go drink prepare prove
top pile flavor wait
present bore exact rise
squeeze seduce give overrate
design name grow chip
shape have peddle
In 1657 a rumour went reverberating around London. A new elixir had arrived from the east: a leaf that, when _____¹, had seemingly magical qualities. It made the body “clean and lusty”; it vanquished illness and invigorated drowsy minds. The leaf was available from Garway’s Coffee House in Change Alley at 16 to 50 shillings per pound. It was called “by the Chinese Tcha, and by other nations Tay, alias Tee.”
So began our love affair with tea, a drink that has remained at the heart of British life for three and a half centuries, from Victorian afternoon teas to Lyons Tea Rooms. It’s a lukewarm mug of leaf water, _____ as a cure-all for life’s ills. “Nice cup of tea,” people say, when you’ve watched a vivid car accident or been _____ a terminal diagnosis, or _____ for a walk and it’s started raining. Whether the mafia has kidnapped you and made you kill a man with a gun to win your freedom or if you’ve done quite badly in an exam, someone will say: “Let me get you a nice cup of tea.”
Cut me and I bleed tea. So the news that tea sales are in hot water, while Nescafé is _____ in popularity is not easy to swallow.
We are in danger of becoming a nation of coffee drinkers. Some think we have been _____ by the sweet, milky depths of American coffee culture. Exotica from restaurant menus eventually filter through to the home front – why should drinks be different?
If our out-of-home habits do have an influence on what we choose to brew indoors, the reason for tea’s decline seems as clear as a Jing teapot. _____ never a culture of domestic milky drinks-making (cocoa doesn’t count), British coffee habits have been shaped by the pints of cappuccino and calorie-dense gingerbread-_____ cream-_____ nonsense _____ by the big coffee chains. Judging by their success we are ______ to stay in their expensive embrace.
Tea is a different matter. We have more _____ standards. Every British tea drinker who is in possession of both hands and a kettle has spent years perfecting their ideal method. Couples can spend a decade learning how to brew for their mutual delight.
We argue about how best to make tea. “Milk first!” some people say, wrongly. “No,” others say. “Milk after.” People are ready to duel to the death over how long a bag should be left in a mug, or whether a bag should even see a mug in the first place, whether a bag should be locked in the prison of a teapot and _____ of its blood through a spout. “No sugar!” people shout, as you waddle off to make another interminable cup of tea for them. Another will chime in: “A hundred sugars!”
Academics have recently uncovered the oldest tea in Britain, _____ once and for all that we have been tea bores for more than 300 years. If you do not think we are collectively _____ about tea, offer to do an office tea run right now. Someone will hold up one single finger while they rootle about in a desk drawer for a bag of green tea. Someone else will pass you a tiny carton of sweeteners or some agave. You’ll have to carry all of this to the kitchen, where there is someone you vaguely remember from the Christmas party _____ to make small talk with you. You have to go down to reception and ask if they’ve seen “the tray”. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that doing the tea run in the office is one of the worst punishments that can be inflicted on a human being.
This is our reality – big, _____ pots of the stuff; types of tea _____ after earls; _____ mugs with steam _____ out of them; special little teapot-_____ dishes on the side _____ high with old, cold teabags; special rectangular biscuits _____ for dunking. This is our world, awash with a liquid more _____ than oil.
Is tea good? We never ask. It is not good. It is exactly fine. And liking it is the worst possible English trait, up there with colonialism and the class system and thinking dentistry is bad. Next time you have a cup of tea, as you lift the heavy mug to your mouth, think: is this actually good?
Reading 2. The
Three Fat Women of Antibes
(after the story by W.S.Maugham. Abridged)
One was called Mrs Richman and she was a widow. The second was called Mrs Sutcliffe; she was American and she had divorced two husbands. The third was called Miss Hickson and she was a spinster. They were all in the comfortable forties and they were all well off.
They were great friends, Miss Hickson, Mrs Richman, and Arrow Sutcliffe. It was their fat that had brought them together and bridge that had cemented their alliance. They had met first at Carlsbad, where they were staying at the same hotel and were treated by the same doctor who used them with the same ruthlessness.
They drank their waters together, had their baths at the same hour, they took their strenuous walks together, pounded about the tennis court with a professional to make them run, and ate at the same table their sparse and regulated meals. Nothing impaired their good humour but the scales, and when one or other of them weighed as much on one day as she had the day before neither Frank’s coarse jokes, the bonhomie of Beatrice, nor Arrow’s pretty kittenish ways sufficed to dispel the gloom. Then drastic measures were resorted to, the culprit went to bed for twenty–four hours and nothing passed her lips but the doctor’s famous vegetable soup which tasted like hot water in which a cabbage had been well rinsed.
They would have been independent of anyone else if they had not needed a fourth at bridge. It was for this reason that Frank invited Lena Finch to come and stay with them at Antibes. They were spending some weeks there on Frank’s suggestion. She proposed then that on leaving Carlsbad they should take a house at Antibes, where they could get plenty of exercise – everyone knew that nothing slimmed you like swimming – and as far as possible could go on with the cure. With a cook of their own they could at least avoid things that were obviously fattening. The plan worked very well. They had a grand time. Two days a week they ate nothing but hard–boiled eggs and raw tomatoes and they mounted the scales every morning with light hearts. The machine they had bought registered kilogrammes, and they got extraordinarily clever at translating them in the twinkling of an eye to pounds and ounces.
But the fourth at bridge continued to be the difficulty. One morning when they were sitting in pyjamas on the terrace overlooking the sea, drinking their tea (without milk or sugar) and eating a rusk prepared by Dr Hudebert and guaranteed not to be fattening, Frank looked up from her letters.
‘Lena Finch is coming down to the Riviera,’ she said.
‘She married a cousin of mine. He died a couple of months ago and she’s just recovering from a nervous breakdown. What about asking her to come here for a fortnight?’
It was settled. And three days later Lena Finch arrived. Frank met her at the station. She was in deep but not obtrusive mourning for the recent death of her husband. Lena was not, however, depressed. Frank introduced the stranger to her two friends and they sat down in what was known as the Monkey House. It was crowded with chattering people in bathing costumes, pyjamas, or dressing–gowns, who were seated at the tables having drinks. Beatrice’s soft heart went out to the lorn window, and Arrow, seeing that she was pale, quite ordinary to look at, and probably forty–eight, was prepared to like her very much. A waiter approached them.
Frank ordered a dry Martini for Lena and a mixed lemon and orange juice for herself and her two friends.
‘We find alcohol isn’t very good in all this heat,’ she explained.
‘Oh, it never affects me at all,’ Lena answered airily. ‘I like cocktails.’
The conversation was gay and easy, they all said the obvious things with gusto, and presently they strolled back to the villa for luncheon.
In each napkin were two little antifat rusks. Lena gave a bright smile as she put them by the side of her plate.
‘May I have some bread?’ she asked.
The grossest indecency would not have fallen on the ears of those three women with such a shock. Not one of them had eaten bread for ten years. Even Beatrice, greedy as she was, drew the line there. Frank, the good hostess, recovered herself first.
‘Of course, darling,’ she said and turning to the butler asked him to bring some.
‘And some butter,’ said Lena in that pleasant easy way of hers.
There was a moment’s embarrassed silence.
‘I don’t know if there’s any in the house,’ said Frank, ‘but I’ll inquire.’
The butler brought a long crisp roll of French bread. Lena slit it in two and plastered it with the butter which was miraculously produced.
A grilled sole was served. The rest of the luncheon consisted of lamb cutlets, with the fat carefully removed so that Beatrice should not be led astray, and spinach boiled in water, with stewed pears to end up with. Lena tasted her pears and gave the butler a look of inquiry. That resourceful man understood her at once and though powdered sugar had never been served at that table before handed her without a moment’s hesitation a bowl of it. She helped herself liberally. The other three pretended not to notice. Coffee was served and Lena took three lumps of sugar in hers.
‘You have a very sweet tooth,’ said Arrow in a tone which she struggled to keep friendly.
‘We think saccharine so much more sweetening,’ said Frank, as she put a tiny tablet of it into her coffee.
‘Disgusting stuff,’ said Lena.
Beatrice’s mouth drooped at the corners, and she gave the lump sugar a yearning look.
They met again just before dinner.
‘Don’t you ever think of your figure?’ Arrow asked with icy deliberation.
‘The doctor said I must eat.’
‘Did he say you must eat bread and butter and potatoes and cream?’
‘Yes. That’s what I thought you meant when you said you had simple food.’
‘You’ll get simply enormous,’ said Beatrice. Lena laughed gaily.
‘No, I shan’t. You see, nothing ever makes me fat. I’ve always eaten everything I wanted to and it’s never had the slightest effect on me.’
They talked the matter over late that night, after Lena had gone to bed, in Frank’s room.
‘Why can’t she eat the same as we do?’ asked Arrow viciously.
‘She’s a guest.’
‘Well, you heard what she said. The doctor told her she must eat.’
‘Then she ought to go to a sanatorium.’
‘It’s more than flesh and blood can stand, Frank,’ moaned Beatrice.
‘It’s so vulgar to attach all this importance to food,’ Frank boomed, and her voice was deeper than ever.
‘After all the only thing that counts really is spirit.’
They decided that Lena should have the nourishing food that had been ordered her and they made a solemn resolution not to let it disturb their equanimity.
But human nature is weak. You must not ask too much of it. They ate grilled fish while Lena ate macaroni sizzling with cheese and butter; they ate grilled cutlets and boiled spinach while Lena ate pâté de foie gras; twice a week they ate hard–boiled eggs and raw tomatoes, while Lena ate peas swimming in cream and potatoes cooked in all sorts of delicious ways. The chef was a good chef and he leapt at the opportunity afforded him to send up one dish more rich, tasty and succulent than the other.
The butler disclosed the fact that he could make half a dozen kinds of cocktail and Lena informed them that the doctor had recommended her to drink burgundy at luncheon and champagne at dinner. The three fat women persevered.
Lena was going to stay with friends on the Italian Riviera and Frank saw her off by the same train as that by which she had arrived.
When she turned away from the departing train she heaved such a vast sigh of relief that the platform shook beneath her. She flung back her massive shoulders and strode home to the villa.
She passed through the Monkey House, looking about her to say good morning to anyone she knew, and then stopped dead still. She could not believe her eyes. Beatrice was sitting at one of the tables, by herself.
‘Beatrice, what are you doing?’ she cried in her deep voice.
It was like the roll of thunder in the distant mountains. Beatrice looked at her coolly.
‘Eating,’ she answered.
In front of Beatrice was a plate of croissants and a plate of butter, a pot of strawberry jam, coffee, and a jug of cream. Beatrice was spreading butter thick on the delicious hot bread, covering this with jam, and then pouring the thick cream over all.
‘You’ll kill yourself,’ said Frank.
She actually laughed in Frank’s face. My God, how good those croissants smelt!
‘It’s your fault. That blasted woman. For a fortnight I’ve watched her gorge like a hog. It’s more than flesh and blood can stand. I’m going to have one square meal if I bust.’
The tears welled up to Frank’s eyes. Suddenly she felt very weak and womanly. She would have liked a strong man to take her on his knee and pet her and cuddle her and call her little baby names. Speechless she sank down on a chair by Beatrice’s side. A waiter came up. With a pathetic gesture she waved towards the coffee and croissants.
‘I’ll have the same,’ she sighed. In a moment the waiter brought her croissants, butter, jam, and coffee.
‘Where’s the cream, you fool?’ she roared like a lioness at bay.
She began to eat. She ate gluttonously. The place was beginning to fill up with bathers. Presently Arrow strolled along. On her way she caught sight of Frank and Beatrice. She stopped. She could hardly believe her eyes.
‘My God!’ she cried. ‘You beasts. You hogs.’
She seized a chair. ‘Waiter.’ In the twinkling of an eye the waiter was at her side.
‘Bring me what these ladies are having,’ she ordered.
Frank lifted her great heavy head from her plate.
‘Bring me some pâté de foie gras, she boomed.
The coffee was brought and the hot rolls and cream and the pâté de foie gras and they set to. They spread the cream on the pâté and they ate it. They devoured great spoonfuls of jam. They crunched the delicious crisp bread voluptuously. They did not speak. What they were about was much too serious. They ate with solemn, ecstatic fervour.
‘I haven’t eaten potatoes for twenty–five years,’ said Frank in a far–off brooding tone.
‘Waiter,’ cried Beatrice, ‘bring fried potatoes for three.’
The potatoes were brought. Not all the perfumes of Arabia smelt so sweet. They ate them with their fingers.
‘Bring me a dry Martini,’ said Arrow.
‘Bring me a double dry Martini,’ said Frank.
‘Bring three double dry Martinis,’ said Beatrice.
They were brought and drunk at a gulp. The women looked at one another and sighed. The misunderstandings of the last fortnight dissolved and the sincere affection each had for the others welled up again in their hearts. They could hardly believe that they had ever contemplated the possibility of severing a friendship that had brought them so much solid satisfaction. They finished the potatoes.
‘I wonder if they’ve got any chocolate éclairs,’ said Beatrice.
‘Of course they have.’
And of course they had. Frank thrust one whole into her huge mouth, swallowed it and seized another, but before she ate it she looked at the other two and plunged a vindictive dagger into the heart of the monstrous Lena.
‘You can say what you like, but the truth is she played a damned rotten game of bridge, really.’ ‘Lousy,’ agreed Arrow.
But Beatrice suddenly thought she would like a meringue.
Reading Comprehension Check