Unit 8.
Sport in Our Life


Reading for Discussion

45. A. Look at the title of the text, the picture and the key phrases and try to guess what the text is going to be about.

B. Read the text. Listen to it carefully, 45, and say if your guess was right.

The Great Shooting Day

(After Roald Dahl)

Mr Victor Hazell was rich beyond words, and his property stretched for miles along either side of the valley. All the land around us belonged to him, everything on either side of the road, everything except the small patch of ground on which the filling station stood. That patch belonged to my father. It was a little island in the middle of the vast ocean of Mr Hazells property.

Mr Victor Hazell was a snob and he tried desperately to get on with what he believed were the right kind of folk. He hunted with the hounds and gave shooting1 parties. And every weekend he drove his enormous silver Rolls-Royce past our filling station on his way to the factory.

No, my father used to say, I do not like Mr Victor Hazel! one little bit. I havent forgotten the way he spoke to you last year when he came in for a fill-up.

I havent forgotten it either. Mr Hazell had arrived in his expensive Rolls-Royce and had said to me, Pill her2 up and look sharp about it.3 I was eight years old at the time, he didnt get out of the car, he just handed me the key to the cap of the gasoline tank and as he did so, he barked out, And keep your filthy little hands to yourself, you understand? I didnt understand at all, so I said, What do you mean, sir?

There was a walking stick on the seat. He picked it up and pointed it at me like a pistol. If you spoil my car, Ill beat you up, he shouted.

My father was out of the workshop almost before Mr Hazell had finished speaking. He came up to the window of the car and placed his hands on it. I dont like you speaking to my son like that, he said. His voice was dangerously soft. You had no reason to threaten him, my father went on. He has done nothing wrong. Next time you threaten someone why dont you pick on a person your own size, my father said. Like me, for instance.

Mr Hazell did not look at him. He sat quite still in the seat of his Rolls-Royce, his tiny piggy eyes staring straight ahead.

Now go away, please, my father said. We do not wish to serve you. He took the key from my hand and threw it through the window. The Rolls-Royce drove away fast in a cloud of dust. A silence fell between us.

Ill tell you something interesting, my father said at last. The shooting season starts on Saturday. It always starts on the first of October, he said, And every year Mr Hazell celebrates the day by giving a big shooting party. It is a very famous event, Danny, that shooting party of Mr Hazells.

Do lots of people come? I asked.

Hundreds, he said. They come from miles around. Dukes and lords, barons and baronets,4 rich businessmen, and all important folk in the country. They come with their guns and their dogs and their wives, and all day long the noise of shooting is heard across the valley. But they dont come because they like Mr Hazell. Secretly they all despise him.

Then why do they come, dad?

Because its the best pheasant shoot in the South of England, thats why they come. But to Mr Hazell its the greatest day in the year because it makes him feel important. For one day in the year he becomes a big cheese in a little world5 and even the Duke of so-and-so6 tries to remember his first name when he says goodbye. So he is willing to pay almost anything to make it a success. He spends a fortune on those pheasants. Each summer he buys hundreds of young birds from the pheasant farm and puts them in the wood where the keepers feed them, and its a deadly secret, Danny. My father looked carefully all around him.

I would like, he whispered, to find a way of getting so many pheasants from Hazells Wood that there would not be any left for the big opening-day shoot on October the first.

Dad! I cried. No!

Ssshh, he said. Listen. Just imagine, Danny, he went on, what a triumph, what a glorious victory that would be! All the dukes and lords and famous men would arrive in their big cars and then out they would all go with their guns under their arms and they would take up their positions in the famous wood and there wouldnt be a single pheasant to be found anywhere! And Mr Victor Hazells face would be redder than a boiled beetroot! Now wouldnt that be the most amazing and beautiful thing if we could pull it off,7 Danny!

1 In Britain they use the words shooting and hunting differently. By shooting they mean the sport of killing birds and animals with gun. By hunting they mean using dogs to chase the animal (usually a fox) while riding a horse.
2 her . the car
3 to look sharp about it = hurry
4 dukes (), lords, barons, baronets these are ranks of noblemen: duke is the highest, earls () barons and baronets follow. Dukes, earls and barons can be all called lords.
5 a big cheese in a little world .
6 so-and-so - -
7 to pull it off to manage to do sth difficult

46. Look through the text again and find out who:

  1. owned all the land around the filling station;
  2. told Victor Ilazell to stop threatening the boy;
  3. came to Mr Hazells shooting parties;
  4. wanted to teach Victor Hazell a lesson;
  5. owned the filling station;
  6. gave shooting parties;
  7. was rude to the boy once;
  8. spent a fortune on pheasants.

47. Choose the right item.

  1. Mr Victor Hazell was a snob and tried to get on with what he believed were the ... kind of folk.

    a) rich
    b) right
    c) real

  2. Every weekday he drove his car past the filling station on his way to the ... .

    a) forest
    b) factory
    c) office

  3. Danny was ... years old at that time,

    a) eight
    b) nine
    c) ten

  4. Victor Hazell said that Dannys hands were ... .

    a) filthy
    b) clean
    c) dirty

  5. He wanted to beat the boy up with ... .

    a) a pistol
    b) an umbrella
    c) a walking stick

  6. The shooting season always starts on the first of ... .

    a) September
    b) October
    c) November

  7. The important people ... Victor Hazell.

    a) liked
    b) hated
    c) despised

  8. Mr Hazell bought hundreds of young pheasants from the pheasant

    a) house
    b) farm
    c) shop

  9. Dannys father wanted the shooting party to find ... pheasants in the famous forest.

    a) no
    b) many
    c) the best