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    anglosphere /

    Газета School English #7, 2006

    The Old Badger



    Mr David Wright (UK)


        Tell us a story, Dad,” pleaded1 Brock2.

        “Yes, Dad, tell us a story,” echoed his sister.

        All children everywhere love stories, don’t they? Especially stories told them by their Dads. It doesn’t really matter very much whether they have heard them before, but new ones are best. Especially when it is a dark winter’s night and they are trying to think of anything to put off having to go to bed – or if they are already in bed, to put off having to go to sleep. Why is it that some children are wide awake3 at bedtime and never want to go to sleep, but are sleepy in the morning and never want to wake up when it is time to go to school? Of course, you are never like that, are you? Well, Brock was and so was his sister who always tried to do or say everything her big brother did or said. They had been born last February and were now nearly a year old, but they still liked hearing stories from their Dad. I don’t think we ever grow out of that, do we?

        By the way, I have called the youngsters ‘children’ because that is what their parents called them, but humans call them ‘cubs’4, which makes them sound like bears which they are not. I also called their father ‘Dad’ because that is what the children called him and ‘Father’ because that is what their mother called him, but humans call him a boar5 which makes him sound like a pig which he is not. Soon I will call their mother ‘Mum’ and ‘Mother’ because ... well, you know, but humans call her a sow6 which makes her sound like another pig which she is not! If the truth is known, they are mostly related to other members of their large family who live all over the world (well, a jolly lot of it anyway). They have relations in America (USA, Canada and Mexico), Russia, China, Japan and all over Europe, including some on the islands of Crete and Rhodes who are always inviting them to go to stay for a holiday.

        Brock’s family was always known by the name ‘Brock’! The parents were called Mr and Mrs Brock, Brock was called ‘Young Brock’ and his sister was called ‘Young Miss Brock’. When you see their proper name, the one they would have to put on their passport if they visited their relatives in Crete or Rhodes, is (are you ready for this?): ‘Meles meles Melinae Mustelidae Mammalia’, or ‘The 5M Clan’ as it was more usually called, you can see why their friends preferred to call them ‘The Brocks’, can’t you? They all lived together in an underground home called a ‘sett’. There were lots of rooms in the sett, but when the weather was particularly cold, they liked to be all together in one cosy7 room. They didn’t hibernate8 as hedgehogs do, but they still liked to stay underground in the warm when it was really cold outside and there was no food to be found. All the rooms in the sett were connected by tunnels so they didn’t have to go outside at all and there was always plenty of food in the larder9 to see them through cold spells10 – Mother saw to that.

        The children had tried wanting to go to the bathroom, and they had tried wanting a drink of water, so now it was time to ask for a story; that was the last shot in their locker11!

        “Well, it is rather late, you know,” demurred12 their father.

        “But we don’t have to get up early in the morning,” pleaded the pair.

        “That is true,” said their father doubtfully, already weakening in his resolve. “What sort of story would you like?”

        “One about the wildwood!”

        “Yes, one about the wildwood!”

        “Please, Dad!”

        “Yes, please Dad!”

        Father looked for support across the room to where Mother was sitting placidly13 knitting, but none was forthcoming. She was just smiling to herself because she knew this routine, and she knew that before long a story about the wildwood would be told. It was always a story about the wildwood, but none of them seemed to tire of that.

        Seeing that no help was coming from that quarter, Father settled himself between the two beds where the children lay comfortably and began.

        “It was a dark and stormy night, when two brave warriors sat before the old camp fire and one of them said, “Tell us a story” – and thus it ran:

        “It was a dark and stormy night, when two brave warriors sat before the old camp fire and one of them said, “Tell us a story” – and thus it ran:

        “It was a dark ...”

        “Not that one,” interrupted Brock, who knew the old joke, “a new one!”

        “No, not that one,” chimed14 in his sister, who didn’t know the old joke, but imitated her brother anyway, “a new one!”

        “All right, all right, but you must promise to go to sleep directly I finish with no more arguments.”

        “We will.”

        “Yes, we will.”

        Now all four of them were smiling because all this rigmarole15 was part of a regular ritual that was part of the fun of hearing a new story at bedtime.

        To be concluded…
    1 to plead – просить, умолять
    2 brock – барсук
    3 wide awake – не спящий
    4 cub – детеныш плотоядных млекопитающих (львенок, лисенок, медвежонок)
    5 boar – хряк, боров
    6 sow – свинья, свиноматка
    7 cosy – уютный
    8 to hibernate – впадать в спячку
    9 larder – кладовая
    10 cold spell – холодный период
    11 the last shot in one’s locker – последнее, что осталось у кого-либо в запасе
    12 to demur – возражать
    13 placidly – мирно
    14 to chime in – вмешиваться в разговор
    15 rigmarole – пустая болтовня





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