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Unformatted text preview: A day in the life of a flat hunter by Alan Townend A day in the life of a flat hunter
Erika Weiss had corresponded with Peter Jarvis for nearly three
years, but they only met for the first time last month at London
airport. Erika had come from Germany to work for a year in her
firm's London office. When she first arrived, she went to stay at a
hostel, but she wasn't happy there. She decided to look for a flat of
her own, but as she didn't know her way around London, and
couldn't understand the advertisements for flats in the newspapers,
she went to see Peter and to ask his advice.
Erika: I must find a flat of my own. I don't like living in the hostel,
Peter. There's no privacy, the food is horrible and I have to be in by
Peter: How can I help?
Erika: I can't understand the advertisements.
Peter: Well, let's have a look at one.
Erika: This one, for example. Whatever does it mean?
Peter: Let me see. "Charm s/c furn gdn flt, dbl bedim, lge lnge, kit,
bth, cent htg, £20 pw."
Erika: Now please translate it for me.
Peter: That's no good for you.
Erika: It may not be, but I want to know what it means.
Peter: It means, "A charming self-contained furnished garden flat
with a double bedroom, large lounge, kitchen and bathroom, with
central heating, at twenty pounds a week.
Erika: Yes. I see. That's too big and too expensive for me. How am I
going to find what I want?
Peter: Tomorrow's Saturday and we've both got the day off. I
suggest we spend the whole day looking for a flat. If we're lucky, we
might find something for you to move into next week. All right?
Erika: That sounds lovely. I hope I can find a flat as nice as yours.
Peter: That won't be easy.
Erika: You mean this wasn't the first flat you looked at? Photocopiable 1 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a flat hunter by Alan Townend Peter: You must be joking! I've only been here for two months. You
should have seen the terrible flat I had before. And it was hard
enough to get that. Finding a flat in London is very difficult. To start
with you've got to buy the first edition of one of the London
newspapers, and after you've read the accomodation advertisements
you've got to run to the nearest telephone so that you are the first
person to ring up.
Erika: But what if it says, "ring after six."?
Peter: Oh, you mustn't take any notice of that. I've missed lots of
flats by taking that too seriously. You must ring up at once and keep
your fingers crossed that there's someone at home to answer the
phone. If the owner answers, you mustn't sound too eager.
Erika: What do you mean?
Peter: You've got to give him, or her, the impression that you don't
really mind if you get the flat or not. You must sound as if you've got
dozens of other flats to consider.
Erika: But there aren't dozens of other flats.
Peter: Of course not. But if you sound too eager the owner will think
you're having difficulty in finding a flat, and then hell think there's
something wrong with you.
Erika: I suppose you're right.
Peter: Of course I am. It's like a game. You pretend you don't really
want a flat at all, and the owner pretends he doesn't really want to
let his flat. He says, "It's ten pounds a week you know," as if he
doesn't think you have enough money, so you say you didn't realize
there was no private bath and you're not interested after all. When
you've collected a list of addresses to visit, you set off. You get to
the street where the first flat is and pass the most beautiful houses
you've ever seen. This is perfect, you think. A flat in a house like this
for only ten pounds a week! And then, as you get nearer to the
number you're looking for, you notice that the character of the street
is changing. The houses are dirty, the doors are unpainted, windows
are broken. And of course the house you're looking for is the worst of
all. You want to turn round and go home, but the owner is already at
the door. He takes you up to see the flat, and although you can see
what's there for yourself he points to everything in the room.
"There's the bed," he says, "and there's the table." In the end you
tell him that you've got another flat to look at and that you'll let him
know. After seeing a lot of places like this you begin to think you'll
never find a reasonable flat. I even thought about going to a hostel
like yours. Photocopiable 2 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a flat hunter by Alan Townend Erika: Oh, no! If other hostels are like mine you wouldn't have liked
it at all. This sounds terrible, Peter. Are you sure you still want to
help me tomorrow?
Peter: Yes, of course I do. I just want you to know what it's going to
Erika: I'm getting a pretty good ideal Tell me how you got the
terrible flat you had before this one.
Peter: I got it through an agency. I paid a small fee to the agency
and they gave me three addresses. I went to the first address and a
charming grey-haired lady opened the door. She showed me a selfcontained flat on the ground floor. It was nicely decorated, clean and
cheap. I told her I'd take it and paid her a month's rent in advance.
Erika: But I thought you didn't like it. It sounds fine.
Peter: Wait a minute.
Erika: Sorry. Go on.
Peter: I moved in on a Sunday night. I was woken up the next
morning at half past seven.
Erika: What woke you up?
Peter: Road drills and bulldozers! There was one little thing the
landlady hadn't told me: they were going to build a motorway right
outside my window! Photocopiable 3 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a flat hunter by Alan Townend New words and expressions
flat hunter someone looking for a flat (two or
three rooms on the same floor) there's no privacy you cannot be alone hostel a building in which young people
(usually students) can live
cheaply I have to be in I must be back in the hostel self-contained with its own bath room and
lavatory lounge sitting room, living room the day off the day free, i.e. you do not have
to go to work accommodation houses, flats, rooms: somewhere
to live ring up telephone keep your fingers crossed a superstition; this is meant to
bring good luck eager keen, enthusiastic you don't really mind it's not important to you dozens many, a lot (twelve to a dozen) Photocopiable 4 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a flat hunter by Alan Townend let offer for rent (you often see signs
saying FLAT TO LET) set off start a journey let him know tell him later reasonable sensible, moderate a pretty good idea quite a good idea, a fairly good
idea agency here means a firm that collects
details of flats and passes them
on to the flat hunters for a
commission, usually the
equivalent of a week's rent fee payment rent payment for use of a building
usually paid by the week or the
month motorway high-speed road with limited
access road drills machines for breaking up the road
surface bulldozers vehicles that move earth in large
quantities Photocopiable 5 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a flat hunter by Alan Townend Questions and exercises
A. Comprehension questions
1. Where did Peter and Erika meet for the first time? 2. What is Erika's nationality? 3. Why didn't Erika like the hostel? 4. What is the meaning of "Charm s/c furn gdn fit"? 5. What does Peter mean when he says that on Saturday they both
have "the day off? 6. What's the first thing you do if you want to find a flat? 7. How did Peter get his first flat? 8. What did Peter pay the owner before moving in? 9. What woke Peter up at half past seven? 10. What were they going to build outside Peter's window?
B. Change the following sentences into the simple past:
1. She doesn't know her way around London. 2. I can't understand the advertisements. 3. Whatever does it mean? 4. That's too expensive for me. 5. You take things too seriously. 6. 1 pay her a month's rent in advance. 7. Is it nicely decorated? Photocopiable 6 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a flat hunter by Alan Townend C. Change the following into sentences beginning I, you, etc.
You didn't see the flat I had before.
You should have seen the flat I had before.
1. He didn't meet her at London airport. 2. She didn't stay at a hostel. 3. She wasn't in by eleven o'clock. 4. I didn't have the day off yesterday. 5. We didn't look for a flat. 6. They didn't find a flat. 7. I didn't ring him up. 8. I didn't answer the phone. D. Use the gerund (-ing form) instead of the infinitive (base form) in
the following sentences:
It's difficult to find a flat in London.
Finding a flat in London is difficult.
1. It's bad for you to smoke. 2. It takes a long time to read all the accommodation
advertisements. 3. It can be very pleasant to stay at a hostel. 4. The best way is to get a flat through an agency. 5. It costs a lot of money to build a motorway. 6. It's difficult to translate from English into German. 7. It's easy to get the day off. 8. It's better to pay in advance. Photocopiable 7 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a flat hunter by Alan Townend Keys to exercises
1. At London airport. 2. She's German. 3. Because there was no privacy, the food was horrible, and she
had to be in by eleven o'clock. 4. Charming self-contained furnished garden flat. 5. He meant that they don't have to go to work. 6. You buy a newspaper and read the accommodation
advertisements. 7. Through an agency. 8. A month's rent in advance. 9. Road drills and bulldozers. 10. A motorway.
1. She didn't know her way around London. 2. I couldn't understand the advertisements. 3. Whatever did it mean? 4. That was too expensive for me. 5. You took things too seriously. 6. I paid her a month's rent in advance. 7. I moved in on Sunday night. 8. Was it nicely decorated? Photocopiable 8 © www.english-test.net A day in the life of a flat hunter by Alan Townend C.
1. You should have seen the flat I had before. 2. She should have stayed at a hostel. 3. She should have been in by eleven o'clock. 4. I should have had the day off yesterday. 5. We should have looked for a flat. 6. They should have found a flat. 7. I should have rung him up. 8. I should have answered the phone. D.
1. Smoking is bad for you. 2. Reading all the accommodation advertisements takes a long
time. 3. Staying at a hostel can be very pleasant. 4. Getting a flat through an agency is the best way. 5. Building a motorway costs a lot of money. 6. Translating from English into German is difficult. 7. Getting the day off is easy. 8. Paying in advance is better. Photocopiable 9 © www.english-test.net ...
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