新编英语教程第三册Unit07

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Unit 7

TEXT I

On Not Answering the Telephone

Text

If, at the end of a conversation somebody says to me, "As soon as I know, I'll ring you up", he is taking too much for granted. He is proposing to attempt the impossible. So I have to say, "I'm afraid you can't. You see, I'm not on the telephone. I just haven't got a telephone."
Why don't I have a telephone? Not because I pretend to be wise or pose as unusual. There are two chief reasons: because I don't really like the telephone and because I find I can still work and play, eat, breathe and sleep without it. Why don't I like the telephone? Because I think it is a pest and a time-waster. It may create unnecessary suspense and anxiety, as when you wait for an expected call that doesn't come; or irritating delay, as when you keep ringing a number that is always engaged. As for speaking in a public telephone box, that seems to me really horrible. You would not use it unless you were in a hurry, and because you are in a hurry you will find other people waiting before you. When you do get into the box, you are half asphyxiated by stale, unventilated air, flavoured with cheap face-powder and chain-smoking; and by the time you have begun your conversation your back is chilled by the cold looks of somebody who is fidgeting to take your place.
If you have a telephone in your own house, you will admit that it tends to ring when you least want it to ring; when you are asleep, or in the middle of a meal or a conversation, or when you are just going out, or when you are in your bath. Are you strong-minded enough to ignore it, to say to yourself, "Ah, well, it will all be the same in a hundred years' time"? You are not. You think there may be some important news or message for you. Have you never rushed dripping from the bath, or chewing from the table, or dazed from the bed, only to be told that you are a wrong number?
Suppose you ignore the telephone when it rings, and suppose that, for once, somebody has an important message for you. I can assure you that if a message is really important it will reach you sooner or later. Think of the proverb: "Ill news travels apace." I must say good news seems to travel just as fast. And think of the saying: "The truth will out." It will.
Perhaps, when you take off the receiver, you give your number or your name. But you don't even know whom you are giving it to! Perhaps you have been indiscreet enough to have your name and number printed in the telephone directory, a book with a large circulation, a successful book so often reprinted as to make any author envious, a book more in evidence than Shakespeare or the Bible, and found in all sorts of private and public places. It serves you right if you find it impossible to escape from some idle or inquisitive chatterbox, or from somebody who wants something for nothing, or from some reporter bent on questioning you about your own affairs or about the private life of some friend who has just eloped or met with a fatal accident.
But, you will say, you need not have your name printed in the telephone directory, and you can have a telephone which is only usable for outgoing calls. Besides, you will say, isn't it important to have a telephone in case of sudden emergency — illness, accident or fire? Of course, you are right, but here in a thickly populated country like England one is seldom far from a telephone in case of dreadful necessity.
Is there any conclusion to be drawn from my obstinacy and wilfulness, my escapism, if you like to call it that? I think perhaps I had better try to justify myself by trying to prove that what I like is good. At least I have proved to myself that what many people think necessary is not necessary at all. I admit that in different circumstances — if I were a tycoon, for instance, or bedridden, I might find a telephone essential. But then if I were a secretary or taxi-driver I should find a typewriter or a car essential. Let me put it another way: there are two things for which the English seem to show particular aptitude: one is mechanical invention, the other is literature. My own business happens to be with the use of words but I see I must now stop using them. I have just been handed a slip of paper to say that somebody is waiting to speak to me on the telephone. I think I had better answer it. After all, one never knows, it may be something important.
By William Plomer (abridged)

TEXT II

How to Cope with Your Telephone

It's one of the most useful things in the world when it's working properly. But as soon as anything goes wrong or you get a massive bill, it's not such a nice number. Actionwoman has some helpful hints.
It's only 6 a. m. and the phone is ringing merrily downstairs. You stumble out of bed and of course it's a wrong number.
Well, there's not much you can do about that, but there are steps you can take if it happens again. For a start, if you keep getting wrong numbers your phone could be faulty. So you should get the line checked (dial 151) as soon as possible.
On the other hand, putting out early morning calls is some people's idea of a joke. Most of us would take action if we received an obscene call, but this sort of early morning joker often gets away scot-free. While you might turn a deaf ear to it the first time, being bothered like this can be as irritating as getting a heavy breather on the line.
It's a sad fact that the people most plagued by any kind of persistent caller are those who have made "news" for some reason — perhaps something as simple as writing a letter or putting an ad in the local paper. Or the phone directory may suggest that they're living on their own in that their name may have a Mrs. or Miss in front of it. That's why the police advise any woman in this situation to stick instead to initials only.
If the call is obscene in any way, make a note of the time and then phone the police. If your caller simply likes getting people out of bed, you could still ask the police for their advice — once you've had the line checked, of course. Or get the Post Office to monitor your calls, but you'll probably have to pay £ 5 a quarter plus VAT (unless you have a legal case and the police have asked for it). This means the local operator would ask all callers who they were, giving you the choice of refusing or accepting the call.
Or, free of charge, you can simply go ex-directory. And arrange for your number to be listed in special records used only by directory-enquiry operators and given to callers on request. In other words, your friends can still get hold of your number but it doesn't appear in the phone book.
From "Actionwoman" column in the magazine Woman
Unit 7 TEXT I On Not Answering the Telephone Text If, at the end of a conversation somebody says to me, "As soon as I know, I'll ring you up", he is taking too much for granted. He is proposing to attempt the impossible. So I have to say, "I'm afraid you can't. You see, I'm not on the telephone. I just haven't got a telephone." Why don't I have a telephone? Not because I pretend to be wise or pose as unusual. There are two chief reasons: because I don't really like the telephone and because I find I can still work and play, eat, breathe and sleep without it. Why don't I like the telephone? Because I think it is a pest and a time-waster. It may create unnecessary suspense and anxiety, as when you wait for an expected call that doesn't come; or irritating delay, as when you keep ringing a number that is always engaged. As for speaking in a public telephone box, that seems to me really horrible. You would not use it unless you were in a hurry, and because you are in a hurry you will find other people waiting before you. When you do get into the box, you are half asphyxiated by stale, unventilated air, flavoured with cheap face-powder and chain-smoking; and by the time you have begun your conversation your back is chilled by the cold looks of somebody who is fidgeting to take your place. If you have a telephone in your own house, you will admit that it tends to ring when you least want it to ring; when you are asleep, or in the middle of a meal or a conversation, or when you are just going out, or when you are in your bath. Are you strong-minded enough to ignore it, to say to yourself, "Ah, well, it will all be the same in a hundred years' time"? You are not. You think there may be some important news or message for you. Have you never rushed dripping from the bath, or chewing from the table, or dazed from the bed, only to be told that you are a wrong number? Suppose you ignore the telephone when it rings, and suppose that, for once, somebody has an important message for you. I can assure you that if a message is really important it will reach you sooner or later. Think of the proverb: "Ill news travels apace." I must say good news seems to travel just as fast. And think of the saying: "The truth will out." It will. Perhaps, when you take off the receiver, you give your number or your name. But you don't even know whom you are giving it to! Perhaps you have been indiscreet enough to have your name and number printed in the telephone directory, a book with a large circulation, a successful book so often reprinted as to make any author envious, a book more in evidence than Shakespeare or the Bible, and found in all sorts of private and public places. It serves you right if you find it impossible to escape from some idle or inquisitive chatterbox, or from somebody who wants something for nothing, or from some reporter bent on questioning you about your own affairs or about the private life of some friend who has just eloped or met with a fatal accident. But, you will say, you need not have your name printed in the telephone directory, and you can have a telephone which is only usable for outgoing calls. Besides, you will say, isn't it important to have a telephone in case of sudden emergency — illness, accident or fire? Of course, you are right, but here in a thickly populated country like England one is seldom far from a telephone in case of dreadful necessity. Is there any conclusion to be drawn from my obstinacy and wilfulness, my escapism, if you like to call it that? I think perhaps I had better try to justify myself by trying to prove that what I like is good. At least I have proved to myself that what many people think necessary is not necessary at all. I admit that in different circumstances — if I were a tycoon, for instance, or bedridden, I might find a telephone essential. But then if I were a secretary or taxi-driver I should find a typewriter or a car essential. Let me put it another way: there are two things for which the English seem to show particular aptitude: one is mechanical invention, the other is literature. My own business happens to be with the use of words but I see I must now stop using them. I have just been handed a slip of paper to say that somebody is waiting to speak to me on the telephone. I think I had better answer it. After all, one never knows, it may be something important. By William Plomer (abridged) TEXT II How to Cope with Your Telephone It's one of the most useful things in the world when it's working properly. But as soon as anything goes wrong or you get a massive bill, it's not such a nice number. Actionwoman has some helpful hints. It's only 6 a. m. and the phone is ringing merrily downstairs. You stumble out of bed and of course it's a wrong number. Well, there's not much you can do about that, but there are steps you can take if it happens again. For a start, if you keep getting wrong numbers your phone could be faulty. So you should get the line checked (dial 151) as soon as possible. On the other hand, putting out early morning calls is some people's idea of a joke. Most of us would take action if we received an obscene call, but this sort of early morning joker often gets away scot-free. While you might turn a deaf ear to it the first time, being bothered like this can be as irritating as getting a heavy breather on the line. It's a sad fact that the people most plagued by any kind of persistent caller are those who have made "news" for some reason — perhaps something as simple as writing a letter or putting an ad in the local paper. Or the phone directory may suggest that they're living on their own in that their name may have a Mrs. or Miss in front of it. That's why the police advise any woman in this situation to stick instead to initials only. If the call is obscene in any way, make a note of the time and then phone the police. If your caller simply likes getting people out of bed, you could still ask the police for their advice — once you've had the line checked, of course. Or get the Post Office to monitor your calls, but you'll probably have to pay £ 5 a quarter plus VAT (unless you have a legal case and the police have asked for it). This means the local operator would ask all callers who they were, giving you the choice of refusing or accepting the call. Or, free of charge, you can simply go ex-directory. And arrange for your number to be listed in special records used only by directory-enquiry operators and given to callers on request. In other words, your friends can still get hold of your number but it doesn't appear in the phone book. From "Actionwoman" column in the magazine Woman
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