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While-reading activities

5c Read the continuation of the story and choose the correct sentence from A-F to fill in gaps 1-5. There is one sentence that you won’t need to use.

A Conversely, the introduction of city parks and forests, and traffic free zones, has helped in bringing a little of the countryside to the city streets.

B After work she meets with friends in a bar or restaurant before going on to a disco or nightclub.

C Alex, however, lives in a small village in the countryside.

D When you are tired of the noise, the traffic, and the stress, try to find peace and quiet.

E More than half the world’s population now lives in cities.

F Today, many town dwellers wish to reverse this trend and return to a slower pace of life like Alex, out modern ‘country mouse’.


Town or country mouse?

by John Russell

This simple tale (taken from Aesop’s famous stories) shows that what may be a good place to live for one person, may not be good for another. A modern version of this story might look like this: Maria lives in a big city surrounded by the speed and convenience of urban life. She works in an office with 1000 other employees, and travels to and from there on a crowded Metro. Her home is a flat overlooking a busy city-street, which is always alive with the sound of traffic and people passing by. 1) _____________ Weekends are spent in the shopping mall with its numerous shops, multi-screen cinemas, fast food and entertainment complexes.

2) ________________________

He cycles to work down country lanes every morning, the sound of tractors, birds and animals in his ears. In the evening, he relaxes at home in front of the fire with a good book to read. At weekends, he goes for long walks in the fields with his dog.

Unfortunately, life is not as simple as stories make it. A lot of today’s ‘town mice’ such as Maria would be happy to live in the country. Many modern cities have very large populations (Tokyo or Mexico City - over 25 million) and can be crowded, dirty and dangerous places to live. 3) ____________________ In much of Europe and North America this can be as high as much as 80% of a country’s population. (According to the United Nations, approximately 1 billion people in cities are living in slum conditions – overcrowded and unhealthy).

The 18th Century marked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the depopulation of the countryside, and the move to towns. The towns became places of mass employment in factories and offices. 4) _______________ Yet, a modern country existence is not without its problems; poor transport, lack of access to hospitals and education, and services found in towns such as large shops, banks and entertainment.

The debate between town and country is meaningless these days, as so many people live in towns, and very few people are actually able to choose where they live; this is dictated by their work or birth. The internet and other mass media have linked country areas to the world, providing access to information – even to remote areas. If countryside, other benefits of the city need to be available (employment, healthcare and education). 5) _____________.

The UN World habitat day (4th October) this year looks at this issue. It emphasises the need for strong links between town and countryside, and their mutual dependence upon each other.

Are you a town mouse or a country mouse?


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