Do you want more conversational material to listen to in English? Do you want to find out all about my personal life and opinions? Do you want to learn authentic words and slang that British people use in everyday life?
Well then, Elevenses with Ariel is for you! Elevenses with Ariel is a short daily conversational podcast for intermediate learners. In it, I talk about my hobbies, my past and pretty much whatever I feel like. It’s fun and much more relaxed than the main show, and the listeners LOVE it! Many have said that it’s like sitting down to drink a coffee with me, although I’ll have a tea, I think!
You can listen to the first episode for free at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Eleven, and further episodes are available for $5 a month on Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. People are leaving comments and chatting about each episode, and I think you’ll really enjoy it. So again, you can listen to the first episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Eleven.
I look forward to having elevenses with you!
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 pre-intermediate learners. The name of the story is Luck and Reason. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Luck. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Luck. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
I’m back, baby! So if you’ve been listening to recent podcast episodes or Elevenses with Ariel, or if you’re in the group chat on Telegram, you will know that I’ve been a bit exhausted recently, a bit tired. The last few weeks I’ve really had to rest a lot because when quarantine started, I was very anxious, and my solution to deal with that was just to work loads? So, you know, I started to do the, uh, live streams and two videos a week and I started doing all of this extra stuff. And I’ve had to cut down some of this over the last few weeks so I stopped the live stream, I’m just doing one YouTube video a week, and I have my weekends back! And I have to say, I’m doing fantastically now. I am sleeping better, I’m relaxing more, and I’m reading more.
And that was the thing before, I was always trying to read more but I just couldn’t motivate myself, or when I did read in the evening I just started falling asleep, and I think I just needed more free time in general to give my brain the space to be able to focus on a book. And reading is really important for me, because it’s the main way I study languages, but also I really strongly believe that reading is one of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves. I believe that reading really makes us into better people. There’s a lot of research that shows that the amount of access a child has to books growing up, the amount of books in their environment and the amount they can then read, has a huge effect on pretty much everything: on their education achievement, on how they view the world, and how likely they are to be successful later in life. And while I don’t necessarily agree with the idea of “you have to be successful,” I think it’s important to give ourselves the power of reading because through reading we can really change our world.
Sorry this is sounding so cheesy, so, like, emotional and overly sincere, but I really do believe it, and I hope you believe the same. I think if you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t be listening to this podcast! I have to say, though, I’m not elitist when it comes to reading. You can read anything. You can read comics, you can read children’s books. I really don’t care. I actually think… Well, actually it’s proven by a lot of research that it’s best to start with really easy stuff and then you gradually increase the difficulty when it feels right, and that’s the whole idea of this podcast as well, right? And I like reading trashy vampire romance books, so I cannot cast a stone. I cannot be the first one to cast a stone. So that means I have sinned, like in the Bible, so I cannot throw stones, I cannot criticise other people about reading bad books.
They’re not “bad books”, they’re just books that are not very very intellectual. Because, who cares? Sometimes you just wanna read a book about kissing vampires. Or at least I do!
So I wanna say thank you for all of your understanding. I know a lot of you really enjoyed the live streams and enjoyed all of the content I was making, but you’ve all been really helpful and supportive. So many of you have said, ‘Don’t worry about it, you know? Look after your health.’ I actually reduced Elevenses with Ariel so I don’t do it on the weekend, and I did that because some of you suggested, right? Some of the Patreon supporters said, ‘You should do this!’ So thank you for being such a lovely audience! Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve you, cause you’re like the loveliest people in the world.
And if you want to hang out with the other lovely listeners, I seriously recommend you join the group chat. At the time I’m recording this, we have almost 400 people in the group chat. Can you believe that? 400! And people are just chatting every day, sharing photos, encouraging each other. Uh, it’s just lovely. It’s a really positive atmosphere.
So I really recommend going to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Chat to join the chat.
Unfortunately, if you are in Iran, you won’t be able to join the chat. This is something that many Iranian listeners have told me. They tried to join the chat but the government in Iran has blocked Telegram groups. I’m so sorry about this. Unfortunately, there are basically no chat programs which can be easily accessed from everywhere, and the advantage with Telegram is that it is secure, uh, it’s safe. Of course, the disadvantage of that is then, some governments ban it because of political reasons. So I’m really sorry about that. I really feel for all my listeners in Iran. Um, I’m thinking of ways around it, you know, maybe having some kind of other groups, maybe like a Facebook group or something, but of course Facebook is also not available in all countries. It’s a difficult topic.
Anyway, today’s story comes from Katherine from the Czech Republic. So it’s a Czech fairy tale. I did a bit of research and it looks like it’s a folk tale that was collected by Karel Jaromír Erben. Similar to how the Grimm Brothers travelled around collecting fairy tales, I believe this was collected in the same way. I have to say, though, I’m very lazy when it comes to research, so I might be wrong! But it’s certainly, um, well-known in Czechia, or the Czech Republic.
Um, we have so many stories from the Czech Republic on here. It’s getting a bit much, maybe? And it’s not a bad thing, but I should probably balance it out with some stories from other parts of the world. So if you have suggestions for stories that could go on the podcast, please email me at Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com. I will say, I am really bad at checking emails, so it will probably take me, like, two weeks to read your email. I still have, I have like hundreds of emails to deal with as I record this. I’m so bad with emails, ugh! I hate it.
I did actually change the ending to today’s story a bit. Cause I, I liked the original ending, but I thought I could make a better one that’s more, kind of, my viewpoint. It’s kind of a philosophical fairy tale, kind of like a fable, yeah? Where it has a meaning, a message about life, a moral message. So I kind of changed it to suit my own morals.
I also gave the main character a West Country accent. So the main character is a farmer, and the West Country is a region in the south-west of England. It’s kind of like the south-west part of England. I actually live in the West Country.
The West Country is well-known for cider, farming, but most importantly, the West Country accent. Now the West Country accent is very strong. It might be a bit difficult to understand, but I think it’s lovely in its own way, so I’m going to put it on in this episode and hopefully you can follow me. Of course, you can always read the transcript at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Luck.
As well as farmers, this accent is associated with pirates. Maybe you’ve seen some films and TV shows with pirates. This is in English, I don’t know how much in other languages, but pirates talk like, Yarr! It’s time for you to walk the plank! Yeah? They have this very distinctive accent.
Now, the reason this accent is like that is because the first people to play pirates on television mostly came from the West Country, I believe. I was doing a bit of research and it’s actually kind of hard to tell, but it seems like it’s to do with West Country actors being the first big television and film pirates, which I think is really cool because the West Country accent is now kind of global and universal because of pirates. I think that’s really cool.
If you want to get a good idea of this kind of country, cider-drinking culture, there is a really really funny band called The Wurzels or [West Country accent] The Wurzels, who do kind of like West Country music? I guess. I don’t know what to call the genre, but um, it’s very funny and very cheesy, very silly. So if you wanna hear a song by The Wurzels, you can go to the transcript at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Luck and I’ll post the videos there.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
Reason is the power of thinking in our minds. If you make decisions based just on your emotions, you are not using reason, but if you carefully think about the situation before making a decision, you are using reason, you are being reasonable.
Get down on your knees means to kneel down, to bend your knees and sit on them. You get down on your knees when you pray, or if you want to show respect for someone.
A gardener is someone who works in a garden. A gardener plants flowers and trees, waters them, plans where things go in the garden and so on.
Royal means related to the King, the Queen, the Prince or Princess etc. So a royal family is a family who lives in a castle. In the UK, we have a very famous royal family.
Carve means to use a knife in wood to make shapes out of it. So you might carve a pipe, a bird or a toy out of wood. You can also carve your name into a tree, for example. Some people like to carve the name of themselves and their lover into a tree and carve a heart around it. On Halloween, people carve faces into pumpkins, and on Thanksgiving or at Christmas, people carve turkeys and eat them.
A tailor is a person who makes clothes. Nowadays, we don’t have tailors very often, but in the past, people went to tailors if they had a hole in their clothes. Tailors repair clothes, fix them, and also make new ones.
A commoner is a person who is not a royal. They are just a normal person, and they do not have an important family. Generally, commoners cannot marry people from the royal family, although sometimes this changes. For example, Meghan Markle is a commoner, but she married into the British royal family.
Execute means to kill someone, because they did something very bad. In the past, if you stole something, you would be executed. Nowadays, people don’t get executed very often, but if you attack the Queen of England, you might be executed.
Chop off means to cut off. Basically, it is when you use a knife to remove something. For example, if you are cooking and you are not paying attention, you might chop off your finger. In the past, the King and Queen often chopped off people’s heads.
A sword is a long, sharp weapon. We don’t use swords now but they were used in the Middle Ages, about five hundred years ago. In the TV series Game of Thrones, most of the characters fight with swords. For example, Arya Stark is very good at fighting with a sword. In Harry Potter, Harry Potter uses the Sword of Gryffindor to kill the basilisk in the second book.
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 patron, Martina Tardivo. Your support really means a lot to us.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
Luck and Reason
Once upon a time, Luck met with Reason.
‘Get down on your knees!’ said Luck.
‘Because you must respect me!’
Reason was still young, and didn’t understand what Luck was saying. ‘Why should I get on my knees? You aren’t any better than me.’
‘Wrong! I am better, and I will show you. Do you see that young farmer down there, working in the field? Let’s have a contest. Go and enter his mind, and do everything you can to make him successful. Then I will do the same, and the winner will have to respect the other.’
‘Alright then,’ said Reason, and flew down into the farmer’s ear.
The farmer felt Reason fill his mind, and he quickly walked home.
‘Father!’ he said. ‘Do I really have to work in the field all my life? I can go somewhere else and live much better! I don’t want to work like that anymore. I want to be a gardener!’
His father said, ‘My son, where has your reason gone? Fine, do whatever you want, but your brother will get the house when I die.’
The farmer lost the house but he didn’t care. He went to the castle and found the royal gardener. He studied under him, and at first he knew very little, but as the years passed he became better and better. Finally, he could work on his own, and he created amazing ideas for flower arrangements. At first, his teacher was angry at him, but slowly he saw that the farmer did it even better than he did.
‘You have much more reason than me,’ he said. ‘Your flower arrangements are much neater than mine. I think you can look after the whole garden yourself.’
And sure enough, when the farmer finished his projects in the garden, the King loved it, and often went for walks in it with his wife and daughter.
The Princess was very beautiful, but since the age of 12 she had not said a single word. Nobody knew why this was, but it made the King very sad, so every year he said to the people, ‘The man who can make my daughter speak will be her husband.’
When the farmer heard this, he thought, “I should try it!” He told the King he had a way to make her speak, and his men took the farmer to the Princess’s bedroom, where she was playing with her pet dog.
But instead of speaking to her, the farmer talked to the dog, like the Princess wasn’t there. He sat down on the floor, looked seriously at the dog, and spoke.
‘Little doggie, I have heard that you are very clever, so I need your help to solve a puzzle. There were three workers: a carver, a tailor and myself. One day, we were walking through a forest and stopped there to stay the night. To stop animals from eating us, we made a fire and stood guard.
‘First, the carver stood guard, and took a piece of wood and carved a girl into it. When he was done, he woke up the tailor and went to sleep.
‘The tailor saw the wooden girl and said, “What a pretty face! I must make her some clothes.” So he got to work and made her a nice little dress. Then, when he was done, he woke me up and went to sleep.
‘I saw the wooden girl in her pretty dress and said, “What a lovely girl! I must teach her to speak.” And so through the night, I taught the girl to speak.
‘When the other workers woke up, the girl said, “Hello!” and they were all amazed by her. She danced around and talked to us, and it was a wonderful morning. But the other men quickly became jealous, and wanted to have her for themselves.
‘ “I carved her,” said the carver, “so she must be mine.” “I dressed her,” said the tailor, “so she must be mine.” “I taught her to speak,” said I, “so she must be mine.”
‘So here is the question, my little doggie: which man does the girl belong to?’
The dog was quiet, and clearly didn’t understand the question, so the Princess answered instead.
‘You gave her the best gift of all: you taught her to speak. She belongs to you.’
‘Exactly!’ said the farmer. ‘And you have just spoken about yourself. I taught you to speak, and now I must ask you: will you marry me?’
The Princess looked very surprised, but the King’s men ran forward and said, ‘No! You are just a commoner. You cannot marry the Princess! The King will give you a different reward.’
They brought the farmer before the King, but he refused all the rewards offered to him.
‘All I want is to marry your daughter! You promised that. You said that the man who could make your daughter speak would be her husband. That’s the royal word!’
The King got angry at this. ‘Take him away! I am tired of this commoner. Execute him! Chop off his head!’
So the King’s men took the farmer away to be executed in the town square. When they got there, Luck came and spoke to Reason.
‘Well, well, our little farmer has done very well with you! Let’s see how he does with Luck instead of Reason. My turn!’
So Reason left the farmer’s head and Luck entered it. The King’s men came to chop off the farmer’s head, but when they tried to do so, the sword broke in half.
‘It is like someone cut the sword in half!’ the people said.
Just then, the King arrived and shouted, ‘Stop!’
Everyone held their breath. The farmer looked up at the King.
‘I acted without reason before. I have changed my mind, thanks to my daughter.’
The Princess stood beside him, smiling.
‘She told me that this man is a great man, and it is true! Only he could make my daughter speak. He is a commoner, but I am King! I can break the rules, can’t I? I will allow them to get married.’
So the farmer was not executed, and he was allowed to marry the Princess.
At the wedding, Luck came to Reason and laughed.
‘You see? Without my brilliant luck, the farmer would have died!’
But Reason just smiled. ‘Who do you think gave the Princess that idea, and who do you think made the King listen to her? It was me! Yes, you broke the sword in two, but without reason, they would have used another sword. We are both important.’
Luck was not happy with this, and flew away angrily.
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.