A Hustle moment and some links

At school today, I was practicing asking for and giving directions with the kids. First we used a practice map of a made-up town stuffed full with all sorts of interesting places to go and then the London tube map.

With the tube map, I always asked the kids, “What do you want to do in London?” and then asked them to pick a station on the map to start their journey. What they wanted to do differed, though interestingly none of them wanted to see the obvious sights. I sent the reader to Charing Cross Road, the teen fashionista to Oxford Circus, since I suspect she would go crazy in Top Shop. One particularly cheeky boy said he wanted to go to a brothel. I sent him to Soho.

One boy couldn’t decide where he wanted to go, so I gave him a bunch of the usual tourist options and then some of the less usual ones. The boy eventually decided that he wanted to visit the HMS Belfast and that his start point was somewhere on the Docklands Light Railway (Woolwich Arsenal, I think).

However, this boy had also concocted a fairly elaborate story to go with the trip. He told me that he had just bought the Belfast from the mayor of London and converted her into a cruise liner and wanted to take her to Bremerhaven. He even offered me a job serving drinks on his new luxury ship. I played along with the story, all the while thinking that this whole scenario was totally like something out of Hustle.

I mean, you can almost picture it. Here is this foreign investor who thinks he just bought the HMS Belfast to convert into a luxury cruise liners (which is completely crazy in itself, because classification society rules make converting one type of ship into another pretty difficult) standing at the Woolwich Arsenal station and heading out to pick up his purchase, about to realize that it was all a con.

And now for some links:

Kat Howard and Megan Kurashige weigh in on the usefulness of the term “speculative fiction”.

Phyllis Irene Radford a.k.a. P.R. Frost wonders about the popularity of urban fantasy over at the Book View Café.

Neat article about the so-called “Frankfurt kitchen”, the ancestor of today’s kitchens, from the New York Review of Books.

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4 Responses to A Hustle moment and some links

  1. Estara says:

    That is a cool idea, although I wonder why you used a made-up map first. Are real maps too difficult? I especially like the idea of the kids having to find their way to cool places in London.

    Aside: have you seen this nifty interview between Gini Koch and Joshua Palmatier on the DAW community LJ yet? I thought it might interest you because it’s about inspiration, getting contracts, promoting, living with the day job of writers ^^.

  2. Cora says:

    I’ve used the made-up map for years now, because it has a bridge, a railway station, a park, traffic lights, road with easily pronounceable names and plenty of shops and other landmarks to visit. Over the years it gained a fire station and a football stadium and briefly a porn shop, when a kid drew a penis on my transparency. Real maps don’t always have so many useful sights in one package.

    The English textbook we use, Camden Town, used to have a real map of Notting Hill for this lesson, but in the most recent edition they switched to a made up map as well, probably for a similar reason.

    When they can find their way around the simpler map, I switch to the tube map, which also has the advantage that they learn such expressions as “Change for the Bakerloo line at Picadilly Circus” and so on.

    The school were I worked before this one had the boardgame Scotland Yard, where you have to chase Mr X across a real map of London. I played that game in class with the kids sometimes and coupled it with a “Landeskunde” lesson.

    Thanks for the link to the interview. Looks very interesting. I’ve been meaning to check out Gini Koch’s books for a while anyway.

    • Estara says:

      Oh, that makes sense. Hadn’t thought of that aspect. As a FLA in Cambridgeshire I made an empty (but for the streets) pseudo German town map and then the kids had to site the various attractions and create a promo flier for the town in German (but we did that in the German conversation extra lessons, not in regular German class).

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