14. at home/in homes
17. secret messages
The part of the text containing the answer is underlined with the question number given in square brackets . If you still struggle with FCE Listening, please refer to Listening tips.
Man: I’m sorry but quite frankly it’s hardly worth mending.
Woman: Are you sure? I know it cost a lot when my grandmother bought it.
Man: Well, you could take it to another watch repairers but you’d be wasting your time because they would tell you exactly the same, I’m afraid.
Woman: I see.
Man: So really the best alternative would be to replace it . As it happens, I think we have a very similar model in stock. I can check now if you like.
Woman: No, I’d rather have this one fixed if you don’t mind.
Man: OK, I’ll see what we can do.
Jane: Hi, it’s Jane. The train was stuck in a tunnel for over an hour and though we’re moving again it looks as if I won’t make it in time to catch the bus. I think the last one leaves the station at twenty past nine, and there won’t be any taxis around at that time either. So I’d really appreciate it if you could pick me up there . And of course you needn’t wait for me to have dinner, you go ahead and have yours and I’ll get something from the snack bar here. Can you call me back or text me to confirm? Thanks, see you later.
Judge: Well, it’s good to see someone who really believes in their own ability to sing a tune as powerful as that, even though others – including myself, I’m afraid – are unlikely to share that belief . Which is a pity, because it was brave of him to attempt such a challenging piece of music, and he certainly has the right look to be a star, too. I know some will say he should’ve sung something less demanding, to at least get through to the next round of the competition; but I always feel that’s a mistake, that it’s better for everyone if limited technical ability is apparent  from the start.
Speaker: Before I begin, I just want to thank everyone for attending, especially those of you who’ve had a difficult journey owing to the floods that have affected both road and rail links from neighbouring areas. I’d also like to express my sympathy to the farmers around here whose crops have been destroyed by the extreme weather. I hope that this evening’s subject, rural life in this area in the nineteenth century , might be of particular interest as we shall be looking at how communities coped with natural disasters such as these in earlier times.
Man: I’ve managed to save up quite a lot from my wages, and if I can find someone who’ll give me a good price for my mountain bike I should just about have enough. I thought about getting a big fast motorbike, like the one Max has, but four wheels have always appealed to me more, even when I was kid . I remember getting into a really smart two-seater when I was too small to see through the windscreen, and thinking ‘one day I’m going to have one of these’. Well, nothing’s changed since then .
Woman: It was supposed to be tomorrow night and I do wish they’d let me know before I’d arranged for someone to look after the twins then . She was very good about it, though, and said she could come over another evening instead, so I suggested next Friday as there’s an exhibition on at the local gallery that I’d very much like to see. I’m pleased about that, of course, but ideally I would’ve been able to go to both that and the concert.
Woman: It’s certainly one of the better ones we’ve seen, isn’t it?
Man: Yes, I quite liked the high ceilings and big windows. They give a real feeling of space.
Woman: Yes, though in fact there isn’t actually a lot of floor space, and all that furniture takes up most of what there is. I’d replace some of those things, too.
Man: Some of them are rather old-fashioned, I agree, but I suppose you can’t expect everything to be brand new when the landlord’s charging so little, and that’s definitely a plus .
Woman: And with what that would save us, we could afford some new items for the place . So let’s go for it.
Woman: It’s certainly a wonderful device and I wouldn’t be without it. In fact, it goes everywhere with me so that it’s always there whenever I need it. I suppose using a virtual keyboard can sometimes get on my nerves a bit  when I have to write a long email, but there wouldn’t be any point in upgrading to a more expensive one with more memory or whatever because I’d still have the same problem. But apart from that, I’m very happy with it.
Markus Fischer: Mooncake has long been popular among the Chinese communities in many western societies and of course it first appeared in China many centuries ago, and it’s also extremely popular in countries such as Indonesia and Thailand, but I hadn’t actually tasted it until I visited Japan some years ago . I enjoyed it so much that since then I’ve eaten it in places as far apart as Vietnam and the Philippines, each time being pleasantly surprised by the differences in appearance, ingredients and flavour. Of the traditional types in China, I very much like those filled with egg, dried fruit or seeds, though for me the one that really stands out has nuts inside . All of these kinds are quite sweet, as of course are the more modern varieties filled with chocolate or ice-cream, though I’m not so keen on those. Whatever the type of mooncake, though, it is best accompanied by tea . I certainly drank lots of it when I was in Shanghai last year, rather than my usual favourite coffee with milk. I was fortunate enough to be there while people were celebrating the Moon Festival, an annual event that sometimes takes place in October although last autumn it was in September . In other years it’s been held only just after the end of August.
During the festival I learnt a lot more about mooncake from the Chinese family I was staying with. I noticed the form of a rabbit on the upper surface of the one I was about to bite into , and it was pointed out to me that others may have flowers on the top, or the name of the baker’s written there. Mooncake is traditionally seen as a way of bringing families closer together, so I’d assumed that most Chinese people baked their own at home, but when I asked the family about that they said few did , mainly because it’s so difficult to prepare. Nowadays, of course, people in towns and cities often buy mooncakes in supermarkets, and at that time of year many are received as presents in gift-wrapped boxes, often from relatives or friends, though in the case of my host family theirs was from the employer  of both the man and the woman. Although living in Shanghai, the family originally came from the city of Ningbo, further up the coast to the north-east, and as a gift they gave me a mooncake to take with me when I left. This one differed from the generally sweet varieties found elsewhere in China in that it tasted a little salty , on account of the fact that it was made from locally-produced ingredients that included meat. By this time I was becoming fascinated by everything connected with mooncake, and I asked
the family to tell me a little about its history. They told me it first became popular in the fourteenth century during the time of the Ming Revolution, when people passed on secret messages to one another as writing on the top of four mooncakes . To understand the code, the cakes had to be cut into four slices each and then joined with those from the other cakes to complete the message. This took place on the day of the Moon Festival, which then – as it still is today – was one of the most important dates in the Chinese calendar. Once the message had been received, the evidence soon disappeared when everyone ate the mooncakes . Another legend describes the passing of messages hidden inside mooncake, although presumably in that case the secret letter was burnt once it had been read.
I’ve always been a keen swimmer and that keeps me in good shape, so when I made my mind up to do badminton it was far more about socialising than exercising , especially as I’d only recently moved to this part of town and I hardly knew anyone. I hadn’t realised, though, just how competitive badminton can be – so much so that I’ve now been invited to take part in a local championship. I’ve got no chance of winning it, or even coming close, and to be honest I’m not really bothered about that, but it might be fun so I think I’ll give it a try.
I work part-time in a petrol station, which in some ways is quite a pleasant job but last year I found that I was increasingly getting into financial difficulties. So I began to study the way electronic devices work and how to repair them . I found that fascinating, and eventually I felt confident enough to place an online ad offering my services. I got loads of replies and I’ve now paid off nearly all my debts. I’ve thought of giving up my job at the petrol station, but I think I’d miss meeting different people every day if I worked entirely from home.
For years I’d been so scared of heights that some people used to make fun of me, so one day I decided to do something about it: go rock climbing . Feeling that if I could do that I’d be able to do anything, I joined a local club. On my first day I was surprised to find there were two other people who’d joined for the same reason, and we soon became friends. Together we got fitter and stronger, and encouraged each other to keep going, until by the end of the year we felt unconcerned about tackling the most challenging of climbs.
I never imagined that going horse riding could be such good exercise until I’d spent a weekend trekking in the mountains with friends. That was something of a bonus, really, because what’d initially attracted me to it was that it offered a contrast in every respect to my day job as a cab driver in a noisy, polluted city centre . And although it’s certainly not the cheapest of activities, I find it so relaxing that I always feel it’s worth every penny.
Gardening had always seemed to me as just a way of passing the time, of doing something completely different from office work, or perhaps even – for the really keen – of winning a prize for the largest home-grown vegetable. So it was only by chance that I became interested in it, when the old lady next door asked me to look after her garden while she was away. On her return she was so delighted by my efforts that I felt I’d done something really worthwhile, so I then offered to garden for other neighbours in their 80s and 90s . They sometimes offered me money, but I always refused to accept it.
Interviewer: Adriana, what originally made you decide you wanted to be a professional wildlife photographer?
Adriana: Well, unlike some who eventually take it up as a career, I wasn’t a particularly talented photographer, but I was fascinated by what living creatures do and why . I developed my skills as a photographer while I was actually doing the job, and it wasn’t until then I realised my work could take me to all kinds of distant places.
Interviewer: So beginners don’t need to take budget flights abroad to improve their photographic skills?
Adriana: No, they can usually do that in their local countryside, where there’ll probably be just as wide a variety of wildlife as anywhere, really. Actually, learning has if anything become simpler. For instance, the cost of good-quality digital cameras and other essential items has fallen dramatically in recent times, enabling far more people to take good photos . Studying photography can certainly help improve one’s technical ability, though I’d do that at college rather than by signing up for one of those online courses.
Interviewer: And of course you need practical experience.
Adriana: Yes, there are things you can’t learn sitting in a classroom. I remember I once spent all night trying to photograph owls after it’d been raining heavily.
Interviewer: That can’t have been very comfortable.
Adriana: No, the ground was very wet and muddy, though fortunately I had a good pair of boots on and there was a fence that made a good seat, but I found it hard to keep still because of the mosquitoes . By morning my face and hands were covered in bites, but I did get some great pictures.
Interviewer: So it’s a job that requires patience.
Adriana: Definitely. I was once in tropical Australia trying to get a shot of a huge crocodile as it opened its mouth. I’d been lying there for ages and in that heat some might have got sleepy or bored, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off that magnificent creature. I was quite close to it, but I knew that species of crocodile was normally harmless to humans and my main concern was whether it would actually open its mouth at all before I had to leave . In the end it did, though, and it was worth the wait to get a picture of all those teeth. Of course some animals are difficult to photograph at all.
Interviewer: For example?
Adriana: Well I hadn’t actually got round to photographing tigers until recently, when 1 was sent to a National Park in India. And from there I travelled to northern China and managed to get some great pictures of a snow leopard hunting in the mountains. It’d been my intention to go on to northern Russia to try to get my first-ever shots of polar bears, but things didn’t work out as planned  so I’ll have to do that some other time. I’ve taken photos of brown bears, of course, but they’re much easier to locate.
Interviewer: It certainly sounds a great job to have, but does it have any negative aspects?
Adriana: Well, the agency may expect you to go to some fairly unpleasant places, though if it’s a country where there’s armed conflict going on I normally refuse. And being completely on one’s own in the jungle or desert can get some people down, but I can’t say it bothers me. Spending so much time away from my daughters, though, is a different matter, but unfortunately it goes with the job . Whenever I’m home I always try to make up for that by spending as much time as I can with them.
Interviewer: Tell me, how easy is it to get a job as a wildlife photographer?
Adriana: Well, it’s certainly an attractive career, and nowadays there are just so many people out there doing it to such a high standard that it’s difficult to get into . On the other hand, the public don’t show any sign of losing interest in pictures of wildlife, and even though you can find millions of them online, people always seem to want new ones.
Interviewer: Thank you, Adriana.