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 Pancake Man. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Pancake. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Pancake. There, you can also download the episode as a PDF.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
Pancakes are thin, flat cakes. You make pancakes in a frying pan. Generally, you use frying pans to fry food like onions. Anyway, pancakes are a popular food for breakfast. You mix flour, eggs and milk in a bowl, and then you cook it in a frying pan.
After a few minutes, you have to flip the pancake. When you flip something, you turn it upside down, or 90 degrees. Flipping pancakes is hard. If you are not careful, the pancake might fall on the floor!
After you flip the pancake and finish cooking it, you can put other things on it. For example, you can put fruit, sugar, lemon juice, peanut butter, Nutella, maple syrup and many other things on pancakes. American pancakes are small and thick, but British pancakes are big and thin. In many countries, the thin type of pancake is called a crêpe.
At first means ‘at the start’. For example, I started the podcast in 2019. At first, I was not very good at reading out the stories. Now, I think I do it quite well. That’s normal when you learn something. At first it is very hard, but then it gets easier.
Giant means very, very big. Giants are also magic people from stories who are very big. In Harry Potter, Hagrid is half-giant. If you make a giant pancake, it will take a long time to eat it.
When you are sick of something, you have had too much of it and now you hate it. For example, it rains a lot in the UK. If it rains every day for a month, you might get sick of rain. You never want to see rain again! Or, if you eat pizza every day, you might get sick of pizza.
When something connects you to a person, it makes you feel close to that person. For example, my dad was a professor of German, and I also speak German. Sometimes, I ask him to recommend me books in German, or we talk about the German language, and I feel connected to him. We are connected by an interest in German. Or maybe your mum taught you how to cook, and cooking connects you to your mum.
When you run a business, you are making the business work. For example, Elon Musk runs Tesla, a business which sells electric cars. Elon Musk also runs Twitter, but right now he is running it very badly!
Space is the place outside Earth, our planet. Space is big and black and empty. There are lots of stars and planets in space. For example, the moon moves through space and is near to Earth. A person who travels through space is an astronaut. Astronauts often study astrophysics. Astrophysics is the study of space. My brother studied astrophysics at university, but he did not become an astronaut.
There are lots of ways to exercise. One way of exercising is to lift weights. Weights are heavy things that you pick up with your hands. When you lift weights, your body has to work very hard, and then your muscles get bigger. In the past, Arnold Schwarzernegger could lift 226kg. That’s a lot!
A grave is the place you put a body when someone dies. Graves are usually in the ground, the earth. You put a gravestone on top of the grave, and the gravestone has the name of the dead person on it. Most graves are next to churches.
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OK, so listen and enjoy!
The Pancake Man
Once, there was a boy called Francis who lived with his father. His mother had died when he was young, and for many years, his father was very sad. When his mother was alive, every weekend one of them made pancakes for Francis. For many years after she died, Francis’s dad never made pancakes, but one day, he woke up and said, ‘Francis, would you like pancakes for breakfast?’
After that day, Francis’s father made pancakes every day. He fell in love with pancakes. Francis was happy at first, because he loved pancakes and he loved watching his father flip them. Francis’s father would buy bigger and bigger frying pans, and make bigger and bigger pancakes.
Soon, he made giant pancakes, bigger than pizzas. He held the frying pan with both hands and said, ‘Ready?’ Francis would say, ‘Yes, Dad!’ and then his dad would flip the pancake. The pancakes were so big that when he flipped them, they made a WHOOSHING sound. It was like an aeroplane flying through the room. It was magic!
But soon, it was too much. Every morning, Francis came downstairs and found a mountain of giant pancakes on his plate. They were so big that he could only eat one. His dad put the rest in a box for Francis to take to school, but he was sick of pancakes. They had pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner! So he gave the pancakes to his friends, and took their sandwiches and apples.
His friends loved the pancakes, so Francis had an idea.
‘Dad, why don’t you sell your pancakes?’
Francis’s dad looked afraid for a moment.
‘Oh no,’ thought Francis. ‘He thinks the pancakes are what connect us with Mum.’
‘But Francis,’ said Dad, ‘the pancakes are what connect us with your mother. We can’t share them with other people.’
Francis spoke carefully. ‘Don’t you think… Mum would want us to share them? She loved sharing food with people.’
Francis’s dad started to cry. ‘Oh, Francis, you’re right!’
So he ran a little shop outside their house and started selling pancakes. At first, he only ran the shop after work or on the weekend. But soon, his pancakes became very popular, and everyone started talking about ‘The Pancake Man’. His shop became so popular that he left his job and only worked at the pancake shop.
Francis was very happy. Because his dad sold all the pancakes, he gave Francis money to buy different food. Finally, Francis could have pizza and pies and vegetables! He ate carrots until he was sick of them. Francis’s dad was also very happy. Everyone loved watching him flip the giant pancakes, and they always clapped afterwards.
Years later, everyone in the city knew about The Pancake Man, and they opened up a restaurant in town. While Francis’s father flipped pancakes and ran the restaurant, Francis worked hard at school. He was very interested in space, and wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up. His father was so busy with the pancake business that he didn’t see him very much.
Francis finished school, and went to university to study astrophysics. He wanted to go to a good university, far away from home, but his dad wanted him near. So he went to the university in their city. It wasn’t so good, but if he worked hard, he thought he could still go to space.
But one day, Francis’s father had a horrible accident. One of the giant frying pans in the restaurant fell and hit him on the head. He went to hospital, and the doctors said he didn’t have long to live.
Francis stayed by his father’s side day and night. He couldn’t believe it. His mother had died in a car accident. Wasn’t that enough? Why did his father have to go at such a young age as well?
‘Francis,’ he said. ‘After I go, I want you to run the restaurant. Become The Pancake Man. It’s what your mother would have wanted.’
Francis felt sick. He didn’t want to run the restaurant. And he didn’t think his mother would want him to. But this was what connected him to his father. If he didn’t do it, he would feel terrible.
‘OK, Dad. I’ll do it.’
His dad died in the night, and Francis went to work. If he worked hard, he would feel less alone. But he quickly saw that there was a problem. He knew how to cook pancakes well, but the giant frying pans were too heavy for him. His father had grown strong from all the pancake flipping, but nobody else in the restaurant could do it. When Francis tried flipping the giant frying pan, the pancake didn’t even go in the air.
So Francis started lifting weights. He took the sadness from his father’s death and used it to grow strong. He lifted weights for hours every day. His arms grew until they looked like trees. And then he lifted more weights.
During this time, Francis couldn’t sleep. When he wasn’t lifting weights, he was studying for his astrophysics course. When he did sleep, he had strange dreams. He was flying through space, and he saw his mother. Or was it a star? He flew towards the star, but he never got there, and when he woke up he was crying.
A few months later, Francis went back to the restaurant. All of the staff came and watched. He held the giant frying pan with both hands and waited for the right moment. Everyone held their breath. Then he flipped the pancake.
Francis was too strong. He was too sad, too tired. When he flipped the pancake, there was a KABLAM! The pancake flew up and hit the ceiling. But it didn’t stop there. It broke through the ceiling and kept going. It broke through the roof!
Everyone ran outside to watch. Francis was still holding the frying pan. The pancake had flown out of the building and into the air. And it still didn’t stop. It flew higher and higher, until it went through the clouds.
On the news that night, they talked about the pancake. It had flown into space. An astronaut saw it, and quickly moved so that it didn’t hit her. The pancake kept flying through space, until it was too far away and nobody could see it.
Francis watched the news but said nothing. He was alone in his house. His mother’s house. His father’s house. He ate five carrots for dinner and went to bed.
The next morning, Francis knew what to do. He went to the restaurant, took the giant frying pan and went to his father’s grave.
He put the frying pan on the grave.
‘Dad, I love you. Every time I eat a pancake, I’ll feel connected to you. But Mum is calling me. She needs me, too.’
Because Francis knew. He had watched the pancake flying into space. That was where he had to go. He had to follow his mother’s star.
Francis put some flowers on the grave and then went home. He had some studying to do.
Hello everyone. I know I haven’t done a conversation section for a while. That’s because I have been very tired recently. You might remember that last year I had to take a break from the podcast because I couldn’t talk for a while.
Well, I’m having a similar problem now. Don’t worry, I can still talk a bit, as you can hear. But right now, I can mainly only talk in this accent. It’s an Australian accent, although sometimes it sounds more like New Zealand. I’m not really sure why I can only speak with an Australian accent. I’ve never been to Australia or New Zealand. The brain works in very strange ways, doesn’t it?
Anyway, don’t worry too much about me. I’m doing well and resting a lot, and I have been able to record the podcasts now and then. So I don’t plan on stopping soon! Hopefully, I won’t have to record the podcasts with this accent, because I know it might be hard for you to understand.
I actually did a video about my health condition, autistic catatonia, last month for my Patreon supporters. It’s now available on the Easy Stories in English YouTube channel – you can find a link in today’s transcript at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Pancake. I talk about how this condition affects me and things I’ve found that help.
Thank you for your patience and understanding with my health problems. The way I see it, I have times where I have very little energy, like now, and I have times where I have all the energy in the world. You know that. I’m like a giant pancake flying through space. So the energetic Ariel will be back soon, I’m sure.
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