Hi, it’s Ariel, and I have an announcement: I have a new podcast! The podcast is called Elevenses with Ariel.
So, what are elevenses? Elevenses is a traditional meal in the UK. As you can probably tell from the name, you eat it at 11 o’clock, and it’s basically a snack. So you maybe have a biscuit and a cup of coffee. To be honest, not a lot of people call it elevenses now, but when I was a child, my dad always had elevenses with me and I really like the word. It makes me think of happy times, and I think Elevenses with Ariel sounds nice.
So Elevenses with Ariel is a very short podcast. It’s 5 to 10 minutes long, so it’s something that you can listen to while you have elevenses, while you have a coffee break, while you are waiting for the bus, whatever. And there is a new episode every day. Unlike, not like, Easy Stories in English, it is not a story podcast. It is a conversational podcast. So I just talk about different things for 5-to-10 minutes, and it is for intermediate students, because I know some students are intermediate and you want more things to listen to.
You can listen to the first episode for free at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/11. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/11. The further episodes, the episodes after the first one, are available on Patreon for $5 a month. So for $5 a month, you can get this daily podcast.
So far, people are really enjoying it. I have talked about university, I have talked about a musical I like, I have talked about public transport in the UK. I talk about everything. And I introduce lots of new and interesting words.
So again, go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/11 to hear the first episode.
Also, remember that there is a group chat for EasyStoriesInEnglish.com. So you can come, I ask a question every day, people share pictures, people share voice messages. It’s really fun. And that’s at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Chat.
And remember, of course, that there is a live stream every Saturday. Go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Stream to find out when the next stream is.
Do you enjoy the podcast, but you want someone to speak to in English? You have learned all these cool new words, and now you want to start using them!
Well, I want to tell you about italki. italki is the world’s biggest online language learning website. On italki you can take classes with teachers from any country, and you can take classes at a time that is good for you. You get private lessons with excellent teachers, and it’s much cheaper than normal classes.
I have been both a teacher and a student on italki, and it has helped me so much. If you are like me, you don’t want to take a long course, but with italki you can take lessons when you want, how you want. You can have a conversation class on the bus, or an exam class with lots of homework. There is something for everyone.
Oh, and if you use that link, I get a bit of money, so you’re helping me, too. Thanks!
So that’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/italki. Take your English to the next level today!
OK, let’s start the episode.
Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for beginners. The name of the story is The Curse of the Clock. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Clock. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Clock. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So remember, after the story there will be some conversation. So keep listening after the story, OK? I’m going to talk about where the story comes from.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
A curse is bad magic. When you curse something, you change it. To make the thing normal again you have to break the curse. For example, a prince might get cursed and he will die on his eighteenth birthday. To break the curse, he has to kiss a woman he loves.
Astronomy is a science. It is the science of space, stars and planets. An astronomical clock is a special clock that looks at the stars, sun, moon and planets. They are not very popular now, but in the Middle Ages, around the year 1500, there were lots of astronomical clocks in Europe. There is a famous astronomical clock in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic.
Mysterious means something has a lot of mystery, people don’t know much about it. For example, Stonehenge in the UK is a mysterious place, because we don’t know why it was made. Many people have theories about why Stonehenge was made, but it is still mysterious.
Mechanics, and the adjective is mechanical, is the science of machines. A mechanic is a person who works with this science. For example, mechanics look at cars, televisions and clocks and learn about how they all work, so that they can make better machines.
When you take something apart, you put it into lots of different pieces. For example, if you finish a puzzle and you want to do it again, you will take it apart. If you drop your phone in water, you might have to take it apart to repair it.
After you take something apart, you will probably put it back together. For example, if you took your phone apart to repair one part, then you have to put it back together. This can be very hard to do. You have to be careful when you take it apart so you remember how to put it back together.
A master is someone who is the best, or one of the best, in their field, in their area. For example, Yo-Yo Ma is a master cello player. Master Chef is a TV show about people who want to become master chefs, master cooks.
An apprentice is someone who is learning to do a specific job. They learn from someone very good at that job, a master, and they help them work. For example, a chef, a cook, might have an apprentice who they teach to cook. Usually, an apprentice makes less money until they have learned to do the job well.
The mayor of a town or city is the person who makes big decisions about it. They are the leader, the “president”, of the town or city.
Someone who is blind cannot see. Some people are blind from birth, and never see the world. Some people become blind because of an accident or disease. Some people are partially blind, and some people are fully blind. Blind people usually wear black glasses to show that they are blind, and some use sticks to walk around. You can also be colourblind, which is when you can’t see certain colours.
If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support us on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5, you get Elevenses with Ariel, a daily conversational podcast for intermediate learners, as well as an extra story every month. You can support us at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
A big thank-you to our new patrons: Lyxn O, Pavol Lukáč, Angelica Nadia Necchi, Nada, Alissandra, Ste Mariano, Jeanne Veronique Le Guellec, Lauranne Pestre, Gabriela Wanlar, Maxym Ostapenko, Marissal, Monika Dzwoniarkiewicz, Mia Shen and Magdalena Tomaszewska. Wow, this is AMAZING! We have never had so many new patrons before. Some are people who were already supporting but raised the amount, but still, I am SO grateful, so thankful, for all of you. Thank you so much.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
The Curse of the Clock
Today in Prague there is the astronomical clock, a great and mysterious clock. It brings in tourists from around the world. But many do not know that the clock has a dark history. It happened over 500 years ago…
In the town of Kadaň lived a man called Mikuláš. Mikuláš was always interested in mechanical things. He looked at clocks and other mechanical things, and he thought about how they worked. He asked his father many questions about mechanics, but his father did not know the answer.
So when Mikuláš was thirteen, his father gave him a watch for his birthday. But Mikuláš did not wear the watch like a normal child. The first thing he did was to take the watch apart. He looked at all the pieces, learned how they worked. There was a beautiful little world inside there.
Mikuláš’s father was not happy when he saw the watch.
‘You horrible boy!’ he shouted. ‘I bought you that watch and you took it apart!’
‘Don’t worry, Father!’ said the boy. ‘I will put it back together.’
And he did. That same day he put the watch back together, and it worked well again.
Things went this way for many years. Every year, Mikuláš’s father got him a new mechanical thing—a new clock, a music box, even mechanical toys. Every time Mikuláš took the thing apart and put it back together again. Often he did it several times.
It was no surprise that when Mikuláš was old enough, he decided to become a clock maker. He worked as an apprentice under a clock maker in Kadaň, and he quickly learned everything his master knew.
Mikuláš made great clocks. They were beautiful and never broke, and all the people in Kadaň wanted to buy one. It was great for Mikuláš. He loved making clocks.
But one day his master said to him, ‘Mikuláš, you are too good for this small town. You are very special. Go to Prague. There you can work with the best masters, and make the best clocks.’
So Mikuláš went to the big city. He had never seen so many people before. There were so many strange things. But he quickly found a master who took him as an apprentice, and began his work.
A few years later, the mayor of Prague came to Mikuláš with an idea.
‘We will make the greatest astronomical clock in the world! It will tell the time, the date, when the sun comes up and goes down, where the moon is… It will not be just a clock, it will be art! I will have the greatest artists make people out of wood, to put on the clock. As the day passes, the wooden people will move, and they will give a play every day. Would it not be wonderful?’
Mikuláš knew what his answer was as soon as the mayor started talking. ‘Yes. I’ll do it.’
So he began work on the clock. It was the biggest project of his life, and he worked day and night on it. Finally, after years of work, the clock was completed.
The clock was put in the Old Town, and the first day it moved many people came to watch it. The crowds gasped as they saw the wooden people moving, and they clapped every hour for the whole day. The people of Prague, as well as travellers, loved it, and everyone spoke of Mikuláš’s great clock. The mayor gave him a house in a nice part of the city and money for the rest of his life.
Soon, the astronomical clock became famous in Europe. People sent letters to Mikuláš, asking him to come and build a clock in their town, and some people even came to visit him.
At first, Mikuláš said no. He was tired, and he had already done his biggest work. But as time passed, he thought more and more about it. The Prague clock was not perfect, and he wanted to make something better. Could he make a bigger, more interesting clock?
When the mayor heard about this, he was not happy. The astronomical clock made Prague special, and it brought in many tourists from around the world. If Mikuláš built a better clock somewhere else, then people would go there.
‘Do not listen to them, Mikuláš,’ said the mayor. ‘You have already completed your greatest work. And if you feel like you want to do more… you can always build something in Prague.’
But Mikuláš did not listen. He loved the city, because it had made him famous, but he wanted to work somewhere else. He had heard amazing stories about mechanics in China and the Middle East, and he wanted to go there.
So the mayor decided to do something about Mikuláš. There was a man who worked for the mayor called Řehoř. Řehoř was a bad man. He used to steal from people and kill people for fun. Now he worked for the mayor, and if the mayor wanted someone dead, Řehoř did the work for him.
Late one night, Mikuláš was coming home from the pub. He had drunk a lot of beer, and the streets were dark and mysterious. Řehoř followed Mikuláš, and when nobody was around, he jumped on him.
Řehoř pulled out a knife and did his work, and then went away into the night.
Luckily, someone found Mikuláš a few hours later and took him to a doctor. Řehoř had cut his eyes, and a lot of blood was coming out. The doctor saved his life, but he could not save his eyes.
‘You will be blind for the rest of your life,’ said the doctor.
‘No! If I am blind, how will I see the pieces of the clock?’
The doctor sighed. ‘You will not.’
Mikuláš never found out who the mysterious man in the night was, but he didn’t have to think hard to guess. He moved back to Kadaň and lived with his parents. He tried to learn to make clocks again, using his fingers to feel the pieces. But he often broke the clocks as he made them. It was no good. He would never work like he had before.
Mikuláš was angry. If he couldn’t make beautiful clocks, what was the point?
He travelled to Prague with his father. ‘I want to hear the astronomical clock again,’ he said.
But when they were in the Old Town he ran away from his father, and went into the building of the clock.
‘Where are you going, my son?’ his father shouted.
Mikuláš ran up the stairs to the top of the clock. His father and several of the mayor’s men followed him. But they were too slow. Mikuláš came to the top, where the inside of the clock was.
The clock moaned and clicked as it worked. Mikuláš was blind, but he remembered where everything was, and he knew just where the most important part was.
‘Mikuláš, what are you doing?!’ shouted his father.
Mikuláš threw himself into the clock. The clock ate up his body, and he screamed. Blood went everywhere, and in seconds, Mikuláš was dead.
That day, for the first time ever, the Prague clock stopped.
Of course, it did not take long for them to repair the clock. They took away Mikuláš’s body, cleaned it all, and soon it started working again. Mikuláš’s father cried for him, and the people of Prague cried for him.
But a few weeks later, strange things started happening. The men who had repaired the clock all died. One jumped out of a window, one fell into the river, and one killed himself with a knife. Nobody understood why they had done it. They were all happy, healthy men until that day.
The people of Prague began to speak about it: it was Mikuláš. He had put a curse on the clock. Anyone who repaired it would go mad and die.
Of course, the clock has been repaired many times since then. Not everyone who repaired it died. But the curse of the clock could still be there. Anyone who tries to repair it now could die…
So today’s story is from Prague, which is the capital of Czechia, or the Czech Republic. We had a previous story that was also from Prague, a very famous story about the golem of Prague. You can listen to that story at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Golem.
I’m actually learning Czech, the language Czech, at the moment. And I read a book of legends from Prague. I have also read some legends from Brno, the other big city in the Czech Republic. I have to say, all of the legends about Prague and Brno are really sad. They’re all about dying and ghosts and monsters and stuff like that. Luckily, I like sad stories. I like stories where people die at the end. You might know this if you listen to the podcast.
Another thing I’m learning at the moment is singing. I started learning to sing a few weeks ago, maybe a week and a half. I think I mentioned this last week, but it’s now hard to find time to learn to sing and to learn Czech. I’m also quite busy because I’m teaching Spanish to a student online, and from September, I will be teaching German to one of my friends.
Just, I have too many languages, too many hobbies, and not enough time! I’m sure many people understand this problem. I have so many different things I want to do, but it’s hard to find the time for everything…
If you enjoyed the story, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Go to Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. For just a few dollars a month you can get extra episodes, conversational podcasts, exercises, and much more. Thank you for listening, and until next week.