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17 Read the model below and give the topic of each paragraph. Then, list which aspects of description have been included, and underline the justifications/examples given.

Describe a person you regard as eccentric

Chris Martin moved into the house next door to mine two years ago. Even before he came round to introduce himself the following day, I could tell that he was truly J eccentric.

Perhaps the most striking thing about Chris is his appearance. His slender body is usually adorned in some kind of tight-fitting, multi-coloured catsuit which makes him look like a comic book super hero. He generally tops this off with one of his flowing capes and a mask. His hair is as crazy as his clothes, going from yellow at the front, to red, to blue to green at the back, and it sticks up as if he's styled it with the aid of a powerful electric current. He has some rather strange mannerisms, too, such as his tendency to bow when introducing himself for the first time.

In spite of his strange appearance, Chris is a truly decent person and the world would be a better place if there were more people like him. He is very polite, friendly and is genuinely caring, always remembering birthdays with a photograph of a bouquet of flowers and bringing me chicken soup or Japanese tea if I'm ill. Chris will help if he possibly can and is ready to listen to everyone's problems. He tends to be aggressive from time to time, but this is because people make fun of him.

Although Chris could never be described as ordinary, I enjoy having him as a neighbour. Life is never boring when you have someone like him living next door, and his combination of unpredictability and genuine kindness make him a valuable friend.

Writing techniques

Certain writing techniques (use of weather description, direct speech or dramatic language to create mystery/ suspense, reference to feelings/ moods, etc.) can be used when describing people in order to make your description more vivid and interesting. See how an ordinary beginning can be made more exciting:

Instead of writing: I first met my future wife, Heidi, in a café where I was doing my crossword on a warm afternoon in July.

You could write: I watched with a mixture of irritation and apprehension as the busker approached my table where I was doing the crossword on that balmy July afternoon. I felt irritated because I hate being disturbed when I'm enjoying my own company and apprehensive because I never know how to tell people politely to go away. To my surprise, however, the woman sat down opposite me and put her guitar down on the floor. "Can I play something for you?" she said with a cheeky grin. Little did I know right then that this woman, Heidi Tierney, was to be my future wife.

18 BO You will hear Stella telling her friend about a person she dislikes. Read the questions, then listen to the tape and answer them. You may keep notes while listening. Looking at your notes, describe the person.

1 Who is Stella describing?

2 What do Stella and her friend say about his appearance?

3 What does she say about his personality and/or behaviour?

4 What two reasons does she give for disliking him?

19 Read the following sentences and rewrite them using writing techniques.

1 I first met Marion Browne, the famous writer, at a party where I hardly knew anyone.

2 The man who was to become the greatest influence in my life, William Morrison, was introduced to me by my boss.

3 The oddest person I have ever known was Jack Simpson.

20 Read the model below and compare it with the composition in exercise 17. Which writing techniques have been used?

It was late on a cold January night two years ago when I first laid eyes on Chris Martin, after hearing a removal van in front of the vacant house next door. Curious to see who my new neighbour was going to be, I peered out from between the curtains. Under the street lamp there appeared to be a multi-coloured clown-like figure gesticulating wildly and shouting, "Be careful with that box! That's a ten-thousand-pound amp you've got there!"

When Chris came round to introduce himself the following day, I was rather taken aback to discover that his curious guise the previous night had not been a trick of the light, but that it was, in fact his "normal" appearance. His slender body was adorned in a comic book, super hero catsuit, cape and mask and his rainbow hair looked as if it had been styled with the aid of an electric socket and a wet finger. He introduced himself with a low bow then took my hand and gently kissed it before murmuring in a deep, husky voice, "Chris Martin, at your service, Madam."

In the months that followed, I soon realised that Chris was one of the politest, friendliest and most genuinely caring people I've ever met — although he has a strange way of showing this. For instance, on my birthday, he rang my doorbell, greeted me with a bow when I opened the door, said "This is for you," and handed me a photograph of a bouquet of flowers. He brings me chicken soup and Japanese tea when I'm ill, and I know he's always ready to listen to my problems and cheer me up. Once, when I was feeling a bit low, he said, "I know! Let's go to the zoo — there's nothing like a nice elephant to make you feel better!"

Although Chris could never be described as ordinary, I enjoy having him as a neighbour. Just the other day he came round unexpectedly with an entire Thai meal beautifully laid out on a tray. When I thanked him, he merely shrugged and said, "What else are neighbours for?" It's this sort of thing that makes him such a valuable and unpredictable friend.

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