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working, performance, handling; venture, undertaking; series of actions
debris
fax
operation
conference
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Newsletter August 15 - 2011FREE email English course
Continuing with the theme (topic) of the Ďwhite lieí, let me explain how parents in my childhood made sure that they (in the shape of Father Christmas of course) got the presents right. We have to return once more to the fireside. The child has written down the preferred presents on a piece of paper. Mother and father say: Letís just have a look at that list before we put it on the fire and send it up the chimney. Thatís really clever, isnít it? They now know but the question is whether they can afford to buy one of these presents. Of course that wouldnít wash (work) today but in my day there wasnít such a huge (very big) choice available. There was no television to start with, which meant that children didnít have advertisements constantly (always) before their eyes. Shops too, didnít really display (show) Christmas presents until much nearer December 25th.

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Some years ago people would write in all seriousness to national newspapers like the Times informing everyone that they had heard the first cuckoo for the year. That meant that the season of Spring had started. Nowadays the search is on (has started) to find the first Christmas card or decoration for sale. And that can easily be seen even in September. In those pre-electronic days we used to prize (value) the simple, ordinary things in life such as a notebook, sweets, sealing wax, pens, pencils and so on. A new fountain pen was a magical device (tool).

All this sounds a bit quaint (old fashioned) to the present generation. Children would hang a stocking at the end of their bed in the hope that Father Christmas would fill it with toys. These items then began to be called Ďstocking fillersí. Recently I saw an advertisement for an Apple ipad, which was described as a stocking filler. In UK currency they cost about £400! Mind you, today you can spend a small fortune (a lot of money) on a toy for a small child, which will light up, make funny noises and travel round the room singing nursery rhymes (childrenís stories) Wonderful! More often than not itís the grown ups who will get the greatest pleasure from seeing that. The child will probably find it boring (uninteresting) after a certain period of time. But what will remain a source (a starting point) of great interest for a long, long time is the box that the toy came in. Makes you wonder (ask yourself),doesnít it; whether it was really worth all that trouble to buy the toy in the first place?

Alan Townend

ConversingDo you speak French?
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