Reading Crocodile Preston's Island Adventure

The Australian Queen was a good old boat. It was made in Townsville in 1896, and for years Ray and I took tourists out in it to see the jungle. It was Ray's boat, not mine. Ray was my boss. Poor old Ray! He's never forgotten that boat. We lost it last year. It happened like this ...
I was sitting in the coffee shop, having my breakfast - four cups of coffee and a beefburger. There wasn't any work to do. The tourist season was over. Ray came in about eleven o'clock. He sat down at my table.
'Hey, Sheila! I'll have an egg on toast and a coffee,' he shouted. Sheila came over to the table. She didn't like Ray. She didn't like me, either. But there was only one coffee shop in Woonawarra.
You haven't paid for yesterday's breakfast yet,' she said. 'Nor for the day before.' 'Mr Preston's paying,' Ray said. 'G'day, Croc' Ray always calls me Croc. He tells the tourists that I'm a crocodile hunter. It isn't true, but it's good for business.
'G'day, Ray,' I said. 'I'm not paying for your breakfast, mate. You haven't paid me any wages for two weeks. I haven't got any money. You're the boss - you pay.'
'Look,' said Ray, 'I've got an idea ...'
I told Ray then that it was a stupid idea. The old Australian Queen was a river boat. It wasn't made for the open sea. But Ray didn't want to listen.
'Come on, Croc. We need a holiday. It's a great idea. We'll take the boat over to one of the islands. We can do some fishing and sit in the sun. What do you think?'
Well, there are hundreds of islands near Woonawarra. The Great Barrier Reef is only about twenty miles away from the coast of Queensland. There was nothing to do in town, anyway.
'OK, Ray,' I said. 'I'll do it.'
It was a lovely morning when we left Woonawarra. Beautiful. Ray was sitting at the back of the boat, and he was singing. Ray is the worst singer in Australia. Maybe he's the worst singer in the world. I've never heard anyone worse, that's certain.
'Er, Ray,' I said, 'what's that book in your hand?'
I wasn't interested in the book, but I had to stop Ray singing.
'Oh, this?' said Ray. 'I bought this yesterday. It's a survival manual.'
'A what?' I said.
'A survival manual. It's for explorers, you know. How to survive in the mountains. How to survive in the jungle. That kind of thing.'
'There aren't many mountains around here,' I said. I was looking at the flat blue sea around the boat.
Yeah, well, there are a lot of ideas in this book. I was reading it last night. Look at this chapter: "How to survive in an open boat". It's a good book. It's got a lot of information in it. You know, you mustn't drink sea water. But you can drink the blood of sea-birds.'
'First you have to catch them,' I said. 'Give me another can of lemonade, Ray. I'm thirsty.'
One minute the sky was blue and the sea was flat. The next minute the storm hit us. The sky went black, and the boat was going up and down like a yo-yo. Water was coming over the sides of the boat, and then the engine stopped. Ray was shouting something, but I couldn't hear him. The wind sounded like a jet aeroplane. I didn't see the rock, but I felt it. The boat hit the rock, and stopped. Then I saw something in the distance.
'Come on, Ray!' I shouted. 'There's an island! We've got to swim towards it.'
The water was above my knees in the boat. I grabbed Ray, and we jumped.
The island was nearer than it looked. In fact, the storm washed us onto the island. We were lucky, because Ray isn't a very good swimmer. We lay on the beach in the rain. Ray was coughing.
'You idiot!' he shouted. 'I saw the rock before we hit it. I shouted to you, and you did nothing!'
'I couldn't hear you, Ray. Sorry.'
'And what about the storm!' he shouted. 'Didn't you listen to the weather forecast this morning?'
'No,' I said. 'Didn't you?'
Ray didn't answer, but he looked pretty angry.
The storm was quite short. Soon the sun was shining again, and the sea looked normal. We looked round the island. It was small. You could walk all the way round it in five minutes. We could see the old Australian Queen. It was on a rock about two hundred metres from the beach. It was in two pieces.
You'll have to swim out to the boat,' said Ray. 'We need food and drink. There's nothing on this island.'
I looked across the sea at the boat. Two hundred metres. I could swim two hundred metres easily. Then I saw them. Black triangles on the water. They were all round the boat. Black triangles ...
'Sharks!' I shouted. 'There are sharks out there. Look!'
Ray sat down heavily on the beach. He took something from his jacket pocket.
'It's OK, Croc,' he said. 'I brought this with me. We'll be all right.'
Ray was holding the survival manual. 'Don't worry about the sharks,' he said. 'Sharks are frightened of people. It's here in the book.'
'The book says that, Ray. You know that. I know that. But there's one problem. Has anyone told the sharks?'
We had a look at the book. The most important thing was a fire. We had to light a fire.
'You see,' said Ray, 'everyone knows we're out here. When we don't come back, they'll send helicopters to look for us. We have to light a fire. Have you got any matches?'
'Come on, Ray,' I said. 'I don't smoke. You know that.'
'It's OK,' he said. 'There are some broken bottles on the beach. We can light a fire with a piece of glass. There are instructions in the book.'
We went all over the island, and collected bits of wood and leaves. I sat on the beach with a piece of glass for an hour. But the wood and leaves were wet from the storm.
Ray sat and watched me. He read out the instructions from the book, but I couldn't light a fire.
'Hurry up, Croc,' he said. 'It'll be dark in a few hours. We can't light a fire in the dark.'
'We need something to start the fire,' I said. 'The wood will burn then.'
Ray heard the helicopter first. It was miles away, but the sound was coming towards us. I had an idea.
'Ray,' I said, 'Can I have a look at your book again?'
The helicopter crew couldn't stop laughing when they heard the story. Ray didn't think it was very funny. He never laughs when I tell the story now. I started the fire and the helicopter saw it. How did I start the fire? Didn't I tell you? It wasn't very difficult. I burned Ray's survival manual.

1. Does the word old in the phrase Poor old Ray! really mean that Ray was an old man? What does 'old' mean then?

2. What does the word lost mean in the sentence We lost it last year ?

3. What kind of shop is a coffee shop? Why is it called a 'shop' then?

4. Why didn't Sheila like Ray or Preston? Why hadn't Ray paid Preston any wages for a month?

5. Why does Ray call Preston Croc? Is it offensive to Preston?

6. Why did Preston agree with Ray to go to the Great Barrier Reef though he thought it a stupid idea?

7. What do you think Ray bought a survival manual for? What was he interested in?

8. What does the word flat in the sentence I was looking at the flat blue sea around the boat mean? What other meanings of this word do you know? Give your examples. Why do you think the meanings apartment (квартира) and level (плоскость, равнина, уровень) are one and the same word flat in English?

9. Were Ray's and Preston's judgments on the book alike? Why? What kind of personalities were Ray and Preston? What made Preston and Ray have the right chemistry?

10. What does the word can in the sentence Give me another can of lemonade mean? What other meanings of this word do you know? Give your examples. Why do you think one and the same word can means physical ability (мочь) and metal container (консервная банка, канистра) in English? Do you know any Russian occurrences?

11. What does the word went (go) mean in the phrase The sky went black ? What English translations would you give of туристы притихли, море успокоилось, небо прояснилось, движение замедлилось?

12. Why does the author compare the boats movements during the storm with a yo-yo? Is yo-yoing that popular in Russia as it is in Great Britain or the USA?

13. How do you think Preston felt the rock? Describe such a feeling?

14. Why was Ray coughing?

15. Why did Ray get angry but didn't say anything to Preston's 'No, didn't you?' ?

16. Why didn't Preston want to swim to the boat though it was not very difficult for him?

17. Why do the words beach and piece are dangerous words? Look up their short vowel pairs bitch and piss in your dictionary. What should you do not to confuse them? Check more pairs sheet - sh*t and can't - c*nt. Be careful with dangerous words! Practise long sounds in:

There're beautiful beaches there. (NOT There're beautiful b*tches there.)

Put a fresh sheet on the bed. (NOT Put a fresh sh*t on the bed. )

But I can't. (NOT But I c*nt.)

Have a piece of it. (NOT Have a p*ss off it. )

18. Why was Ray sure that sharks would not harm Preston?

19. Was the survival manual that useless to Ray and Preston?

20. Why did Ray and Preston have to light a fire? How?

21. Why couldn't Preston light the fire?

22. Why couldn't Ray and Preston light the fire in the dark?

23. What idea did Preston have when he heard the sound of the approaching helicopter? How do you think he made Ray sacrifice his survival manual for the fire?

24. Why couldn't the crew stop laughing when they heard Preston's story? What makes the situation so funny?

25. Why wasn't Ray happy about the burned survival manual. What counterarguments might he be giving to have his book and the fire?