Exercise 1

Untouchable – the true story of an unlikely friendship


Untouchable, a charming French comedy about two friends who have almost nothing in common, has been a huge international success. But, before their story became a cinematic sensation, how exactly did a rich French aristocrat and an Algerian immigrant with a criminal past become good friends?


Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and Abdel Sellou first met in Paris in 1993 when Philippe was looking for a nurse. Philippe was from a very wealthy family. At one time he had been a successful businessman, living a life of great luxury. Then he had a terrible paragliding accident and lost the use of his arms and legs. Life in a wheelchair was lonely and boring. Philippe was struggling to imagine the future, and he needed practical help with his day-to-day life.


Philippe interviewed more than 80 people for the job of nurse, but none of them seemed right. Then he met Abdel, who had quit a life of crime in Algeria and moved to France to look for work. He was lively, intelligent and quick-thinking, with a crazy sense of humour. Philippe got on with Abdel immediately, and he offered him the job.


The two men didn’t have much in common. Abdel loved pop music, but Philippe preferred classical music. Philippe loved modern art, but Abdel hated it. Philippe’s family were sure that he had made a bad choice. They believed that Philippe needed someone much more sensible. Meanwhile, Abdel wasn’t planning on staying in the job for long.


However, their working relationship quickly developed into a close friendship. Abdel gave Philippe the support he needed. More importantly, his energy and sense of humour brought fun and excitement back into Philippe’s life. Abdel helped Philippe make trips to other countries. Back home in Paris their adventures included traveling around the streets of Paris with Abdel on the back of Philippe’s wheelchair or driving Philippe’s Rolls-Royce – often much too fast!


In the end, Abdel worked for Philippe for ten years. Philippe believes it was Abdel’s energy and sense of fun that kept him alive. ‘I suddenly found I was enjoying life again,’ he says. ‘I felt like I didn’t know what was coming next.’ As for Abdel, getting to know Philippe had kept him out of prison and introduced him to a new way of life.


Philippe and Abdel now live in different countries, each with a wife and family. They keep in touch regularly. Over the years they have learnt, among other things, to enjoy each other’s favourite music. All that really matters to their friendship, though, is their shared love of laughter and adventure.

A. Read the article and answers to these questions.

 In what ways did Abdel help Philippe?

 How long did Abdel work for Philippe?

 In what ways did Philippe help Abdel?

 What is their relationship like now?

B. Find words or phrases with these meanings in the article.

1   someone from a high level in society (paragraph 1)

2   rich (paragraph 2)

3   sad because you are not with other people (paragraph 2)

4   full of energy (paragraph 3)

5   help or encouragement (paragraph 5)

6   ability to enjoy life and not be too serious (paragraph 6)



1   Abdel gave Philippe support, but also fun and excitement.

2   Abdel worked for Philippe for 10 years.

3   Philippe helped Abdel by introducing him to a new way of life.

4   They keep in touch regularly.


1 an aristocrat   2 wealthy   3 lonely   4 lively

5 support   6 sense of fun

Exercise 2

Jen sighed heavily. She hadn’t done anything for at least ten minutes. She looked at the clock and the clock looked back at her. It was like a busy teacher: ‘tick’, ‘tick’, ‘tick’ … It ticked every second and the seconds became minutes. Jen sighed again, even more heavily this time.

‘You’re no friend of mine,’ she said, picking up the noisy clock. She walked to the other side of her bedroom, opened a drawer, threw the clock in and closed it again. Jen went back to her computer to do some more sighing. None of her friends were online and she had at least another 500 words to write.

Suddenly, there was a noise from outside. Jen went over to the window, opened the curtains just a centimetre and put one eye very carefully to the gap. It had been raining that day and the streets were as cold, black and wet as a dog’s nose. She couldn’t see very clearly, but she could hear them.

There was a group of maybe seven or eight figures all hanging out together. She checked her phone – no one had sent her a text in the last five minutes. She looked at the computer – everyone she knew was still offline. So who were they?

The laughing and shouting from outside had become much louder so Jen went to the curtains for another look. As soon as she opened the curtains, everything went quiet.

‘That’s strange,’ she thought. The whole group had disappeared. She listened more carefully but there was only silence.

‘JEN! JEN!! WE CAN SEE YOU, JEN!!!’ eight voices shouted at once.

There was a feeling like someone had poured a glass of ice-water into her stomach and suddenly she was jumping away from the curtains, her hand over her mouth.

‘JEEEeennnn …’ came a single voice, ‘JEEEeennnn …’

Jen froze. Whose voice was it? Was it someone she knew? A stranger? Who could it be? There was only one way to find out …

A. Read the text and tick (✓) the correct answer.

1   This text comes from …

      a    a newspaper article.

      b   a novel.

      c   an essay.

2   Which of these adjectives best describes the text?

      a    amusing

      b   romantic

      c   strange

3   What is the best way to describe what happens in this text?

      a    A student cannot complete an essay because of a noise outside her room.

      b   A student is trying to complete an essay when something unusual happens.

      c   A student is waiting for her friends to ring her up but they come to her house instead.

4   In the text, what is compared to ‘a busy teacher’?

      a    a clock

      b   a computer

      c   a drawer

5   In the text, what is compared to ‘a dog’s nose’?

      a   the curtains

      b   the rain

      c   the streets

B. The order of the events in the story is different from the order that the events happened. Read the text again and put the events in the order they happened.

……   Jen started writing her essay.

……   It stopped raining.

……   Jen had a big shock.

……   A voice called Jen’s name.

..1..   It started raining.

……   Jen heard a noise outside.

……   The group hid from Jen.

……   Jen turned her computer on.

C. Write a short story that begins with this sentence: I had just arrived at the cinema when Larissa called.



1 2 c   3 b   4 a   5 c


4, 2, 7, 8, 1, 5, 6, 3

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