite the traveller more than others. So here is our guide to a few offbeat or at least less-travelled romantic adventures which might make your heart beat a bit faster.

A     Gebel Musa 

Stroll up the mountain of Moses, from St Catherine’s monastery on the Sinai Peninsula in the very early hours to experience dawn at the summit with Exodus written large on the peach-coloured landscape below. It’s a deeply moving experience; many people (and yes, I am afraid you will find a few fellow travellers beside you at the top) choose to share the experience with their beloved covered up under a blanket. Good idea. Best for the physically fit.

B     Merida

The university town of Merida in the Venezuelan Andes is famous for two things: its ice cream shop boasts the most flavours in the world (avoid the garlic and spinach flavours-that’s not romantic), but more importantly, it is the source of the longest and highest cable car on the planet. Watch the city fall away behind you as the cable car climbs to an astonishing 16,000 ft summit then step out and feel your head spin at the wonder of the landscape (not to mention the lack of oxygen).

C     Caribbean

Romantics have always revelled in sailing the Seven Seas, even while turning green and reaching for the nearest empty paper bag. One of the greatest cruising experiences of our time involves lying side-by-side hanging over the sea on the fourmasted schooners, Star Flyer and Star Clipper, under 36,000 ft2 of sail, watching dolphins frolic in the foaming Caribbean waves.

D     Miami 

Learn to skate together in Miami – not like Torville and Dean, it doesn’t get quite that cold on South Beach. In-line skating is all the rage in the art deco district, gliding hand-in-hand through candy-coloured buildings on one side, the ocean on the other. You can hire the skates and all the equipment at several shops nearby.

E     Masai Mara

Early morning is the best time to share a hot-air balloon gliding over the Masai Mara with a bottle of bubbly, admiring the zebras, giraffes, monkeys, wildebeest and a rather worrying, mysterious dark shape which you eventually identify as your own balloon’s shadow.

F     Maui

Ride a horse along the Hana coast on the Hawaiian island of Maui on the lookout for pods of whales, then turn deep inland into the rainforest to swim in a pretty emerald lagoon.

G     San Francisco

Few bath tubs can boast a view like those of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in San Francisco. Lying on the top floor of the third highest building in the city, you find yourself up to your neck in a foam-bath beside a large picture window with the city spread out below your toes and the Golden Gate Bridge emerging through the mist.

H     Fiji

The staff on Yasawa Island resort in Fiji are not keen on crowding guests. Say the word and they will abandon you on one-and-a-half mile long Champagne Beach for the day with little more than an enormous shade, a vast picnic, plenty of cold drinks, books, games, your swimsuit and snorkel gear to explore the spectacularly colourful marine world.

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Reading, 36

January 21, 2007

You are going to read an article about Grigory Efimovich Rasputin. Seven extracts have been removed from the article. Choose from the extracts A· H the one which fits each gap 16·21. There is one extra extract which you do not need to use. There is an example at the beginning (0).

A An American might have gone from log cabin to White House; but no Siberian before Rasputin, and none since, until Boris Yeltsin, achieved Rasputin’s fame.

B Years later, the niece of one of the Tsar’s doctors remembered him teaching her to ‘pray with the most wonderful words’ and explaining quietly why she should never tear up flowers, because it was cruel to take life by force.

C In truth, Rasputin was neither mad, nor a monk. He was pious and lustful, intelligent, charismatic, outrageous and utterly amoral. He was also strikingly modern. His skills as a spiritual leader and manipulator of souls match those of any modern-day guru.

D These holy men, with a special grace from God, were known as staretsy, ‘elders’. Dostoevsky described the guru-like skills of a starets in his novel The Brothers Karamazov.

E The church could not give them the religious comfort they craved, but Rasputin’s skills as a starets ‘almost always brought elevation, interest, and, to an unhappy soul, cheerfulness, hope, comfort, and even joy,’ an official investigation said.

F By 1916, he had engineered the appointments of the two most powerful and corrupt officials in Russia. He is said to have had a hypnotic power over the Tsar, to have been a German agent, and to have seduced the Empress and her daughters.

G There were many claims that Rasputin used hypnosis. Rasputin himself always denied this; the secret police who followed him 24 hours a day, in shifts, logged a single visit to a hypnotist, and noted that he showed no more interest in the subject.

H “Can’t stand it any more,” he complained. “So many folks have come.  Received them since morning and they still keep coming.”


RASPUTIN: an alternative viewpoint

Grigory Efimovich Rasputin was a much misunderstood man; he was neither mad nor a monk. There was actually plenty to admire in the peasant who became guru to the Romanovs.

History has been no kinder to Rasputin than the conspirators who shot and beat him to death in the basement of a St Petersburg palace in 1916. His followers believed he was a saint; but the reputation that survives is the one given to him by his many enemies. They named him the ‘Mad Monk’, the incarnation of evil, the cartoon devil in Fox’s Anastasia with leering and hypnotic eyes.   0:__C__

His rise to power has a fairy tale quality. Born in a cabin on the banks of a Siberian river, he made his way to St Petersburg, the distant capital of a great empire, and there won the trust and affection of Tsar Nicholas and Empress Alexandra. He had a gift for healing. He enslaved the royal couple by saving the life of their haemophiliac son, Tsarevich Alexis; as a result, his influence grew.

16: _____ 

The fact that Rasputin had a reputation at all was evident in his character. He was born in 1869 in the Siberian village of Pokrovsokoye, the son of a carpenter. The place was not well known; no reigning Tsar had ever visited his land beyond the Urals.  17: _____

Life for villagers was an eternal deadend of illiteracy, boring tasks, and drinking. Young Rasputin brawled, drank and thieved, but Siberia gave him the exceptional qualities necessary to leave it. He was fearless and ambitious. When he was 20, he spent three months at the monastery of Verkhoturye, in the eastern foothills of the Urals. Hermits lived in huts in the surrounding forests in simplicity and self-denial, on black bread and water.  18: _____

It is said that Rasputin only reached the heights he did because he was able to ease the sufferings of the haemophiliac Tsarevich, Nicholas and Alexandra’s son. But evidently Rasputin was an accident waiting to happen; the haemophilia merely confirmed his role. Well-born women were the core of his clientele.  19:______ 

Rasputin was introduced to Alexandra at court by the spiritualist daughters of the corrupt King of Montenegro. Rasputin established himself rapidly at the palace. He had a natural way with children; he had three of his own, and was a fond and much-loved father. He attracted the attention of the young Romanovs with stories of his experiences.  20: ____

He had an undeniable power of healing. As a young boy in Siberia, he had been a horsewhisperer, curing livestock of ailments, and there are many later examples of his ability to ease suffering. He exhausted himself, too, with his generosity to those who sought out his help.   21: _____ 

But, even when he had not slept after a night’s drinking, he would appear at ten, bow low, look at the crowd, and say: “You’ve all come to ask me for help. I’ll help you all.”

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