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3 unit.
Me and My World


Reading for Discussion

46. A. Before you read the text, say if you know anything about Roald Dahl and his books. Does the name Charlie and the Chocolate Factory say anything to you?

B. Look at the title of the text, the pictures and the key phrases and try to guess what the text is going to be about.

Key phrases:

  • to spend boyhood with ones father
  • to live in a gypsy caravan
  • to repair engines in a workshop
  • to be cheerful and full of fun
  • to be an excellent storyteller

C. Read the text. Listen to it carefully, 15, and say if your guess was right.

Dannys Story

(After Roald Dahl)

When I was four months old, my mother died suddenly and my father was left to look after me all by himself.

I had no brothers or sisters with whom I could share toys or play together. So all my boyhood, from the age of four months on, there were just us two, my father and me. We lived in an old gypsy caravan1 behind a filling station.2 My father owned the filling station and the caravan and a small meadow behind, that was about all he owned in the world and my father struggled to make both ends meet. It was a very small filling station on a small country road with fields and woody hills around it.

1 a gypsy caravan , ,
2 a filling station

While I was still a baby, my father washed me and fed me, changed my diapers,1 pushed me in my pram to the doctor and did all the millions of other things a mother normally does for her child. That is not an easy task for a man, especially when he has to earn his living at the same time.

But my father didnt mind. He was a cheerful man, I think that he gave me all the love he had felt for my mother when she was alive. We were very close. During my early years, I never had a moments unhappiness, and here I am on my fifth birthday.

I was now a bouncy little boy as you can see, with dirt and oil all over me, but that was because I spent all day in the workshop2 helping my father with the cars. The workshop was a stone building. My father built that himself with loving care. We are engineers, you and I, he used to say firmly to me. We earn our living by repairing engines3 and we cant do good work in a bad workshop. It was a fine workshop, big enough to take one car comfortably.

The caravan was our house and our home. My father said it was at least one hundred and fifty years old. Many gypsy children, he said, had been born in it and had grown up within its wooden walls. In old times it had been pulled by a horse along winding country roads of England. Different people had knocked at its doors, different people had lived in it. But now its best years were over. There was only one room in the caravan, and it wasnt much bigger than a modern bathroom.

Although we had electric lights in the workshop, we were not allowed to have them in the caravan as it was dangerous. So we got our heat and light in the same way as the gypsies had done years ago. There was a wood-burning stove4 that kept us warm in winter and there were candles in candlesticks. I think that the stew5 cooked by my father is the best thing Ive ever tasted. One plateful was never enough.

1 diapers AmE (nappies BrE)
2 a workshop
3 an engine ,
4 a stove
5 (a) stow

For furniture, we had two narrow beds, two chairs and a small table covered with a tablecloth and some bowls, plates, cups, forks and spoons on it. Those were all the home comforts we had. They were all we needed and we never regretted that our caravan was far from a perfect home.

I really loved living in that gypsy caravan. I loved it particularly in the evenings when I was tucked up in my bed and my father was telling stories. I was happy because I was sure that when I went to sleep, my father would still be there, very close to me, sitting in his chair by the fire.

My father, without any doubt, was the most wonderful and exciting father any boy ever had. Here is a picture of him.

You may think, if you dont know him well, that he was a stern and serious man. He wasnt. He was actually full of fun. What made him look so serious and sometimes gloomy1 was the fact that he never smiled with his mouth. He did it all with his eyes. He had bright blue eyes, and when he thought of something funny, you could see a golden light dancing in the middle of each eye. But the mouth never moved. My father was not what you would call an educated man. I doubt he had read many books in his life. But he was an excellent storyteller. He promised to make up a bedtime story for me every time I asked him. He always kept his promise. The best stories were turned into serials and went on many nights running.2

47. Imagine that you are Danny and answer these questions.

  1. Where did you spend your early years?
  2. How big is your family?
  3. Did you have many friends in your boyhood?
  4. What is your house like?
  5. What is your father like?
  6. Where does your father work?
  7. It is not comfortable to live in a gypsy caravan, is it?
  8. Why is your father so gloomy and serious sometimes?

48. Decide which of the adjectives you can use to describe a) Danny; b) his father.

helpful, active, bouncy, serious, gloomy, cheerful, devoted, loving, caring,3 wonderful, exciting, happy, friendly, quick

1 gloomy
2 running .
3 caring

49. A. Match the phrases in English and Russian, find and read out the sentences with them in the text.

1) to go to sleep
all by himself
to make both ends meet
with loving care
not to mind something
to tuck somebody (up) in
without any doubt

a) , -

- ( )

. Express the same idea using the phrases above.

  1. Ann never asked anybody to help her.
  2. The family didnt have enough money.
  3. It is very difficult to make little Tom go to bed.
  4. When I was a little girl, my mother always covered me carefully with my blanket.
  5. Jane gave the right answer very quickly. She was sure of it.
  6. My mother has nothing against my friends. We always play together in our flat.
  7. My parents have always spoken to me in such a way that I was sure they loved me and cared for me.

50. Find in the text and read out the sentences describing the following:

  1. the workshop
  2. the caravan and its history
  3. the furniture and other things they had in the caravan
  4. the fathers duties when Danny was a baby
  5. Dannys early years
  6. the way the father looked
  7. Dannys evenings in the caravan with his father

51. Say who in the story:

  1. lived in the caravan;
  2. loved living there;
  3. had lived in the caravan before;
  4. cooked the stew in Dannys family;
  5. never was unhappy in his early years;
  6. repaired cars in the workshop.

52. Say true, false or not stated in the text.

  1. Dannys mother died when he was four years old.
  2. There were two deep lakes near the caravan.
  3. Dannys father was a cheerful man.
  4. Dannys father looked serious.
  5. Danny was very unhappy in his early years.
  6. Danny helped his father to build the workshop.
  7. The gypsy caravan was about fifty years old.
  8. The caravan was made of stone.
  9. Dannys father never smiled.