Script: Listening Exercise 165

Script: Listening Exercise 165


Voice 1: You are walking along the beach when you notice a lump of rock in the sand. It's light brown in colour and roughly the size of a loaf of bread. Question; what do you do? The chances are, you do nothing. You ignore this uninteresting lump of rock and carry on walking. What could possibly be appealing about a big piece of rock lying there in the sand?

Voice 2: It probably wouldn't cross your mind that a lump of rock sticking out of the sand could be worth thousands of dollars. But you could be missing out on a fortune by not investigating further. An eight-year old boy in England is soon going to be rich because of a chunk of stone he found on a beach. What's the story?

Voice 1: Charley Naysmith stumbled across a large piece of yellow-brownish rock one day when he was playing on the beach near his home on the south coast of England. Charley is a curious kid and liking the shape of the rock, he picked it up look. It was the size of a big brick and was quite heavy. Charley just liked the colour and shape of his find, so he took the rock home.

Voice 2: As far as Charley was concerned, he'd just found a lump of rubbish washed up by the sea. But this couldn't have been further from the truth. Charley and his family did a bit of research on the rock. They discovered that it was, in fact, a big piece of solidified whale vomit and that it was worth between a hundred and twenty and five hundred thousand dollars!

Voice 1: Whale vomit? Yes, you heard right. Far from being simply a piece of old stone. It was an extremely valuable piece of ambergris, an expensive ingredient that is used in the manufacturing of top-quality perfumes. Ambergris is weird stuff. It is found in the digestive juices in a whale's stomach, and when too much of it builds up in a whale's intestines, the mammal is sick and the stuff is spewed up into the ocean. Not a pleasant thought, but that's what happens.

Voice 2: And sometimes, over many, many years, the whale sick gets solidified in the sea and takes on a rock-like appearance. Then very occasionally, a lump of solid ambergris is washed up on the shore. And this is what Charley had found. A big chunk of old, solid whale vomit that could be worth a staggering half million dollars.

Voice 1: Ambergris is used by famous perfume houses to fix the scent of high-end perfumes and make the smell last longer. Cheap perfumes don't, of course, have any ambergris in them and so the smell doesn't last. The only known perfume fixative is ambergris, and a gram of this valuable stuff currently costs fifty US dollars. No wonder that in the perfume industry, ambergris is known as 'floating gold'.

Voice 2: And where does all this leave young Charley Naysmith? His family have called in marine experts to value the 'lump of rock'. They are currently waiting for the results, but whatever happens, schoolboy Charley will soon find thousands of dollars in his bank account. And all because of a boring lump of rock he found on the beach.


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