BACK TO NATURE
For centuries town and country have been regarded as being in opposition to each other. It has been suggested that the superficial differences between the two – wide open spaces contrasting with brick and concrete – are less important than the contrasting attitudes of town and country. I am a city person who always says that, given the choice, I would prefer to live in the country away from the dirt and noise of a large city. I tell others that if it weren’t for my job, I would immediately head out for the open spaces and go back to nature in a village buried in the country. But do I perceive the country as it really is?
Cities can be frightening places. The majority of the population live in massive tower blocks, noisy, squalid and impersonal. The sense of belonging to a community tends to disappear when you live fifteen floors up. All you can see from your window is the sky, or other blocks of flats. Children become aggressive and nervous – cooped up at home all day, with nowhere to play; their mothers feel isolated from the rest of the world. Strangely enough, whereas in the past the inhabitants of one street all knew each other, nowadays people on the same floor in tower blocks don’t even say hello to each other.
Country life, on the other hand, differs from this kind of isolated existence in that a sense of community generally binds the inhabitants of small villages together. People have the advantage of knowing that there is always someone who will help them.
But country life has disadvantages, too. While it is true that you may be among friends in a village, it is also true that you are cutoff from the exciting and important events that take place in cities. There is little possibility of going to a new show or the latest movie. Shopping becomes a major problem, and for anything unusual you have to go to the nearest large town.
The city-dweller who leaves for the country is often depressed by the stillness and quietness. Which, then, is better to live in, the country or the city? The latter causes stress and a feeling of isolation – constant noise damages the senses. But one of its main advantages is that you are at the centre of things, and that life doesn’t finish at half-past nine at night. The former has the advantage of peace and quiet, but suffers from the disadvantage of being cut off. Some people have found (or rather bought) a compromise between the two; they have moved to villages not too far from large urban centres. These people generally have nearly as much sensitivity as the plastic flowers they leave behind they are polluted with strange ideas about change and improvement which they force on to the unwilling original inhabitants of the villages. What, then, of my dreams of having a small cottage in the country? I’m keen on the idea, but you see there is my cat, Toby. I’m not at all sure that he would like all that fresh air and exercise in the long grass. No, he would rather have the electric imitation coal fire any day.
A. What do the following refer to?
1. The latter* (line 31): 2. The former* (line 34):
3. ‘the two’ (line 37):
4. These people’ (line 38):
B. Mark the best choice. 1. Line 2, ‘superficial’ means . a) natural b) important c) only on the surface d) related to inner quality
2. Line 10, ‘perceive’ means . a) see b) satisfy c) agree d) stimulate
3. Line 25, ‘cut off from’ means . a) prevented from b) led to c) compensated by d) deprived of
4. Line 37, ‘compromise’ means . a) promise of company c) varied concept b) intermediate solution d) isolated answer
5. The writer says that in the country you are . a) cut off from anyone who will help you b) unable to see shows, films and major events c) never able to find stillness and quietness d) made to live in an isolated way
6. Most city people who move to the country . a) try to change the village people with their ideas b) want to take their plastic flowers with them c) live far away from the cities they work in d) bring the city noise and dirt pollution with them