Exercise 1

A. Listen to five people talking about noises they don’t like.

1   What noise does each person describe?

2   How much do you think it affects their daily life?

B. Listen again. Who…?

___  feels that a sound represents a negative emotion

___  wishes he’d / she’d complained about a noise sooner

___  is annoyed because he’s / she’s powerless to stop a sound

___  has to make a sound stop before he / she can relax

___  describes sounds that other people clearly like



Speaker 1   dogs barking

Speaker 2   cell phone ringtones such as songs or TV theme tunes

Speaker 3   car horns

Speaker 4   a mosquito buzzing in the bedroom at night

Speaker 5   the sound of a colleague eating noisy snacks


 Speaker 3

 Speaker 5

 Speaker 1

 Speaker 4

 Speaker 2



Sounds or noises that particularly annoy me, I would say dogs barking, very irritating, they just don’t stop, especially the small yappy dogs, they just go on and on and on and just keep yapping at you and I just find that extremely irritating because there isn’t any real way to shut them up like a child, or something – you can tell them to shut up, but a dog, no, they’ll just keep going.


Any noises that annoy me? I suppose I’m annoyed by excessively creative cell phone ringers, that can be of overly popular songs or themes from television series that people obviously think are really cute, but I probably don’t think they are as cute.


So, the one sound that I really hate is car horns, which you hear an awful lot of in cities. And the reason I hate them is because in my mind, at least, a car horn is meant as a warning, but of course nobody uses them for warnings any more, they use them because they’re angry and impatient, and it seems to me that it’s like shouting at somebody, and I don’t like hearing that expression of anger all around me from dozens of cars.


For me, the most annoying sound is the buzzing noise of a mosquito. When you’re just falling asleep in your bedroom at night and you hear that sound, and it’s just terrible, I actually can’t sleep until I’ve stopped the sound by killing the mosquito. So what I tend to do is, I tend to leave the light off actually, and just follow the sound, and just search the room for the sound for as long as I can until I can track it down and kill it, ’cause otherwise I, I can’t sleep knowing that I will wake up in the morning covered in bite marks.


I work in an office, and the person who sits next to me, Julie, she crunches on rice cakes every lunchtime, and it’s really annoying, and I don’t know what to say to her, or how to put it, and if I do tell her now, she’ll know I’ve been annoyed for the last four years, but I think she’s leaving soon, so maybe I’ll just have to deal with it for the next few weeks, or months.

Exercise 2

A. Listen to an interview with Polly Akhurst, one of the founders of Talk to Me London. Make notes under these headings.

The Talk to Me London pin

How Polly has benefited from talking to strangers

Mediterranean countries and Madrid

Her reaction to negative media coverage

What she would say to people who don’t want to talk


The “Talk to me London” pin

It is a pin you wear to say you are happy to talk to anyone.

How Polly has benefited from talking to strangers

She has made new friends and new business connections.

Mediterranean countries and Madrid

Mediterranean countries are friendlier. However, Madrid suffers from the same problem as London, so a similar organization was set up a couple of years ago.

Her reaction to negative media coverage

She wasn’t surprised because she was expecting it.

What she would say to people who don’t want to talk

That’s OK. If you don’t want to talk, you don’t have to.


I = Interviewer, P = Polly

I   London, as well as other big cities, has often been accused of being an unfriendly place, but is it really, and if it is, does it matter and what could or should we do about it? Today I’m talking to Polly Akhurst, one of the co-founders of Talk to me London, an organization whose goal is to get people talking to each other. Hello, Polly.


I   Could you start by telling us about Talk to me London?

P   Sure. Talk to me London is all about finding ways for people to talk to other people they don’t know. And we do this through fun activities including a badge or pin, which says Talk to me London on it and shows that you are open to conversation, as well as through regular events that, that get people talking, and we are also organizing a “Talk to me London” day at the end of August.

I   And how did you get the idea for it, I mean, do you personally find London unfriendly?

P   Well, I personally talk to a lot of people I don’t know, and I think that is where the idea came from, I found that the conversations that I have with people just kind of randomly, have been hugely, kind of, beneficial, really, so I’ve made, I might have made new friends, new business connections, sometimes they just kind of just cheer up my day. So Talk to me London comes from this idea of, you know, what happens if we do start talking to each other more and you kind of, you know, are able to see more opportunities and possibilities there.

I   Have you ever been anywhere either in the UK, the US, or maybe abroad, a, a large city, which you thought really was a friendly place, which made you think you wish London was like that?

P   There are definitely places that I’ve found friendlier than London, but I think that we all kind of change a bit when we travel and we’re out of our normal circumstances, we feel like, you know, more free to, to do things and perhaps talking to people is one of them. There is a tendency for, people say that Mediterranean countries are friendlier, however, or Latino countries even, but there was a similar initiative to this which was set up in Madrid a couple of years ago which I think indicates that, that they’re facing the same problem as us, and perhaps, you know, points to the fact that this is a phenomenon in all large cities.

 So you wouldn’t say it was a uniquely London problem?

P   No, I wouldn’t, no.

 You’ve had some quite high profile support of ‘Talk to me London’, on your website I think there is a quote from Boris Johnson (the former mayor of London) saying what a wonderful idea it sounds like. But on the other hand there’s, there’s been some quite negative media coverage which must have been discouraging for you?

P   I mean, I don’t think so, I think that this idea is quite controversial in some ways because we’re trying to encourage people to think about the way that they act and to reflect on that and to possibly change that, so, it hasn’t really been surprising for us that we’ve had the negative coverage.

I   And what would you say to people, and there are plenty of them I think, people who would say, “I’m sitting on the bus, I’m sitting on the train, I really don’t want to talk to anybody, I really don’t want anyone to talk to me, I just want to read my book or listen to my music, or whatever …” What would you say to those people?

P   I would say that it’s not about everyone talking to everyone else, it’s about enabling those people who want to talk to do so basically, so that’s why all the things that we do are opt in, so the pin, for example you wear it if you want to talk, if you don’t want to talk, you don’t have to wear it, so you know, this, this isn’t something for everyone, but we want to give people the choice between talking or not talking and currently there doesn’t really seem to be that choice.

I   Well, I wish you all the best with the project, I hope it’s extremely successful and thank you very much for talking to us.

P   Thanks a lot.

B. Listen to four true stories from the Talk to Me London website. Who started a conversation, and who was approached by someone else?

James     Anneka     Philippa     Alise

C. Now listen again and match the four people to the information about the conversations. Write Al, An, Ja, or Ph.

___ met someone she knew who she hadn’t seen for a long time.

___ talked to someone who had recently come to London.

___ was surprised that the other person was happy to talk.

___ 4   was unexpectedly given something.

___ talked to four different people one after another.

___ didn’t expect anyone to talk to her.

___ was given a suggestion about how to make the most of traveling time.

___ ended up talking to a whole group of people.



Started a conversation: James, Anneka

Was approached: Philippa, Alise


1 Ph   2 An   3 Ja   4 An

5 Ph   6 Al   7 Ja   8 Al


James’s story

I was heading home at rush hour a few weeks ago. I was tired and bored, and there was this guy standing beside me reading a book. So I started reading it over his shoulder – it was all about the history of popular social movements. I couldn’t see the title, so I asked him what it was called. Surprisingly, he reacted positively and told me the name. He told me that he commuted for two hours each day and that he always tried to read something enlightening because it made him feel a bit better about his life and being productive by the time he got home! It was such a nice unexpected conversation – and it got me thinking about my own reading habits!

Anneka’s story

I was getting the last train back home one evening, and I had to wait a long time on the platform, so I started talking to the girl sitting next to me. She was Czech and had just come to the UK with her boyfriend for work. She was a science graduate in the Czech Republic, but was working at a sandwich shop. I suppose in many ways it was a pretty typical story, but she was so upbeat and positive about London and living in the UK. At the end of the journey she emphasized how good it was to talk, and pulled out a sandwich from her bag and gave it to me. I was both shocked and grateful! Maybe my stomach had been rumbling too loudly…

Philippa’s story

I was on the train home today and this young man asked me how my day had been. We talked about the area and iPads and TV and that kind of thing. Then I mentioned the concept of “Talk to me London” and encouraged him not to stop talking to people. An older lady in the meantime had sat down by us and thought the fact that we were talking was nice! And then I bumped into an old neighbor from ten years ago, and we caught up. When he got off the train, the guy opposite me mentioned how nice it was to see us catching up, and then we got talking too. It was exciting. It was contagious. I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

Alise’s story

I was standing on a bus, and I would have thought I’d looked unapproachable, but instead a man sitting close by saw I was carrying a guitar. He gave me a big smile and asked if I’d play him a song! Before long we were chatting about traveling and living in different countries and cities around the world, and about music. He was leaving the next day for a few months of travel around South America. Because the man was a small distance away from where I was standing, quite a few people nearby were able to hear us talk, and many of them also joined in. It felt a little surreal, stepping off the bus later, smiling and saying goodbye to a bunch of strangers as though they were long-time friends.

Exercise 3

A. Listen to someone talking about the percussionist Evelyn Glennie. In what way is she an unusual musician?

B. Listen again and complete the summary.

Evelyn Glennre was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music. She has been performing for more than 1________ years, and plays 2________ different percussion instruments. She not only plays and records classical and pop music, but has also composed several movie 3________. Evelyn finds it frustrating that Journalists often write about her 4________ more than her music. She thinks that there is no real difference between hearing and 5________ a vibration. Evelyn never wears 6________ when she performs, in order to feel the vibrations of her instruments.



She is deaf.


1 20   2 60   3 soundtracks   4 hearing / deafness

5 feeling   6 shoes


Our composer of the week this week is Aberdeen-born percussionist Evelyn Glennie. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music. In a career spanning more than 20 years, she has performed with almost all of the world’s leading orchestras, playing up to 60 different percussion instruments, from the xylophone to the timpani. In that time, she has won over 80 international music awards, including two Grammys. Outside of classical music, she has achieved crossover success in the worlds of pop and rock, having recorded with artists such as Sting and Bjork as well as composing and performing a number of soundtracks for movies and television.

Glennie began studying music at the age of 12, by which time she was profoundly deaf. However, she has never been deterred by her loss of hearing and doesn’t see it as an obstacle to composing and performing music. In fact, she is frustrated by the fact that despite all her achievements as a musician, it’s her deafness that always makes the headlines. As she writes on her website in her essay about hearing, “If you are standing by the road and a large truck goes by you, do you hear or feel the vibration? The answer is both. For some reason we tend to make a distinction between hearing a sound and feeling a vibration. In reality they are the same thing.” She goes on to point out that this distinction doesn’t exist in all languages. For example, in Italian, the verb “sentire” means “to hear” while the same verb in the reflexive form means “to feel.”

In concert and in the studio, Glennie performs barefoot in order to feel the sounds of her instruments vibrating through the floor, and the title of her best-selling autobiography is Good Vibrations. But let’s get on to the music. Glennie released her first album in …

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