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trouble; misfortune; evil; harm; disease; sickness
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ESL Story: The language of numbers

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If you''ve got a good head for figures, remembering other people''s telephone numbers or the number of their house presents no problem. But if you''re like me and get flustered the moment you have to recall numbers in a hurry, then it can get you into difficulties. Just how digits almost got me into trouble once I''ll explain with as many numerical examples as possible.

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I had applied for a job and after weeks of waiting to hear from the firm I put two and two together, I worked it out for myself, and realised that they didn''t want me. But at the eleventh hour, at the last minute, I received a letter summoning me for interview. This entailed travelling to London that same day and spending the night there to be able to attend for interview at nine o''clock the next morning. So I thought I''d kill two birds with one stone, do two things at the same time, have a night out and keep my appointment the following day. Mind you, that didn''t give me much time to get ready since the trains to London were not very frequent.

And after an hour spent packing, looking up the train timetable and phoning for a taxi, I was still at sixes and sevens, still in a terrible muddle. To make matters worse I dropped my front door key on the floor and spent the next ten minutes on all fours, on my hands and knees, looking for the wretched thing. After searching the room for the umpteenth time, more times than I can remember, I came across it lurking in one of my shoes. The taxi-driver had assured me he would be along in two shakes, in a very short time, but he arrived so late that I thought to myself ten to one, it was quite obvious, I would miss the train.

I dashed along the platform just in time and threw open the first carriage door I came to. Inside the compartment were a couple in a deep embrace. As this was a case of two''s company and three''s a crowd, I would have made it one too many, I hurried on to another compartment. In my new compartment everybody seemed in a happy mood. I think one of the company had just had a win on the football pools as most of them had had one over the eight, too much to drink, and as we got nearer to London they were all falling over like ninepins, one after the other. One swaying figure came up to me and assured me it was much better to have a good time now before you were six feet under, dead and buried. When we finally reached our destination, it was my task to rouse all my travelling companions. There were no two ways about it, I had no choice, for if I had simply left them, they might have been transported back to where they started. Among the groans and sighs I did catch someone gasping out ''thanks a million'', ''thank you very much indeed'', as I got out of the carriage.

The first thing I had to do was to find somewhere to stay. At the same time I had to look after number one, myself, and not spend too much money although I could be reimbursed after the interview. I had a sort of sixth sense, an intuition, that I would find a cheaper place if I took a bus into the suburbs. At the first guest house I didn''t like the way the landlord kept on asking for the money before I''d seen the room. Well, I quickly got his number, saw what sort of person he was, and tried somewhere else but the same thing happened. The landlords were really two of a kind, the same sort of person - what you might call two-faced, not to be trusted. The later it got, the more I blamed the firm for giving me such short notice.

On reflection I realised it was six of one and half a dozen of the other, we were both at fault. At last I saw a notice outside a shop, went in and asked for Mrs Corbet but it was her twin sister, they were apparently as alike as two peas in a pod, identical to look at, who made the arrangements. She was a great conversationalist and talked nineteen to the dozen, without stopping. I had no need for second thoughts, hesitation. and booked the room. I was to go straight to number 53 The Avenue, the door would be unlocked and there would be a meal waiting for me on the table. She would be back at about half past ten. I reached the house, opened the door and sat down to a delicious meal feeling in my seventh heaven, feeling perfectly contented and then spent the rest of the evning at a local cinema.

By the way I didn''t get the job. I thought I had stood a fifty-fifty chance, a reasonable chance, but then as the firm made computers and I''d made that terrible mistake about getting the house number wrong, it was just as well. You see, I should have gone to number 35. Still, it was a lovely meal. I expect the person it was really intended for would like to have knocked me for six, knocked me out.

Dear Friend,
If you have any questions or comments regarding this essay, please post your answers on the forum here: Numbers.

Many thanks.

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please post them on this English Grammar Forum.

Next:ESL Story: The language of army

Author: Alan Townend

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