lunes, 4 de enero de 2016

Listening test: Agatha Christie

In this week's listening test we are going to pracise the heading-matching kind of task.

Listen to some extracts of a biography on Agatha Christie and match  headings A-J with the corresponding extract. There are two headings you do not need to use. 0 is an example.

A - A best-selling author -0 Example
B - A larger-than-life character
C- A real-life mystery
D - Background
E - Her formula to creativity
F - Her start as a writer
G - Pioneering in many ways
H - Record-breaking intuition
I - Restarting her life after disaster
J - Thinking up plots in an unusual way

A best-selling author -0
She wrote 80 detective novels, six romances (under a pseudonym), 13 plays, and 154 short stories. All of her books are still in print, selling around 500,000 copies a year, and she's the eighth most borrowed author from British libraries. With more than 2 billion of her books around the world, she is one of the most published authors in history outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible.

Background -1
Her life is as interesting as her writing career. She was born Agatha May Clarissa Miller in Devon, England in 1890, the youngest of three children in a conservative, well-to-do family. As a child she never attended school. She was home-schooled and started creating games to keep herself occupied at a very young age.

Her start as a writer - 2
At the age of 24, she married Archie Christie, a World War I fighter pilot. That’s where her name comes from. During the war, she worked as a nurse. She came up with the idea of writing a detective novel while working in a hospital. The ”Mysterious Affair at Styles" gave the world Hercule Poirot, a retired Belgian police officer, a meticulous, tidy always neat and orderly little man with a waxed moustache. Christie wrote more than 30 novels featuring Poirot. Among the most popular were "Murder on the Orient Express" (1934), and "Death on the Nile" (1937).

A real-life mystery - 3
In 1926, her husband asked for a divorce because he had fallen in love with another woman. What happened after that could have been an exciting scene from an Agatha Christie novel. On December 3, 1926, Agatha kissed her daughter goodnight, then promptly got in her car and left. Her abandoned vehicle was found a few miles away, but the writer herself had completely vanished. Lakes were dredged, 15,000 volunteers combed the area. All of England was involved in the case of the famous missing writer. She was found three weeks later in a small hotel registered under the name of her husband's mistress explaining to police that she had lost her memory. Whether it was true or not nobody knew.

A larger-than-life character - 4
Another of Christie's most well-known and beloved characters was introduced in "Murder at the Vicarage" in 1930. Miss Jane Marple, an elderly spinster, solved all kinds of mysteries with intense concentration and intuition. Miss Marple lived her entire life in the fictional village of St. Mary's Mead, a prototypical English village whose chief occupation was gossip. She never had any formal training as a detective and relied primarily on her keen intelligence, powers of observation, and knowledge of the human nature. She never married and was a sweet, frail-looking sort of person from a by-gone era. She did typical maiden auntie things, like knitting. The character was based, in part, on Agatha Christie’s step-grandmother and “some of my step-grandmother's Ealing cronies – old ladies whom I have met in so many villages where I have gone to stay as a girl" – as she herself stated.

Record-breaking intuition - 5
One of Agatha Christie’s Guinness World Records is connected to Miss Marple and her adventures. The Complete Miss Marple is the thickest book of the world. The massive volume is a collection of 12 novels and 20 short stories. It is 4032 page long, its spine is 322 mm and it weighs 8.02 kilograms. It is bound inmaroon leather with gilt writing on the cover. Reading at a pace of 30 pages an hour, it would take around 134 hours to finish the book. As for more numbers about the book: Miss Marple solves 43 murders: 12 poisonings, 6 strangulations, 2 drownings, 2 stabbings, 2 people pushed to their deaths, 1 rather grisly burning, 1 blow to the head, and 1 arrow through the heart. In all, 68 crimes are committed, including the murders. There are 11 philandering spouses, 21 romances, 22 false accusations, and a whopping 59 red herrings. And, as solid evidence of either Miss Marple's ability to keep a cool head in all this or the English obsession with tea, characters drink 143 cups of tea.

Her formula to creativity - 6
Agatha Christie was a very productive writer. When asked about how she was able to create so many books, she once called herself “a sausage machine, a perfect sausage machine.” For many years she was on a tight schedule of two books per year, including one that was always released right before the holiday season, which was marketed as “Christie for Christmas.”
“People often ask me what made me take up writing ... I found myself making up stories and acting the different parts. There's nothing like boredom to make you write. So by the time I was 16 or 17, I'd written quite a number of short stories and one long, dreary novel. By the time I was 21, I finished the first book of mine ever to be published.” – she said.

Pioneering in many ways - 7
She liked doing extraordinary things. She and her first husband Archie were some of the first British people to ever try surfing. They first met surfing in Hawaii in 1922. “I learned to become expert, or at any rate expert from the European point of view – the moment of complete triumph on the day that I kept my balance and came right into shore standing upright on my board!” she wrote about surfing in her autobiography.

A - A best-selling author -0 Example
B - A larger-than-life character - 4
C - A real-life mystery - 3
D - Background -1
E - Her formula to creativity - 6
F - Her start as a writer – 2
G -- Pioneering in many ways - 7
H - Record-breaking intuition - 5
I - Restarting her life after disaster
J - Thinking up plots in an unusual way