Texte de Julie Myerson


The narrator is the mother of the family.
« Everyone's behaviour has altered for the worse. At school, Jordan has been lashing out at other kids, even the bigger ones. He punched and kicked Debbie Suffling who, though tall and strong-looking, actually has a blood condition that means she must not be hit. Julie Edmunds, his teacher, sent Jordan straight to the head's office where he sat stony-eyed and sullen and refusing to say sorry. That's what Julie tells us when we go in to see her – that it's not the incident itself but his total lack of remorse about it that she takes most seriously. I'm sure he's sorry, Mick tells her. He's just too proud to say it. We don't encourage that sort of pride in this school, Julie says. We try to encourage children to respect others and put the truth first. And she eyes Liv's buggy(1) and I know what she's thinking: what's she doing with another baby at her age when she can't even control the ones she's already got? But it's not just Jordan. Rosa, who's loud and difficult at home but normally an angel at school – so good and conscientious that she will literally sweat if she doesn't get her homework done on time – has lost her pen, her PE kit and half of her books, and been in trouble more than once for talking in assembly. Our Rosa? Mick says. Talking in assembly? Not only that, but her shoelaces are fraying, her shirt's perpetually splattered with ink, her fingers are grubby and her arms covered in strange itchy spots which she picks till they bleed. Who's throwing ink at you, Rosa? I ask her. Someone's flicking it at you, aren't they ? It's my cartridge, she says flatly. It leaks. All over your back? She makes an ugly face at me. And the spots – I wonder if they're flea bites. We must get Maria a flea collar, I say. It's not Maria, Rosa almost shouts. Maria's fine. You leave my kitten(2) out of this! Well, what's biting you, Rosa? I don't know, she says. Mosquitoes, maybe? In November? Leave me alone, she says. I'm fine, OK? What is it? I ask her when she bursts into sudden tears. What's the matter, darling? But she won't talk to me, just stomps upstairs. Half an hour later I find her asleep on her bed with the kitten purring on her chest. And then there's Nat. I'll ask him to do a simple thing like empty the dishwasher or tidy his room or eat an egg on toast or remove his school blazer from where he just lets it drop in the hall and he'll immediately attack me. Why do you insist on making my life hell? he screams. I'm surprised at how much I want to hit him I who've never laid a finger on my kids. How can Nat – once the sunniest, easiest boy (far easier in many ways than the other two) – have turned into this monster? He sits in his room with the curtains shut and something electronic in his hand. He slouches around the house complaining. And then there's the food thing. OK, I say as he pushes his plate away, why aren't you eating? It had better be good. You – know – I – hate – scrambled – eggs. I don't know that at all. I told you. Last time. I hate the skin on them. What skin? There isn't a skin – There is, look. And he pokes with the edge of his fork. Eat them, boy, Mick advises softly from behind his paper. Oh God! Nat wails(3), letting his head sink into his hands. I'll throw up, I'll be sick. »
Julie Myerson, Something Might Happen, 2003

Compréhension de l'écrit
a) Give the names of the two characters who are not members of the family circle.
b) Justify your choice by quoting from the text.
c) Whose kitten is Maria?
d) There are six characters in the family circle. Using the table below, classify them into two age groups and give a name to each age group.
Group 1: ......
Group 2: ......

a) "Our Rosa? Mick says."
Who does "Our" refer to?
b) Complete the following sentence.
Mick is probably Rosa's…
  • teacher
  • father
  • younger brother
Focus on the passage from "Everyone's behaviour has […]" down to "[…] she's already got"
a) Where did "the incident" take place? (10 words maximum)
b) Give the names of the two characters (one boy and one girl) who took part in "the incident".
a) Among the following list, choose the two adjectives that best apply to the boy after "the incident".
ashamed – guilty – heartless – sympathetic – uncooperative – worried
b) Justify your answer with one quotation for each adjective.
c) "I'm sure, he's sorry, Mick tells her."
Who do the underlined pronouns refer to?
d) What did Mick try to do then? (10-15 words)
Focus on the passage from "But it's not just Jordan […]" down to "[…] purring on her chest."
Say whether these statements are right or wrong. Justify your answers by quoting from the text.
a) Rosa behaves well at home. (one quotation)
b) Rosa's attitude at school has become positive. (one quotation)
c) Rosa's physical appearance is worrying. (two quotations)
d) The relationship between Rosa and the narrator is tense. (two quotations)
Focus on the passage from "And then there's Nat. […]" down to the end.
6. Choose one word from the passage to complete the sentence.
Nat is one of the narrator's ......
a) Fill in the blanks with adjectives taken from the list below (one blank = one adjective): bad – tempered – clever – good-looking – loveable – scared – shy
According to the narrator, Nat used to be ....... But now she thinks he has become ...... at home.
b) Pick out one quotation to justify each adjective chosen in 7.a).
An incident is related at the end of this passage.
a) What happened with Nat? (10-15 words)
b) Compare the narrator's and Mick's attitudes towards Nat. (10-20 words)
Read the whole text again.
9. Quote the sentence which best sums up the narrator's view on the family's situation.
Expression écrite
Les candidats de la série S choisiront de traiter l'un des deux sujets au choix. (200 mots)
Les candidats de la série L devront obligatoirement traiter les deux sujets. (300 mots au total, soit environ 150 mots pour chaque sujet)
1. Some time later, the narrator and Mick are discussing the family situation. Write their conversation.
2. Do you think school should "encourage children to respect others"?. Discuss.
(1)Liv's buggy : baby Liv's pushchair.
(2)Kitten : young cat.
(3)Wails : laments.


Compréhension de l'écrit
a) The two characters who are not members of the family are Debbie Suffling and Julie Edmunds.
b) "At school Jordan had been lashing out at other kids […] he punched and kicked Debbie Suffling […]"
"Julie Edmunds, his teacher […]"
c) Maria is Rosa's kitten.
The parents
The children
The mother/ narrator



a) Our refers to the parents, Mick and the mother who is the narrator.
b) Mick is probably Rosa's father.
a) The incident took place at Jordan's school.
b) Jordan and Debbie took part in the incident.
a) The boy is heartless and uncooperative.
b) Heartless: "[…] his total lack of remorse […]"
  • "[…] where he sat stony-eyed and sullen and refusing to say sorry."
  • "He's just too proud to say it."
c) I refers to Mick.
He refers to Jordan.
Her refers to Jordan's teacher, Julie Edmunds.
d) Mick tries to make Jordan's teacher, Julie Edmunds, understand that even if Jordan doesn't say a word, he is in fact sorry for what he did.
a) Wrong: "Rosa, who is loud and difficult at home […]"
b) Wrong: "[…] been in trouble more than once for talking in assembly."
c) Right: "[…] her shoelaces are fraying, her shirt's perpetually splattered with ink, her fingers are grubby and her arms covered in strange itchy spots which she picks till they bleed."
d) Right:
  • "[…] she says flatly."
  • "She makes an ugly face at me."
  • "[…] Rosa almost shouts."
  • "Leave me alone, she says."
6. Nat is one of the narrator's children.
a) According to the narrator, Nat used to be loveable. But now she thinks he has become bad-tempered at home.
b) loveable: "[…] once the sunniest, easiest boy […]"
  • "[…] he'll immediately attack me."
  • "[…] he screams."
  • "He slouches around the house complaining."
  • "Nat wails […]"
a) At the end of the passage, Nat doesn't want to eat what's in his plate because he says he doesn't like scrambled eggs and there is a skin on them. He says if he eats them he'll be sick and throw up.
b) The mother/ narrator tries to talk him into convincing him to eat them whereas the father orders him to eat them.
9. The sentence which best sums up the narrator's view on the family situation is the first one: "Everyone's behavior has altered for the worse."
Expression écrite
1. Mick: "I think we really have to talk about the situation."
The mother: "I do agree with you, I can't stand it any longer. The children are all awful, their behavior is really becoming worse and worse."
Mick: "Yes, I agree but I think you are too lenient with them, you always try to discuss and explain but they don't listen to you. In fact they take advantage of it since they know they will do as they wish in the end."
The mother: "I don't like what you are saying to me Mick. I think children have to understand things and they have to be explained."
Mick: "And I think that at a certain age children have to learn that there are limits and these limits can't be questioned."
The mother: "But I think raising children is not that easy, and if you don't explain they don't understand why you behave that way."
Mick: "I insist, I think that limits must be given, education is not a bed of roses. You have been a child and a teenager too and your parents have given you limits not to trespass and not always explained why to you because sometimes it is clear and obvious. If you argue with them each time they will never accept things. You have to be more authoritarian depending on what is at stake. If we don't speak the same language to them they will always exploit the situation to their own advantage."
The mother: "You may be right Mick, I think sometimes I have to impose things to make them obey. In the future, I'll try to do my best, but it won't be that easy because it is not in my nature to act like that."
Mick: "You have to understand that you are not talking to adults but to children and I think it will help you make the difference. I hope we will find the right balance to change and improve the situation, it is high time we did it before it is too late."
2. There's no denying that school should encourage children to respect others. This must be done in the family circle of course but it is also a part devoted to school and education there. At school children learn to be and behave in a micro society which is part of their upbringing and a key thing for their future. This is where they learn how to behave in a society and where they learn that they must take the others into account. They have to learn that they are not alone and the centre of the universe, but that they have to take care and respect the others so that living together can be possible.
Not only should this tolerance be given through their behavior in the school yard and in class where they must respect the words of the others, but it must also be brought to them through the study of different facts mainly through history which is full of terrible things due to non respect and intolerance. This may be the best examples to make them understand that these principles have to be respected hence they may lead to disasters like wars, genocide, racism, etc.