Hastings Station at 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning…

Written back in the 1980s, when I was a dedicated teacher of English to Foreigners, and loved my students, I surprised myself one day to realise that I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by too many on an early morning train to London…

Hastings Station at 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning.

The newly-refurbished in flame-coloured plastic
Electronically  motorised doors glide aside
On a languorous blond-headed swarm of blue denim
Strewn on all surfaces:
– surrogate sofas in
Saccharine sugar-free tangerine Perspex
Ergonomically ordered
To cling to your body and stick to your thighs;
Round the concrete containers new-crowded with cyclamen,
Trailing lobelia and silver-tongued ferns;
The Florentine flooring in marble-chip marquetry
Scorch-marked and littered and grimy with ash;
Squatting on shoulder-bags, sprouting from window-sills,
Vibrant with chatter and frenzied with youth… Continue reading

On Hiroshima

This was written back in the 1970s for a Hiroshima Memorial Day ceremony.  Every year people gather at the boating lake in Alexandra Park in Hastings, listen to readings, sing peace songs, and launch paper boats bearing lighted night-lights onto the lake at dusk.

On Hiroshima

I have no enemies.
I do not hate the children of my neighbour’s race.

I have no wish to see their children burn,
I have no wish to hear their mothers grieve,
I have no wish to fling their ashes high
In mushroom clouds of genocide. Continue reading

When you are Old, by W B Yeats

This activity is designed to lead students to form their own understanding of the ideas and feelings in the poem, which you will find on the third page of the attachment.

On page one, there is the full list of the questions involved, in chronological order.   But to avoid the impression of yet another list of comprehension questions,  I do not issue these questions as they stand.  On page two, the questions are re-ordered to engage group discussion – such a vital part of language learning and the development of ideas.

To use them in class, , print and cut the second page of the attachment into three, so that each group receives only “their” questions.

To see how this works, read the section headed “Class Activity in Groups.”

when-you-are-old

The Listeners – PowerPoint Illustration

I designed an illustrated version of this poem, by Walter de la Mare, to bring it to life and guide foreign students to some of the key vocabulary.

When you first open the PowerPoint presentation you will see a Black Screen.

  • Click twice, separately, to bring up the title and author’s name.
  • One more click will start the first verse scrolling onto the screen.
  • There are four lines in each verse.   You only need to click once for each verse.   Resist the urge to rush, as the lines and pictures appear at roughly reading speed!
  • There are three verses on each screen, and three screens in all.  When all three verses on the first screen have finished, including the ferns at the bottom of the third verse,
  • Click again to start the second screen, clicking only once for each whole verse, as above.
  • Then click for the third screen, as above.

I hope you find the presentation illuminating for your students – and that you enjoy it!

the-listeners