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Джером К. Джером / Jerome K. Jerome

Лучшие смешные рассказы / Best Funny Stories

Should Married Men Play Golf?

People know that we Englishmen attach too much importance to sport, it is well-known, indeed. One can wait: some day some English novelist[1] will write a book, showing the evil effects of over-indulgence in sport:[2] the ruined business, the ruined home, the slow but sure[3] destroying of the brain, which leads to foolishness.

I once heard of a young couple. They went for their honeymoon[4] to Scotland. The poor girl did not know he was a golfer (he won her heart when his shoulder was broken). They decided to make a tour. The second day the man went out for a walk. At dinner-time he noticed that it seemed a pretty place they had found, and suggested to stay there another day. The next morning after breakfast he borrowed a club from the hotel porter, and remarked that he would take a walk. He returned in time for lunch and seemed angry all the afternoon. He said the air was good for him, and urged that they should stay another day.

She was young and did not know much, and thought, maybe, he had a liver-ache. She had heard much about liver from her father. The next morning he borrowed more clubs, and went out, this time before breakfast, returning late and even more angry than before. That was the end of their honeymoon. He meant well,[5] but the thing had gone too far.[6] The vice had entered into his blood.

Many people, I think, heard about the golfing priest, who was always swearing when he lost.

“Golf and the ministry don’t seem to go together,” his friend told him. “Take my advice before it’s too late, and give it up, Tammas.[7]

A few months later Tammas met his friend again.

“You were right, Jamie,[8]” cried the priest, “golf and the ministry are not friends, I have followed your advice: I have given it up.”

“Then what are you doing with that sack of clubs?” inquired Jamie.

“What am I doing with them?” repeated the puzzled Tammas. “I am going to play golf with them! Great Heavens,[9] man!” he continued, “you don’t think it was the golf that I’d given up?”

The Englishman does not understand how to play. He makes a life-long labour of his sport, and to it sacrifices mind and body. The health resorts of Europe draw half their profits from the playing fields of Eton[10] and everywhere. In Swiss and German resorts enormously fat men come to you and explain to you that once they were the champions or the best sportsmen of their university – men who now cannot go upstairs. Fat men, between paroxysms of coughing,[11] tell you of the goals they scored when they were extraordinary forwards. Unhappy sportsmen – you can meet them everywhere.

They are pitiable people. They can read only sport news, books are of no use to them. They never trained much their mind, and, apparently, have lost the ability to think. They don’t care for[12] art, and Nature only suggests to them the things they can no longer do. The mountain reminds them that once they could sleigh; the field makes them sad because they can no longer handle a golf-club; by the riverside they sit down and tell you of the salmon they caught; birds only remind them about guns; music raises visions of the local cricket-match and the local band. We are sorry for them, but their stories are not interesting. The man who has other interests in life beyond sport is deaf to them; while they do not want to talk to one another. They do not believe one another.

The foreigner is taking our sports; we hope he will be warned by our example. Football is gaining favour more and more throughout Europe. But yet the Frenchman prefers to play with his head, not with his legs. He would rather catch the ball upon his head than score a goal. He does not seem to care what happens with the ball. Anybody can have the ball; he has had his game and is happy.

They talk of introducing cricket into Belgium;[13] I shall certainly try to be present at the opening game. I am afraid that the Belgian[14] player will stop cricket balls with his heads. That the head is the proper thing with which to play ball appears to be in his blood. My head is round, he thinks, and hard, just like the ball itself; what part of the human body is better to meet and stop a ball?

Tennis is firmly established from St. Petersburg[15] to Bordeaux.[16] University professors, rising early in the morning, hire boys and practise it. But to the Frenchman, as yet, it is a game. He plays it in a happy, merry fashion, that is shocking to English eyes.

Your partner’s game astonishes you. His ball runs outside the field constantly. The joyous laughter of the spectators explain everything. Your partner was trying to hit a man in the next court who was busy with his shoe-lace. With his last ball he has succeeded. He has hit the man in the small of the back,[17] and has bowled him over.[18] Doherty[19] himself has never won greater applause from the crowd. Even the man who has been hit is pleased.

But the Frenchman forgets his shoe, he forgets his game. He gathers together all the balls that he can find; his balls, your balls, anybody’s balls. And then commences the return match. At this point it is better to quit. Most of the players follow this plan; they go to the club-house, and, finding themselves there, order coffee and light up cigarettes. After a while both players appear to be satisfied.

In about half-an-hour or so, when everybody is tired completely, the game – the original game – is resumed. You demand the score; your partner promptly says it is “forty-fifteen.” Both your opponents rush up to the net, and apparently there is going to be a duel. After a while they suggest a compromise. The discussion is concluded by calling it deuce.[20] As it is rare for a game to proceed without some such incident occurring in the middle of it, the score generally is deuce. Nobody wins and nobody loses.

To the earnest player,[21] it is also confusing to miss your partner occasionally – to turn round and find that he is talking to a man. Five minutes later he resumes the game. His friend comes with him, also the dog of his friend. The dog is welcomed with enthusiasm; all balls are returned to the dog. Until the dog is tired you cannot play.

But all this will no doubt soon be changed. There are some excellent French and Belgian players. The Frenchman is young in the game. He will also learn to keep the balls lower.

I suppose it is the continental sky.[22] It is so blue, so beautiful; it naturally attracts one. So most tennis players on the Continent, whether English or foreign, try to aim the ball direct at Heaven. At an English club in Switzerland there was in my days a young Englishman who was really a wonderful player. He never passed the ball. But he was weak returning it. The ball went a hundred feet or so into the air and descended in his opponent’s court. The other man was standing and watching the ball, a little point in the Heavens, growing gradually bigger and bigger as it neared the earth. The ball fall at his feet, rise another twenty yards or so and again descend. When it was at the proper height he hit it back over the net, and the next moment it was mounting the sky again. I have seen that young man, with tears in his eyes, was pleading to be given an umpire. Every umpire had fled. They hid behind trees, pretended they were visitors, they wanted to avoid the task of umpiring for that young man. Such a game might last all day. Anyone could return his balls; but, as I have said, nobody could get a ball past him. He won; the other man, after an hour or so, was getting mad and trying to lose. It was his only chance of dinner.

Generally speaking, a tennis ground abroad is a pretty sight. The women pay more attention to their costumes than do our lady players. The men are usually in white. The ground is often in a wonderful place, the club-house is picturesque; there is always laughter and joy. The play may not be so good to watch, but the picture is delightful. I accompanied a man a little while ago to his club on the outskirts of Brussels.[23] The ground was bordered by a wood.

It was a glorious spring afternoon. The courts were crowded. The red earth and the green grass formed a background against which the women, in their new Parisian toilets,[24] under their bright parasols, stood out like moving flowers. The whole atmosphere was delightful.

Just nearby a group of peasants were working in the field. An old woman and a young girl, with ropes about their shoulders, were drawing a harrow,[25] an old man was guiding them. They paused for a moment at the wire fencing, and looked through. It was an odd contrast; the two worlds divided by the wire fencing – so slight, almost invisible. The girl swept the sweat from her face with her hand; the woman pushed back her grey locks underneath the handkerchief about her head; the old man stood himself with some difficulty. So they stood for a minute, gazing with quiet faces through that slight fencing.

Was there any thought, I wonder, passing through their brains? The young girl – she was very nice in spite of her ugly garments. The woman – she had a wonderfully fine face: clear, calm eyes under a square broad brow.

The old man bent again over the guiding ropes. They moved forward up the hill. It is Anatole France,[26] I think, who says: Society is based[27] upon the patience of the poor.


1. Выберите правильный вариант:

1. Baseball is gaining favour more and more throughout Europe.

2. Hockey is gaining favour more and more throughout Europe.

3. Football is gaining favour more and more throughout Europe.

4. Basketball is gaining favour more and more throughout Europe.


Football is gaining favour more and more throughout Europe.

2. Who won greater applause from the crowd?

1. Adams

2. Tammas

3. Anatole France

4. Doherty

ОТВЕТ: Doherty

3. Who does not understand how to play?

1. The Englishman

2. The Frenchman

3. The German

4. The Spanishman

ОТВЕТ: The Englishman

4. How many peasants were working in the field?

1. One

2. Two

3. Three

4. Four

ОТВЕТ: Three

5. What is a club?

1. It is a round object.

2. It is a stick used to hit a golf ball.

3. It is a piece of equipment used to play tennis.

4. It is a hollow rubber ball.

ОТВЕТ: It is a stick used to hit a golf ball.

6. What does an English novelist do?

1. He teaches English.

2. He plays golf.

3. He writes novels.

4. He reads novels.

ОТВЕТ: He writes novels.

7. Выберите правильный вариант:

1. Tennis and the ministry don’t seem to go together.

2. Golf and shopping don’t seem to go together.

3. Football and the ministry don’t seem to go together.

4. Golf and the ministry don’t seem to go together.

ОТВЕТ: Golf and the ministry don’t seem to go together.

8. What does the Frenchman prefers to play with?

1. The Frenchman prefers to play with his head.

2. The Frenchman prefers to play with his legs.

3. The Frenchman prefers to play with his hands.

4. The Frenchman prefers to play with his fingers.

ОТВЕТ: The Frenchman prefers to play with his head.

9. Where did a young couple go for their honeymoon?

1. to Belgium

2. to England

3. to Scotland

4. to France

ОТВЕТ: to Scotland

10. Выберите нужный глагол:

At dinner-time he noticed that it seemed a pretty place they __________ found, and suggested to stay there another day.

1. had

2. have

3. will

4. are

ОТВЕТ: had

11. Выберите нужные глаголы:

Fat men, between paroxysms of coughing, _______ you of the goals they _______ when they were extraordinary forwards.

1. told, score

2. tell, score

3. had told, scored

4. tell, scored

ОТВЕТ: tell, scored

12. Выберите нужный предлог:

He makes a life-long labour _________ his sport, and to it sacrifices mind and body.

1. by

2. at

3. of

4. with


13. Ответьте на вопросы:

1. Who tells the story?

2. What is the name of the famous French writer mentioned in the story?

3. What have you learned about golf?

4. What do you like and what don’t you like in golf?

5. What would you do if you were playing golf?

6. What is the end of the story?

7. How can you explain the title of the story?

8. Retell the story.

14. Заполните таблицу:


Should We Say What We Think, or Think What We Say?

A mad friend of mine says that the main word of the age is Make-Believe.[28] He claims that all social intercourse is founded on make-believe. A servant enters to say that Mr. and Mrs. Bore are in the living-room.

“Oh, damn!” says the man.

“Hush!” says the woman. “Shut the door, Susan.[29] How often am I to tell you never to leave the door open?”

The man creeps upstairs on tiptoe and enters his study room. The woman tries not to show her feelings, and then enters the living-room with a smile. She looks as if an angel has arrived. She says how delighted she is to see the Bores – how good it was of them to come. Why did they not bring more Bores with them? Where is naughty Bore junior? Why does he never come to see her now? She will have to be really angry with him. And sweet little Flossie[30] Bore? Too young to visit friends! Nonsense.

The Bores, who had hoped that she was not at home – who have only come because the etiquette book told them that they had to come at least four times in the season, explain how they have been trying and trying to come.

“This afternoon,” says Mrs. Bore, “we decided to come for sure. ‘John, dear,’ I said this morning, ‘I shall go and see dear Mrs. Bounder this afternoon, no matter what happens.’”

It looks like the Prince of Wales,[31] who wanted to visit the Bores, was told that he could not come in. He might call again in the evening or come some other day.

That afternoon the Bores were going to enjoy themselves in their own way;[32] they were going to see Mrs. Bounder.

“And how is Mr. Bounder?” asks Mrs. Bore.

Mrs. Bounder remains mute for a moment. She can hear how he goes downstairs. She hears how the front door softly opens and closes.

And thus it is, not only with the Bores and Bounders, but even with us who are not Bores or Bounders. Any society is founded on the make-believe that everybody is charming; that we are delighted to see everybody; that everybody is delighted to see us; that it is so good of everybody to come; that we are desolate at the thought that they really must go now.

What will we prefer – to stop and finish our cigar or to hasten into the living-room to hear Miss Screecher’s songs? Miss Screecher does not want to sing; but if we insist – We do insist. Miss Screecher consents. We are trying not to look at one another. We sit and examine the ceiling. Miss Screecher finishes, and rises.

“But it was so short,” we say. Is Miss Screecher sure that was the end? Didn’t she miss a verse? Miss Screecher assures us that the fault is the composer’s.[33] But she knows another. So our faces lighten again with gladness.

Our host’s wine is always the best we have ever tasted. No, not another glass; we dare not – doctor’s orders, very strict. Our host’s cigar! We did not know they made such cigars in this world. No, we really cannot smoke another. Well, if he insists, may we put it in our pocket? The truth is, we do not like to smoke.

Our hostess’s coffee! Will she tell us her secret?

The baby! The usual baby – we have seen it. To be honest, we do not like babies a lot. But this baby! It is just the kind we wanted for ourselves.

Little Janet’s recitation:[34] “A Visit to the Dentist”! This is genius, surely. She must train for the stage. Her mother does not like the stage. But the theatre will lose such talent.

Every bride is beautiful. Every bride looks charming in a simple dress of – for further particulars see local papers. Every marriage is a cause for universal rejoicing. With our wine-glass in our hand we picture the best life for them. How can it be otherwise? She, the daughter of her mother. (Cheers.) He – well, we all know him. (More cheers.)

We carry our make-believe even into our religion. We sit in church, and say to the God, that we are miserable worms – that there is no good in us. It does us no harm, we must do it anyway.

We make-believe that every woman is good, that every man is honest – until they show us, against our will, that they are not. Then we become very angry with them, and explain to them that they are such sinners, and are not to mix with us perfect people.

Everybody goes to a better world when they have got all they can here. We stand around the open grave and tell each other so. The clergyman is so assured of it that, to save time,[35] they have written out the formula for him and had it printed in a little book.

When I was a child, I was very surprised that everybody went to heaven. I was thinking about all the people that had died, there were too many people there. Almost I felt sorry for the Devil, forgotten and abandoned. I saw him in imagination, a lonely old gentleman, sitting at his gate day after day, doing nothing. An old nurse whom I told my ideas was sure that he would get me anyhow. Maybe I was an evil-hearted boy. But the thought of how he will welcome me, the only human being that he had seen for years, made me almost happy.

At every public meeting the chief speaker is always “a good fellow.” The man from Mars, reading our newspapers, will be convinced that every Member of Parliament was a jovial, kindly, high-hearted, generous-souled saint. We have always listened with pleasure to the brilliant speech of our friend who has just sat down.

The higher one ascends in the social scale,[36] the wider becomes the make-believe. When anything sad happens to a very important person, the lesser people round about him hardly can live. So one wonders sometimes how it is the world continues to exist.

Once upon a time a certain good and great man became ill. I read in the newspaper that the whole nation was in grief. People dining in restaurants dropped their heads upon the table and sobbed. Strangers, meeting in the street, cried like little children. I was abroad at the time, but began to return home. I almost felt ashamed to go. I looked at myself in the mirror, and was shocked at my own appearance: there was a man who had not been in trouble for weeks. Surely, I had a shallow nature. I had had luck with a play in America, and I just could not look grief-stricken. There were moments when I found myself whistling!

The first man I talked to on Dover[37] pier was a Customs House official. He appeared quite pleased when he found 48 cigars. He demanded the tax, and chuckled when he got it.

On Dover platform a little girl laughed because a lady dropped a handbox on a dog; but then children are always callous – or, perhaps, she had not heard the news.

What astonished me most, however, was to find in the train a respectable looking man who was reading a comic journal. True, he did not laugh much; but what was a grief-stricken citizen doing with a comic journal, anyhow? I had come to the conclusion that we English must be a people of wonderful self-control. The day before, as newspapers wrote, the whole country was in serious danger of a broken heart. “We have cried all day,” they had said to themselves, “we have cried all night. Now let us live once again.” Some of them – I noticed it in the hotel dining-room that evening – were returning to their food again.

We make believe about quite serious things. In war, each country’s soldiers are always the most courageous in the world. The other country’s soldiers are always treacherous and sly; that is why they sometimes win. Literature is the art of make-believe.

“Now all of you sit round and throw your pennies in the cap,” says the author, “and I will pretend that there lives in Bayswater[38] a young lady named Angelina,[39] who is the most beautiful young lady that ever existed. And in Notting Hill,[40] we will pretend, there lives a young man named Edwin,[41] who is in love with Angelina.”

And then, if there are some pennies in the cap, the author pretends that Angelina thought this and said that, and that Edwin did all sorts of wonderful things. We know he is making it all up.[42] We know he is making up just to please us. But we know well enough that if we stop to throw the pennies into the cap, the author can do another things.

The manager bangs his drum.

“Come here! come here!” he cries, “we are going to pretend that Mrs. Johnson[43] is a princess, and old man Johnson is going to pretend to be a pirate. Come here, come here, and be in time!”

So Mrs. Johnson, pretending to be a princess, comes out of a paper house that we agree to pretend is a castle; and old man Johnson, pretending to be a pirate, is swimming in the thing we agree to pretend is the ocean. Mrs. Johnson pretends to be in love with him, but we know she is not. And Johnson pretends to be a very terrible person; and Mrs. Johnson pretends, till eleven o’clock, to believe it. And we pay money to sit for two hours and listen to them.

But as I explained at the beginning, my friend is a mad person.


1. Выберите правильный вариант:

1. We make believe about quite serious things.

2. We make believe about quite stupid things.

3. We make believe about quite incredible things.

4. We make believe about quite common things.

ОТВЕТ: We make believe about quite serious things.

2. Where does a young man, who is in love with Angelina, live?

1. in Bayswater

2. in Dover

3. in London

4. in Notting Hill

ОТВЕТ: in Notting Hill

3. Who is the Prince of Wales?

1. It is a title granted to princes lived in Wales.

2. It is a title granted to princes born in England.

3. It is a title granted to princes married in Wales.

4. It is a title granted to princes born in Wales.

ОТВЕТ: It is a title granted to princes born in Wales.

4. How many cigars did a Customs House official find?

1. 35 cigars

2. 48 cigars

3. 24 cigars

4. 53 cigars

ОТВЕТ: 48 cigars

5. “Jovial” is NOT…

1. amiable

2. festive

3. angry

4. good-natured

ОТВЕТ: angry

6. What does it mean “to save time”?

1. to have extra time

2. to do useless things

3. to have a good time

4. to sleep

ОТВЕТ: to have extra time

7. Выберите правильный вариант:

1. When I was a child, I was very surprised that everybody went to hell.

2. When I was a child, I was very surprised that everybody went to heaven.

3. When I was a child, I was very surprised that everybody went to London.

4. When I was a child, I was very surprised that everybody went to Scotland.

ОТВЕТ: When I was a child, I was very surprised that everybody went to heaven.

8. What is Mrs. Johnson’s paper house?

1. a hut

2. a car

3. a bathroom

4. a castle

ОТВЕТ: a castle

9. Who must be a people of wonderful self-control?

1. English

2. French

3. German

4. Scottish

ОТВЕТ: English

10. Выберите нужный глагол:

She must __________ for the stage.

1. dance

2. gain

3. go

4. train

ОТВЕТ: She must train for the stage.

11. Выберите нужные глаголы:

Our host’s wine – — always the best we – — ever tasted.

1. was, will

2. is, have

3. is, are

4. has, have

ОТВЕТ: Our host’s wine is always the best we have ever tasted.

12. Выберите нужный предлог:

Any society is founded _________ the make-believe that everybody is charming.

1. on

2. in

3. at

4. after

ОТВЕТ: Any society is founded on the make-believe that everybody is charming.

13. Ответьте на вопросы:

1. How many actors are mentioned in the story?

2. What are their names?

3. What have you learned about make-believe?

4. What do you like and what don’t you like in Miss Screecher?

5. What would you do if you were Mrs. Johnson?

6. What is the end of the story?

7. How can you explain the title of the story?

8. Retell the story.

14. Заполните таблицу:


Why We Hate the Foreigner

The advantage of the foreigner is following: he is born good. He does not have to try to be good, as we, the Englishmen, do. He does not have to start the New Year with the decision to be good, and succeed till the middle of January. He is just good all the year round. When they tell a foreigner to mount or descend from a tram[44] from the right side, he will never try to descend that tram from the left side.

In Brussels[45] once I saw a lawless foreigner who was trying to enter a tram from the wrong side. The door was open: he was standing close beside it. A line of traffic was in his way, so he just entered when the conductor was not looking, and took his seat. The astonishment of the conductor was immense. How did he get there?

The conductor was watching the proper entrance, and the man had not passed him. Later, the true explanation came to the conductor, but he hesitated to accuse that man of such crime.

Anyway, the conductor appealed to the passenger himself. Was his presence a miracle or a sin? The passenger confessed. The conductor requested him to leave the tram immediately. The passenger refused to do so, a halt was called,[46] and the police arrived. As usual, they appeared from the ground.[47] At first the sergeant did not believe the conductor’s statement. Myself, in the passenger’s case,[48] I would lie. But he was proud, or stupid – one of the two, and he told the truth. The police said that he had to descend immediately and wait for the next tram. Other policemen were arriving from every corner: nowhere to run. The passenger decided get down. He walked to the proper door, but that was not correct. He had mounted the wrong side, he must descend on the wrong side, too. After that the conductor told a sermon from the centre of the tram on the danger of going from the wrong side.

There is a law in Germany – an excellent law it is – that nobody may scatter paper about the street. An English military friend told me that, one day in Dresden,[49] he tore a long letter into some fifty fragments and threw them behind him. A policeman stopped him and explained to him quite politely the law. My military friend agreed that it was a very good law, thanked the man for his information, and said that for the future he would bear it in mind.[50] But the policeman was not satisfied. He offered my friend to pick up those fifty pieces of paper. My friend did not see himself, an English General, on his hands and knees in the main street of Dresden, in the middle of the afternoon, picking up paper.

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some English novelist – некий английский романист


over-indulgence in sport – чрезмерное увлечение спортом


slow but sure – медленный, но верный


They went for their honeymoon – Они отправились на медовый месяц


he meant well – у него были лучшие намерения


the thing had gone too far – дело зашло слишком далеко


give it up, Tammas – брось это, Тэммас


Jamie – Джейми


Great Heavens! – О Боже!


Eton – Итон


between paroxysms of coughing – между приступами кашля


they don’t care for – они безразличны к


Belgium – Бельгия


Belgian – бельгийский


St. Petersburg – Санкт-Петербург


Bordeaux – Бордо


the small of the back – поясница


bowled him over – сбил его с ног


Doherty – Догерти


by calling it deuce – объявлением ничьи


the earnest player – серьёзный игрок


it is the continental sky – причина в континентальном небе


on the outskirts of Brussels – в предместье Брюсселя


Parisian toilets – парижские туалеты


were drawing a harrow – тащили за собой борону


Anatole France – Анатоль Франс, французский писатель и литературный критик (1844–1924).


is based – зиждется


Make-Believe – притворство


Susan – Сюзен


Flossie – Флосси


the Prince of Wales – принц Уэльский


to enjoy themselves in their own way – провести время по своему вкусу


the fault is the composer’s – в этом вина композитора


Little Janet’s recitation – декламирование маленькой Дженет


to save time – чтобы сэкономить время


the social scale – общественная лестница


Dover – Дувр


Bayswater – Бейсуотер


Angelina – Анжелина


Notting Hill – Ноттинг-Хилл


Edwin – Эдвин


is making it all up – измышляет всё это


Mrs. Johnson – миссис Джонсон


to mount or descend from a tram – входить или выходить из трамвая


Brussels – Брюссель


a halt was called – была объявлена остановка


from the ground – из-под земли


in the passenger’s case – на месте пассажира


Dresden – Дрезден


he would bear it in mind – он будет иметь это в виду