«Высшая мера» и другие рассказы на английском языке

Александр Пахотин
«Высшая мера» и другие рассказы на английском языке

От автора-составителя

Настоящий сборник рассказов и историй на английском языке, во-первых, развлечёт вас, во-вторых, значительно расширит ваш словарный запас и поможет активизировать его, в-третьих, поможет развить навыки устной речи (при пересказе и ответах на послетекстовые вопросы). Каждый рассказ сопровождается списком трудных или непонятных слов и выражений, а также послетекстовыми вопросами и заданиями, которые можно использовать как для самостоятельной работы, так и в учебной группе (если вы преподаватель или репетитор). Под названием рассказов в скобках указано количество слов.

Кроме этого, в книге имеется специальное приложение, в котором даны русские переводы большинства рассказов сборника (эти рассказы помечены значком*).

Каждый читатель может попробовать свои силы в письменном переводе любого из этих рассказов и сравнить свой перевод с приведенным в книге.

Книга адресована всем, кто желает усовершенствовать навыки чтения и перевода, расширить словарный запас и получить удовольствие от чтения на английском языке.

Aliens in the City

(1037 words)

I know it’s hard to believe, but I have seen something that cannot be explained reasonably.

I still don’t know whether it was a UFO or something else. I just saw it with my own eyes and I want to tell you about it.

It all happened in Siberia in the middle of the 80-ies. I was visiting my namesake and friend Alexander who was a journalist. I stayed at his place in a big Siberian city. He had a very funny dog called Piggy. My friend said that he gave that name to his fox-terrier because she had looked like a little pig when he had bought her. So every day Alexander took Piggy for a walk two or three times. Piggy was so friendly that she took an instant liking to me and very often woke me up in the morning hinting that I should take her for a walk. Well, I like animals in general and dogs in particular so I was never against taking Piggy out.

My visit was almost coming to an end, when Piggy decided it was my turn to take her for an evening stroll. Sometimes, I think that it is dogs that take their owners for a walk rather than otherwise. It was spring-time (I’m sure some of you imagined blooming trees and flowers. Well, I’m afraid you forget where I was.). It was March in Siberia. The snow still covered the city. The temperature was about minus 10-15 Celsius. In a word, it was a usual Siberian spring.

Anyway, Piggy took me out and we headed for her favorite place in the nearby park. Piggy liked her walks to be physical, what I mean is that she always carried a small tennis ball in her mouth. Whoever took Piggy for a walk was supposed to throw the ball as far as he could and Piggy would run for it, bring it back and put it right in front of your feet. She hinted that you could either pick it up and throw it again or just kick it. This kind of activity could go on and on until both parties felt quite exhausted and were looking forward to coming back home.

That evening Piggy was especially in a sporting mood and made me throw the ball a million times. I think it was quite good for me too as the weather was cold. We’d been walking for an hour or so when I noticed a strange looking cloud. It was hanging at a distance of no more than 150 yards (about 130 meters). And it drew my attention because it looked like a huge ball, an absolutely perfect round ball. The size of that ball was about 10-15 yards (about 12 meters) in diameter.

As the poet said I stood in my shoes and I wondered 1*I couldn’t quite make out what it was. Actually, that “cloud” was hanging too low, perhaps ten yards (nine meters) above the ground level. I knew it because the “cloud” was hanging in front of a building. The “cloud” was so thick that I couldn’t see part of the building (a balcony, a window, and part of the roof). The building was not tall, only four stories high that was why I knew an approximate size and the altitude of that object.

I can imagine the reader probably thinking, “Why do other people see something strange and unusual? Why don’t I ever see anything of the kind?” I was like you, dear reader. I’d never seen anything like that before and my inner self told me that it simply couldn’t be true.

Do you know what I did? I decided it was a greasy spot on my glasses (I always wear glasses). I took them off and wiped them thoroughly. Then I put them on again and looked up. The round object was still hanging there. Only then did I realize that it could not be a cloud. Clouds do not hang that low. It was something else. I was standing there staring at the ball-like object and I still couldn’t believe my own eyes. I looked round trying to find a witness. Thank God, there was a woman coming in my direction with her back to the object. When she came close enough I said to her, (I was learning Russian at that time, and actually, I’d come to my friend to practice my Russian). “Excuse me! Do you see anything over there?” And I pointed in the direction of the object. Mind you, I didn’t mention the object. Her answer killed all of my doubts. She said, “Oh! What a strange round cloud!”

Well, my dear reader, what would you have thought after hearing such an answer?

I was just standing there staring at the object. For a moment I had forgotten about the Russian woman, about Piggy, and even about my friend Alexander. And suddenly, something even more inexplicable happened. The object began disappearing. It did not move away. It was still hanging in the same place but it was becoming thinner, more and more transparent until it simply disappeared in the air. Then, I was able to see the whole building again. That was unbelievable.

“And where did it go?” the woman asked as if she’d been reading my thoughts. She was still standing near me and looking at the object. “I don’t know” I said. And that was true. I really didn’t know where the object had gone. I heard Piggy give an impatient woof at me. She was drawing my attention to her own round object that she’d put in front of my feet long ago.

When I came back to Alexander’s apartment, I couldn’t help telling him about the wonderful thing I’d seen. At that time I didn’t care whether he believed me or not I just couldn’t hold it.

Three days later, right on the day of my departure, Alexander brought me a local paper. “This is for you” he said. “Read the last page”. I unfolded the paper and looked at the last page.

Huge letters across the top of the page screamed:

“Aliens in the city! Two witnesses (to say nothing of the dog)!2

Словарик

alien здесь инопланетянин, пришелец

UFO (unidentified flying object) НЛО (неопознанный летающий объект)

namesake тезка

instant мгновенный

to take a liking to somebody полюбить кого-то

dogs in particular здесь особенно собак

to hint намекать

stroll прогулка

to head for направляться (куда-либо)

otherwise наоборот

liked her walks to be physical чтобы её прогулки были с упражнениями

both parties felt quite exhausted здесь пока обе стороны не обессилят

to make out разглядеть, понять

thick здесь густой

inner self здесь внутреннее я

thoroughly тщательно

that low разг. так низко

killed all of my doubts здесь развеял все мои сомнения

heard Piggy give an impatient woof Услышал, как Пигги нетерпеливо тявкнула

paper разг. газета

Вопросы и задания

Have you ever seen a UFO?

Have you been to Siberia?

Would you write about the incident if you were the story-teller’s friend and a journalist? Why?/Why not?

Do you have a pet? What is it?

Do you believe in aliens? Why?/Why not?

Read aloud and translate any paragraph you like.

Balalaikas in Syria*

(746 words)

I am Alexander and I am Russian. I’d like to tell you an interesting story about a trip I made to Damascus, in Syria, back in the 80eies. I worked in a city in the heart of Siberia as a translator. Once I was asked to interpret for a dancing group, composed of boys and girls aged between fourteen and seventeen as the group was going on a two-week tour to Syria.

They were a very professional dancing group, as they’d all started dancing at about the age of six, and had been training intensively almost every day since then. They learnt many different types of dances, so it was very impressive to see them. It was a real pleasure for my friend to work with the group, and to see them dance so often. Every time I saw them performing I couldn’t help admiring them, as they danced so magnificently, better than many adult dancing groups that I’d seen.

 

Anyway, we travelled to Damascus in July, in the middle of summer. It was unusually hot in Siberia at that time, about twenty-nine degrees Celsius, so everybody was sweating. I said to the group before we left, “Don’t forget, we’re going, to Damascus, very close to the desert, and it’s going to be something like forty-seven or even fifty degrees Celsius.”

When we arrived at the airport, however, and got out of the plane, we couldn’t believe we were in a desert region, as we all felt a bit chilly! It turned out that the temperature was only eighteen degrees Celsius!

The next day, however, there was a heat wave and it was blistering hot. The temperature reached forty-seven degrees, and during the day it was almost impossible for me and the group to go anywhere without staying in the shade. We had to walk under covered walkways, or stay under the canvas awnings of shops and cafes, as it was absolutely unbearable in the sun.

I remember that Damascus was dead during the day-time, with nearly empty streets and no other signs of life. But when the sun went down at about nine o’clock in the evening, the city came alive. People would come out into the streets, the cafes and restaurants would open, and social life would start. They’d go to parties, visit each other, buy and sell things, go to the cinemas and so on. This carried on until about three or four in the morning.

It was like an upside-down world for my friend, as in Siberia everything closed at about eight, the day finished and everybody went home and stayed there watching TV or rather going to bed.

Another thing that surprised me was that, whereas in Russia it was very unusual for children to go out with their parents in the evening, in Damascus it was quite common. Children of three or four years old would be sitting next to their parents in restaurants or cafes or, more usually, playing between the tables. I found this especially unusual as Russia was still behind the Iron Curtain at that time and I’d never had an opportunity to travel abroad before.

The dancing tour was a dazzling success. The group performed in several cities, including Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia, and in each place the audiences went wild. They applauded and called for encores again and again. The dancing tour was a great success. The dancers were accompanied by a small group of musicians playing Russian folk instruments, balalaikas, which was very unusual for the local people, who were mostly Arabs, as their music was completely different; they were altogether amused, amazed and thoroughly entertained.

The group was especially successful in Aleppo, as thousands of Armenians live there. Armenia was a republic of the Soviet Union at that time, and when the locals learnt that a group from Russia were playing, and also that they played music by Khachaturian, the famous Armenian composer, they flocked to the performance. The group was very warmly received. The audience applauded and encored them many times, and was very enthusiastic, maybe because they liked the music so much and felt a deep nostalgic connection with it.

The group stayed in a beautiful five star hotel in Damascus, with luxurious facilities, swimming pools, tennis courts, huge four course meals and top class service, which was a real novelty for me. To this day, I still think the whole experience was one of the greatest of my life. It was my first trip abroad, and the first impressions are the strongest.

Словарик

compose составлять

to see them dance смотреть, как они танцуют

couldn’t help admiring не мог не восхищаться

magnificent великолепный

chilly прохладный

blistering hot здесь очень жарко

awning навес из плотной ткани над входом

unbearable невыносимый

carry on продолжать(ся)

dazzling success здесь оглушительный успех

go wild здесь приходить в неистовство

applaud хлопать в ладоши

encore еще раз (на “бис”)

amazed удивленный

thoroughly здесь полностью

flock здесь собираться

luxurious роскошный

novelty здесь было в новинку

experience здесь впечатления от поездки

Вопросы и задания

Who was Alexander and why did he go to Damascus?

Why did Alex like the dancing group?

What did the group feel when they arrived in Damascus?

Why was Syria like an upside-down world for Alex?

Was the tour a success? Prove your point of view.

Why was Alex so much impressed by his trip to Syria?

Read aloud and translate any paragraph you like.

How I took Pictures of Michael Jackson*

(1052 words)

It happened when I lived in Budapest with my mother who worked at the American International School of Budapest. One August evening, as I was coming back from a fitness center, I saw an ad. Or rather, I saw the ad that advertised Michael Jackson’s concert. I felt dizzy with excitement. The King of Pop was coming to Budapest. This was more than I could possibly dream of.

I was a big fan of Michael at the time. The walls in my room were covered with his pin-ups and posters, and all my schoolbook covers had pictures of Michael in various poses plastered all over them.

The moment the ad caught my eye I decided to get a picture of Michael in Budapest at all costs. I knew perfectly well that there would be hundreds of other fans with the same wish. I also knew that Michael would be very difficult to photograph. He had signed some kind of agreement with the Pepsi Company, giving them exclusive rights for covering his world tour. But nothing would make me give up my idea.

My first task was to find out about the day and the exact time of Michael’s arrival. It took me some time and effort to learn that he was coming on the eve of his concert. I couldn’t get info about the time of his arrival, but I was told he would be staying at the Kempinski Hotel. This first-class hotel is right in the center of Budapest, just at the end of Vaci Street, which is a pedestrian zone. Actually, the street is very short but it’s the most popular place among the tourist attractions of Budapest. The street is full of most expensive shops, art galleries, cafes and restaurants.

Anyway, I prepared everything for the arrival of my idol. I took my camera with a couple of extra films, and filled my backpack with some sandwiches, pop, and other stuff that could come in handy (like my umbrella, sunglasses, pictures of M.J., binoculars etc.).

My plan was clear and simple: I was going to catch M.J. at the Kempinski Hotel and take a photo of him there.

I got to the hotel at about 10 in the morning. There seemed to be no one there except the hotel porters who rushed to every limo coming to the main entrance.

I hung around the hotel for some time, hoping to get more information about M.J. I was sure the porters knew something about the time of his arrival. So I approached one of them, talked with him, and he gave me some tips on how to take pictures of my hero.

It turned out that M.J. was only coming to the hotel at about 7 p.m. so I had more than eight hours to wait. As I couldn’t trust the information, I decided to stick around. Strangely enough, I was not tired. Just the opposite, in fact: I felt better and better with every passing hour. Around 4 p.m. people began to gather near the hotel. The crowd was growing very quickly. I was upset ‘cos all the people were gonna kill my chances of taking good pictures. My hope and enthusiasm were vanishing as the crowd of fans grew.

By 6:30 p.m. hundreds of people were crammed into the space in front of the hotel. I climbed up a tree to get a better view. My gut feeling told me that something was not right. I suddenly realized that M.J. would not even be able to reach the main entrance, not to mention getting inside. The thought gave me a real fright. Maybe the info about his staying at the Kempinski was bullshit. Maybe he was going to stay at some other place. Beads of sticky sweat streaked down my spine. I thought I was going to faint.

At that very moment a wave of movement rushed through the crowd. Everybody looked in the direction of the left wing of the hotel. Two black luxury limousines were coming through the crowd. I got out my camera, ready to take pictures of my idol, but the cars did not go to the main entrance. Instead, they drove towards the side doors of the hotel and stopped within several feet of the entrance there.

Two huge bodyguards got out of one of the limos and made a kind of passage for M.J. After a few seconds a third bodyguard opened the hotel doors. And then the famous face, with the sunglasses and the wide-brim hat stepped quickly out of the limo and walked to the open doors of the hotel. Thank God I was in the tree and able to see everything.

I was so fascinated by the sight of Michael that I forgot about my camera. When I remembered why I had come, the doors of the hotel had already shut.

For some reason, the crowd stayed. Now everybody was looking up at the windows on the third floor. Somehow, the crowd knew that Michael Jackson’s suite looked out onto the square in front of the hotel. Those who had been unlucky like me were now waiting for M.J. to look out the windows of his suite.

I didn’t believe that Michael was going to show his face. But miracles do happen. After ten or fifteen minutes, Michael’s face appeared. Then he waved his hand and disappeared inside his suite. A few minutes later, a little kid looked out of the same window. Then Michael appeared again. This time he was holding a piece of paper in his hands. On the paper there were three words: ‘I LOVE YOU’. The crowd roared with excitement. Michael folded up the paper and threw it down into the crowd.

I didn’t expect Hungarians to be so crazy about M.J. The crowd converged round the spot where the paper had landed. There were screams and shouts as people fought over the precious souvenir. This time I managed to take a few pictures of Michael looking out of the window. I still have those pictures in a special album.

Looking back on those crazy days I feel kind of nostalgic. Since that time I have seen a lot of different stars, but I’ve never felt such awe and excitement as when I saw Michael.

1* Строчка из стихотворения Джона Китса «The Naughty Boy»
2Намек на название романа Дж. Джерома “Трое в лодке, не считая собаки”
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