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 The Lion and the Pig. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Pig. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Pig. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So I’ve gone through quite a lot of life changes recently. I moved house a few weeks ago. I’m living in a beautiful new apartment in Bath. Bath is actually the city I grew up in. Earlier in the podcast, in a previous episode, I talked about moving to a big city. So I was living in Bristol before, which is next to Bath, but I have moved back to Bath now.
By the way, the city is called Bath because there are some famous Roman Baths here. So the Romans discovered hot water underground and they used it to create lovely bathing areas. People always make jokes about the place I’m from like, ‘Oh, I’m going to sit in a bath!’, so enjoy the jokes, but we don’t find them very funny here. We’re quite tired of them.
My new place is quite near a main road. So there are fewer birds than in my last place, but more traffic. So if you noticed a difference in the background noise, that’s why. Also, I’m living in a very large, lovely room with lots of light, but it will probably be a bit more echoey than the last place. It would be lovely if I could record my podcasts in a nice professional studio that blocks out all the sounds, but I can’t afford that right now. I don’t have the money for that. But maybe in future. Who knows?
Not only have I moved house, but last week I had surgery. Don’t worry! It wasn’t anything too serious. I wasn’t in an accident. But basically I’ve had a problem with my left shoulder for years. About eleven years ago, I dislocated it.
So a dislocation is when a joint bone, such as your shoulder or your knee, pops out of the joint. So my shoulder came out of the joint, which, well it’s very painful when it happens, and it’s also very bad for the joint. I dislocated it the first time falling off a bike 11 years ago, and then a few years ago it happened again, and since then it’s dislocated about seven or eight more times. So it’s not been very fun, I have to say, although most of the times it did go back in on its own.
Because of the dislocation I damaged some of the tissue around the shoulder. So there’s a bit of tissue that connects to the top of the shoulder and holds it in place, and this tissue was damaged in me because I dislocated it so many times. So the surgery was basically just to repair this. I did have to go under general anaesthetic.
So anaesthetic is when they make a part of your body lose all feeling when you’re having surgery, and general anaesthetic is when you lose consciousness completely. So they basically put you to sleep for the whole surgery. This was my first time having general anaesthetic, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But actually, the surgery went very well and I’m recovering very quickly. The most annoying thing, though, is that I’m in a sling.
A sling is a kind of material that goes around your arm to hold it up and keep it in the same position. So my left arm has been in a sling since last week and it’s going to be in a sling for two more weeks. Because I’m in a sling, it means at the moment I have to do everything one-handed, which is very annoying. Luckily I’m right-handed, I use my right hand to do everything, and it’s my left arm that’s in the sling. I can’t type very easily and because I’m a writer that makes things challenging. So I’ve actually started using dictation.
So dictation is when you talk to the computer and the computer writes what you’re saying. I’ve heard it’s quite good for creativity because it makes your story sound more like something someone would say rather than someone would type, and I have found so far it has been interesting. I think for this podcast it makes sense to dictate the stories because, after all, I do read them out to you.
Anyway, after I woke up from the general anaesthetic I was feeling very stupid. If any of you have gone under general anaesthetic, if you’ve had surgery, you will know exactly what I mean. When you wake up your brain isn’t working in a normal way. So a nurse came in just after I woke up and of course I decided it would be an excellent idea to talk to the nurse in Spanish. I’m a big language nerd, as I’ve mentioned previously, and I’ve been thinking of doing a Spanish exam recently. So somewhere in the back of my mind I had the thought, “I need to practice Spanish!” So I just started talking to the nurse in Spanish, but the nurse didn’t speak Spanish, so it was quite ridiculous.
Also I should mention, I record these episodes weeks in advance, so as of recording it’s the twenty-seventh of March. So when you hear this I will probably have recovered for the most part. Actually, when you hear this episode my arm should be out of the sling. Let’s hope!
Today’s story is a return to Aesop’s Fables. So we’re going back to the Great Forest, which is the world I have made based on Aesop’s Fables. The previous episodes in this series were The Lion and the Mouse and The Rabbit and the Tortoise, but you don’t have to listen to those episodes to enjoy this one. The characters of Gentle the mouse, who is very pathetic, and Speedy the rabbit, who is very fast and not very nice, to be honest, these characters do appear again in this story. Like I said, you don’t have to listen to the previous stories to enjoy this one.
OK, let me just talk about some words that will appear in the story. Bow your head. “Bow” means to lower your upper body, so bend your body in half. You bow in front of the queen, in front of an emperor. It’s a sign of great respect. We don’t bow that much in England, but bowing is very common in Japan and some other countries. Bowing your head is just bowing the upper part of your body, and this is more common over here.
Sir is a polite way to refer to a man. It sounds quite old fashioned, actually. These days, “sir” is pretty much only used to talk to knights. So, people who have done really good things for the country get turned into a knight by the queen, and these people are referred to as “sir”.
A hawk is a type of animal. It’s a bird. We call it a “bird of prey” because it attacks other animals and eats them. So the other animals become its prey, animals such as mice.
Another type of bird is vulture, but vultures aren’t nearly as nice as hawks. Vultures are very ugly birds. They don’t have any hair on their heads, and you find them in very hot parts of the world such as the deserts in America. The reason vultures are so disliked is because they survive by eating the dead bodies of other animals. In the film The Lion King, when Simba is sent away from his home he is wandering through the wastelands, and vultures fly overhead because they are waiting for him to die so they can eat him.
Tusks are a type of horn, but they don’t go on the top of your head. They come out of your mouth. So male pigs, or boars, have tusks. They are big, big horns that come out of their mouth. Also orcs, like in fantasy stories. Orcs have tusks. Um, I can’t think of any other animals that have tasks. It’s mainly pigs.
When we say that someone “plays games”, it can literally mean they’re playing games, but we also use it to mean someone is tricky. So maybe it’s someone who doesn’t tell the truth, or it’s not that they don’t tell the truth, it’s just that they never say exactly what they mean. They’re always trying to trick you in some way. It’s often used to refer to people in romantic relationships who never say what they think to their partner. They’re always trying to win some kind of secret battle.
Finally, pretend. “Pretend” is when you do something, but you don’t really do it. Kids love to play pretend. So they make up their own worlds that aren’t real. They pretend that they are a knight or a monster or a mermaid or something like that. But it’s not just for kids. Lots of adults pretend that they know something when they don’t because it’s embarrassing to show that they don’t know it, and so on.
So remember, you can find the transcript of this story, so the full story in text form with my conversation before it, at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Pig. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Pig. So, listen and enjoy!
The Lion and the Pig
In the Great Forest, Crush the lion and Gentle the mouse were arguing.
‘Crush, you don’t understand!’ said Gentle. ‘Just because you’re stronger than someone, it doesn’t mean they have to admire you.’
‘But I am king of the forest! I am stronger than all other creatures! If an animal wants to speak to me, he should bow his head and call me “Sir Crush”. Otherwise, I shall eat him for being rude.’
The argument had started because that morning, Speedy the rabbit had come to Crush. Speedy wanted to ask Crush a favour. He was having problems with a hawk called Bright Eyes. Bright Eyes kept trying to eat Speedy. Because Speedy was so fast, he could always run faster than Bright Eyes could fly. But he was sick and tired of being hunted by the bird. He wanted Crush to frighten Bright Eyes, so she would leave Speedy alone.
‘But Crush, I don’t call you “Sir Crush”, and I am easily one of the weakest animals in the forest.’
Crush the lion flicked his tail quickly. ‘You are different. We’re friends. You saved my life.’
‘Don’t you like Speedy?’ said Gentle.
‘Pah! That silly rabbit… Well, it is true that he tells good jokes, and he is the fastest in the Great Forest… But speed is not strength! He has never done anything for me, so why should I do a favour for him?’
‘Ah, but I thought we were talking about respect?’ said Gentle. ‘Now you are saying that the problem is the favour.’
‘It is both!’ shouted Crush. ‘Not only is he rude, but he wants me to do something for him, when he has done nothing for me!’
‘He talked to you as a friend because he likes you. And he wants you to do him a favour because he knows you are so strong, and it will be very easy for you.’
‘Nonsense! He does not admire me because he is stupid. He is weaker than me, and he has done nothing for me. The next time he talks to me, I should bite off his tail!’
And with this, Crush walked away. He didn’t want to hear Gentle’s words anymore. He respected his friend, but that did not mean he always agreed with him.
Crush went over to the lake, to drink some water. He felt thirsty after shouting so much. There were no other animals at the lake today, which was lucky for them. Crush would have attacked them if they were there.
Crush was just about to start drinking, when he heard a voice.
Crush looked up and saw that there was another animal there. It was Grunt, a very large pig who lived in the Great Forest. Grunt had long, sharp tusks. Other animals often talked about how strong he was, but Crush knew he was stronger.
‘Good afternoon, Grunt,’ said Crush, and then lowered his head to drink.
‘Ahem!’ said Grunt.
‘What is it, you big, fat pig?’ Crush said, losing his patience.
‘Good afternoon, Crush. I think it is interesting that you are going to drink before me.’
Crush looked at Grunt. He hated animals who played games. Grunt may have been strong, but he was too smart for his own good.
‘Good. I’m glad you think so,’ said Crush.
‘And you don’t see anything wrong with that?’
‘No. I do not.’
‘Funny… I suppose being strong beats everything,’ said Grunt.
‘What are you talking about?’ said Crush. ‘I am the king of the Great Forest, and I shall be the first to drink.’
‘The king? Who told you that?’
‘The mice who shake in fear of me! The birds who fly away when I shout! The foxes who do not dare make jokes of me!’
Grunt laughed deeply. ‘Yes, yes. You are stronger than mice and birds and foxes. So am I. But do they respect you? A king must be respected.’
‘Respect comes from fear!’
Grunt shook his head. ‘Oh, you poor old thing. The animals respect me, because although I am strong, I do not use my strength to create fear. I could even eat you, but I choose not to. Instead, I eat plants and insects, because they are too stupid to know how to respect me.’
Now it was Crush who laughed. ‘You could eat me? I would like to see you try.’
‘Well, “could” is very different to “want to”. I have a feeling you wouldn’t taste very good. But let us make a competition. We will fight, and whoever wins will drink first from the lake. Not only that, but the loser will also never come to this lake again.’
Crush smiled. He knew he could win any fight. ‘You’re on!’
So the lion and the pig moved away from the lake, and stood several metres away from each other. They each got ready, and then they counted down.
‘Three, two, one…!’
Crush immediately ran at Grunt. Grunt jumped to the side, and Crush ran into a tree, hitting his head.
‘You stupid pig! You are just as sly as a fox!’
‘Thank you,’ Grunt said.
Crush ran again, and once more Grunt moved aside. This time, Crush fell into the lake with a great SPLASH. He came out soaking wet. Now he was truly very angry.
He knew better than to try running at Grunt a third time. So he stood and waited. Grunt smiled at him. Then the pig started sniffing around the ground, and dug up some worms to eat.
‘You are eating in the middle of a battle? Do you have no pride?’
Grunt ignored him, and continued eating. Crush knew that Grunt was trying to trick him. Grunt wanted him to get angry and run at him again. So he waited. He waited until Grunt had a big, fat worm in his mouth, and then he jumped on him. The pig was not expecting his attack, and Crush scratched him across the face.
‘Haha! A point for me!’ shouted Crush.
But he was so happy at his achievement that he did not pay attention. Grunt pushed back, and cut his belly with his tusk.
‘That’ll teach you!’ said Grunt.
The two animals stood opposite each other. They walked in a circle, each waiting for the other to attack. They were both bleeding heavily, but they would never give up the fight. They had to win, to prove that they were the king of the forest.
‘You are neither strong nor smart!’ said Crush. ‘I will destroy you and eat you for dinner!’
‘And you are neither strong nor smart nor kind nor pretty. You are the ugliest creature in all the forests of the world!’
This made Crush very angry. He was beautiful! His mane was huge and magnificent, his fur shone like the sun, and his tail was like a great flame. This pig would never be king!
Crush prepared to run at Grunt, but then he heard an awful cry. Both of them looked up to the sky. In the air above them, flying in circles, was a group of vultures.
Vultures? What were they doing here? Vultures only ate dead bodies. Crush and Grunt looked around, but there were no other animals around the lake.
Then Crush realised why the vultures were there.
‘I don’t believe it!’ cried Crush. ‘They want to eat us! But we aren’t dead!’
‘Look at yourself, friend,’ said Grunt. ‘We are both losing lots of blood. If we continue in this way, soon we shall be dead.’
‘You are right… Let us end this battle.’
They went and lay down by the lake to rest. They were very thirsty from their fight, and they both drank from the lake. They did not care which one of them drank first.
Afterwards, the vultures were still there.
‘Say, I have an idea,’ said Crush.
He whispered his plan to Grunt. Grunt laughed deeply.
They moved back away from the lake, as if they were going to start fighting again.
‘You big, ugly pig!’ Crush shouted. ‘I’ll kill you!’
Crush ran at Grunt. He pretended to attack Grunt, but really he did not attack him. Grunt shouted in pain, and fell to the ground.
Crush turned around and started walking away. One of the vultures flew down, and moved towards Grunt.
Then Grunt jumped up, and tried to catch the vulture. The vulture avoided him, but Crush was behind him, and he caught the vulture in his paws.
The vulture was shaking in fear. All his friends had flown away.
‘P-please don’t eat me!’ said the vulture. ‘I promise you I don’t taste nice!’
Crush thought about it. Before, he would’ve said he was going to eat the bird, just to watch him shake in fear. But he thought back on what Gentle had said that morning.
‘Let this be a lesson to you. Leave Crush the lion and Grunt the pig alone!’
He let go of the vulture, and it flew away.
From that day on, Crush and Grunt were good friends, although they did still compete from time to time.
I hope you enjoyed the story. You can support the podcast by leaving a review on iTunes. Search for Easy Stories in English, give us a star rating, and say what you like about the show. It would really help us grow. Thank you for listening, and until next week.