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 Strange Friends. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Friends. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Friends. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
Recently I have been very, very tired. It seems like I’m always sleepy. I have tried many things to deal with my tiredness.
First of all, I actually sleep a long time. I always get at least seven or eight hours’ sleep a night, so I don’t think the problem is a lack of sleep. But even though I sleep so much, I find it so hard to get up in the mornings.
I’ve tried many things to solve this. First, I decided to put my alarm clock on the other side of the room, because if my alarm is next to my bed, I wake up, turn it off, and go back to sleep. The problem was, I just got up, went to the other side of the room, turned off the alarm, and then went back to bed. It was too easy for me to go back to sleep.
So I downloaded a special alarm for my phone. To turn off this alarm, you have to shake your phone for about thirty seconds. This was great at first. The shaking woke me up. But after a few weeks, I got used to it, and again I would get up, turn off the alarm by shaking it, and go back to bed.
So I thought the problem with getting up might be about sunlight. In the UK, in the autumn and winter, it’s very normal to wake up and it’s still very dark outside. So I decided to buy a sunlight alarm.
Sunlight alarms are really interesting. They have a special light which looks like sunlight to your eyes, and the light slowly turns on before your alarm goes off, so that when your alarm goes off, you’ve had lots of light in your room. This sort of works for me, but sometimes I still get up, turn off the light, and go back to sleep.
The only thing that really makes me get up is if I have an appointment. So maybe I have to go to the doctor, maybe I have to go to work, or maybe I have to teach. Unfortunately, most of my teaching is online, and I can’t choose when the times are.
So I decided to book classes online. For about a week, I bought Spanish classes every morning at eight a.m. This meant I had to get up to get ready before the class. And this worked quite well, but it’s not ideal. What I want to do early in the morning is write, rather than have a language class, and of course this is not cheap; if I do it every day it’s going to cost me quite a lot of money.
I eventually decided that I need to do something active when I wake up. If I do something active, if I move around after waking up, that will help me feel awake. So now, usually after I get up, I do yoga, and this helps wake me up. But waking up is still a challenge for me!
However, sleep is much easier for me now than in the past. In the past, I had insomnia. Insomnia is a problem where you can’t sleep, or you can only sleep for short times. For a long time, for about a year, I could only sleep at five o’clock in the morning, and obviously this is not very helpful. I was at university, so it was a big problem.
Everything I did to fall asleep didn’t work. It was really frustrating. Now I have a medication I take. The medication is called Mirtazapine and it helps me fall asleep. My problem is that my brain is too active. So normally, in the past, when I tried to sleep I couldn’t stop thinking about all kinds of things, and so I couldn’t get to sleep. Sometimes it took me an hour or even two hours to get to sleep. But I didn’t know that this was not normal because I was used to it. So now I take Mirtazapine and it really helps but it’s still difficult for me to get up in the morning.
Anyway, I feel very lucky now that I don’t have insomnia anymore. I just wish I had a bit more energy in the mornings!
OK, so I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
A pot is a big round thing for cooking. For example, you cook soup in a pot. However, sometimes pots are used to store things, to keep food, as well.
In this story, there is a pot of fat. So fat is something we all have on our bodies. Some of us have more fat than others. And of course, animals have fat, as well. You can use fat for cooking. You can fry things in fat. For example, it’s very popular now to have chicken fried in fat, and God, doesn’t that taste good! I love deep-fried chicken. Mmm. Very good. Fat was used more commonly in the past for cooking, but now it’s not as popular. Most people don’t have a pot of fat in their home.
A desire. A desire is a really strong want for someone or something. Often desire is romantic or sexual, but it can also be a desire to learn, a desire to travel, and so on.
Imagine. Imagine is when you think of something that isn’t real. For example, I can close my eyes and imagine a big, juicy, delicious burger and I will get very hungry. The burger isn’t here but my imagination makes me think it is. Children are very good at imagination. Unfortunately, a lot of adults don’t use their imagination very much, but I really think we should all use our imagination more. It makes the world a lot more fun.
Taste is when you eat food and it is how the food feels. For example, I think burgers taste very, very good, as I said before. But some people might think that burgers taste bad. Maybe they taste too fatty for some people. I really like salty food. I like salty tastes. But some people really don’t like this. Some people prefer food that tastes sweet.
A christening. A christening is a ceremony in several religions. You take a new baby and you pour water on the baby’s head and you give a name to the baby. So this is very common in Christianity. Almost all Christian children get christened, they have a christening.
During a christening the parents of the baby ask two of their friends, or family members, to look after the child, and these two people are called the godparents. So there’s a godmother and a godfather and the child is the godchild. Some godparents look after their godchildren very seriously, they make sure to talk to them regularly, and some do not do this so much.
Finally, lick. When you lick something you use your tongue to touch it. So you lick ice cream, you lick an envelope when you want to close it, and if you really, really like someone, you might lick their face, but that’s a bit strange! If you’re very hungry, you might lick your lips.
OK, 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 an extra story every month. You can support us at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
Once there was a cat and a mouse. Usually, cats eat mice, and mice run away from cats, but this cat and this mouse liked each other very much. They liked each other so much that they lived together. They made a nice little house in the city. Everyone called them the “Strange Friends”.
‘We must think of winter,’ said the cat. ‘In winter, it will be cold, and there will be little food. We should save something for winter, so that we are not hungry. After all, you are a mouse, and if you look for food in winter, a cat will eat you.’
The mouse agreed with the cat. So they bought a pot of fat, but they did not know where to put it.
‘We can keep it in the house,’ the cat said.
‘No, no,’ said the mouse. ‘If we see it in the house, we will want to eat it. Let us put it in the church, under the big table. Nobody will steal from the church. And if we cannot see it, we will not want to eat it. We will not eat it until we really need it.’
So they put the pot of fat under the big table in the church, and they continued their happy life together.
But the cat was a selfish animal. A few weeks later, she had a strong desire for the fat. She imagined how it would taste, and she got very hungry.
The cat said to the mouse, ‘Dear mouse, I have to ask you something. My cousin has had a beautiful son. He is white with brown parts. My cousin wants me to be the godmother, so I must go to the christening. Will that bother you? You will have to look after the house alone.’
‘Of course not!’ said the mouse. ‘Go, and if you find any nice food or drink, bring some for me. At christenings the wine is very sweet and delicious. Bring me some christening wine.’
However, the cat was lying. She had no cousin, and nobody had asked her to be a godmother. She went to the church, went under the table, and opened the pot of fat. She licked the top of the fat off.
Then she walked on the roofs of the city. She looked for other food and drink, but did not see any. So she lay down in the sun. When she thought of the pot of fat, she licked her lips, and she came home only in the evening.
‘I’m sure you’ve had a lovely day,’ said the mouse. ‘How was the christening?’
‘It went very well,’ said the cat.
‘What did they name the child?’
‘Top off,’ said the cat.
‘Top off!’ said the mouse. ‘That is a very strange name. Is it common in your family?’
‘It is not a strange name,’ said the cat. ‘You have a godchild, yes? He is called Big Nose. That is just as strange a name.’
A week later, the cat felt a desire to lick the fat again. She said to the mouse, ‘You must help me. Once again, I have been asked to be godmother. This child has a white ring around its neck, and it is very pretty. I cannot say no. Will you look after the house alone, so that I can go?’
The mouse said yes, but again, the cat went through the city to the church. This time, she ate half the pot of fat. ‘It tastes much better when you are alone,’ she said to herself.
When she went home, the mouse asked, ‘What did they name this child?’
‘Half-done,’ said the cat.
‘Half-done! Is that true? I have never heard of that name. I don’t think it’s in the name books!’
A few days later, the cat desired the fat again.
‘Good things go in threes,’ said the cat. ‘I have been asked to be godmother again. This child is black, but it has white hands. This is a very strange thing. Will you look after the house, so that I can go?’
‘Top off! Half-done!’ said the mouse. ‘They are such strange names. They make me think.’
‘You sit at home,’ said the cat. ‘Oh, you have so many ideas, because you do not go out in the day. You sit at home and look after the house.’
While the cat was gone, the mouse cleaned the house. It made the house very nice and clean. While the mouse cleaned, the cat ate the whole pot of fat.
‘It is good to finish food,’ said the cat. She was so full that she did not return home until nighttime. The mouse asked what they had named the third child.
‘You will not like it,’ said the cat. ‘He is called All-gone.’
‘All-gone!’ said the mouse. ‘That is the strangest name of all. I have never read that name, and I have never heard that name. What does it mean?’ The mouse was very confused, and went to sleep.
After that, nobody asked the cat to be godmother. When winter came, they didn’t have any more food. So the mouse said, ‘It is a good thing we have that pot of fat. Let us go to the church, and enjoy our food.’
‘Yes,’ said the cat to herself. ‘Or you could lick the air. You would enjoy it as much.’
When they arrived at the church, the pot of fat was there, but it was empty.
‘Oh no!’ said the mouse. ‘I see what has happened. I thought we were friends! But you ate all the fat when you were “going to christenings”. First Top off, then Half-done, then—’
‘Do not finish,’ said the cat. The names were making her think of the fat, and she was getting very hungry. ‘If you say one more word, I will—’
But it was too late. ‘All-gone!’ said the mouse. She said the words, and the cat jumped on her and ate her.
Because that is the world. Cats eat mice, and cats get fat.
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, exercises, and much more. Thank you for listening, and until next week.