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Posts tagged ‘Easy’


Unit 54 – The Disconnect

The following passage is an extract from The Disconnect by Roisin Kiberd

Not long ago in a charity shop on Capel Street, I found an expensive hoodie. Not expensive in terms of its current price – the Goodwill Thrift Shop was asking for €4 – but its original one. The Hoodie bore no outward sign of branding , but its design was strategically luxurious, sewn from the softest cotton and dyed to a muted, achromatic grey. It had been designed to include the kind of thoughtful details you only notice on second-glance, when you realise the person wearing it is a little wealthier than they first appeared.

Second hand shopping is unpredictable. For every useless possibly cursed item gladly donated by its former owner – the monkey’s paw, the dybbuk box, or the shoes that make your ankles bleed – there’s a miracle find, that ludicrous, beautiful thing which has found its way to the charity shop by chance. I might once have laughed at the idea of owning a designer hoodie, but touching its fabric, I felt myself converted. I pulled the zipper, looked inside to read the label, and noticed spidery text across the back on the inside lining: ‘Making the world more open and connected’.

It was a hoodie given to Facebook employees, likely donated to the shop by someone who had recently left the company. If walking around wearing Facebook’s mission statement was an uncomfortable thought, then walking around wearing it secretly, printed inside my clothing, made me feel even more squeamish.

I put the hoodie back on the rail and moved on.


Unit 47 – Real Life & Celebs

Difficulty: easy

Time: 7 minutes 30 seconds

The passage below is an adaptation of an article by journalist, Julian Norman, published in The Guardian in June 2012.


Seaweed. Marmite. No, egg whites. Or maybe grilled chicken. Actually, hang on, try a handful of unsalted nuts. No bread though. Bread is poison.

The craving ravings of pregnancy? The menu requirements of a capricious Islington four-year-old? No, it’s the food recommendations of the last month from Closer magazine, which urge us to step away from the carbs and into a happy bubble of seaweed-eating. A New You in which it’s possible to leave behind your sad, lonely bread habit and step into a revitalised Beach Body, achieved through the medium of wakame salads and yoga. I discovered this while on a bus one rainy Thursday afternoon. My inclination to get off and walk was minimal and some kind fellow-traveller had left a copy of the magazine behind. I opened it, and began flicking through. I had no idea who the featured celebrities were, so it was rather like reading someone’s banal telephone conversation. Almost all of the stories could be boiled down to 140 characters, so I began to tweet it with the hashtag #Closer. Kerry is a size 10–12 and so she had weight loss surgery. Now she’s “ecstatic with her new body” was a typical tweet. Taken together, they are a fabulous collection of absurdism.

There is a serious point in among the whimsy, though: stories are not actually about the celebrities. They can be categorised into roughly three groups: bodies, food and relationships. In bodies, we learn that the ideal size to be is an 8. Women who fall below that size are said to be “gaunt”, and are usually mourning the end of a relationship. A 10 is acceptable but usually prefaced with the word “curvy”. Women who are over that size will be dieting, and we will get a run-down of their meal plans, or indeed whether they’re eating at all. If they are over a size 12, then their “pals” are quoted, gleefully telling of how the woman in question cries every night over her size, or is disgusted with herself.

Bodies intersect neatly with food. Carbohydrates are generally considered a bad thing, and menu recommendations inevitably focus on grilled fish or chicken with vegetables or salad. Then there will be one food item which creeps in several times per issue, being hyped either by celebrities or by the magazine itself, the magic weight loss food which will attain you that desirable size 8 figure. It was seaweed in the first issue, Marmite in the next.


Unit 37 – Orchestral Anecdotes

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 9 minutes


The passages below have been adapted from ‘Orchestra’, edited by Andre Previn


Passage I
We prepared for the Proms with Sir Henry Wood, he had everything planned out and timed to the minute. He had his big watch on the music-stand, and at 10 a.m. precisely his baton went down. You learnt things so thoroughly with him, but in the most economical time. Our Wagner nights, whole acts from the operas, we did that on just the morning rehearsal. Before I knew him he had the reputation for being a tartar. He took my teacher to lunch, which was always a bad sign, and she had her notice when she got home. But he changed. He met Lady Jessie and she changed him. He had been badly dressed, awful clothes. Jessie got him a new evening suit, instead of the mouldy green one, and he flourished yellow gloves and a cigar. She changed his clothes and he became human, and began to look after the orchestra. He began to give us a dinner after the last night of the Proms.


1. Which of the following is not implied by Passage 1?

  • A      Sir Henry Wood didn’t take people he likes to lunch
  • B      Sir Henry Wood fell in love with Lady Jessie
  • C      He was a tough and mean
  • D      He was a robot


Passage II

Arthur Fiedler is so old, it’s so difficult for him now. He gets himself up for special concerts, but day in day out his concerts are, oh, unbelievable. He’s very, very old. Sometimes for Pops concerts we go out to Fitchburg, Worcester, places like that, and there’s always a clause if Fiedler is sick, the concert is cancelled. He’s the star. The audience come for him, not for the music. Well, that sort of thing happens at Tanglewood also, say when Bernstein comes, then there’ll be 15,000 people at least. A lot of it is just a personality trip, and Fiedler it’s particularly upsetting because he is now so bad. If any of us in the orchestra played the way he conducts we’d be fired for sure. Yet nobody cares.


Unit 35 – Pericles in Athens

Difficulty: easy

Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds

Below is an extract fro Old Men in Love by Alasdair Gray.

Soon after daybreak Pericles came to the Athenian port and for nearly three hours conferred with harbourmasters, dockers and seamen, occasionally scratching notes on a thin wax tablet backed by wood. He then returned to the city, striding swiftly uphill between two great new walls joining the port to the Athenian citadel. The sky was clear and blue, the air warm yet fresh, the big marketplace more than usually busy. He crossed it, entered the council chambers and stood in a corner of the big lobby, glancing over his notes but able to see those who entered or left. Most councillors were as familiar to him as he to them. He steadily ignored knowing looks from many who shared his views and enquiring looks from some who did not, but beckoned to his side one at a time new councillors whose opinions were not exactly known. He talked to them about revenues to be voted for dock maintenance, for equipping warships and for building new ones. Each councillor tried, usually successfully, to hide his elation at being singled out by the nation’s greatest statesman. He listened to them as carefully as they to him, giving different reasons for increased expenditure, He told a merchant it was needed to protect trade from barbarians and pirates – an arms manufacturer that it would maintain Athenian military supremacy – a landowner that it would reduce local unemployment – a patriotic farmer that it would spread democracy abroad. Pericles thought all these reasons valid but did not expect others to be so broad-minded. He ended each speech by saying how the expenditure would profit dealers in timber, metal, sailcloth, cable, earthenware and food.


Unit 1.11 – Return of the Amish

Congratulations to everyone who got the results they needed today. And to those of you who did not, here’s a nice easy unit of questions to ween you back into studying. (Sorry, get yourselves an ice cream or something!)

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 6 minutes


The following is an extract from Alleluia America! – An Irish Journalist in Bush Country, by Carole Coleman

Almost three centuries after their arrival from Europe in a small group of a few hundred, there are now about one hundred and fifty thousand Americans living the Amish lifestyle – twenty-five thousand of them in this corner of Pennsylvania. The Amish are descendants of the sixteenth-century Anabaptists, a religious group formed in Europe. “Anabaptist” means to be opposed to the practice of infant baptism. As they see it people should join a church when they are young adults and in a position to reject or accept membership for themselves. The original Anabaptists were the Mennonites, followers of a former Catholic priest called Menno Simons, but in 1693 in Switzerland, a new group called the Amish split from the Mennonites, claiming the latter had become too lax in enforcing certain rules. The Amish believed that errant or lapsed church members needed to be shunned until they had repented and come back into compliance with the strict rules that govern how they live. Like many groups remaining outside of the mainstream European religions of the time, the Amish suffered persecution and in the eighteenth century some moved to the United States. They settled on farmland in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and in Pennsylvania, where Willian Penn’s experiment in religious tolerance had begun. Eventually they too disagreed over rules on how to live their lives and split into a number of smaller groups, including the New Order Amish and Beachy Amish, who are more liberal than the Old Order.