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Unformatted text preview: A day in the life of a parliamentary candidate
by Alan Townend A day in the life of a parliamentary candidate
There was absolutely no doubt that Henry Orpington liked politics. He
talked about politics all the time. All the members of his family were
pleased, therefore, when Henry was adopted as the prospective
parliamentary candidate for the constituency in which they were
living. One year later the date of the general election was announced
by the Prime Minister. Throughout the election campaign Henry's
wife and his two teenage daughters worked night and day for him
and he finally won a seat in the House of Commons by a very large
majority. Every day of the campaign was a challenge, but there was
one day in particular that Henry would never forget. That was the
day he thought he was going to be blown up by a bomb.
On a Friday morning at the beginning of the campaign, the phone
rang in the Orpingtons' house at six-thirty in the morning. Henry got
out of bed and ran down the stairs. He wondered who could possibly
be ringing at that early hour in the morning.
Man's voice: Is that Mr. Henry Orpington, the parliamentary
Henry: Yes, speaking.
Man's voice: Oh, good morning. I want to warn you about a
Henry: A bomb? Where? Hello! We've been cut off. Operator!
It was no good. The line had gone dead. As calmly as he could Henry
went upstairs to tell his wife the alarming news. They decided to get
dressed at once and take the two girls to their aunt's house. Henry
informed the police but asked them to keep the news from the press.
At half past eight Henry was in conference with his election agent,
Andrew Higgins, at party headquarters.
Andrew: If you want my opinion, I suggest you cancel all your
engagements for today and wait until the police get to the bottom of
Henry: Certainly not! I'm not going to let myself be scared by some
Andrew: What did the man sound like? Did you recognize his voice?
Henry: No, I was half asleep. His voice wasn't familiar but he
sounded quite pleasant. He didn't seem to be threatening me. Photocopiable 1 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a parliamentary candidate
by Alan Townend Andrew: That makes the whole business even more sinister. Look
here, Henry, one day won't make all that much difference. I'll tell
people that you've lost your voice or something.
Henry: No, I'm going to carry on as usual. Think of the advantage it
would give my opponents if I were out of the campaign even for one
Andrew: If you say so. But I'd like to make it clear that I'm dead
Henry Orpington's first engagement that day was an open-air
meeting on a large housing estate at ten o'clock. As most of the men
were out at work, his audience consisted mainly of women and
young children. Andrew Higgins kept a close watch on the platform
from which Henry was making his speech, while several plainclothes
policemen mingled inconspicuously with the crowd.
There was very little reaction to Henry's speech, except from one or
two hecklers at the back who kept on asking what Henry's party
intended to do about the rising price of fruit and vegetables. After
the speech he shook hands with some of the women. One of them
lifted up a baby for him to kiss, but the sight of Henry's beard must
have frightened it because it began to scream its head off.
At eleven o'clock he paid a brief visit to a public house on the estate.
Henry couldn't offer to buy anyone a drink because he knew very
well that his opponents would consider that to be bribery. So he let
one of his supporters buy him a drink instead.
At lunch time he went to his sister's house to see his wife and
daughters. They had spent the morning addressing envelopes for the
leaflets he was sending out. His sister, Vera, thoroughly disapproved
of his involvement in politics.
Vera: Now I hope you can see the danger of getting mixed up in
politics, Henry. You and the family will probably all be blown up.
Henry: Don't exaggerate, Vera. I'm sure it's just a hoax.
Vera: I only hope you're right. What other meetings have you got
Henry: I shall be calling at houses in Midhampton this afternoon,
and then there's a big meeting tonight in the field behind
Vera: There you are, then. No doubt one of those stupid farmers has
got a pile of bombs hidden in a haystack.
Henry: Oh, Vera, really!
There was a large crowd in the field when Henry arrived at eight
o'clock for what was perhaps the biggest meeting of the whole
campaign. His constituency was largely a farming community and the Photocopiable 2 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a parliamentary candidate
by Alan Townend most important local issue concerned the subsidies that the new
government would be paying to the farmers. After a hard day's work,
hundreds of farmers and farm labourers had come to the field to
hear what Henry had to say.
Henry: Ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate the anxiety you must all
feel about this question of subsidies. I too have been a farmer and I
know the difficulties you are experiencing, and so...
Heckler: ... and so you've decided to become an M.P. and get rich!
Henry: No, my friend. I want to give the farmers a voice in the
House of Commons.
Heckler: I don't believe a word of it!
Henry: You've got a strong voice, I'll admit. But London's two
hundred miles away and I don't think your voice will carry that far.
That's why I want to speak on your behalf.
The crowd remained good-natured for the first part of his speech and
Henry was feeling pleased with himself. And then, suddenly, half a
dozen tractors roared onto the field.
"Do you like tomatoes?" shouted one of the tractor drivers. Henry
hesitated for a moment and then replied: "Yes, I like them very
"Well, we can't sell them at a profit," said the tractor driver,
"because the imported ones are too cheap. So rather than let them
go to waste, you can have them!"
It was then that Henry noticed that the tractors were loaded with
boxes of tomatoes, which the farmers started to throw at him.
Unfortunately for Henry, two of them hit him full in the face. He
realized that he had to say something quickly to win the crowd over
to his side. "Thank you for your generous gift, but I really prefer
them in sandwiches. And now let's get on with the meeting."
The crowd started to cheer and Henry managed to finish his speech
without further interruptions. In the meantime the police had made a
thorough search of Henry's house and assured him that there were
no hidden bombs. He went back to his sister's house to collect his
Vera: I've got some supper ready. I'm sure you must be starving.
Henry: You shouldn't have bothered. We can all go back home now.
The police have searched the house thoroughly and they found
nothing at all.
Vera: Well, at least stay and eat the nice salad I've made.
Henry: All right, Vera. Just so long as there are no tomatoes in it! Photocopiable 3 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a parliamentary candidate
by Alan Townend After supper, Henry and his family went home. Later that evening
the phone rang.
Man's voice: Oh, Mr. Orpington. I've been trying to reach you all
day. This is Paul Harris. I called you this morning.
Henry: You did indeed! I think you owe me an explanation.
Harris: Yes, I do. When I phoned you this morning I was cut off. It
was a bad line or something.
Henry: Well, what about the bomb?
Harris: The bomb? What on earth do you mean?
Henry: That's what I'd like to know. You said, "I want to warn you
about a bomb."
Harris: Oh, dear! I'm afraid there's been a misunderstanding. I
didn't have time to finish my sentence. You see, I'm a farmer and I
overheard some of the other farmers planning to break up your
Henry: I still fail to see what all this has got to do with a bomb.
Harris: Well, if we hadn't been cut off I was going to warn you about
a bombardment of tomatoes! Photocopiable 4 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a parliamentary candidate
by Alan Townend New words and expressions
parliamentary candidate man or woman standing for
election to parliament as an
M.P. (Member of Parliament) adopted here means chosen prospective future constituency district represented by one M.P.
The people in this district are
called "constituents" challenge a test of one's ability campaign planned course of action;
here refers to the time (about
three weeks) just before an
election blow up kill in an explosion House of Commons one of the two Houses of
Parliament (the other is the House
of Lords) the line had gone dead the connection had been broken operator the telephonist at the telephone
exchange headquarters main office the press the newspapers, newspaper
reporters engagements appointments election agent the person who manages the
campaign for a parliamentary
candidate threaten try to frighten opponents those who are against you (here
refers to members of the other
political parties) exaggerate say that something is more
important etc. than it really is hoax (pronounced like jokes) joke Photocopiable 5 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a parliamentary candidate
by Alan Townend get to the bottom of the
matter find out the truth about it crank someone with strange ideas housing estate an area with houses of the same
type and usually built by the
same builder the whole business the situation plainclothes policemen policemen wearing civilian
(ordinary) clothes sinister strange and frightening hecklers people who interrupt a speaker
(usually political) carry on continue public house a place where wine, beer and
spirits can be bought and drunk I'm dead against it I'm completely against it keep a close watch on watch carefully mingled mixed inconspicuously so as not to be noticed reaction showing of feelings for or against rising increasing scream its head off scream very loudly paid a brief visit to visited for a short time bribery money or goods given to someone
to win his support disapproved of did not approve of involvement in mixing in getting mixed up in becoming involved in pile heap, number of haystack large pile of hay largely mainly Photocopiable 6 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a parliamentary candidate
by Alan Townend community district and its people issue question or problem for discussion subsidies help in the form of money
from die government appreciate here means understand carry here means travel, i.e. be heard
in London good-natured friendly tractor vehicle used on a farm for pulling
things half a dozen six (twelve to a dozen) roared made a loud noise; here came in
with a loud noise imported bought
from another country go to waste be wasted assured him made him certain starving very hungry bothered taken the trouble I was cut off my telephone connection with you
was broken What on earth...? a strong way of saying "What...?" misunderstanding mistake due to something not
being understood salad dish of fresh vegetables overhear hear something without the
speaker knowing win the crowd over to his side win the support of the crowd
bombardment Photocopiable in the military sense, with heavy
guns; here with tomatoes 7 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a parliamentary candidate
by Alan Townend Questions and exercises
A. Comprehension questions
1. Which constituency was Henry Orpington adopted for? 2. What sort of majority did he get? 3. Who is Andrew Higgins? 4. Does Andrew want Henry to continue with his engagements
after the bomb threat? 5. Why did Henry's audience at the housing estate consist mainly
of women and children? 6. Why did the baby scream its head off when Henry tried to kiss
it? 7. What had Henry's wife and daughters been doing all morning? 8. What was the most important election issue for the farmers? 9. Why couldn't the farmers sell their tomatoes at a profit? 10. How did Paul Harris know about the bombardment of tomatoes?
B. Change the following sentences into the passive:
The constituency adopted Henry as the candidate.
Henry was adopted as the candidate for the constituency.
1. The Prime Minister announced the date of the general election. 2. He thought a bomb was going to blow him up. 3. They've cut us off. 4. They kept the news from the press. 5. I'm not going to let some stupid crank scare me. 6. Henry's beard must have frightened the baby. 7. Two of the tomatoes hit him in the face. 8. If they hadn't cut us off. Photocopiable 8 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a parliamentary candidate
by Alan Townend C. Use the following words to complete the sentences below:
teenage 1. I have two small sons and three _____ daughters. 2. The operator has________ us_________. 3. I'm going to _________all my engagements. 4. He has very strange ideas. I think he's a__________. 5. When the baby saw Henry's beard, it began to________. 6. If Henry bought someone a drink it would be
considered________. 7. Henry thought that the telephone call about the bomb was just
a______. 8. I haven't eaten all day. I'm________. D. The following sentences come from the conversation between
Andrew and Henry. Change them into indirect (reported) speech.
Start like this:
1. Andrew suggested that Henry cancel all his arrangements for
Now you do it.
1. Andrew: I suggest you cancel all your engagements for today. 2. Henry: I'm not going to let myself be scared by some stupid
crank. 3. Andrew: What did the man sound like? Did you recognize his
voice? 4. Henry: No, I was half asleep. He didn't seem to be threatening
me. 5. Andrew: That makes the whole business even more sinister. 6. Andrew: Henry, one day won't make all that much difference.
I'll tell people you've lost your voice. 7. Henry: I'm going to carry on as usual. 8. Andrew: I'd like to make it clear that I'm dead against it. Photocopiable 9 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a parliamentary candidate
by Alan Townend Keys to exercises
1. The one in which he was living. 2. A large majority. 3. Henry Orpington's election agent. 4. No, he wants him to cancel them. 5. Because most of the men were out at work. 6. Because it was frightened by Henry's beard. 7. They had been addressing the envelopes for the leaflets Henry
was sending out. 8. The subsidies that the new government would be paying. 9. Because the imported ones were too cheap. 10. He overheard some of the other farmers planning to break up
1. The date of the general election was announced by the Prime
Minister. 2. He thought he was going to be blown up by a bomb. 3. We've been cut off. 4. The news was kept from the press. 5. I'm not going to let myself be scared by some stupid crank. 6. The baby must have been frightened by Henry's beard. 7. He was hit in the face by two of the tomatoes. 8. If we hadn't been cut off.... Photocopiable 10 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a parliamentary candidate
by Alan Townend C.
1. teenage 2. cut us off 3. cancel 4. crank 5. scream 6. bribery 7. hoax 8. starving D.
1. Andrew suggested that Henry cancel all his engagements for
that day. 2. Henry said that he wasn't going to let himself be scared by
some stupid crank. 3. Andrew asked Henry what the man sounded like and if he
recognized his voice. 4. Henry said that he didn't because he was half asleep, but the
man didn't seem to be threatening him. 5. Andrew said that that made the whole business even more
sinister. 6. Andrew told Henry that one day wouldn't make all that much
difference and that he would tell people that Henry had lost his
voice. 7. Henry said that he was going to carry on as usual. 8. Andrew said he would like to make it clear that he was dead
against it. Photocopiable 11 © www.english-test.net ...
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This note was uploaded on 10/05/2011 for the course ENG 1201 taught by Professor Mcmahon during the Spring '10 term at St. Mary NE.
- Spring '10