THE TAUREAN – THE MOURNING

It is the mourning after the day before.

There is a vacant berth at the quayside in the harbour.

The Taurean is missing

Whereas yesterday was destructive in its wake with strong gusts of wind and torrential downfall of rain, today is infinitely calm.

A local reporter is quick to the scene.  He senses a sensational story

The local reporter can ask all the questions he wants but he will not get the answers he yearns for

I was once he, inquisitive, curious, fresh, ambitious, determined, brazen questing fame but I charter a different course now.

Freedom is a wonderful thing and you can only really know what it is once you have removed yourself from all the shackles which are placed upon you in a lifetime.

As a human or as a boat, you are as one.

In life, you do not choose where you want to go but the place inexplicably chooses you and you must allow fate rather than faith to blindly lead you..

Now I am totally free to go wherever I wish to go, with whoever I choose, whenever I choose and in whatever form I choose.  There are no perameters.

Believe me, I am a vessel at peace.

It was many years ago that I left my homeland and sailed to foreign pastures thousands of miles away to a place with a different culture and set of customs alien to anything I had previously experienced.

I have been accepted within the community of the harbour more for heritage and privilege than sociality because the locals boast of having an Englander in their midst.

We refer in life to baggage and I carry a burdensome cargo of three marriages and four children.  This is where my journey took me.  I can thank my lucky stars that I was blessed.

The woman who reported my disappearance yesterday to the local constabulary, has returned to the scene and is questioned by the reporter.

The bouquet of flowers she lay at the scene yesterday at day-break has long been blown away.

The odd thing is that she can still see the Taurean at its moorings.

The reality is that her vision is not shared by others.

That which has perished is still with the living world  and has become an onlooker to the mourning of its passing.

If a man can be a ghost, then why not a boat?

The woman loved the Taurean with all her heart and soul, offering humble sacifice in the knowledge that her rewards in so doing would never be just or tangible.

She sailed on the Taurean more times than she will ever wish to divulge.  She was his mistress in every imaginable sense.

Her children know not.  It was a well-kept secret.  For harmony sake.

How ironic is it that I cannot swim and that  I have had a fear of deep water all my life.

To be therefore a boat upon the ocean waters of the planet, there can be no greater contrast.

Or indeed any greater legacy.

Sixty years is a lifetime.  Photographs, letters,documents and a family tree are testimony to that fact and the marinology of life itself.

The realization is that my journey in life has not ended but that it has just begun.

The Taurean has entered a realm of eternal freedom and peace.

So much for the Mourning.

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A CHRISTMAS DAY STORY (AN ANALOGY) (THE BOAT)

The boat has left its moorings at the quayside of the harbour and is drifting aimlessly out at sea, orientated only by the will of the wind and the grace of God.

Its absence from the berth goes unnoticed because everyone is too busy leading their own lives to even notice that the boat slipped out in the darkness of the night, that it was not secured to its anchor by those who are conscienable for the task.

The elements will take the boat to where it will ever go.  Sixty years more or less on the waters of the earth and it comes to this, thrashed in the centric cradle of the ocean.

It is a boat without a paddle, an udder, an engine, a sail, a mast or a navigator to bring it back,

Wishfulness, hope, play into the hands of despair on the wasteful wings of prayer.

When the dawn breaks, as it will soon, the craft will be no more than debris, sunken below the waves and lost to the world in which it once sailed, shipwrecked on the ocean sea-bed and never seen again.

And you come to wonder how did it come to this?

Whatever happened to the TLC (tender loving care) which was supposed to have been shown by a keeper, a guardian, a custodian, for such a loving vessel of these waters?

A boat is, after all, everything in life that we are as as human being.  It has a life.  It has a heart and soul.  It breathes the same air we do.  It reaches out to the heavens and touches the sky.  It sails the waters and it lives our dreams as we live the dream of it.

The family and friends of the boat are now in mourning.  The tears of inner-most terror raid out from a grey winter sky and a kindly woman with her three young children, suitably dressed for a church gathering on this Christmas Day morning, pass by the vacant berth in the harbour.

It is as if she knows this story but in truth she does not.  She lays a small bouquet of flowers at the quayside and walks away.  Her children gaze out to the open sea beyond the harbour, beyond the white house of the harbour-master and the distant shape of the lighthouse on the foggy horizon.

The boat has sunk and sixty years are but a memory to the ocean.

DESCRIBE AN AUCTION

This is a two minute talk for IELTS or TOEFL to talk about an Auction.

The keywords of the talk are highlighted in bold.

An auction is a great place to go and hunt for a bargain.

You can buy anything and everything at an auction and often at a very cheap price.

Unlike a shop, there is no fixed price and things are sold by a bidding process.

The Auction is conducted by an auctioneer.

Every item for sale has a Lot Number and Lots can be previewed beforehand.

To bid for something you want to buy, you should either raise your hand or use a paddle with a specific number given to you prior to the auction starting.

An auction is competitive and many other people will be bidding for the Lot just like you.

Quite often, there is a reserve price on the item being sold, so if that reserved price is notr reached, the item will be withdrawn from the sale.

The price usually goes higher and the item is sold to the highest bidder when the auctioneer says ‘final offer’ and ‘going going gone’.

Paintings, old furniture, televisions, mobile household ornaments, bric-a-brac, books, records and even a love letter collection from a famous person can be sold at an auction.

I once bought a 1927 nokia cellphone for next to nothing.  Can you believe that?

The rule of thumb is that something is considered antique if it is more than one hundred years old but these days, anything from yesteryear might be considered antique.

There are also auctions for vintage cars, second hand cars, houses and land.

Don’t forget to raise your hand if you want to bid for something and don’t raise your hand (or paddle) if you don’t intend to bid for something.

Otherwise, the auctioneer might accept your bid and it will be ‘going going gone’

Keep an eye out for things which are valuable and collectable but be careful not to buy something which might not be the genuine article and is completely worthless.

You do not want to waste your money!

Good luck!

PORTRAIT PAINTING OR INSTANT PHOTO

This is an essay which takes a reflective look at the transition to digital photography from portrait painting.

We must first pose the question – has the instant photo replaced the portrait painting forever?

The keywords of the lesson are highlighted.

The modern trend of taking a selfie brings into sharp focus how much we all enjoy taking photos and capturing memories to share with others.

The digital camera is part of all our lives in the modern world and instant photos are taken at the press of a button.

They are then immediately transmitted to friends and family by social media, smartphone apps, stored in digital photo albums or in remote clouds.

Very few are printed and displayed around our home.  We try to be selective of the best ones taken.

Long before photography was ever invented, people had to be content with portrait paintings comissioned from professional artists.

The subject of the portrait would be expected to sit for long periods of time while the artist made sketches or painted directly onto canvass.  This all took time.

The invention of the first camera prototype by Frenchman Louis Daguerre in 1837 was the first step in the eventual transition away from portrait painting to photography.

Significantly, not only was the concept available to the public masses but it was affordable.

We would all come, in time, to know how to use the zoom lens, shutter, flash and tripod with relative ease.

Our grattitude is extended in American George Eastman who founded his Kodak company and heralded a new era in photography.

We must also be thankful to Englishman Edward Muybridge who conducted a galloping horse experiment with pictures that captured the simple stride of a horse in twelve sequential moments.

The world was about to embrace moving pictures as a concept or movies as we call them today and my dear Mum (my Grandmother too in fact) would talk of a night out at the Picture House.

Remarkably perhaps, this modern era of the instant photo has not killed the portrait painting stone-dead but rather given us the opportunity to reproduce imagery with new skills developed in photo-editing software with a sense of surrealism and novelty.

Not only that but we have come to respect and value the capture of an image by an artist of a subject either in cartoon lampooning or in caricature.

Hands up who has not contemplated or had a sketch done by a street artist or looked for the personal touch of a ‘togetherness’ picture for your wedding day to be hung in the hallway for guests to see?

The old saying that a picture paints a thousand words is never more true than today.

The ultimate irony is that we are using the technology of today to create the memories of yesteryear and also of the future.

Photography moves with the times.

As we move with the times, there is a place for the commissioned portrait painting to exist alongside the instant digital photo in the capture of a memory.

MOTHER HEN AND THE UNWASHED EGG

I had never considered until the other day whether eggs were or should be washed or not.

So i decided to consult Mother Hen who I thought would know best.

It amazed me to learn that America, Japan and Australia wash their eggs while the rest of the world (which includes Europe, Great Britain and the asian countries) do not.

It creates a sort of trade embargo where British eggs cannot be sold or eaten in America and likewise American eggs cannot be sold or eaten in Britain.

How utterly bizarre is that!

According to Mother Hen, it is all down to animal husbandry.

We are all educated folk and know  that the salmonella virus can be contracted from eating eggs.

We are not sure how salmonella gets there in the first place.

Mother Hen curtly points out that the issue of salmonella is a fairly recent thing.

We tend to forget of days gone by when people were less health-conscious, health-aware and refrigerators did not come into being until that well known genius Albert Einstein came up with the idea in the 1920s.

What we fail to understand, says Mother Hen, is that eggs are more resistant than you think to bacterial contamination.

Eggs have this invisible coating or safety jacket called a cutible which blesses every egg shell and makes them very strong.

Mother Hen is adamant that eggs which are washed of this coating make them damaged and susceptible to contamination.

Washing the eggs in a special chemical way merely deludes public thinking that salmonella cannot be contracted..

Quite the contrary in fact as it becomes the breeding ground for it.

So there is every reason to suppose that a washed egg could become tainted.

While not refrigerating eggs at the outset when Mother Hen lays them and not washing them, there is actually less likelihood that anyone will get sick.

Mother Hen boasts that eggs are one of the healthiest kinds of food humans can eat.

Eggs are the ultimate fat-fighters and it is nonesense to suggest they raise your cholesterol level.

The wisdom of Mother Hen is undeniable.

She realizes she could be a salmonella carrier even before she lays an egg, so she is all for the idea of anti-salmonella vaccination.

She does concede that as she gets older, the eggs she lays have poorer cuticle coverage and the risk of contamination, although small, is still there.

Mother Hen thinks the public are confused about the selection process for eggs and what to do with eggs once we have bought them.

The best place to buy the eggs is at the farm shop but few people get that opportunity, so we usually buy them at the grocery store or the supermarket.

The eggs might be cooled or chilled but they are rarely refrigerated and more often than not, they are kept at room temperature.

Keeping the purchased eggs at room temperature when we get them home is the logical thing to do.

Their shelf life for consumption may be shorter than if they were refrigerated but the shorter duration will provide a more healthier egg to eat.

What happens to a cold egg then, I asked Mother Hen, if it is then introduced to room temperature?

It will sweat and possibly be open to breed bacteria.

Mother Hen sees the modern day refrigerator as the enemy in the quest to preserve the glory of the beautiful egg.

Every one of us will surely admit that we buy our eggs, perhaps by the dozen, in the carton and then place them later at home in the special slot inside the refrigerator.

It indeed preserves the shelf life, so to speak, for cooking and eating the egg but it also reduces the natural taste the egg has to offer.

The ultimate message of Mother Hen is not to underestimate the power of the egg, to respect the aesthetics of the egg and not exaggerate human health and safety out of ignorance.

I want to thank Mother Hen for her time in giving this somewhat unusual interview.

Do not forget to read this article again and refresh many of the useful phrases which I have highlighted.

HENRI DUNANT – THE RED CROSS MAN

Henri Dunant is a very famous person indeed but hardly anyone knows who he is today.

He is the mentor behind the creation of the Red Cross.

He is probably and literally the fourth most famous Swiss national after William Tell, Henri Nestle and Roger Federer.

When as a thirty one year old journeyman he passed by the Battle of Solferino in northern Italy in 1859, he knew something had to be done to address the barbarity of warfare.

He wanted to set up a humanitarian movement which could and would protect human life and health, ensure respect for all human beings and also prevent as well as alleviate human suffering.

It was only a few years after the Crimean War fought by Britain, France and Turkey against Russia which was significant to bringing public attention the need for non-combatant trained medics to be available at the field of battle, the most famous of whom was, of course, Florence Nightingale.

Within the space of four short years, his vision came to fruition and the Red Cross institution was formed in Geneva Switzerland in 1863.

Its adopted symbol of a red cross on a white background is an exact reversal of a white cross on a red background for the Swiss nationaL flag.

Henri Dunant received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901 for his important contribution to mankind and yet he suffered greatly in his life as a direct result of this due to poverty, ill-health and personal bankruptcy.

When he died an old man in 1910, he was an obscure rather than a notorious figure for history to record.

But the Red Cross plays an important part in times of war and world crisis today with no little thanks paid to Henri Dunant.

DESCRIBE A JOB AT A DEPARTMENT STORE

This is an English lesson where an employee describes a job they do at a department store.

You might be asked to describe the job you do for a TOEFL or IELTS talk for one or two minutes.

The content of this lesson can easily be adapted for that purpose.

The keywords of the lesson are highlighted.

This is the text of the lesson.

 

Hello everyone, my name is Chris.

I am a retail assistant in a famous department store.

You can see I am wearing a uniform.

Can you guess the name of the department store?

The store is located in the shopping mall outside of the city.

I work in the Footwear Department.

The department is located on the third floor.

You can get to the Footwear Department easily by escalator or elevator.

Restrooms are located on the same floor near to the cashier desk.

In the Footwear department, we sell shoes, boots, sandals and trainers.

Sports equipment is sold in the department next to the Footwear Department.

The store is open seven days a week (except public holidays).

Opening times are from ten in the morning until eight in the evening.

I work there five days each week.

My two days off are rotated and organized by the Staff Manager.

I have worked for the department store for nearly two years now.

It’s a tiring job, standing a lot  but I enjoy my job very much and the challenge it presents.

That’s all about me and my job.

Thank you for listening to my presentation.