CAE Reading and Use of English Part 6
You are going to read four extracts biographies of a former political leader. For questions 37-40, choose from the reviews A-D. The extracts may be chosen more than once.
A career at the very top of the political ladder
Four biographers assess one national leader’s political career
The overall impression one gets of him is of someone whose true ambitions lay outside politics, and for whom political leadership was more of a CV item than a duty born of a desire to serve his country. A shrewd and manipulative operator, he knew how to make the right alliances to get himself into the positions he wanted, and once his term of office was over he continued in that vein outside politics. The legacy of his time in office is a contrasting one. Top of the list in the plus column is the tremendous progress he made in narrowing the gap between rich and poor as a result of policies he personally championed against considerable opposition. Less creditable is the fact that many of the problems that resulted from his time in office can be laid at his door too and there were repercussions he should have foreseen.
Seldom can a political leader be said to have been such a victim of bad timing. Many of his policies made complete sense in themselves and at almost any other time would have had a positive impact, but circumstances beyond his control conspired to turn them into disasters for the country. It could perhaps be said that this was made worse by the fact that he was somewhat gullible, setting far too much store by the questionable advice of key figures around him. He rose to power with a sincere belief that he could improve the lives of people at every level of society, although it could be said that self-interest later guided him more than this initial desire. Probably the most positive thing that can be said about his term of office is that he minimised the impact of some tough economic times, steering the country through them with reasonable success, which was no mean feat.
Views differ widely on what sort of man he was as a leader, with conflicting testimony from those on the inside. What emerges is someone who appeared decisive but who in reality tended to believe what he was told by trusted advisers and experts, and was too easily swayed by them. His unquestioning faith in such people led him to try to implement changes that were far too radical for the time and it is fair to say that he was at fault for going along with this approach that was advocated by others. On the positive side, his main achievement was to make the country more competitive economically by means of some well-considered initiatives, though these later turned out to have only short-term impact. This reflected the commitment to modernise the country that had been at the centre of his campaign and the reason why he had aspired to the leadership in the first place.
He was driven to the top by a genuine belief that he knew best and that his critics were incapable of seeing that his policies would indeed produce very real improvements across the board. Though he made a show of listening to advice from others, he was in reality inflexible. This led him to continue to pursue policies that were manifestly not working and he should have accepted that a change of direction was required. He had one of the sharpest minds of any leader in recent history, and an ability to analyse situations forensically, but at key times he failed to apply these qualities and carried on regardless of the inadvisability of doing so. Nevertheless, he succeeded in one major way: he made society more equal and in so doing improved the lot of many of the less well-off members of it.
Which biographer …
37 has a different opinion from the others on the extent to which the subject was personally responsible for problems caused by his policies?
38 shares biographer D‘s view on the subject’s personal characteristics as a leader?
39 differs from the others on the subject’s motivation for becoming a political leader?
40 expresses a similar view to biographer A on what the subject’s greatest achievement was?
CAE Reading and Use of English Part 7
You are going to read a newspaper article about singing in choirs. Six paragraphs have been removed from the article. Choose from the paragraphs A -G the one which fits each gap (41-46). There is one extra paragraph which you do not need to use.
Introducing choral music to children is like opening a door to a magical world
Here’s an important question. What’s calming, therapeutic, healthier than drugs, and could well prolong your life? Answer: singing in a choir.
In fairness, there was a specific angle to this study, which compared the collective experience of choral singing to that of taking part in team sports. Choirs apparently win hands down, because thereis ‘a stronger sense of being part of a meaningful group’, related to ‘the synchronicity of moving and breathing with other people’. And as someone who since childhood has used singing as a refuge from the sports field, I take no issue with that.
I know there are occasional initiatives. From time to time I get invited as a music critic to the launch of some scheme or other to encourage more collective singing among school-age children. There are smiles and brave words. Then, six months later, everything goes quiet – until the next launch of the next initiative.
I know a woman who’s been trying hard to organize a performance of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde – perhaps the greatest work ever devised for young children to sing together – as a tribute to the composer’s centenary this year. But has she found her local schools responsive? Sadly not: it was all too much trouble.
We sang Herbert Howells’s Like as the Hart. And whatever it did or didn’t do for my cardiovascular system, my emotional health, or any of the other things that turn up in research papers, it was the most significant experience of my childhood. It opened a world to which 11-year-olds from unfashionable parts of east London don’t generally get access. It was magical, transcendent. It spoke possibilities.
The other weekend I was in Suffolk, celebrating Britten, where in fact there were a lot of children privileged enough to be pulled into the centenary events. There was a great Noye’s Fludde in Lowestoft. And on the actual birthday countless hordes of infant voices piled into Snape Maltings to sing Britten’s school songs, Friday Afternoons, part of a project that involved 100,000 others, internationally, doing likewise.
Just think: if we could finally get Britain’s children singing, it would filter upwards. And we wouldn’t need university researchers. We’d just do it, and be all the better for it.
A It was an extraordinary experience that many of those children will carry with them all their lives, like my experience all those years ago. There is a plan for it to be repeated every year on Britten’s birthday. But that will only happen if there are resources and sustained commitment (for a change).
В In fact, I have no argument with any of these piles of research – bring them on, the more the better – because what they have to say is true. The only thing I find annoying is that such an endlessly repeated truth results in relatively little action from the kind of people who could put it to good use.
C One of my enduring life regrets is that I never got the chance to take part in such an event as a child. I guess I went to schools where it was also too much trouble. But I did, just once, aged 11, get the chance to go with a choir and sing at Chelmsford Cathedral.
D But being there was even better. And as I was sitting near the choir – who were magnificent – I saw the faces of the boys and thought how fabulously privileged they were to have this opportunity given to them.
E And that, for me, is what a choir can offer. All the physical and mental pluses are a happy bonus. But the joy and thrill of access to that world of music is what counts.
F It’s not a new discovery: there are endless dissertations on the subject, libraries of research, and celebrity endorsements. But people have short memories. So every time another academic paper is published, it gets into the news – which was what happened this week when Oxford Brookes University came up with the latest ‘singing is good for you’ revelation.
G The hard fact is that most state schools don’t bother much with singing, unless someone in the hierarchies of government steps in to make it worth their while. They say they don’t have the resources or the time. And even when a worthwhile singing project drops into their lap, they turn it down.